UFC Fight Night: Rivera vs. Moraes post-fight results and analysis

UFC Fight Night: Utica started out nicely, then became an absolute slog of a card to get through, then action picked up again, and we were treated to a stunning 33-second KO in the main event. Marlon Moraes ended Jimmie Rivera’s 20-fight win streak with a head kick and punches, and made an emphatic case to fight the winner of T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt 2 for the bantamweight title.

This was a truly even matchup on paper, but I don’t think anyone expected that to happen. Moraes was fantastic to watch in World Series of Fighting, and after two rather slow-paced bouts to start his UFC career, he’s just iced Rivera and Aljamain Sterling in a combined 100 seconds. One man who will have something to say about a potential Moraes title shot is Raphael Assuncao, who did beat Moraes by split decision in Marlon’s Octagon debut, but he’s fighting Rob Font at UFC 226, and it doesn’t seem as if the UFC is keen on giving Raphael a title shot with the way he’s been booked.

Regardless of what Moraes’ immediate future holds, he’s delivered big time over the past few months, and this is an exciting development for the 135-pound division.

More thoughts on tonight’s card:

Main Card

  • Gregor Gillespie improved to 5-0 in the UFC and 12-0 overall with a dominant display against Vinc Pichel. He completed 7 of 8 takedowns, and late in the second round, he got the arm triangle choke he was unable to get in the previous round, and Pichel tapped out. Time for a major step up in competition for the New Yorker, he is relentless with his wrestling, positional grappling, and ability to finish fights.
  • That wasn’t a good crowd, was it? There were plenty of empty seats, and people who were on-site noted that fans were leaving before the main event, which is unfortunate given what transpired in that contest.
  • In an utterly horrible fight, Walt Harris came through with the buzzer-beating TKO with just a second left in round 2. He rocked Daniel Spitz’s world with a whopper of a left hand, and finished the bout shortly thereafter. Harris then dedicated the win to his late aunt, as well as the famed American Idol winner Ruben Studdard’s older brother Kevin, who also passed away. Yes, the bout was dull, but the finish sure was impressive.
  • YESSSSSSSSS!!! Ben Saunders hadn’t been looking good in recent outings, but he turned back the clock with a classic Killa B knee, as he folded Jake Ellenberger up with a knee to the liver, and the fight was over in under two minutes. Saunders is a Bloody Elbow favorite and longtime community member, so it’s always awesome to see him win. As for Ellenberger, he’s 2-8 in his last ten, and there’s no way his UFC career can go on much longer. In his prime, I loved watching him compete. Now? Well… you see the knockouts.
  • Julio Arce looked very impressive in his third-round rear-naked choke stoppage of Daniel Teymur. Apart from not checking leg kicks early, Arce comprehensively outstruck the wild Teymur, and then once the fight hit the ground, it was not even a contest. Arce improves to 2-0 in the UFC, and for the Teymur Brothers, they went 1-1 on the night.
  • Sam Alvey dropped Gian Villante in round 1, but tragically we endured two more rounds of this. Alvey won a split decision, I scored it for Villante, I have already forgotten much of what happened. Smile’n Sam also called out Corey Anderson for his next fight.

Preliminary Card

  • In a rather uninspiring bout, Sijara Eubanks notched her first official UFC win by getting a decision vs. Lauren Murphy, in what was a battle between #2 and #3 in the UFC women’s flyweight rankings. Eubanks was on the cusp of a title shot and then threw it away with a bad weight cut, so by default she shouldn’t be far away, as raw a talent as she is.
  • David Teymur kept the fight standing (admittedly in part through multiple fence grabs and an eye poke) and Nik Lentz was just no match for him in a straight striking battle. The Swede’s unanimous decision win improves him to 5-0 in the UFC, and it just goes to show how stacked lightweight is that he’s not in the top-15, and possibly not the top-25. I think a considerable step up in competition is in order.
  • Belal Muhammad turned in another well-rounded performance, controlling the pace and action on the feet, and getting a few takedowns to earn a comfortable decision win over short notice newcomer Chance Rencountre. Muhammad is a consistent performer at welterweight, and he’s quietly won four in a row.
    Desmond Green outstruck Gleison Tibau in what was practically a boxing match with the odd kick, spinning backfist, or flying knee thrown. Green gets the unanimous decision in front of his home fans in upstate New York, ending his two-fight losing skid, and likely ending Tibau’s long UFC career.
  • After a strong first round, Johnny Eduardo inexplicably dove for a takedown in round two and found himself tapping to Nathaniel Wood’s d’arce choke. The Cage Warriors bantamweight champion joined Torres in having a rough start only to wind up in the win column anyway. I’m also a fan of d’arce chokes, so I suppose Eduardo’s decision-making worked to my benefit to see one tonight.
  • Jose Torres almost got KO’d in his UFC debut, but the two-division Titan FC champion rallied and won in bizarre fashion, as Jarred Brooks’ slam backfired and he basically knocked himself out. Torres quickly got on top and punched Brooks until the fight was stopped. Absolute craziness. “Shorty” took this one on short notice, so I can’t wait to see how he does with a full camp.
  • This is the bullet point I would’ve used to talk about Jessica Aguilar-Jodie Esquibel, but apparently chapstick-gate got this fight cancelled, and Aguilar doesn’t like the New York State Athletic Commission. Welcome to the club, Jessica. The anti-NYSAC club.

Source: BloodYelBow