UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs Lee – Winners and Losers – Bloody Elbow
None of the bigger stars, just a few former champions removed from the apex of their careers.
That’s not a complaint. This is essentially what the biggest names on the UFC’s OKC card are, and for the purposes this card serves, that’s perfectly fine. There wasn’t much fanfare for buildup of this card, nor were there too many complaints. Coming off the heels of Bellator’s PPV the day before, this wasn’t a card designed to compete or be anything more than a sorting out with some gritty fighters. As usual with FS1 cards, it established a bit of order in the divisions of the fighters involved.
The fights of most consequence here were Herrig vs Kish as well as the headliner, Chiesa vs Lee. Men’s lightweight being a deep division allowed for this fight to be the headliner with the promise of action with two very legitimate individuals fighting to move upwards. It’s not the sexiest card on paper for casuals, but it’s definitely for the more dedicated fans to wind down from a long stretch of consecutive weekly events.
Kevin Lee – If the win over Francisco Trinaldo didn’t do it for you, this one should. Controversial finish aside, Lee was giving Chiesa the business in that fight and has looked fantastic while racking up a five-fight win streak. As if his in-cage work wasn’t enough, he’s made his mic work for him to great effect as well. Being ranked at #11 and beating the #6 is a pretty big statement, and Lee has the star potential in this sport that’s really shown since his last fight. It’s almost like he can do no wrong at this point, and he seems poised to continue making waves.
Felice Herrig – We knew coming in that Justine Kish was at a disadvantage on the ground in this fight, but Herrig really capitalized with her control and constant attacks and submission attempts. Herrig is also showing more composure during each fight, and managed to nail Kish with counter hooks on the feet. Her striking looked sharp and she dealt a good amount of damage to a respected striker. Neither fighter is in the top ten yet, but this is Herrig’s third win in a row, and should almost guarantee a top ten opponent in her next bout.
Tim Boetsch – Redneck Judoka Extraordinaire™ Tim Boetsch looked great in this fight. His leg kicks started things out well enough for him, but it was mixing up his punches with body kicks and keeping Hendricks guessing that really paid off. Once that tree trunk leg of his went high for that headkick, Johny was in all manner of trouble and the end came shortly thereafter. Much like Herrig/Kish, neither fighter was ranked in the top ten, and middleweight is starting to sort itself out. It’s not quite as chaotic as it was a year ago, but there’s some sense of order that won’t show Boetsch in contention yet, but he bounces back in a big way from his loss to Jacare Souza in February.
Tony Martin – After eating some shots early, Martin seemed to have figured out Case’s range and timing to take over in the fight. That final minute of the final round was a real statement, and Martin now ends up 4-3 in the UFC with a three-fight win streak after wins over Felipe Oliveri and Alex White. He’s looking much more improved and his hard work in training is really showing off.
Jared Gordon – Finish your opponent brutally in your debut, and you earn a lot of clout. If you’re not familiar with Gordon’s past and struggles, I suggest you read this and then this. The man has already beaten death, so maybe fighting is easier for him. After a competitive first round, he slowly took over and fought very, very well. The fight was great, and his post-fight call to help people suffering from drug addiction was cake.
Carla Esparza stuck with her bread and butter wrestling with a few striking flurries and her patented toughness to earn a decision win. Not the worst thing in the world, just a fight that was hard-fought and not much extra sizzle.
Clay Guida dominated with his grappling and chipped away at Eric Koch for the win. Guida is a tough riddle to solve when he gets you down, and he continues to be a problem for a lot of opponents.
Tim Means – After a no-contest followed by a loss in back to back fights against Alex Oliveira, this was a great opportunity to get back into the win column. Means dealt with a hard-hitting wrestler and kept the range where he wanted it.
Dominick Reyes – Big way to make a promotional debut. After racking up some big finishes in his amateur and regional runs, this was a great way to make yourself known. Marvin Vettori had an interesting little kickboxing match with Vitor Miranda, and it gives him a good win against an opponent that’s very difficult to put away. Jeremy Kimball evens out at 1-1 under the UFC banner with a very good finish. Dennis Siver comes back after almost exactly two years and two consecutive losses to earn a decision win. It wasn’t a great-looking fight, but rarely do fights with two older fighters like this look much better. Darrell Horcher used his wrestleboxing to better effect than his opponent to also score a decision win to even his UFC record to 1-1.
Johny Hendricks – Where do we begin? The inability to stay closer to fight weight outside of fight camp so you can consistently make weight? The inability to pull the trigger and string more combinations together? The sense that Hendricks appears gunshy and has lost the ability to deal with certain kinds of pressure? Look, we’re not professional fighters, so we wouldn’t dare attempt to disrespect the fighters we follow. That said, there’s so much going on with Hendricks that even with proper guidance it seems very difficult to favor him in fights because of his unreliability. He ate his way out of welterweight and now he’s not only missing weight at a class a full fifteen pounds higher, he’s not even performing close to the level we saw on his rise to the championship. It’s an all-around bust.
B.J. Penn – No. I’m not gonna beat a dead horse. This experiment should have died after the third fight with Edgar. Moving on.
Maryna Moroz – While her UFC record now stands at 3-2, this was a more problematic fight. Moroz couldn’t really get anything going, as he boxing didn’t look as effective as it has in the past and her wrestling defense is still not very good. After that, it was just a matter of surviving on the ground. Not a good look.
Erik Koch couldn’t really find any answers against Clay Guida. It says more about Guida’s grappling and top game, but it does also say something about Koch not being able to find any ways out. That’s just the fight game, and these kinds of losses happen. He’s now 3-3 in the UFC as a result, and his spot is still safe due to his ability to deliver some big finishes. He may not stick around much longer with another loss, though.
Vitor Miranda – With a 4-4 record in this current run, Miranda seems to have a tendency to get into kickboxing matches and fall behind as the fight wears on.
Josh Stansbury is now 1-2 in the UFC, and he may not get another shot after that loss. While I personally hope he does, management may not be that forgiving. Joachim Christensen now has a 1-3 UFC record, and is likely to be released as a result. Devin Powell is a crafty, lanky and unorthodox fighter, but now drops to 0-2. He may be released as well, which is a shame since he’s a better fighter than his UFC record may indicate.
Michael Chiesa – I’m not sure that he wasn’t out, nor am I sure he was. He seemed like he could have been out for a second, but was well enough to spring back to his feet after the call. And, well… guys that get slept with chokes don’t tend to do that. He ends up with a loss, but has some justification for an early stoppage – especially when earlier that night Justine Kish was in a very similar situation that she fought out of. Her arms didn’t freeze up like Chiesa’s, though. I can understand why Mario would stop the bout. Chiesa was defending himself intelligently, and then he wasn’t. In the name of fighter safety it actually makes perfect sense. So I can’t be too harsh on Yamasaki about it, and I understand Chiesa’s frustration. I guess that puts Mario Yamasaki in this category as well. He still handled the loss like a pro with Lee and called for a rematch, which the fans appeared warm to. So yes, he ends up with the loss in a very tough division, but he is coming off a three-win streak and remains one of the most talented grapplers in the division.
Johnny Case – Sensational fight. He clearly wasn’t the winner, but his stock rose quite a bit for putting it all out there the way the did. He’s now 4-2 in the UFC and his last fight was a loss in another excellent fight against Jake Matthews early last year.
Justine Kish – I can’t be so hard on someone suffering their first professional loss. Kish struggled a lot and got dominated for stretches of that fight, but much credit to her for fighting out of some rough spots and escaping some odd situations. That includes the brutal rear naked choke attempt that almost ended the fight. She now falls to 2-1 in her UFC run. And no, I’m leaving the poop story out of this.
Alex Garcia – Now 4-3 in his UFC tenure, he seemed flustered after that first round. He’s a very talented athlete and fighter that continues to be inconsistent and still hasn’t found his footing. It was a pretty close fight, but there was no doubt he lost.
Michel Quiñones – After two cancelled fights, he finally gets his shot at the big show. As usual, losing your debut isn’t always a representation of who you are as a fighter.