Not long ago, the UFC’s Super Bowl weekend card was expected to be headlined by a heavyweight title clash between Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez. At that point, the card was called UFC 196, and was scheduled to air on pay-per-view. When both Velasquez and Werdum withdrew from the bout with injuries however, the card was rebranded as a UFC Fight Night, and shifted to a Fox Sports 1 broadcast where a Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson welterweight bout would serve as the new main event.
Though expectations of this injury-riddled card were not particularly high, it did manage to produce some fun fights. Featuring action in six of the UFC’s most exciting divisions, it was highlighted by a handful of wild finishes and some major upsets—one of which occurred in the main event.
Here’s a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
Thompson Smashes Hendricks Inside a Round
With the loss of its original Werdum-Velasquez main event, the card’s headlining spot was held by former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and Chris Weidman training partner Stephen Thompson, who entered the bout with five-straight wins in the rear view.
Despite Hendrick’s status as a sizable betting favorite, this one turned out to be a downright blowout for Thompson—it wasn’t even close. Punishing the former champ with an array of unpredictable kicks from the opening bell, Thompson quickly wore his opponent down before putting the stamp on things with a series of punches against the cage. The stoppage came at the 1:27 mark of round one.
With this emphatic win, Thompson might well have jumped the contender line and earned himself a shot at the welterweight title—though Tyron Woodley is sure to disagree. The former kickboxer is now 12-1 overall, and can proudly call himself the owner of the longest active win-streak in the UFC welterweight division.
Hendricks, meanwhile, experiences his first knockout loss. The defeat forces him back into the loss column after a 2015 defeat of Matt Brown, and moves his overall record to 17-4.
Nelson Edges Rosholt in Heavyweight Snoozer
The card’s co-headlining honors went to heavyweights Roy Nelson and Jared Rosholt. In advance of the bout, Nelson looked to correct a three-fight losing streak, while Rosholt looked pass his first top-15 test and extend his win streak to 4. In the end, it would be Nelson who succeeded on his mission—though it certainly wasn’t pretty to watch.
The decision win—which is the first on Nelson’s UFC record—saw him shrug off a pair of takedown attempts and land just 43 strikes, while a back-peddling Rosholt landed a similarly low 50 strikes. Needless to say, while the judges certainly got the decision right, the two heavyweights didn’t give them much to base that decision on.
Of course, a win is technically a win, and having won just one of his last six fights, a win is precisely what Nelson needed. The heavyweight bomber is now 8-8 across 16 UFC bouts and 21-12 overall. Rosholt, meanwhile, will leave Las Vegas with a 14-3 overall record and a 6-2 record inside the Octagon.
OSP Beats Feijao in Slow Fight
Strikeforce imports Ovince St. Preux and Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante might not be the most consistent light heavyweights on the UFC roster, but as two of the division’s most venomous finishers, they are certainly among the most exciting. Given this, their main card bout stood out as a strong contender for performance of the night honors.
Unfortunately, this is not the way things turned out, as OSP’s offense was slowed by an apparent foot injury, and Feijao baffled onlookers with a complete unwillingness to engage. That said, by the time the curtains closed, OSP had out-landed his opponent by a 106-29 margin, and succeeded on a pair of takedowns—more than enough to earn him the W.
With the win, OSP bounces back from a recent loss to Glover Teixeira. He’s now 19-7 overall and 7-2 in the UFC. Feijao, meanwhile, is now neck-deep in a three-fight skid. With a 12-7 overall record and a 1-4 mark inside the Octagon, he’ll likely be sent packing by the organization.
Benavidez Out-Strikes Makovsky to Unanimous Decision
In the second of Vegas’ two flyweight bouts, Joseph Benavidez attempted to edge closer to a third fight with divisional champ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. His opportunity to do so came against former Bellator champ Zach Makovsky.
The story of this one was Benavidez’s speed, athleticism, and veteran savvy, which he used to outland his opponent on the feet and pop up like a spring whenever he was taken down. By the time the final horn sounded, the Team Alpha Male staple—who was cornered by Duane Ludwig—had done more than enough to earn the judges’ nod.
With the win, Benavidez extends his current streak to 5 and, despite his two previous losses to the champ, seems poised for another title shot in the not-too-distant future. The long-time contender is now 24-4 overall and 9-2 since dropping to flyweight.
The defeat pushes Makovsky onto a two-fight skid. He’s now 19-7 overall, and 3-3 since joining the UFC roster in late 2013.
Cirkunov Taps Nicholson in the Second
The second feature of the main card paired Latvia’s Misha Cirkunov with the debuting Alex Nicholson in an exciting collision of light heavyweight prospects. Though the buildup to this fight went very well for Nicholson—he proposed to his girlfriend at the weigh ins—the fight itself was not such a success for him.
Round one, though definitely Cirkunov’s, was not especially eventful. Round two, however, saw Cirkunov ground his outmatched opponent, where he would lock in a neck crank, breaking the American’s jaw in the process.
With the submission win, the 28-year-old Cirkunov moves to 2-0 in the UFC, and a strong 11-2 overall. He is a definite fighter to watch in the light heavyweight division. Nicholson, meanwhile, comes up short in his debut, and now sits at 6-2 overall.
Pyle Smashes Spencer in Wild Fight
The main card was kicked off by a welterweight scrap between 40-year-old veteran Mike “Quicksand” Pyle, and the much younger Sean “Black Magic” Spencer. The two welterweights put on a show.
Round one clearly belonged to Spencer, who was able to sit Pyle down with a blistering hook. Round two, in contrast, was all Pyle’s, who fired back by wobbling Spencer with a mid-stanza combination. The third, finally, saw Pyle lay his cards on the table, stunning his opponent with a spinning elbow, before polishing him off with a salvo of elbows and knees against the cage.
The performance marks the latest highlight of Pyle’s 39-fight career, which began all the way back in 1999, when he debuted against light heavyweight legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It’s his first win since February of 2014, and it moves him to 27-11-1 overall. Spencer, on the other hand, falls onto the first two-fight losing streak of his career. He’s now 12-5 overall, and 3-4 in the UFC.
Burkman Grinds Noons to Decision Win
The prelims were wrapped up by a lightweight bout between Joshua Burkman and KJ Noons; a pair of veterans with a combined 60 professional fights. The fight marked Burkman’s first ever at lightweight, and Noons’ chance to bounce back from a recent submission loss to Alex Oliveira.
Though it was far from a masterpiece, Burkman would ultimately make a successful lightweight debut, capturing a unanimous decision with a game plan based on body kicks and relentlessly-pursued takedowns.
With the win, he moves to 28-12 overall, and 1-2 with one no contest since rejoining the UFC in early 2015. Noons, meanwhile, remains winless since April 2014 and is now a tough 13-9 in sum.
Lewis Savages Grabowski in the First
The first of Vegas’ two heavyweight bouts saw Polish prospect Damian Grabowski make his UFC debut against brick-fisted Texan Derrick Lewis. The Polish fighter’s debut did not go as he planned.
After being taken down in the bout’s opening seconds, Grabowski found himself on the receiving end of several octagon-shaking, standing-to-ground punches. Not long thereafter, the referee was jumping to save him from any further punishment.
With the TKO win, Lewis moves to 14-4 overall, and embarks on his first two-fight win-streak since 2014. In defeat, Grabowski falls to 20-3 overall, and will have to wait for his first UFC win.
Scoggins Dominates Borg for Upset Win
Justin Scoggins, 23, and Ray Borg, 22, have long stood out as two of the flyweight division’s most intriguing young prospects. On the undercard of the UFC’s Super Bowl weekend card, they collided in a fight that would send the winner shooting up the divisional ladder.
Contrary to the fight’s betting odds, which pegged Borg as the favorite, this one was all Scoggins. Complimenting a kick-heavy striking attack with four completed takedowns, the 23-year-old was in control for the duration of the fight, culminating with a well-earned unanimous decision triumph.
In victory, Scoggins moves to 11-2 overall and 4-2 in the UFC. Borg, on the other hand, loses for just the second time, and will proceed from here with a 9-2 overall record.
Rivas Levels Lahat with Flying Knee
The first bout of the televised prelims paired Israel’s Noad Lahat with Chile’s Diego Rivas in a compelling clash of featherweight prospects.
Throughout the bout’s first round, it looked like it would be a long night for Rivas, who seemed to have little to offer Lahat on the mat. In the second, however, Rivas changed the complexion of the fight in the blink of an eye, shutting his opponent off with a rocket-fueled flying-knee.
The knockout win moves the Chilean prospect to a perfect 7-0 overall, and elevates his UFC record to 2-0. Lahat, meanwhile, has a two-fight streak derailed by the loss. He’s now 9-2 overall, with both of his pro losses coming by way of flying-knee knockout.
Gall Runs Through Jackson to Earn Fight with CM Punk
The second bout of the night came courtesy of the welterweight division, as Lookin’ for a Fight product Mickey Gall took on MMA photographer Mike Jackson for a shot at WWE import CM Punk.
The 24-year-old did not waste his opportunity. After dropping his opponent with a right in the opening seconds of the bout, Gall proceeded to lock up a rear-naked choke to coax out the tap at the 45-second mark of round one
With the win, he moves to 2-0 overall, and can look forward to a date with Punk—who he squared off with post-fight—in the near future. In defeat, Jackson loses his pro debut and now sits at 0-1.
White Outguns Lobov for Decision Win
The action began in the featherweight division, as Conor McGregor teammate Artem Lobov mixed it up with former McDonald’s employee Alex White.
The story of this one was White’s wrestling and striking volume. Over the course of the fight, he secured 3 takedowns, and out-landed his Russian opponent by a 116-50 margin—more than enough to earn him a unanimous decision triumph.
With the win, White rebounds from a 2-fight skid, and now owns a 11-2 overall record. Lobov, meanwhile, falls below the .500 mark with a 11-12-1 record.
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