MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197 Review

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MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197 Review

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Usually, after back-to-back numbered events, the subsequent Fight Night card leaves a bad taste in the mouth. UFC Vegas 42 had different plans. Featuring nine finishes across eleven bouts, the belle of the ball predictably proved to be the five-round war between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez. While the Featherweights will take most of our attention, we will also shine a light on breakout star, Joel Alvarez.

Catch up on the preview and predictions for UFC Fight Night 197: Predictions if you haven’t already, and have a good old laugh at our expense.

More interested in number crunching? Find out how each fighter ranked on the Pintsized Interest scale this weekend on MAFB Math: UFC Fight Night 197.

Felicia Spencer continues to dominate anyone at 145lb that can't keep themselves off the cage | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197
Felicia Spencer continues to dominate anyone at 145lb that can’t keep themselves off the cage | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197

Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez

Holloway def. Rodriguez // Decision (unanimous – 48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

Fight Breakdown

In terms of round by round scoring, 48-47 Holloway emerges as the fairest assessment of the fight. Round 1-2, Yair’s leg kicks muted Max’s typical boxing prowess. The Hawaiian was still able to push out his freak volume, notching almost 200 strikes across the two rounds, but was far less committed in the pocket. Not only did Rodriguez force Holloway to constantly switch stances, offering brief respite to a battered lead leg, but the Mexican’s switch body kicks continued to limit Holloway’s combinations. (1-1)

By the mid-point, the bout flipped on its head. No longer trusting his lead leg at mid-range, Max opted to press Rodriguez to the fence and drag his foe into an ugly clinching affair. Showing unusually crisp clinch striking, Max opened up a variety of wounds on the face of Rodriguez with hard elbows and knees.

A combination of Rodriguez’ slips on expansive kicks and well-timed Holloway takedowns saw Max clock up six minutes of ground control from Round 3-5. Aside from a couple of submission scares from both men, Holloway dominated proceedings on the mat. While Yair threatened with up-kicks and elbows, Holloway’s calculated single-shots rained down from above claimed the scorecards. (3-1)

Rodriguez’s resurgence in the final round sealed the bout as a FOTN candidate. Holloway may be famed for his endless volume, yet Rodriguez’s ability to dig deep and claw back the final round demands applause. Returning to Holloway’s leg, Rodriguez also landed the flashiest combination of the round (roundhouse body kick-2-3-roundhouse body kick). (3-2: Holloway 48-47 Rodriguez).

Max Holloway Analysis and Future

Unfortunately for Holloway, a similar picture is emerging from his title reign. Adopting the role of Jose Aldo, Holloway is gate-keeping future title contenders and forcing his name back into the mix for a trilogy fight with Volkonovski. After a heavily disputed loss in the second fight with the Aussie, it’s probably best for everyone that the two old foes face each other once again.

Yair Rodriguez Analysis and Future

In defeat, Yair Rodriguez’s stock has skyrocketed. After a two-year break from the sport, Rodriguez’s pitiful final round to Jeremy Stephens is old news. If we want a pure striking clinic, a potential retirement match-up with Edson Barboza would delight. For more relevance in the rankings, Rodriguez could run it back with TKZ or clash with granite-chinned submission threat, Brian Ortega.

Holloway showcases his lesser seen submission skills on a struggling Rodriguez | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197
Holloway showcases his lesser seen submission skills on a struggling Rodriguez | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197

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Joel Alvarez vs Thiago Moises

Alvarez def. Moises // TKO (elbow and punches) Round 1 3:01

Fight Breakdown

If anything, Islam Makhachev’s record takes another knock after this one. Despite the ludicrousy of the UFC ranking Moises, the Brazilian has always proved himself capable of dealing with the unranked mob. Enter Spaniard, Joel Alvarez. ‘El Fenomeno’ had quietly been cleaning up less than stellar opposition on the undercards until his big step-up, and he didn’t disappoint.

At a freak 6’3″, Alvarez doesn’t fully use his freak length aside from the odd leg kick. More frustratingly, Alvarez managed to catch a three-piece combination off Moises after sitting patiently at range. It is unforgivable for a man of such a size to fail to keep opponents at the end of his range.

Of intrigue, however, was Alvarez’s work in the clinch. Entering with knees that can easily reach the chins of most Lightweights, Alvarez gets to work immediately with elbows and digging punches to the body. Alvares effortlessly broke Moises’ high guard with the violent array and forced Goddard to intervene.

Joel Alvarez Analysis and Future

After beating Thiago Moises, a fighter now has a free pass to claim a title shot – or at least, that is exactly what Makhachev managed. Memes aside, Alvarez has placed himself on the Lightweight scene firmly with a solid scalp on the record. If the Spaniard wants a potentially free bit of name value, he could pick up a fight with the seemingly weathered, Al Iaquinta fight. A more interesting prospect fight would be Grant Dawson, as the American could test Alvarez’s ability off the back.

Thiago Moises Analysis and Future

Two stoppage losses in a row seem to have firmly shoved the Brazilian out of the rankings. It’s up to the UFC whether they see the potential to build something with Moises. A solid comeback fight could be Jamie Mullarkey, an athletically limited Aussie who has shocked Khama Worthy and Devonte Smith in recent bouts. If the match-makers are done with Moises, he could be fed to an established prospect in Arman Tsarukyan.

Joel Alvarez's elbows are proving to a problem for anyone at 155lbs | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197
Joel Alvarez’s elbows are proving to a problem for anyone at 155lbs | MAFB: UFC Fight Night 197

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Pintsized Awards

Pintsized Prospect

Joel Alvarez. Granted, the Spaniard is twenty-eight years old. El Fenomeno is a baby in terms of miles on the record, however. 

Pintsized Veteran

Cortney Casey. After dreadful losses to Gillian Robertson and JJ Aldrich, Casey returned to the win column with a dominant decision over armbar merchant, Liana Jojua.

Surprise of the Night

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Ben Rothwell /// KO Round 1 0:32. De Lima winning by KO was always on the cards, but the manner of the victory was interesting. Herb failed epically to stop de Lima from damn near decapitating a rocked Rothwell. 

Fight of the Night

Holloway/Rodriguez. This needs no explanation, watch it if you haven’t already.

Finish of the Night

Khaos Williams def. Miguel Baeza /// KO Round 3 1:02. After what had been two equal rounds, Williams pulled a peach of a right hook to crumple his fellow prospect. 

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