Weekly Shouts Outs to the Fighters
As per usual, this was a UFC card that fans were dogging based on name value smashed the expectations of everyone in a card filled with finishes from future contenders. Veterans defying MMA logic with stellar performances after long layoffs. An old man telling these young men to get the hell off his lawn. A rematch that was an evolved even more competitive version of the first fight. An all-time great taking a chance, showing he still has magic left, and getting an overdue send-off. I’m here to fill you in.
I don’t see many people talking about the amazing performance Casey put to open the UFC card Saturday, and I don’t like that. It was the twenty-three-year-old second fight in the promotion against high-level black belt Lara Procopio. Casey can do it all grappling, striking, and pace. She mentioned before the fight she wanted to grapple and show off her jujitsu. I rolled my eyes a bit at that being Procopio is a high-level grappler and comes out of Brazilian super camp Nova Uniao so I thought it wouldn’t be smart for Casey. Boy did she make me look stupid. It was a competitive fight at first with both ladies beating each other up in the clinch with back and forth grappling exchanges. With Casey’s pace and surprising technique, she slowly started tipping the scales in her favor. Staying offensive off her back and on top while showing great composure in bad positions. By the third round, you could tell Casey was the fresher fighter, gaining more and more momentum, finally getting Lara in a reverse crucifix softening her up with punches to snatch the neck in an unorthodox way to choke Lara unconscious late in the third round with a standing rear-naked choke. 125lbs over the last two years has gotten so much more competitive with an overall higher level of skills with the girls thanks to Valentina Shevchenko being so ahead of the curve. It’s young fighters like Casey that in two, three, or four years from now are going to be competitive title challengers that have been a criticism of the division. These young fighters like Casey are going to be the future of 125lbs.
I’ve been watching Rick Glenn since he got in the UFC back in 2016, he had a great win with a brutal beating of Gavin Tucker in 2017 but I always sold him short because he was always back and forth with wins and losses. Saturday was his first fight in almost three years coming off a hip surgery coming up a weight class where I thought he’d be underpowered against a tough Joaquim Silva. In a common theme of the sport of making me look dumb with my predictions. Rick went in there and knocked out Silva 34 seconds into the first round. A huge win for Glenn being his first finish in five years and his first in the UFC. I don’t know what Glenn’s ceiling is at 155lbs, but it’s a nice little story I had to give credit to.
Matt Brown is one of two of the biggest MVPs this weekend. Another fight I got wrong, at 40 years old I thought Matt was going to lose to Dhiego Lima decisively due to the miles he has on his body, but I somehow forgot that Matt Brown is one the biggest savages the UFC will ever see. It looked like Lima was on his way picking up a decision victory having success with leg kicks and grappling against the cage but in the second round, Matt went beast mode and slept with him a right hand that crumpled Lima to the ground. Reminding the MMA community that he’s one of the best finishers in the UFC. I loved after the fight Matt shadow boxing telling the camera “How’s that for 40 b*tch?”. It was a historic win for him tying the UFC record of knockouts at twelve and now holds knockouts over both Douglas and Dhiego Lima. There’re so many fun fights for Matt ahead, Nick Diaz, Mike Perry, Robbie Lawler rematch, get this man some fun big-name fights he deserves them. A great win for the old dogs this weekend by a future UFC Hall of Famer.
Silva was the most intriguing to me before the card Saturday and lived up to all the hype. He was another fighter coming off almost a 3-year layoff. Riding the momentum of two knockout wins over Russian knockout king Alexander Shlemenko and Artem Frolov where he was a +500 underdog in both fights. He had a great showing in his debut where he fought off the tough grappling of Wellington Turman staying composed in several bad positions, shucking Turman off his back to end up in full guard and dropped some nuclear hooks to send Turman to the shadow realm. I thought the patience of Silva was so impressive because I’ve seen knockout artists fold mentally when they start to get out grappled in a fight. Silva stayed calm, found his opening, and got the kill. The man is riding 5 knockouts in a row and is someone to keep your eye on in the future.
Marlon Vera vs Davey Grant
A lot of people were excited for Vera/Grant rematch and it was even better than we thought it was going to earn a well-deserved fight of the night bonus. Marlon was a -215 going into the fight and Davey came out to surprise everyone making it a very close competitive fight. Winning the first round mixing up a variety of kicks and using his long, looping, awkward hooks. Marlon put his foot on the gas in the second using front kicks to the body, nasty knees and elbows in the clinch, and coming out on top of the grappling scrambles. Marlon put his stamp on the fight in the 3rd round with more slicing elbows and getting a takedown with beautiful ground strikes to seal the W. Just a veteran performance from Chito, loses the first round, adjusts, and mixed up all the three phases wonderfully. Happy both of these got to walk home with an extra 50k. Big fights in the future of both these guys. Would love to see Marlon get in there with former champion Dominick Cruz or past rival Jimmie Rivera.
One of the greatest of all time is my weekends MVP. It wasn’t in the UFC this time rather returning to his professional boxing career against former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Junior. People had very low expectations for the fight basing off Silva’s last run in the UFC and Junior being a laughingstock in the boxing community, doubling down on this claim missing weight by 3 pounds which is much more egregious in boxing than MMA. Silva took an extra 100k and took the rest of Junior’s pride. Winning a split decision that fans all thought should’ve been unanimous. It was the best Silva’s looked in years. Everything we love Andy showed up the speed, combinations, the head movement, the jab was money all fight, and classic Andy with his back against the ropes egging Junior on. You could tell he was having the time of his life. He looked so good people were questioning how he would have done if he came to the sport earlier like when he wanted to box Roy Jones Jr. back in 2008. I consider myself dead inside but watching how the win meant to Anderson made my heart warm. There were about seventy people in the ring with him celebrating. Surrounded by his children, a long-time friend and fellow MMA legend Minotauro Nogueira, and even boxing pound for pound king Canelo Alverez paid his respects to the combat sports legend. I never liked how the UFC didn’t give him a proper send-off in a sport and company he built off his magical performances, so it was emotional to see his friends, family, and a huge Mexican crowd all show love. It was lovely to see an MMA great go over to boxing and clown a former world champion who’s been in there with Sergio Martinez and Canelo. Andy’s got a lot of fun options in boxing with a potential Roy Jones Jr fight. He mentioned recently he’d like to fight one of the Paul brothers. I saw a comment about it on Reddit that had me rolling, “He actually looked decent and is their size so neither of the Paul brothers will fight him”. Regardless I got to give respect to my favorite and an all-time legend of MMA.