The Daily MMA Review for April 26: UFC 172, new BW title fights, and regional MMA results

Get caught up with everything that happened in the last twenty-four hours with today’s edition of The Daily MMA Review with notes from UFC 172, this week’s Bellator 118, XCFi4, and more.ufc172_300x250

UFC 172 Recap
– UFC made it’s debut in Maryland at the Baltimore Arena, and the state was rewarded with a stellar night of action. The arena, which was sold out with an attendance of 13,485 played host to brutal knockouts, entertaining scraps and Jon Jones being Jon Jones.

– Although featherweight champ Jose Aldo (24-1) is right at his heels, any pound for pound rankings list must start with Jones (20-1). He wasn’t able to finish Glover Teixeira (22-3), but Jones still looked like the best fighter on the planet, controlling the fight at range and demolishing Teixeira in the clinch with elbows.

If Jones ever decides to earn some easy money and come out with MMA manual, he can use stills from the Teixeira fight for the striking section. From different types of punches to elbows to kicks to knees, Jones landed just about every strike that a human being can feasibly attempt, and he also scored with a few strikes that seemed extra terrestrial.

Prior to his seventh consecutive successful title defense, the light heavyweight champ returned into the good graces of the fans, at least in the Baltimore Arena, by paying homage to Ravens great Ray Lewis by imitating his sack dance in his walk-out to the cage.

With that being, Jones wasn’t exactly perfect. He allowed Teixeira to tag him several times throughout the fight, especially within the clinch with uppercuts and in the first frame, but the real issue with Jones is more of a problem for his opponents. Jones has a habit of constantly extending his arms and leaving his hands open, which puts his fingers in prime position to poke his opponent’s eye – which he was warned for doing twice in his fight against Teixeira. Now, the technique is effective for Jones. It allows him to control the range, keep himself out of the harm’s way and frustrates his opponents, but it could cost him down the line if he’s deducted a point in a close fight.

– Here’s the thing about Mixed Martial Arts. It doesn’t matter how astutely and how long you have watched the sport, MMA will surprise you and make you feel like a fool, constantly.

From the moment that the Anthony Johnson (17-4)/Phil Davis (12-2) to mere seconds before both light heavyweights touched gloves last night, I fully anticipated that Davis would welcome the former welterweight back to the UFC with takedowns, dominant top control and more takedowns. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Johnson shucked all of Davis’ takedown attempts and used his power and speed to absolutely dominate Davis en route to winning a clear unanimous decision.

The big winner from last night was definitely Anthony Johnson. The only other fighter to completely overwhelm Davis like he did was Rashad Evans. Johnson’s stock rose dramatically, and a championship shot could be in his near future.

– Speaking of approaching a potential championship shot, former Strikeforce middleweight title-holder Luke Rockhold (12-2) is a win or two away from being a viable challenger for the UFC’s 185 pound belt. He just ran through Tim Boetsch (17-7) by defending a takedown attempt from Boetsch with an inverted triangle and flawlessly transitioning into a fight-concluding kimura.

– There was a streak of a three straight guillotine choke finishes on the card with lightweight Jim Miller (24-4) choking Yancy Medeiros (9-2, 1 NC) unconscious, featherweight Max Holloway (9-3) submitting Andre Fili (13-2) in the third frame after two close periods and flyweight Joseph Benavidez (20-4) unveiling the “Joa Constrictor” and forcing Timothy Elliott (10-5-1) to tap with his feet.

Jim Miller absolutely made short work of his late replacement opponent. It’s time for Miller to be throw back into the fray at 155 pounds, and I really like a potential match-up with Donald Cerrone that MMAReport’s own Jason Floyd talked about on The MMA Report podcast in the lead-up to this fight.

The takeaway from the Holloway/Fili bout was more about the future than the present. At ages 22 and 23 respectively, Max Holloway and Andre Fili have done a lot so far in their young careers and both fighters looked sharp on the feet and with their grappling in the fight.

Joseph Benavidez is definitely the best flyweight in the world not named Demetrious Johnson, but it’s hard to give him another shot right away after he was knocked out by the champ in their last fight. I’d like to see Benavidez match up with the winner of the John Dodson (15-6)/John Moraga (14-2) fight in match-up of Johnson’s former title challengers.

Timothy Elliot might be the most impressive loser in the UFC. In his three UFC losses, he lost highly contested decisions to Ali Bagautinov (13-2) and John Dodson, and he was winning the fight against Benavidez up until he was caught in the choke.

– Every time Takanori Gomi (35-9, 1 NC) fights, one of the lingering questions in the back of my head before is if this the one where father time wins. The 35-year-old, who at one point was on top of the lightweight world, is in a battle against time, but fortunately for MMA fans, he still showed signs of being a entertaining and skilled lightweight against Isaac Vallie-Flagg (14-5-1). Gomi ended up a winning a back-and-forth striking war that rightfully earned fight of the night honors.

– The lone lackluster tilt of the night was the women’s bantamweight bout between Bethe Correia (8-0) and Jessamyn Duke (3-1, 1 NC) that saw Correia outpointing Duke with the more effective striking output. After the fight, Correia held four fingers, and then put one of them down, essentially calling out the “Four Horsewomen” stable of Ronda Rousey (9-0), Shayna Baszler (15-8), Marina Shafir (1-0) and Duke. A fight against Baszler next makes a lot of sense for Correia.

Duke enjoyed a reach advantage of over ten inches, but she lacked consistency when it came to dictating the range. At the end of the day, I expect Jessamyn Duke to be a real figure in the the division, but she still needs some more time to develop and get a better grasp of her arsenal.

– The night started with two highlight-reel worthy knockouts from lightweight Danny Castillo (17-6) and bantamweight Chris Beal (9-0). After being outwrestled by Charlie Brenneman (19-7) in the first round, Castillo dropped levels, causing Brenneman to extend his left and then came back up with a huge right that knocked Brenneman clean out, and Beal showed how important it is to control the distance, landing a beautiful flying knee in the second round against Patrick Williams (7-4), who had nothing behind but the cage.

At one end of the spectrum, you have a 34-year-old in Castillo, who has probably seen his last days as a contender, and then you have a 28-year-old in Beal, who is a year or so away from hitting his prime. Regardless of what the future holds, it’s important to take a step back and enjoy the violent but spectacular present.

– Lastly, it’s important to mention something that Joe Rogan said on UFC 172, which is that UFC breaking ground in Maryland would not be possible without Shogun Fights owner John Rallo. Back in 2008, Rallo spearheaded the legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in Maryland, and six years later, the state provided an environment for the best Mixed Martial Artist in the world to showcase his craft.

Bloody Elbow’s Trent Reinsmith wrote a great article on Rallo’s impact that you can check out here.

The News
1. With less than a week until Bellator 118, Eduardo Dantas (16-3), the promotion’s bantamweight champion, was forced to withdraw from his scheduled title fight against Season 9 tournament winner Joe Warren (10-3). Dantas suffered a head injury while, and he’ll be examined in California. As of press time, he is out indefinitely. Stepping up for Dantas will be 2013 Summer Series winner Rafael Silva (21-3), who had to withdraw from a previously scheduled fight with Dantas due to a knee injury. The Silva/Warren scrap will be for an interim title.

While I’m not a big fan of interim championships, it does make sense in this instance, simply so Bellator can maintain some consistency. The reason being is that both Warren and Silva have earned championship fights by winning tournaments, so putting an interim strap up for grabs allows Bellator to get away with putting on the Silva/Warren fight. Sure it’s nothing more than a tangible version of semantics, but it’d be a bad look to have a tournament winner never get his promised championship fight.

2. Another bantamweight championship fight was reshuffled. MMA Junkie reported that Aaron Phillips (5-0), and Thomas Almeida (16-0) will now take on Caio Machado (4-0) for the vacant Legacy FC Bantamweight Championship at Legacy FC 32.

The promotion will be crowning a new kingpin at 135 pounds after Matt Hobar (8-1) was signed by the UFC to take on former RFA titleholder Pedro Munhoz (10-1).

22-year-old Thomas Almeida is one of the brightest prospect in the bantamweight division. The Chute Boxe producted finished all sixteen of his opponents, has succeeded when he’s been put in danger and has ran through several opponents with ease. His opponent, Caio Machado, should be a heavy underdog as two of his four outings have come against winless opponents, and in his last fight, he was rocked a few times in what ended up being a fantastic, back-and-forth first round against Domingo Pilarte (3-1).

Other Notable MMA Results
1. In Melbourne, Australia, TUF Nations contestant Jake Matthews (4-0) went to the distance for the first time in his young career, winning a close fight over Stuart Dare (3-3) by effectively mixing his strikes with his wrestling at Kings of Kombat 12. The 19-year-old Australian lost to eventual tournament finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the opening round of the welterweight bracket.

2. At Cage Fury Fighting Championship 35, 25-year-old Levan Makashvili (4-0) finished Scott Heckman (17-5) with strikes in the fourth round to win the promotion’s featherweight strap. Also, Jonavin Webb (6-0), an undefeated welterweight out of the Renzo Gracie camp, took a clear unanimous decision over Mike Winters (7-4), and former King of the Cage champion, Ultimate Fighter contestant and Bellator bantamweight Jimmie Rivera (14-1) won a decision of his own and extended his current run of wins to 13 against Cody Stevens (11-7-1).

3. In the main event of XFC International 4, 38-year-old featherweight Marcos Dos Santos (22-11-1, 1 NC) won his 14th fight in a row, taking a split decision over UFC alumn Waylon Lowe (14-6). The scorecards for the contest were 29-28 Dos Santos, 27-30 Lowe, and 29-28 Dos Santos.

Another win streak that grew was that of female strawweight Kalindra Fale (15-3-1). Victorious for the 11th consecutive time, Fale swept the scorecards in her decision win over Sanja Sucevic (4-3).

Three of the tournament finals that will determine the inaugural XFC Latin American Champions were finalized.

In the middleweight bracket, Alberto Uda (8-0), who beat Christian Frohlich (4-2) via second round TKO, will take one Thiago Rela (8-2), who submitted Miguel Gentilini (6-1) in the first frame. At welterweight, Will Galvao (4-1), who finished Cairo Rocha (16-4) with strikes in the first, will take on Kevin Medinilla (5-0), who put away Pedro Junio (8-1) in the initial period with a submission. And lastly, Natan Schulte (9-2) advanced to the 155 pound final by knocking out Gilsen Lomanto (10-2), and he will meet Glaucio Eliziario (11-2), who edged out Alan Dos Santos (13-2) to win a split decision.

One Last Thing
1. The dolphin community has a new guardian, and his name is Cathal Pendred. Pendred, a middleweight contestant on the 19th season of TUF, helped out an injured baby dolphin earlier today, and he posted a couple of pictures from the scene on his Twitter.