On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson did something that no one had ever done: He dominated Johny Hendricks. It took just three minutes, 31 seconds for Thompson's majestic striking game to dismantle Hendricks in the main event at UFC Fight Night 82.
A flurry of kicks and punches left Hendricks baffled by his opponent's speed. A counter straight right hand and left hook dazed the former champion against the cage. A spinning back kick and a series of hard right hands prompted referee John McCarthy to stop the bout.
Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter was on the money with his assessment:
That legit wasn't even a close fight. Just unreal. Thompson put on a Holm type performance there.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) February 7, 2016
Per UFC.com, Thompson landed 24 significant strikes in three-and-a-half minutes, compared to seven for Hendricks. Thompson's strikes had speed, power and accuracy. Combine those elements with his length (6'0"), and he may be the most dangerous striker in the sport.
To make his performance more impressive, Thompson stopped a takedown attempt by Hendricks within the first 30 seconds of the bout. This well-roundedness from a notorious striker against a respected grappler played to Botter's Holly Holm comparison.
It also supported MMA Fighting's Shaheen Al-Shatti's summary:
Stephen Thompson may have just figured this whole MMA thing out. Crazy.— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) February 7, 2016
Coming in, Thompson was known primarily as a karate master whose game wasn't developed. That doesn't look to be the case anymore. He put himself in position to challenge champion Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title, but Tyron Woodley has been waiting a long time for a shot at the gold.
It seems fair to give Woodley his shot, but it's hard not to think of how awesome a Thompson vs. Lawler fight could be. Hopefully, that's a fight we get to see at some point.
Roy Nelson Beats Jared Rosholt in a Horrible Fight
You won't find a worse co-main event. Roy Nelson and Jared Rosholt lumbered around the Octagon for 15 minutes without landing anything of significance. Nelson applied the most pressure and landed a few solid leg kicks. Those strikes led to his unanimous-decision victory.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden and MMA Mania tweeted what everyone had to be thinking:
I have it OH MY GOD JUST END PLEASE! https://t.co/Ia4sCyb9Mc— Jonathan Snowden (@JESnowden) February 7, 2016
Please let this be over.— MMA mania (@mmamania) February 7, 2016
Per UFC.com, the two heavyweights landed a total of 93 significant strikes—it seemed as though they landed even fewer. Nelson tried to create some action, but Rosholt wouldn't engage. Despite his celebrated wrestling background, Rosholt attempted only two takedowns in the entire fight.
It was a bizarre and excruciatingly boring fight to watch. Here's a look at all of the results from Las Vegas:
|Alex White vs. Artem Lobov||Featherweight||White by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)|
|Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson||Welterweight||Gall by Submission in 1st Round (Rear-Naked Choke)|
|Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas||Featherweight||Rivas by KO in 2nd Round (Flying Knee)|
|Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins||Flyweight||Scoggins by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)|
|Derrick Lewis vs. Damian Grabowski||Heavyweight||Lewis by TKO in 1st Round (Punches)|
|Joshua Burkman vs. KJ Noons||Lightweight||Burkman by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)|
|Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer||Welterweight||Pyle by TKO (Punches and Knees)|
|Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson||Light Heavyweight||Cirkunov by Submission in 2nd Round (Neck Crank)|
|Joseph Benavidez vs. Zack Makovsky||Flyweight||Benavidez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rafael Calvacante||Light Heavyweight||Saint Preux by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)|
|Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt||Heavyweight||Nelson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)|
|Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson||Welterweight||Thompson by TKO in 1st Round (Punches)|
Fox Sports 1 Broadcast
Gall Is the One
CM Punk has his first UFC opponent. Mickey Gall destroyed Mike Jackson inside of a minute to earn the distinction of welcoming the former WWE champion to the UFC.
Jackson was overmatched. He was making his professional debut, and the UFC served him up for Gall to shine ahead of a bout with Punk.
Fox Sports: UFC captured the first meeting between the two future combatants:
Per MMAFighting.com, Gall's trash talk was WWE-like immediately after the victory:
Gall: I want to be fed, I’m hungry. Feed me CM Punk, please!— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 7, 2016
In Gall's brief time in the Octagon, he displayed excellent poise and nice transitioning from striking to grappling. We don't know what to expect from Punk in the Octagon, but we'll find out what he has to offer at UFC 199 or UFC 200, per Dana White on the UFC Fight Pass broadcast.
The Nastiest of Knees
You won't see a more devastating knockout via flying knee than the one Diego Rivas used to stop Noad Lahat on Saturday night. After Lahat's Brazilian jiu-jitsu game thoroughly dominated him in the first round, Rivas was ready for his opponent to shoot for another takedown.
Just before they engaged for the first time in the second round, Rivas launched into the air and caught Lahat square on the chin. Lahat was out before he crumpled to the canvas. It was scary.
Ben Fowlkes of MMA Junkie, MMAFighting.com and Bleacher Report MMA reacted to the finish:
Yikes. When Lahat wakes up, he's really going to wish he'd finished one of the many submissions he went for in round 1.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) February 7, 2016
Rivas was getting dominated. And then landed a flying knee. And it’s over.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 7, 2016
Beal. Almeida. Tonight Diego Rivas etches his name alongside those of recent flying-knee greatness.— Bleacher Report MMA (@BR_MMA) February 7, 2016
Per B/R's Jeremy Botter, Lahat was at least able to get to his feet:
Lahat is now on his feet. Thank goodness.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) February 7, 2016
Lahat is no stranger to flying knees. Godofredo Pepey also defeated him with the exciting maneuver in March 2014. His career thus far has brought a new meaning to the phrase "watch those knees."
The Black Beast Devours Grabowski
Derrick Lewis made quick work of Damian Grabowski. After staving off a takedown, Lewis gained top position and rained down punches with bad intentions until the referee stepped in to stop the bout.
It was a quick stoppage, but the outcome wasn't in doubt. Grabowski had no answer for Lewis' ground-and-pound. Fox Sports' Damon Martin had a different way to describe Lewis' ground attack:
Derrick Lewis doesn't use ground and pound. He uses murder-death-kill #UFCVegas— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) February 7, 2016
Lewis talked about a potential title shot during his post-fight interview on Fox Sports 1, but he probably needs to win three more fights before he can challenge for the gold.
Pyle Wins Seesaw Affair
Sean Spencer rocked 40-year-old Mike Pyle in the first round but couldn't get the finish. Pyle wouldn't waste his opportunity to put Spencer away. With both fighters gassed in the third round, Pyle landed a hard spinning elbow that wobbled Spencer.
Pyle then methodically landed a series of knees, punches and elbows until referee Yves Lavigne called for an end to the fight. Fowlkes gave his take on Pyle's performance:
Mike Pyle can still reach down and find that old, savage meanness when he has to. What a beating there at the end.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) February 7, 2016
Pyle isn't a serious contender anymore, but he proved he can still compete at a high level.
Cirkunov Cranks Out a Win
Alex Nicholson was in over his head, and Misha Cirkunov sent him home with a loss in his UFC debut. Nicholson kept trying amateurish spinning strikes—missing them all—and he had no solution for Cirkunov's ground game.
In the second round, Cirkunov gained top position, and Nicholson's lack of poise put him in a compromising position. Cirkunov took Nicholson's back and locked in a rear-naked choke.
It didn't appear as though he had it in under his neck, but Cirkunov was able to squeeze Nicholson's jaw, which had been injured before, per the Fox Sports 1 broadcast, to induce the quick tapout. Per Fox Sports, Cirkunov gave us the graphic details:
Misha Cirkunov: "I heard his jaw crack". Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. #UFCVegas— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 7, 2016
Neither man looked impressive, and Cirkunov might be in trouble against a more experienced and talented light heavyweight.
UFC Fight Night 83 will take place Sunday, February 21, at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The battle of the UFC's two Cowboys will headline the event.
Fresh off his loss to Rafael dos Anjos in December, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone will take on Cowboy Alex Oliveira. The main event was originally supposed to feature Cerrone against Tim Means, but a potential anti-doping violation forced the latter out of the fight, per MMA Weekly. Oliveira stepped in to take his place.
The fight won't have much bearing on the lightweight title scene, but it has some flare because of the shared nickname. Cerrone has also proved to be an exciting fighter in most of his fights.
It should be an entertaining scrap.
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