UFC Fight Night 117 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Japan
Japanese fight fans were early to rise Saturday, heading to Saitama Super Arena for UFC Fight Night 117.
Based on the quality of the card, their friends may have suggested they sleep in.
The card, which aired Friday night in the United States, was originally headlined by a rematch between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Ovince Saint Preux—a tepid, low-stakes matchup but one that at least had name recognition. But then Shogun went down with a knee injury, prompting the UFC to book 36-year-old Yushin Okami for a return to the Octagon.
That's not a good main event. The rest of the card wasn't much better, filled with potentially exciting but not robustly ranked or regarded competitors.
The lone exception was the co-main event, pitting strawweight standouts Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade against each other. They are among the best in their division, with a win putting either in an interesting situation.
Did it deliver? Did the main event overachieve? How about the rest of the card? As always, the final stat lines do not reveal all. These are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 117.
Full card results appear at the end.
Winner: The Saint Preux Choke
There have been five finishes by Von Flue Choke in UFC history. Three of them are owned by Ovince Saint Preux.
You can't set up the Von Flue Choke, at least not directly. You have to let your opponent grab your neck for a guillotine choke attempt. If your opponent—in this case Okami, an accomplished grappler—takes the bait and grabs for the choke, you rotate around and use your shoulder to push your body weight into their neck and turn off their lights. The only way the Von Flue works is if the opponent grabs for the guillotine.
If you're Okami, and you know Saint Preux has two wins by this method, why, oh why, would you go for the guillotine? Or get out of the position? Or do anything other than what he did? He apparently didn't think Saint Preux could pull it off again, or he thought he could control him with the move. It's hard to understand Okami's thinking, but Saint Preux capitalized and got yet another Von Flue Choke victory.
Or, shall I say, the Saint Preux Choke?
"Don't get it twisted; I'd still like to fight Shogun," Saint Preux told broadcaster Dan Hardy in the cage after the fight, in reference to his previously scheduled opponent. "Pretty much keep on doing what I did tonight and get ready for another fight."
Shogun Rua is nearing the end of his career and is diminished as a fighter. Another win over Rua wouldn't carry much appeal. Saint Preux is not a world-beater, but in a thin division he may have earned a higher-ranked fighter.
How about Ilir Latifi? Against a wrestler of Latifi's caliber, it's logical to think Saint Preux would need to dig a little deeper into his bag of tricks, beyond the opportunistic choke that does—or at least should—bear his name.
Winner: Jessica Andrade
That was a surprise. A bloody surprise.
Jessica Andrade was not favored against Claudia Gadelha, who previously fought for a UFC title. In the Octagon, Gadelha had only previously lost to champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk.
No longer. Andrade weathered an early storm and poured it on as Gadelha gassed. Andrade is known for wrestling and high-output striking, and both were on display as she pounded Gadelha into a bloody pulp.
It opened as a slugfest, with Gadelha getting the better of it with punches and a heavy elbow or two. Andrade found herself cut along the forehead. Gadelha attempted to get the fight to the mat, but Andrade always seemed to wind up on top and in perfect position for ground strikes. That emerged as a central theme in the contest.
As Gadelha slowed, Andrade's motor stood out even more by contrast. I don't know how she didn't punch herself out with all those shots she threw. She just marches forward and bangs. She opened up Gadelha with ground-and-pound, and it got worse as the control got easier and easier. Andrade won going away.
To give you a sense of the action, according to early estimates from FightMetric, Andrade landed 242 total strikes. Gadelha landed 47.
She's also a mere 25 years old, and although she previously lost to Jędrzejczyk, who hasn't? The strawweight champ may be the best female MMA fighter on the planet (although Cris Cyborg would have a bone to pick with that), and now may be a good time to book a rematch with the exciting Andrade.
Loser: Takanori Gomi
It only took 90 seconds.
Actually, all it took was one clean straight right from "Maestro" Dong Hyun Kim. Takanori Gomi has a laundry list of accolades in this sport. But now, at age 39 and after multiple lifetimes worth of wars, Gomi's chin is gone and his talents have eroded.
The moment his backside hit the canvas after that right hand, which didn't appear to be exceptionally powerful, Gomi seemed to be out of the fight. Kim followed up as Gomi turned to halfheartedly defending himself. The referee bailed him out. The notorious knockout artist never landed any significant offense.
For Gomi fans, it was hard to watch, especially in Saitama Super Arena, where so much of his history with PRIDE and other shows was written. Unless he can summon a magic resurgence as he pushes 40, it's hard to see how his fight career gets any better from here.
Winner: Gokhan Saki
That sound you hear; well, it's two sounds. The first is the reverberation from the titanic left hook Gokhan Saki used to knock out Henrique da Silva in his UFC debut. The second is the sound of clinking glasses as UFC officials celebrate a much-needed shot in the arm to their light heavyweight division.
Saki was a world-class kickboxer, with wins over Tyrone Spong and Daniel Ghita. Now he is making a serious run at MMA, and MMA better take him seriously right back.
Da Silva went forward fearlessly and ate a lot of blows for it. No, there was no defense to speak of from either man, but watching Saki fire flaming comets at Da Silva's head and body made up for it—and then some.
The Brazilian went for takedowns, but Saki defended them. He may not have been able to fend off, say, Daniel Cormier, but it was important to demonstrate that his takedown defense was serviceable at least.
His gas tank, however, may need some work. As the first round drew to a close, Saki found himself backed against the fence and eating some power shots. It seemed like he might be primed for a big letdown. Instead, he reached back and brought forth a devastating left hook that landed flush on Da Silva's jaw and sent him barreling backward.
It was a one-shot knockout.
"I feel I have made a statement in my first UFC fight," Saki said in a media statement after the fight. "I landed a couple of big bombs in the opening round and then with the knockout. ...After two years, I've got that fighting feeling back, and now I want to train to be the best. I don't care what's next. I want to train on my defense and build it up. Next year I will be fighting for the title."
Saki is a natural-born killer in the cage or the ring. He's not trying to put on a show. He's trying to separate the other guy from his damn consciousness. After the fight, he pointed to a certain heavyweight near the cage—a Mr. Alistair Overeem. That would be a nice co-main event for a pay-per-view card.
That's the kind of immediate impact Saki made Friday.
Winner: Jussier Formiga
Brazilian flyweight Jussier Formiga is a world-class jiu-jitsu player. He's had success in the UFC, but a serious run to the top has heretofore eluded him.
At age 32, Formiga entered Saitama Super Arena having lost two of three, most recently to Ray Borg. He's not the largest of flyweights at 5'5", and his standup and wrestling games can be suspect.
But when he can pull the fight into his wheelhouse, he's still as dangerous as anyone. He showed that when he defeated a much taller Ulka Sasaki (5'10") by first-round rear-naked choke.
Sasaki, himself coming off a win over Justin Scoggins, used his reach and some effective muay thai to bother and backpedal Formiga in the opening minutes. But that lankiness worked against him when Formiga went for a takedown, which he landed with ease.
From there, a scramble ensued, during which Sasaki exposed his neck. Formiga took advantage, taking the neck, taking the back, cinching the choke and earning the tap with 30 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
It brings Formiga to 6-4 in the UFC. He's probably not in the contender ranks just yet, but this brought him back up a step. Maybe one more win will get him there. Will this time be different?
Loser: The Entire Undercard
The preliminary card delivered on the evening's low expectations.
It was more than just the fact that it lacked a finish. In the four fights, there were two unanimous decisions and two split decisions.
The problem was the fights weren't any good. Alex Morono fought as if he were underwater against an underdog in Keita Nakamura—and he paid the price with a split-decision loss.
Syuri Kondo and Chan-Mi Jeon brought some interesting moments, but neither showed much of a killer instinct, seeming after a while to throw the same exchange over and over, punctuated by extensive stretches of inaction.
Daichi Abe was the star, toppling Hyun Gyu Lim for a fun upset. But it still wasn't what you might call scintillating, at least not outside the last-second knockdown that likely won him the fight.
On the whole, it was a letdown. Hey, it happens. It doesn't mean all the fighters should be cut. The matchmaking was perhaps just a bit too even-handed. And these fighters are all low-level. They can't all be barnburners.
UFC Fight Night 117 Full Card Results
Ovince Saint Preux def. Yushin Okami by submission (Von Flue Choke), 1:50, Rd. 1
Jessica Andrade def. Claudia Gadelha by unanimous decision
Dong Hyun Kim def. Takanori Gomi by TKO, 1:30, Rd. 1
Gokhan Saki def. Henrique da Silva by KO, 4:45, Rd. 1
Teruto Ishihara def. Rolando Dy by unanimous decision
Jussier Formiga def. Ulka Sasaki by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:30, Rd. 1
Keita Nakamura def. Alex Morono by split decision
Syuri Kondo def. Chan-Mi Jeon by split decision
Shinsho Anzai def. Luke Jumeau by unanimous decision
Daichi Abe def. Hyun Gyu Lim by unanimous decision