UFC Fight Night 130 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
On Sunday morning, the home of the Beatles was the home of the UFC.
The company's first event in Liverpool, England, featured a favorite son in the main event. Liverpudlian Darren Till faced lethal kickboxer and top-ranked welterweight Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. If the heavy-handed Till could impose his will, he'd become a bona fide contender in his own right.
There was just one little problem. At the pre-fight weigh-ins, Till missed weight by 3.5 pounds—not an insignificant amount. Team Thompson allowed the fight to continue nonetheless, on the condition that Till not weigh more than 188 pounds on fight day. Again, that is significant, as Till told MMAjunkie's Mike Bohn and John Morgan that he usually weighs about 210 pounds before he starts his cut (and, thus, when he actually steps in to fight). That means Till was pretty dehydrated when he fought. On the other hand, you're playing with fire, on multiple levels, every time you put yourself through such a precipitous weight cut.
That's another argument for another day. What mattered Sunday was whether Till could fight through it and get a win in front of his hometown crowd. Did he do it? Could he serve as a balm for the wounds of a city still smarting from a certain football match the day before?
There was plenty of intrigue across the 11-fight slate, and as always the final stat lines only reveal so much. These are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 130.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Darren Till
What's that smell? Do you smell something? I smell some home cooking.
On paper, local boy Till defeated Thompson by a comfortable margin. The scorecards read 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.
"I know Stephen thinks I'm an aggressive fighter, and I am, but I'm also a calm and collected fighter," Till told broadcaster Dan Hardy in the cage after the fight. "I wanted to show him my muay thai was good. He's a phenomenal striker. ... I had to use every part of my brain to figure him out. And I couldn't. Maybe one lucky left hand maybe edged it."
Plenty of fans wanted to see Till make good in front of a raucous crowd. But those scorecards. Man, those scorecards. To claim, as two judges did, that Till won four of the five rounds is nakedly, openly false. If the Liverpool MMA powers that be wanted this to be their first and only UFC card, it might have gotten the job done. Would any top-level fighter want to face Till or any other local here?
Let's take a look at the fight. According to official stat keeper FightMetric, both men threw 126 significant strikes, with Till out-landing Thompson 38-30. That's not a be-all, end-all stat, but it does give a flavor of how close this was.
Thompson took an early edge, peppering Till's body in the first two rounds. His constant lateral movement and stance-switching helped confound and tire Till, who probably had a cardio disadvantage even before the weight-cutting issue.
For the most part, the fight was dull. No reason to dance around that. Till was sucked into a tactical battle with Thompson, waiting on the counter opportunity that never came and consistently procrastinating on the essential task of forcing himself inside Thompson's range. Till did the most damage between the two, mainly with a single burst, a big knockdown in the final round that may have carried more psychological weight than physical.
Before we get all sad over Thompson or wonder why he isn't labeled a real winner here, it must be noted that Thompson brought this on himself.
Thompson was an undefeated kickboxing wizard before joining the UFC. With his rangy attacks, complicated style and diverse arsenal of kicks, he was plugged right into the machine and allowed to flourish into a star.
Even when he's not firing off spinning hook kicks, Thompson can be fun to watch. He stays on his toes and is always moving, always feinting, switching stances, keeping opponents on their back foot. It's all effortless, as if he walks down the street this way.
Lately, though, he simply hasn't been pulling the trigger. He keeps viewers on the edges of their seats, then...nothing. All his fights are extended stalemates, with the lack of offense leading to razor-thin contests that are difficult to score under the best of circumstances. His recent fights epitomize this sense of anticlimax, like fireworks that fizzle in the launcher.
It happened twice with champ Tyron Woodley, then against Jorge Masvidal, now Sunday against Till. He seems to get so caught up in tactics and mechanics, of waiting for that perfect sliver of daylight, that he forgets he's in a fight.
Not only is his style not exciting, it's not even successful. He's now 1-2-1 over his last four.
Wonderboy might be a fitting nickname for Thompson. There's a lot to wonder about.
There's even more to wonder about with that atrocious scoring, and more questions and answers will surely come forward in the next few days.
For now, though, time to give Till some shine. He's a likable kid with a great skill set. He's clearly popular around Liverpool way and beyond. It didn't come the way he might've wanted, but here it is nonetheless. It's easily the biggest win of his career, and the roar of the crowd (a surprised roar, but still loud) won't fade in his ears anytime soon.
Winner: Neil Magny
You know what Neil Magny does? He wins MMA fights.
Englishman Craig White wasn't at the level of most of Magny's opponents. That showed in the -650 odds (bet $100 to win $650) favoring the American, per OddsShark. To be fair, White showed a lot of heart to step in on two weeks' notice after original opponent Gunnar Nelson went down. Heart wasn't enough to keep White safe.
In a lopsided affair, Magny moved White around the cage almost at will. Eventually, with White against the fence and his head held dangerously, Magny crunched White's head against the fence with a thudding knee. White crumpled, Magny swarmed with punches and the first-round TKO was done.
Magny has fought and beaten some of the welterweight division's biggest names, including Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Kelvin Gastelum and others. He is a very, very good fighter, and he continues to be underrated.
After the fight, Magny called out wunderkind Kamaru Usman—a guy who has repeatedly claimed that opponents are too afraid to take a fight with him. We'll see if Usman answers the bell.
Loser: Sunday Morning UFC
I thoroughly enjoy morning MMA cards. And not one in the morning, either, as it is for many UFC cards or overseas events. I'm talking about, like, you have coffee and toast in your bathrobe while you watch.
That's the way it was for UFC Fight Night 130, at least for Americans. It all had a very low-key, dignified, Breakfast at Wimbledon thing going on.
Unfortunately for this particular morning, the action didn't cooperate. And it wasn't just that dud of a main event.
Sure, there were some awesome moments, but at a macro level, this was not a great event. Why? The facts are incontrovertible: The UFC's large number of events dilutes the talent available for each card.
Sometimes a lower-talent card delivers good action fights. But this one started flat and stayed flat. Despite some good performances, even the finishes as a whole— six of them on the 11-bout lineup—were not overly memorable.
Hey, when your calendar is as packed as the UFC's, this is bound to happen. For every mediocre-on-paper card that ends up being a pleasant surprise, you get a few like this. That's why the other ones are surprising.
English fans probably didn't see any warts on this card.
It was a tough day in Liverpool, especially coming on the heels of the soccer team of the same name falling to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. So UFC Fight Night 130 was like a soothing balm for the city's sporting psyche.
Official results and more are below, but the overall tally was 5-3 for the English on the evening. Till, Arnold Allen, Claudio Silva, Darren Stewart and Tom Breese took home victories. White, Brad Scott and Liverpudlian Molly McCann came up short.
On the whole, a good night in a city whose sports fans needed it.
Winner: Arnold Allen
Things were bleak for Arnold Allen heading into the final round. Denmark's Mads Burnell had smothered the Englishman throughout the fight to that point.
"It looks like Allen may be running out of options," Hardy observed from cageside.
In that moment, Hardy wasn't wrong. But then there was another moment.
Out of nowhere, Allen got hold of a choke on Burnell from the front. It morphed into a ninja choke, it was tight from the outset, they hit the ground and Burnell tapped. The whole sequence lasted about 15 seconds.
The win woke up the crowd and moved the 24-year-old Allen to 13-1 as a pro, including 4-0 in the UFC. It also entered Allen on the short list for Comeback Fight of the Year.
Loser: Makwan Amirkhani
"This is show business, guys," Makwan Amirkhani told Hardy and the crowd after he defeated Jason Knight by split decision. "I'm sure you enjoyed that."
Amirkhani's definition of show business would appear to differ from mine. Yes, it was great to see Mr. Finland get a big win in his first bout since March 2017. He's considered a loser in this space because it wasn't a convincing victory and because any and all show business came from Knight.
Knight scored early with two knockdowns in the first round. He had an edge on the feet throughout, but whenever he registered some damage, he followed up with submission attempts instead of more strikes. That's not a great decision against a wrestler the caliber of Amirkhani.
Amirkhani, for his part, used said wrestling to smother Knight and prevent, well, any significant action at all. Knight played right into Amirkhani's hands, choosing to work from his back rather than try to scramble to his feet.
Not a whole lot happened over the 15 minutes. It was a close fight, as the judges' tally indicates, and a nod to Knight would not have been outlandish. Give Amirkhani credit for taking care of business, if not show business.
Winner: Tom Breese
Daniel Kelly doesn't do anything prettily. That's why people like him.
The 40-year-old judoka has the UFC's ultimate "dad bod," with his slow and clunky style and heavily taped knee and ankle. It makes him a bit of an emotional favorite in many of his bouts.
Not on Sunday.
Coming into the preliminary headliner, Great Britain was 0-2 on the evening. Tom Breese changed that. After a few minutes of feeling out, and with Kelly persistently covering up and parrying, Breese ripped an uppercut through Kelly's guard that raked the side of Kelly's face.
The shot sent Kelly reeling, and then follow-up punches put him down and out. It was Breese's first fight in two years, but he's still 11-1 as a pro at the age of 26. Fun things could be ahead for the lad from Birmingham.
Full Card Results
Darren Till def. Stephen Thompson by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Neil Magny def. Craig White by TKO, 4:32, Rd. 1
Arnold Allen def. Mads Burnell by submission (front choke), 2:41, Rd. 3
Makwan Amirkhani def. Jason Knight by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Claudio Silva def. Nordine Taleb by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:31, Rd. 1
Darren Stewart def. Eric Spicely by TKO, 1:47, Rd. 2
Tom Breese def. Dan Kelly by TKO, 3:33, Rd. 1
Lina Lansberg def. Gina Mazany by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Carlo Pedersoli Jr. def. Brad Scott by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Gillian Robertson def. Molly McCann by technical submission (rear-naked choke), 2:05, Rd. 2
Elias Theodorou def. Trevor Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)