UFC Fight Night 105 — Struggle for Relevance

UFC Fight Night 105: Lewis vs. Browne

The main story in this UFC Fight Night Halifax card is of two bearded and balding former top contenders who used to be the scariest fighters in the UFC but are now languishing and potentially in danger of being released from the UFC. Their falls from grace had been mostly due to what fans perceive as personal failings and ill-advised decisions taken during their period of relevance. They now have to fight for survival in a UFC Fight Night card.

Maybe I’m wrong about Travis Browne and Johny Hendricks. Maybe everything I know of them is just taken from media and fan speculations. However, their last few performances were objectively bad, even if you squint. Hendricks was forcibly removed from the welterweight division due to weight control issues and Browne is both a shadow of his former self and haunted by his history of domestic violence.

They then had to struggle to stay relevant up in the frigid cold of Nova Scotia on this UFC Fight Night. I’m sure they’ll be fine. Hendricks because he does win and is talking big again; Browne because he still gets to go home to his sugar mommy.

UFC Fight Night 105 Main Card

Derrick Lewis vs. Travis Browne

The Travis Browne of old who danced around and elbowed the side of Josh Barnett’s head into oblivion has been long-gone for a long time now. Ever since he was drawn away from Alliance MMA by a temptress named Ronda Jean Rousey and dropped into a hole called Glendale Fighting Club, he hasn’t been the same.

It’s granted that his recent losses, a streak now extended to three, are to two former heavyweight champions. However, one of them he lost to twice by decision and the other has a reputation for physically coming apart like Jenga. His last win was a third round stoppage against Matt Mitrione, a man who recently got pulled out of fighting Fedor Emelianenko allegedly due to a kidney stone.

And now, he has been made a stepping stone by arguably the hottest heavyweight prospect in the UFC right now. He himself had been beaten by Matt Mitrione, proving yet again for the umpteenth time that MMA math is bunk.

There’s another issue to this—shoddy referee work by Mario Yamasaki. It was a murder scene that saw a couple of punches too many. Lewis then called out Travis’ penchant for practicing his ground-and-pound on his life partners, then made a mention of Ronda Rousey’s buttocks of above average quality.

The real crime here was said glutes were assessed as such without upfront hands-on assessment. Maybe we can ask Travis about them… oh wait.

Johny Hendricks vs. Hector Lombard

Now that Pigg Rigg is in a weight division he can actually stay in, perhaps we can finally get to see something similar to the Johny Hendricks who made the now-returning Georges St. Pierre take an extended vacation. This Johny Hendricks is nothing like the one who was telling GSP to shove it. How the mighty have fallen, but at least he won this one.

For some reason, I used to confuse Hector Lombard with his fellow Cuban fighter Yoel Romero. Perhaps the difference now is Romero has reached the heights that Lombard could have. However, this makes it his fourth fight without a win, the first one being a decision win against Josh Burkman that got overturned due to a positive PED test.

For his middleweight debut, Johny Hendricks looked good with not having to cut all that weight. Maybe his ongoing love affair with the Colonel won’t be further jeopardized and I hope he got himself a big bucket to treat himself after defeating a well-known name in the division. He now wants GSP at middleweight, but let’s pump the brakes and drive slow first before we get to ahead of ourselves.

By next month, it’ll be Lombard’s third winless year. With this loss against a languishing Johny Hendricks, his prowess and ability to continue with his career—now at 44 fights—may be put into question.

Gavin Tucker vs. Sam Sicilia

If you combine the bald head of Travis Browne and the beard of Johny Hendricks, you get Sam Sicilia. That’s the only point of interest for me with this fight; I’ve not tuned in to either these two guys. I found them… interesting.

Tucker seems talented with speed and a good sense of range and angles, a bit like Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt, although he could do it with a bit less showboating. Then again, fighting in your hometown does do that to you, it seems. I’ll have to keep an eye on this kid to see if he gets far with that talent.

Sicilia was certainly outmatched, and he also made some questionable decisions. He threw only a handful of punches in the first two round and tried to pull the trigger in the third only to get clocked. I’m sure he’s no slouch since he got to the main card of a UFC Fight Night, so perhaps I have to look for his past fights, but he looked rough here.

Elias Theodorou vs. Cezar Ferreira

I was instantly a Mutante fan when I saw Cezar Ferreira fight for the first time in the UFC. He’s a physical freak with novel blend of jiu jitsu and capoeira, so I thought he had a good chance at getting to the top. Unfortunately, he encountered roadblocks—before this fight, all his UFC losses had been by knockout. I thought as long as he doesn’t get caught, he can win.

I don’t know if Elias Theodorou rings any bells for most fans, but he’s a solid up-and-comer who beat that smiling dork Sam Alvey, who is no pushover himself as he has Nate Marquardt and Cezar Ferreira among his wins. In this matchup, Mutante didn’t get caught, but he still lost via unanimous decision.

Apparently, Ferreira broke the fourth metacarpal on his left hand with the first punch he hit. That does offer some explanation for the performance, and it shows he’s pretty tough to go through three whole rounds fighting with that.

Sara McMann vs. Gina Mazany

I like Sara McMann. She’s a nice girl and a strong wrestler, having been an Olympian prior to pro MMA. She lost to three former women’s bantamweight champions before beating Jessica Eye (my girl despite being in a 4-fight losing streak) and then Alexis Davis. But what I found interesting is how she won this one against Gina Mazany.

Two straight wins with an arm triangle choke. I’m always for fighters with signature techniques, especially in grappling. While one-trick ponies are ill-advised in MMA, there’s a certain charm to the plucky pro with a reliable technique he/she practiced over and over again. It was why I kinda liked CB Dollaway with his Peruvian Necktie, Cody MacKenzie and Pride-era Alistair Overeem with the Guillotine, and Krzysztof Soszynski with his quick Kimura.

It was also why I was aboard the Ronda Rousey hype train before it abruptly derailed.

If she can stick to her guns, perhaps she can get another title shot. Then again, I don’t think Amanda Nunes is dropping the belt anytime soon and she really needs to gain an extra edge with her stand-up.

Meanwhile, Mazany is going to need a lot more experience. She came off of the Ultimate Fighter, and it’d be good to see her put more through her paces. Sara McMann just happens to be a lot better than her right now.

Other Fights and Comments

The only fight in the preliminaries of this UFC Fight Night I was interested in was Randa Markos’ upset over former strawweight champion Carla Esparza. It was a pretty good scrap, and I thought Esparza could’ve gotten it with that arm triangle late in the second round. There was also that sick-looking crucifix, which could’ve seen some Gary Goodridge elbows (if only 12-6 elbows were not still illegal).

But despite those cool moments, I thought there still wasn’t enough wrestling on Esparza’s part to tip things to her favor; Markos was able to do enough on the feet to get the win. Esparza has had some grueling knee and shoulder issues in the past couple of years, so seeing her fight again was a good sign. However, she certainly didn’t deserve to stay at #3 in the rankings after not fighting for so long.

Meanwhile, that anti-bullying PSA in Markos’ post-fight interview is noteworthy since (according to her) she had been ganged up on by Esparza and Felice Herrig in what was perhaps the most Kardashian-esque season of The Ultimate Fighter. She must be feeling good right now—she also holds a submission win over Herrig in the show.

Also, the new commentator Todd Grisham. I know him from his time in WWE; he’s like a reverse Mauro Ranallo with a bit less talent and “MAMMA MIA.” As a debut, it was alright for the most part, although he could tone down the shouts of “OH” just a bit. He’ll have time to get used to chemistry with fellow commentators and the flow of UFC fights, and he’ll have a ton of practice in future UFC Fight Night events, so I’m sure he’ll be alright. Fans are hating on him too quickly.

Meanwhile, that Mike Goldberg-sized hole is still there.

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