UFC on ESPN 12: Dustin Poirier beats Dan Hooker in Fight of the Year candidate

UFC on ESPN 12 winner Dustin Poirier: It's back to the drawing board

#3 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirer outlasted #5 ranked Dan Hooker in a Fight of the Year candidate, topping off a brilliant UFC Vegas main card. There were big wins for Mike Perry, Brendan Allen and a triumphant return on short notice for Julian Erosa among others on display during a memorable evening of action.

For a detailed review of this fantastic card’s prelims, click here…

Poirier proves too good for Hooker in gruelling Fight of the Year clash

Dustin Poirier wins bloody 'Fight of the Year' candidate with Dan ...

Hooker started well but crucially faded in the later rounds against a more experienced Poirier

48-47, 48-47, 48-46: Dustin Poirier beats Dan Hooker by unanimous decision

Hooker’s remarkable flurry of one-two punches near the cage and sheer determination against Poirier’s clubbing shots and vicious leg kicks.

You can take your pick, but round two was easily the most memorable highlight from a relentless encounter which had everything but a knockout.

Both landed multiple knockout punches, but their durability and toughness was on display as millions marvelled from home worldwide.

Back-and-forth, they continued fighting at a frenetic pace and embraced fighting in the pocket with strikes aplenty.

The Hangman started better, but Poirier’s experience proved key as he finished strong and used that Octagon expertise to ultimately prevail on all three judges’ scorecards.

Hooker landed some nasty leg kicks in the early exchanges, two of which hit Poirier’s cup and after a warning from referee Herb Dean, it was clear to see neither man was leaving a stone unturned in their efforts to assert early dominance.

Whenever Dustin landed kicks or a stinging shot, Hooker responded immediately afterwards with perfectly-timed knees and elbows.

If the latter went to the body with a bruising combo, then Poirier would react with an accurate punch combo of his own.

Hooker’s takedown defence was impressive, though constantly absorbing those strikes certainly took a toll on the New Zealander more.

The middle rounds was where Dustin did his best work, before finishing the final round with a calculated approach to both frustrate and outwork his gamely opponent.

In R5, Poirier was jabbing to perfection. Although his striking and takedown defence wasn’t faultless, he always had an answer in the midst of danger by using his favoured guillotine choke to either apply pressure on his back or help break out of situations.

Judging by the strikes landed, you couldn’t argue with the judges’ scoring either.

Poirier-Hooker – total strikes per round:

R1: 20-35
R2: 53-69
R3: 38-30
R4: 43-23
R5: 54-25

Post-fight comments

Poirier improves to 26-6, 1 NC and after Justin Gaethje’s win over Tony Ferguson last month sealed an upcoming bout against champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, it’ll be interesting to see who Dustin’s next opponent is.

On the fight itself and whether he was hurt at a specific moment over their 25-minute brawl:

“It was a tough one, Dan came to fight – he’s on the rise, thought he was going to get past me, talked a lot of trash like he was going to move forward but I’m the f—ing champ… I trusted in my team, skill, work ethic, pulled this one out and had a few more rounds in me. 

The only time I was hurt was when Dan got me against the cage and slid a knee in there.

Even when I’m standing with good posture, he lifts them up almost higher than my head without telegraphing them – it was impressive, hit me square with a knee but we regrouped and came back stronger. That’s fighting, a fight isn’t a fight until there’s something to overcome.” 

He is still aware that improvements can be made though, having absorbed too much damage for his liking:

“Could have been a bit sharper, I didn’t disrespect his power but stayed in the pocket too long, got my range at the end and countered his lazy shots. I can do better than that.”

On what’s next, he admitted plenty is up in the air after the longest lay-off of his career.

“I don’t know, maybe [I fight again] at the end of the year or next year. I want to get home to my daughter. It was a long time off – the longest break of my career in 40 fights – had to take nine months off, sit on the sidelines, couldn’t put weight on my leg for eight weeks.

Had to overcome some stuff and want to go back to the drawing board, keep getting better and stay in love with the sport. I don’t want to push myself or work myself so much that I hate this. I’ve been doing it a long time, pushing myself to the limits everyday so want to do it the right way.”

Mike Perry overwhelms Mickey Gall, wins via UD in co-main event

UFC on ESPN 12: Mike Perry snaps losing skid against Mickey Gall

Perry reacted to Gall’s impressive R1 with increased punch output, had one knockdown and won

In the night’s co-main event, Mike Perry (14-6) returned to winning ways with a defiant unanimous decision victory over Mickey Gall (6-3).

All three judges scored the contest 29-28 in his favour, as the 28-year-old proved too much for Gall to handle over 15 minutes – despite plenty of pre-fight coverage surrounding his bold decision to go without cornermen for this encounter.

Instead, he had girlfriend Latory Gonzalez in his corner for the first time, which surprised many but crucially didn’t come back to haunt him afterwards.

It might not have looked that way after R1 here. Perry was constantly on his toes, moving forward and walking Gall down – yet Mickey was unfazed and met that tactic with some emphatic leg kicks.

The pair traded blows and Gall looked impressive during their stand-up battles, so it wasn’t surprising to see Perry land a slam and look for a submission.

It was the type of move which could have swung the round in his favour, had he not been outstruck and outmanoevured on the feet for five minutes.

So when Gonzalez told him to simply hit Gall ‘in the face’, fans watching worldwide might have scoffed at how simplistic her advice between rounds was.

That’s exactly what he did though, in a tide-changing R2. Gall had landed 65% of his significant strikes (26 of 40), compared with just 28% (17 of 60) from Perry.

Something needed to change and quickly, as Gall went to work on his own submission game: going for a guillotine and kimura, both of which were eventually reversed.

Perry then rocked Gall with two stinging right-hand strikes – one square in the face – enroute to scoring the fight’s first knockdown.

From there, he established a dominant top position on the ground and elbowed Gall as the bell sounded. Suddenly, R3 would prove decisive.

Perry grew in confidence and began landing three-punch combinations, targeting the body and taking advantage as Gall was visibly tiring.

You couldn’t blame him either, having absorbed punishment aplenty in R2 from his heavy-handed opponent. Perry landed jabs with increasing frequency, had found the optimal striking range and although Gall ate them, he was taking far too much damage.

His hands were lower than they should have been, perhaps in a conscious effort to defend body shots as Perry’s striking variation was also on display.

After a big head kick and more heavy strikes landed, Gall half-heartedly tried to shoot for takedowns in an attempt to stop the onslaught. It was futile.

Despite not being penalised for two blatant fence grabs, Gall’s work was largely sloppy in the second-half of this fight and he made Perry’s work easier as a result.

Perry’s ground game proved draining for Gall, who eventually broke out of a hold late on but was clearly exhausted.

He almost locked in a triangle choke with his last memorable action of the evening, though Perry quickly reversed again before sprawling to the feet.

It rather typified a fight that turned on its head, as Gall’s improved stand-up was nullified by a determined Perry – who could have finished the fight in R2.

Post-fight comments as a motivated Perry clears the air

He had plenty to say, post-fight:

“I did what I needed to do. It’s all up to me. I put the training camp together, it was necessary, Mickey trained a lot – had a respectful team and gameplan put together for him. I heard them shouting some technical advice, nicknames for moves, figured that out in R3. He came in and fought tough. 

You’re going to take the credit away from me anyway but a good percentage of people were talking that mess online and were picking him: now I won, don’t take it away from me or say he was inexperienced.

He’s got way more experience than any of you guys [critics], I trained like a professional, made weight like a pro and looked great. Only Francis Ngannou has [better] physique on me. 

He also said he’s preparing to move to south Florida, will find a training camp and some teammates to learn from during a time in his life where “big things” are happening, before discussing government tax issues and more besides.

“I’ll take some knowledge from some of you guys [fellow fighters] and we’ll see, I prefer a friendship basis over someone who thinks they can tell me how to win where I haven’t seen them win.

I’m in the Octagon, not the people who try to coach or run their mouth from the sidelines and don’t have anything to say once we’re in there.”

Rest of a compelling main card

Greene finishes Villante in R3, albeit in bizarre fashion

UFC on ESPN 12 results: Maurice Greene somehow strangles Gian ...

The opening two rounds resembled a kickboxing encounter between two heavyweights

In a heavyweight showdown, Maurice Greene (9-5) emerged victorious against Gian Villante (17-12), who was making his debut here in the division.

He couldn’t have had much more of a tricky assignment than against the 33-year-old, who stands 6’7 tall and held a significant reach advantage to boot.

Greene was all too comfortable in the opening exchanges, kicking Villante out of striking range and cruising against the 34-year-old, who should have done more to pressure him.

It felt like a kickboxing affair, not a UFC match, such was the pair’s insistence on loading up with kicks aplenty during the first ten minutes.

Villante winced as he suffered a suspected broken toe in R2, though landed a sweet counterpunch which provided the inspiration he needed to push forward.

Greene picked up the pace in response, while connecting with a good combo and using his jab more often too.

Villante was landing some good kicks of his own but visibly gunshy, still struggling with fighting at range and not making the long-legged Greene uncomfortable yet.

The stats spoke volumes too: he landed 46% of his strikes (25 of 54), though lost both rounds because his output was significantly less than Maurice (35%, 49 of 134).

Right on cue, he started landing the sort of stinging punches expected from the early going – stunning Greene as they were powerful and increasingly precise.

Referee Mark Smith paused proceedings after Villante was caught by an accidental eyepoke.

Straight from the restart, he landed a brilliant left hook to score a flash knockdown as Greene overshot and missed an attempted haymaker of his own.

Greene survived a frenzy of ground-and-pound strikes as Villante went into overdrive trying to secure an unexpected finish.

Landing 37 strikes in R3 – more than Greene had recorded across each of the first two – he suddenly found the roles reversed again: being suffocated near the cage.

An arm triangle was locked in and despite attempts to fight his way out of it, Greene held on with an exhausted Villante feebly tapping out seconds later. It was a bizarre finish.

Afterwards, Greene was understandably emotional given the circumstances.

“It’s hard to talk, feels so good. I was on a two-fight skid, my job was kinda on the line tonight. I needed to win to move my family, this is an amazing feeling to get back in the win column.” 

On Tanner Boser’s callout and their previous conversation earlier in the week:

“It wasn’t no dust-up, I was just being cordial but I guess he didn’t take it like that. Just so you know big homie, let this [eye cut] heal up – you can meet me on the Island anyday of the week.

I wasn’t dodging you bruh, I didn’t want to fight a no-name when I was a top 15. I was trying to move up the rankings, not down. If you wanna get it, once I get [medically] cleared, let me know and we can get it in.” 

Brendan Allen with gritty UD win over Kyle Daukaus, calls out Heinisch

UFC on ESPN 12 Results: Brendan Allen Tops Kyle Daukaus In Bloody War

Allen ended Daukaus’ unbeaten record with a gritty unanimous decision win

In a middleweight clash, Brendan Allen extended his win streak to seven straight after a gritty UD win (29-28, 29-27, 30-27) against the previously unbeaten Kyle Daukaus (9-1).

The 24-year-old had to think quickly in the opening exchanges, as Daukaus landed a nasty kick and punch combination before Allen replicated exactly that in response.

Daukaus attempted a takedown, which was effectively stuffed before the Philadelphia native was greeted with a brutal knee to the head for good measure.

Allen was suddenly all over him like a rash, trying to lock in a neck choke but Daukaus initiated survival mode – rolling onto his belly before bearing the onslaught with smart defensive skills of his own to reverse positions on the ground.

The pair grappled for top position for the rest of R1, as Allen landed a inch-perfect elbow which cut Daukaus open above the eyebrow. Blood split open and this was just the start.

In R2, Daukaus attempted another takedown. Again he proved unsuccessful, as Allen reacted by smartly reversing the manoevure with a guillotine choke – twice in the round.

It helped him during a back-and-forth exchange on the ground, where he landed some vicious ground-and-pound strikes.

They were amplified by some rather gruesome squelching noises, before connecting with another punch that floored Kyle just as the bell sounded.

R3 was where Daukaus’ toughness came to the fore. Although he was losing this fight, he didn’t seem to mind and instead continued his gritty grind on the ground.

Locking in a body triangle up against the fence was key, as he earned just under four minutes of control time despite Allen’s efforts to escape the position.

Allen broke the hold with around 20 seconds left, unloading with a flurry of punches to finish the final round strong.

He was certainly second best though, which forced the matchup into the judges’ hands – never a reliable thing to do with stats like these:

Allen vs Daukaus: Statistical breakdown
distance strikes: 8-21
significant ground strikes: 26-4
Daukaus completed three takedowns on five attempts, Allen had none
total control time – 5:27 – 6:51 for Daukaus

29-28, 29-27, 30-27 – winner by unanimous decision, Brendan Allen

Post-fight, he admitted this was far from his best display. Then, he made sure to call out one of the division’s top 15 in #13-ranked Ian Heinisch – who was slated to face Allen on this card but pulled out earlier this month through injury.

“Wasn’t my best performance, he was tough. Not too happy with myself but I’ll be back better. I felt like I did [have the lead going into the third], but you never know with the judges.

[I want] Ian Heinisch for sure, he can’t run from me forever. He’s a tough kid, his resume speaks for itself and that’s all I can say for now.” 

Sato sends newcomer Witt back to drawing board

UFC Vegas 4: Takashi Sato spoils Jason Witt's Cinderella story

Sato stunned Witt on a forgettable UFC debut for the American, who was blasted after 48 seconds

In the welterweight division, Takashi Sato improved to 16-3 with a brilliant R1 knockout after just 48 seconds against UFC debutant Jason Witt (17-6) – anding a one-two combo which floored the American.

Then, he unleashed some unforgiving ground and pound strikes having defended Witt’s single-leg takedown as he attempted to recover from the knockdown near the cage.

Ramiz Brahimaj, Sato’s initial opponent, was pulled from the fight earlier this week after one of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19. Witt came in on short notice, but was unale to dodge a bruising barrage of punches early in R1.

Erosa earns comeback win, ends Woodson’s unbeaten streak

Julian Erosa upsets Sean Woodson with third-round D'arce choke

Erosa dug deep and was victorious against Woodson after three gruelling rounds

The main card began with a compelling catchweight (150lbs) bout, as Julian Erosa (24-9) delivered an impressive display to end Sean Woodson‘s unbeaten 7-0 record after a frenetic showdown.

A heavy underdog, the 30-year-old recovered from being knocked down early in R3 to earn a surprise but hard-earned win, on just four days’ notice.

Woodson said three fighters had ducked him, entered as a heavy pre-fight favourite and his early striking showed perhaps why he’s being avoided – with a 46-3 record as an amateur boxer, he was certainly comfortable exchanging shots at range.

To begin R1, the 28-year-old often switched his stance before landing some nice jabs. Erosa was seemingly unbothered though, getting hit yet pushing forward without much in the way of significant strikes.

In the first three minutes 30 seconds, Woodson had landed 25 head strikes. Erosa was still plotting for his first, which summed up the opening round.

With advantages in both height and reach, Sean was comfortable striking at range and jabbing to keep Erosa at a safe distance away. Continue in this vein and he’d be on the way to a routine victory.

However, Erosa increased the intensity to start R2 and began adding more pressure. Still absorbing shots, he made the round more uncomfortable for Woodsman by denying him the opportunity to breathe.

It felt symbolic that he was landing the same shots – to the body – that Woodson’s corner were pleading to inflict upon Erosa whenever they started fighting in the pocket. After a fast-paced, strike-heavy close five minutes, I felt Erosa just edged it.

Woodson landed 58% of his total strikes (102 of 177) over the two rounds, compared with Erosa’s 38% (66 of 176), but the tide had begun turning after an all-too-comfortable R1.

R3 was where things got even more interesting. Both landed successive spinning kicks, before Erosa tried to lull Woodson in for a sutble takedown attempt. Woodson shrugged him off before landing a sweet left-hand, scoring a nice knockdown.

However, Erosa almost immediately got back to his feet and although missing with a flying knee, continued to walk Woodson down and frustrate him further.

It was precisely the type of defiance you want to see from fighters, especially those who are attempting to recover from a precarious situation.

Woodson was no longer as comfortable or confident as he may have been in R1, so despite showing good initial takedown defence, Erosa’s persistence paid off.

Eventually, he completed a takedown near the Octagon before showing good spatial awareness to toss him away from the cage and lock in a D’Arce choke. It was all over.

Afterwards, Juicy J reflected on what’s been a whirldwind week for him:

“It was amazing, I got the call five days ago. Did all my medicals the next day [Wednesday], showed up and made weight.

I had to get out of his range, once I got on the ground, my D’Arce [choke] is pretty unbeatable so once I got it locked up, knew it was over.” 

Pictures’ source: CBS Sports, MMAFighting.com, MMAjunkie

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.