On Saturday, the mixed martial arts leader returned for its latest event, UFC Fight Night: Rafael Fiziev vs. Mateusz Gamrot.
After a run of arena shows with packed crowds in Boston, Singapore, France, Australia, and Las Vegas, the sport’s premier promotion was back at home base this past week for another event at the Apex.
In the headliner, ranked lightweights took center stage as top 10 contenders Fiziev and Gamrot clashed in pursuit of a place in the championship conversation at 155 pounds. There was also plenty of attention on the co-main event, which saw featherweight fan favorite Bryce Mitchell return after having his professional record tarnished for the first time by Ilia Topuria last December. “Thug Nasty” was tasked with defending his spot on the ladder and ending Dan Ige’s 2023 winning run.
With notable strawweights Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson-Gomez running it back, as well as the likes of TUF winners Bryan Battle and Mohammed Usman, the always entertaining Charles Jourdain, and welterweight veteran Tim Means making the walk, Saturday’s lineup wasn’t short on intrigue.
But did that result in a memorable card? Let’s find out with the positives and negatives from UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs. Gamrot.
Get load of tonight's FULL #UFCVegas79 lineup 🔥
[ B2YB @CryptoCom ] pic.twitter.com/6Ma1KvLnqi
— UFC (@ufc) September 23, 2023
Negative – Screw Protocol
At the Association of Boxing Commissions’ annual meeting last month, a number of revisions were put in place to benefit fighters who are the victims of fouls inside the cage.
That included for eye pokes, with athletes being provided more recovery time prior to the arrival of a doctor. The change, which set between one minute and 90 seconds as the time at which a ringside physician should enter, is designed to ensure bouts aren’t prematurely stopped and provide fighters with adequate time to recover.
During the preliminary card fight between Mohammed Usman and Jake Collier, procedure went out the window.
Early in the second round, “The Prototype” suffered a nasty eye poke — the kind that left you immediately proclaiming that the fight is over. Well, at least Collier had 90 seconds to see if things cleared up before pressure from the doctor, right? No, how about 30.
That was the point at which referee Dan Miragliotta called for the ringside physician and, well before he was meant to be, Collier was quickly answering questions about his vision.
Credit to the commentary team, who were on hand to point out the various officials’ incorrect handling of the foul’s aftermath. It begs the question, why can Michael Bisping remember the rule change but multiple people involved with implementing it can’t?
Good work broadcast team! #UFCVegas79
— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) September 23, 2023
Negatives – Foulville
What better way to follow up a fight that featured a foul as its main talking point than a fight that was actually ended by one…
Jacob Malkoun vs. Cody Brundage marked one of the more intriguing prelims owing to the stylistic battle it presented. Unfortunately, it didn’t get to play out owing to the Australian’s lack of discipline from top position.
Malkoun repeatedly appeared to strike Brundage to the back of the head before culminating a slew of fouls with about as clear an illegal shot as you’ll see, connecting his forearm to the back of his American counterpart’s head while launching an elbow.
Referee Mark Smith ultimately waved off proceedings when Brundage couldn’t continue and disqualified Malkoun (thank goodness).
Far too often blatant illegal blows have led to no contests. On this occasion, the guilty party was correctly punished after failing to control his weaponry. But while that was a positive, the fact that a fight ended early due to a foul is absolutely not one.
Unfortunate DQ win for Brundage. Malkoun was dominating the entire fight. #UFCVegas79 pic.twitter.com/71UEsFtiIy
— MMANews (@mmanews_com) September 23, 2023
Positive – Mean From Mean Means
During what was a lackluster and underwhelming set of prelims, of course we could count on a man who always delivers entertaining fights to… well, deliver an entertaining fight.
Tim Means entered the Octagon for the 28th time on Saturday, sharing it with André Fialho. And for the first time in a while, “The Dirty Bird” did so with his back somewhat up against the wall, having lost his previous three outings.
But despite falling short against Kevin Holland, Max Griffin, and Alex Morono, Means has continued his all-action ways all the way to the age of 39. And against Fialho, he did so once again en route to a bounce-back win.
From the perfectly timed knee he crashed into his Portuguese rival’s face in round one to the front kicks and punches he repeatedly rocked him with across the fight’s duration, Means was simply at his violent best.
What was left to cap off a vintage performance? A brutal finish. Get “The Dirty Bird” at UFC 300.
Heavy hits from Tim Means for the finish 💥 #UFCVegas79 pic.twitter.com/nDUpBCpeaA
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 23, 2023
Positive – Air To Surface
While Charles Jourdain gained his reputation as an always entertaining fighter owing to his exploits on the feet — who could forget his Spartan kick versus Andre Ewell? — he’s growing a résumé of memorable finishes on the ground, too.
Prior to a pair of setbacks against Shane Burgos and Nathaniel Wood, the Canadian standout forced veteran Lando Vannata to tap with a guillotine choke in the very first round at UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs. Lemos.
On Saturday, “Air” repeated the feat — but this time even more impressively.
In Jourdain’s way of a return to a win streak was Ricardo Ramos, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who was on the ascendency early into the UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs. Gamrot main card opener.
But when the Brazilian’s attempt to catch a leglock led to a scramble, Jourdain’s long pursuit of his neck finally proved fruitful, with a guillotine choke leading to a familiar first-round submission for “Air.”
With that, the Montreal native has been left with another highlight for the reel. The broadcast team did, however, claim that Jourdain is the “most experienced” Canadian on the UFC roster. Some damn respect for John Makdessi, please.
Let's take a closer look at that guillotine 🔍👀@JourdainAir | #UFCVegas79 pic.twitter.com/A6QoFX6VJT
— UFC (@ufc) September 23, 2023
Positive – Battle Battles Through Adversity
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that little interests me less in mixed martial arts than The Ultimate Fighter. I’m not sure whether it’s the format, the number of other entry-level shows that now exist, or the quality, but the show just doesn’t boast the gripping nature it once did.
That, however, isn’t to say it no longer sees talented and entertaining fighters come through. Enter one, Bryan Battle.
Since emerging victorious in season 29, “Pooh Bear” has gone 5-1 inside the Octagon, with two wins at middleweight followed by a 3-1 run at 170 pounds. That sole defeat came against stiff competition in the form of Rinat Fakhretdinov, whom he went the distance against.
After bouncing back with a brutal 14-second knockout of Gabe Green in Charlotte this past May, Battle returned to the Apex on Saturday in pursuit of another win streak. He found just that, but it didn’t come easy.
Late in round one, the TUF alum was dropped by AJ Fletcher. But in a mighty display of pushing through and overcoming adversity, Battle rallied to secure a fight-ending rear-naked choke with less than 30 seconds of the second frame remaining.
For most, Battle has probably been marked as someone whose fights are not to be missed. If you’re not ‘most’, it’s time to join that bracket.
Bryan Battle battles through adversity to pick up a second round comeback win! #UFCVegas79 pic.twitter.com/Du886vuXsF
— MMANews (@mmanews_com) September 23, 2023
Negative – Pointless Rematch, Pointless Beating
Prior to Saturday’s event, myself and many others were questioning why a rematch between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson-Gomez was taking place. After all, the former had comfortably outpointed “The Karate Hottie” across five rounds back in 2021.
Post-fight, the same query now applies to the brutal beating suffered by the 37-year-old former Invicta FC champion.
Things started well for Waterson-Gomez, who landed a quick takedown and attempted to inflict damage from top position. But when Rodriguez made her way back to the feet, the Brazilian channeled her inner Rodtang Jitmuangnon with a relentless display of elbows and knees.
Those shots beat Waterson-Gomez to a bloody pulp. Referee Kerry Hatley, however, was in the mood for murder, letting things go beyond a clear lack of intelligent defense. She was even turning away from engagement for goodness sake.
The tough Colorado native smiled through the blood, but surviving the round and being sent back out for a second frame led to only more hard-to-watch offense from Rodriguez, who finally finished things with some elbows from mount.
The Brazilian’s performance was mightily impressive. The talking point here, however, was undoubtedly the substantial damage that Waterson-Gomez suffered, which was far from enjoyable viewing.
And why did someone have to mention that her child was crying in the audience? Nothing makes watching a beating worse like knowing their kid is viewing it from cageside.
Negative – No, No, No!
Why MMA gods, WHY?!
The one saving grace as we exited a run of arena events and began a period of a cards at the venue where time stands still was the lightweight main event that headlined on Saturday night.
While some matchups fail to deliver the fireworks they appeared destined to provide, Rafael Fiziev and Mateusz Gamrot didn’t look likely to fall into that bracket through one round, with the pair exchanging heavy leather and engaging in entertaining ground exchanges.
Then, disaster struck.
After a throwing a kick that connected to Gamrot’s arm, Fiziev went down in pain after putting weight back on his right leg. Subsequent replays appeared to show some sort of ligament tear in the Azerbaijani’s knee.
Nobody wants to see any fight end in injury, but a highly anticipated main event between two high-ranked contenders that was just getting going? How’s your luck.
An unfortunate end to #UFCVegas79, but @Gamer_MMA is walking away with the win tonight. pic.twitter.com/JqOAXpdfB7
— UFC (@ufc) September 24, 2023
Read Also: UFC Fight Night Results & Highlights: Mateusz Gamrot Defeats Rafael Fiziev Via Injury-Stoppage TKO