UFC Fight Night 161: Tampa, Florida

UFC Fight Night 161: Tampa, Florida

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (JJ) and Cub Swanson secured much needed victories in the Main and Co-Main event slots. This event was absolutely stacked with great fights. 5 of the 8 preliminary card fights ended with a finish via submission or KO/TKO. There were so many wars from top to bottom on this card, making this one of the most exiting events of the entire year so far.

Preliminary Card

  • JJ Aldrich Def. Lauren Mueller via Decision
  • Marvin Vettori Def. Andrew Sanchez via Decision
  • Miguel Baeza Def. Hector Aldana via KO/TKO
  • Marlon Vera Def. Andre Ewell via KO/TKO
  • Deiveson Figueiredo Def. Tim Elliott via Submission
  • Alex Morono Def. Max Griffin via Decision
  • Mike Davis Def. Thomas Gifford via KO/TKO
  • Ryan Spann Def. Devin Clark via Submission

The Preliminary Card did not disappoint whatsoever. Plenty of exciting wars, plenty of nasty finishes and a bit of controversy. The fight between Mike Davis and Thomas Gifford had very questionable officiating.

Thomas Gifford Sustained A LOT of unnecessary damage leading all the way up to the inevitable KO that left him face down and unconscious. Its sad, really. These referees are there to maintain the rules set forth by the State Athletic Commission, but they are also there to protect the fighters. I have no idea why these Athletic Commissions cannot get a full staff of competent referees, but something needs to be done before someone ends up getting killed. Andrew Glenn should seriously consider a new career if he thinks that was quality officiating. That was Steve Mazzagatti level officiating.

Main Card

  • Eryk Anders Def. Gerald Meershaert via Decision
  • Matt Frevola Def. Luis Pena via Decision
  • Amanda Ribas Def. Mackenzie Dern via Decision
  • Niko Price Def. James Vick via KO/TKO
  • Cub Swanson Def. Kron Gracie via Decision
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk Def. Michelle Waterson via Decision

The Main card kicked off with Eryk Anders slightly edging Gerald Meershaert in a very close contest. I thought the fight could’ve went either way, but in the end Anders landed the more effective shots, while Gerald did little to negate any of Anders offense until midway of the fight and down the stretch.

The second fight was one of my favorite fights on the main card. Matt Frevola and Luis Pena dueled it out in an exiting and very close contest. This fight really came down to Matt Frevola turning things around in round 3, while Luis Pena seemed to be less active down the stretch. It was the 2nd round that made this really interesting. Luis Pena opened up his arsenal on his feet and hurt Frevola pretty bad with flying knees, wild kicks and crisp hands, resulting in the fight being taken to the ground. Pena showed great dexterity and really displayed the length of his limbs in the ground game, showing things that you don’t normally see. He also displayed exceptional transitioning on the ground. I had the second round a 10-8. Frevola started and ended the fight pretty strong, resulting in a very close decision in Frevola’s favor. Mark my words, Luis Pena will become Lightweight Champion if he keeps these performances up and can string together wins. He certainly has the talent.

The third fight on the main card was pretty lopsided but nevertheless, it was still a good scrap. Amanda Ribas was clearly the faster and more fluid fighter. Ribas did a great job out striking and negating takedown attempts by Dern. Mackenzie Dern simply should not be fighting at Strawweight, she struggles to make weight in this weight class which results to struggles in the cage. Dern suffers her first blemish, ending her undefeated record. She now sits at 7-1. Personally, I’d like to see her move up a weight class.

Niko Price landed one of the most vicious up-kicks I’ve ever seen in the fourth contest. This was the 2nd ever up-kick in UFC history that resulted in a knockout. James Vick got absolutely flatlined. Niko Price now has 13 finishes out of his 14 victories, 10 of those victories coming from the way of KO. James Vick suffers his 4th loss in a row in just under 14 months. James Vick should strongly consider taking some time off or hanging it up, especially after a loss like this.

Cub Swanson ends his four fight losing streak and fights his way back into the winning column by defeating Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Kron Gracie. Kron Gracie’s record now stands at 5-1. Both fighters showed a ton of heart, and I believe Kron Gracie will do some pretty good things in his career. Cub Swanson really needed a victory here. Can he find his way back into the title picture? He’s 35 years old, and quite frankly, he fights in a division full of killers. I doubt he’ll be back into contention but, it was refreshing to see him win again.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk outclassed Michelle Waterson in every phase of the fight game. To give credit where its due, Michelle Waterson showed incredible heart and never gave up. It was a valiant effort. Joanna showed that she is still one of the most superior fighters in the strawweight division. Simply just a beautiful display of her Muay Thai and boxing skills. Brutal leg kicks following immediately over the top with superior hands, all fight. The leg kicks neutralized Michelle Waterson’s offense entirely, and also slowed Waterson’s movement. Joanna was able to come forward and do whatever she wanted, however she pleased. Joanna looked great in this fight. She looked like the killer who came and took the title years ago. This was a big win for her, much like Cub Swanson she really needed to get into the win column in order to get back into the title picture. She came into the fight losing 3 of her last 4 contests with 2 of those coming from Rose Namajunas, and anther from Valentina Shevchenko. I’m confident that sooner than later, Jonna will be back in the title hunt.

In closing, this was an INCREDIBLE night of fights, and I strongly urge everyone to go check out this card. From top to bottom, every fight was a barn burner. This was a card that every fight fan would enjoy. UFC Fight Night 161: Tampa, Florida…. Success.

Photo Credit: UFC.com/UFC twitter

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