Recapping UFC 228

The UFC was live from Dallas Texas on Saturday night and brought with it a showdown for the 170lb title matchup to close the night. The UFC had a 13 fight slate set for Saturday night following the removal of the Co-Main event. A weight cutting issue for Nicco Montano (5-2 Women’s Flyweight Champion) led to her removal from the UFC 228 card leaving Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (15-3 #1 Ranked Women’s Flyweight) without an opponent. The card was replaced by a Women’s Strawweight showdown between Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (17-2 #2 Ranked Women’s Strawweight) and Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-3 #4 Ranked Women’s Strawweight). We also had the Welterweight title on the line as Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (19-3-1 Welterweight Champion) looked to defend his title against Darren “The Gorilla” Till (17-1-1 #2 Ranked Welterweight). For a night that started a tad slow on Fight Pass, we close with some serious firepower. The UFC may not break any pay per view records with this card, but the card absolutely delivered. Let’s take a look back at the night that was UFC 228.

We started the night on Fight Pass as Roberto “Littlefury” Sanchez (8-2) took on Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks (14-2). Brooks was working on moving side to side and they were both feinting back and forth. Brooks landed a nice right hand, but a few seconds later a hard left came from Sanchez. In the exchanges Sanchez rushed forward and pressed Brooks up against the fence. Sanchez was trying to get him to the mat, but Brooks was battling to stay on his feet. Sanchez finally finished the takedown and was getting close to a full mount position. Brooks was able to grab a leg and trying his hardest to get a leg lock. Sanchez was able to maneuver out of it and was still on top throwing big ground and pound punches. Brooks finally got back to his feet, but he had Sanchez pressed on to him against the fence. Sanchez was trying to soften up Brooks with knees and punches. Sanchez ended the round holding Brooks there. We head to round 2 and Brooks was working on trying to keep it standing throwing combinations early. Sanchez was continuously moving forward and eventually went for a takedown. Brooks was again pressed against the cage a minute into the round. Sanchez tried to finish the takedown, but Brooks reversed the position, and now had Sanchez pressed about the cage. Brooks used the position to get into a takedown, and Brooks was now working on ground and pound. Sanchez was doing a great job staying out of serious trouble and keeping Brooks in his guard. Brooks was trying to open up with more ground and pound, and got grabbed late in the round and hit with some shots from the bottom from Sanchez at the bell. We head to 3rd round and Sanchez again was moving forward towards Brooks. They went to the fence again, and it was Brooks pressing Sanchez up against it. Brooks moved the fight to the mat and was in a form of side control. Sanchez was able to tie up the right arm of Brooks  in his legs to prevent him from landing. Brooks was able to get it free and stay on top in side control. Brooks was controlling the fight on the mat. Brooks just kept keeping him on the mat and landing some decent shots until the fight and round ended. The judges would decide our first fight of the night, and they scored it 29-28 Brooks, 29-28 Sanchez, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision Jarred Brooks. Finally Jarred Brooks gets a split decision win. This is huge for him snapping a two fight losing streak. Brooks just uses his wrestling to his advantage, and his striking appeared improved. Brooks is still an interesting prospect at 125lbs for sure.

We then headed to Women’s Bantamweight as Irene Aldana (9-4 #12 Ranked Women’s Bantamweight) took on Lucie Pudilova (8-3 #13 Ranked Women’s Bantamweight). The fighters were circling around, and it was Pudilova who was using her jab to land early. Pudilova was finding success with her jabs. Aldana landed a hard right hand the slipped under a punch from Pudilova. These ladies were simply kickboxing out there. Pudilova rattled off a combination that was mostly blocked by Aldana. Pudilova was starting to land consistently and threw a hard front kick that landed right on the chin. Pudilova threw two more head kicks. Aldana came firing back, but it was Pudilova who landed multiple right hands to end the round. We started round 2 and Pudilova was trying to pick apart Aldana bouncing in and out of the pocket. Pudilova overextended on a combination and Aldana landed a hard counter right hand. Pudilova however was unhurt and just continued to press forward. They exchanged jabs and Aldana stumbled after the exchange. Aldana kept trying to come forward. Pudilova was backing up and evading the big shots from Aldana.  Late in the round Aldana tried to change levels and go for a double leg, but Pudilova was able to stay on her feet. Pudilova then landed a hard in close elbow that pressed Aldana back. We headed to round 3 and Pudilova looked to land a head kick early but missed. Aldana worked in a leg kick, but ate a body kick and had to block a head kick. Aldana was landing more and more now with her jabs and a big right hook. Aldana was continuing to find a home more and more. Both ladies faces were covered in blood. The low kicks from Aldana were really starting to have an effect on Pudilova’s leg. Pudilova connected with a straight left hand that backed Aldana up. Pudilova was landing her hands more and hit a hard backfist. They then ended up pressed against the fence exchanging. Aldana landed a hard knee as they broke apart. These ladies were letting it all hang out to close the fight and Pudilova got the best shot in with a hard overhand right. We headed to the judges again and they scored it 29-28 Aldana, 29-28 Pudilova, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision Irene Aldana. This was an extremely close and fun fight. These two ladies spent 3 rounds kickboxing each other. Aldana did a great job keeping her defense up and counter punching well. Aldana is such a tall long fighter at 135lbs. She will absolutely get a Top 10 fighter next.

Up next we got Jim “A-10” Miller (29-11 1NC) who came back to the cage and took on Alex “The Spartan” White (12-4). Jim Miller was making his record 30th appearance inside the UFC and came out with a jab. Miller landed a hard inside leg kick. White rushed forward and was throwing hard shots but they weren’t finding a solid home. Miller landed a hard left hand in a 3-punch combo that stumbled White and sent him down to the mat. Miller dove down at him and just kept throwing big shots to White. Miller was looking to finish and landed a hard elbow on the ground. White moved around and gave Miller the perfect opening for a rear naked choke. Miller was able to lock it in and secure the tap. This was a gigantic result for Jim Miller. He had lost 4 straight fights and the conversation had been about retirement. Miller, however, turned back the clock and talked about feeling better than ever since figuring out how to deal with his Lyme disease. This was a great moment for Jim Miller and his fighting career.

Closing out the Fight Pass Season 1 Winner of The Ultimate Fighter Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (30-11) took on Craig “The Thundercat” White (14-9). Diego Sanchez came sprinting out as usual. He ran immediately into a guillotine, but Sanchez just kept driving. Sanchez finally slammed White down to the mat. White was fighting well off his back landing a big up kick on Sanchez. Diego was on top looking to find some ground and pound success. Sanchez was just all over White keeping him on the mat. Diego landed three really hard punches from the top while he was standing that looked to hurt White. Sanchez dropped back down and was just relentlessly pouring it on. Diego hit a hard uppercut while White was on the ground still. White kept trying to push him off with up kicks, but Diego was just unloading huge shots from the top. He ended the round with even more ground and pound from the top. We started round 2 with a huge knee from White that Sanchez basically ate and then grabbed for a takedown and he was back on top. Sanchez was just pouring it on from the top again. White landed another up kick, but it was the top pressure form Sanchez that was just too much at the moment. White again landed a nice up kick on the chin of Sanchez, but Diego went back down and landed big shots from the top. Diego was essentially sitting on White’s face  in a north-south position and looking back landing punches. Sanchez again finished a dominant round in the top position. We headed to round 3 and White came right out with a body kick that landed. Sanchez threw a right hand, and then White hurt Sanchez with a shot that dropped him. Sanchez immediately grabbed for a leg and scored a takedown and was back on top. Sanchez hit two big shots from the top with his elbow. Diego was just all over him again much like the first two rounds. Diego just kept this fight right where he wanted it throwing more elbows and ground and pound. H postured up and landed a few more big punches as the fight came to an end. The judges would score this one 30-27 across the board for Diego Sanchez. This was just a flat-out domination for Diego Sanchez. He looked like the Diego Sanchez of old that won the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Who knows what is next for Sanchez, but this was very impressive.

We headed to FX for the prelims we and we started with Charles “Kid Dynamite” Byrd (9-5) and Darren “The Dentist” Stewart (9-3 1NC). These guys were moving around and Byrd avoided a right hand from Stewart. Byrd landed a nice combination and then shot for a takedown. Stewart was able to stay on his feet and these guys ended up clinched against the fence. They were trading some shots on the inside, and Stewart finally separated. Byrd landed two hard right hands including one big right hand, but Stewart was fine and still on his feet. Byrd tried for a standing guillotine, but Stewart stayed out of it and they were clinched against the fence. Byrd landed two really hard body kicks and had Stewart pressed up against the fence. On the break from the clinch, Byrd landed a nice elbow. Byrd missed with a head kick, and Stewart landed two hard punches as the round came to an end. We headed to round 2 Byrd came out early and had Stewart pressed up against the fence. Byrd was really finding a home for his hands. Byrd landed a hard combination and Stewart was stumbling against the fence. Stewart however recovered and returned heavy damage. Stewart stumbled Byrd and he was starting to cover up. Stewart kept the pressure on and landed another combination with a hard right hand the sent Byrd to the mat and covering. The referee stepped in and Darren Stewart was the winner. Darren Stewart is starting to build momentum with his 2nd straight win. Stewart has so much power in his hands it is hard to deny him. If he can continue to string these types of fights together he can have a real impact.

Originally slated for Fight Pass but now moved to FX we got Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal (10-2) and Frank “The Crank” Camacho (21-7). They touched gloves and Neal landed a hard combination snapping Camacho’s head back. Camacho was coming forward and had to eat a hard head kick. Camacho walked right through it and stared to throw a combination that missed. Camacho dug in and landed a nice right hook with Neal responding with a combination of his own. Neal ate a low leg kick and hit a combination that ended with a right hand. Neal kept going back to the left head kick well and just missed landing it flush. Neal kept working the left hand to end his combinations. Camacho backed Neal up against the fence, but Neal came off the cage with another combination that connected. Neal landed a right-left combination late in the round and dropped Camacho. Neal was all over Camacho trying to finish the fight. Camacho grabbed for his leg and Neal was unloading as the bell saved Camacho. We headed to round 2 and Neal came forward again. Neal landed a combination that hurt Camacho against the fence. Camacho was all heart returning fire back at Neal. The combinations and elbows from Neal were fast and furious and landing. Camacho was still somehow returning fire and coming forward. Camacho even yelled out for more as he came forward. Back in the center of the cage Neal uncorked a head kick and Camacho was out cold before he hit the mat. This was a striking performance for Neal that was nothing but fantastic. He was unloading on the feet picking Camacho apart. He closed the show with a gigantic head kick. He is one of the most dangerous prospects to come off The Contender Series, and he is only getting better. This guy is going to get a big test with his next opponent that is for sure.

A Top 10 Bantamweight clash was next as Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling (15-3 #8 Ranked Bantamweight) took on Cody “Spartan” Stamann (17-2 #10 Ranked Bantamweight). Sterling came out throwing high left head kicks. Stamann was not backing down and started moving forward. Sterling ended up changing levels and going for a takedown. Stamann was able to stay on his feet with no problem. Sterling kept moving forward and hurt Stamann to the body. Sterling had Stamann pressed up against the fence. Stamann was able to reverse the position and had Sterling up against the fence. They were able to breakout and get back to the center of the cage. Stamann was all over Sterling on the mat, but Sterling threw a triangle choke up. Sterling had it somewhat tight, but Stamann was able to sneak out. Sterling was back on his feet and had Stamann up against the cage. Stamann escaped and slammed Sterling to the mat just prior to the round ending.  Stamann came out in round 2 and landed a head kick. Sterling seemed unaffected and was again moving forward. Sterling tried for a takedown, but Stamann evaded. They both threw kicks and the same time and Stamann ended up on the mat under Sterling. Sterling scrambled around and had his back. Stamann made it back to his feet. Stamann escaped the grasp of Sterling and scored a takedown on Sterling. That did not last long as Sterling scrambled back to his feet. Stamann was in Sterling’s back on the feet against the fence. Sterling then got a takedown of his own and quickly transitioned into mount. Stamann rolled over and gave up his back. Sterling was starting to land some good ground and pound there. Sterling had him in a full nelson, and Stamann survived. Sterling then transitioned and tried to shake Sterling off of him. Stamann stood up and was trying to shake him. Sterling reached back and somehow grabbed the leg of Stamann. He was able to extend the knee and Stamann had no choice but to tap. This was a solid performance from Aljamain Sterling in a close tough matchup. Sterling used all of his skills and got the finish on the ground. Sterling just keeps improving every time we see him and is in serious contender status at 135lbs.

We closed out the prelims with former Strawweight Champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (14-6 #6 Ranked Women’s Strawweight) who took on rising contender Tatiana Suarez (8-0 #9 Ranked Women’s Strawweight). Suarez came out and threw a side kick to the body. Suarez immediately went for the takedown. Esparza stayed on her feet, but Suarez kept coming and eventually got her to the mat. Suarez was laying in heavy ground and pound. He big elbows from Suarez were coming down hard. Suarez was really landing heavy elbows from the top. Esparza tried to go for an armbar, but Suarez was able to escape it. Esparza got her back to the fence, but Suarez was all over her. Suarez slammed her back to the mat. Suarez was again unloading from the top position. Suarez was all over Esparza with pressure and even when Esparza tried to get up she would end up right back on the mat. Esparza did battle back to her feet right at the end of the round. We headed to round 2 and  Suarez threw two head kicks one missed and one was blocked. Suarez threw a sidekick and then went for a takedown. Suarez secured it up against the fence and was keeping her there. Esparza was doing a good job getting back to her feet and landed two hard knees to the body. Suarez stayed in her face and had her pressed up against the fence. Suarez got the fight back to the mat again, and she was all over Esparza on the ground. With just over a minute left Esparza scooted out and made her way back to the feet. She fully escaped and they were back in the center of the Octagon. Suarez wasted little time after a head kick she shot in and scored a double-leg takedown immediately. Suarez ended the round on top in side control as the horn sounded. We headed to the third round and Suarez came right out and went right for the takedown. Esparza tried to roll away, but Suarez was right back on her pressed against the fence. Suarez was in a modified North-South hold and Esparza tried to get back to her feet. Suarez scrambled perfectly and made it briefly into mount. Suarez was just all over Esparza with a ton of pressure. Esparza deserves a lot of credit for staying in this fight and continuing to work throughout it. Suarez again got in to mount and was pouring on the right hands. She then ended up in the mount and was pouring on elbows. Suarez kept going in mount and would not stop. The referee finally stepped in and stopped the fight saving the former champion. Tatiana Suarez is the absolute real deal. This was a dominant performance against a former champion. Suarez’s wrestling and ground game is just next level. She may have punched her ticket to a title fight with this one.

We kicked off the Pay Per View with a Welterweight matchup as Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-1) took on Niko “The Hybrid” Price (12-2 1NC). Alhassan came out firing immediately. Alhassan was smashing Price with huge shots. Alhassan had him pressed up against the fence and ripped a huge right then left and Price crumpled to the mat. Abdul Razak Alhassan is an absolute menace in the Octagon. He throws with power and goes right after every single opponent. Every single fight outside of his 1 loss has ended in that first round. This guy is going up against an opponent with a number next to his name next that’s a guarantee.

Moved to the Pay Per View a Top 10 Bantamweight matchup between Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (22-2 #5 Ranked Bantamweight) and John “The Magician” Dodson (21-10 #7 Ranked Bantamweight). These two were coming out feeling each other out. Dodson was eating low kicks, and then Dodson came forward landing a left that stumbled Rivera and had him going back against the fence. Dodson was trying to continue to land, but Rivera recovered and they were back in the center of the cage. Dodson went for a head kick that was blocked. Rivera went back to working the low leg kicks and they were landing hard. Rivera scooted around the back and tried to pick Dodson up and slam him, but Dodson was able to stay on his feet. Dodson again went for the head kick and instead Rivera landed a straight left hand. Rivera was continuing to work forward landing a nice right hand. They mixed it up again with Rivera landing the hardest shot a right hook. Dodson came back with another hard left hook that connected. Dodson came sneaking in again and connected with a left hand. Rivera caught a body kick as the round ended. We headed to round 2 and Rivera went right back to working the leg kicks. Rivera again caught a body kick. Dodson landed a nice kick to the body, u Rivera countered with a shot to his face. Rivera was stalking Dodson around the cage, and the action had lulled. It was Rivera coming forward and trying to find an opening while Dodson was looking to exclusively counter. A low kick caught Dodson low and we had a delay in the action. We got restarted and Dodson blocked a head kick from Rivera. Dodson then avoided a big swinging left hook from Rivera. In round 3 again Rivera went to the low kick early. Dodson was trying to move forward more, but the leg kicks from Rivera were adding up. River was the one controlling the Octagon, but the action was very slow. Dodson came forward with a combination, but Rivera avoided it. Dodson was doing a great job evading anything that was coming from Rivera. Dodson ended the round and fight in the clinch with some serious shots to the body. We headed to the judges and they scored it 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 all for Jimmie Rivera. This was a big comeback win for Rivera. He rebounded after his first loss in over 20 fights with a big win. He was just as fast as Dodson and now puts himself right back in the Title picture at 135lbs.

We head to Featherweight next as Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1 #15 Ranked Featherweight) took on Brandon “Killer B” Davis (9-5). These guys came out slowly feeling each other out. Zabit came sneaking in with a left hand. But had to eat a nice counter right hook from Davis. Davis was cutting off the Octagon and forcing Zabit against the cage. Zabit was using his head movement making Davis miss and returning with left hands. Zabit ate a leg kick and was circling away. Davis kept working at Zabit making him move around as the round ended after a Zabit spinning kick to the body. We headed to round 2, and immediately Zabit went into the clinch. Zabit had Davis up against the cage landing knees to his thighs and mixing in elbows. Zabit had Davis on the mat and was trying to find an opening. Davis was able to get back to his feet, but Zabit shot in for a takedown and was immediately able to get Davis’s back. Zabit immediately started working for a rear naked choke. He was using ground and pound to try to soften him up. Zabit then reached back for the knee and rolled backward with a kneebar. The tap was imminent and Zabit Magomedsharipov secured the victory. This guy is so intriguing at 145lbs. He is so tall with crisp striking, and slick submission skills. They have to make a high ranked guy get in there with him next.

In the new Co-Main event as Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (17-2 #2 Ranked Women’s Strawweight) took on Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-3 #4 Ranked Women’s Strawweight). Andrade came right out and immediately started tagging Karolina. Andrade was ripping combinations and right hands that briefly stumbled Karolina against the cage. Karolina came right back however with punches of her own. Karolina grabbed for the clinch and landed some hard knees to the body. Andrade was coming right back, however, continuing to press forward with big punches. Karolina returned fire with a hard combination of her own. Andrade went right back to her hook combination and was just peppering Karolina. Karolina came forward again with a big shot and then Andrade ripped a huge overhand right that put Karolina Kowalkiewicz out cold before she hit the mat. Jessica Andrade has to be the next contender regardless of how Tatiana Suarez looked tonight. Jessica Andrade is an absolute monster at 115lbs. She just throws with bad intentions moving forward. Everything comes with power, and in this case, a one-punch knockout was the result. Jessica Andrade deserves a shot at the belt and there is no doubt about it.

We closed the night with the Welterweight Title on the line as Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (19-3-1 Welterweight Champion) took on rising contender Darren “The Gorilla” Till (17-1-1 #2 Ranked Welterweight). We got into the clinch very early in this one and Woodley had Till pressed up against the fence. The referee wasted little time to break them apart and move them back to the center of the cage. Till was walking towards Woodley trying to push him back towards the cage. Till was waiting patiently, and it was Woodley who came forward and landed a nice right hand backing Till away. Till blocked a head kick from Woodley. Woodley was feinting and keeping Till at bay. Till was really waiting to engage and throw with Woodley having thrown almost nothing 3 plus minutes in. Woodley grabbed for a single leg and we ended up pressed against the fence again. Woodley was trying to find an opening and landed some kneed to the inner thigh of Till. The position was reversed by Till, but again the ref stepped in and separated them very quickly. Till was trying to back Woodley up and threw a left hand, but Woodley blocked it. Till threw a head kick that was blocked at the end of the round. The 2nd round started with Till again trying to come forward. Till rushed forward and right into a hard right hand from Woodley that knocked Till down. Woodley pounced and was just unloading elbows down on Till. Over and over again Woodley was just dropping bombs on Till. Somehow Till stayed in the fight and was trying to tie up the arms of the champ. Woodley moved into half guard and was landing more elbows. Woodley transitioned to full mount very briefly, but Till was able to push out of it. Woodley just kept trying to set him up for more elbows from the top. Till was simply holding on trying to stay involved in the fight. Woodley worked to lock in a D’arce choke. Woodley kept cranking and Till had no choice but to tap. This was an absolutely impressive performance and finish from Tyron Woodley. This is the Tyron Woodley that ran his way through to the UFC title. The power was purely on display, and he worked the ground game to perfection. Woodley shut down any doubter or hater with this one what a finish.

What a night from Dallas, Texas for UFC 228. The card was packed with awesome finishes. The main card had 4 finishes in 5 fights. The prelims were just as entertaining on FX. Form the Geoff Neal head kick TKO, Abdul Razak Alhassan’s vicious KO, Zabit and Aljamain Sterling both doing something that had only been done once before in the 25-year history of the UFC, the Jessica Andrade 1 punch knockout, and the icing on the cake with the defense by Tyron Woodley. This was a great night of fights that honestly was worth the price of the card. The UFC takes no time to rest on its laurels as a Fight Pass exclusive card is up next weekend as the UFC heads to Russia for the first time ever. They bring with it a main event at heavyweight as Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt (13-12-1 #8 Ranked Heavyweight) takes on the Russian submission machine Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik (56-11-1 #11 Ranked Heavyweight). That will be an action-packed Saturday afternoon for sure.

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A longtime MMA fan who has followed the UFC for over a decade. Greg dove headfirst into the MMA world during the rise of Chuck Liddell and now spends most of his free time watching old events on UFC Fight Pass. Also, a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan who will hopefully one day see a Flyers Stanley Cup or an Eagles Superbowl victory, but he's not counting on it.

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