Recapping UFC Fight Night 120

ufc fight night 120
Fight Night 120 didn’t go as expected.

The UFC was live on FS1 Saturday night with a card filled with veterans and a former Lightweight champion at the top of the card. For the first time in the UFC’s history, they came to us live from Norfolk, Virginia. The card had 13 fights on it and was filled with UFC veterans and fan favorites. Sitting at the top of the card we had the main event and former 155lb champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (20-6) and longtime UFC contender Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (21-5 1NC #8 Ranked Lightweight). Running off of last week excellent UFC 217 the undercard was… underwhelming to say the least. We saw a lot of decisions, but again the main card was very satisfying., Let’s jump into the recap because we have 13 fights to look back on.

The UFC Fight Pass prelims kicked off with the UFC debut of Karl “Baby K” Roberson (6-0).taking on Darren “The Dentist” Stewart (7-2 1NC). Stewart came out throwing two spinning back fists and missing, but finishing one with a hard body kick. Stewart just kept throwing spin kicks that were nowhere near Roberson. Stewart had to block a head kick that came firing from Roberson. Stewart connected with a hard right hand, but Roberson fired back and ripped a ton of uppercuts in the clinch. Stewart pressed forward and had Roberson back up against the cage. Roberson was ripping some decent knees and elbows back at him. Stewart went for a throw, but Roberson reversed it and ended up on top on the ground, and then on Stewart’s back. Roberson tried for a rear naked choke and was really looking for the squeeze. Stewart went for an escape, but it gave Roberson an opening and he took it with a deep rear naked choke that led to a tap. This was an impressive debut for Roberson, in his step up to the main UFC roster. Roberson will be a force to be reckoned with if he continues these quick finishing ways.

We jumped up to Light Heavyweight with Jake “The Prototype” Collier (11-4) and Marcel “Maozinha” Fortuna (9-3). Collier came out looking to throw low kicks, but Fortuna was coming back with big shots back Collier down. Fortuna had to eat a big counter left hand that appeared to stun Fortuna. Collier ripped a big combination that was mostly blocked and Fortuna fired back with a left hand. Collier threw another kick and ended up on his back. Fortuna let him sand and landed a body-head combination. Collier was back to ripping shots at Fortuna that were landing. Fortuna then finally went for the takedown shot and Collier gave him his back on the feet. Collier worked his way to the fence and was able to stay up on the feet. Fortuna abandoned the plan and ripped a hard right hand on the break. Collier came right back at him with big shots and had to eat a vicious spinning back fist for it. Collier was coming with big flurries that were being finished with high kicks that were forcing blocks from Fortuna. Round 2 started with Collier again moving forward. Fortuna eventually played a little possum and went for a takedown and got it and transitioned immediately to his back. Collier, however, got to his feet with Fortuna as his backpack and was able to escape. Collier ripped a heavy spinning back kick to the body. Fortuna was still returning big shots and Collier was appearing to slow a little as the round wore on. Fortuna decided late in the round to secure a double leg takedown and ended up on top in an arm triangle. Collier, however, was able to squeak out, and then slipped the whole way out to be on top in Fortuna’s guard and that is where he ended the round. Collier fired right out early in round three landing a huge combination and a had kick to finish it. Fortuna somehow was still on his feet but on his bicycle. Fortuna went for another takedown, but he was stuffed and Collier forced him to get back to his feet. Fortuna ripped a big shot that hurt Collier a little bit. Collier didn’t stay woozy long, however, coming back with a big right hand. Collier literally was just keeping the pressure on Fortuna all the way through the rest of the round until a late takedown from Collier that was stuffed as the round and fight ended.  They went to the judges’ who scored this one 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28 all for Jake Collier. This was the best performance by far for Collier in the UFC. If he can keep putting those types of performances together we could see a guy who can make his way to the top 15.

Former Ultimate Fighter winner Court  “The Crusher” McGee (19-7) closed out the Fight Pass exclusive fights against Sean “Tarzan” Strickland (19-2). McGee immediately took control of the center of the Octagon and throwing range-finding shots. McGee threw a head kick, but Strickland ripped a right hand over the top and it ended with McGee on his back. There was a quick recovery and McGee had Strickland in his guard until he was able to battle back to his feet and avoid any real damage on the ground. McGee was coming back on the feet as well landing a slew of body kicks. Strickland came back with two stiff jabs. McGee was struggling to get into the striking range with the length of Strickland who was landing a lot of straight punches. This was a pitter pat across the cage battle for the remainder of the round with McGee throwing a spinning back kick to the body and Strickland looking for big hooks. McGee led right out in round 2 with more pressure and was landing with some shots early. McGee went for a double leg takedown, and somehow Strickland stayed up on his feet by posting with his hands. McGee was attached to Strickland’s back trying for a throw, but Strickland grabbed the cage, which got him a warning. Strickland escaped quickly from the clinch. McGee was landing more on the feet and went for yet another takedown, but Strickland was able to stuff it. McGee was really peppering kicks to the legs and followed up with a stiff left hand. McGee went for another takedown, but Strickland was able to sidestep and avoid any potential takedown.  McGee snuck in a right hand that landed, and Strickland came right back with one of his own. McGee went for one late takedown, but again Strickland was able to stuff it. McGee faked a takedown and ripped a head kick that had to be blocked by Strickland as the round ended. McGee came right out in round 3 with a big head kick that connected. That almost woke Strickland up and made him come forward. McGee went for yet another takedown, but Strickland was not having it. They were trading multiple punches back and forth and Court went for another takedown, but Strickland ended up on top. This became a grappling match that saw a late submission attempt from Strickland that had a deep rear-naked choke in but he gave it up to trade punches with McGee. The judges were going to score this one as well and came back with 30-27 Strickland. And then the other two judges scored it 29-29 for a majority draw. Weird judges decision, but that is just the way some fights go. Neither guy really did enough to take it on the cards.  In an even weirder turn of events just prior to the next fight going off Jon Anik announced there was a calculation error and Strickland was actually awarded the victory via unanimous decision… no idea what that was.

The FS1 prelims got underway with a Women’s Strawweight Division as Angela “Overkill” Hill (7-4) took on Nina Ansaroff (8-5).  Hill came right out bouncing around and ripping straight rights. Ansaroff, however, was returning with the same firepower back at Hill. Hill smashed a looping right hand that connected flush but Ansaroff seemed unfazed. Ansaroff threw a wild spinning kick, and Hill ended up clinching her up against the cage. These ladies were going after each other on the feet. Ansaroff threw a kick that Hill caught and he kicked out her other leg sending Ansaroff to the mat. Hill however waited and let her back up to her feet. Hill continued to push the pace and ripped a big right hand late in the round.  Round 2 was more pressure sure from Hill early and her trying to find an opening. Ansaroff caught a kick and went for a trip takedown, but Hill kept her balance and blocked a head kick. The two traded big right hands and Ansaroff landed two nice body kicks. The low leg kicks from Ansaroff were starting to add up and take a toll on Hill and her mobility. Hill caught a low kick and ripped a big over the top right hand that connected and backed off Ansaroff. Hill landed another hard counter right. Ansaroff threw a spinning wheel kick that was blocked and Hill came back with a huge right hand from Hill. The round ended with another late flurry from Hill. Ansaroff came right out with a flurry, but Hill responded immediately with a combination. Hill was eating leg kicks, but dipped up and into the inside landed a brutal combination. Hill caught another low kick and responded again with aright hand. These two were really getting after it throwing combinations back and forth. Ansaroff threw a question mark kick that was slipped by Hill who came back at her. Hill threw a kick that was partially caught and combined with a slip saw Hill on her back, but for mere seconds. Ansaroff pushed forward and the ladies traded head kicks as the fight came to an end. The judges scored this one 29-28 across the board for Nina Ansaroff. This was the best performance of Ansaroff’s career and is a win over an accomplished fighter in Hill. We will see who she get’s next and if it is a top 15 opponent.

After almost a year off “Super” Sage Northcutt (9-2) returned to the Octagon to take on Michael “Capo” Quinones (8-3). Quinones came out and tried to engage and ate a counter right from Northcutt. Northcutt was staying very patient and responding with counter shots on Quinones. Northcutt was landing part of every counter combination that e was throwing. Northcutt missed with a spinning wheel kick, but recovered and avoided all damage. Northcutt was pressuring and landing some heavy shots including a strong body kick that finished a combination. Sage was really relying on his karate background and keeping Quinones at bay while landing. Sage came in again with a counter combination that ended with a head kick that just missed. Quinones got on his bike and kept moving away from Sage. Sage scored a late takedown right at the buzzer of round 1. Sage came forward immediately in round two and landed two hard kicks to the body. The kicks were hard and landing consistently to the body. Sage was just too fast in and out during the round. Quinones did land two hard right hands but was forced to eat a hard low kick from Northcutt. Sage was just strategically picking his spots, even with Quinones landing a little more. Northcutt landed a big uppercut prior to landing another late round ending takedown as the horn sounded. Quinones was trying to fire back with kicks of his own, but Sage was easily avoiding them and going for a takedown. Sage barely secured the takedown, and when they separated and back on their feet Sage landed two more big right hands. Sage landed a low kick that put Quinones on the mat briefly. Sage landed a hard combination that included an uppercut. Northcutt was staying active and moving forward. Northcutt went for another takedown and ended up with a huge slam. He could not keep Quinones down, however. Quinones snuck in a straight right hand late. The fight came to a close and the judges scored it 30-27 across the board all for Sage Northcutt. This was a much needed and impressive victory for Northcutt. The new training at Team Alpha Male certainly made a difference in his performance and he could become a potential threat moving forward.

Another Ultimate Fighter winner took her turn in the cage as Tatiana Suarez (6-0) went up against Viviane “Sucuri” Pereira (13-1) at 115lbs. Suarez ripped a hard low kick to the leg to start. Pereira blocked a takedown attempt and had a brief clinch against the cage. Suarez got stuck in a standing guillotine but was able to battle out of it. And ended up with a  single leg takedown. Suarez immediately got into side control. Pereira was defending decently on the mat trying o t stay out of trouble. Pereira was trying to roll out of trouble, but Suarez was on top of her. Pereira was staying as alive as she could with the hand fighting and keeping the ultimate pressure off of her neck. Pereira got her pushed off and threw a slew of up kicks just prior to the buzzer going off for the round. The second round started with another low kick from Suarez. Pereira stuffed a takedown with a sprawl, but Suarez moved right throw it and ended up on top on the ground again. Suarez eventually worked her way to full mount and was leveling down big elbows. Pereira picked her off, but almost immediately Suarez was right back on top of her. Suarez had Pereira just pressed up against the cage in a seated position and was landing shots at will. Pereira got back to her feet and was dragged immediately back down to the mat. Suarez finished the round just unloading huge shots against the cage on the ground. The third round almost immediately found us in the same situation where Suarez rushed forward Pereira grabbed for an ill-advised guillotine and Suarez ended up on top on the mat. Suarez sat in side control trying to advance and still throwing shots to the body. Suarez threatened late with an armbar, but Pereira survived and we yet again went to the judges’ cards even though this one was a foregone conclusion. They scored it unanimously for Tatiana Suarez and she gets a win in her long-awaited return. The grappling was very impressive from Suarez, and on her feet, she held her own enough to not get into any trouble on the feet.

The closeout fight of the prelims was a Bantamweight showdown between John “The Magician” Dodson (20-9 #8 Ranked  Bantamweight) and Marlon  “Magic” Moraes (19-5-1).  Moraes came right out with a low kick. Dodson tried to get in close, but Moraes ripped a heavy shot back at him. Dodson dove in for a nice body shot that landed flush. Moraes missed with a spinning head kick, but landed a spin kick to the body. Dodson pressed forward with a double left and Moraes swung wildly and missed. Dodson ripped another left hand and Moraes ended up on his butt briefly. Dodson came forward and Moraes threw a low kick that made direct impact with Dodson’s groin. He was given 5 minutes to recover. Dodson did not take the full 5 and then Moraes landed a smooth right hand on the restart. The fighters were kickboxing around the cage and then there was an eye poke from Moraes, but that was a bit questionable when you looked at the replay the eye that Dodson was favoring actually got hit with a punch that looked like a closed fist. Either way the round came to an end. Dodson immediately came forward and ate a big combination from Moraes to start round 2. Dodson bounced off the cage and into a big right hand from Moraes. Dodson again tried to complain about an eye poke, but the ref didn’t stop the fight. Dodson caught a kick and landed a takedown two different times, but Moraes both times went for leg locks. Moraes was able to get back to his feet both times right after that. Moraes landed a glancing spinning heel kick that pushed Dodson to the cage. Moraes  threw  another big head kick that just missed. Moraes then went for a double leg takedown, and was able to keep Dodson on the matt until the last 4 seconds of the round. Round 3 started with a glove touch and we were going with Dodson trying to double up his left hand. Dodson went forward for a body shot, but Moraes hit him over the top with a right hand. Moraes kept pressing forward with a straight right hand. Moraes was avoiding the big rushes from Dodson and returned fire with body kicks. The two traded big left hands. Dodson was following it up with left hands. Dodson stuffed a takedown attempt and the ref separated them. Dodson then got stuck in a deep guillotine and Moraes had it deep, and right after the horn sounded Dodson appeared to tap just barely being saved by the bell. So yet again the judges make their 6th straight decision and it was 30-27 Moraes, 30-27 Dodson, and the last was 30-27 for Split decision for Marlon Moraes. Well the scorecards were whacky, but the right guy won. Moraes then called out Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (21-1 #3 Ranked Bantamweight) who just had his opponent drop out for the end of the year. That would be a great matchup with title contender implications.

The FS1 main card kicked off with 2 of the longest tenured UFC fighters on the roster with Joe Lauzon (27-15) and Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (34-14).  Guida started off with two straight leg kicks. Clay then almost immediately uncorked a combination that knocked Lauzon down. Guida then pummeled him for about 25 to 50 extra shots that should not have happened. Clay Guida hadn’t finished an opponent since 2011. This fight certainly had fireworks, which was expected. Guida led an entire chant for the UFC which was interesting as he mentioned this was the last fight of his contract and almost seemed like he was going to retire, instead he was talking about wanting to be a part of “The only show in town”

A top 15 Bantamweight showdown was next with Raphael Assuncao (26-5 #4 Ranked Bantamweight) and Mathew Lopez (10-2 #13 Ranked Bantamweight) locking horns. Assuncao came out with a front body kick to lead off. Lopez was landing shots to the body, and also ripped a straight left to the face of Assuncao. Both guys met in the middle of the Octagon and trading big combinations with Assuncao landing the better of the two. Lopez faked a shot and ended up actually eating a big left hand from Assuncao. Assuncao was continuing to press forward, and Lopez countered nicely. Assuncao swung wildly, and Lopez scooped a double leg takedown, he kept Assuncao down for about 25 seconds before they got back to the feet. Assuncao missed with a left hand just prior to the round coming to an end. Assuncao came right out and landed a low leg kick that hurt Lopez right after he landed a kick to the back of the head. Assuncao was ripping leg kicks that were landing. Lopez tried to transition to a takedown, but Assuncao stayed out of trouble and even threatened with a standing kimura briefly against the cage. Assuncao was starting to pick his spots very well on the feet and stuffed another takedown attempt. Both guys landed simultaneously and Assuncao went to a knee and Lopez went wobbly. Assuncao was tearing up the leg of Lopez and the effects were very visible. Assuncao closed out the round throwing a head kick that was blocked.  Assuncao came right out with a leg kick to the severely bruised thigh immediately in round 3. Assuncao was not stopping burying his foot into that inner thigh of Lopez. Assuncao stuffed a takedown attempt from Lopez. Then out of nowhere, Assuncao jumped for a flying knee that missed but followed up with a right hand on the chin and shut Lopez’s lights off. Assuncao just staked his claim to the title shot if it is still up for grabs. This was yet another great performance from Assuncao and his striking was on point.

Longtime UFC veteran Nate “The Great” Marquardt (38-19-2) returned to the cage and went head to head with Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (13-6). This one got off to a little bit of a slow start, but Marquardt was trying to find a way inside. Marquardt found some success early moving forward and pressing Ferreira against the cage. Marquardt was backed of quickly however with a big right hand from  Ferreira. They then engaged and a big left hand landed from Ferreira. Marquardt went in for a takedown, but Ferreira stuffed it. Marquardt was landing good low kicks as well. They were really feeling each other out leading to a bit of a restless crowd as the round ended. Ferreira was sporting blood on the bridge of his nose as round 2 started. After about a minute of dancing and really no action minus some missed shots Marquardt went for a takedown, but it was stuffed. Ferreira then went for his own takedown, but it was stuffed and Nate separated back on the feet. Marquardt threw a head kick that was blocked and then Ferreira followed up with a low kick that appeared to hurt Marquardt’s leg. As the last 30 seconds of the round happened all of sudden action picked up with Mutante landing a big punch, but Marquardt came back with absolute hammers and even stunned Ferreira and followed up with heavy shots just prior to the round ending. Round 3 started with an almost immediate takedown from Ferreira that was time perfectly. Marquardt battled and scrambled back to his feet, bet it ended with Ferreira performing a huge slam to Marquardt and having to escape a guillotine that Nate tried to lock in. Ferreira was on top for an extended period of time and controlled Nate for a long time in north-south position. Ferreira went for a late submission, but it ended up giving Nate the top position to end the fight. Before it came to an end Nate opened up a gigantic cut on Ferreira’s head. The judges’ scored it 29-28 Marquardt, 29-28 Ferreira, and the final judge 29-28 for Cezar Ferreira via split decision. That was a much closer fight than almost anyone expected. Nate proved he can still compete, and Ferreira showed that he can get it done, but he will need a lot more against guys in the rankings.

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (26-15 1NC #13 Ranked Heavyweight) looked to stop a 4 game losing skid against Junior “Baby” Albini (14-3 #12 Ranked Heavyweight). Albini came out swinging very hard at Arlovski but was not finding a home. Arlovski responded with a big shot the connected and appeared to stun Albini a little. Albini had Arlovski pressed up against the cage in the clinch. Albini was trying to walk Arlovski down, but Arlovski continued to return fire. Arlovski came in with 2 body shots and had to eat a clean short left hand for his efforts. Albini was using the fence to pin Arlovski and rip a nice combination against the cage. Arlovski landed a nice overhand right but was countered just prior to the round coming to an end. Round 2 started with more of Albini. Albini was clinching up against the cage, but there was very little damage going on. The fighters were separated and we were back in the middle of the cage. Albini came back in threatening for a takedown, but we had more just stalled clinching against the cage. They again got back to the center of the cage, and Arlovski was finding a real home for his shots. He ate a left and responded with a straight left right down the middle that landed flush. Arlovski threw a spinning back fist and then threw another big combination that found a home as the round came to an end. Round 3 saw early success for Albini with his right hand. Arlovski was responding with shots of his own. The round was not exactly action-packed halfway through. Then there was an eye poke from Albini and we had a brief pause. On the restart, Arlovski landed two solid leg kicks and an overhand right. Albini even with the slower work rate ripped a solid combination and avoided a counter from Arlovski. He wasn’t done and Arlovski ripped a spinning back fist into a huge combination and clinch. We then had a groin shot that delayed the fight, but the stoppage was brief. Albini started pressing forward and landed some good shots, but clinched up almost immediately against the cage and not doing any damage. Arlovski stuffed one last takedown attempt and we were dead set on the judges deciding it. They came back with 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27 all for Andrei Arlovski. This was a much-needed win for the longtime MMA veteran. He proved that he still has something in the tank, and back against the wall he can come through.

The Co-Main event of the evening was up next and it’s another longtime UFC veteran matchup as Matt “The Immortal” Brown (23-16) and Diego “Lionheart” Sanchez (29-11) entered the Octagon. Diego came right out threw a right hand and went for a takedown. Brown was able to stuff the takedown very successfully and stay on his feet. Sanchez was relentless keeping him up against the cage, but eventually, Brown escaped and go the fight back to the center of the Octagon. Brown stuffed yet another takedown attempt and was trying to land on the feet. Brown caught a kick and pressured Diego against the cage. Diego landed a hard left body kick, and appeared to hurt Brown but never followed up. Brown caught a kick and started to move forward and press Diego up against the cage. Then Brown unleashed a vicious elbow that shut off the lights for Diego Sanchez. Matt Brown goes out on the winning side. If this truly is the last time we see Matt Brown he certainly had a career that many UFC fighters would love to have. He may have never reached the gold, but was constantly out there competing with the best in the world and always being in every fight. He put on some of the most entertaining fights and took down some quality opponents during the rise of the company to where it is today.

The Main event of the evening was next as former 155lb champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (20-7) took on Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (22-5 1NC #8 Ranked Lightweight). Poirier immediately looked to take the center of the Octagon. Poirier missed with an early combination and had to block a high kick from Pettis. Poirier moved back in and shot for a double leg that he got. Poirier was on top in control, but Pettis grabbed for a kimura from the bottom. Pettis had to let it go and found himself getting elbows thrown on to him. Pettis got Poirier off him and was able to get back to his feet. Poirier came on strong with big shots late in the round and really was pressuring Pettis against the cage, but Pettis was returning fire. The last 30 seconds was a flat out brawl between these two and was setting up for a great main event. Poirier scored a takedown very early in round 2. He was trying to unload on to Pettis but ended up almost in an armbar. Poirier punched his way out of the position and ended up taking Pettis back. Pettis however like a warrior flipped the script and ended up on top landing elbows. Both guys were bleeding all over each other. Pettis tried to take Poirier’s back and slipped of giving Poirier the chance to get back in the top position. Pettis was trying for submissions off his back, but all the blood was causing problems. Poirier slid Anthony off his back again and ended up on top. At this point, the ref stopped the fight to have the cut on Pettis looked at to make sure the blood wasn’t impeding his vision. They cleared the blood and restarted in the guard. Pettis was active off his back and looking for a submission. Pettis had a tight triangle, but Poirier was able to slip out and throw massive ground and pound shots as the round ended. Quite possibly the round of the year there. Round three started with about 30 seconds of Poirier pressure before a shot for and a successful takedown from Poirier. Pettis battled back and then rolled, but gave up his back. Poirier had a body triangle locked in and was engaged in a hand fight with the former champion. Then in a weird transition, Pettis turned and then without any real offense from Poirier Anthony Pettis tapped and grabbed his ribs. The ending may have been weirdly anticlimactic, but this win for Dustin Poirier couldn’t have been any bigger. This gets him at least a top 5 Lightweight in his next time out, and it is well deserved.

The night did not exactly start out as super exciting, but the main card yet again delivered. Outside of Albini and Arlovski, we got ourselves a pretty good run of fights. The Assuncao knockout paired with the Matt Brown walk-off was excellent. The main event was 2+ rounds of madness that ended with arguably the biggest win in Dustin Poirier’s career. The UFC has had some craziness in the last week with cancellations of fights, but this was a main card that came through to save what could have been a boring night of fights. The card next week is headlined by a Heavyweight matchup and it features a late replacement in Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (21-7-1 #2 Ranked Heavyweight) taking on a guy who can make a statement in Marcin “Tybur” Tybura (16-2 #8 Ranked Heavyweight). The main card kept the UFC 217 momentum so the card next Saturday needs to make sure it keeps that going.

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