The Ultimate Fighting Championship gave the fight fans a first taste of what the UFC is all about in a memorable Fight Night card that will be remembered for a very long time Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines.
In a night filled with action and drama, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar outclassed fellow future hall of famer Urijah Faber in a thrilling five-round affair to cement his place as one of the greats. In the co-main event, Gegard Mousasi displayed his improved wrestling in coasting through Costas Philippou. But in one of the most emotional moment in UFC history, the stars were aligned for Filipino-American Mark Muñoz as he delivered a vintage ‘Donkey Kong’-performance to go into the sunset with a huge win to cap an amazing career.
Here is the recap and analysis of UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber:
‘The Answer’ too much for the ‘California Kid’
In a fight that can truly be considered a super fight, former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber went toe-to-toe for 25 continuous minutes in a thrilling fast-paced match. In the end, Frankie Edgar’s countering, footwork and wrestling proved to be the difference the entire fight.
Frankie Edgar was cautious yet precise all throughout the fight in cutting the movement of Urijah Faber. The former lightweight champion’s combinations were crisper in the early rounds of the fight as he combined his excellent boxing with leg kicks to puzzle Faber. Moreover, being a former Division 1 NCAA champion, Edgar was able to take Faber down in the middle rounds proving that he is one of the premiere wrestlers in the promotion today.
In the championship rounds, Edgar’s uncanny footwork continued to perplex the Team Alpha Male member with constant side-steps and weaves followed by combinations. Edgar incorporated head kicks into his combinations to further add to the confusion Faber was going through that eventually gave Faber a shiner above his right eye. The only significant clean shots that Faber was only to land was a knee that bloodied up his opponents nose and a stinging jab at the end of the fourth round.
The two fighters continued the same pace they had during the first round in the final round. Continuous movement by both men and stand-up exchanges were fast and furious with Edgar almost always coming out on top. After a dominant performance, Frankie Edgar took the super fight via a Unanimous Decision, 50-45, across all three judges.
Live by the sword, die by the sword: Mark Muñoz provides a wrestling clinic in farewell bout
In a highly emotional fight for MMA veteran, ‘The Filipino Wrestling Machine’ Mark Muñoz gave a performance that will never be forgotten in UFC lore.
Despite the huge size disadvantage, Muñoz had an excellent game plan in always closing in on the 6’6” Brit Luke Barnatt. In the opening round of the match, the Filipino-American was relentless with his takedowns. Even when the long legs of Barnatt were used to push off Muñoz for a stand-up, it was ineffective as the former NCAA Division 1 wrestler was persistent to go for the shoot.
In the latter two rounds, Muñoz continued to push the pace and keep the distance between him and his opponent short. Combinations of jabs and powerful overhand rights dazed the taller opponent. A huge knee to the body by Barnatt at the end of the second round while a few short elbows to the side of Muñoz’s head at the third were the only significant shots landed by the tall Brit. In the majority of the fight, the Filipino-American was continually on top. To close the fight, Muñoz landed heavy bombs to a prone Barnatt to cap an amazing career.
After the match, an emotional Muñoz was in tears as he said goodbye to the sport he loved. “I feel so good. To love what you do and do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work, and that’s fighting for me. But family is always the priority. I’m going out on my own terms. I don’t want to miss any more special moments with them. I’ve had an amazing career. The UFC has given me so much and I’m very fortunate,” he reflected. Moreover, he cannot contain how proud he was of his Filipino heritage, “it’s just amazing being in the Philippines. This is where it all started for my family and it just feels awesome to be here. “I’m known as one of the nicest guys in the UFC and there’s a reason for it. That’s the Filipino way: you respect and you’re respected back. I’m very Filipino, this is who I am. This is my culture. I uphold traditions close to my heart. It’s a storybook ending here in the Philippines. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending and I thank God I was able to end my career here.”
Team Lakay blanks as delos Reyes-Sangcha-an put on a classic, Eddiva outgrappled
Team Lakay, the premiere MMA camp in the Philippines, had two of their top prospects Roldan Sangcha-an and Mark Eddiva on the other side of the win column. Team Lakay’s problem with being outgrappled against international competition continued to plague the team as Jon delos Reyes and Levan Makashvili exposed the suspect ground game of the team.
Sangcha-an did not go down without a fight as he figured into a classic with delos Reyes. Sangcha-an had Jon delos Reyes rocked a couple of times in the fight but the heart and quick recovery time of the Guamanian-Filipino kept him up. After butting heads at the start of the second round, delos Reyes was severely cut at the right side of his head. Delos Reyes had no other resort but to take Sangcha-an down and would eventually get the back of the Team Lakay member. Seconds later, he secured a tight rear naked choke for a submission win.
Mark Eddiva, however, was completely outclassed by debuting Georgian Levan Makashvili. Makashvili was dominant through the entire fight in securing takedowns and staying on top for the entire three rounds of the featherweight bout. The Mutant MMA member was confident in the pre-match and it was vindicated with a lopsided unanimous decision win. Mark Eddiva told the members of the press that he had little time to prepare for Makashvili, a late replacement. “I’m going to go back to the gym and train to holistically improve. We focused only on wrestling [with last-minute switch of Alex White]. In any case, I am still thankful to God.”
Nover and Ticman figure in separate controversial decisions
It would not be a Fight Night without much drama and controversy.
Phillipe Nover displayed his improved wrestling in his match against Korean Yui Chul Nam. Nover was able to take the Korean down with ease during the first round and the early parts of the second round. But in the latter part of the second round, Yui Chul managed to find his footing and outstrike Nover. Moreover, Nam took the third round with ease as he spent most of the time on top while raining punches on the registered nurse. In the tense moments of the judge’s call, half of the arena was shocked that Nover was declared the victor by split decision. UFC President Dana White even went on Twitter to post his dismay:
I knew the judges were gonna ruin that fight! So frustrating, I don't know how u watch that fight and think Nover won 2 rounds. SUCKS!
— Dana White (@danawhite) May 16, 2015
However, Nover in a post-fight interview thought that the second round was a toss-up. “It feels amazing. I’m so happy to fight here in front of my friends and family. It’s an amazing experience to be back and to win a tough fight. It was an absolute dream come true to come back to the UFC. My game plan didn’t go according to plan, I would say, on the third round. The first and second rounds were my rounds. I was able to accomplish most of what I wanted. Yui surprised me a couple of times, but I thought I did my job out there.”
For Filipino-American Nolan Ticman, a split decision did not go in his favor even if he clearly dominated the opening bout of the night. In a fast paced flyweight match, Ticman was able to outstrike and outgrapple his Chinese opponent, Yao Zhikui, for the majority of the match. Great combinations by Ticman slowed Yao and all of Yao’s attempts for a takedown were quickly reversed by the Filipino-American. However, the judges’declared Yao Zhikui as the victor in a close split decision. “I won the fight, that’s it,” a dismayed Ticman said after the fight.
Mousasi, Magny continue streaks
Gegard Mousasi continues his amazing 2015 run by coasting through Costas Philippou. Mousasi, who knocked out Dan Henderson in impressive fashion last January, displayed another facet of his game Saturday night. The Dutch-Armenian fighter was aggressive in going for the shoot during the middleweight affair and did not allow Philippou to do anything. Aside from this, Mousasi’s crisp boxing gave him distance during the stand-ups. Mousasi blew out Philippou with a 30-27 unanimous decision victory.
Post-fight, Mousasi, as seen during the fight week festivities, fell in love with the Philippines but was disappointed he did not give his Filipino fans a finish. “I wanted to finish him, but he’s a strong guy. I could’ve been a bit more aggressive, but he was defending well. It feels great to fight in the Philippines. Just like in Japan, Asians love fighting, and I hope to come back here again.”
Welterweight Neil Magny also had a standout performance to extend his streak to seven wins in a huge TKO win over tough Korean Top Team standout Hyun Gyu Lim. Just like the majority of his teammates at KTT, Lim had Magny in trouble during the first round with his unorthodox striking. Magny was rocked early in the first round with a huge jab, a right hook, and the a flying knee. Lim followed it up with huge knees and elbows to stun Magny. Magny was able to clinch and slowly recover to end the round. Magny, sensing that he could not allow distance, quickly overpowered Lim for a belly-to-back takedown early in the second round. Seconds later, the American bombarded Lim with huge shots and the referee had no other recourse but to stop the bout.
With all these fights, truly UFC Fight Night Manila lived up to the hype and even more.
UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber results
May 16, 2015 – SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City
Featherweight Bout: Frankie Edgar def. Urijah Faber via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Middleweight Bout: Gegard Mousasi def. Costa Philippou via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Middleweight Bout: Mark Munoz def. Luke Barnatt via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Welterweight Bout: Neil Magny def. Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO (strikes) at 1:24, R2
Featherweight Bout: Phillipe Nover def. Yui Chul Nam via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Featherweight Bout: Levan Makashvili def. Mark Eddiva via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Lightweight Bout: Jon Tuck def. Tae Hyun Bang via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:56, R1
Lightweight Bout: Kajan Johnson def. Zhang Lipeng via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight Bout: Li Jingliang def. Dhiego Lima via TKO (strikes) at 1:25, R1
Bantamweight Bout: Ning Guangyou def. Royston Wee via TKO (strikes) at 4:59, R2
Flyweight Bout: Jon Delos Reyes def. Roldan Sangcha-An via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:13, R2
Flyweight Bout: Yao Zhikui def. Nolan Ticman via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)