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The best and worst from UFC Fight Night 170: Lee vs Oliveira

  • The UFC's behind-closed-doors event from Brasilia was a mixed bag; here are the best and worst moments from an odd show.
Scott Newman
Modified 15 Mar 2020, 23:19 IST

Charles Oliveira picked up a big win over Kevin Lee last night
Charles Oliveira picked up a big win over Kevin Lee last night

The UFC’s trip to Brasilia – UFC Fight Night 170 – would’ve been your run-of-the-mill Brazilian show under normal circumstances, but of course, last night was about as far from normal circumstances as it gets.

The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus meant that the promotion had to put on the show behind closed doors, giving it an extremely weird feel – like watching an episode of The Ultimate Fighter with better fighters and the addition of commentary, essentially. Overall the show was decent at best but it’ll definitely go down as one of 2020’s most memorable.

Here are the best and worst moments from UFC Fight Night 170: Lee vs Oliveira.

#1 Best: Oliveira becomes a genuine contender

Oliveira looked excellent throughout the fight
Oliveira looked excellent throughout the fight

Charles Oliveira has been in the UFC for a whole decade now, and up until recently, it felt like the book was written on him. ‘Do Bronx’ has always been an exceptional offensive fighter, particularly with his submissions – the most in UFC history in fact – but historically, he’d always faltered in the face of adversity and the likelihood of him ever becoming a contender, either at Lightweight or Featherweight, seemed slim.

That changed last night. There’s an argument to suggest it was already changing, to be fair – the Brazilian was riding a 6-fight win streak coming into last night’s clash with Kevin Lee – but none of his previous opponents carried the threat that ‘The Motown Phenom’ – one of the world’s most feared 155lber – did.

Despite Lee’s talents, Oliveira dominated their fight last night; he beat Lee up standing, showing massively improved striking, and while Lee was able to gain top position, he was never able to open up with his dangerous ground-and-pound, and eventually, he fell victim to a nasty guillotine choke that forced him to tap out.

Oliveira called out the winner of the hopefully upcoming Lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson after the win, but while it’s unlikely that he’ll get that fight, he’s definitely proven himself worthy of taking a huge match in the division, and there can be no doubt that he’s a bonafide title contender now. It just goes to show – you can’t write anyone off in this sport.

#1 Worst: The weird vibes of the show

The lack of crowd noise made fights like Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi feel slow
The lack of crowd noise made fights like Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi feel slow

Okay, so we're definitely not blaming the UFC for the weird vibes that this show gave off; the promotion probably did the best thing they could in light of the Covid-19 crisis and it was definitely the safest idea to have this event take place 'behind closed doors' with no crowd in attendance, but it’s also hard to deny that the lack of atmosphere took a lot away from the show.

Can you imagine how cool it would’ve been to hear the Brazilian crowd go crazy for Charles Oliveira’s submission of Kevin Lee? Or Gilbert Burns’ KO of Demian Maia? A hot crowd even would’ve energised the slower fight between Francisco Trinaldo and John Makdessi. As it was, the closest comparison to this show would be an episode of TUF – and even then, those episodes tended to have more noise from the various fighters at cage-side.

Where do we go from here? It’s hard to say. The UFC’s show in London next week is up in the air as the promotion try to find an alternative host, and while Dana White is currently saying that the show will go on with upcoming cards being moved, who knows what’ll happen? Let’s hope this horrible period comes to an end soon, for everyone’s sake.

#2 Best: Burns comes through big time

Gilbert Burns became only the second man to stop Demian Maia
Gilbert Burns became only the second man to stop Demian Maia

Most people were doubting Gilbert Burns coming into his fight last night with Demian Maia. After all, Jake Shields notwithstanding, Maia had always dealt with his grappling-based opponents handily, and Burns, with his background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, seemed to be the next guy off the conveyor belt for the veteran to style on.

That wasn’t the case at all though, as ‘Durinho’ pulled out the best performance of his MMA career thus far, escaping one of Maia’s dangerous takedowns before destroying him on the feet with a left hook, becoming only the second fighter – after Nate Marquardt all the way back in 2009 – to stop the legendary grappler.

Given that the likes of Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and even the current Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman were unable to stop Maia in this way, the win should put Burns well into title contention. True, the knockout could be a sign of the ageing Maia finally succumbing to Father Time, but you can’t take it away from ‘Durinho’. Hopefully he gets a big fight next time around.

#2 Worst: Moicano’s weird reaction after his win

Renato Moicano wasn
Renato Moicano wasn't happy with his win over Damir Hadzovic

To say last night’s show started off slowly would be an understatement; we were treated to 9 decisions in the first 9 fights, with the level of excitement not exactly all that high. It was Renato Moicano who changed all that by choking out Damir Hadzovic in just 44 seconds of his Lightweight debut. So why does this make the ‘Worst’ section?

Well, unfortunately, the Brazilian behaved pretty badly after the fight, standing over his defeated Bosnian opponent and hurling a mouthful of abuse down onto him to the point where the two had to be separated by officials. Moicano’s reasoning? Apparently, he wanted to fight for longer and was furious that Hadzovic had tapped so quickly.

Quite how that works we’ve got no idea; Moicano looked great in the fight and dealt with a dangerous opponent easily, so surely he should’ve been happy with himself. The likely answer is that his behaviour was fuelled by the frustration that he should’ve been fighting in front of his friends and family and wasn’t able to, but even so, this was a bad look for him.

#3 Worst: Walker’s hype train well and truly off the rails

Johnny Walker was derailed again by a loss to Nikita Krylov
Johnny Walker was derailed again by a loss to Nikita Krylov

It feels hard to believe now, but less than 6 months ago, people were talking up Johnny Walker as potentially being the fighter who could finally dethrone Jon Jones. Now though, after two straight losses, the wild Brazilian is miles away from title contention – and might be fighting for his UFC career next time out.

Last night’s fight with Nikita Krylov was especially disappointing in that Walker simply never got a chance to display any of the explosive offense he used to take out Justin Ledet, Misha Cirkunov or Khalil Rountree. Instead, he was dragged into a grappling match, gassed out and was largely beaten up by ‘The Miner’.

Sure, he’s still got a ton of athletic potential and could still improve – he could still get into contention at some point in the future – but right now his hype train has been firmly derailed and considering how exciting he was last year, that’s sad.

Published 15 Mar 2020, 23:19 IST
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