The best and worst from UFC Fight Night 171: Smith vs. Teixeira
- The UFC's second show during the Covid-19 pandemic was another fun one. Here are the best and worst moments of the show.
- Glover Teixeira destroyed Anthony Smith in the main event of last night's show.
The UFC's second show during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is in the books, and while it wasn't quite as good as last weekend's UFC 249, it was still a pretty excellent show to watch. A couple of slower fights brought it down at times but for the most part, there was a ton of good stuff on tap here, including one of the year's better fights in my opinion.
Here are the best and worst moments from UFC Fight Night 171: Smith vs. Teixeira.
#1 Best: Drew Dober steps up big time
I'll be honest and say that about two years ago, I didn't care about Drew Dober at all. I felt like he was one of those middling fighters who would float along on the UFC's prelims for a few years before being inevitably cut, and just didn't see him as a fighter to watch at all.
That changed when he put on a thrilling fight with Frank Camacho in February 2018. That made him a fighter to watch, but his loss to Beneil Dariush in early 2019 seemed to indicate a ceiling as a solid action fighter. Judging by last night though, I may have been wrong again.
After knocking out the highly rated Nasrat Haqparast in his last fight, Dober came out last night and took out an even more highly rated foe in the top 15 ranked Alexander Hernandez. And more impressively, the Denver-based fighter had to dig deep for his win.
Dober pressed the action from the off, but it looked like Hernandez had a big speed advantage and was able to use his movement and athleticism to tag Dober every time he looked to step in. But Dober was undeterred.
Looking to be in the best shape of his life, he kept pressuring 'Alexander the Great', kept corralling him, and once he landed some big punches, he kept the heat on until Hernandez could take no more punishment and finally collapsed. Prior to this, only the great Donald Cerrone had been able to finish the 27-year old.
The win should cement Dober in the top 10 at 155lbs, but it also pushes him into must-see territory. He hasn't put on a bad fight in over two years now. The UFC need to give him a shot at the upper echelon next – an opponent like Kevin Lee or Al Iaquinta would work – as he's more than earned it.
#1 Worst: What were Smith's corner thinking?
Last night's main event was a strange fight in a sense; Anthony Smith came out like a house on fire early on, clearly feeling that he could finish Glover Teixeira. He pushed a ridiculous pace for the first 7 minutes or so – but then blew up entirely and once his Brazilian foe hurt him with a punch and a high kick, the tide turned entirely.
Teixeira put a ruthless beatdown on Smith in the third round – likely gaining a 10-8 score – and in all honesty, referee Jason Herzog could've stopped the fight at a couple of points. He chose not to though, and so the Brazilian veteran beat the hell out of Smith in the fourth round too.
After that round, Smith could barely make it to his corner – and outright told his cornermen that his teeth were being knocked out. It was clear that 'Lionheart' was not in a position to continue, let alone turn the tide – but he was still allowed and encouraged to continue.
As it was, that final round lasted barely a minute before Teixeira mercifully stopped things with punches from the mount, but realistically, it was clear to a blind man that Smith wasn't going to win this fight once the third round had ended. So why did his corner allow him to take so much punishment?
Nobody would've questioned Smith's toughness if the towel had been thrown in before the fourth round; he's earned his 'Lionheart' nickname ten times over already. This was a baffling – and downright dangerous – decision from his team, and this morning they ought to be looking in the mirror and asking themselves whether they've had a detrimental impact on Smith's career overall.
#2 Best: Moises pulls a rabbit from the hat
Glover Teixeira's main event comeback was definitely stirring, and Drew Dober had to dig deep for his win, but the award for comeback of the night should definitely go to Thiago Moises. The Brazilian Lightweight was being pieced up by Michael Johnson in the first round of their clash, and looked destined for a loss.
With a UFC record of 1-2, it would've been a loss he could probably not afford to take, and so when the second round began, he rolled the dice. Moises dived at Johnson immediately, and when he couldn't secure a takedown, he pulled guard and switched to an Achilles lock.
It took a bit of twisting to get the hold locked in, but when he did, Johnson was forced to submit – and was left in some pain when referee Keith Peterson missed the initial tapout. It was arguably one of the best submission wins of 2020 thus far.
The win was undoubtedly the best of Moises' career; Johnson has been on a slide recently but he's still a man who once beat Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson. If nothing else, the Brazilian showed the value of taking risks inside the Octagon. He's probably extended his UFC career by some time with this win, and deserves a lot of praise today.
#2 Worst: The plodding nature of the Rothwell/OSP fight
I didn't have high hopes for the odd Heavyweight fight between Ben Rothwell and Ovince St. Preux; Rothwell's recent UFC career has seen a string of plodding, slow-paced fights, and unfortunately, his close win last night was largely no different.
Sure, there were periods of high-level action here – a couple of exchanges saw both men get hurt, with Rothwell surprisingly being dropped on two occasions. But for the most part, this fight saw 'Big Ben' lumbering forward into the clinch while St. Preux attempted to circle away from danger and strike from the outside.
In the end, despite arguably coming out on the wrong end of the most pivotal moments in the fight, Rothwell squeaked out a split decision win. Did he deserve the nod? It's debatable and probably depends on how much you value forward motion, but it certainly wasn't a memorable win at all.
Overall, this wasn't one of the worst Heavyweight bouts the UFC is likely to showcase this year – it was better than Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro for instance – but it still made you yearn to see a fighter like Daniel Cormier or Francis Ngannou in action.
#3 Best: The two brutal finishes on the prelims
Last night's prelim card wasn't heavy on name value, particularly after Andrei Arlovski vs. Philipe Lins was promoted to the main card. But that didn't stop a couple of the fighters competing on it to pull out two of the show's more memorable moments.
Firstly, Heavyweight Chase Sherman pieced up newcomer Ike Villanueva on the feet for a round-and-a-half, hitting him cleanly with some beautifully timed leg kicks and punches before finishing him with a savage elbow strike.
Villanueva looked massively out of his depth at the UFC level, but this was still an excellent win for Sherman, who was returning to the UFC after being cut in 2018 following three straight losses. I'm definitely interested in seeing him again after this showing.
Secondly, Bantamweight Brian' Boom' Kelleher – fighting up at 145lbs - once again demonstrated his ability to find a way to win from behind against Hunter Azure. He was largely being knocked around by Azure in the first round and seemed unable to find any kind of rhythm, but in the second round, he managed to find his range.
With Azure still willing to engage, Kelleher caught him cleanly with a left hand that dropped him – and then sent him to the realm of the unconscious with two brutal hammer fists. Referee Jason Herzog was perhaps a little slow with the stoppage, but then Kelleher pounced so quickly it would've been hard for him to call it off any earlier.
This was a huge win for Kelleher, who remains one of the UFC's premier action fighters – evidently even when he's fighting out of his usual weight class.