#2 Best: Strickland produces a career-best performance to down Allen
The Catchweight fight between Sean Strickland and Brendan Allen was thrown together on late notice by the UFC and seemed to favor Allen, at least on paper. All In had been preparing to fight Ian Heinisch last week in a match that was scrapped, while Strickland had only returned to action on 10/31, giving him very little preparation time.
However, come fight time, it was Strickland who was the far sharper fighter. Allen continually pushed forward, but Tarzan caught him over and over with cleaner punches and eventually hurt him badly with a clean one-two in the second round.
Allen couldn’t recover, and some more heavy shots from Strickland were enough to seal the deal. This was a big win for Strickland, and was also probably the best performance of his UFC career, too.
Not only was Allen a highly-touted prospect, but Strickland’s earlier UFC career had seen him become renowned for a string of dull decisions. This was a much more exciting fight, and at the age of 29, there’s every chance now that Tarzan finally reaches his potential. With that in mind, his next fight will be one to keep an eye on.
#2 Worst: The odd judging in the McKenna vs. Hansen fight
Odd judging calls haven’t reared their head in the UFC for at least a few shows, but there were definitely a couple of questionable calls last night. For instance, Judge Chris Lee somehow managed to score the main event 48-47 in favor of Paul Felder, despite Felder clearly losing every round to Rafael dos Anjos.
That wasn’t the most egregious call of the night, though. That belonged to the UFC Strawweight fight between Kay Hansen and Cory McKenna. The fight was moved onto the main card at late notice and garnered a lot of publicity, as the two women had a combined age of 42 – making it one of the youngest fights in UFC history.
Sadly, it’ll probably now be remembered for a questionable call. All three judges – Lee, plus veterans Sal D’Amato, and Derek Cleary – scored the fight 29-28 for McKenna. However, to most viewers, myself included, Hansen appeared to have clearly won the first round and edged the third, too.
It was definitely a close – and exciting – fight, but Hansen had more control, landed the better strikes in the first round, and had more submission attempts too. It wasn’t the worst decision of all time, but it was another reminder that the UFC’s judges are very far from perfect.
#3 Best: McKee and Morono put on a war – with a bizarre UFC moment thrown in for good measure
The prelim card last night was largely forgettable, but we still had room for one genuinely fun fight, complete with one of the most bizarre moments in UFC history.
Welterweights Alex Morono and Rhys McKee went to war for 15 minutes, exchanging some huge strikes and never slowing down for a second. Morono ended up winning after landing the better shots, but McKee never stopped pushing forward and used his range to do plenty of damage of his own.
The highlight of the contest came in the third round, though. McKee’s mouthpiece was dislodged during a clinch, and referee Jason Herzog called time. However, rather than simply put the mouthpiece back in, Skeletor found himself in a bit of a bind.
Somehow, the mouthpiece had dropped into the small gap between the canvas and the fence of the Octagon, making it unable to retrieve. Things then descended into farce as a number of UFC officials – complete with torches – were left crawling underneath the Octagon in a search for the elusive piece of equipment.
This was one of the longest time-outs in UFC history, and at one point, it looked like McKee’s corner were going to have to fetch a replacement mouthpiece from backstage. However, somehow the UFC’s officials tracked the original down, and after washing it with water – it probably needed dipping in disinfectant! – the action resumed.
The two men should probably have been given some kind of bonus for the action they put on, but also for enduring such an odd incident. In all honesty, even in the sometimes wacky world of the UFC, this was another level of bizarre.