The last stop before a two-week break from action inside the Octagon, UFC Fight Night 107 did what it had to do to keep us yearning for more.
Arnold Allen outworked a fellow rising prospect. Marlon Vera spoiled Brad Pickett’s dreams last minute. Gunnar Nelson picked up the latest emphatic win of his career. Jimi Manuwa took one vital step closer to the 205-pound title.
FanRag Sports offers its report card for those who managed to find their hands raised during the UFC Fight Night 107 main card. Grades will be determined based on overall performance, method of victory and quality of opponent. We’ll also take a look at what should be next for the night’s biggest winners.
Arnold Allen: B-
Fighting in front of a home crowd in London, Arnold Allen took out a promising prospect in Makwan Amirkhani in relatively convincing fashion. It wouldn’t be a finish for Allen, who picked up his fourth decision victory, but he did manage to control a majority of the contest utilizing his wrestling base. Dominating a fight by grappling is rarely entertaining to the common fan, but doing so against a high-level submission artist deserves a good amount of credit.
Allen did show some improvements in his stand-up, which makes his decision to entertain a grappling-fest against Amirkhani all the more peculiar. He was clearly the better striker, and was far and away the more conditioned athlete as the fight wore on. Amirkhani made his way around the cage with his hands low in Rounds 2 and 3, yet there Allen was closing the distance.
FRS Matchmaker: Arnold Allen vs. Charles Rosa-Shane Burgos winner
Marlon Vera: B
Marlon Vera had a world of respect for his opponent Brac Pickett, but he couldn’t have cared less about any storybook ending “One Punch” was looking for Saturday night. Pickett was calling it quits after 13 years in mixed martial arts, and was arguably (more like probably) 70 seconds away from picking up a win in his final fight inside the Octagon. Said win would have taken place in front of a home crowd in London. It didn’t work out that way, though.
Pickett was the more effective fighter in the first two rounds, using massive takedowns and solid counterpunching to convince most of us he’d done enough to be up two rounds to none as the third went underway. “Chito” Vera started to utilize his reach more and more as the fight wore on, and it culminated with a blistering head-kick that sent Pickett’s hopes and dreams crashing down to the canvas. A few punches would soon follow, but those could be considered nothing more than academic. Vera became the sixth man to defeat Pickett in his last seven tries.
FRS Matchmaker: Marlon Vera vs. Henry Briones
Gunnar Nelson: A+
History and pedigree suggested this would be Nelson’s fight so long as he could get it to the ground. A far superior grappler, only one man has been able to deal with the suffocating skills Nelson has on the canvas. Alan Jouban, as expected, would not become the second. Jouban gave up a takedown early in Round 1, and would not find a way back to his feet to cede the opening frame to his opponent. Nelson wasn’t quick to get the fight back to the ground in the following round, and we saw exactly why. Fluid in his approach on the feet as he is on the ground, a straight right hand from Nelson sent Jouban staggering backwards.
It’s what came after that initial devastating blow that forced us all to applaud the rising Icelandic fighter. Rather than follow it up with strikes to finish the fight on the feet, “Gunni” threw just one kick to the head before imposing his will as a grappler once more. A brilliant decision by one of the more promising fighters at 170 pounds.
FRS Matchmaker: Gunnar Nelson vs. Neil Magny
Jimi Manuwa: A+
There wasn’t much debate coming into this one. The winner of Saturday night’s contest would be determined solely based on whether or not Corey Anderson would be capable of dictating the distance with his takedowns. Trying three different times in the opening round to get Manuwa on his back, Anderson couldn’t complete his attempts. That, more than anything, was his undoing.
“Poster Boy” was clearly the superior fighter on the feet, confident to slowly close the distance and get within range against a more mobile opponent. Just minutes into the opening round, Manuwa found his target. One left hook to the temple and Anderson toppled straight onto the canvas. A walk-off KO for the hometown hero, needing no follow-up strikes to secure the victory.
Manuwa may be looking for a title shot after this one, but circumstances being what they are, he may have to take another fight before cashing in on an opportunity for the gold. With Jon Jones making his way back to the cage this summer, consensus opinion is the former champion will get the next shot. Training alongside Alexander Gustafsson now, there isn’t a whole lot that makes sense for Manuwa.
FRS Matchmaker: Jimi Manuwa vs. Daniel Cormier-Anthony Johnson loser