After a build-up littered with fight changes, late injuries and fighters missing weight, UFC 206 finally got under way at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada on Saturday night. It was another memorable evening of UFC action.
Max Holloway def. Anthony Pettis
via TKO (punches) Round 3, 4:50
In the main event, Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis were supposed to be fighting for the UFC interim featherweight title, but after Pettis missed the 145-pounds weight limit on Friday, only Holloway was eligible to win the belt on the night.
Regardless of the title situation, fight fans around the world were still eagerly anticipating this clash between two of the UFC’s most exciting and flamboyant strikers and after it was all said and done it was easy to see why.
Round one was very tight as both men look to find their range as Pettis landed kicks early while Holloway later looked to get his boxing going at closer range.
After a tense opening five minutes Holloway began to work his counter jab very well and he put Pettis on his backside early with a clipping blow. The Hawaiian let Pettis back to his feet and the rest of the round saw him land more smooth counter jabs as Pettis looked to be creative with his kicks. The American looked for a takedown late in the round, but his attempts were stuffed as Holloway easily evaded them.
Pettis’ right eye was starting to look ugly at the beginning of round three, but his groin was the more immediate concern as Holloway landed low with a kick. After a brief pause in the action, the fight got back underway and a pattern began to emerge as Holloway continued to counter well of Pettis’ forward attacks as he peppered him with punches to both head and body.
With the end of the third round approaching the fight was over. Holloway landed a stiff kick to the midsection and a follow up straight right that landed flush. Pettis crumpled back into the cage and Holloway poured on the strikes with left and right hooks flying in from all angles. The referee saw Pettis was in no position to defend himself and waved the fight off.
Holloway is the new UFC interim featherweight champion and will likely go on to face Jose Aldo in a title unification bout in 2017.
Donald Cerrone def Matt Brown
via KO (head kick), Round 3, 0:34
The co-main event of the evening saw Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Matt Brown go at it in an intriguing welterweight clash.
The fight began with both men boxing intelligently and using stiff kicks to both the legs and body to work into range. Cerrone had success with two head kicks, but the most intriguing part of the round came when Brown slipped to the mat and somehow used it to his advantage as he came close with a triangle choke. Cerrone wriggled out before he could lock it completely in, but before the end of the round Brown landed a big kick to the body.
Both men were really in the groove in round two and both men had success with stiff punches as they both scored flash knockdowns. As the round wore on Cerrone appeared to be handling the pace the better of the two as Brown’s face started to mark up with cuts around both of his eyes.
After a close opening two rounds, round three saw about as definitive finish as you’ll ever see. After touching gloves and hugging as a mark of respect, Cerrone landed a monstrous head kick to send Brown to the mat unconscious in the most brutal fashion imaginable. It was a remarkable ending to another barn burner of a fight.
Cub Swanson def. Doo Ho Choi
via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
The ‘People’s Main Event’ of the evening saw Cub Swanson take on the babyface South Korean, Doo Ho Choi in featherweight action in a battle of the young gun taking on the old master.
Both went at it from the opening bell, intelligently slipping each other’s punches and countering well with stiff hooks and jabs. Both men had their moments in a tight opening round where there was little to choose between the two men.
Round one was good, but round two was sensational. Swanson opened the aggressor, rocking Choi was a massive combination of punches and dropping him near the cage. The South Korean somehow rallied and fought back and landed big shots of his own to turn the tables and send the American staggering down to the mat. Choi unloaded on Swanson against the cage looking for the finish, but the American survived and by the end of the round had the Korean in all sorts of trouble again as the round ended with the crowd going insane.
Round three started and it was just as crazy as the previous. Both men left it all in the cage as they traded massive blows in the pocket. Swanson again looked to have Choi finished, but the ‘Korean Superboy’ somehow powered through with blood gushing from his nose and mouth.
With one minute to go, the crowd were on their feet for both men and it was Swanson who poured forward landing a huge superman punch with Choi pushed against the cage. After a few follow up shots Choi hit the mat again and Swanson poured on the ground and pound as the clock ran out.
Every man and woman in the arena finished the fight on their feet and roared as the fight came to a close. The judges gave it to Swanson on the scorecards 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, but really the real winners were the people around the world who got to witness one of the most incredible fights in UFC history. Unbelievable scenes at Air Canada Centre.
Kelvin Gastelum def. Tim Kennedy
via TKO (punches), Round 3, 2:45
American Tim Kennedy returned to the Octagon for the first time in two years and took on Kelvin Gastelum in a bruising middleweight battle.
Kennedy looked to have the advantage early on in the grappling exchanges, but as the minutes ticked by, Gastelum grew in confidence as he landed some hefty blows to the right eye of his opponent.
Round two followed a similar pattern emerged as Kennedy again looked to grapple Gastelum to the mat. Twenty-six months outside of the Octagon really started to look like it was taking its toll by the end of round two though as Gastelum again started to catch him with big shots.
Gastelum came out in round three looking to finish his man and he poured on the offense with big hook and head kicks landing flush as Kennedy staggered around the Octagon. Kennedy bravely fought on throwing back the occasional punch, but it was really all one-way traffic.
After taking multiple flush shots to the face, Kennedy finally crumbled after a massive left hook. It was a violent ending to an extended beatdown. It was a great performance by Gastelum who proved he’s going to be a force to contend with at middleweight.
Emil Weber Meek def. Jordan Mein
via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The pay-per-view opened with the returning Jordan Mein taking on Norway’s own, Emil Weber Meek. The Norwegian came into the bout with a ton of hype following a highly unexpected win against Brazilian wrecking machine Rousimar Palhares earlier in the year on the European circuit.
Like many of the fights that had gone before, the action started a frenetic pace with both men mixing up hard strikes with desperate takedown attempts. Mein tried on several occasions to take the fight to the ground, but Meek repelled him and caught him hard late in the first with a one-two combination.
In round two, the fight slowed down in pace as Meek got an early takedown and slowly worked into position for a head and arm triangle choke. Mein managed to wriggle free but took punishment in the form of ground-and-pound as he did.
With it likely one a piece heading into round three, it was all done to the final five minutes and it was Meek who got the all-important takedown midway through the round.
From there, the Norwegian controlled Mein again on the mat and managed to see out time avoiding a late submission attempt on the way a unanimous decision victory and a win on his UFC debut.
Misha Cirkunov def. Nikita Krylov
via submission (guillotine), Round 1, 4:38
Two of the biggest up and coming talent’s in the UFC’s light heavyweight division went at in the preliminary card headliner with Latvia-Canadian Misha Cirkunov taking on the Ukrainian, Nikita Krylov.
Many felt before the fight that it wouldn’t make it out the opening round and they proven right as the two went at it from the opening bell. Both men were happy to trade in the pocket from the outset and it was only a matter of time before a telling blow was landed.
After a tight opening four minutes, Cirkunov was the man who got the win when he landed a big straight left that sent Krylova crumpled to the mat. From there, Cirkunov locked in a deep guillotine choke and Krylov had no choice but to tap. Cirkunov then marked his fourth straight win inside the Octagon by celebrating on top of the cage as the fans went crazy
Olivier Aubin-Mercier def. Drew Dober
via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:57
After witnessing a truly terrible three round fight before, the crowd were woken up by Dober versus hometown boy Aubin-Mercier who had a highly entertaining back and forth battle.
The Canadian got the opening of the first five minutes and countered nicely of Dober’s aggressive striking. Dober then opened the second round well, dropping Aubin-Mercier with a slick punch, but when the fight hit the mat he was quickly out grappled and found himself defending a choke with the Canadian on his back.
Dober tried to hand grapple to avoid the rear-naked choke submission, but after a minute or two of working on it, Aubin-Mercier finally locked it in and Dober tapped out as the crowd went crazy.
Viviane Pereira def. Valerie Letourneau
via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The one and only women’s fight of the evening saw Valerie Letourneau taking on Viviane Pereira in strawweight action.
On a night of evenly matched, entertaining fights this was the first but not the latter. Letourneau had a clear size advantage over her Brazilian opponent, but she really failed to make it count during the contest and at times was out grappled Pereira.
After three frankly awful rounds of missed strikes and little action, it was fitting that the judges were split when it came to the decision. To the disgust of the hometown crowd, it was Pereira who got the nod though really, no won that fight.
Matthew Lopez def. Mitch Gagnon
via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Bantamweights Mitch Gagnon and Matthew Lopez had the pleasure of following on from Vannata’s crazy knockout and to their credit they put on a good back and forth fight.
Gagnon dropped his man early in the first and looked for the finish, but Lopez weathered a heavy storm to see the round out.
Lopez then stepped it up in the second and was close to getting a finish himself when he nearly locked in a deep guillotine choke. Round three was tight, but Lopez had done enough to impress the judges to get the decision on all three cards.
Lando Vannata def. John Makdessi
via KO (head kick), Round 1, 1:40
The evening started with two fights going the distance, but knockout hungry fans didn’t have to wait long into the night to get their fix.
American Lando Vannata is arguably a strong contender for being one half of the ‘2016 fight of the year’ and after this win, he’s in with a great shout of the ‘2016 knockout of the year’. His magical moment came in the second minute of the opening round where he landed a spinning hook kick flush on the chin of his Canadian opponent. The connection was as clean as they come and the result was devastating.
Makdessi was unconscious on impact and Vannata simply walked off in little doubt the fight was over. It was a beautiful kick, worth $50,000 on the night for a ‘performance of the night’ bonus and likely an awful lot more by the end of the year when the end of year awards get handed out.
Rustam Khabilov def. Jason Saggo
via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rustam Khabilov is rarely involved in anything other than gritty, grinding grappling fights and his battle with Jason Saggo was exactly that.
The Russian dominated most of the fight and he took Saggo to the mat in every single round where he worked away on him with ground and pound whilst in his guard. Khabilov landed a powerful knee, left hook, right hook combination in the second that wobbled the American, but it wasn’t enough to put him away and the fight went the distance.
Unsurprisingly, the judges all scored the fight 30-27 to Khabilov.
Dustin Ortiz def. Zach Makovsky
via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
A fast and furious flyweight bout got the evening underway with Zach Makovsky and Dustin Ortiz showcasing both their lightning speed, sleek striking and impressive ground games.
After 15-minutes of back and forth action, the judges were given the task of separating the very evenly matched fighters and it was Ortiz who got the nod with the 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 split decision victory.
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