Greetings, fight fans! The UFC has completed another successful trip to the Empire State, and as is the case with most New York cards, it managed to stand out in the crowd. Normally the reasons for this are somewhat controversial, but other than there being a curious amount of low blows during the event, this one happened to deliver the most finishes of any card this year at nine. I feel like every other week I say some variation of "This wasn't the most stacked card, but it delivered the goods," and this card was no different. So with that, let's talk about what the hell happened!


The Main Card

Dos Anjos rights the ship, submits an exhausted Lee

Rafael Dos Anjos defeated Kevin Lee via 4th Round Submission (3:47 - Arm Triangle)

After a rough two-fight skid that gave rise to thoughts that perhaps dos Anjos wasn't quite cut out for the upper echelon at welterweight, he was in dire need of not just a win but an impressive performance. Here he managed both. It took him a little time to get going, but in the end it really came down to dos Anjos staying the course, maintaining his pace, and outlasting his foe. Lee, likely feeling rejuvenated by not having to cut an extra 15 pounds, came out of the gates aggressively, knocking him off balance with a left hand and landing a quick takedown 20 seconds in.

Lee started fast...a little too fast.

But he did look pretty decent on the feet early.

Dos Anjos made it back to his feet, but Lee continued to have success until again shooting for a takedown. This time dos Anjos was able to prevent the takedown, but Lee pressed him against the cage and definitely looked the stronger of the two in the clinch. Toward the end of the round dos Anjos started to find his rhythm on the feet, and made a major statement by scoring a rather easy takedown of his own before the round closed. From then on the fight gradually slipped from Lee's grasp and gravitated toward dos Anjos. In round two dos Anjos grabbed a guillotine during a Lee takedown attempt, and although he was picked up and slammed for his efforts, he held on and adjusted the choke before using it to sweep and get back to his feet. It was another in a host of instances where he would force Lee to work hard, but either limit his success or thwart it altogether. It was a smart strategy on dos Anjos' part since Lee repeatedly spent energy going for takedowns when he wasn't exactly outgunned on the feet. While Lee started every round more stationary and flat-footed, dos Anjos would always come out pushing the same high pace that we know he's capable of. Lee was still able to take him down, but the fatigue really started to show in how increasingly unable he was to keep up with dos Anjos on the ground; and that fatigue was only exacerbated by dos Anjos landing takedowns of his own and winning out in scrambles.

Dos Anjos outwrestled the wrestler at times.

There was a point in round three where Lee avoided a dos Anjos takedown and spun around to take his back with both hooks in, only for dos Anjos to remove the hooks fairly easy and end up on top. This was a display not only of how good a grappler dos Anjos is, but also a sign that fatigue was really getting to Lee, as back control is one of the strongest facets of his game. In the fourth round Lee began to get desperate with his takedown attempts, and just couldn't get dos Anjos to the ground. After he failed on what ended up being his last attempt, he looked completely spent. From there dos Anjos spun around to take his back, transitioned to mount, locked up an arm-triangle choke, passed to side control, and it wasn't long before Lee was forced to tap.

This was the type of performance needed to keep dos Anjos' name in the conversation among top welterweights. Although he had some trouble earlier, he just kept chipping away at the bigger, stronger man and wore him out in the end. He also showed that he could handle an aggressive, physical wrestler, which had shown to be his kryptonite throughout his career.

Although dos Anjos fought impressively, he did get some help from Lee. When you think about dos Anjos' issues with strong wrestlers, their being able to match his pace and cardio were key to why he couldn't get over the hump. In this fight it felt like Lee watched and attempted to emulate other strong wrestlers that had success against him, but overestimated his level of fitness. He looked pretty good on the feet, using his reach and moving well, but his defense continues to be an issue and that forces him to use his wrestling. This normally isn't much of an issue for him, but when he can't get his wrestling going the way he wants to, his response is to just keep pushing harder for the takedown, which drains his gas tank even further. Even if he's doing fine on the feet, it's as if once he has a takedown denied he becomes preoccupied with getting his opponent down to make up for it. When Lee gasses, he doesn't just become less effective physically, but his mental game shows very visible cracks. Once he failed his final takedown attempt in this fight he looked as if he pretty much just gave up; dos Anjos was able to lock in the choke with little resistance, and once it was in Lee did little to fight it. He was just mentally done.

Yeah, you're tired.

Another area Lee is lacking that dos Anjos really showed him up in is transitioning across phases. Lee's initial shots are almost always sudden, explosive level changes that he typically times pretty well. This works well for him in general, but at a certain level it really pays to be able to disguise your level changes with strikes because you're not always going to be able to surprise your opponents with your takedown timing or get them down with the next attempt in your chain. Dos Anjos had little fear of being taken down right off of a strike or combination from Lee, so it made him much more comfortable to strike with him or launch his own takedown offense off of strikes. Lee has great physical tools to work with, but he fought as if he didn't realize that his gifts might be lessened at 170 pounds. He not only fought like he was the much bigger, stronger man, but he continued to fight that way once it was clear he didn't enjoy the advantage he thought he did, which is not a good sign. The good thing is that he's still just 26-years old; he may not even be in his prime yet, and there's time for him to shore up his game. Whether he'll actually do that remains to be seen, as despite his age he's gathered quite a bit of high level experience.

So what's next for these two? Dos Anjos just snapped a two-fight losing streak, but it's notable that those losses are to the current interim and undisputed welterweight champions. One has to think he's still pretty high in the pecking order, so I could see him fighting the winner of Jorge Masvidal vs Ben Askren or maybe even Tyron Woodley, depending on what his injury status is. As for Lee, I'm not sure at this point if he plans to stay at 170 pounds, but if he does they should give him someone in or just outside of the top 15 for his next fight. If he moves back to lightweight, Alexander Hernandez may be a good choice.

Heinisch overcomes early adversity to outlast Carlos Jr.

Ian Heinisch defeated Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Cardio wasn't just key in the main event, as Heinisch used a similar tireless pace to wear down Carlos Jr. for the better part of 15 minutes. Carlos Jr. would take Heinisch down early with a body lock, and land several more takedowns before the round's end. He managed a few non-serious submission attempts, but it was a pretty dominant round nonetheless because Heinisch had no meaningful offense. Heinisch came out aggressive on the feet to start the next round, but found himself in a Carlos Jr. rear waist lock (despite several granby roll attempts). This time when he was taken down he reversed to gain top position. This was where the tide began to turn, as Heinisch landed good shots on top and chipped away at his foe. Carlos Jr. managed to escape and drive for another takedown, but was noticeably tired and easily stuffed, while Heinisch continued to hammer him with punches.

At the start of the final round, Heinisch came forward knowing he had the momentum and was the fresher man. Heinisch had some success on the feet and Carlos Jr. desperately sought the clinch. What followed was a series of scrambles which only served to tire out Carlos Jr. further and strengthen Heinisch's command of the fight. Despite his grappling ability, exhaustion led to Carlos Jr. easily falling off of Heinisch when trying to take his back on more than one occasion and ending up on bottom. In the final seconds of the fight Heinisch managed to mount Carlos Jr. and land ground and pound to cement himself as the round and the fight winner.

I did favor Carlos Jr. to get the submission here, but this was pretty much the way I could see Heinisch winning. For as talented as he is on the ground, cardio was never Carlos Jr.'s strong suit, and it's been the key factor in all of his career losses. Heinisch showed the ability to keep up an impressive pace and hold his own against a high-level grappler. He also showed more caution when dealing with Carlos Jr.'s grappling, which was more than he'd shown in the past as a hard-nosed wrestler that dealt with grappling a bit recklessly. At this point I think Carlos Jr. is what he is, but Heinisch has displayed a solid level of improvement over his last several fights.

Spencer makes easy work of Anderson

Felicia Spencer defeated Megan Anderson via 1st Round Submission (3:24 - Rear Naked Choke)

Every card there needs to be at least one fight where I kick myself for picking wrong because I just knew the opposite result would occur, and this fight was just that. Quite simply, Megan Anderson is not a very good fighter, but I pick her because she's big and strong, and historically that's shown to be enough in most cases in the division. Being taken down and easily submitted by Cindy Dandois and having some trouble with Charmaine Tweet before putting her away already gave me pause about her skill level, but it was being outwrestled by Holly Holm that really drove home the fact that her best qualities are that she's big and hits hard. I still went with her here because Spencer is very aggressive, doesn't have great defense, and isn't particularly quick. This briefly looked to be a good assessment, as Anderson countered a body kick with a straight right immediately, and landed another right seconds later; but then Spencer managed to clinch with her.

I figured Anderson's strength would serve her well. Holm isn't a good wrestler (though she likes to use it a lot), but she's very physically strong, and I had doubts about Spencer's ability to bully Anderson to the ground. It turned out Spencer was able to drag her down almost by pulling guard and without too much trouble. Anderson was able to make it to a knee, but Spencer then transitioned to her back, and soon had both hooks in. At that point I really didn't have any faith in Anderson's ability to get out of the situation; she's still very raw on the ground, and her long limbs are essentially a liability since she doesn't know now to use them in that phase. After opening her up with punches from back mount, Spencer flattened her out, sunk in a rear-naked choke, and got the tap in brisk fashion.

Spencer is immediately an intriguing prospect at featherweight on the surface, but beyond that I can't really picture her putting up much of a challenge against champion Amanda Nunes or former champ Cris Cyborg, the latter of which seems to be the most obvious matchup for her. As for Anderson, as mentioned she just isn't there yet skill-wise. James Krause has shown to be a solid coach so I won't write her off just yet, but with the current state of the UFC's featherweight division, there just doesn't appear to be much room for her to grow. I mean the UFC doesn't even have rankings for the division because there are practically no fighters in it; who should she face, Leah Letson? Rematch Cat Zingano? Those are literally the only two women in the division I can think of right now.

Luque has trouble early, but ultimately does what he's supposed to

Vicente Luque defeated Derrick Krantz via 1st Round TKO (3:52)

I have to give it to Krantz, he came into this fight like he knew his only shot was to shock Luque early get it over with before he could get into a groove. He immediately rocked Luque with a big right hand, and drove into him for a takedown.

Welp, you tried.

Luque tried to lock in a guillotine choke, but Krantz shook him off and gained top position. Luque made it back to his feet but Krantz dragged him back down and took his back, looking for a rear-naked choke. Once he began sliding a bit off to the side, he released the rear-naked, went to his back, and looked for a guillotine of his own, which proved to be a significant mistake because once Luque escaped he was able to just stand back up and reset. The traded on the feet for a short time, but Krantz was visibly slower from all the previous effort he put in, and Luque rocked him with a right hand as he tried to duck away. Krantz tried to clinch to recover, but was met with a hard knee to the body, and as he tried to break away he was caught with a big left hook to the temple that sent him stumbling to the mat. He attempted to drive forward, but Luque held a front headlock and just fired away with punches until the referee stepped in.

Krantz made it interesting for a bit, but this was what Luque was supposed to do, so there isn't a ton to say about it. Luque has now won five-straight fights, and all via finish; it's time for him to get a top 10 opponent. What's Santiago Ponzinibbio doing?

Oliveira is still better than Lentz, but manages to show improvement nonetheless

Charles Oliveira defeated Nik Lentz via 2nd Round TKO (2:11)

It was the trilogy we knew we didn't need, but ultimately accepted because these two always make for an entertaining scrap. This one was no different. I think one of the surest bets on this card was Oliveira by 2nd round submission, but he decided to flip the script on us and show off some striking instead on a notoriously durable Lentz. That's not to say his striking is perfect; part of what makes their fights so entertaining is that they both have defensive liabilities and the aggression to give as well as take. Lentz did well to mix takedowns in, shooting in after eating a nifty right hand-jumping front kick combo from Oliveira.

You can't say Lentz doesn't have a chin on him.

He landed that takedown only to be swept immediately and have his guard passed numerous times by the jiu jitsu ace. Oliveira tried to wrap up a modified guillotine from half guard, but let it go and opted for hard elbows instead. After they got back up to the feet, Oliveira opened up again with a tornado kick that was blocked before the horn. I've really been enjoying Oliveira's evolution on the feet. As mentioned he's not perfect, but he actually seems to throw with some level of process now instead of just randomly launching single strikes.

Round two started with a bit of foreshadowing: Lentz landed a body kick that was caught and countered with a hard right hand straight down the pipe. He responded with a takedown but Oliveira quickly wrapped up a guillotine that Lentz managed to escape.

Or maybe he didn't?

Oliveira then landed an illegal upkick that momentarily halted the action, but thankfully (maybe not for Lentz in hindsight) it wasn't too bad. After the restart Oliveira made it back to his feet and ate a right and a left from Lentz. He followed up with a body kick, but just like earlier in the round Oliveira caught it and drilled him with a right hand. This time it was enough to drop him hard, and Oliveira followed him to the ground, landing hammerfists until the referee intervened.

This was the first time in Lentz's career that he was properly stopped by strikes (the other two were cut stoppages), which is a nice feather in Oliveira's cap. I really thought he'd try to extend his UFC submission record and search for a choke once he had Lentz down, but he opted to stay the course and I think that makes the win even more impactful since it was actually Oliveira's first UFC stoppage win via strikes. There was a point where I didn't think he'd ever put it all together, but Oliveira has really looked good in his recent run of five-straight victories. He's more comfortable on the feet, as dangerous as ever on the ground, and perhaps most importantly he doesn't seem to fold mentally nearly as easily as he once did. With that current streak I think he needs to start moving up that ladder, and although it could be a very tough fight for him, he might be prime for a fight against Gregor Gillespie. If Gillespie is due for a bigger fight, Islam Makhachev also makes sense for Oliveira. Lentz is still hanging in there, and figures to be given another middle of the pack lightweight like Drew Dober.

It wasn't the submission he wanted, but Ramos bests Hubbard on points

Davi Ramos defeated Austin Hubbard via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

This fight was mildly entertaining outside of the rare double groin shot we were treated to early in the fight. It was a bit of a confusing performance from Ramos, and one that he acknowledged immediately after the win when he expressed his disappointment. Ramos is a top level grappler, so you might expect him to focus heavily on that aspect of his game. In his past couple fights he had done just that, which resulted in quick and impressive submission wins. When his fights tend to drag is when he decides to engage in extended kickboxing matches. He mostly did that here and the stand up portions of the fight were relatively close. His grappling was what ended up swinging rounds in his favor, as he was able to secure a takedown in every round and put in meaningful work on top.

Hubbard came out aggressive and urgent in the final round, knowing that Ramos tends to fade down the stretch, but Ramos managed to take him down right when he was starting to get into a groove. Following a horrible stand up from the referee, Hubbard nearly made the most of it by catching Ramos with a hard right while he attempted a spinning back kick that put him on his back. However, Hubbard was unable to capitalize on it. It wasn't the best performance from Ramos, but I do think it's valuable for him to have three round fights and assess his cardio. I'd like to see him take on John Makdessi next.


Prelim Thoughts

Aspen Ladd defeated Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

I expected this to be a pretty close fight. They previously fought each other in Invicta FC; Ladd took a close-but-clear decision in that fight, but I believed Eubanks had actually improved more since that fight than Ladd (though not enough to win). This pretty much showed to be true, and the result was an even closer fight, despite some interesting scorecards and a unanimous decision for Ladd. The only undoubtedly clear round in the fight was the second, which was pretty dominant in favor of Ladd; the question there was whether or not you thought it was dominant enough for a 10-8 score (I did). Rounds one and two were fairly close, and it wouldn't be out of the question to give them both to Eubanks and score the fight a draw. I've seen some push back from fans who thought Eubanks should've gotten the win, but in my opinion a draw or a Ladd win are the two results that made the most sense.

The action itself gave this fight a well-earned Fight of the Night bonus. Though things got pretty sloppy on the feet during the extended brawling exchanges in the final round, the grappling exchanges were pretty fun and both women did some solid work offensively and defensively.

SUCH TECHNIQUE.

Ladd proved to be the better of the two overall on the ground, particularly in top position, which is her bread-and-butter. Eubanks was pretty clearly the better of the two on the feet, as Ladd still struggles to be anything but rote and predictable with her strikes.

Ladd needs work on the feet.

Since Holly Holm is getting yet another random title shot, it makes sense for Ladd to take on true #1 contender Ketlen Vieira next. Eubanks' stock shouldn't drop much with this loss, so the winner of Tonya Evinger vs Lina Lansberg may be a good next opponent for her.

Michel Pereira defeated Danny Roberts via 1st Round Knockout (1:47)

I knew a Pereira knockout win was very much possible because Roberts is pretty easy to lure into a brawl. What I didn't expect was for him to essentially go out there and be a welterweight Johnny Walker. Roberts never even got a chance to get started, eating a hard right hand that backed him into the cage right off the bat, and having little time to figure out an opponent that frequently jumped off the cage and even threw a Jushin Thunder Liger-esque 'rolling koppo kick.' Then out of nowhere, Pereira landed an explosive flying knee that rocked Roberts and followed it up with a right hand that dropped him like a ton of bricks. Fantastic performance for Pereira, and hopefully he doesn't become the next flash in the pan who gets a rocket strapped to him and can't live up to his spectacular debut. Much like Walker, I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

I mean, what even is he?

Grant Dawson defeated Mike Trizano via 1st Round Submission (2:27 - Rear Naked Choke)

Trizano is turning out to be a pain to pick for; I think this puts my personal record for his UFC fights at 0-3. Dawson looked impressive, used his wrestling well, and dominated Trizano on the ground; but what mostly concerned me with this match was Trizano's face. How is he allowed to train at Tiger Schulmann's gym without growing a beard? I thought this was a requirement. Maybe that's why he lost; you have to earn the beard.

Ed Herman defeated Patrick Cummins via 1st Round TKO (3:39)

This was noteworthy just because of how odd he finish looked live. I expected Cummins to win this fight, but I had no idea how he was favored at all comfortably. His defense is abysmal and although he's quicker and more athletic than Herman, he's much less durable. However, both men did land good shots during the fight and wore them well. Cummins actually got the better of most of the striking, but his habit of constantly ducking ended up being his undoing. He not only ducks for takedowns and feinting level changes, but it's a fundamental part of his striking, and he frequently ducks out of the clinch. It's almost as if he spends more time ducking than anything, and it's likely why he's so damn easy to time on the feet. Herman didn't really take advantage of this until it counted, as he launched a knee up the center as Cummins ducked out of a clinch break. The knee just grazed him on the temple, but it was enough to completely discombobulate him, and caused him to stumble awkwardly and land on all fours, where Herman met him with ground and pound until it was all over.

Zak Cummings defeated Trevin Giles via 3rd Round Submission (4:01 - Guillotine Choke)

Another fight I kinda kicked myself for. I was all in on Cummings, but let some outside analysis get into my head and became convinced that Giles could get it done. Should've gone with my gut, which was not incredibly impressed with Giles' two UFC wins! Not a ton happened in the fight for the first two rounds, but Cummings started turning up the pressure in the final round, and although he had mixed results on the feet, it ultimately paid off when he dropped Giles with an overhand left and locked in a guillotine for the tap.

Julio Arce defeated Julian Erosa via 3rd Round KO (1:49 - Head Kick)

As disastrous as Erosa's UFC fights have gone for him, he's never in a dull one. Now 1-4 in the UFC across two stints (and 0-3 in his current), Erosa is a tricky enough striker to win on the regional circuit, but he's just too flawed to have success in the UFC. He reaches on his punches and leaps into the pocket far too often, just begging to be countered. He'll always have moderate success early, but once his opponent gets his timing down he really doesn't do anything to adjust and his opponent starts to run away with the fight. He doesn't help matters by being so aggressive and holding his hands low at all times, which opens him up even more. This fight looked to be headed to a surprisingly competitive Arce decision win, but with his back against the cage Arce threw a soft right-left combination with a left head kick behind it that Erosa just didn't see coming. It landed flush and put him out cold on contact.

He may have died though, I don't have confirmation.

Arce gets back into the win column here...or was he already in the win column? I'm still not convinced he and Dan Ige aren't actually the same person. Go ahead, look them up and compare.


And that does it for UFC Fight Night Rochester. Judging from the length of the prelim section this event was pretty damn happening! A boatload of finishes always helps out in that area. With that said, I'll see you all in a couple weeks when Alexander Gustafsson tries to send his hometown faithful home happy this time (but let's not talk about that Anthony Johnson fight) when he takes on fellow light heavyweight title challenger and Jon Jones victim Anthony Smith in Stockholm, Sweden. Until then, sado out!

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