Happy Halloween, fight fans! The sun has set on another UFC card, and maybe, possibly also on the career of Anderson Silva, who didn't go out the way he would've liked to, but still gave us glimpses of why he's been long thought of as one of the greatest fighters to ever do this. Uriah Hall was tasked with taking on his idol, and unsurprisingly he fought much of the fight as if that much were very much still a bit star struck, but when the time came he didn't hesitate to squash "The Spider." The rest of the card wasn't anything gripping or especially relevant on paper, but a maybe, possible retirement fight for Silva warrants a write-up, so lets get down to what the hell happened!
The Main Card
Hall "maybe" retires Silva with fourth round punches
#10 Uriah Hall def. Anderson Silva by TKO via strikes (1:24, R4)
What happened?: For nearly three rounds, Silva looked like he might've been on his way to a possible competitive, if tepid decision win, but that all changed when he was dropped in the latter half of the third round and nearly finished. This brought out the now-familiar more urgent and aggressive, but less refined Silva in the fourth, only for him to be dropped again and properly finished by a patient Hall.
How did that happen?: Somewhat predictably, not much of anything happened in the first 10 minutes of the fight. Both fighters stalked and feinted extensively, but I don't think they threw an actual significant strike until more than a minute in, when Hall switched southpaw and landed a low kick. The opening two rounds consisted of a lot of stalking, lateral movement, and jabbing, broken up by the occasional instance of Silva getting aggressive and pressuring Hall with heavy feints and punches in hopes of getting him to make a mistake. For the most part Hall didn't buy into it, but these aggressive moments certainly helped Silva visually in these closer rounds. It's something he's done pretty well historically, and in recent fights it's served him well to gain favor when it comes to scoring rounds, sometimes even when he probably didn't deserve those rounds. Round two might have been an example of this, as many gave Silva the round, but honestly he didn't do a ton offensively, especially when it came to head strikes, where he only managed to land a single one. What he did do was a fair amount of pressuring and posturing to confuse Hall and look in control. The round was close enough otherwise that visuals like these could be enough to sway you; I personally scored the round a rare 10-10.
It was in spurts, but it was nice to see the Silva's tricky pressure for one last time. Probably. Maybe.
In round three Hall really started to open up more with his jab, and Silva followed suit in a round that picked up the pace a bit. Silva found a bit of success with his blitzes, catching Hall with a nice rushing 1-2 before pressing him against the cage, but Hall would land a couple nice right hands after reversing position. The round was fairly even until there were 10 seconds left in the round and Hall landed a fade-away counter right hook that sent Silva to his back, and a followup shot bounced his head off the canvas. He miraculously scrambled for a leg amid heavy fire and managed to survive while Hall landed hammerfists until the horn.
When it all started going downhill for "The Spider." Prior to this he was actually doing well.
The fourth round saw Silva apparently well recovered and stalking Hall, who again leaned on his jabs. It didn't take long for Silva to get a little too wild with his offense, blitzing in with a bit of a sloppy punching combination that Hall easily slid out of the way of, and being put down yet again with a quick check left hook. Hall once again landed a volley of punches standing over Silva, and this time he wasn't able to recover before the referee intervened to save a bloodied Silva. Following the stoppage, both fighters were emotional in expressing their respect and adoration for one another in the cage, and that's always a great thing to see.
Other thoughts: Silva announced prior to the fight that it would be his last, and in true Anderson Silva fashion he later half-walked it back and got vague, saying that it's "probably" his last fight, and even telling Michael Bisping that he didn't know if he'd retire and that it was hard to say. Nothing surprising there (for any fighter, let alone a habitual flip-flopper like Silva), but if this was his final walk to the UFC octagon, it's been a genuine pleasure watching him fight for all these years. Regardless of how you feel about him and his legacy, he is a legendary fighter in the sport, and one of the greatest to ever step into a ring or cage. Not many have inspired more fighters than he has or been able to mystify fan and fighter alike for as long as he did.
What is also inspiring about him is that he's 45 years old, and although he's certainly had a rough stretch since he lost the middleweight title, he's still be relatively competitive with some of the best fighters in the division, and hasn't ever really looked bad in a way that would lead you to believe he's completely shot. Does he look like he's in his prime? Far from it; he's clearly slowed down noticeably, his technique gets sloppy more often, and his reflexes aren't quick enough for him to make up for that with his movement anymore. However, he still tends to look at the very least decent while his fights last. He went three hard-fought rounds with the current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, five rounds with former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, and just has this way of making his fights oddly competitive even when he suffers a relatively clear loss. Despite UFC president Dana White's claims that this fight proved he was right in saying Silva should never fight again, and that he made a mistake allowing this fight to happen, he looked much better out there than fighters like Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley, and Mauricio Rua have been looking for a while, and you don't really see him speaking so adamantly about his desire to see him retire. Of course he took the opportunity to throw Hall under the bus, insinuating that Silva might have only lasted as long as he did because Hall had "no output" and is "one of the most gun shy fighters in the UFC." But hey, that's Dana for you. I'm sure if you asked him about Hall prior to the fight he'd have said he was an absolute killer in the cage.
As for Hall, this was a very Uriah Hall performance, which is both good and bad. If you look at the opponents who have really taken it to Silva, they've been guys that didn't really put him up on a pedestal, and Hall is most definitely not one of those guys. Silva is an idol of his, and he fought like it; giving him lots of respect and often times appearing hesitant and careful. That respect for Silva's abilities builds a bit of fear, and although as mentioned Silva doesn't look too bad out there, he's nowhere near as fearsome as he used to be, and just being aggressive works better on him than it did in his prime. Still, after a slow start, Hall did get better and he got the finish, which is essentially par for the course for him. I don't doubt at all that he's made real strides at Fortis MMA, but I guess this was never going to be the fight to get an accurate reading of where he is, not just because Silva is so far from his former glory, but also because just being the type of guy he is and the way he feels about Silva, it made total sense that Hall was a bit mystified in there.
Next for Hall: This was a nice name on his resume, but the win didn't do much for him otherwise. There are a couple rematches ranked right above him in Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum, and it seems like Gastelum would be the more likely of those to happen since Weidman would likely aim higher.
Next for Silva: If he does retire, then that, obviously. If not, Gerald Meerschaert might be someone he could handle that isn't too far down the ranks. We'll see if they even give Silva another fight; part of me thinks the UFC wants him to retire instead of fighting out the last fight on his contract to prevent him from going elsewhere, since when you retire with fights left they effectively freeze the contract so it's still binding in case you come out of retirement.
Mitchell dominantly outgrapples Fili, and he does it in his camo shorts
#15 Bryce Mitchell def. Andre Fili by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
What happened?: Fili was game as always, but Mitchell's mix of pressure, improved striking, takedowns, and top-notch grappling was too much for him to handle.
How did that happen?: "Thug Nasty" finally got to wear some official Reebok camo fight shorts, and he debuted them in style with a standout performance against a proven veteran in Fili. If we're talking fighters who delivered performances in line with their norm, Mitchell did just that as he was tireless everywhere and dominant on the ground. He was aggressive and effective on the feet with several clean left hands, and was his usual exhaustive, overwhelming self on the ground, but what really surprised me was that his wrestling was so successful here. Although known primarily for his striking, Fili has developed into a pretty solid wrestler over the years, and I didn't think Mitchell's wrestling would be adequate enough for him to take the fight to the ground consistently. On the contrary, he was able to take Fili to the mat repeatedly, and if Fili popped back up he usually returned him to the canvas rather easily. What also came easily to him was passing Fili's guard, which makes me sad that UFC Stats no longer tracks guard passes. The amount of times he achieved mount alone was staggering.
Almost as staggering as these bad boys.
The opening round saw Mitchell land an early takedown, and after managing to keep Fili down he quickly transitioned to mount, where he spent much of the round landing punches, and even trying a mounted triangle. The second round was Fili's best, where he managed to catch Mitchell changing levels with a flying knee that backed him up, as well as defend a multitude of takedowns from the Arkansas native. One takedown was all it took to let Mitchell back into the fight, as he quickly achieved mount again, but Fili eventually used the cage to his advantage, kicking off of it and rolling Mitchell over to make his escape.
In the final round Fili had a little bit of momentum and appeared the fresher man, only for Mitchell to time a double leg and get him down right in the center of the cage. Once he was able to keep Fili down and settle on top, Fili exploded and reversed to top position, but once they stood up Mitchell once again took him down and quickly got to mount. Fili showed some nice guard retention in eventually getting full guard back, but he would spend the majority of the rest of the round on his back.
Other thoughts: Mitchell just really continues to impress with how slick his ground game is, and the rest of his game sis really coming along as well. His wrestling looked very solid, and his striking, though still a bit raw, was very effective against someone who is a much better striker on paper. I thought this would be a solid test for him, and that notion proved to be correct, as Fili may not be a very consistent fighter in the UFC, but he's well-rounded, has great cardio, and rarely gives opponents a chance to rest. To his credit, he never accepted a bad position; the reason Mitchell passed guard so many times and got so many takedowns was because Fili was constantly trying to improve his situation, and constantly forcing Mitchell to work. He showed pretty good timing on the ground when it came to attempting to buck and explode out of positions, and although this was a dominant performance for Mitchell, it was far from an easy one. It's back to the drawing board for Fili, who has had an up-and-down UFC career thus far, but Mitchell's ceiling just got a bit higher, and he'll be ripe for a shot at the top 10 soon.
Next for Mitchell: Everyone seems to be afraid to fight Ryan Hall, but you know who I bet isn't? A wily grappler from Arkansas in some camo shorts! Hall would undoubtedly be considered the better grappler on paper (although some said the same about Charles Rosa), but it would no doubt be entertaining. Otherwise Dan Ige would also provide a very fun scrap, as like Mitchell he's aggressive and willing to engage on the ground.
Next for Fili: After 16 fights in the UFC Fili has not managed to win more than two consecutive fights, but also has yet to lose two-straight; he's probably the most up-and-down fighter in the UFC next to Randa Markos. His next fight should continue that trend and be a tough, but winnable one. Makwan Amirkhani comes to mind.
Hardy dominates Greene, takes him out in the second
Greg Hardy def. Maurice Greene by TKO via strikes (1:12, R2)
What happened?: It was a mostly one-sided offering from Hardy, who expanded on his relatively new use of low kicks, but ultimately his speed and power got the job done, as he found Greene's chin on the feet and polished him off with ground and pound.
How did that happen?: Greene started the fight off working low kicks at range, but it didn't deter Hardy long before he managed to walk Greene back to the cage, catch a low kick and land big right hands, bouncing Greene off the cage and onto the mat. He followed him to the ground and landed some solid shots in half guard before opting to stand, actually appearing winded from his work on the ground.
Hardy looked powerful as always.
Both fighters got their licks in up until the end of the round, but it took little time in round two for Hardy to find his range with a sneaky up jab that put Greene down and had him squirming underneath heavy hammerfists trying to regain his bearings. As he got to his knees, Hardy stepped around to his back and landed more huge shots until Greene appeared to drop down on the side of his face, prompting the stoppage. I say "appeared" because he quickly disputed the stoppage, claiming that he was moving and saying that he was trying to drag Hardy down to the ground by dropping while his arm was hooked with Hardy's. I don't think I fully buy that explanation, but I will say that he didn't look too out of it when it was stopped to it was probably a case of bad optics where he wasn't quite as hurt as he looked to be. Still, he was in a bad way and was likely headed for a finish anyway since it was early in the round and he would've had Hardy on top of him in back mount landing more bombs.
Other thoughts: I don't like to spend much time on these Hardy entries, but he does still look to be improving well as a fighter. His technique still isn't great, but it's steadily getting cleaner, and he's becoming more varied, working low kicks and body shots into his arsenal more. He also seems a bit more comfortable on the ground, which can only mean bad things for his opponents because he'll be more willing to throw bombs once down there, as he was in this fight. Think what you will about the quality of person Hardy is outside of the cage, but inside of it he's turning out to be worth his salt.
Next for Hardy: He failed in his first bid against a ranked fighter, and it's definitely time to give that a second go. Sergey Pavlovich hasn't fought since 2019 and his last win was also against Greene, and he's ranked #12. Blagoy Ivanov would be another stern test for him at #14. If they still don't want to give him a ranked foe, Sergey Spivak and Ben Rothwell are also good choices.
Next for Greene: Another former foe of Hardy, Yorgan De Castro.
A takedown-induced neck injury nets Holland his fourth win of 2020
Kevin Holland def. Charlie Ontiveros by verbal submission via injury (2:39, R1)
What happened?: After brief exchange on the feet, Holland opted to wrestle, and one such successful takedown prompted Ontiveros to alert the referee that his neck was hurt, prompting an immediate stop to the fight.
How did that happen?: Holland immediately rushed in uncharacteristically aggressive, and was deterred immediately when he was knocked off balance by a spinning backfist and nearly hit by an axe kick. Holland instead decided to grab the clinch, lift Ontiveros up, and slam him down hard on the mat right into side control. The short-notice newcomer was squirrely on the mat trying to power out of the position, but Holland stayed tight on top. After Ontiveros managed to make it back to his feet, Holland kept hold of him and worked around to his back, where he ragdolled him to the mat again. This time there must have been a combination of Ontiveros landing awkwardly and the force of Holland's weight slamming on top of him that caused an injury to his neck and led to him verbally submitting. It was an unfortunate debut for Ontiveros and a bizarre win for Holland, which in and of itself isn't that surprising considering Holland is a pretty bizarre dude.
Other thoughts: It would appear that Ontiveros is okay, as it was reported that he could feel all of his extremities and Israel Adesanya (his teammate) confirmed that he's doing well. Rough debut but he'll live to fight another day. Holland continues to be an interesting middleweight to watch if anything. This bout was too short to listen to any of his oddball conversations in the cage, but I guess he made up for that with an oddball finish. All that aside, he's also a genuinely talented fighter, and although he's not really anywhere close to a fight with Adesanya, who he jawed at after the fight, he's someone who deserves a nice step up in competition after having one seven of his last eight bouts.
Holland dropping more "boy"s than Kratos at a confused Adesanya.
Next for Holland: Krzysztof Jotko would make for an interesting fight, and a win would put him in that fringe top 15 spot.
Next for Ontiveros: It could be anyone really. How about KB Bhullar, who recently lost to Tom Breese?
Moises ekes by Green with his grapping and improved striking
Thiago Moises def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
What happened?: In a somewhat typical Green affair, a close decision was made that much closer by Green's brand of posturing in the face of offense coming his way and a couple questionable tactical moves that allowed Moises to bring his grappling into the equation. In the end he just didn't do enough to put a stamp an the rounds and net himself the fight.
How did that happen?: Like many Green fights, this one was close and calls on some subjectivity in scoring. While he easily held the volume edge in all three rounds (he doubled up on his opponent in terms of significant strikes in every round), Moises threw just about everything with power, and landed some solid shots throughout. He also landed the first takedown of the fight, but found himself on the bottom when he tried to take Green's back in a scramble and was shaken off the top. In the second round it was Green who would grab a single leg and sweep Moises to the ground, but Moises would work his way to a waist lock as soon as they got to their feet and drop back into a heel hook position that got pretty dicey for Green until he was able to pull his foot out and escape. Moises seemed a bit winded after the grappling exchange, and much of the rest of the round was spent with Green walking him down and working him with body shots.
The final round saw Moises showing a bit more urgency, and even though never man was landing with much aplomb, Green turned up with a pretty deep cut over his right eye. A pivotal mistake was made by Green when he attempted to counter a takedown attempt from Moises with a kimura, which Moises easily slipped out of and ended up on top. He wasn't able to do much offensively, but he maintained position and controlled Green enough that there was a good chance he was going to get the round in the eyes of the judges. In the end all three saw the fight his way, and Green would not be the first person to win four fights this year, a title Holland took on in the fight immediately following.
Other thoughts: When previewing this fight I actually said it might've been easiest on the main card to pick, and that of course that meant Green would lose, and well...there you go. I really didn't see much reason that this fight wouldn't just look like a continuation of Moises' fight with Johnson, except Green wouldn't get submitted, but I didn't count on Moises' striking being good enough for Green's bad habits there to catch up to him. For the record, I scored the fight 29-28 for Green, but the only clear round in the fight for me was round two (for Green). The other two rounds really could have gone either way.
Moises did look much improved on the feet from his disastrous first round against Michael Johnson, but it's hard not to at least partially blame yet another tight Bobby Green loss to his style and "young veteran" mentality. Green's style of posturing, rolling with shots, and not showing much urgency if his opponent is not hurting him really only works well consistently when you're clearly ahead in a fight. In close fights, there's just too much of a danger to him that judges are going to favor his opponents' more straightforward approach to the fight, and often times they undervalue his ability to roll with shots to mitigate damage, and are less likely to favor his quick, effortless strikes over his opponents harder power shots. "Young veterans" appear to fight as if they're not losing the fight if they don't feel they're being hurt or forced to alter their game, so they'll do things like be measured when they shouldn't be and/or take risks when they shouldn't because they're just a bit too comfortable in there. It makes fights closer than they need to be, and often gives them losses that totally baffle them.
Next for Moises: Leonardo Santos or Arman Tsarukyan would do just nicely.
Next for Green: He shouldn't take much of a fall with the loss, and I think Marc Diakese would be a pretty fun fight for him.
Alexander Hernandez def. Chris Gruetzemacher by TKO via strikes (1:46, R1)
This was just a horrible match up for Gruetzemacher from the jump, but it does look like Hernandez's style might finally be starting to amount to something substantial after his early losses appeared to take some steam out of him offensively. Right from the start he was landing at will and after hurting "Gritz" with a left hook that dropped him to a knee and had him retreating along the cage, Hernandez caught up to him and teed off against the fence until a left hook-right uppercut-left hook combo sent him crashing to the canvas in a heap. While it's not quite time to talk about him getting his shot at a ranked opponent since his previous three outings were anything but impressive (yes, I thought he deserved to lose to Fransisco Trinaldo), this was a helluva bounce back win for him.
Adrian Yanez def. Victor Rodriguez by KO via head kick (2:46, R1)
Speaking of retreating along the cage, here was a lesson in why you shouldn't run away to circle out with your hands down. Yanez made made for yet another short, easy win tonight over Rodriguez, who immediately seemed urgent to get takedowns. He was unsuccessful in his attempts, and shortly afterward we found out why he was probably right to try. In short order, a straight right had Rodriguez on his bike, and another put him on his seat briefly against the cage. Yanez swarmed with punches when he made it to his feet, and just when Rodriguez thought he had a moment of respite to try and job along the cage to reset, he was met with a left foot to the jaw that dropped him to the mat in sections. Yanez is a fighter to keep an eye on, something Rodriguez would've done well to realize.
Rodriguez tasted de-feet for the first time. I'll be here all night!
Sean Strickland def. Jack Marshman by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
It was good to see Strickland back and looking good after a bad car accident left him questioning whether his career would continue. Strickland jumped up to middleweight for this fight, and Marshman provided a game opponent and a fun fight as he's usually good for, but he was definitely outmatched here. Strickland's reach proved to be a constant barrier for him, as he struggled mightily to get inside range to land anything of substance, which resulted in him landing a measly 19% of his significant strikes overall to Strickland's 46%. Marshman's notorious toughness was in full display, much to the chagrin of Strickland, who loudly bemoaned the fact that he wouldn't go down despite the shots he took, dashing Strikland's hopes of a performance bonus. Comical in-fight histrionics aside, this was a fine performance that actually saw a bit of a departure from Strickland's own "young veteran" attitude.
Inquiring minds want to know.
Jason Witt def. Cole Williams by submission via arm triangle choke (2:09, R2)
Witt rebounded from a quick knockout loss in his debut to utterly dominate Williams with superior wrestling and ground and pound in the first round before picking him up, running over to his corner, slamming Williams to the mat, mounting him, and slapping on an arm-triangle. It looked as if the cage was in his way, but that turned out not to be a problem, as his squeeze was tight enough to get the tap anyway. Second impressions do matter, and Witt made a great one.
At least Williams got a nice trip out of the ordeal.
Dustin Jacoby def. Justin Ledet by TKO via strikes (2:38, R1)
It took Jacoby almost nine years to find his way back into the UFC, and he finally has a win in the promotion now after building a nice career for himself on the regionals and as a surprisingly successful kickboxer. Ledet's boxing gave him a few issues early, reddening up his face a bit as he was caught with some flush jabs and straight rights, but from there it only took one low hard kick to get him right back into the fight. Another buckled Ledet, and a third one dropped him, leaving him ripe for a follow up attack. He mostly defended well, but when he got to his feet a big right uppercut put him back down, and for good that time. It showed not only Ledet's primarily boxing-focused style opens him up to more dynamic strikers, but also is another example of why he probably never should have moved down to 205 lbs. It's great that he's become leaner, but his biggest assets at heavyweight were his boxing and his speed, and that speed advantage is just so much more diminished at light heavyweight that it's practically nonexistent. He should consider sticking to a division where his abilities are better served.
Miles Johns def. Kevin Natividad by KO via punch (2:51, R3)
It has to be nice to get a highlight reel finish in a fight that you were on your way to winning anyway. Johns appeared to mostly be a step ahead of Natividad the whole fight, but in the final round Natividada retreated backwards trying to escape the clinch and made the mistake of taking his eyes off of Johns before lowering his head right into a huge uppercut that put him out immediately and awkwardly on the canvas. I'm still not entirely sure how he hit the ground and bounced onto his back, but it was equal parts comical and disturbing.
Bounced like a Street Fighter KO.
And that's it for UFC Vegas 12, the card that might mark the last fight of Anderson Silva's career if he makes up his mind and decides he's finished. If he doesn't, it was still quite an entertaining event that, like last week's pay per view, brought finishes in spades, and you gotta love that. Up next is UFC Vegas 13, which will be headlined by Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira, and I would say it's a pivotal number one contender fight for the light heavyweight division, but apparently this fight barely matters now because they up and decided that middleweight king Israel Adesanya will move up to 205 lbs to take on Jan Blachowicz in an attempt to become the latest double-champ. I guess they don't even care if we watch next week's event then, since the didn't even wait to remove all the stakes from it. Oh well, c'est la vie in the UFC. But don't fret, freshly less-relevant 205-ers, for I will be faithfully watching next weekend anyway. Probably. Either way, sado out!