Recapping UFC 211
The UFC returned to Pay Per View last night with UFC 211 live from Dallas, Texas with 2 titles on the line and a main card filled with top contenders. The night was cut down to 12 fights from 14 in the previous 72 hours, but that did not slow down this card. Everything culminated with the main event where Stipe Miocic (16-2 Heavyweight Champion) took on former Heavyweight Champion Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (18-4 #4 Ranked Heavyweight). This night certainly lived up to the hype that surrounded it after the UFC’s 3-week layoff. The UFC really needed a good Pay Per View card after a few disappointments this year and they certainly got it. Let’s jump right into the recap.
The night kicked off with the UFC Fight Pass prelims with Joachim Christensen (14-5) takes on Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4). These two guys came right out and it became a grappling matchup very early. Antigulov was getting the better of the situation and ended up in the full back mount seeking for a rear naked choke. After a few minutes, Antigulov was able to lock in the rear naked choke and pull out the quick victory. Antigulov is excellent on the mat and this was yet another great performance and display of his abilities. Expect another step up in competition next.
The Featherweight division took center stage next as Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez (19-7) went up against Enrique “El Fuerte” Barzola (14-3-1). Round 1 was pretty back and forth early. There was a lot of standup and Barzola tried to continue to push the pace moving forward at Benitez. Barzola did land a few takedowns that were reversed rather quickly and Benitez was able to get back to his feet. Barzola ended the round with a takedown, but Benitez continued to work back to his feet. Round 2 started with some trading shots and Barzola eventually hit a takedown, but Benitez battled back to his feet pretty quickly. The fighters stayed tangled up against the cage for a little until they separated and made it back to the center of the Octagon. Barzola landed yet another takedown, but Benitez was again able to get up and. Benitez landed a very stiff low leg kicked that hurt Barzola. Yet another takedown for Barzola, but he was unable to keep Benitez down long. Barzola just kept pushing the pace and putting Benitez up against the cage as the round ended. The fighters touched gloves and hugged to start round 3. After that Barzola again came out trying to fire. He hit a low leg kick while avoiding a head kick. Barzola again landed a takedown. Barzola did take his back in a scramble and looked to lock in a rear naked choke, but Benitez was able to battle away from it and get out of it. The fight got back to the feet after that and Benitez was looking to try and finish the fight. Barzola landed a right hand and then changed levels and landed yet another takedown. The fighters traded in the middle and right at the horn Benitez landed a huge right hand that sent Barzola flying to the mat. That knockdown could potentially have swung the third round. The scorecards came back with scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28 all for Enrique Barzola. This was a really fun fight and had a lot of action throughout the matchup. These two will certainly be back in the UFC shortly and Barzola could see a move up in opponent in the near future.
The Featured UFC Fight Pass Prelim was next as Jessica “Jag” Aguilar (19-6 #12 Ranked Women’s Strawweight) battled Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey (7-3). Casey came out very quickly and landed some great combinations , but a leg kick from Aguilar knocked Casey down. Aguilar came rushing in and almost ate an up kick. Casey made it back to her feet and had Aguilar posted up against the face and was just unloading on her against the cage. Aguilar got Casey back down and continued to just pepper her with leg kicks from standing. Aguilar ended up in the full closed guard of Casey, but it was Casey who was being more active on the ground. The ref stood the, back up and Casey was again landing well. Casey was landing a bunch of combinations and right at the horn she hits a punch, but a return punch from Aguilar came in a second late and actually dropped Casey for a second. Casey started off round 2 with a nice knee that Aguilar just ate and Casey ended up on the ground. Aguilar continued to get peppered with up kicks. Casey was able to get back up to her feet and Casey was just throwing a ton of combinations. The up kicks that Casey was throwing were finding a home and she actually stunned Aguilar. Casey just started round 3 picking Aguilar apart on the feet. It was not even close on the feet and Aguilar was busted up and bleeding from her mouth and above her eye. Aguilar tried to search for takedowns but Casey was just relentless and winning the battles in the clinch. The fight ended on the feet with them trading shots. The judges came back with the scores of 30-27 for the winner Cortney Casey. Casey looked better than she has ever looked inside the Octagon. Expect a ranked opponent for her up next.
The Prelims then jumped over to FX where Marco “El Toro” Polo Reyes (8-4) went head to head with James “The Texecutioner” Vick (10-1). These guys came out danced around a little trying to get the range and traded some nice body kicks. Vick tried to get the clinch in and Reyes peppered his body with shots. Vick landed a nice right hand on the break and knocked Reyes down. Vick then piled on with hammer fists and ended the fight. Vick put together yet another great performance and is moving towards being in the Top 15 rankings very shortly.
The Heavyweights got their turn next as Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman (10-3) took on Rashad “Daywalker” Coulter (8-2) who was making his UFC debut. These two-wasted little time going at each other and they were trading some big shots. Sherman looked to be the sharper of the two. Sherman ate a big right hand and the returned fire with a nice shot. Sherman was just eating up Coulter with leg kicks and it really hurt Coulter. Sherman hit a huge head kick just prior to the round ending. Sherman came right out in round 2 landed a huge knee and some more leg kicks that hurt Coulter. Sherman hit a right hand that put Coulter down and followed with some ground and pound. Coulter survived and got back to his feet. Coulter broke the clinch and hit a huge elbow. Coulter could barely stand and started absolutely peppering Sherman with punches. Sherman then just started unloading to the point where he couldn’t throw any more punches due to exhaustion Coulter tried to fight back, but eventually, Sherman landed a few more shots with a giant elbow and folded up Coulter up against the cage for the knockout victory.
Another solid Featherweight matchup was up next with Chas “The Scrapper” Kelly (17-3) going at it with Jason “The Kid” Knight (20-2). These two got right out and started throwing punches at each other. Skelly was able to land a takedown and Knight was looking for an Omoplata and then a gogoplata. This became a ridiculous scramble fest with Knight trying to continue to look for submissions. Knight ended up letting him up and. Knight landed a nice takedown to finish off the round. The second round kicked off with Knight trying to get the better of Skelly early. Skelly was searching for a takedown for a long time and ended up in a clinch battle along the cage. Knight ended up on the ground ended u[p n the ground and was bloodied. Skelly was landing a lot of punches to end the round. Round 3 kicked off with. A hug and Knight had a huge cut under his right eye. Knight landed a huge right uppercut that wobbled Skelly. Knight followed up with a ton of shots that ended Skelly’s night. Knight really fought through adversity in round 2 and again looked very impressive. Knight has ben nothing but impressive in the UFC and there will absolutely be a ranked opponent in his future.
The FX prelims wrapped up with the return of former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez (28-5 ! NC #3 Ranked Lightweight) and Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (21-5 1NC #9 Ranked Lightweight) in a battle that could honestly headline any card out there. These two came out and id a lot of feeling out early. Alvarez tried to impose his will pretty early, but Poirier was able to stay away from any real damage. Alvarez landed a nice leg kick, but Poirier hit a nice left hand that stung. Poirier stuffed a takedown attempt and looked to continue to trade. Both guys were swinging for the fences. Poirier was doing a great job avoiding and faking to make Alvarez move and react like he’s setting him up. Alvarez came out in round 2 and landed a stinging right hand and then he seeked a takedown. Poirier regained his composure after stuffing the takedown and started to come back with different strikes. Poirier landed a left hand that stumbled Alvarez and had him severely hurt Alvarez was on absolute dream street and was surviving with just pure heart. He eventually came back however and survived. Alvarez was just throwing wild punches and hurt Poirier. Somehow they both recovered enough to stay on their feet. Alvarez secured a takedown. Against the cage Alvarez threw a knee to the head, which was illegal After some conversations with Herb Dean the fight was called. The ruling came down and Herb Dean ruled it as a no contest. The announce team was not happy about it saying that it should have been a DQ either way we loser out on what was shaping up to be an excellent fight.
The returning David Branch (21-3) was slated next to kick off the Pay Per View against Krzysztof Jotko (19-2 #9 Ranked Middleweight). Jotko led right out with a body kick as the fighters circled around the Octagon. Branch then caught a kick and secured a takedown. Jotko was able to scramble backwards to the fence and use it to try and get back to his feet. And there was a clinch battle that ensued along the cage. They jockeyed for position against the cage for most of the round without a ton of real action other than Branch seemingly being in control. Round 2 started out with Jotko looking to push the pace early and eventually engaging in the clinch along the cage for a brief moment. A low blow stopped the action for a second and upon the restart it was Branch looking to be the aggressor. Branch eventually went for a takedown, but couldn’t keep control on the ground. Back on the feet Jotko landed a nice combination and Branch again pushed him up against the cage but after a few seconds the referee separated them. Round 3 began with Branch trying to land spinning kick, but Jotko easily avoided it. Jotko threw a head kick that was blocked and the fighters were just very cautious. The crowd was growing restless and there was a smattering of boos as the fight lacked a lot of real action. Some more clinching and jockeying for position ensued. The ref broke up the clinch battle against the cage and reset the fight. Branch secured a nice takedown, but was trying to hit hammer fists on him. Jotko looked to get up and managed to get back to his feet and control branch momentarily. Jotko landed a late uppercut and was immediately met with a clinch as the fight ended. This was a really deflating fight as far as action goes and seemingly took the crowd out of it. The fight was scored 29-28 Branch, 29-28 Jotko and 29-28 for David Branch. Branch took the split decision, but it has to be said that it was an underwhelming performance. That may have just ben the return to the UFC nerves for Branch.
In a potential changing of the guard matchup next Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (21-5-1 #2 Ranked Featherweight) went up against Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (11-2 #7 Ranked Featherweight). The two came out and Yair was throwing kicks and punches trying to keep Edgar at bay. Edgar landed a nice combination and followed it up with a takedown attempt that he was able to eventually finish. Edgar then went to work with is typical style of groundwork and pound. Edgar was landing vicious elbows to Yair as well that was just vintage Frankie Edgar. Edgar had him folded up against the cage and was just lighting him up. Edgar opened up a cut on Rodriguez’s face and Edgar just looked outstanding in the first round. Rodriguez left eye was basically swollen shut as round 2 started. Edgar went for a takedown and ended up in a knee bar attempt for Rodriguez. The knee bar actually got quite dangerous for a few moments but Edgar escaped and just unloaded punches on Rodriguez. Frankie just continued to pound elbows on the swollen damaged eye of Rodriguez. The round came to an end with even more punishment from Edgar. In between rounds the doctor was in there looking at the swelling of the eye and the fight was stopped due to it. Frankie Edgar is still at the absolute top of his game and this fight was proof that he still is a top-level fighter who will contend for another title.
The Welterweight number 1 contender slot was on the line next when Demian Maia (25-6 # 3 Ranked Welterweight) and Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (32-12 #5 Ranked Welterweight) went at it. Maia wasted little time going right for a takedown, but Masvidal was able to defend it pretty well and keep the fight on the feet. Maia transitioned to back control and then basically took Masvidal’s back and had a body triangle locked in. Masvidal was on his feet and basically had a Demian Maia backpack. Maia was trying to work him over and open up a chance to lock in a choke. Masvidal did a great job fighting through this and trying to keep Maia from locking in a choke. Masvidal reversed the position and unloaded several punches on the mat as the round expired. The second round started and was then stopped for a second to get some tape cut off Masvidal’s glove. Maia shot in for a takedown, but Masvidal stayed a=away from it and landed a nice leg kick. Another great takedown block from Masvidal with a follow-up right hand. Maia grabbed a leg and tried for a takedown, but Masvidal avoided it and in the break he landed a nice knee and punch. Maia continued to work for takedowns and was again on Masvidal’s back. Maia ended the round with a few punches from the top position. Round 3 was very important for both fighters and it was cautious to start from both fighters. Masvidal landed a strong body kick.. Maia shot in for a single-leg and flung Masvidal across the cage and immediately jumped on him to try and go to work on the ground. Maia tried for a rear naked choke and it was blocked at first. Maia worked his way in to full back control and added a body triangle. The fight came to an end with Maia on his back. The judges scored it 29-28 Maia, 29-28 Masvidal, and 29-28 for split decision winner Demian Maia. It may not have been a decisive finish for Maia, but the win should secure him a title shot in his next matchup at 170lbs.
The Co-Main event for the Women’s Strawweight Title was up next as Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 Women’s Strawweight Champion) took on Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (16-6 #3 Ranked Women’s Strawweight). The fighters both came out and traded leg kicks back and forth. Andrade was not fooling around and they were just hammering punches back and forth. Joanna had a nice mouse above her right eye very early. Andrade landed a solid takedown, but Joanna was able to get back to her feet and a clinch game ensued along the cage. Joanna landed a brutal elbow on the break of the clinch. Andrade was just relentlessly moving forward and walking through every shot. Andrade grabbed a single leg and Joanna floated through the air and fought through the takedown. Round 2 began with Joanna landing some nice leg kicks. Joana just kept moving in and out landing shots and Andrade was trying to stalk her around the cag, but not landing anything. Joanna landed a stiff 1-2 combination that snapped back the head of Andrade. Andrade tried for a takedown, but it was stuffed and met with a nice jab. Joanna landed a nice head kick that stumbled Andrade, but Andrade followed up with a big right hand takedown combo right before the round expired. Joanna landed a nice head kick to start the third round Andrade went for a takedown but again it was stopped. Joanna was just so technical and crisp with her kicks they were really starting to do damage. Andrade continued to basically just chase to try and land shots, but wasn’t finding much success. The round ended with a clinch on the cage and the championship rounds were up next. More of the same at the beginning of round 4 with a nice head kick from Joanna. Andrade after eating a ton of combinations looked to clinch against the cage. She instead ate another nice elbow and a knee to the body. Andrade tried to get the takedown, but Joanna escaped cleanly again. Joanna landed a big head kick again and nice jabs, Andrade’s chin was just outstanding. The fifth and final round was up next and Andrade was looking to close the distance and get in the champions face. Joanna however was moving just as good as she was in minute 1 in minute 22. Andrade tried to clinch and ate an elbow on the break. Andrade continued to swing for the fences and walk through Joanna, but outside of a few combinations in there just has not been a lot of success. Joanna wrapped her up against the cage and landed a few more shots as the round and fight ended. The scorecards read 50-45, 50-44, and 50-45 all for Joanna Jedrzejczyk. This was just another clinic in striking from Joanna Champion and now she is one defense away from tying the record for title defenses in the Women’s UFC divisions.
The Heavyweight Title was on the line in the main event as Stipe Miocic (16-2 Heavyweight Champion) took on former Heavyweight Champion Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (18-4 #4 Ranked Heavyweight). The fight started with JDS landing a nice set of leg kicks to set the tone. Miocic came out looking to land heavy shots. JDS landed another leg kick and it buckled Miocic a little and was clearly effecting him. Stipe pushed forward and landed a brutal right hand to the temple that dropped JDS and pounded out 13 punches on the floor before Herb Dean stepped in to call this on. A very definitive and great ending for Miocic who avenged his last loss in the Octagon. With a number 1 contender match coming up in July it will be sooner rather than later before we find out who is his next opponent is. He also now is one defense away for the record for the most defenses of the Heavyweight title in UFC history.
That puts UFC 211 in the books and it was certainly a good night of fights. The co-main and main event both lived up to the hype and gave both champions chances to tie some Octagon records in their next appearances. The UFC returns in 2 weeks with a Sunday card live from Stockholm Sweden with a top Light Heavyweight contender matchup when Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (17-4 #1 Ranked Light Heavyweight) takes on Glover Teixeira (26-5) in what could determine the future title contender.