One of the UFC’s frequent stints outside of the States took place again last Saturday evening, as Dana White and co embarked on a trip to ‘Fight Island’, where the small matter of the Light Heavyweight title and interim Bantamweight titles would be decided. There was also the drama of the prelims, featuring a UK representative in Manchester’s Lerone Murphy, who got another win to protect his impressive unbeaten record.
There were titles returned and titles won for the first time, with Petr Yan defeating Cory Sandhagen in an arduous battle that went down to the wire, as well as Poland’s Jan Blachowicz losing his title to Glover Teixeira in the surprise of the night, via a second-round submission.
The good came with the bad though, and unfortunately we saw referee Vyacheslav Kiselev overshadow one of the opening fights of the night between Benoit Saint Denis and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Dos Santos should’ve claimed a very comfortable second-round TKO victory, after throwing 27 uninterrupted strikes at the head of Saint Denis, however the Russian ref clearly hadn’t seen enough to convince him to give a TKO victory against the Frenchman.
He also continued his error-filled streak in the third round, continuing the fight without any attempt to reach a doctor, after the former French special forces operative was poked in the eye and complained that he was unable to see, something you’d expect a referee to begin preparations for the end of a fight. Somehow it continued and the outrage spread across the room when dos Santos was deducted a point for an accidental groin strike, without a warning given from the former fighter.
It was a bizarre affair that threatened to overshadow the event, as well as tarnish the great work of Mark Goddard and the rest of the officiating team on the night. Kiselev was removed from the venue and it’s likely that we won’t be seeing him on a big card anytime soon.
The good times don’t stop coming though in terms of MMA. Less than a week after being treated to the back-to-back championship bouts, we get another weekend of drama and scraps, headlined by the ultimate grudge match between Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman and number one contender, Colby Covington, as well as the Strawweight championship rematch between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili.
There’s even better news for British fight fans as well. With the US entering daylight savings next weekend, the usual 3AM start-time for the UFC’s flagship events now move to 2AM for one weekend only, before it returns to an early time of 9PM for the fight night event next week between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.
Finally, Bruce Buffer is set to return this week, after missing last week’s event due to contracting Covid-19, meaning it was his first absence from a numbered UFC event since 1996. Oh how we’ve missed the incredible suits and unmatched showmanship in the few days without him!
UFC’s November schedule:
November 7: UFC 268 - live on BT Sport 2 from 2AM.
November 13: UFC Fight Night: Holloway v Rodriguez - live on BT Sport 2 from 9PM
November 20: UFC Fight Night: Viera v Tate - live on BT Sport 2 from 11PM