Last night at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Florida the UFC came to town with a stacked 14 fight card that featured the present and the future of the promotion, oh yeah, the card delivered.
The main event of Waterson vs. Jedrzejczyk was a great fight between 2 of the best strawweight in the world. Joanna looked to be in great shape in spite of her tough weight cut, and seemingly back to championship form against Waterson who had her moments during the fight but was clearly outworked by the former champion en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The co-main event between Cub Swanson and Kron Gracie went as I hoped it would. The crafty tough veteran in Swanson controlling the whole fight against the truly untested Gracie family member in Kron. Cub executed a perfect game plan by keeping the fight on the feet and outclassing the rookie who came into the fight with 5 professional wins in 5 professional fights, but he was clearly overmatched and that lack of experience and inability in any discipline other than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was on display last night in Tampa.
I was quite shocked when it was announced that this fight was awarded the fight of the night bonus. Swanson dominated the fight, Gracie didn’t put up, in my opinion, much of a fight. I’m not sure what the criteria is that they use to give away a fight of the night bonus, but whatever it is this fight checked all the boxes for them I guess.
Niko Price vs James Vick filled the featured bout spot on this card, and while the fight didn’t last very long, it delivered the absolute biggest OMG moment of the night when Price while on his back landed a perfectly placed up kick flush on the chin of James Vick, knocking him out cold on contact.
As he crumbled into a heap on the top of Price, referee Herb Dean was out of position and Price did what he was supposed to do, continued to work until the referee stops the action. Vick was out cold but falling onto the body of Price, so he naturally kept punching even though those punches were unnecessary because Vick was already out, this is the fight business, and this is how it works. Price took home an extra 50k for his spectacular knockout which until last night had only occurred once in the history of the UFC.
Two UFC newcomers Thomas Gifford and Michael Davis, who both made their respective octagon debuts in April at UFC Fort Lauderdale and both suffered losses, and oddly enough were both scheduled to fight at UFC Copenhagen but didn’t because their opponents suffered injuries, were matched up last night, and it was in my opinion, the true fight of the night.
Davis who took this bout on four days notice to replace fellow UFC newcomer Brok Weaver, came out on fire from the opening bell. Showing off his beautiful boxing and mixing in heavy kicks and being able to avoid the submission game of Gifford was on a mission, and would not be denied on this night.
Landing with devastating punch after punch, and lacing together such impressive striking combinations that were both accurate and powerful Davis was beyond impressive last night.
Gifford may be the toughest son of a gun in the octagon today. This Arkansas native showed his true country roots by standing in and withstanding an absolute beating from Davis. Country boys, just like any Mexican fighter don’t know the word quit. I can not explain where the toughness and the mental ability to continue to fight in such a dire situation comes from, but if you weren’t impressed by Gifford in this losing effort, I can’t even speak to you today.
With 23 seconds left in round number 3, Davis unleashed one final barrage of strikes that finally finished the fight knocking out Gifford who face-planted in the middle of the octagon.
The crowd inside the Amalie Arena was absolutely treated to an epic night of fights. Leading up to fight night there were some that questioned this card. I felt this card was stacked with the future of the UFC, and the fighters proved me to be correct.
- FOTN – Cub Swanson vs Kron Gracie
- POTN – Niko Price ( upkick KO vs James Vick)
- POTN – Marlon Vera ( TKO by strikes vs Andre Ewell)
Below are the full results, and scorecards from last night’s UFC Fight Night 161
Main card (ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
Cub Swanson def. Kron Gracie by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Niko Price def. James Vick by KO (up kick and punches) at 1:44, R1
Amanda Ribas def. Mackenzie Dern by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Matt Frevola def. Luis Pena by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Eryk Anders def. Gerald Meerschaert by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Undercard (ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET)
Ryan Spann def. Devin Clark via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:01
Mike Davis def. Thomas Gifford via KO (punch) – Round 3, 4:45
Alex Morono def. Max Griffin (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Deiveson Figueiredo def. Tim Elliott via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 3:08
Marlon Vera def. Andre Ewell via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:17
Miguel Baeza def. Hector Aldana via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:32
Marvin Vettori def. Andrew Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
JJ Aldrich def. Lauren Mueller via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.