UFC Tampa Report: Jędrzejczyk dominates Waterson, Swanson and Gracie put on a slugfest.
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night the UFC held its second event at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The card was headlined by a strawweight bout between former champion, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, and Michelle Waterson, who came into this event riding a three-fight win streak. It was a hectic week for the card, after reports came out on Wednesday, indicating that Jędrzejczyk’s camp believed she would be unable to make weight. However, every fighter, including Jędrzejczyk, made weight on Friday morning, and the main event ultimately stayed together. The co-main event featured featherweight mainstay and fan favorite, Cub Swanson, welcoming the undefeated Kron Gracie, to the next level of competition.
Brendan Fitzgerald called the event alongside UFC Hall of Famer, Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Niko Price and Marlon Vera. Fight of the Night honors went to Cub Swanson and Kron Gracie. The reported attendance for the event was 10,597, with a gate of $897,805.
*J.J Aldrich def. Lauren Mueller by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Marvin Vettori def. Andrew Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Miguel Baeza def. Hector Aldana by TKO at 2:32 of Round 2
*Marlon Vera def. Andre Ewell by TKO at 3:17 of Round 3
*Deiveson Figueiredo def. Tim Elliott by guillotine choke at 3:08 of Round 1
*Alex Morono def. Max Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28
*Mike Davis def. Thomas Gifford by KO at 4:45 of Round 3
*Ryan Spann def. Devin Clark by guillotine choke at 2:01 of Round 2
*Eryk Anders def. Gerald Meerschaert by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Niko Price def. James Vick by KO at 1:44 of Round 1
*Cub Swanson def. Kron Gracie by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Joanna Jędrzejczyk def. Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
J.J ALDRICH (7-3, 125) VS LAUREN MUELLER (5-2, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
The story of the first round was the left hand of Aldrich. Her hand speed and accuracy were both very impressive, and she landed the biggest shots of the opening round. Aldrich took Mueller down with a bodylock against the cage, although Mueller escaped the position quickly. Towards the end of the round Mueller completed a takedown of her own, but I thought Aldrich edged out the round with those straight lefts.
Both fighters were having some difficulty finding the range on the feet early, but Aldrich did manage to find a home for the straight left. Mueller reversed Aldrich in the clinch against the cage and unleashed with a series of strikes, that busted Aldrich’s nose open. Aldrich connected with some 1-2’s that appeared to light a fire under Lauren Mueller, who really increased her intensity at the end of the round, moving forward taunting, Nick Diaz style. I thought Mueller won the round and had it 19-19 heading into the third.
Aldrich came out as the aggressive one in the third and rocked Mueller with a punch. Aldrich’s boxing was just at another level then Mueller’s here, and she was doing a lot of damage whenever she went on the offense. Mueller landed a pair of right hands that were her biggest strikes of the round, but it was not enough to steal the round, and I scored this fight in Aldrich’s favor.
WINNER: J. J. Aldrich by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I have been very impressed with Aldrich thus far in her UFC run. I thought she looked great here, and really showcased her boxing ability. She is now 4-2 in the UFC.
MARVIN VETTORI (13-4-1, 185) VS ANDREW SANCHEZ (11-4, 184) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The bad blood between the two was quickly apparent, with both men talking to each other in the cage. Vettori was confident and aggressive early, moving forward and throwing a high output of strikes out at Sanchez, forcing Sanchez to cover up and fight defensively for the opening half of the round. Vettori landed a knee and a hook to the body that made Sanchez cover-up once more. Sanchez recovered once more but was quickly rocked again by Vettori’s onslaught. Sanchez made it out of the round, but this was a very dominant five minutes for Vettori.
The striking differential was pretty significant in the favor of Vettori going into the second. This was a closer round then the first, but Vettori still felt as though he was a step ahead, specifically in the power department. Sanchez would likely need a finish in the third round to win this fight.
Sanchez offered to touch gloves at the start of the third, but Vettori refused. Sanchez landed a beautifully timed spinning backfist that Vettori just ate. Sanchez was the fighter moving forward, but Vettori was still getting the better of the exchanges, specifically whenever he went to the body. Sanchez kept looking for that spinning backfist, but it never connected like the first one, and the fight went the distance.
WINNER: Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Vettori looked great here, and he is starting to develop a name for himself, all stemming from his split decision loss to current champion Isreal Adesanya. Vettori is now 4-2-1 in the UFC, and I would not be surprised to see him against a step up in competition soon.
MIGUEL BAEZA (7-2, 170) VS HECTOR ALDANA (4-3, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
A minute into the fight and they were taunting each other forward. Baeza threw a pair of low kicks followed by a kick to the head. He continued implementing the kicks to the leg of Aldana, which allowed him to control the round. Aldana started pressuring forward, throwing heavy hooks but was unable to connect with anything significant. Baeza completed a double leg takedown to end the round.
The kicks to the leg kept connecting for Baeza, and eventually, Aldana crumbled to the ground following one last kick to the left calf. Baeza followed him to the ground and threw some ground and pound strikes, but Baeza was done from the low kicks and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Miguel Baeza by TKO at 2:32 of Round 2
Aldana had to be helped out of the octagon from the damage done to his leg. This was a lesson on the effectiveness of the calf kick, and Baeza picked up a very impressive win here in his UFC debut.
MARLON VERA (14-5-1, 135) VS ANDRE EWELL (15-5, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Ewell expertly scrambled out of a takedown from Vera early. Vera threw a hard low kick, and Ewell immediately responded with a clean shot to the body. I’m not sure I can do this sequence justice, but Vera rushed in on the feet, and on his entry, he seized a head and arm choke, and brought Ewell to the ground, attempting to choke him out from the bottom. Ewell escaped this submission attempt, but this was a great moment for Marlon Vera. Ewell eventually got up and they ended the round back on the feet. Very tough round to score, but I gave the edge to Vera.
Ewell was able to keep Vera at range with his large reach advantage. Vera landed some kicks to the leg to try to negate Ewell’s movement. Ewell landed a nice right hook as he was circling away from Vera. Vera engaged Ewell in the clinch against the cage and landed some really nice knees to the body. Vera teed off on Ewell against the cage to end the round, and I thought he stole this one in the last thirty seconds.
To start the third round, Vera landed a head kick and a pair of knees to the face of Ewell, that Ewell somehow just ate and returned fire. Vera threw a pair of kicks to the right leg of Ewell and a hook that hurt him. Vera was really starting to put the pressure on, especially with his knees against the cage. Vera attempted a standing Guillotine, and he ended up bringing Ewell to the ground with it. Vera quickly switched strategies and threw down vicious elbows that Ewell had no answer for, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Marlon Vera by TKO at 3:17 of Round 3
This fight was a ton of fun, and Marlon Vera is now on a five-fight winning streak. Vera is always entertaining and this was no exception. I would expect him to meet a ranked opponent in his next fight.
DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (16-1, 125.5) VS TIM ELLIOTT (16-8-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Elliott landed a series of short strikes early that did not seem to phase Figueiredo much. Elliott connected with a calf kick that momentarily forced Figueiredo to switch stances. Figueiredo appeared to be having a bit of difficulty gauging the timing of Tim Elliott on the feet, but Elliott shot in for a takedown and Figueiredo locked in a tight guillotine, tapping Elliott out in the first round.
WINNER: Deiveson Figueiredo by guillotine choke at 3:08 of Round 1
Figueiredo held onto the submission for a couple of seconds too long, and Elliott was clearly upset by this. Figueiredo is now 6-1 in the UFC and has reinserted himself into the flyweight title picture. Figueiredo called out Joseph Benavidez in his post-fight interview, claiming Henry Cejudo would be out for the foreseeable future, and Benavidez was afraid of him.
MAX GRIFFIN (15-6, 169.5) VS ALEX MORONO (16-5, 1 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Max Griffin was successful with his jab early, but neither man was mixing their offense up in a way that would allow them to seize the advantage. Griffin landed a Junior Dos Santos style ducking right overhand. Morono connected with a superman punch towards the end of the round. Very difficult round to score.
They continued their battle on the feet in the second. Griffin landed a solid right hand that looked like it rocked Morono, but as Griffin was swarming him, Morono threatened the guillotine that backed Griffin off. TSN cut to commercial mid-round but quickly returned to the action. As they were exchanging hooks, Morono mixed in a left kick to the head that put Griffin down, and from the way he fell, I thought the fight was over, but Griffin somehow recovered. Morono kept on the attack and Griffin looked out of it, but he kept hanging in there and he made it out of the round. Insane final thirty seconds here.
Griffin seemed to have recovered and controlled the start of the third round with his left jab and right hook. Griffin brought Morono to the ground with a huge double leg, which Morono worked his way up from quickly, but Griffin slammed him right back down. Griffin would secure two more takedowns to finish the fight.
WINNER: Alex Morono by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Another great fight. Griffin showed a lot of resilience by coming back to win the third round, but he should have implemented the wrestling sooner. Morono was very close to the finish in the second round, and I’m amazed Griffin survived that head kick. Morono is now on a three-fight win streak.
MIKE DAVIS (7-2, 155.5) VS THOMAS GIFFORD (17-8, 2 NC, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
These two immediately started trading hard. Davis finished the initial exchange of strikes between the two with an uppercut. Davis landed a number of hard, clean strikes inside a clinch exchange. Davis was really laying a beating on Gifford early. Michael Bisping was in utter disbelief at the number of strikes that Gifford was eating clean without flinching, including a flying knee. Davis finally hurt Gifford with a left hook and continued with a flurry of flush hooks and knees, yet somehow Gifford made it out of the round. This was definitely a 10-8 round, and I would even argue it was a 10-7.
Davis’s output was noticeably lower this round but was still in complete control of the action. He connected with another jumping knee and a head kick that Gifford did not react to. Davis connected with a one-two that backed Gifford up, and he took Gifford down to the ground and reigned down some more brutal strikes. Michael Bisping strongly believed that this fight should be called because it was such a mismatch. That did not happen, and Davis continued to beat on Gifford. Another 10-8.
Nothing changed in the third round, and Davis knocked Gifford down two more times with low kicks. The crowd was booing, presumably at the ref not stopping the fight, and Michael Bisping voiced his immense displeasure with the referee and Gifford’s corner. Davis landed a final combination of punches that sent Gifford face-first down to the canvas, and the fight was finally stopped.
WINNER: Mike Davis by KO at 4:45 of Round 3
I found this fight very uncomfortable to watch. Davis was throwing knockout blows from the very beginning, but Gifford kept coming. This fight should have been stopped after round one, and Gifford just took so much unnecessary damage. If Gifford survived the final 15 seconds, I would have scored this 30-23 Davis. This was Davis’s first win in the UFC.
RYAN SPANN (16-5, 205) VS DEVIN CLARK (10-3, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Perfectly timed takedown from Clark early, but Spann was looking for a guillotine that made Clark return to the feet. Clark jabbed Spann in the thigh, which is always worth mentioning. The fighters were very, very tentative this round.
The fighters exchanged blows against the cage, and Spann and hurt Clark with a big hook, and kept on the attack. When the opportunity arose, he locked on a tight standing guillotine, and Spann had no choice but to tap.
WINNER: Ryan Spann by guillotine choke at 2:01 of Round 2
This wasn’t the most entertaining fight, but it was a fantastic finish. Spann is now on a 7-fight win streak and had 11 submission wins to his record.
ERYK ANDERS (12-4, 186) VS GERALD MEERSCHAERT (29-11, 184.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Anders gauged the distance well early, and Meerschaert did not have much of a response on the feet. He rocked and dropped Meerschaert with a series of punches early, but Anders did not follow him down to potentially end it. Meerschaert improved as the round went along, specifically in his movement, but this was still a clear round for Anders.
Meerschaert boxing looked a lot better in the second and was actually fighting with a higher output then Anders in this round. Neither fighter was committing to anything huge, and when Anders did, he typically missed his big strikes. Meerschaert won this round on my scorecard.
They exchanged notable straight lefts, and Meerschaert connected with a clean shot to the body. Anders looked like a different fighter then he was in the first, and seemed somewhat trepidatious when engaging. Meerschaert landed a hook that stumbled Anders towards the end of the round, and I scored this fight 29-28 in his favor.
WINNER: Eryk Anders by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
A bit of a strange, slow-paced fight, after a dominant start for Anders. Meerschaert improved every round, and the grappler never really tried to take the fight to his domain. I was surprised by the result, but it was a close fight, and Anders is now 5-4 in the UFC.
MATT FREVOLA (7-1-1, 154) VS LUIS PENA (7-1, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Frevola came out of the gates aggressive, and the first half of this round was all him. He was landing lunging hooks, and he slammed Peña down to the ground. The ground, however, was Peña’s territory, and the entire complexion of the round changed in Peña’s favor. He attempted a choke on the ground, and when Frevola fought his way up, he was clearly tired and Peña was lighting him up with strikes to end the round.
Early in the second Peña connected on a jumping knee that rocked Frevola, and he attempted to finish the fight with an armbar on the ground. Frevola escaped but was clearly not at a hundred percent following that brutal knee. Somewhere in all of this Frevola got cut on his cheek. Peña landed a clean head kick, but slipped and didn’t have an opportunity to capitalize. This was a pretty dominant round for Peña, who ended the round landing ground and pound shots down on Frevola.
Frevola knew he needed this round and was connecting with a lot of heavy hooks as he made his way inside. One of those hooks appeared to wobble Peña, and another sent him to the ground, although it appeared that he may have tripped. Peña defended a takedown to end the fight.
WINNER: Matt Frevola by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Peña was infuriated by the result. This one really comes down to how you score the first, although you could make the argument for a 10-8 round for Peña in the second. Frevola is now 2-1-1 in the UFC
MACKENZIE DERN (7-0, 115) VS AMANDA RIBAS (7-1, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Dern’s last fight was in May of 2018, and she had her first child in June of this year.
They were both headhunting early, but it was Ribas who had the clear advantage. She was timing her straight right perfectly and knocked Dern’s head back multiple times. Dern shot for a takedown but was only able to bring the fight to the ground momentarily. It was Ribas who managed to find top position not long after and left Dern searching for submissions from her guard. Ribas rid the round out in dominant position.
Ribas continued to land big strikes in the second. Her hand speed was pretty impressive here, and she was landing with accuracy and power. Dern landed a big right hook of her own, but both fighters were showing off impressive chins. As the round continued it was clear Ribas boxing was at a higher level than Dern’s and was able to negate her grappling. The final round was more of the same, and this was a clear 30-27 for Amanda Ribas.
WINNER: Amanda Ribas by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Ribas did not have much difficulty here and showcased her striking ability and takedown defense. Ribas is now 2-0 in the UFC, and this was Dern’s first professional loss in MMA.
NIKO PRICE (13-3, 1 NC, 170) VS JAMES VICK (13-4, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Price was aggressive out of the gate. He tripped Vick to the ground and landed a couple of elbows, but Vick got up quickly. Vick momentarily turned the tide in his direction after he landed on top of Price following an attempted takedown. and Vick threw down some strong shots to his grounded opponent. As Vick stood up and tried to dive down and maneuver through Price’s guard, he ate a vicious up-kick and just crumbled down onto Price, unconscious.
WINNER: Niko Price by KO at 1:44 of Round 1.
Wow. Unquestionability one of the best knockouts of the year. Niko Price is starting to develop a fanbase, and he is one of the most entertaining fighters in the world right now. Let me reiterate: wow. What a knockout. James Vick has now lost his last 4 fights, 3 of which by first-round knockout.
Referee Andrew Glenn, who officiated the David/Gifford fight was scheduled to officiate this last fight but was removed from the card by the commission and replaced by Herb Dean.
CUB SWANSON (25-11, 146) VS KRON GRACIE (5-0, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Swanson landed a nice right hook moving backward early. Cub unsurprisingly looked to be a step ahead on the feet. Swanson’s movement is always beautiful, and it seemed to be a lot for Gracie to manage early. He began to work the body of Gracie with some hooks to the body. They exchanged hooks towards the end of the round, and Swanson cemented a great first round with a kick to the body.
Gracie continued to move forward in the second, and he just kept walking right into Swanson’s offense. Cub threw a couple more strikes to the body, and they briefly engaged in the clinch but broke apart quickly. Gracie pulled guard, and Swanson decided not to take him up on that offer. Gracie was having more success as the round went on, but was still eating a ton of damage from Swanson. They were trading in the clinch quite a bit, perhaps in tribute to Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama. Gracie opened up a cut on the right eye of Swanson. This round was ugly, in the best possible way.
Swanson was clearly tired by the third round, and this fight was a slugfest. Brendan Fitzgerald stated the striking numbers were 79-79 going into the final round. Gracie has been unable to take Swanson down but has had success in those brawls in the clinch throughout the fight. Cub landed so many brutal shots to the body of Gracie, but Kron kept moving forward. With forty seconds remaining, Swanson engaged Gracie in his guard. They returned to the feet and just threw for the last ten seconds. This fight was awesome.
WINNER: Cub Swanson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was a great fight. Cub Swanson is one of the most entertaining fighters in featherweight history, and he added another great performance to his resumé against a Kron Gracie who proved he was tough as nails himself. With this win, Swanson broke a 4-fight losing streak, the longest of his career, and was clearly emotional. This was Gracie’s first professional loss.
JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK (15-3, 115.5) VS MICHELLE WATERSON (17-6, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
This was Jędrzejczyk’s return to the division after fighting at 125lbs in her last contest.
Waterson caught a kick from Jędrzejczyk and attempted to take her down, but Jędrzejczyk showcased good takedown defense. Waterson landed an elbow coming out of a clinch exchange. Jędrzejczyk landed an elbow of her own. The fighters spent the majority of the round in the clinch against the cage. Jędrzejczyk did not have much issue out-powering Waterson, and this was a solid first round in her favor.
Jędrzejczyk was beating up Waterson’s legs in the second. Her ability to throw so many strikes inside of a couple of seconds is matched by very few fighters. Jędrzejczyk’s takedown defense continued to hold up. Waterson appeared to be bleeding out of her nose profusely, presumably from one of Joanna’s elbows in the clinch. Jędrzejczyk timed a front kick perfectly that Waterson clearly felt. 20-18 Jędrzejczyk.
Waterson was wearing a white shirt for this fight, which really emphasized the blood splattered over it. The combinations that Jędrzejczyk was throwing looked so quick and effortless, it was clear that Waterson was a bit overwhelmed. Jędrzejczyk took Waterson down twice, and at this point in the fight, it was difficult to see where Waterson’s path to victory was. Just as things looked dire, Waterson took Jędrzejczyk’s back, brought her down to the ground, and looked for the rear-naked choke. Jędrzejczyk escaped the position, separated, and teed off on Waterson to end the round. Despite the submission attempt, I thought this was another round for Jędrzejczyk.
In the fourth round, Jędrzejczyk went right back to work. More low kicks, body shots, and lightning-fast one-two’s that Waterson had no answer for. She was mixing up her strikes so well that Waterson really couldn’t see where Jędrzejczyk was going next. Another takedown for Jędrzejczyk, alongside a sharp elbow when Waterson quickly got up. Joanna unleashed a flurry of knees to Waterson’s body in the clinch to end the round. 40-36 Jędrzejczyk.
Jędrzejczyk’s right foot had completely ballooned up in-between rounds. Despite this, she kept on the attack for the first three minutes of the round, keeping Waterson at bay with her constant output of strikes. Waterson seized Joanna’s back one more, but Jędrzejczyk expertly got out of the position. Jędrzejczyk clearly won the final round, as well as the fight.
WINNER: Joanna Jędrzejczyk by unanimous decision (50-46, 50-45, 49-46)
If there were any doubts, Jędrzejczyk put them to rest with a dominant performance here, where she looked as good as she ever has. It would not be surprising if she finds herself across the cage from Weili Zhang in her next fight, but there are plenty of interesting matchups in the 115lbs division.