Instant Reaction: UFC Fight Night Broomfield

Feb 14, 2015

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1:28 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: With Thatch starting to take control of the fight in the fourth, Henderson fades back, times Thatch's rushing advance, changes levels with GSP-esque precision and technique and winds up quickly taking Thatch's back again. Rear-naked choke, and that's a wrap for Benson Henderson, in a stirring and more-fun-than-anticipated main event.

It's just a reminder that skill and craft can overcome size and power. Thatch is still a skilled welterweight prospect and I hope he stays healthy, but he'd fought outside the first round just once and never faced any grappler akin to Henderson. You forget how good Henderson is as a fighter because he's constantly facing elite fighters in MMA's best weight class.

Speaking of that, Henderson belongs at 155. If a weird opportunity like this arises again, no reason he shouldn't take it, but he should use this rousing win to get people interested in seeing him back against the best of the best at lightweight, regardless of how feasible a title shot is for him.

1:11 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Intriguing and tense first 10 minutes. I thought Henderson won the first round with his clean, unblocked hooks and swipes to the body, but Thatch was clearly dominant in the second frame. The 6-foot-2 Thatch looks like he's felt and assessed what Henderson has standing and is more comfortable taking running lunges at him now. He's scoring with kicks to the head and body, and shutting down Henderson's takedown attempts. It's 19-19 on my card, but could be 20-18 on many.

12:58 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: This fight is also one of the best advertisements you could ever get for the glory years of Sven Bean's Ring of Fire promotion. If only it was heavier on the Duane Ludwig. And we got a Shane Carwin comeback.

12:56 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Time for our main event. Welterweight prospect Brandon Thatch returns from a myriad of injuries to take on one of the most successful lightweights ever, making his return to the division after departing for 155 very early in his career. Thatch has won 10 straight, has six finishes in under a minute and is 5-0 in the fine city of Broomfield, Colo. We'll see whether or not he can make Henderson swallow his toothpick and regret his decision to take this fight on short notice 15 pounds north of lightweight.

12:43 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: 30-27 Holloway on my card, and the “Blessed” one takes a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice. Holloway really turned on the jets in round three, tore Miller's cut open worse and hit him with a wide array of boxing combinations and exotic spinning techniques. I wouldn't necessarily call Holloway a slow starter, but the way in which he gets so clearly, demonstrably better in the second half of the fight is stark. It's not even that he wears guys down, which he does, but his overall rhythm and execution really seem to coalesce while he loses virtually none of his power or cardio.

That's five straight for the 23-year-old Holloway, one of the emerging contenders in an intensifying division. And, he's the only guy to go the distance with Conor McGregor ever, though McGregor busted his knee in the fight. Now, with the main event on deck, we find out whether or not Holloway supplants Benson Henderson atop the pound-for-pound fighters with angel wing tattoos on their back list.

12:33 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: 20-18 Holloway, but the real story of round two is the accidental headbutt that has busted Cole Miller's left eyebrow open and is clearly frustrating and upsetting him. He's now complaining liberally to referee Adam Martinez and anyone in earshot about the headbutts. The ATT product's length and craftiness is frustrating Holloway, but the Hawaiian still accumulating more clean, hard shots. Obviously hard for Miller to keep his composure, given how the Manny Gamburyan debacle played out for him.

12:18 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: I don't think Cole Miller is going to be able to get Max Holloway to the ground and exploit a scramble opportunity for a submission, so I think he's going to get busted on the feet by the offensively gifted Hawaiian. But, for however long this featherweight fight lasts, it should be wicked fun. Holloway was 4-0 with four stoppages last year, and earned his first All-Violence team nod to boot; I think he expands on that campaign and continues to emerge as a 145-pound prospect here, albeit not one ready to tangle with the top five any time soon.

12:09 a.m. ET Jordan Breen: Neil Magny's third-round rear-naked choke gives him six straight wins. Neil Magny has six wins in the Octagon in 54 weeks. What a weird MMA world we inhabit.

11:47 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Sidenote, I know I said forget about the fight ever happening, but imagine being one of the FightMetric gnomes for this card, and having to produce live statistics for Daniel Kelly-Patrick Walsh? Welcome to hell, eggheads.

11:47 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Time for Neil Magny to put the most unlikely five-fight win streak in UFC history on the line against Kiichi Kunimoto's most unlikely three-fight win streak in UFC history. Magny has done it with improvement and mediocre opposition, Kunimoto has done it with surprising dumb luck and poor officiating. He does, however, have the best tan this side of Yoshihiro Akiyama, so it could be a wash.

Seriously, Neil Magny. We need this stoppage. Become Neil Magnanimous Guy.

11:37 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Daniel Kelly and Patrick Walsh fought. Well, relatively speaking. After a mindnumbing and upsettingly dull 15 minutes, Daniel Kelly won a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). That is it, that is all. The less we all say about it, the sooner we can forget that it ever happened and free our souls from bondage.

11:34 p.m. ET Brian Knapp: It'd be OK with me if I never saw those two guys fight again.

11:09 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: The UFC playing quotes of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg saying, "I can't believe this really going to happen" for Henderson-Thatch is insulting for anyone that was around for the Couture era. I am serious, don't insult my intelligence.

11:07 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: We must be frank: the entertainment quality of this card has dropped off a little bit since we got started. Unfortuantely, we're probably not about to get back into titillating territory here, as Daniel Kelly and Patrick Walsh are about to square off in a fight that made no sense as part of the televised card. And that was before Walsh blew weight by almost six pounds. This one almost assures ugliness, and the best hope is that somehow we're blessed with some sort of sloppy stoppage.

11:01 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Kevin Lee is about to win a unanimous verdict, tiring out Michel Prazeres with his wrestling, scrambling, and more importantly, improved standup. Lee is still obviously an athlete being molded into a mixed martial artist, but as previously mentioned, he's got all the raw tools. Prazeres is a tough cookie, and I think Lee took all three rounds, 30-27, and nearly got the finish via rear-naked choke at the end.

All that said, the fight was prosaic enough that it pretty much forced the TV watching collective to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, where Victor Oladipo was busy blowing dunks at a Nate Robinson-esque pace.

10:38 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Time for lightweights Kevin Lee and Michel Prazeres. Unless Lee has turned a corner and really morphed from a raw athlete to a more complete MMA fighter, this one could get ugly. Lee is a great young talent, only 22 years old and has worlds of physical ability. He's a rock solid wrestler. He just doesn't put any of it together and dominate quite yet. I think he'll be able to get his hand raised here, but I'm interested in seeing if he can put the stamp down on the Brazilian, versus landing a series of disconnected techniques to win rounds.

10:32 p.m. ET C.J. Tuttle: "I did what came natural, which is dominate the fight everywhere." -- Ray Borg after the fight.

10:28 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Finally, Borg goes a different route and locks up a methodical kimura on Kelades and earns the tap. This kid is truly a sensational prospect. His innate grappling ability, his speed, his flexibility, his balance -- Tom and Arlene Vaughn have a really special pupil on their hands. Curious to see what Sean Shelby's got next for the kid.

10:24 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I give Borg the second round 10-8, he's up 20-17 now. Incredible submission offense and guard passing from the young prospect, who could really be a title challenger in the not-so-distant future. Kelades showing real toughness and great submission defense, though. If you're getting beat up in a fight, just try to stunt on your foe by taking all their shots and acting like it's no big deal. It's the eastern Canadian way.

10:17 p.m. ET Brian Knapp: You have to admire Kelades' tenacity, but it seems like it's only a matter of time before Borg ends this.

10:10 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Speaking of that main card, we get started at 125 pounds with Ray Borg, who is barely old enough to drink alcohol in America, and Chris Kelades, who is from my hometown of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Darkside represent. Unfortunately, Borg is a lightning-fast scramble machine, and Kelades exposes his back a lot. I think Borg's gonna be looking for that rear-naked choke and very well might find it quickly.

10:07 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: As we speak, the UFC's new Canadian broadcast partner TSN has them pre-empted for Nascar, therefore UFC main card coverage is continuing on cable combat sports delicacy The Fight Network. Canadian fans up in arms all over Twitter. Oh, the growing pains of a new TV deal.

9:52 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: So, Escudero beat the snot out of de Lima after almost blowing it twice in the first round (after rocking de Lima twice). Escudero takes all three rounds on all three scorecards to earn. a crucial win. In spite of being generally dominant, but you still saw flashes of the “Oh man, what are you doing?” tendencies that have made the TUF 8 winner a talented-but-enigmatic curiosity over his career.

9:54 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Also, that was Escudero's first UFC win in his last five fights in the Octagon. His last win prior to this was over Dan Lauzon at UFC 114, almost five years ago. The night that Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans squared off. The night Jason Brilz got ripped off against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Basically, a lifetime ago.

9:38 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: This first round is a statement to Escudero's career. He has moments of brilliance and then just fizzles. He had a few chances to get a stoppage yet let's the round end in a way that could allow poor judges to take the frame away from him. If he adjusts properly he can secure a stoppage here.

9:31 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Up next, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 lightweight winner Efrain Escudero tries to prove he hasn't completely plateaued as a fighter against Rodrigo Goiana de Lima, the brother of Michel Prazeres, who is also on this card. Escudero's always had a lot of talent, but hasn't been much of an achiever -- this is actually his third UFC stint at this point. Despite de Lima having no real experience against high-level fighters, he is a -150 favorite, which says loads about the public perception of Escudero at this point.

9:23 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Replays basically confirm that Tim Mills wasn't moving in to stop the fight before the illegal knee, but this is an athletic commission covering its ass. It was plain as day that regardless of Mills' true intent, that was going to be the cover-up there. Unfortunately for Alers, not much he can appeal, either. It's not like playing the tape back and saying “Look! The ref's not moving towards us!” is gonna earn you a No Contest.

9:16 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Also, it calls to mind the knee-to-a-downed-opponent controversy of Skelly's UFC debut, against Mirsad Bektic, where Skelly landed two knees to a downed Bektic and deeply impacted the fight. Gotta clean them up, “Scrapper.”

9:16 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: So, after I say that, Skelly lands his millionth hard, flailing right, then lands two more, then unloads a massive flurry on Alers against the cage. He knocks him out as time is expiring in the round, but he knees Alers while he's clearly downed right as the horn goes. Looks like the call will be that Tim Mills was stepping in prior to the foul, so it will stand, but what a sudden rush of insanity in a fight that was slowing.

9:12 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I gave Skelly the first. It was super competitive and Alers was able to exploit Skelly's awkward movement and lack of striking defense, but Skelly manages to land all his weird, looping punches. He's still landing them liberally in the second round, but is instead further tiring himself by pushing for takedowns against the fence.

9:08 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: Skelly looks gassed. With the lack of head movement from either man, and what I think is a gassing Chas Skelly. I have to think we're headed for a KO/TKO somwhere in the next 10 minutes.

8:57 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Makovsky takes three 29-28 scorecards, I hope that means all three judges gave Elliott round two. That would be excellent judging. Good win for the charming and workmanlike Makovsky, too. Still seems surreal imagining him as a Bellator champ a weight class above this.

Up next, a battle of once-beaten featherweight prospects Chas Skelly and Jim Alers. This one could also be complimentary in the style clash department. Skelly is a strong wrestler, now working with Team Takedown, but has an unorthodox submissions game. Alers is an awesome grappler, but looked jittery in his UFC debut, struggling with Alan Omer. The striking portion could be rough, but the potential for provocative grappling is here. Plus, more strong prospects.

8:51 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I actually gave Elliott the second frame, as I thought he stymied Makovsky on top and really pushed the fight from his own guard. However, Makovsky's fantastic back control, including the B.J. Penn homage, trapping Elliott's right arm with his right leg from back mount, earned him the round. 29-28 Makovsky in a fantastic fight.

Tim Elliott is headed for a third straight loss, but I don't think he'll be cut. Due to the thin nature of the UFC's flyweight division, quality fighters can end up matched tough consecutively, which is the case with Elliott. Plus, Sean Shelby is a softy.

8:45 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: Elliot needs a stoppage if he is going to win this fight. Fun little scrap here, though. 20-18 Fun Size.

8:42 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: Thank goodness prelims are viewable on television. Could you imagine the uproar from the hardcores if this fight wasn't viewable? Solid first round with Makovsky getting the edge. I love flyweights!

8:38 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: And, two guys finally go out of their way to validate my prefight analysis! Makovsky and Elliott just put on one of the best rounds of MMA so far in this young year, with Makovsky sliding into a top crucifix in the last 30 seconds and pounding away to take the round. Tons of scrambles and offense in all positions. Great action so far from the flyweights, and they have the fitness to sustain it.

8:22 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: And to Brian's point: Mike Beltran has facial hair competition now. Jason McCoy's oversized goatee ain't got nothing on Don Thais.

8:22 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Moontasri gets his first UFC win, and he shouldn't have had to wait that long, as he got ripped off against Joe Ellenberger in his UFC debut. More competitive action awaits us next at 125 pounds, though, as we get what could be a thrilling scramblefest with Zach Makovsky and Tim Elliott.

Makovsky is a southpaw, but is the more “orthodox” of the two fighters: he's the cleaner traditional boxer, the more straightforward wrestler, the more athletc and conventional of the two. Elliott makes up for technical shortcomings with raw volume, shooting tons of takedowns and just trying to initiate scrambles for him to land strikes, take top position or latch onto a submission. Elliott always tends to bring the best out of his opponents, and Makovsky is at his best when foes makes him work.

8:20 p.m. ET Brian Knapp: Can we talk about the real star of that fight -- referee Don Thais' beard?

8:13 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: After a blowout 10-8 first round where he almost sealed the deal three minutes in, Moontasri keeps taking his time, stuffing Pfister's takedown and eventually rear-naked chokes him and gets a mercy kill submission against his overmatched, late-replacement opponent. Pfister had nothing for Moontasri, which leads me to ask: when is our boy R.J. Clifford getting a UFC fight? He at least made Moontasri work for 13 minutes.

8:11 p.m. ET TJ De Santis: This fight is a prime example of why knees to the head of a down opponent are vital. Pfister is getting a second round that he clearly doesn't need. Heck, if this fight continues as is he is going to take loads of unnecessary punishment with pretty much the same result.

8:10 p.m. ET Mike Fridley: Twenty five percent is hardly a deterrent; repeat offenders will continue to get by with it until their employer makes a move like Dana did on John Lineker. Cancelling the fight and giving the fighter who made weight both purses? Now that would put an end to it quickly. Either athletes would take their weight cut more professionally or they would compete in a more natural class for their build as to not risk the financial loss.

8:04 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: I think it's an interesting question. I always thought 25 percent was a sweet spot, with none of the money going to the greedy meter maids at the athletic commission, and all of it to the opponent. I suppose there is no reason you can't just make it a stiffer fine and see if it acts as a deterrent. But, I imagine most of the MMA world would be up in arms if some guy making five-and-five couldn't get any closer than 156.5 and lost half his meager purse.

8:02 p.m. ET Brian Knapp: Why not stiffen the penalty for missing weight? Does not seem like 20 percent is enough of a deterrent.

7:59 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: And I didn't even mention MMA's foremost Starcraft player, Nik Lentz, coming down with flu-like symptoms yesterday before weigh-ins and having his bout with late replacement Levan Makashvili nixed. I was also told by some folks in-the-know that Makashvili wanted to simply reschedule the Lentz fight, too, rather than opting for a different, almost invariably easier opponent. The Georgian's got quite a sack on him.

7:57 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Our evening begins at 155 pounds -- sort of -- as James Moontasri takes on late-notice substitution Cody Pfister. Pfister replaces Jake Lindsey who was injured during training camp, and worse, Moontasri missed weight yesterday, tipping the beam at 158, opting not to re-weigh and giving up 20 percent of his purse to Pfister. Not the most inspired curtain jerker I've ever seen, but Moontasri has a slick, TMA-influenced style and some real skill on the feet.

It probably bears mentioning, too, that yesterday's weigh-in was fairly troubling. Not only did Moontasri not make weight, Patrick Walsh blew weight by nearly six pounds, Chris Kelades was initially overweight and several other fighters looked drawn out on the scales. And Michel Prazeres had some infamous pound-and-a-half underwear he removed to make weight. Must be the same brand that Gina Carano used to wear during her career.

7:55 p.m. ET Jordan Breen: Welcome, fight freaks. I have no doubt in the world that is where you all want to be spending Valentine's Day, as the UFC slough through another night of fights in Broomfield, Colo., at the 1stBank Center, more popularly known in MMA circles as the Tommy Spear Memorial Arena.

Once upon a time, lovers, this card was supposed to be headlined by a welterweight clash between Matt Brown and Tarec Saffiedine. That headliner turned into Brandon Thatch against Stephen Thompson. Now, the card is main evented by a welterweight clash between Thatch and... Benson Henderson? Yep, for the first time since the early days of his fledgling career, Henderson is back at 170 against the physically enormous, violent Thatch. If nothing else, we've got a wacky, high-stakes main event.

3:05 p.m. ET Mike Fridley: Check this space tonight as reacts to UFC Broomfield in real-time.
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