Ngannou prevails in Heavyweight title clash, Figueiredo victorious in rubber match
Year opens With title fights going the distance
The UFC’s first PPV of 2022 is in the books. Fans were treated to a variety of finishes with the two championship bouts lasting all five rounds.
Let’s dive into the action.
Ngannou defends Heavyweight crown
Nearly a year after winning the belt at UFC 260, Francis Ngannou (17-3) reclaimed the status of undisputed champion.
Cyril Gane’s (10-1) versatile skillet made him a worthy challenger capable of thwarting Ngannou’s overwhelming power.
Gane bested another knockout artist, Derrick Lewis (26-8), for the interim title last August. Due to his previous showing, Gane entered the fight as the betting favorite.
What hardly anyone could expect, however, was for Francis Ngannou to utilize a new and improved takedown offense to control the fight.
The first two rounds were difficult to score, but it was clear that Gane appeared to have found a better rhythm with his strikes.
The tides turned in round three when Ngannou countered an errant high kick into a body slam. It was the first time Gane had been placed on his back in his UFC career.
Ngannou built on that success with another trip from the clinch, a double leg takedown and imposing top game.
Fighting off his back, Gane threatened a few submissions that put Ngannou in very little danger, but were to no avail.
This proved to be the deciding factor in the bout.
The challenger won the striking battle 79-71, but Ngannou’s eight and a half minutes of ground control scored him the victory on the scorecards 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
After the fight, Ngannou announced he suffered a torn MCL during training but refused to pull out of the fight. Perhaps, leading to him wanting to take the fight to the ground.
What’s next for the champion is unclear, as his contract is set to expire this year. But, if one could dream, a Jon Jones heavyweight debut for the title doesn’t sound bad at all.
Figueiredo takes back Flyweight title
The night’s co-main event featured a flyweight rubber match.
The first two contests between Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) and Deiveson Figueiredo (21-2-1) were Fight of the Year contenders.
Their third installment wasn’t quite as electric, but equally difficult for the judges to score.
In the end, Figueiredo snuck a unanimous decision victory with all three judges giving him the edge 48-47.
An MMA adage stands out for this fight, “takedowns don’t steal rounds, but knockdowns do.”
Moreno was the more active fighter, landing more total and significant strikes. He also was successful defending takedowns all night long, stuffing nine of Figueiredo’s 11 attempts.
Figueiredo consistently utilized calf kicks that disrupted Moreno’s base. This set up openings for him to land some very significant strikes.
The defining moment came at the end of round three with a stiff right hand that sent Moreno to the canvas.
In the judges eyes, Figueiredo did just enough to win back the flyweight title. After the fight, Figueiredo welcomed the thought of a fourth fight with Moreno, who undoubtedly earned his respect.
Whether it’s their next fight or not, these two fighters could very well meet for a fourth bout in the future.
Nurmagomedov lightning fast submission
If you weren’t sitting down for this one, chances are you missed it.
Said Nurmagomedov (15-2) submitted Cody Stamann (19-5-1) in under a minute to win in his return to the octagon.
Following a year-plus hiatus, Nurmagomedov sent a warning to the rest of the bantamweight division.
After landing a spin kick in the opening seconds, Nurmagomedov countered a single leg attempt by grabbing a hold of a guillotine that he never let go.
Stamann suffered a third straight loss, but only his second via submission with the other coming in 2018 to Aljamain Sterling.
We should expect to see Nurmagomedov return to the octagon this year to try and build on this statement victory.
Morales remains undefeated with TKO
The main card opened with a flash knockout courtesy of undefeated 22-year-old Michael Morales (13-0).
His opponent, Trevin Giles (14-4) was coming down a division to make his welterweight debut.
The two exchanged gamesmanship as they warmed the crowd up, however before long Giles found himself in a compromising position.
Against the cage, Morales landed a backpedaling combo that stunned Giles.
Though he attempted to recover, another right hand sent Giles crashing down before the ref ultimately intervened.
Morales didn’t display any flashy new tactics, but again demonstrated knockout power with technical accuracy that got him to the UFC.
A few more impressive showings could land him in the top-15 radar.
Pereira spoils Fialho’s debut
Brazilian Michel Pereira (27-11) won his fourth straight contest, spoiling the debut of Andre Fialho (14-4).
The knockout artist Fialho looked comfortable in the first round, closing it out in a dominant position. With a little more time, you could tell he was looking to finish the fight from that position.
Moving on, though, Pereira used a blistering pace to suppress his opponent which worked resulting in the 29-28 unanimous victory.
Pereira’s diverse attack of flying knee combinations to all three levels was too much for the head-hunting Fialho.
Fialho’s UFC career may have started off in the losing column, but he should be able to learn from this fight in order to get back on an upward trajectory.
Overall, UFC 270 featured a pair of epic clashes but not the most decisive finishes. We should be able to see a lot of these fighters again before the year ends.
Next in the UFC schedule is a Fight Night on Saturday, Feb. 5.
The promotion returns to PPV the following week in Houston, Texas where Israel Adesanya defends the middleweight title against Robert Whitaker.