Hey Buzz Fans, coming to you directly after the first fight card of the new year and let me be the first to tell you it DEFINITELY did not disappoint.
Starting with the first fight on the main card and right from the beginning these two started trading leather. We saw Todorovic take a lot of punishment before finally giving in to a barrage of straight punches that ended his night. This knockout was Soriano’s 7th first round knockout.
Coming in as an underdog we saw the Italian Alessio Di Chirico get possibly the biggest upset of the night. Right after the bell rang, we saw Buckley wave off the glove touch and began walking Di Chirico down. Then if you happened to blink then you missed Di Chirico land a high head kick and completely knock him out. What started out as another fight to build the hype behind Buckley turned out to be a huge knockout for a complete underdog. Buckley was a -300 favorite going into this fight.
The upsets didn’t stop there as “The Argentine Dagger” Santiago Ponzinibbio made his way back from injury to try and regain his high ranking in the welterweight division. His opponent, Li Jingliang stepped in as a replacement fighter and was a major underdog going into the fight. Jingliang has been on hot streaks before in his career and is known to most people as a striker who can put you out with one punch, but not the caliber of Ponzinibbio. But this fight told us a completely different story. “Ponzi” hadn’t fought in almost two years but was on a seven fight win streak and told the media he would finish Jingliang by the end of the second. Li, who out of his last eight wins had ended six of them with knockouts, came into this fight very motivated. Throughout the fight he was constantly moving and came out of the gate guns blazing. Ponzinibbio came out very slow and never really engaged and was ended with a monster left hook at 4:25 seconds of the very first round. Maybe Ponzinibbio had ring rust with the long layoff, but it was clear in this fight Jingliang came to win and did so in a big way.
So if you happen to bet on the underdogs tonight you definitely walked away with a little bit of coin in your pocket. Now on to the co main event. In it you had legends returning in a fight that the UFC has been trying to make happen for over five years. Carlos Condit and Matt Brown have been scheduled to meet two other times and Brown has had to pull out of their fights citing injury. Well the third time was a charm as they were the co-main event on today’s line-up. Condit had a really good line when asked about his thoughts on this fight, “we’re gonna go eyeball to eyeball and see who blinks first.” The fight started with the two feeling each other out, Condit moving around throwing kicks stalking Brown. Then Brown landed a takedown on Condit and ended the round not really doing much on top of Condit.
The second picked up a little bit as Brown landed a huge elbow and got the takedown, but Condit got back up and got a beautiful sweep on Brown, then another takedown. This fight didn’t disappoint with some beautiful grappling by both men. Brown was cut by the fence in the very first round, so he was bleeding quite a bit. I am a huge fan of Condit, so I have tried to be unbiased, but Carlos Condit looked as good tonight as he ever has. He won the fight with a unanimous decision and with it got his second win in a row. Condit showed a very improved wrestling game, both defensive and offensive. With the win I think Condit definitely put the welterweight division on notice.
Before I go any further with talking about the main event, I have got to thank the two combatants in this fight for the show of absolute disregard of their health to please us, the fans, and give us a fight of this magnitude and excitement. “The Boston Finisher” and “Blessed” put on quite a show for the first main card of the New Year. The Max Holloway that showed up in this fight looked virtually unbeatable and on another level from the already stellar caliber of fighter he already is. Calvin Kattar got a few good shots in on Max but nothing to the level that Max Holloway threw or landed. Max threw over 600 punches in this fight and easily landed at least over two hundred. With that being said, hats off to Kattar for taking the amount of punishment he took in this fight. We saw Max moving, slipping, jabbing, all with absolutely beautiful footwork. He looked good when he fought Brian Ortega, but I don’t think there’s a featherweight on the planet that could hold a candle to Max tonight. He landed brutal elbows to Kattar’s head in the second round. Kattar did manage to land a nice uppercut in the round, but Holloway’s volume completely shut Kattar down.
The fourth round of this fight could very well be the round of the century. The only thing I could think to compare it to would be Mickey Ward vs Arturo Gatti, the first fight, round nine. In this round we saw Holloway absolutely tee off on Kattar, Calvin landed a few times, but nothing compared to Max. For every two punches Kattar landed, Holloway landed ten. To Kattar’s credit he withstood the storm of punishment the Max gave him, but my goodness was he wobbled, and hurt bad. The ref could have stopped it at any time, but Kattar did enough to survive the round. I personally don’t think there was a featherweight in the world that could have beaten Max Holloway tonight. In the fifth round Max shined, slipping punches and then talking to the announcing team, putting on a real show, and sealed the deal and won the fight with a unanimous decision.
Calvin Kattar showed real heart in this fight, showing that he has the heart of a champion but was completely outclassed tonight. But to be honest as I said, I don’t think anyone could have beaten Max tonight. So tonight was a night of underdogs, and at the same time, a night of the legends showing that they still have what it takes to be championship fighters.