Saturday 17 March 2018

UFC Belfast Main Card review: MMA fans treated to pulsating action

Artem Lobov celebrates after defeating Teruto Ishihara during their Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 99 in the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Artem Lobov celebrates after defeating Teruto Ishihara during their Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 99 in the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

Coming into UFC Belfast there was an absence of the usual UFC hype train. The event was the first in a long time not to be a sell-out come fight day. After losing the Neil Seery v Ian McCall bout interest seemed to be waning.

The fighters did their part by putting on a great show for the most part. The prelims had plenty of talking points.

The main card had everything.

Here’s a run done of what went down on the main card.

Middleweight: Gegard Mousasi defeated Uriah Hall via TKO (punches) Round 1

The bout started as a cagey, almost nervous affair. Mousasi was looking to avenge a defeat at the hands of Hall. Hall was trying to prove it wasn’t a fluke. After some fighting at range Mousasi closed the distance and tied up a body lock dragging Hall to the mat towards the end of the first round. Once down the beating commenced and didn’t stop until referee Marc Goddard waved him off only seconds later. Hall continues to flip flop between wins and losses. Mousasi put an underline on his rising reputation and placed himself firmly in the title hunt.

Lightweight: Stevie Ray defeated Ross Pearson via Decision (split) (30-27, 30-27, 27-30)

This fight was incredible and a contender for Fight of the Night honours. It was a real battle of technical ability and strategy. Ray judged the distance well while Pearson seemed to have a speed advantage. It also proved how incredibly hard MMA fights are to score. Both men fought their heart out and it was an incredibly close duel. There was an argument for giving Ray the first and Pearson the second with winner takes all in the third. What transpired on the scorecards was a series of 30-27’s with two going to Ray. Most won’t argue with outcome but some will question the calculations.

Stevie Ray: “I was obviously a bit depressed after my last fight, but I got straight back in the gym and just started training again. I just knew how important it was to get back in the win column. Ross is a really high level guy who has been in the UFC for years, so I have a lot of respect for him. I feel like I won the fight. I feel like I landed some shots on him that were really hard. Ross is a veteran, but I tried to just listen to my coaches and not get too frustrated, although it was frustrating at times. I like exciting fights. I want to put on a show for the fans. I’ll fight anyone in the UFC. They seem to do a good job of matchmaking me. Anyone they give me I’ll fight.”

Ross Pearson: “I can’t believe this happened again. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what I have to do. I didn’t get hit, I knocked him down once, I ended up in the clinch trying to take him down, he ran away the entire fight, he didn’t finish with anything, I landed more than him. One judge gave me a 30-27, how can it be a split decision win for him? I don’t know what’s next. I’ll have to sit down and speak to my family, but I can’t keep doing this. I’m not going to keep coming in here and getting these bad decisions.”

Heavyweight: Alexander Volkov defeated Timothy Johnson via Decision (split) (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)

Johnson and Volkov followed on from where Lobov and Isihara left off. With all respect to the two fighters, in the lead up this was one fight that many people wondered about its inclusion on the main card. Regardless both men delivered fantastic performances and some cracking entertainment. Heavyweights aren’t generally known for their staying power but these two went bell to bell for 15 minutes. Johnson landed the heavier shots and had Volkov on the seat of his pants a number of times. Credit to the Russian he took it and gave it back in kind. A close fight and a tough one to score as evidenced by one judge giving it 30-27 to Johnson and the two others 29-28 to Volkov.

Tim Johnson: “I’m a pretty honest guy and I thought I lost one round. It was either the second or the third, I’m not sure, they kind of went back and forth a little bit. I thought for sure I won two of the three rounds. When I heard 30-27 I thought for sure the next one was coming for me. I can understand why the judges scored it a split decision, it

kind of went both ways. I’m a little disappointed, I have a lot of things to work on. Hopefully I did enough that they’ll let me come back.”

Featherweight: Artem Lobov defeated Teruto Ishihara via Decision (unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

With dual weight world champion Conor McGregor looking on, SBG team mate Artem Lobov delivered the performance of his career so far to take a unanimous decision win over Teruto Ishihara.

You can read all about it HERE

Artem Lobov: “The Irish fans, and the Russians, support me through thick and thin. Many of them supported me despite the losses and I owed them this one. I owed them a good fight. I wanted to put a cherry on the cake and get a knockout, but next time. I swear to God, next time I’m going to get that KO. I was surprised I didn’t knock him out. I caught him a few times and I felt his legs wobble, but he stayed in there. The Japanese are tough, they are samurais, so arigato. I’m confident going in there against anyone. You can put a tiger in there with me because Conor (McGregor) gives me that confidence from facing him for many, many years and I’m still here and I’m still pretty. Like I’ve said since day one, anyone, anytime, anyplace. I’ve been that way since day one and I’ll stay that way until the end.”

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport