Saturday 20 January 2018

Video: Spectacular TKO (flying knee and punches) lights up UFC Japan

Uriah Hall
Uriah Hall
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson or UFC Fight Night 75wentdown in the Saitama Super Arena, Japan late in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

We could talk about a good showing for the local Japanese fighters on the card. Or how Diego Brandao again looking unstoppable and hasn’t lost since Conor McGregor beat him in Dublin last July. We could wax lyrical about German fighter Nick Hein getting a hard fought win or the main event serving of a highly competitive heavyweight five-rounder.

But enough chat… just watch this!

The official record will record Uriah Hall’s victory as coming via ‘TKO (Flying Knee and Punches)’ but it was so much more than that.

The spinning kick that set up the finish was a thing of beauty – timing, rhythm and athleticism. The flying knee that dropped Gegard Mousasi was lightning reactions mixed with executioner like mentality. And the punches at the end… well, they were just to let the referee catch up and come to grips with what had happened.

Uriah Hall burst into the lime light with his phenomenal performances in The Ultimate Fighter season 17. His three (T)KO wins in the house had everyone running scared according to Dana White.

Once on the outside things weren’t plain sailing for Hall. He lost in the season finale to Kelvin Gastelum, dropped another loss to John Howard and after a number of indifferent performances, White had done a 180 degree turn and believed Hall didn’t possess the killer instinct to be a top level fighter.

Mousasi was by far the biggest test Hall has faced in the UFC. In fact, the fight may never have happened. The only reason Hall was called up was because Mousasi’s original opponent, Roan Carneiro pulled out due to injury.

While the finish was spectacular, Hall showed incredible calm and mental resilience in the first round. Not known for his grappling Hall looked very comfortable after Mousasi took him down early in the first. Hall even went as far as threatening the more seasoned grappler with a kimura and armbar submission attempts.

It’s too early to start thinking about Hall rematching UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Hall surrendered his Ring Of Combat middleweight title to Weidman in his fifth pro fight back in 2010. With talent like Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero Hall will have a tough road towards a title shot.

Silence on Drugs issue is deafening

The UFC landed in hot water last week in the court of public opinion. Despite making big strides in 2015 to address the issue of performance enhancing drugs in MMA, the UFC is guilty of silence on a drug related issue dating back to UFC 152 in September 2012.

In an admin error an email was sent to a number of fighters, managers and coaches with a laboratory report showing that Brazilian Vitor Belfort had elevated levels testosterone prior to UFC 152. They were within ‘normal’ levels but the high side of normal. Given that Belfort, who previously tested positive for steroids in 2006 (a reason that may contribute to low natural testosterone production) went on to become the poster boy for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) the revelation is hardly surprising. In the aftermath of the email leak, it did suggest he was using synthetic testosterone without the proper therapeutic use exemption though and the UFC kept it a secret.

What’s also disappointing is the lack of comment from the UFC. They knowingly allowed a fighter enter a contest with a cheaters question mark over his head. They also buried the evidence that outed Belfort’s attempts to cheat, until the rogue email last week. Maybe circumstances like this pushed them closer to the independent and seemingly stricter anti-doping stance implemented in July, but we’ve been left guessing.

Belfort has been surrounded by a stink of allegation over the last number of years because of his appearance, his performances and most of all use of TRT.

Belfort was expected to face UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 in May 2014. He chose to withdraw from the fight following the Nevada State Athletic Commission's banned exemptions for TRT. He subsequently revealed that he had failed a random drug test in February 2014, due to elevated levels of testosterone.

Despite all the negative attention Belfort received Dana White would try and calm the media by saying things like ‘he’s the most tested fighter’ and that he only fought in Brazil (where testing is less stringent) is because he’s a big draw down there.

Belfort will fight again at UFC Fight Night 77 in November against Dan Henderson… in Brazil. Meanwhile, Nick Diaz was banned for five years for smoking marijuana, which is a not an illegal substance in most US states and for which he has a medical licence to do so due to him suffering from social anxiety.

Gustafsson look for redemption

UFC 192 goes down this weekend where Daniel Cormier will look to defend his UFC light-heavyweight title taking on Swedish fighter Alexander in Houston, Texas. This is a fantastic fight on merit and Cormier is a worthy champion. However, the shadow of Jon Jones looms large over Cormier’s title reign.

Jones was suspended by the UFC and stripped of his title after he allegedly fled the scene of a hit and run. Its reported he returned to the car to collect a large amount of cash and reports stated a number of drug paraphernalia was found in the vehicle. Jones’ hearing is scheduled soon and the outcome will decide how soon he returns.

Jones beat Gustafsson in his sixth title defence in 2013. He beat Cormier in his eighth defence in January this year. He was then stripped and suspended in April after the hit and run incident.

Though Jones is not available for work and Cormier is the bona fide champion but there is a belief that any champion during Jones hiatus is merely keeping the belt polished till his return.

Regardless, Saturday’s main event should be a cracking contest and we may see another UFC title come back to Europe to join ladies straw-weight world champion, Polish fighter Joanna Jędrzejczyk.

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