Another great night of fights have ended when two knockout artists faced off in a featherweight bout in St. Louis, Missouri. Now it is time to see how the fights went down and how my predictions fared at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi:
Darren Elkins was able to pull off another epic comeback when he faced off against former lightweight Michael Johnson. First he had to weather the storm of “The Menace’s” quick and heavy hands in the first round that left his face bloodied up. Although he was stuffed a few times in the first, “The Damage” was able to get Johnson down to the ground in the second with a perfectly timed takedown and get the rear naked choke for the victory. This must be disheartening for Johnson who was looking to make a splash in the featherweight division. His striking was still pretty crisp and should only look to improve his grappling moving forward. Meanwhile, Elkins has shown that he is a serious threat to anybody in the division and will be looking to face a top ranked fighter in the future.
Winner: Darren Elkins via Submission in Round 2
Kamaru Usman decided to take the safe route in this one when he pressured Emil Meek with his impressive wrestling and grappling to get the decision victory. Had the “Nigerian Nightmare” stood and tried to strike with “Valhalla” then he would more than likely have been able to score the knockout victory. This could have brought him more fans and given him better favorability among Dana White. I still think his performance was awesome due to the number of takedowns he was able to score that slammed his opponent to the mat. Meek should, obviously, look to improve his grappling so that this does not happen again.
Winner: Kamaru Usman via Decision
Paige VanZant’s UFC career has been frustrating to watch I must admit. Every time it looks like she is improving she ends up going back to doing the same thing she has done in almost all of her fights. For instance, that headlock takedown that she uses to throw he opponent over her back and onto the mat has been used by her in just about every fight I have watched of her (I dare you to watch her previous fights and prove me wrong). This takedown is very ineffective though which make me very upset that she still uses it. It almost always gives her opponents her back which is EXACTLY what happened in this fight at the very beginning. Then she has the audacity to try that flying switch kick multiple times against Jessica-Rose Clark just because she was able to get a knockout from it against Bec Rawlings. It just made her too predictable. I’m curious if Team Alpha Male is a good fit for her because I have seen little improvement from a fighter that shows a lot of potential. As for Clark, she was able to do everything she needed to do to beat VanZant. Her grappling and top control was enough to win the first two rounds and then in the third round (with VanZant’s arm being broken) was able to keep VanZant at bay with her boxing. Clark is getting somewhat of a following especially with this win so it will be interesting to see how she does against possibly the champ or another top contender in flyweight (if there are any)
Now we know who da fook he is. Stephens came in and did what he needed to do to silence the haters (and contards) by dismantling fan-favorite Doo Ho Choi. The fight was pretty close in the first round with (in my eyes) Doo Ho Choi winning the round arguably. The second round was where “Lil’ Heathen” was able to get “The Korean Superboy” closer towards the cage wall. This is where Stephens excels at since his ability to pressure fighters with his striking and great power. This is what got him the victory as he dropped Choi with an impressive right hook and then followed up with ground and pound for the victory. Stephens needs to ride this momentum to make this his year. He usually falls short against top contenders so he must continue to improve in his striking defense and grappling that usually leads to his downfall. Choi on the other hand needs to stop using his chin as an excuse for poor striking defense. He has just been too hittable in his prior fights.
Winner: Jeremy Stephens via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 2