The UFC made its return to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday, May 13th. There was a high-energy feeling inside the Spectrum Center that provided a nice change of pace from the APEX Fight Night cards. Despite some controversy with some of the early fights on the prelims, the card was an overall success with some really exciting moments that deserve a more in-depth look.
Seven of the eleven fights ended with finishes providing some spectacular highlights, including the main event in which Jailton Almeida showed why the UFC odds were so lopsided going into the event as he made easy work of Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik locking up a Rear-Naked Choke at 3:43 in the first round. Almeida is set to be one of the Top 10 Heavyweights in the rankings after his win over the former 9th-ranked Rozenstruik. Almeida’s next fight should be against a Top 5 ranked opponent to see if he is ready for a title shot.
One of the flashier finishes of the night came in the second fight of the event in the prelims. Bryan Battle stepped into the cage as a +115 underdog in his hometown against fellow welterweight Gabe Green. Green rushed Battle at the sound of the bell, throwing a flurry of strikes. Battle backed up before finding the perfect counter right that knocked Green out at the 15th second of the first round.
Two veterans of the UFC stepped in the cage together to end the Prelims as Matt Brown and Court McGee faced off against eachother. Fans watched as two fighters with a collective experience of 79 fights went at it. McGee started out with some dominant grappling, at one point having Brown’s back. However, Brown was able to get to his feet, where he was able to find a KO that brought the house to its feet at the 4:09 mark of the first round.
Carlos Ulberg faced off against Ihor Poteiria in what ended up being a one-sided affair. New Zealand’s Ulberg absolutely dominated Poteriria every moment of the 129-second fight. Ulberg found the KO after landing 13 significant strikes to Potieria’s 5, including 11 to the head. The fight ended with Potieria covering up on the ground against the fence as Ulberg released a flurry of strikes. Ulberg is starting to build a resume and name for himself and is definitely someone to watch in the Light Heavyweight Division.
Ian “The Future” Garry is attempting to be the next great fighter out of Ireland, and there is plenty of reason to believe that he could be. He currently has a perfect 12-0 record which includes five wins in the UFC. His win over Daniel “D-Rod” Rodriguez is definitely his most notable win yet, not just in name but also in fashion. He finally had a quick, explosive finish in the UFC, similar to those that he had shown in Cage Warriors. Garry found the TKO at the 2:57 mark of the first round, which will elevate him to the Welterweight rankings.
Johnny Walker took on Anthony Smith in a fight that was originally scheduled to be the main event. Going into the fight, oddsmakers and the betting public were split on who would win as the odds sat as a pick ‘em with each fighter at -110. Though Walker didn’t finish Smith, he didn’t need to. The winner was clear to all watching as Walker just pieced Anthony Smith apart, investing in leg kicks, rendering Anthony Smith immobile for a majority of the 3rd round.
Walker probably could’ve finished Smith if he wanted to in the 3rd but decided to give the veteran fighter Smith space and the respect to take go to the scorecards. This was only Walker’s second win via decision, and though it wasn’t the most entertaining fight, it put Walker back on the map as a top contender showing that he isn’t reliant on flashy finishes to win.
Coming into the week all of the hype surrounding this fight was around Lisboa’s opponent Jessica-Rose Clark who was making her long awaited return to the cage after almost a year without a fight. Though coming in an as a sizable underdog Lisboa showed no fear dominating Clark throughout the entirety of the fight.
Lisboa landed 97 total strikes to Jessica-Rose Clark’s 28. Lisboa also showed great takedown defense staying on her feet for a majority of the fight only allowing Clark to lank 1/7 of her take down attempts. Lisboa ultimately was able to find the rear-naked choke in the 4:20 mark of the 3rd round.
Alex “The Great White” Morono came into this one off of a spirited performance against Satiago Ponzinibbio back in December of last year in which Morono stepped up on short notice to take on the fight. Morono was able to show a spirited back and forth with the argentinian before being knocked out in the 3rd round. Though he lost the fight he made a ton of fans.
This past week he proved to his new found fans that his short notice performance was no fluke and that he is a real threat against Tim Means. The first round was a fun brawl, however the highlight was Morono taking advantage of an overly aggressive take down from Means, quickly grabbing Means neck and locking up the guillotine choke at the 2:09 mark of the 2nd round.
UFC’s return to Charlotte was a great success with many flashy finishes that gave the Carolinians the excitement they’d been missing. With a ton of stand out performances you can expect to see these many of these fighters on cards again sooner rather than later. Who knows maybe one of them will even get the belt.