UFC 221 Main Event Recap – a passing of the guard

UFC 221 was a passing of the guard to the next generation of Australian MMA superstars, and now that it’s all said and done, one of the most exciting UFC events the continent has seen.

Australians, Tyson Pedro, Jake Mathews and Tai Tuivasa kicked off the night with three career best performances. Unfortunately, Mark Hunt was unable to join them in the win column. While as one might expect from a Rockhold or Romero fight, Perth Arena was treated to fireworks, with Romero ultimately getting it done in the third.

After Whittaker was forced to pull out of the main event, few outside of Oceania thought much of Perth’s inaugural UFC card. However, Australian and New Zealand fighters were determined to put on a show, and with five transports to the hospital across the entire event, they laid it all on the line to deliver. Overall, Perth was a resounding success, despite all the post-fight drama.

Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via Submission (Kimura), Rd 1, 3:54

Tyson Pedro came out to a deafening roar that would follow every Australian fighter out to the cage for the rest of the night. The bout started with a miss from Safarov and a vicious leg kick from Pedro, ending up in an early Safarov takedown. It didn’t take long for Pedro to make it back to his feet, and though he never looked in serious trouble a couple of moments throughout the fight it seemed he could be in danger. However, the fight ended in the first round when Pedro succeeded in pulling of an extremely impressive kimura and sweep, securing the victory late in the first.

Jake Matthews def. Li Jingliang via Decision (Unanimous)

Jake Mathews and Li Jingliang put on the fight of the night along with a little controversy. Both fighters came out swinging, with Mathews finding his target first with a big left followed by a right. Jingliang came back with some punches of his own before being sent flying to the canvas courtesy of a Matthews left hand. Mathews finished the first on top of Jingliang firing off ground and pound. In the second Mathews was able to take Jingliang down aearly, attempting a guillotine, but a vicious eye gouge from Jingliang prevented the finish – the foul went unnoticed by the referee. Not to be discouraged, a bloody Mathews and steel chinned Jingliang swung for the fences, neither able to finish in the second. Third round went much same way, with neither fighter willing to back down, lots of excitement and ending with the final bell. Matthews was ultimately given the unanimous decision, putting him back in the win column.

Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (Strikes), Rd 1, 2:18

The bout between Tai Tuivasa and Cyril Asker wasn’t expected to go the distance, it didn’t. Asker throwing a small offering of significant punces early, before suffering one of the most devastating beatings in UFC history. Having absorbed the best Asker had to offer, like he would a mosquito bite, Tuivasa proceeded to Pound Asker with elbows and vicious punches to body and head – before pushing him with one hand to the floor. The referee was then forced to step in to prevent any further damage.

Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via Decision (Unanimous)

Three from three for the crowd favourites, all eyes were on Mark Hunt to complete the clean sweep. As might have been expected from a fighter facing Mark Hunt, Blaydes went for the takedown early on and secured it. However, Blaydes was unable to keep the ‘Super Samoan’ down for long and paid for it with a huge right hand, staggering him. It looked like the crowd was going to get the finish they desired early, but Blaydes managed to scramble another takedown. After the first round Hunt was visibly tired and unable to keep Blaydes off him for the remainder of the fight. Blaydes cruised to a lacklustre unanimous decision.

Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (Punch), Rd 3, 1:48

The first round of the main-event saw both fighters trying to take each other’s legs out from underneath them, with sickening determination -leaving Rockhold’s shin bleeding and Romero covered in welts. The second round both fighters let their hands fly a little more, with Romero bursting out periodically with flurries of punches, and Rockhold throwing some nice short combos. In the third, Romero came out strong eating a few jabs on the way, before unleashing a left hand on Rockhold’s forehead, dropping him. A final left hand rained down on the dazed Rockhold, knocking him out cold.

Results Main Card (PPV):

  • Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (Punch), Rd 3, 1:48
  • Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (Strikes), Rd 1, 2:18
  • Jake Matthews def. Li Jingliang via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via Submission (Kimura), Rd 1, 3:54

Results Preliminary Card (Fox Sports):

  • Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via Decision (Split)
  • Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (Strikes), Rd 2, 3:37
  • Alex Volkanovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (Ground and Pound), Rd 2, 4:57
  • Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Rd 3, 1:43

Results Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass):

  • Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Hirota via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Jose Quinonez def. Teruto Ishihara via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via Decision (Unanimous)

UFC 221 Preliminary card recap: Adesanya and Volkanovski shine in Perth

Bangkok, Thailand based freelance journalist, I grew up in Brisbane hitting pads and getting choked out, when I’m not watching fights, I’m researching fights, writing about fights and pretending I can fight.