Wow. That's all I can start with. What a card, what a show, what a city, what an incredible chain of events the world got to witness here in my home city. I was there at Etihad Stadium to witness history, along with my brother for his birthday.
Struve v Rosholt
Starting with Struve v Rosholt. Quite easily the worst fight of the card, given that there was very little action, very few punches thrown, I expected a lot more out of this bout. Considering how good Struve looked coming off his unanimous decision win over the legendary Antonio Noguiera, I had hoped for a hungry and determined Struve. Rosholt didn't seem like a particularly difficult opponent either, his takedowns the only highlight of the fight. Some of the prelim fights were better than this. Very dull, and just utterly disappointing.
Winner: Jared Rosholt, unanimous decision
Robert Whittaker v Uriah Hall
This one was as good as I had predicted. As I had predicted in my earlier blog, this one went the full three rounds, and was hard to pick a winner. Whittaker showed some impressive striking, evasion and counters, while Hall displayed his usual athleticism and gracefulness. Unfortunately for him, that doesn't win you points on the judges scorecard. From the word go, Whittaker showed grit and determination like a madman on a mission, and their exchanges were fantastic to watch. Neither of them completely dominated the other, both fighters did have their solid hits and moments, but ultimately Whittaker did more damage and showed a range of skills in the stand up and on the ground. Great fight, and I'm happy Whittaker won.
Winner: Robert Whittaker, unanimous decision
Mark Hunt v Antonio Silva
The rematch between giants definitely lived up to expectations. We knew this fight would definitely not go down the same way it did back in 2013 in Brisbane. The Melbourne crowd silently believed that Hunt would knock out Bigfoot, but nobody would dare say it out loud. Sure enough, Hunt FINALLY finished someone by ground and pound, not settling for a one punch knockout. Hunt looked more active, quicker and generally fitter than what he did in his previous two fights against heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum and Stipe Miocic.
As I had also expected, Bigfoot was showing massive signs of slowing down in his movements and punches. He may be heavy handed, but it doesn't take much for his opponents to run around him and find an opening. Hunt can still dance with some of the UFC's top 10, but for Bigfoot I can't help but feel his is a big step towards the end of his UFC career. Nonetheless, it was definitely satisfying to see the Kiwi born Aussie notch up another impressive win.
Winner: Mark Hunt, TKO round 1
Joanna Jedrzejcyzk v Valerie Letourneau
Now just because these girls are the lightest competitors in the UFC, by no means does this undermine their abilities to fight. I have to apologise to Valerie Letourneau for writing her off prior to this fight. A fantastic exchange between two similar fighters took this fight to the distance, Letourneau was landing hits and pushing the champ to her limits. I'd even thought to myself, Jedrzejczyk has to be careful, otherwise she could actually lose here. It was akin to a tactical game of chess, both fighters picking their shots carefully and strategically, not just coming out swinging wildly.
It ended in decision win for Jedrzejczyk, but a big step in Letourneau's MMA career. The statistics weren't far apart either, only a handful of punches and kicks the difference. The packed crowd inside the Etihad applauded her efforts as she gave an emotional speech after the fight, and personally I've got a new found respect for Letourneau. She came in humbly, fought the champion on her level and accepted defeat. A fight that will go down in both fighter's history as a great back and forth battle.
Winner: Jedrzejczyk, unanimous decision. Remains the UFC Strawweight champion.
Rate: 9/10, never a dull moment
Ronda Rousey v Holly Holm
The fight that changed the landscape of MMA as we know it. The kick that echoed around the world, and is still echoing. All I'm hearing is about Rousey's loss, Rousey's injured face, Rousey Rousey Rousey Rousey. Never mind the fact we have a new bantamweight champion people!
"If you can make God bleed, people will cease to believe in him." (Yes, I did just use an Iron Man quote)
Now, in no way am I comparing Ronda Rousey to God, but the point of that quote is to say she is human after all. She was served a great big slice of humble pie as Holly Holm did the impossible and landed her trademark head kick to knock Rousey out. From the first round, it was easy to see that Holm had the stand up battle covered. In recent months, everyone had been talking about how impressive Rousey's boxing skills are. Sure, for a judoka or MMA fighter, her boxing skills are pretty great for someone who rolls around on the ground a lot. But when you come up against a former boxing and kick boxing world champion, she was never going to outbox Holm in the striking department. Rousey displayed more arrogance by refusing to touch gloves before the fight, a move that definitely made her look all the more foolish after being knocked out.
I had said before the fight Holm would challenge Rousey's stand up game and fight from a distance. Did I think she would win? Absolutely not. I didn't believe in fairy tales until then. An incredible ending to a hell of a card. Those of us who were there can say we witnessed history. Congratulations Holly Holm on doing the impossible. You are now the only undefeated competitor in the Bantamweight division.
Winner: Holly Holm, KO round 2
Rate: 10/10. Never have I freaked out so much in my life.