Card recap: UFC 246 – McGregor returns in style with record-breaking win
THE KING is back, with Conor McGregor becoming the first UFC fighter to claim knockout victories across the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions after accounting for Donald Cerrone within 40 seconds. It was the showpiece bout of a card which otherwise favoured the experience of MMA veterans, with a range of skills on show from top to bottom.
POTN bonuses: McGregor, Oleinik, Kelleher, Ferreira, Dober
Round 1 – McGregor comes out swinging with a huge left, but Cerrone ducks under it well. That puts the two in a clinch, with McGregor landing four vicious shoulder strikes to bust up Cowboy’s nose. A head kick over Cerrone’s guard clips him and spells the beginning of the end, with Herb Dean allowing plenty of time for Cerrone to recover and fight back in the face of some precise ground-and-pound. He doesn’t, it’s over.
Fight-ending sequence: McGregor lands a left high kick on the chin and begins a beatdown on the ground, picking his shots to give Herb Dean no choice but to step in. The King is back.
W. BANTAMWEIGHT | Holly Holm [#3] def. Raquel Pennington [#5] | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27
Round 1 – 10-9 Holm
An early feeling out process sees Pennington looking to breach the kicking range set up by Holm’s wicked front leg. They clinch after two minutes with Holm holding Pennington against the fence, pushing her weight through and maintaining good head position to keep Pennington there. Not much action as Holm dictates the position with superior strength, earning points for the round.
Round 2 – 10-9 Holm (20-18)
Pennington looks to charge forward again with flurries, not fussed by Holm’s power or counter striking prowess. Holm manages to lock up again and pushes Pennington back toward the fence, wearing down the power punching arms of her opponent with a grinding clinch. Pennington switches the position but is muscled back multiple times, pushed swiftly back to the position after a momentary disengagement. Another dominant round for the former champ.
Round 3 – 10-9 Holm (30-27)
Pennington beings to land early with that right hand as Holm looks to keep the distance, while locking up whenever Pennington gets close. Pennington now engages a clinch against the cage but is easily reversed, and Holm breaks away. Each query from Pennington is answered comprehensively, with the clinch again allowing Holm a straightforward round win. A late break from referee Jason Herzog, and the crowd is seemingly unimpressed by Holm’s tactics – but who cares.
We had it: 30-27 Holm – Dominant in each round, had an answer for everything and worked the clinch beautifully.
HEAVYWEIGHT | Aleksei Oleinik def. [#12] Maurice Greene | Submission (Armbar) 4:38 Rd 2
Grappling of the highest level was on show as Aleksei Oleinik managed to submit the man who seemingly would not tap, Maurice Greene in Round 2. Coming up against an out-and-out veteran of MMA, Greene gained a heap of respect for his nous on the ground and willingness to engage there, withstanding some vicious submission attempts in the process. One of them was a minute-long scarf hold grip with Oleinik in mount, but the Russian was unable to yield a tap with his customary ezekiel choke. The wrestling and transitions were made to look easy, but the finish was far from it as Oleinik’s arms were burnt out early upon Greene’s resistance. ‘The Boa Constrictor’ broke through eventually to notch a 58th professional win, and in style.
Fight-ending sequence: Greene remarkably defends the armbar for time with his knee/thigh after giving up the position, but eventually yields as the hold tightened.
BANTAMWEIGHT | Brian Kelleher def. Ode Osbourne | Submission (Guillotine) 2:49 Rd 1
Brian Kelleher took full advantage of the late-notice main card opportunity afforded to him, claiming his 20th professional win and sixth via guillotine against Contender Series alum, Ode Osbourne. The experience and nous of the American proved too much for the Jamaican, who was making his promotional debut, and he looked comfortable after some speedy attacks from Osbourne to start the bout. He landed a big takedown early to go to work in Osbourne’s guard, working away to get the opportunity. When it arose, he took it ruthlessly.
Fight-ending sequence: Osbourne exposed his neck in trying to get up against the fence, with Kelleher grabbing the guillotine and locking it in nicely in time to have Osbourne tapping with his foot.
LIGHTWEIGHT | Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Anthony Pettis [#9 WW] | Submission (Rear-naked choke) 1:46 Rd 2
Diego Ferreira gifted himself the perfect 35th birthday present, putting on a superb show of grappling to submit former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. Ferreira started out with an interesting ploy on the feet, coming in with his leg up to avoid those nasty ‘Showtime’ leg kicks. But he moved to more conventional and comfortable work in the clinch, wrestling Pettis to the ground with ease from against the fence and working to back mount. While Pettis managed to spin out from Ferreira’s grasp in Round 1, the Brazilian worked beautifully back into position in the following stanza to put his fellow BJJ black belt away. While he looked to have a limp on post-fight, the long-underrated Ferreira puts himself right into the lightweight rankings frame with a sixth consecutive victory.
Fight-ending sequence: Ferreira grabs a body kick and uses it to get Pettis to the mat, transitioning to back mount before locking in what looked like a neck crank for the quick tap.
W. FLYWEIGHT | Roxanne Modafferi [#7] def. Maycee Barber [#9] | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-26
We will have to wait a little longer for ‘The Future’ to truly arrive after Maycee Barber was comprehensively shut down by wily flyweight veteran Roxanne Modafferi. Much was made of Barber’s obvious and unfortunate knee injury in the second round after she was dropped while moving back from a grazing jab, but Modafferi was brilliant nonetheless and showcased her superior grappling in a ruthless display to hand Barber her first professional loss. Barber could be heard crying out upon being taken down again in the third round, but fought on valiantly to work a couple of submission attempts and ground-and-pound amid Modafferi’s dominance.
We had it: 30-27 Modafferi – great display, and an easy decision with potential for a 10-8 in there.
FEATHERWEIGHT | Sodiq Yusuff def. Andre Fili | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff extended his undefeated UFC record to 4-0, scraping a tight decision win over Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili. In what was somewhat a risky ploy, the Nigerian seemed to coast to the decision during Round 3, with Fili having success with a switch to southpaw. Yusuff’s power was on show early as the two wasted no time in swinging on the feet, but Fili landed some well-timed takedowns in the first. The second round was Yusuff’s best, affecting a couple of powerful low kicks before dominating with four minutes of top position on the ground. His strength was evident in those exchanges, and Yusuff’s jiu jitsu came to the fore – proving he is more than a heavy hitter. A tight decision in the end which could have gone either way, but a ranked opponent is surely up next for the Contender Series alum.
We had it: 29-28 Fili – Razor thin, Fili gets Round 1 due to the takedowns, Yusuff dominates Round 2, and Fili easily takes 3 with forward movement and more strikes.
FLYWEIGHT | Askar Askarov [#12] def. Tim Elliott [#7] | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27
Undefeated sambo specialist Askar Askarov claimed the biggest scalp of his undefeated professional career, trumping former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott via unanimous decision. The Russian almost had the fight finished early as he stunned Elliott with a slick boxing combination in Round 1, but Elliott survived and cleared out the cobwebs from the bottom as the fight transitioned to the mat. Round 2 was arguably the closest, with Elliott landing three beautiful throws to get Askarov down, but the Russian kept landing heavier blows and brought the same accuracy into Round 3. ‘Bullet’ finished well, moving backwards but finding the chin of Elliott with that cracking boxing.
We had it: 29-28 Askarov – Rounds 1 and 3 to the winner at least, a straightforward decision.
LIGHTWEIGHT | Drew Dober def. Nasrat Haqparast | TKO (Punches) 1:10 Rd 1
Drew Dober overcame the bookies’ odds to claim a beautifully worked TKO win over one of the promotion’s brightest up-and-comers in Nasrat Haqparast. Both men set about bouncing around on the feet early, with Haqparast somewhat overextending in his attempt to land those typcial power blows. But the technical Dober waited for his shot, taking it well just over a minute into the first round to put the youngster away.
Fight-ending sequence: Dober lands a stiff left hook as Haqparast attempts a kick, leaving his head on the centre line. It drops him, and he finishes with some vicious ground-and-pound.
EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD:
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT | Aleksa Camur def. Justin Ledet | Decision (Unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27
In five words: Young stud hits the bigtime.
W. FLYWEIGHT | Sabina Mazo def. JJ Aldrich | Decision (Split) 28-29, 29-28, 29-28
In five words: Don’t let the judges decide!