UFC 218 recap: Holloway retains title, Ngannou ends it early

The UFC 218 card featured a combination of title fights and title eliminators. In an action-packed night, six of the seven preliminary fights ended in a finish, including a fight of the night (and maybe year) candidate. The main event didn’t disappoint with another fight of the night candidate in the highly anticipated ‘TUF coaches’ fight. The UFC’s Heavyweight division gets a much needed boost with rising star Francis Ngannou proving he’s the real deal making quick work of Alistair Overeem. In the headliner, Jose Aldo replaced an injured Frankie Edgar to get a rematch for the featherweight title he lost six months ago but Max Holloway once again proved it’s his time now.

 

Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo

In a rematch from just six months ago both fighters came out cautious early. Holloway threw jabs and Aldo waits almost a full minute before throwing his first strike. Both fighters did a good job of avoiding serious damage. Aldo lands a couple of leg kicks but his eye was cut thanks to the Holloway jab. Holloway was showboating a bit and landing some counters but Aldo ends the round with a huge uppercut, by far the best strike of the round for either fighter. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 Holloway.

Aldo started to find his range a little early in the second round. Strikes were landing for both guys but nothing significant. Two minutes in the round and Aldo had already landed more leg kicks than he did in the entire first fight. They clinched and Aldo threw Holloway to the ground but he got right back up. Holloway scored a flurry late in the round starting with a spinning back kick and attempting a flying knee. Close round. The MMA Takeover scored it 10-9 for Aldo (19-19).

In the third round both fighters opened up aggressive but Holloway’s gas tank is never empty and Aldo’s was. Aldo was putting everything into his punches and every strike drained him even more. Aldo fell into the fight Holloway wanted and Holloway was taking full advantage. Aldo’s face was bloody and Holloway wouldn’t let up. It was a slugfest but Holloway was just technically better. He was able to get the fight to the ground and from there it was over. Aldo showed so much heart surviving as long as he did and the referee gave him plenty of chances to recover but this fight was over as Holloway was relentless and rained down uncontested strikes. “And still”. Max Holloway beats Jose Aldo by 3rd round TKO (punches).

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

Overeem runs in with a left early and goes for the clinch. Foot stomps by Ngannou against the cage but not much other action. Ref steps in and separated them and they got back to the action. I hope you didn’t blink because seconds later ‘BOOM’. Ngannou lands a left hook to the chin of Overeem that knocks him out cold. Doubters have been silenced. If I were Miocic I may delay coming back. Ngannou is scary. Francis Ngannou beats Alistair Overeem by 1st round KO (punch).

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

In this flyweight title eliminator both fighters came out with leg kicks but not much action early. Cejudo is able to take Pettis down with ease and changes positions from side control to taking the back of Pettis but he wasn’t able to sink in hooks. Pettis was doing a good job of avoiding the hooks and any serious damage. With a minute left Cejudo got in Pettis’guard but nothing doing. With a few seconds left Cejudo lands a hammer fist and a knee to the body from the ground. It was all Cejudo in the first. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Cejudo.

The second round opened up almost exactly the same as the first with both guys feeling each other out and Cejudo getting a takedown around a minute in. Again, not much damage being done by Cejudo although he was clearly controlling the fight. Pettis was able to get up with under a minute left but action was minimal. The MMA Takeover scores another round for Cejudo 10-9 (20-18 after two).

Pettis’ corner was encouraging him to be more aggressive between rounds. Pettis opened the round countering well and stuffing a Cejudo takedown attempt. But Cejudo’s second attempt just over a minute in was successful. It was more of the same for Cejudo on the ground. Pettis was able to get up again with around one minute left and eventually separate. Pettis attempted a takedown late but Cejudo stuffed it right before the bell. This fight wasn’t close. All Cejudo. The MMA Takeover gives him this round 10-9 and all three rounds 30-27. Henry Cejudo beat Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). 

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

In the battle of this season’s TUF 26 coaches, former title contender Alvarez faced Gaethje in a matchup that had all the makings of fight of the night. Gaethje opened up with some huge leg kicks which Alvarez did little to defend. However, it was Alvarez who ended up finding rhythm with his striking and landing some huge body shots. Gaethje cut on the left eye. Both guys had their moments in an extremely close round. The MMA Takeover scored the round 10-9 for Alvarez.

Gaethje mixed it up in the second round landing jabs to control the distance. Both landed clean shots with the right hand and Alvarez followed with a left that landed. Both guys were bleeding by the mid-way point in the round. Gaethje looked like he was gassing and Alvarez was staying busy, especially with the body shots. Alvarez looked like the fresher, more fundamental fighter. Alvarez landed some huge body shots. Gaethje came back with a leg kick. Alvarez ended the round with a big knee. There was massive swelling to Alvarez’s face but The MMA Takeover gave Alvarez another round 10-9 (20-18 after two).

Both guys opened up with jabs and follow with haymakers. Gaethje’s leg kicks started taking their toll and Alvarez was forced to switch stances to southpaw. Alvarez took Gaethje’s back for a moment and got it to the mat but Gaethje got right back up. They clinched and surprisingly it was Alvarez getting the better of those dirty boxing exchanges. Both fighters started to gas but both showing a lot of heart and BOOM, Alvarez lands a perfect knee to the face of Gaethje that collapses Gaethje and Alvarez raises his arms. Referee Herb Dean doesn’t immediately stop the fight, however, and Alvarez followed it up with a couple of light shots. Gaethje is done. What a fight and finish! Eddie Alvarez beats Justin Gaethje by 3rd round TKO (knee and punches). 

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

In a battle of women strawweights, Torres faced off against Waterson in a match that would eliminate one from immediate title contention. They came out swinging with Waterson getting a couple of kicks in and a takedown early. Torres rebounded and finished the first round with momentum.

Waterson got another takedown in the second round and was on top for most of the round, however didn’t do much damage.

It was all Torres in the third round where she was able to control the fight striking and took down a gassed Waterson, flattened her out on the mat, and raining down shots. The fight was close to being stopped but Waterson showed heart to recover and was able to reverse it with seconds left but there wasn’t enough time left for it to matter. It was all Torres in the final round and she gets the decision. Tecia Torres beats Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). 

 

Prelims:

  • Paul Felder beats Charles Oliviera by 2nd round KO (elbows)
  • Yancy Medeiros Alex Oliviera by 3rd round TKO (punches)
  • Felice Herrig beats Cortney Casey by split decision
  • Amanda Cooper beats Angela Magana by 2nd round TKO (punches)
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan beats Sabah Homasi by 1st round TKO (punches)
  • Dominick Reyes beats Jeremy Kimball by 1st round submission (rear-naked choke)
  • Justin Willis beats Allen Crowder by 1st round KO (punches)

 

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