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4 Positives & 2 Negatives From UFC Fight Night: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida

On Saturday night, the mixed martial arts leader returned for its latest event, UFC Fight Night: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida.

After a trip to New Jersey for the May 6 pay-per-view, the sport’s premier promotion remained on the road this week, returning to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first time in five years. And on paper, at least, the UFC brought with it a card worthy of breaking the city’s Octagon drought.

In the headliner, surging heavyweight Jailton Almeida looked to take a step towards contention in his stiffest test to date against knockout artist Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Setting the stage for the big men were a pair of ranked 205lbers, with former title challenger Anthony Smith facing a challenge from below in the always entertaining Johnny Walker.

With the likes of undefeated welterweight prospect Ian Garry, New Zealand powerhouse Carlos Ulberg, and veteran Matt Brown also in action, Saturday’s card looked set to break the run of somewhat underwhelming UFC Fight Nights.

But did that come to fruition? Let’s find out with all the positives and negatives from UFC Charlotte.

Positive – Brutal Battle

What’s better than a win? A hometown win. What’s better than a hometown win? A hometown knockout win. What’s better than a hometown knockout win? A hometown first-round knockout win.

Bryan Battle achieved all of the above when he shut the lights out on Gabe Green in the second fight of the night in Charlotte.

The card opened in entertaining fashion courtesy of Jessica-Rose Clark and Tainara Lisboa, with the latter concluding an impressive promotional debut with a late submission win. But “Pooh Bear” certainly turned the heat up soon after — there’s a sentence I never envisioned writing…

To say that Green came out of the blocks at a rapid pace would be an understatement. He seemingly entered the cage with a mindset and strategy that would see one man stopped in quick time.

Unfortunately for “Gifted,” however, the victim of the fight-ending shot was him.

After backing Battle up against the fence, Green swung one too wild a shot and paid the ultimate price. He was sent to the canvas unconscious courtesy of a brutal right hand in the pocket, a shot that wrote the home favorite’s name in history as the man behind the sixth fastest KO in welterweight history.

Nothing gets a crowd going like a local fighter lighting up an arena with a vicious stoppage. And do I need to say what this is further evidence of?

*cough* stay away from the Apex *cough*

Negative – Kim?

Well, this was a mess.

It’s hard to cover all the negatives that contributed to the horror show that was Ji Yeon Kim vs. Mandy Böhm. I’ll start by eliminating one person from the main blame: referee Larry Carter. Sure, he could have performed certain decisions with a little more conviction and some better timing, but perhaps that’s me nitpicking to pander to those misguiding their anger.

Make no mistake, the biggest fault here lies at the doorstep of Kim, who did everything possible to give the fight away. That included her strategy, which was clearly nowhere near what her team had in mind for her given their repeated cries for her to strike and stop grappling.

Then came the point deductions…

The first was absolute lunacy from Kim, with the South Korean launching a hard push kick at Böhm as the German attempted to exit their grappling position following the round-ending horn. The craziest thing here? Some people are actually criticizing the decision to deduct a point.

Then came the fight-concluding illegal blow, which saw Kim strike her opponent with a knee to the head whilst she was grounded. It’s worth noting that the rule itself is ridiculous. I often find myself rolling my eyes at ONE Championship’s constant attempt to paint their rules and format as better, but knees to a downed opponent is something the Asian promotion absolutely does right.

But UFC fighters have to adhere to certain rules, and the lack of discipline from Kim was questionable, as was the ‘unintentional’ call that may well serve as the referee’s error here. I’m not entirely sure where else Kim could have been aiming. For me, it seemed like a fairly slam-dunk disqualification, and such a call would have avoided the scorecard issues. It also certainly would have felt more appropriate given how the bout ended. Böhm leaving the cage with a decision win felt bizarre. 

The other negative here came from the commentary team, who appeared gobsmacked at the thought of a fighter being deducted points for (*checks notes*) breaking the rules.  The highlight was Daniel Cormier suggesting that a referee deducting points at their own discretion was outrageous — no Daniel, that’s just how it works…

Also, a word on the German victor. Yes, she was hit with an illegal blow and that was by no means her fault, but the response was certainly eyebrow-raising. Her reaction to the shot appeared to be quite delayed and only kicked in once she’d confirmed the ref was stepping in. If Kim’s defeat sees her wash out of the promotion, it’s hard to imagine a different fate awaiting Böhm.

Add all of that into a seemingly never-ending wait for the commission to sort out some messy scorecards and you get an almighty — for lack of a better word — clusterf**k.

Image: Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports

Negative – Now THAT’s Bad Refereeing

Those searching for some reason to blame the referee for how Kim vs. Böhm unfolded soon had a demonstration of a real officiating mistake.

Veteran Cody Stamann shared the cage with Douglas Silva de Andrade at UFC Charlotte, and he made a strong start. But while he landed a slick takedown to assume top position, he was promptly struck with an illegal upkick/push of sorts.

Whether referee Wayne Spinola would have actually stepped in had Stamann not alerted him to the strike is anyone’s guess, but he ultimately did. After pausing and allowing “Spartan” some time, he rightly warned Silva de Andrade before proceeding to start them… standing!?

Oh, the incompetence.

Simply put, the referee awarded the Brazilian’s foul and penalized Stamann for it by confiscating the position he’d earned on the ground.

The talk of the town has long been the perceived issues with judging. I rarely subscribe to that and more often than not see it as an MMA fanbase problem. Consistent refereeing mistakes, however, need to receive more scrutiny.

In this instance, Stamann fell on the wrong side of a decision. Would he have done so had he been given back his position on top following the illegal shot? It’s certainly up for debate.

The very fact that an officiating error potentially played a part in the result is unacceptable.

Positive – Brown Goes Boom

Derrick Lewis is no longer the sole record-holder for the most knockouts in UFC history at 13. “The Black Beast” was joined on the top step on Saturday night courtesy of welterweight veteran Matt Brown.

It’d been close to 14 months since “The Immortal” last entered the Octagon, when he fell on the wrong side of a tight split decision in a three-round war against Bryan Barberena in Columbus.

At the age of 42 and coming off such a lengthy layoff, the question was: had we witnessed the last of Brown’s devastating hands?

That query was answered with an emphatic right hand in round one of his featured preliminary clash with Court McGee, who joined the likes of Diego Sanchez, Mike Swick, and Dhiego Lima as victims of Brown’s renowned power.

Not much beats a one-and-done KO, especially when they come from a seasoned and game veteran like “The Immortal.”

Is 14 on the cards?

Positive – “The Future” Is Here

On Saturday night, Ian Garry took a considerable step towards proving he really is the fighter he claims to be.

While the Irishman had a perfect start to life on MMA’s biggest stage, the age-old question that floats over every rising prospect remained attached to his name ahead of UFC Charlotte: could he do it against top-15 level opposition? 

Yes, yes he can.

“The Future” delivered the performance of his career inside the Spectrum Center, knocking out elite striker Daniel Rodriguez inside one round. As this point in his career, it’s hard to imagine a bigger statement to enter the rankings with than becoming the first to finish “D-Rod” in professional MMA.

Welterweight has a new exciting and charismatic contender, and his name is Ian Garry.

Positive – Heavyweights, Watch out…

Let it be known, Jailton Almeida is the name that the inventor of the word “problem” had in mind.

After showing his destructive nature at 205 pounds, Almeida committed to pursuing success at heavyweight. And thus far, it’s hard to see many stopping him from achieving just that.

Ahead of Saturday’s headliner, much was made over the betting odds, which had “Malhadinho” sat as a -500 favorite. Disrespectful to Jairzinho Rozenstruik? Not taking into account the size difference? Failing to acknowledge the step up in competition?

Nope, just an accurate depiction of Almeida’s talents.

To put it plainly, the UFC Charlotte main event wasn’t close. After one failed takedown attempt, the Brazilian comfortably took Rozenstruik down at the second time of trying and went to work. Just like Almeida’s his past opponents, “Bigi Boy” was helpless as the Brazilian dominated him on the ground en route to a rear-naked choke submission.

With that, there goes another quick and devastating display from Almeida. Ahead of time, the equalizer on Saturday appeared to be Rozenstruik’s power. But if “Malhadinho” continues his trend of brutalizing opponents without getting hit — he has more submission wins in the UFC (three) than significant strikes absorbed (two) — that won’t be a problem.

Welcome to heavyweight contention, Jailton Almeida.

  • Read Also: UFC Fight Night Results & Highlights: Jailton Almeida Submits Jairzinho Rozenstruik

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