UFC Fight Night Report: Jose Aldo defeats Rob Font by unanimous decision
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event saw Rob Font face Jose Aldo, in what was sure to be a fantastic fight between two of the top bantamweights in the world. Going into this fight, Font had strung together a very impressive four fight win streak, picking up strong wins against the likes of Marlon Moraes, Cody Garbrandt, Ricky Simon, and Sergio Pettis. A win against Aldo would be more than enough to cement Font as the top contender in the division, but this would be toughest test of his career thus far. For Aldo, this marked the legendary featherweights fifth bantamweight bout, and despite going 2-2 throughout his previous fights in the division, Aldo has largely impressed since making the drop down to 135lbs. Rob Font was certainly a stylistically tough fight for Aldo on paper, but Aldo is considered an all time great of this sport for a reason, and even years removed from his lengthy title reign, Aldo remains one of the most talented and creative fighters in the world. The co-main featured another strong fight, this time in the lightweight division, as Brad Riddell looked to defend his spot in the rankings against Rafael Fiziev.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Michael Bisping, and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Clay Guida, Chris Curtis, Jamahal Hill, and Rafael Fiziev. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Cheyanne Vlismas and Mallory Martin.
*Vince Morales def. Louis Smolka by KO at 2:02 of Round 1
*Claudio Puelles def. Chris Gruetzemacher by kneebar at 3:25 of Round 3
*William Knight def. Alonzo Menifield by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Cheyanne Vlismas def. Mallory Martin by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Bryan Barberena def. Darian Weeks by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Manel Kape def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov by TKO at 4:02 of Round 1
*Dusko Todorovic def. Maki Pitolo by TKO at 4:34 of Round 1
*Alex Morono def. Mickey Gall by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Chris Curtis def. Brendan Allen by TKO at 1:58 of Round 2
*Clay Guida def. Leonardo Santos by rear-naked choke at 1:21 of Round 2
*Jamahal Hill def. Jimmy Crute by KO at 0:48 of Round 1
*Rafael Fiziev def. Brad Riddell by TKO at 2:20 of Round 3
*Jose Aldo def. Rob Font by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
LOUIS SMOLKA (17-7, 135.5) VS VINCE MORALES (10-5, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Morales attacked the body heavily in the opening minute. Smolka attempted to engage Morales in the clinch, but he got caught by a huge right hand on the break, and it knocked Smolka unconscious.
WINNER: Vince Morales by KO at 2:02 of Round 1
Morales was heavily focused on attacking the body throughout the short duration of this fight, but it was a big right hook that caught Smolka clean that ultimately ended this fight early. After five fights in the UFC without a finish, this was exactly the type of performance that Morales needed to boost his standing in the talent stacked bantamweight division, where he is now 3-3. Morales called out Nathaniel Wood in his post-fight interview.
CLAUDIO PUELLES (10-2, 155) VS CHRIS GRUETZEMACHER (15-4, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Gruetzemacher connected with a right hand, as well as a pair of body kicks early. Puelles quickly took Gruetzemacher down, where he began to work from his guard. Gruetzemacher attempted to use the cage to work his way back to his feet, but he was unsuccessful, and Puelles postured up in full mount, where he began to throw down ground and pound. A strong round for Puelles.
Gruetzemacher defended the first takedown attempt of round two from Puelles, and took top position. Puelles quickly threw up a triangle, which resulted in Gruetzemacher revaluating his strategy, and the fight returning to the feet. Puelles went for a high kick and pressed forward, seemingly with a speed advantage over Gruetzemacher. He did good work on the feet for the remainder of the round, and I scored this round in his favour as well.
Puelles was caught by a knee that landed low, moments into the final round. When the action resumed, Gruetzemacher was fighting aggressively, which resulted in Puelles shooting for a takedown. Gruetzemacher defended successfully, and proceeded to take Puelles down himself. This proved to be disastrous for Gruetzemacher, as Puelles rolled for a kneebar, straightened it out, and forced Gruetzemacher to submit.
WINNER: Claudio Puelles by kneebar at 3:25 of Round 3
There was a moment in the second round, where Gruetzemacher decided to engage Puelles on the ground, and on commentary, Michael Bisping just repeatedly told him to get up, questioning the wisdom of Gruetzemacher’s choice to grapple with Puelles. Gruetzemacher made that same decision in round three, and this time it cost him, with Puelles quickly locking in the fight ending kneebar. For Puelles, this was his fourth consecutive win, and his second kneebar finish since joining the UFC. He is now 4-1 in the promotion.
ALONZO MENIFIELD (11-2, 205.5) WILLIAM KNIGHT (10-2, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYEIGHT
Knight attempted to trip Menifield to the ground in the opening minute, but Menifield was able to use Knights momentum against him, and took top position on the ground, where he began to work from side control. Knight scrambled onto Menifield’s back, searching for a rear naked choke. Menifield defended successfully, and returned to his feet. Menifield wasted no time in attempting to bring the fight back to the ground, but Knights defence held up, and they separated with a minute remaining in the round. Menifield was tagging Knight on the feet, but got too aggressive, and Knight dropped him hard with a left hook. Knight did his best to finish Menifield, but Menifield was able to hang on until the end of the round. 10-9 Knight.
Menifield seemed to have fully recovered between rounds, and overwhelmed Knight with strikes against the cage early in round two, prompting Knight to flee to the other side of the cage. Menifield was constantly finding a home for his right hand, and they were hurting Knight every time they landed. Knight picked up the aggression slightly in the second half of the round, but the numbers were still heavily in favour of Menifield throughout this second round. 19-19.
Knight defended a takedown from Menifield, but found himself with his back pressed against the cage for the near entirety of this round. They broke apart with a minute remaining in the fight, and Knight pressed forwards in search of a finish, but it didn’t come, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Knight.
WINNER: William Knight by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Cormier and Bisping debated the scoring of the third round after the decision was read. Bisping argued that according to the scoring criteria, Knight should be awarded the round based off oof damage and offensive output, while Cormier believed that Menifield’s control time against the cage won him the round. I agreed with Bisping here, as did the judges. Menifield just didn’t have do enough offensively with his control time to take that third round based on the scoring criteria, and Knight’s aggression in the final minute stole him back a round that wasn’t looking good for him beforehand. Knight is now 3-1 in the UFC.
CHEYANNE VLISMAS (6-2, 115.5) VS MALLORY MARTIN (7-4, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Both fighters found success on the feet throughout round one, which was largely a kick boxing match. Martin pressed forward, attempting to catch Vlismas circled the cage with looping hooks. Vlismas was countering well, out landing Martin throughout the round, but the strike count was close, and that was largely what this round came down to. 10-9 Vlismas.
The commentary team speculated that Martin may have injured her lead hand in the previous round. Vlismas continued to do good work offensively while circling away from Martin’s offence, and she seemed to be taking control of this fight as it progressed. Martin attempted to change levels and take Vlismas down, but Vlismas was able to defend the takedown, and the fight continued on the feet, where Vlismas continued to get the better of their exchanges. 20-18 Vlismas.
Martin pursued the takedown with more aggression in the final round. Vlismas was able to use the cage to remain on her feet, but found herself with her back to the cage for a significant portion of the round. In the final minutes, they broke apart, and Vlismas got back to work offensively. I thought she did enough to take this round as well, and I scored this fight 30-27 in favour of Vlismas.
WINNER: Cheyanne Vlismas by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
It was a competitive fight, but Vlismas was a step ahead in the striking department in my opinion, giving Martin a great deal of trouble with her jabs on the counter, as well as her general hand speed. Cheyanne Vlismas (formerly Cheyanne Buys) took this fight on short notice, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from her impressive cardio throughout this fifteen-minute fight. She is now 2-1 in the UFC.
BRYAN BARBERENA (15-8, 170.5) VS DARIAN WEEKS (5-0, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
Barberena defended takedown attempts of Weeks throughout the first round, while he attacked the lead leg of Weeks with leg kicks. Weeks was not interested in brawling with Barberena, and Barberena was not fighting aggressively either, not wanting to give Weeks an opening to take him down. I gave Barberena the round based on the damage done from his leg kicks, but it was a close one. 10-9 Barberena.
Weeks immediately took Barberena down to begin round two. Barberena threw up an armbar from his back, and while he wasn’t successful with the submission, he was able to escape to his feet following the attempt. Barberena caught Weeks with a short elbow, as well as a straight left hand to the body. Barberena was starting to fight with more aggression, but had largely abandoned the leg kicks that proved effective in round one. There were some wild exchanges on the feet throughout the second half of this round, with both men landing at a similar rate. Barbera poured it on in the final minute, finishing the round strongly. 19-19 Barberena.
Weeks continued to pursue takedowns in round three, but Barberena’s takedown defence held up strongly. Barberena dug into the body in combination, which Weeks responded to with hooks up top. Despite eating some heavy shots from Barberena, Weeks was still very much in this fight, doing his best to match Barberena’s activity. Those body shots from Barberena seemed to be the difference maker though, which led to Barberena eventually pulling away on the strike count, and he ended the round with a left hook that wobbled Weeks. 29-28 Barberena.
WINNER: Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a very close fight, but I ultimately saw it the same way as the judges. Despite a bit of a slow start, this became more and more of a Bryan Barberena fight each round. While he abandoned the leg kicks from round one, Barberena found success with body shots in round three, and it really felt as though he couldn’t miss every time he decided to attack the body of Weeks late. Despite not getting his arm raised in the end, I thought this was a very impressive performance from Weeks in his UFC debut, given his lack of experience and the level of competition he was making his promotional debut against in Barberena.
MANEL KAPE (16-6, 125.5) VS ZHALGAS ZHUMAGULOV (14-5, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
These fighters wasted little time before they began to brawl. Zhumagulov landed the first big shot of the fight, a right hand that knocked Kape back. Zhumagulov was fighting with constant pressure, giving Kape no room to get comfortable. Despite this, I thought Kape was reading Zhumagulov’s timing well, dodging the majority of his big strikes. A left hook followed by a right hand from Kape knocked Zhumagulov down, and as Zhumagulov attempted to pick himself up and recover, Kape just swarmed him with strikes against the cage, throwing constantly until Zhumagulov returned to the ground, ending the fight.
WINNER: Manel Kape by TKO at 4:02 of Round 1
It wasn’t a lengthy fight, but it was fun while it lasted. Khumagulov was fighting very aggressively, and while that led to early success, it also gave Kape plenty of opportunities to get a read on his timing, and once Kape had Zhumagulov figured out, it felt as though it would just be a matter of time before the momentum of the fight shifted. The finish was remarkable, with Kape’s ridiculous hand speed on full display. After starting his UFC tenure with two consecutive losses, we’ve seen back-to-back first round knockouts from Kape, and it’s became evident why the former RIZIN bantamweight champion was regarded so highly when he made his promotional debut last year.
MAKI PITOLO (13-8, 184.5) VS DUSKO TODOROVIC (10-2, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Pitolo started the fight off strongly, landing hard leg kicks as well as heavy hooks that were repeatedly tagging Todorovic. Todorovic decided to change levels and bring this fight to the ground, and while he was nearly caught in a guillotine in the process, Todorovic was ultimately successful, and began to work from the guard of Pitolo. Todorovic sliced through his guard, and moved into full munt with a minute remaining. Todorovic flattened Pitolo out, and threw down heavy ground and pound until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Dusko Todorovic by TKO at 4:34 of Round 1
Things were looking good for Pitolo on the feet, but the second Todorovic got the fight to the ground, the fight changed entirely. Todorovic appeared to be the much stronger grappler, and easily worked his way into a position to finish the fight, which he quickly did. After back-to-back losses, this was a much-needed win for Todorovic, who is now 2-2 in the UFC. This marked Pitolo’s fourth straight loss, and his 1-5 promotional record raises questions as to what’s next for him in the UFC.
ALEX MORONO (20-7, 1 NC, 170.5) VS MICKEY GALL (7-3, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Neither fighter was terribly active throughout the first half of the opening round. Morono was getting the better of their exchanges whenever they would step in to trade shots, but Gall seemed slightly ahead in terms of activity. Gall eventually stepped in to a hard jab from Morono, and the shot dropped Gall. Morono followed him to the ground in an attempt to finish the fight, but Gall was able to wrap him up for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Morono.
The fight continued on the feet in round two, with both fighters landing strong shots in the opening minutes. Gall backed Morono up with a left hand at one point, and seemed to be comfortable striking with Morono, not really making any attempts to bring the fight to the ground. They exchanged looping hooks, which nearly resulted in the fighters colliding heads a few times. Morono stuffed a takedown to end the round. 20-18 Morono.
Morono began round three with a heavy right hand. The fighters continued to exchange looping punches, with Morono seemingly slightly ahead in terms of damage. Morono outlanded Gall by a wide enough margin throughout this round that I felt comfortable scoring the third in his favour. 30-27 Morono.
WINNER: Alex Morono by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Aside from the knockdown in round one, this fight was largely the same sequence on repeat. Both fighters were content to exchange these looping punches, and while Gall held his own, Morono is certainly the more experienced striker of the two, and outlanded Gall consistently. Gall was not aggressive in pursuing takedowns, and one has to question if that was a mistake in strategy for the skilled grappler. Morono has now won three consecutive fights, and holds a promotional record of 10-4 (1 NC).
BRENDAN ALLEN (17-4, 185.5) VS CHRIS CURTIS (27-8, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
It took Allen about thirty seconds to make his way to the back of Curtis against the cage, but he was unable to really get the positioning necessary to stay there, and Curtis shook him off. Allen was doing good work on the feet, mixing up his offence in creative fashion. Curtis threw back with some solid combinations, catching Allen with a head kick as well. Late in the round Allen rolled for a heel hook, but it was defended by Curtis, who ended the round on top.
Curtis started focusing on the body in round two. Allen responded with hooks up top in an attempted to deter him, but the body shots kept coming, and Curtis eventually followed a left hand to the body up with a brutal right hook that rocked Allen badly, and he just swarmed Allen with strikes against the cage, dropping him with knees to the head, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Chris Curtis by TKO at 1:58 of Round 2
The first round was very competitive, and I actually thought Allen seemed to be a step ahead, but the momentum of the fight shifted quickly when Curtis began to zero in on the body in round two, and the hook he landed to rock Allen was perfectly timed. Allen has had a very strong run thus far in the UFC, so this was really a great win for Chris Curtis, who (likely) ends 2021 with a 6-0 record throughout the year.
CLAY GUIDA (36-21, 155) VS LEONARDO SANTOS (18-4-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Santos caught Guida with a series of calf kicks to begin the fight. Santos caught Guida with a kick to the body that seemed to hurt Guida, and he followed Guida to the cage, where he proceeded to hit him about fifty times, completely unanswered. Santos was hurting him further with body shots, and rocking him with knees to the head, giving Guida absolutely no time to recover. There were numerous moments in which I thought referee Keith Peterson was going to stop this fight, but Guida did enough to show him that he was still in this fight, and he eventually broke away from Santos, seemingly recovered, while Santos was completely gassed. Guida took Santos down with a minute remaining in the round, and he maintained the position for the remainder of the round.
Santos grabbed the cage to defend an early takedown in round two from Guida, but it didn’t really matter as Guida dragged him down anyways. Guida quickly took the back of Santos, where he locked in a rear-naked choke, and forced Santos to submit.
WINNER: Clay Guida by rear-naked choke at 1:21 of Round 2
This was completely insane. Santos almost finished this fight multiple times in the first round, and I think many referees probably would have stopped things at some point during Santos’s barrage. All that output came at a heavy cost for the 41-year-old Leonardo Santos however, who was completely gassed by the time they separated. Guida’s cardio is of course, never in question, and he finished things quickly in the second round, in what marked his first submission victory in over a decade. Guida currently has a record of 5-5 throughout his last ten bouts.
JIMMY CRUTE (12-2, 205.5) VS JAMAHAL HILL (8-1, 1 NC, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Seconds into the fight Hill caught Crute with a looping hook that dropped him hard. Crute popped back to his feet and attempted to take Hill down, but Hill defended the attempt, and dropped him again with a short right hook, this time following it up with a hammerfist that knocked Crute out cold.
WINNER: Jamahal Hill by KO at 0:48 of Round 1
It was such a short fight that there isn’t much to actually break down from the action, but this was about as brutal of a knockout as you’ll see. After getting submitted by Paul Craig in the first round in his last bout, this was really the perfect way to bounce back, especially against a fighter in Jimmy Crute who is regarded as one of the top prospects at light heavyweight. Hill’s UFC record now stands at 3-1 (1 NC), and he called out Paulo Costa as well as Johnny Walker in his post-fight interview.
BRAD RIDDELL (10-1, 155.5) VS RAFAEL FIZIEV (10-1, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
They exchanged short hooks early in the opening round, and Riddell dodged a pair of quick head kicks from Fiziev. Fiziev thew a heavy kick to the body, before they exchanged lighting quick combinations in the pocket. Riddell loaded up with a heavy right hand that Fiziev managed to avoid. Fiziev was finding success with counter right hooks, but was eating shots from Riddell to land it as well. Riddell ended the round strongly with a pair of hooks. I gave Fiziev the edge, but it was a very close round.
Fiziev shrugged off an attempted takedown attempt from Riddell following another heavy exchange of strikes between the two. Fiziev landed a sharp elbow that cut Riddell open beneath his right eye. Riddell connected with a hard right hand that landed clean, and Fiziev responded with a short-left hook. Riddell was cut open near his right eye following a shot from Fiziev. Another round for Fiziev on my scorecard.
Riddell took Fiziev down in the first minute of the final round, but Fiziev was able to pop right back up. Riddell circled right into a wheel kick from Fiziev, and he was rocked badly, practically freezing on the spot. He attempted a takedown, but practically just fell to the ground, and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
WINNER: Rafael Fiziev by TKO at 2:20 of Round 3
I thought this was a great stoppage from Herb Dean. Fiziev looked as though he was in no shape to defend himself after that kick landed, and likely would have taken a lot of unnecessary damage if Fiziev followed it up. The fight was excellent, with both fighters exchanging the heaviest of combinations, but it was Fiziev who seemed to be just the slightest step ahead, and I thought this was one of his best performances in the UFC. He is now riding a five-fight win streak after losing his UFC debut, and there is a very solid chance that he’ll find himself matched up with a top ten opponent next.
ROB FONT (19-4, 134) VS JOSE ALDO (30-7, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Font worked his jab early in the fight, and attempted to take Aldo down in the center of the octagon. Aldo defended the attempt well, as you would expect from him, but Font went right back on the attack after they broke apart. Aldo was having difficulties getting going offensively, and he was eating some hard shots from Font in this opening round. Both fighters dug into the body. Late in the round, Aldo rocked Font with a straight right hand, practically dropping him, but there was not enough time left in the round for Aldo to capitalize. Tough round to score given the final moments. 10-9 Aldo.
Font picked up where he left off in the first prior to the knockdown, out landing Aldo on the feet. Aldo landed a shot that backed Font off, but Font recovered quickly, and turned on the pressure, looking overwhelm Aldo as fighters with his output. They traded heavy right hands, and Aldo landed an uppercut that caught Font right near his right eye. Aldo defended a takedown attempt from Font in the final minute, before attacking the body of Font in combination. Another close round. 20-18 Aldo.
Aldo began round three with a trio of leg kicks, as Font continued to work his jab. Aldo defended another takedown attempt from Font, and took top position on the ground. Aldo attempted to pass into side control, but Font was able to move Aldo back into his guard. Font worked his way back to the feet with two minutes remaining in the round, and Aldo’s right eye had swollen considerably by this point in the fight. Aldo floored Font with a strong leg kick, but allowed him to return to his feet. Once again, a very competitive round. 30-27 Aldo.
Aldo rocked Font badly with a one-two to begin round four, and dropped him with follow up strikes against the cage. Aldo followed him to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. Font’s left eye seemed to have swollen shut even worse than Aldo’s, but was able to recover while Aldo smothered him from top position. Font was doing an excellent job of keeping Aldo from advancing despite some skillful work from Aldo, keeping him from doing any real damage as well. Font began to throw up elbows from his back, tagging Aldo with some strong shots. 40-36 Aldo on my scorecard.
Font corner told him he needed a finish here, which was the correct message to send him going into this final round. Font pressed Aldo into the cage, and caught him with an elbow on the break. Aldo hurt Font again, this time with a right hand, and seeing Font hurt just sent a surge of life into the legend, as he began to swarm Font with strikes. Font went down yet again, and Aldo followed him, taking his back with a minute remaining in the round. Aldo nearly locked in the rear naked choke, but Font survived, and the fight went the distance. 50-45 Aldo.
WINNER: Jose Aldo by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
This was a very entertaining fight. If you were to just look at the scorecards without actually watching the fight, you would probably assume this was a rather one-sided fight, but that certainly was not the case. Font’s activity was giving Aldo a ton of problems, overwhelming him on the feet early, and gassing him out late, however the equalizer was Aldo’s power. While both fighters delt a great deal of damage, Aldo clearly had the edge in power, and he had Font in deep trouble multiple times throughout this fight. His leg kicks and body shots were effective as well, and this was really Jose Aldo at his best, resulting in a fantastic performance from one of the all-time greats of this sport. Aldo has now won three consecutive fights, and has climbed his way back into title contention. Aldo called out T.J. Dillashaw in his post-fight interview, which would be a fantastic fight to make, and if that fight comes together, I imagine the winner will be next in line for a title fight.