Fighter's Planet weekend recap
UFC 234 suffers a last minute cancellation in the main event to an already shallow card in the promotions first pay per view card of 2019.
The UFC began it’s much anticipated relationship with ESPN on a good note with it’s Brooklyn card last month, but the organization didn’t have the same luck when it hosted it’s first pay per view of the year and the results couldn’t have been more disastrous.
Reigning middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (20-4) had to withdraw from his title defense against Kelvin Gastelum because of a detached hernia and had to have emergency surgery on his hernia and abdomen.
Whittaker is expected to be out four to six weeks, but had to be removed from the card within hours of the main event.
The fighter born in New Zealand, now fighting out of Australia, was hoping to enjoy a second chance at a home title defense, but it was not meant to be.
UFC president, Dana White, has stated he doesn’t see a reason not to give Whittaker a third chance to host a fight in his homeland, even with the hard luck he has endured in his adopted country.
The Reaper suffered an injury before his title defense against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 and was eventually replaced by Yoel Romero who went on to knockout Rockhold to earn a second crack at Whittaker’s title.
This card already was stacked with local fighter’s and only the two fights on the top-billing would garner much interest to anyone not familiar with the local fighting scene.
The co-main event that pitted MMA legend Anderson Silva (34-9) against the heavily hyped Nigerian born Israel Adensanya (16-0) in a symbolic passing of the torch kind of bout.
Adensanya, who now also calls New Zealand home didn’t maim Silva as many anticipated, but he was in complete control in the bout, never facing any real danger.
Silva showed some of his old movement to keep the bout competitive, but Adensanya nonetheless scored a unanimous decision to cruise to victory and possibly setting him for the next title shot against Whittaker.
Gastelum went around proclaiming to media that he was now the rightful champion because of the withdrawal of Whittaker, citing wrestling forfeit rules, but it doesn’t work that way in mixed martial arts, especially in the UFC and White has already appeared lukewarm to the idea of Gastelum getting the next title shot, even with the last minute cancellation.
It will interesting to see where Gastelum and specifically Silva go from here.
Silva appeared very sentimental leading up to this bout and referenced retirement frequently, but he was somewhat competitive enough to convince himself he still has some fights left in him.
Combate Americas made it’s debut in the border town of Mexicali, Mexico and delivered a very entertaining card.
While the card didn’t feature any Country v. Country or Combate tournament type match-ups, the card pitted local fighters from the city of Mexicali battling against fellow countryman from nearby cities, most based in Baja, California, such as Ensenada and Rosarito.
The card featured a seven-second knockout, a new Combate record, when Carlos Ochoa flattened Christian Gonzales to claim the new record.
The main event featured local hero, Rafa Garcia (8-0) vs. Edgar Escarrega (5-2), and the fighter who most of the crowd came to see did not disappoint, finishing off Escarrega with a rear-naked choke in the second round to remain undefeated.
Gervonta Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) knocked out last minute replacement, Hugo Ruiz to retain his WBA Super World Super featherweight championship. His original opponent, Abner Mares, had to pull out of the fight because of a detached retina, so Davis was not able to add a bona fide name to his resume, and Ruiz was no match for “Tank” and more noteworthy match ups await the Floyd Mayweather protege in 2019.
A rare Sunday fight card showcased a junior title bout with champion Jose Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) edging out a close decision over a game Jose Zepeda (30-2, 25 Knockouts) to retain his WBC World Super Lightweight title in a very entertaining bout in Fresno, California.