The entertainment level of this exhibition boxing match, which is mostly middling, peaks at the end of Round 5 when Anderson Silva floors Bruno Machado with a “huge” right hook; an instant addition to his already lengthy fight highlight reel.
What’s frustrating as a fan is how he coasts the following round instead of trying to finish his opponent off à la Round 4 of his MMA fight with Michael Bisping, though here it’s more forgivable as he easily outboxes Bruno over the course of the bout.
I’d say Bellator fighter Michael Chandler couldn’t have hoped for a better UFC debut, but perhaps it wasn’t a matter of hope. He seemed confident in not only getting an impressive victory here but going on to become UFC Champ and he’s already accomplished the first goal.
All it takes is a fake right followed by a sneaky left (punch) to the face to drop The Hangman just halfway into the very first round. The only solid strike a backfooted Dan Hooker, who hints at retirement by throwing his gloves down after the bout, manages is a low calf kick.
Demian Maia is simply outclassed here. His one technical advantage would be his jiu-jitsu on the ground, but, as much as he tries, he can’t manage to get Anderson Silva down. That should mean another quick KO for the champion and the fight looks like it’s going that way for the first couple of rounds as Silva entertains the crowd with his “confidence-crushing clowning”, but he stops mid-bout.
With that, the fourth round becomes a dance-off as the two fighters move around The Octagon basically doing a lot of nothing. Round 5 isn’t much better, though a one-eyed Maia does commit to an early flurry of strikes near the beginning. The crowd, the commentators, the ref and even Silva himself seem to blame Silva for the weird and lackluster bout, but I’d also put some of that blame on his opponent.
“Number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world”? My reply to such a bombastic claim is probably not; there are a lot of unknown fighters in the world; but it seems Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently the best pound-for-pound fighter in The UFC. He’s also one of the best ever, which makes news of his retirement; he announces it in his post-fight interview after an emotional salute to his father; that much more impactful.
I thought Justin Gaethje’s chances of winning this bout were being overhyped by MMA fans, but he does even worse than I guessed. That’s not so much a criticism of his skills; he does manage to land a few of his “patented” leg kicks, which Nurmagomedov doesn’t have much of an answer for; but how long he lasts. At not even two full rounds, it’s the champion’s quickest victory since pummeling Thiago Tavares back in 2013.