Submission Special in Halifax (UFC Fight Night 54 Review)

ufc_fn54The UFC travelled to Halifax for the first time ever and for both fighters in the main card it was a massive opportunity. For Rory MacDonald it was the first time that he would have the main stage in a UFC fight. He had never been in a main event despite being the #2 ranked fighter in the welterweight division. That came to an end in Halifax where he would be the highlight of the card. More than that, he was also be fighting in front of his home fans as the British Columbia Native has become one of the biggest faces of the Canadian fight world. Then add that to the fact that a win on the night could mean a title shot for the young fighter with Johnny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler set to face off in two months. A lot was on the line for MacDonald and for some it meant that there would be plenty of pressure on the young fighter. If he losses in his home country not only would it be a devastating loss for the Canadian MMA fans but his #2 rankings would immediately be taken away. With that pressure there were some doubts about whether or not he could handle everything and come out of Halifax with a win. That is what his opponent Tarec Saffiedine was hoping for. The #9 ranked fighter this was a chance to spoil the party in MacDonald’s homecoming. It was a chance to beat one of the best fighters in the division and improve his stock among the welterweight division. These opportunities rarely come along for fighters as it takes a lot more to get into the top 5 of a division. So when these chances come along fighters have to take them and run with them. With a loss Saffiedine risks dropping out of the top 15 in the rankings and proving that he does not belong among the best fighters in the division quite yet. For both fighters there was plenty on the line with title implications and a home crowd to please. The matchup pitted two fighters with similar background in MMA and represented the new breed of fighters continuing to take over the UFC. With the popularity of MMA around the world there are more fighters coming out with strictly MMA backgrounds. That means that they never trained to wrestle, box, practice BJJ, Karate, Muay Thai, or any other Martial Arts. Instead they simply trained Mixed Martial arts from the start. Both MacDonald and Saffiedine are part of this group as they both picked up the sport after joining a gym and playing multiple sports when they were younger. That background made both of them very well-rounded although the wrestling of MacDonald had been vastly improved in his last few fights while Saffiedine prefers the standup game. Both fighters came into the octagon with a clear idea that they wanted to stay standing. Rory began to sue his boxing style throwing out the jab that the Tri-Star gym has become famous for. Meanwhile Saffiedine was looking to stay out of MacDonald’s range and use his devastating kicks against the Canadian. The Fight continues on as MacDonald continued to get more damage with his jab while catching many of the kicks from Saffiedine. As the damage added up it was clear that the fight was leaning towards MacDonald heading into the third. Then MacDonald did something he had not done since 2012 when he landed a big left hand that dropped Saffiedine. Jumping on the chance MacDonald got on Saffiedine and forced the referee to stop the fight. The loss for Saffiedine was expected but will drop him in the standing sand end a ruin at the title. He will not have to work his way up back into the conversation. Meanwhile the win for MacDonald was a statement as he not only won but finished a fighter that is never finished. He is likely in line for a title shot after the Hendricks-Lawler rematch all he has to do is wait to get it.

The pressure from the home crowd was not all on MacDonald on the Night as many more fighters entered the octagon from the Great White North. Many of these fighters on the night came from The Ultimate Fighter Nations show that had clearly done its job. The entire point of the show was to bring a host of new fighters from Australia and Canada into the UFC as long as they proved that they may just belong. Despite not winning many still proved that they belong in the UFC and received a chance for the first time since the Finale to show the UFC that they deserved a chance in the biggest promotion in the world. The host of TUF alumni did not only include the fighters who didn’t make it to the end as the two champions were there to represent as well. Elias Theodorou and Chad Laprise made their first appearances in the UFC under their brand new contracts and both looked to make an impression as the4y officially began their climb. First was Theodorou who came into the show as one of the more hyped fighters and showed it by winning the Middleweight tournament. In his fight against Bruno Santos he tried to show that the hype was not fake. Throughout the fight Theodorou showed that his stamina was his biggest asset. Despite being taken down multiple times he still did more work and never seemed to tire. That stamina and his ability to control most of the fight gave him the unanimous decision win, his first official UFC win. Next came the Welterweight champion Laprise, who dropped to lightweight after taking the TUF title. Lapprise followed suit from his housemate in the show and controlled the fight from start to finish. Yosdenis Cedeno provided little resistance to Laprise as the Canadian took the fight wherever he wanted it and dominated the fight on the ground. Another unanimous decision win proved that he is ready to step up in competition. The TUF Nations alumni had a good showing on the night and the champions led the way as they all showed that the future of Canadian MMA is bright.

 

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
Rory MacDonald came into UFC Fight Night 54 with plenty of pressure and he showed that the pressure did not get to him as he finished Tarec Saffiedine with a big third round TKO that earned him a Performance of the Night

Performance of the Night
Another TUF Nations made an impression on the night as the young Olivier Aubin-Mercier showed that the promise that made him one of the TUF Nations fighters finishing his undercard fight with a Keylock Submission in the second round

Fight of the Night
There were plenty of finishes on the night but it was a unanimous decision as Chris Kelades and Paddy Holohan fought to a three round decision where hometown favourite Kelades took home the unanimous decision win

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
Rory “Ares” MacDonald def. Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine
(TKO; Rd. 3)

Main Card:
Raphael Assunçäo def. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway
(Unanimous Decision)

Chad “The Disciple” Laprise def. Yosdenis “Pink Panther” Cedeno
(Unanimous Decision)

Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou def. Bruno “Cariaco” Santos
(Unanimous Decision)

Nordine Taleb def. “The Leech” Jingliang Li
(Split Decision)

Mitch “The Machine” Gagnon def. Roman Salazar
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 1)

Undercard:
“Detroit Superstar” Daron Cruicshank def. Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani
(Unanimous Decision)

Olivier “The Quebec Kid” Aubin-Mercier def. Jake “The Librarian” Lindsey
(Submission; Keylock, Rd. 2)

Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder def. Jason Saggo
(Split Decision)

Chris Kelades def. Paddy “The Hooligan” Holohan
(Unanimous Decision)

Albert Tumenov def. Mat Dwyer
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz def. Jerrod “J-Reazie” Sanders
(Submission; Guillotine Choke, Rd. 1)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes II (Saturday October 25th; 10:00 pm ET)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Maracanazinho Gymnasium)
Main Event: Jose Aldo “Junior” vs. Chad “Money” Mendes [Featherweight Title]
Notable: Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis vs. Glover Teixeira
Notable: Fábio “Caipira de Aço” Maldonado vs. Hans Stringer

UFC Fight Night 55: Rockhold vs. Bisping (Friday November 7th; 8:00 pm ET)
Sydney, Australia (Allphones Arena)
Main Event: Luke Rockhold vs. Michael “The Count” Bisping
Notable: Guto Inocente vs. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh
Notable: Soa “The Hulk” Palelei vs. Daniel Omielańczuk

UFC Fight Night 56: Rua vs. Manuwa (Saturday November 8th; 10:30 pm ET)
Umberlandia, Brazil (Tancredo Neves Gymnasium)
Main Event: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa
Notable: John “Hands of Stone” Lineker vs. Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall
Notable: Warlley Alves vs. Alan “Brahma” Jouban

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