Rating UFC 231
Photo credit: Esther Lin - MMAFighting.com
TV Prelims - 3 stars
Out of four FS1 preliminary bouts, three ended with the underdogs getting their hands raised. Elias Theodorou edged out a close, back-and-forth decision against Eryk Anders to open the cable television portion of the night. Jessica Eye’s victory came in a similar fashion, winning a split decision as a +195 underdog against Kaitlyn Chookagian. Gilbert Burns also pulled off a slight upset by basically shutting down “Canadian Gangster” Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his unanimous decision victory. Nina Ansaroff extended her win streak to 4 with a surprise decision win over former title challenger Claudia Gadelha, moving her into title contention talks.
While the TV portion was stocked with close fights, it lacked any big moments or exciting finishes.
Jimi Manuwa vs Thiago Santos - 4 stars
The main card opener was an absolute WAR between two of the most dangerous men in the UFC’s 205 lb division. A back-and-forth, haymaker-filled, bomb-throwing contest came to a close with Thiago Santos KOing Manuwa with an uppercut, left hook combo from hell. It extended Marreta’s current streak to 3, and puts him at 7 wins in his last 8 bouts dating back to February 2017.
Gunnar Nelson vs Alex Oliveira - 3.5 stars
Gunnar Nelson got back in the win column with a finish straight out of a horror movie. SBG’s Nelson ended Cowboy Oliveira’s night with a rear naked choke following an elbow that left the Brazilian bloody enough to make Dracula himself cringe.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk - 3 stars
Valentina Shevchenko asserted her dominance in the new 125 lb division by outclassing former Strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzeczyk in a 5 round decision. Valentina became the division’s 2nd champion with the win, solidifying her spot as one the sport’s best. Her only UFC losses are both the fellow champion Amanda Nunes, and Bullet now boasts wins over two former champions.
Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega - 4.25 stars
In a highly anticipated title bout between two young stars in the Featherweight division, Max Holloway proved once again to be a purveyor of sanctioned violence by TKOing dangerous contender Brian Ortega. Max landed 290 of 490 significant strikes (!!), taking over the top spot in the UFC’s all time ranking with 1.627 total at just 27 years old.
Overall rating - 4 stars
Two Fight of the Year candidates, two title bouts, a legend building at 145 lbs, a wild visual finish in the main card’s middle fight, and a big old reminder of how fun this sport can be earns it a 4 star rating from your’s truly.