Cleat Geeks

UFC Fight Night 88 Review

UFC Fight Night 88 was Sunday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The card aired on FOX Sports 1 after early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. The main event was between up-and-comers Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt. For those unfamiliar with either fighter, they are a pair of undefeated young heavy hitters with a tendency for violent finishes. The winner is suspected to be solid contender in the bantamweight division.

Garbrandt (9-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) proved his worthiness with his first round knockout of Almeida (20-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC). Garbrandt started off as the aggressor and never took his foot off the gas. He came out swinging at first, but Almeida was able to block the majority of the blows. But, Garbrandt proved to be too much for him. Almeida was able to land an occasional punch, but not much else.

Garbrandt looked sharp from the beginning, and was relentless in his attack. Garbrandt landed a straight right hand that caused Almeida to stumble. With victory in sight, Garbrandt did not let up. He closed the distance and landed a devastating right cross that sent Almeida to the mat. Garbrandt quickly jumped on top and landed a few more blows before the ref put a stop to it at 2:53.

Almeida vs. Garbrandt fight highlights:

 

Cody Garbrandt after fight interview:

 

Garbrandt’s upset over Almeida, earned him one of four $50,000 fight-night bonuses awarded at Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 88 event. Garbrandt, along with Jake Collier, earned “Performance of the Night” awards, while Jeremy Stephens and Renan Barao were awarded “Fight of the Night” honors.

In the co-main event, Stephens (25-12 MMA, 12-11 UFC) took down former bantamweight champion Renan Barao (33-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) with a unanimous decision win in their featherweight fight. Coming into this fight, Barao and Stephens had 24 knockouts between them, so for this match-up to go to decision was surprising.

Barao  seemed to control much of the first round, using his speed to move around the cage. Stephens was able to avoid a couple of takedowns and land some powerful shots. Barao looked quicker and sharper than Stephens, stinging him with combinations, counters, and a spinning body kick while seeming just out of reach of Stephens’ power punches.

The second round clearly belonged to Stephens. Early in the round, Barao went for the takedown twice with no success. Stephens continued swinging with power shots, and Barao did a decent job of blocking most. Around the one minute mark, Stephens caught Barao with a huge uppercut, followed by a left hand. Barao was hurt and not blocking as many punches as before. He looked for another takedown, but again was unsuccessful. With a little under two minutes left in the round, Barao landed a spinning kick to the body. Stephens landed a straight punch that had Barao staggering back again. In the final seconds, Barao was finally able to get a takedown, but Stephens got right back up. The round ended with Barao bleeding from a cut on his temple.

The third and final round was close, and could have gone either way. Stephens and Barao traded jabs and combinations. Barao took a shot inside and pushed Stephens against the cage. Stephens was able to get out, and more punches were traded. Barao was successful with a takedown. Stephens worked hard not to let him advance his position or take his back, and eventually stood back up. With one minute left in the round, Stephens avoided another takedown and landed a big right. Both fighters stood toe-to-toe, slinging punches until the final bell rang. Both walked away with fists raised victoriously. Unfortunately for Barao, all three judges scored the fight 29-28 in Stephens’ favor, spoiling his featherweight debut fight. With this loss, Barao has now lost three of his last four bouts, after going unbeaten for 33 matches.

Barao vs. Stephens highlights:

 

Jeremy Stephens after fight interview:

 

 

Jake Collier “Performance of the Night”

 

 

FULL EVENT RESULTS

Main card
Cody Garbrandt def. Thomas Almeida; KO (punches); (Round 1, 2:53)
Jeremy Stephens def. Renan Barao; unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Rick Story def. Tarec Saffiedine; unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Chris Camozzi vs. Vitor Miranda; unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Lorenz Larkin def. Jorge Masvidal; split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Paul Felder def. Josh Burkman; unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Undercard
Sara McMann def. Jessica Eye; unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Abel Trujillo def. Jordan Rinaldi; unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jake Collier def. Alberto Uda; TKO (spinning back kick); (Round 2, 1:06)
Erik Koch def. Shane Campbell; submission (rear naked choke); (Round 2, 3:02)

Undercard (Fight Pass)
Bryan Caraway def. Aljamain Sterling; split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Adam Milstead def. Chris De La Rocha; TKO (punches); (Round 2, 4:01)

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