Updated: Apr 18, 2021
On a night when two of their six main card fights were canceled due to injury, UFC still managed to pull off an impressive event. Every fighter looked prepared, although some fights were more hotly contested than others. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at UFC’s Fight Night on April 17th.
Peña vs. Munoz
Munoz came into this fight as the overwhelming underdog. This was in part due to the incredible height advantage Peña held over him as a 6’3″ lightweight. However, Munoz made up for this in round one by getting in close to Peña so he could not use his reach as an advantage. Munoz was the aggressor from the opening bell and the round was clearly in his favor.
If he had been able to lock in the hold attempt he made during this round, it may have permanently swung the momentum in his favor. In round two, Munoz again attempted a takedown but Peña was able to fight out of it. This time he responded by increasing his activity while landing a couple of good strikes followed by impressive kicks.
The fight looked like a tie going into the third and final round. Round three was easily the most entertaining round of the fight; the outcome was in doubt until the very end. However, a strong showing in the last two minutes in which he landed a couple of convincing combos and a memorable knee, swung the fight in Peña’s favor. He was able to walk away with a split decision victory.
Alhassan vs. Malkoun
Malkoun’s strategy was obvious from the very start; don’t allow Alhassan to become a striker in order to avoid his knockout power. He was able to dominate the opening round with four takedowns while Alhassan looked bewildered. One has to wonder why Alhassan’s camp didn’t expect this strategy from Malkoun and why he was so unprepared to counter this tactic.
Round two looked very much like a repeat of round one, as Alhassan stayed on the mat the majority of the time, with Malkoun clearly in control. By round three Alhassan’s exhaustion was obvious. His corner instructed him to stay off the fence but he lacked the energy to make the adjustment. Malkoun won by a unanimous decision as Robert Whitaker, his training camp sparring partner could be seen clapping in appreciation of the performance.
Arlovski vs. Sherman
Andrei Arlovski is a legend in mixed martial arts. At the age of 42, he only added to his legacy but giving a younger man a lesson in strategy. Although Sherman controlled round one, dictating the pace and landing a great combination in the final minute, rounds two and three were decidedly controlled by Arlovski.
To be fair, round two was close, with each fighter having their moments, but Arlovski landed enough big shots to leave viewers with the impression that the round was his. Round three was an entertaining spectacle with the feel of a back alley brawl. It started when Sherman hit Arlovski with a low blow that sent him sprawling to the canvas in pain.
However, the 42-year-old was able to bounce back and even looked to have more energy than the 31-year-old Sherman for the rest of the round. Arlovski danced and played a cat and mouse game while Sherman verbally demanded that he stop running and fight in the middle of the ring. Sherman’s pleas would fall on deaf ears and Arlovski would walk away with a unanimous decision victory.
Whittaker vs. Gastelum
Kelvin Gastelum should be applauded for applying pressure throughout this fight and never deciding to back down. That being said, Robert Whittaker possessed the superior timing in all five rounds. Not only was he more active than Gastelum in rounds one and two, but he showed an impressive variety in his tactics. It seemed that any combination he threw was ultimately aimed at setting up the left jab followed by a high kick. Both of which he landed several times throughout the fight.
To his credit, Gastelum showed signs of life and increased activity in round three with the understanding that he was behind on the scorecards. In round four, Whittaker abandoned the kicking and resorted to striking. This seemed to catch Gastelum off guard as Whittaker had been kicking for the majority of the fight. In the final round Gastelum attempted to take Whittaker to the mat but Whittaker was able to counter.
He proceeded to put Gastelum in a hold for the majority of the round, and even hit him with a couple of elbows that sealed the victory. Robert Whittaker put on an impressive performance worthy of the unanimous decision victory he received.Ricardo Ramos vs. Bill Alego had to be canceled due to Ramos being forced to undergo COVID protocols. Jeremy Stephens vs. Drakar Klose was canceled for a more controversial reason.
During their press conference, Stephens shoved Klose. Klose took exception and the two men had to be separated. Klose later claimed that he suffered an injury due to the shove and had a migraine headache the morning of the fight that would not let him compete. This fight was canceled but there is no love lost between these two camps. Expect Stephens vs. Klose to happen in the very near future.
This was an entertaining evening of fights. A legendary fighter in his early 40’s showed that strategy can overcome youth. A former champion looking to get another title shot showed that he’s as sharp as he’s ever been. Although some fighters were undoubtedly disappointed in the night’s outcome, no one should leave the arena with their head hanging low.
Fight fans got what they wanted out of this event, a night of great athletes laying it all on the line to put on an amazing show.