UFC 275 hit some bumps in the road, with a series of pullouts resulting in a PPV card that was lighter than what the promotion originally hoped. This was an event whose main card was supposed to feature a pair of top contenders bouts. One between exciting flyweight prospects Manel Kape and Rogerio Bontorin and another between former champ Robert Whittaker and perennial middleweight contender Marvin Vettori. The UFC didn’t have their highest hopes for this PPV card in terms of buys, competing with the NHL and NBA finals. Nevertheless, they needed the main event to carry the card.
As it turned out, the main event exceeded expectations in a way nobody could have predicted. It was an instant timeless classic so electric, so gripping, so straight up ridiculous that every other fight on the night could have been a dud and UFC 275 still would have been a PPV worth buying.
As it turns out, the rest of the card was also amazing. But the show grizzled UFC veteran Glover Texeira and surging newcomer Jiri Prochazka put on for fans is one people are going to be talking about for a while. It was the kind of fight you show your friend who’s never seen MMA to try and turn them into a fan. And if this fight can’t turn a person into an MMA fan, that person probably doesn’t have a pulse.
In every build up to a UFC championship bout, a narrative is built over expectations for how the fight might play out. Every fight is a story. Every fighter has a mythos built up around them over how they perform in the Octagon as fans wait to see whether they’ll win or lose in the same way yet again. Some do it so consistently, against the odds, that they get deemed mythical fighters.
“Wobbled Texeira” is a prime example of a mythical fighter. During the epic run that saw the 43-year-old Brazilian fighter turn back the clocks and become UFC champion, the story that Glover was writing was that his questionable chin would leave him on the verge of being finished with strikes, only to come back and submit his opponent.
Who better to help him write that story than the 27-year-old striking dynamo who burst into the UFC Light Heavyweight division for his proclivity to land spectacular, logic-defying knockouts. In many ways, Prochazka represented an inversion of Texeira. While Glover was the solid, patient, technical veteran who used his fight IQ and years of experience to overcome any physical deficiencies, contrasted with the wild athletic specimen Prochazka, whose style could be described as unpredictable, fluid, reckless, over-the-top, and downright fascinating. Jiri was exactly the kind of talent the UFC needed to inject into the 205lbs division, especially in the absence of Jon Jones.
So, the stage was set, the story was writing itself. Either Jiri Prochazka was going to knock Glover Texeira out cold, or Texeira would lock up a submission, perhaps after getting hurt on the feet. It has to be said, most MMA fans agree that in the world of sports, especially combat sports, anything could happen. A UFC fighter’s wife once commented to me that “you could be fighting a baby, and that baby could puke, and you could slip on it and knock yourself out. Anything could happen.”
While that’s true, some stories really do write themselves out. Oliveira vs. Gaethje comes to mind; Justin was either going to knock Oliveira out, or would get submitted after just knocking him down once or twice. Well, it played out exactly that way. So, did Jiri and Glover stick to the cues?
You could lose count trying to keep track of how many times the story of “Jiri either knocks him out or get submitted after hurting him” was almost written during the UFC 275 main event. This fight was so up-and-down, back-and-forth, that it would make a seesaw’s head spin. There are truly no words to describe it: if you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch it now.
In the end, our expectations were subverted in a fashion so poetic it feels like an HBO drama. After Glover flipped the script and had Jiri hurt on the feet multiple times in the fifth round (Marc Goddard took several very close looks throughout the bout), and a loss seeming imminent, Jiri became the submission artist who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Somehow, someway, Jiri Prochazka choked out Glover Texeira to become the undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Champion with 30 seconds left in the 5th and final round. A storybook ending for a championship fight for the ages.
Bravo to both men. They deserve all the bonuses.
UFC 275’s other championship bout also subverted expectations in a fight that reiterated the MMA truism that anything can happen against a fight. Despite being a massive underdog, Taila Santos made Valentina Schevchenko look human for the first time in a long time, leaving some speculating that this could signal that the talent gap at the top of the women’s divisions is closing. In fact, Santos did enough to win one judges scorecard, with many fans believing that she won the fight.
This fight was reminiscent of other women’s championship bouts in the UFC, where the story going into the Octagon was that *insert underdog here* was just fodder for *insert dominant champion here* and were about to get steamrolled as the next victim. We’ve seen it before. Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm. Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes. Most recently, Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena, which saw one confident bettor lose 300k bet to win 25k on the overwhelming favorite Nunes.
The judges had some headscratchers on the night and a score of 49-46 for Schevchenko was one of them. If there was a fighter who had a case for 49-46, many believed it was Santos. However, the majority of fans who believe the Brazilian strawweight was robbed agree that the fight should have been scored 48-47 in Taila’s favor after winning the first 3 rounds.
Santos came as close as you could get to add another chapter to the story of dominant women’s champions losing massive upsets, but she can hang her head high with her performance in a fight many people wrote her off in before anyone had even stepped foot inside the Octagon.
It’s a good sign for UFC strawweight, which is showing some movement at the hints that Schevchenko is beatable for the first time in a while. The division was stagnating and whoever challenges Valentina next should try to capitalize on some of that backwards momentum. How did you score the fight? Let us know in the comments!
This was the rematch MMA fans had been frothing at the mouth for 2 years to see. When they first met at UFC 248 in March, 2020, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzjczyk gave the world one of the greatest UFC championship fights of all time. Many call it the greatest female fight of all time, hands down, and top 5 overall. If their rematch at UFC 275 could even scratch the surface of what they achieved at UFC 248, fans were in for a treat.
The odds were tilted against the “Boogeywoman” going into her rematch with the UFC’s first Chinese champion after spending 2 years out of action. Joanna expressed her only interest was another title shot, and accepted the fight with Weili after Dana White promised her a title shot if she won. However, in the time that Joanna was exploring outlets outside the Octagon, Zhang passed through the toughest phase of her UFC tenure after back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas.
Despite being knocked out by Namajunas in their first encounter (who has knocked Joanna out hserlf to become champion), Zhang made tremendous strides in the rematch and narrowly lost a controversial split decision.
Training with Henry Cejudo at ATT, Weili made tremendous strides that were on full display in her dominant performance against Jedrzjczyk. The talent is too stiff at the top of the strawweight division to spend a couple years not getting better, as Joanna was knocked out by a picture-perfect spinning backfist from the Chinese dynamo.
Weili looks as complete of a fighter as there is in the UFC and wasted no time calling out for a title shot against recently minted champion Carla Esparza. Another option is a potential trilogy fight with Namajunas, but perhaps the UFC prefers that fight happen after Weili gets a title shot.
Meanwhile, in an impassioned and heartfelt moment, Joanna Jedrzjczyk took off her gloves, left them on the green Monster M in the center of the Octagon, and announced her retirement from MMA. It marks the end of a storied UFC career for the athlete many consider the greatest UFC strawweight to ever compete.
Her career accolades include a strawweight record-holding 5 title defenses, most title fights for a female fighter in the UFC, first UFC champion from Poland, first woman UFC champion from Europe, most wins in strawweight history, most consecutive wins in strawweight history, most title wins…the list goes on, and that’s just what she accomplished in the UFC.
Simply put, Joanna Jedrzjczyk goes down in history as one of the most dominant female fighters across 2 decades and 3 combat sports. On top of her UFC tenure, she was also a multi-kickboxing world champion and women’s Muay Thai champion. Her career is one of the most epic in combat sports history and every fan owes their respects to the Boogeywoman.
After the prelims delivered only a single finish, the main card kept the knockouts coming. The best part was that each one was better than the last, culminating in the cinematic spinning backfist that Weili used to turn Joanna’s lights off.
The first TKO was given by Jack Della Maddalena, who successfully passed Daniel Cormier’s so-called “Russian wrestling test” to crumble the Dagestani prospect Ramazan Emeev with a crushing hook to the liver against the cage. It was an instance of the striker besting the grappler, an increasingly rarer feat against fighters coming from the Caucasus regions. The fact that it was a body shot was just the cherry on top.
Wanting to keep the KO train going while upping the brutality, Jake Matthews followed up Maddalena’s body shot TKO by absolutely flatlining Andre Fialho. Fialho was attempting to write a Cinderella man story in the UFC after filling in as a late replacement against Michel Pereira back in January. Granted an out-of-the-blue chance, Fialho capitalized with back-to-back KO victories over notable welterweight prospects. On paper, Fialho was supposed to lose all those fights, but if he found a way to beat Matthews, it had the makings of a magical run.
It was all for naught, unfortunately, as Matthews picked apart the one-dimensional, boxing-heavy approach of Fialho. The fight could have been stopped multiple times but the finishing sequence was a personification of beautiful violence in motion.
Weili kept the trend alive until things came to an unexpected halt during the co-main event. Nevertheless, the “lighter” portion of the main card still had some epic battles and unforgettable moments.
Despite the fact that, for all intents and purposes, this card exceeded expectations in nearly every facet, I can’t give the top mark simply for how few fights were on this card. While there were instances of questionable judging and refereeing, UFC 275 was still an incredible event that gave us an all-time classic in the main event. The main card was (mostly) explosive and pulled fans in many directions, creating for a great viewing experience.
At the same time, it could be argued that my grading is as questionable as Sal D’Amato’s judging, and that any event that featured an instant classic deserves a grade of at least A…
UFC 275 will pan out as a very re-watchable PPV card, especially Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Texeira. An early shoe-in for fight of the year, that’s a battle fight fans will enjoy replaying for years to come.
What did you think of UFC 275? How would you grade the card? Let us know in the comments!