UFC Fight Night 172 was an evening of top fights, emotions, and terrible judging. The card was the third in a week, and the final one before UFC 250, where Amanda Nunez will put her title on the line against Canadian, Felice Spencer.
In the main event, Walt Harris would take on veteran Alistair Overeem in a heavyweight clash, while Claudia Gadelha would greet Angela Hill in a women's strawweight competition.
Main Event: Walt Harris vs. Alistair Overeem
Result: Overeem wins via second-round TKO
The main event was a fight steeped in emotion as Walt Harris made his walk out with a picture of himself and his late daughter on a t-shirt. Harris lost his daughter late in 2019 after she was abducted and eventually found murdered. An outpouring of tweets seemed to echo a universal desire to see the big hitter leave with the victory, but he would have his work cut out for him, as standing opposite him was an experienced veteran in Alistair Overeem, who would be fighting his 65th professional fight, and respected the sport and his opponent enough to not make the fight easy for the grieving father.
From the beginning, Overeem adopted his trademark low stance and went into analysis mode, seeming to know exactly what Harris wanted to do. Harris, on the other hand, was more direct and started to cut off the cage in an attempt to go headhunting. Harris did a good job of keeping Overeem on the back foot, but the Dutch kickboxer managed to keep out of harm's way for the most part and look for openings. However, Harris would eventually cut off all exits and unload on Overeem, catching him and dropping him to the ground where he would proceed to pound Alistair out. Dan let the fight go on but it looked like the power shots from Harris were finding there mark, but Overeem kept calm and continued to work hard to get out of the difficult position. Eventually, he managed to get to his feet, where Harris got too overzealous and ended up being tripped down to the ground where Overeem quickly pounced and started to throw some shots of his own.
Having spent a lot of energy, Harris had to weather the storm as Overeem maintained top position for well over two minutes, controlling the arms, recovering from the past damage, and slowly sapping the energy from a visibly tired Harris. The buzzer eventually sounded, bring the first round to a close. In the second, Harris still looked the more tired of the fighters, seeming to have thrown everything he had in the first round. Overeem was patient and eventually through a high kick which caught Harris on the side of the head. A few good follow-up shots and Overeem took his opponent to the floor and slowly started to hit Harris with good, precise shots to the side of the head. Overeem took Walt's back and flattened him out, proceeding to hit him with more shots. While referee, Dan Mirgliotta, gave the same benefit of the doubt to Harris as he did with Overeem, his fatigue would make it impossible to get out of the position. Dan eventually waved the fight off, and Overeem secured a very important win for himself.
Overeem managed to get back on track after his loss to Rozenstruik, and as mentioned before, could very well be set up with Derick Lewis in the future. The two have never met in the octagon before and the fight makes the most sense as far as ranking and performances are concerned. While Lewis has won his last two fights, they were rather forgettable and a big win for the Texan will be key in getting him back into title talks. Winning his 46th fight on the cusp of his 40th birthday, The Reem was in high spirits and suggested fighting again in the year and having another run at the title. Time will tell.
As for Walt Harris, the loss serves as a slight setback, and one can only imagine what his mental state is like. The heavyweight top 10 may not be the place to make a fight, but perhaps a meeting with Fabricio Werdum would be best suited for him. A top, former champion that has also fallen down the rankings, the fight could be the best to make given current circumstances.
Co-Main Event: Claudia Gadelha vs. Angela Hill
Result: Gadelha wins via split decision
Claudia Gadelha made her way to the octagon, with almost a year passing since her last fight. The Brazilian looked confident and shared the cage with an equally experienced and durable fighter in Angela Hill, who had been very active, having last fought in February of 2020 and four times in 2019.
Angela looked game for the opportunity in front of her, which was the chance to make a statement against a top 10 opponent. Gadelha, on the other hand, looked fired up to put on a good performance and get back onto the track towards being the best in the division.
In the first round, it was Angela who looked lighter on her feet, moving well and making it difficult for her opponent to get a read on her. By contrast, Gadelha looked sluggish and rusty, allowing Angela to dictate the pace and go first as far as the striking was concerned. The confidence of Hill was inspired as she threw the cleaner and sharper strikes while Gadelha could do little else but re-act. The Brazilian did eventually manage to get the fight up against the cage where she managed to secure a takedown and work the position, but the round was over before she could put Hill in any real danger.
In the second round, it was Hill again, and while the stats seemed to favor Gadelha as far as the head strikes were concerned in the first round, it was Hill again who just seemed faster and more confident in her skills. Hill managed to drop Gadelha with a well-placed right punch, putting Gadelha on the floor, and on the backfoot, Hill would mix up her strikes with kicks and eventually cut her opponent up.
The third round gave more of the same as Gadelha just didn't seem to be able to get a hold of Hill or set up her takedowns using her hands. She seemed to have no power and her shot just didn't seem to have any clout behind them. When the buzzer sounded, Angela believed she had done enough, but to her surprise, Gadelha got the nod and grabbed her first victory of the New Year.
Gadelha looked mediocre and was very disappointing for those who were hoping to see the return of a fighter who was competing for the title only a few years back. Gadelha mentioned another fight with rival, Carla Esparza, but this predictable snoozefest would be best suited for a preliminary card. After the mediocre performance, Gadelha seemed to show that she is nowhere close to the level of the other fighters on the roster, and might be best served taking up surfing or coaching.
Angela Hill fought a good fight and was certainly let down by judges who had delivered dubious decision for a great many other fights. A fight against a closely ranked opponent maybe the move to make, for now, Randa Markos perhaps making the most sense at the moment, but what Hill showed is that she can step up to the big occasions and hold her own against the best.
Dan Ige Edges Out A Split Decision Over Barbosa
Dan Ige welcomed former lightweight contender, Edson Barbosa to the division, and showed incredible toughness to earn the victory. Despite being dropped in the first round and absorbing damage from the bottom, Ige managed to use his durability and heavy hands to deny Barbosa his first victory at featherweight.
Jotko Wins A Frustrating Decision Over Erik Anders
Polish middleweight, Krzysztof Jotko welcomed former light-heavyweight, Erik Anders to the division and put on a fine display, proving to be the faster and more precise fighter of the two. Anders tried to turn the fight into a brawl and fought hard to win takedowns from the clinch, but ultimately failed to capitalize on the positions. Jotko was audibly unimpressed with Anderson's decision to not try to stand and strike with him.
Song Yadong Wins Controversial Decision Over Marlon Vera
Despite VISA complications, China's Song Yadong managed to make his scheduled bout with Vera at Featherweight. Both fighters put on a good performance, but it looked to be Vera who was putting on more pressure and controlling the octagon, landing stiff kicks and strikes in the clinch, Yadong demonstrated the power he had in his hands, slightly hurting Vera, but not doing anything that made Vera take his foot off the gas pedal. In the second round, Song's strikes sounded like they were doing more than they were, Vera continuing to push the pace and land clean strikes and kicks. In the third, Vera landed two takedowns, following up with good control and ground and pound, and was certain he had earned the victory. But bizarrely, the judges scored the fight as a unanimous decision victory for Song, much to the displeasure of his opponent. Urijah Faber seemed to think that Song had won the first two rounds, and the Chinese fighter seemed pleased with his performance as he halted his opponent's five-fight winning streak and sets himself up for more challenging competition in the future.
UFC Fight Night 172 Post-fight Press Conference