UFC Vegas 29: Korean Zombie vs. Ige – Unofficial Awards
Matt Brown after his fight with Dhiego Lima at UFC Vegas 29 | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Get a unique rundown on the events of UFC Vegas 29 as Dayne Fox awards the best and worst happenings of the evening.
Coming off the stacked card that was UFC 263, UFC Vegas 29 looked like it was going to be a bit of a letdown. Sure, legendary action fighter Korean Zombie topped the card, but there were signs that not only was he slowing down, but he was going to lengths to avoid the battles that made him such a legendary figure. While Chan Sung Jung (the Zombie’s actual name) did avoid a brawl, the card was anything but a letdown. There wasn’t nearly enough bonus money to go around, several impressive finishes dotting the card and a badass brawl between Marlon Vera and Davey Grant that made up for whatever the main event didn’t deliver. Not that Jung and Ige put on a stinker, but they had a lot to live up to and the undercard didn’t help out their situation. Anyway, here’s a rundown of the card in an award format:
Biggest Jump in Stock: Oddly enough, while there were several impressive finishes on the evening, it doesn’t feel like anyone made a particularly large leap. Regardless, I’ll go with Virna Jandiroba. Faced with an opponent who many perceived to be a nightmare matchup in Kanako Murata, Jandiroba won the striking contest by a wide margin and badly injured Murata’s arm with an armbar near the end of the first round. Murata may not have been ranked, but she’s considered to be one of the top up-and-comers in the division. The dominance Jandiroba displayed should be enough to get her a top ten opponent.
Biggest Fall in Stock: I’m making a bit of an exception here as Serghei Spivac’s stock may not have taken the biggest hit overall, but his stock went down in victory. I can’t say for sure, but it looked like Spivac was giving away the first round in hopes of Aleksei Oleinik’s shallow gas tank depleting itself before taking the fight to him. While it did result in a win, it was about as uninspired as a victory gets. If anyone is wondering if momentum can be halted in victory, this is a pretty good example of that.
Best Newcomer: There is only one choice: Bruno Silva. It was a long time coming as Silva was forced to sit out for two years due to a USADA suspension. Silva had a rough time disengaging from Wellington Turman for most of the fight as the latter continued to try and engage in grappling. Once Silva created some separation
Start Typing a Resume: It looks like Wellington Turman was signed before he was ready for the UFC, dropping to 1-3 in the UFC following an absolutely brutal KO at the hands of Bruno Silva from GnP. Turman is still just 24, so there’s plenty of time for him to iron out some wrinkles before coming back to the organization. He just needs to find a way to avoid having his chin touched up. Time on the regional scene should give him the experience he needs to build up his confidence.
This will sound harsh on my part, but I hope Aleksa Camur is cut as well. Not because I want him to fail. I simply believe he, like Turman, got his call to the UFC far to early and the results have borne that out with two consecutive losses. At 25, he’s still very young in his career with plenty of time to grow. Let him go back to the regional scene and pick up a few wins against respectable regional vets. Confidence and experience will help exponentially….
Like many others, I’m going to be very disappointed if the UFC doesn’t keep Roque Martinez around so we can see him throw down with Chris Barnett, but I also can’t fault the UFC if they decide to cut loose Martinez after three losses in three attempts. Martinez is the perennial underdog on this stage, so it’s no surprise he dropped all three, but it also stings even more when most observers would agree Martinez deserved the decision this time around, the judges awarding Josh Parisian a gift.
Saved Their Job(s): Speaking of Josh Parisian, he should get a gift basket for those judges as I struggle to see a reasonable argument in which Parisian rightfully won. Parisian’s effort was commendable, but he didn’t fight the smartest fight. Regardless, he walked out with the win and though there’s no guarantee he would have been cut, I have to believe he would have been given a pink slip.
I think many will agree Nick Negumereanu very likely held on to his job on the basis of cheating, getting away with numerous blatant fence grabs. The youngster came back from a two-year layoff, showing improvements in his game, in addition to the wisdom that referees rarely penalize rule breaking. How much the fence grabbing impacted the fight can only be speculated about, but it put him on the shit list of those who pay close attention to the sport.
Never Seen That Before: I’m sure that it’s happened somewhere on a regional show, perhaps even in a larger promotion that I was unable to capture or have forgotten in the recesses of my mind, but I can’t recall a fighter carrying their injured arm in the manner Murata did for the entirety of a round before the fight was stopped. I was upset the referee allowed Murata to continue on that way for the round – imagine how much more damage could have been done if Jandiroba had targeted it – but fortunately no further damage appeared to be done to the arm. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem like the worst referee call on the evening, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Biggest WOW Moment: This was a difficult category to pick, though in a good way. The was Seung Woo Choi taking out Julian Erosa. Casey O’Neill putting Lara Procopio to sleep. Silva’s return from a suspension to take out Wellington Turman. Ricky Glenn’s return from a 31-month layoff to put away Joaquim Silva in just 37 seconds. However, I’m going with Matt Brown deading Dhiego Lima with one punch.
It isn’t just that Lima faceplanted after Brown landed that punch, though it was the largest factor. Brown doing so while seemingly coming from behind also plays a part, but didn’t put it over the top for me either. It’s that Brown did so at the age 40. It’s rare that fighters obtain those highlight reel finishes once their physical tools start to decline, typically relying on guts and guile to squeeze out wins as their athleticism declines. Doing so outside of heavyweight makes it even more impressive. We can all recall Mark Hunt securing KO’s into his 40’s. But name someone doing so under that weight class outside of the regionals. It’s hard, isn’t it?
Best/Worst Referee Call: I can’t recall the last time I feel like Mike Beltran dropped the ball, but how many warnings was he going to give Negumereanu about grabbing the fence? Sure, he gave him a longue-lashing that would have made any old-school parent proud, but was that the proper consequence for Negurereanu’s constant rule breaking? I know referees don’t want to feel like they’re influencing the fight, but they influence the fight when they don’t deduct points just as much as when they do deduct points. The fighters actions when the break the rules instigate the need for the referee to step in. Or in this case, not step in. Beltran is traditionally one of the best, but that was egregiously bad on his part.
Best Callout: This was an easy one, again by process of lack of callouts. Regardless, Marlon Vera asking for Dominick Cruz makes perfect sense. Cruz only has a single win since losing the bantamweight title in 2016, but his name still carries enough cache that a win over him provides a decent amount of recognition. Given Cruz was on the broadcast, we were actually treated to his immediate response to the callout and he gave a respectful answer, proclaiming he was flattered by the callout, but while Vera is looking at names ahead of him on the official rankings, Cruz was looking to do the same thing. Given the pull Cruz has – and the willingness of so many others willing to step in with the former champion – don’t expect Vera to get his wish. Regardless, it’s a damn fine callout.
Friends Again? The broadcast opened with an acknowledgment of some friction between former champions Michael Bisping and Cruz in the announce booth the last time they called fights together. There was playful banter between them to show things were smoothed over, but there was also a comment from Jon Anik that rang very true; some people enjoyed the animosity between the two of them. For those who enjoyed their hostilities, they weren’t given a second helping. I could speculate whether higher ups in the UFC or ESPN gave them a talking to, but I clearly don’t know for sure. All was good between them, but I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a healthy disagreement between the two of them again in the future.