The UFC’s debut in Saskatchewan gave fight fans a variety of looks and finishes including big-time knockouts, dazzling submissions and one of the craziest freak accidents in mixed martial arts history.
More than 7,200 people packed into SaskTel Centre for UFC Fight Night 74.
The event’s notable standout was Canadian welterweight Patrick “The Predator” Cote who continued to have success fighting in his home country. The fight card also featured a lop-sided co-main event that ended in a split decision and a sudden finish in the main event that left the hungry crowd anxious for more.
Sunday’s main event pitted two top featherweights, Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira. The much-anticipated fight between two warriors with very different fighting styles – a kick boxer and a submission specialist – only lasted 1:39 in the first round.
Standing back up to his feet after an attempted takedown it appeared Oliveira tweaked something in his left shoulder or collarbone as the Brazilian looked to wince in pain as he touched his upper left arm, while absorbing a body shot from Holloway. Sensing something was wrong Holloway stepped back and allowed Oliveira to tell the referee he could not continue. Medical staff quickly entered the octagon and loaded Oliveira onto a stretcher.
Happy to be victorious but sad to see his Oliveira hurt, Holloway extended sympathy to his fallen opponent. In the post-fight interview, Holloway said he’d like to face another featherweight contender Frankie Edgar, who recently called out featherweight interim champion Connor McGregor.
E Spencer Kyte, who covers MMA for the Province, Sportsnet and Fight Magazine, said he was impressed with what he saw. He believes Saskatoon is capable of hosting more UFC events in the future.
“Definitely this level feels like the right level of show to me. This venue is a very good venue for a fight night event of this size,” the Victoria-based writer said.
“It has been well-received so far these last couple of days. The weather wasn’t the best for the UFC experience things that they had but people still turned out.
Cote versus Burkman
Coming into Saskatoon, The Predator faced another UFC veteran in Josh Burkman. Fighters showed how much respect they had for each other by not taking too many risks in the first five minutes. But things heated up in the second with Cote and Burkman trading blows for the better part of the round.
Burkman caught Cote with a shot late in the second round and it wobbled the Canadian. In the third and final round Cote and Burkman held nothing back as both were swinging for the fences with Cote catching his opponent with a counter right hand, sending Burkman to the mat; and like a shark smelling blood, Cote quickly followed up to the dazed Burkman and rained down punches until the referee stopped the fight. It was the fight that drew the largest crowd reaction, and landed Cote and Burkman a performance bonus for Fight of the Night.
“I knew Burkman would bring it—and that’s what he did. That was a fun fight. That was very tough and sometimes violent. He rocked me and I rocked him. It was a great exchange between two veterans. It was a blast,” Cote said after the fight.
On short notice and right into the co-main event, the UFC added Neil Magny to Fight Night Saskatoon, who was in tough against an experienced Brazilian in Erick Silva. But the short camp didn’t seem to bother Magny as he was the aggressor right from the opening bell. Silva, who is used to taking the fight to the ground, did the opposite. While he did land a couple of takedowns and a significant body slam, it was Magny’s conditioning that let him slip away from Silva while landing strikes and counters throughout the fight. I bet Magny has no regrets taking the Saskatoon fight after having his hand raised in a split-decision victory.
Closing out the preliminary fight card was Canadian UFC veteran Sam Stout facing off with newcomer Frankie Perez.
Stout came into Fight night Saskatoon riding a string of losses and Saskatoon was not the night he turned it around.
Facing off against Perez, who is stepping into the octagon for the second time in his career – Stout looked to right the ship in front of his friends and family, but Perez wasn’t looking to be pushed over.
While Stout came out the aggressor taking centre-control of the cage, Perez swiftly countered with a right hook landing right on Stout’s chin, sending him to the mat. Perez followed up with another combination from the top position, swarming Stout with lefts and rights before the referee had to stop the fight.
After the fight, Perez spoke about how the sport has been so demanding on him and his family and with a 1-1 record in the octagon, Perez announced his retirement from the UFC.
“It’s all about my family. I’ve dedicated my life to this sport since I was 17—and I’m 26 now. I’ve never taken a year off, or even a break. I’ve been fighting non-stop since I was 17. I’m just ready for the next chapter. I want to open up a school, find a girl and make some babies.”
Misha Cirkunov v. Daniel Jolly – Cirkunov defeats Jolly via KO (punches) at 4:54 of the 1st round
Shane Campbell (CAN) v. Elias Silverio – Campbell def. Silverio by unanimous decision.
Chris Kelades (CAN) v. Chris Beal – Kelades def. Beal by split decision.
Nikita Krylov v. Marcos Rogerio de Lima — Krylov def. Rogerio de Lima via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:29 of the 1st round
Felipe Arantes v. (CAN) Yves Jabouin — Arantes def. Jabouin via submission (arm bar) at 4:21 of the 1st round
Valerie Letourneau (CAN) v. Maryna Moroz – Letourneau wins by unanimous decision
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (CAN) v. Tony Sims – Aubin-Mercier wins by unanimous decision.
Chad Laprise (CAN) vs. Francisco Trinaldo – Trinaldo wins by knockout