The UFC's latest trip to Europe took the Octagon to beautiful Hamburg, Germany with an exciting lineup of fights that aired entirely on UFC Fight Pass.
The card's main event honors went to former heavyweight champions Josh Barnett and Andrei Arlovski, who stepped onto the canvas with nearly 40 years of combined experience. The co-main event, meanwhile, saw two-time light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson attempt to get back on track against Poland's Jan Blachowicz, while the rest of the card featured some of the top talent from Europe and the world over.
Here's a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
Barnett Taps Arlovski in Hectic Heavyweight Battle
The main event of the evening paired former UFC heavyweight champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett in a fight that just as easily could have happened in the early days of the UFC or in the ring of the long-dead Affliction promotion. Both heavyweights looked to regain their footing as legitimate contenders, and avoid the kind of late-career loss that could derail their title aspirations for good.
It was a wild fight, as the first thirty seconds alone saw Barnett rocked once, and Arlovski rocked twice. From there, we saw plenty of major momentum swings, as both fighters had major successes on the feet and the mat. In the end, however, Barnett would win this war of attrition, grounding the fight in the third to pass first into mount, and then into position for a deep rear-naked choke. Arlovski tapped out at 2:53 of round three.
With the win, Barnett becomes the first man to submit Arlovski. Having bounced back from a submission loss to Ben Rothwell, he once again has the look of a contender in the perilous heavyweight division. He's now 35-8 overall, and 3-2 since returning to the UFC in 2013. Arlovski, meanwhile, suddenly finds himself on a dangerous, three-fight skid in the twilight of his long career. He's 4-3 since returning to the Octagon in 2014, and now sits at 25-13 in sum.
Gustafsson Returns to Winning Ways with Decision Over Blachowicz
Hamburg's co-main event saw Sweden's Alexander Gustafsson return to action after almost a year on the shelf, as he attempted to rebound from back-to-back losses to Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson against Poland's Jan Blachowicz.
Blachowicz immediately surprised by out-striking Gustafsson while the bout was on the feet. Unfortunately for the Pole, all this striking success did was drive Gustafsson to use his grappling. And when Gustafsson decided to use his grappling, the fight was his. The Swede succeeded on four takedowns over the course of the three-round affair, which allowed him to amass more than ten minutes of control time, and batter his foe with an onslaught of almost 150 strikes. Needless to say, it was a clear win for Gustafsson by the time the third round ended.
With this dominant performance, Gustafsson tastes victory for the first time since a March 2014 defeat of Jimi Manuwa. He's now 9-4 in the UFC, and 17-4 in sum. Blachowicz, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after an April defeat of Igor Pokrajac. He's now a tough 2-3 across 5 UFC bouts, and 19-6 overall.
Bader Snuffs Latifi with Rocket-Fuelled Knee
The second bout of the main card occurred in the light heavyweight division, as Sweden's Ilir Latifi returned to action against his toughest opponent yet: The Ultimate Fighter season 8 winner Ryan Bader. Unfortunately for Latifi, Bader was simply too much to handle.
Though Bader ate some big punches from the powerful Latifi in the first, he ultimately stole the win in the second, smashing his Swedish foe mid-level-change with a blistering knee to the chin. A victorious Bader walked off with his hands in the air as Latifi hit the canvas in an unconscious heap.
With the win, the TUF winner rebounds from a January knockout loss to Anthony Johnson, and keeps his status as a light heavyweight contender alive. He's now 21-5 overall, and 7-3 in his last 10 fights, which have seen him take on many of the division's best fighters. Latifi, meanwhile, has a three-fight streak snapped by the loss. He's now 12-5 overall, and 5-3 in the Octagon.
Hein Decisions Bang for Home Turf Win
There was only one German fighter on Hamburg's main card. That fighter was Cologne's Nick Hein, who took on South Korean slugger Tae Hyun Bang in a compelling lightweight showdown.
Though it was not a particularly riveting performance, Hein ultimately walked away with his home turf win, stealing a unanimous decision win from his Korean opponent by landing the bout's more meaningful strikes and succeeding on a pair of takedowns.
With the win, the German fighter improves his UFC record to a strong 4-1, while is overall record now stands at 14-2. Bang, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after a split win over Leo Kuntz. He's now 2-3 in the UFC, and a tough 18-10 overall.
Ayari Edges Wallhead in Back-and-Forth Fight
The final bout of the undercard occurred at welterweight, as Germany's own Jessin Ayari took on England's Jim Wallhead—a replacement for recent Rousimar Palhares foil Emil Weber Meek. Both fighters were making their UFC debuts.
In the end, it was Ayari who made good on his debut, stealing a split decision from Wallhead to the roar of the German fans in attendance. The key to Ayari's win seemed to be his defense. Though he absorbed some heavy artillery late in the third, he was able to stay out of Wallhead's range for most of the bout, while landing plenty of strikes of his own. He was particularly successful with his uppercut.
With the win, the 24-year-old German moves to 1-0 as a UFC fighter, and improves his overall record to an impressive 16-3. Wallhead, on the other hand, comes up short in his long-awaited UFC debut, and now sits at 29-10 in sum.
Jamaica's Sobotta Outduels Dalby
The second last bout of the undercard came courtesy of the welterweight division. In one corner we had Danish striker Nicholas "Sharpshooter" Dalby. In the other, we had German-Polish grappler Peter Sobotta, who was representing the far-off Caribbean nation of Jamaica so that he wouldn't have to choose between Germany and Poland.
This one was all Sobotta. Though Dalby flaunted his heart and durability for the bout's duration, he found himself soundly out-grappled—and surprisingly, out-struck—by his crafty opponent. Over the course of the fight, Sobotta landed 83 strikes, succeeded on three takedowns, and racked up more than 10 minutes of control time. More than enough to warrant a unanimous decision win.
With the win, Sobotta rebounds from a recent TKO loss to Kyle Noke. He's now 3-1 in his second stint with the UFC, and 16-5-1 overall. Dalby, meanwhile, enters the first two-fight skid of his career. He's now 14-2-1 overall.
Evans-Smith Smashes Macedo in the Third
The lone women's bout of the night occurred at bantamweight as the division's 13th-ranked fighter Ashlee Evans-Smith took on a late replacement in 20-year-old Venezuelan Veronica Macedo.
Though the debuting Macedo was able to hold her own against the much Larger Evans-Smith, she was ultimately unable to cope with her opponent's physical advantages. Despite arguably winning the first round, she would then lose the second round fairly decisively, only to be polished off by a storm of third-round elbows after a failed leg-lock attempt.
With this third-round TKO win, Evans-Smith extends her win-streak to two, and assumes a UFC record of 2-1. She's now 5-1 in total. Macedo, meanwhile, loses for the first time. She's also 5-1 overall, and would probably be wise to make the cut down to strawweight for her next bout.
Lapilus Lights Issa Up to Unanimous Decision Win
The middle bout of the undercard occurred at bantamweight, where France's Taylor Lapilus and Brazil's Leandro Issa looked to rebound from decision losses to Erik Perez and Iuri Alcantara respectively.
The story of this one was pretty straightforward. Issa spent the duration of the fight chasing takedowns, while Lapilus would defend these takedowns—albeit with some difficulty—only to separate and light his foe up on the feet. By the time the final bell chimed, then, we'd seen Lapilus land plenty of meaningful offense, while Issa had landed almost none. It was a clear unanimous decision win for the 24-year-old Frenchman.
With the win, Lapilus moves to 3-1 in the UFC, and 11-2 overall. He continues to establish himself as a fighter to watch in the ever growing bantamweight division. Issa, meanwhile, falls onto a two-fight skid. He's now a tough 13-6 in sum.
Colombo Point-Deduction Results in Draw with Danho
Long before Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett went at in Hamburg's heavyweight main event, Jarjis Danho and Christian Colombo collided in an undercard heavyweight bout.
It was a bit of an ugly one. The first round saw Danho turn a 10-9 score into a 10-8, milking a point deduction out of the archaic one-hand-on-the-canvas-equals-downed-opponent rule—which will thankfully be abolished in 2017. Round two, meanwhile, saw Colombo reclaim the fight's momentum, blasting his exhausted foe with knees and repeatedly threatening with guillotine chokes. Round three, finally, saw the two torpid heavies pelt each other with slow, looping punches, with Colombo appearing to land the better blows. The end result then, was a draw, as Colombo's efforts in two and three were cancelled-out by his first round point deduction.
With this result, Danho moves to 6-1-1, and stays winless in two UFC bouts. Colombo, meanwhile, now sits at 8-1-1, and will have to wait for his first UFC win.
"The Joker" Makes Strong Debut with Decision Defeat of Askham
The second bout of the UFC's German return occurred in the middleweight division, as England's Scott Askham took on debuting Swede Jack "The Joker" Hermansson.
There were no Octagon jitters for Hermansson. After a competitive first round, the Swede turned it on in round two, backing his foe into the cage, and peppering him with jabs, uppercuts, and the occasional kick to the body. Round three saw more of the same from the Swede, who also mixed in a takedown for emphasis. The end result, then, was a clear unanimous decision victory for Hermansson.
With the win, The Joker makes a successful UFC debut and improves his overall record to 14-2. Askham, on the other hand, returns to the loss column after a thunderous KO of Chris Dempsey in his last fight. He's now 14-3 overall and 2-3 in the Octagon.
Khabilov Edges Buscape in Slow Fight
The action began in the lightweight division, as Dagestan's Rustam Khabilov looked to extend his win-streak to three opposite Brazil's Leandro "Buscape" Silva—a replacement for the injured Reza Madadi.
Though Silva was able to steal the first round, Khabilov reclaimed the momentum in rounds two and three with his grappling, nabbing a unanimous decision win as a result.
In his post-fight interview with Dan Hardy, Khabilov stated he was interested in bouts with Edson Barboza, a top-five lightweight, and Anthony Pettis, who now fights at featherweight. While these matchups don't really make any sense, he probably is ready for another step up in competition. He's now a commendable 20-3 overall, while Buscape falls onto a two-fight skid and assumes an overall record of 19-5-1.