For a while now, UFC did a good job (yes, I give credit when credit is due) closing out the calendar year with strong cards that delivered in more than the entertainment department. 2018 so far, is on par in that department. Although 218 suffered the significant loss of Edgar to injury, the card (and undercard) was strong enough to give us more than our money’s worth.
As always, let’s discuss my picks quickly. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
Tecia Torres Vs. Michelle Waterson – I have to first acknowledge that Waterson is tougher than I gave her credit for. The scenario I was seeing play was very much like the way the fight progressed, only with Torres’s intensity eventually overwhelming the Karate Hottie. Tiny Tornado did what Tiny Tornado does and applied constant pressure, especially showing her strength at the clinch against the cage. I believe Torres should be the next contender to Rose’s belt, assuming we don’t see an immediate rematch with Joanna. 1 for 1.
Eddie Alvarez Vs. Justin Gaethje – Well first, how crazy is the fact that this fight is second on this card when it could easily co-main or main event a card of its own? As my combatdocket.com buddies correctly put it – only due to the main event being a title fight and the preceding 2 being pretty much title contender matches. Now to the fight itself. I predicted Gaethje by TKO, mostly due to his durability and aggression, as well as his incredible heart. What I didn’t take into account is Alvarez’s obvious improvements in striking. Don’t get me wrong. Eddie was a great fighter before this fight and by no means had he not had a chance to win it. It’s just that I didn’t see him doing THAT well. Well…I was so wrong. Strong wrestling base and really good, crisp striking make for a really dangerous fighter, and how about grit? Both guys gave us another fight for the ages, and that, just a short while after that undercard FOTY contender between Medieros and Oliveira. 1 for 2.
Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis – Kudos to Pettis Junior. I saw Cejudo running through him like a freight train with great ease. Due to his wrestling abilities and improved striking game. The fight wasn’t a very exciting one, especially when we consider the others surrounding it, but it was a very good fight, with Sergio mostly paying his dues en route to a promising career. Cejudo looks like the one who’d benefit the most of a possible Mighty Mouse move up to 135. 2 for 3.
Alistair Overeem vs Francis N’gannou – What can I say? Just read this beautiful piece by Benjamin Abrigo and join the MMA community in wondering at this specimen. Reem knew he had to do something early and he tried. I love Stipe. Stipe is a better MMA fighter than N’gannou. But no one stands after a clean shot from Francis and I think he will land one. 3 for 4.
Max Holloway Vs. Jose Aldo – That’s pretty much exactly how I saw this fight go, and even though Aldo shows a little (emphasis on little) willingness to explore more than just punches, he eventually walked into Max’s trap. I would have loved to see Jose go back to those leg kicks with more consistency and yes, see how the fight might be on the ground. He didn’t. Aldo is a legend and Max is classy guy who gave him the credit he deserves. 4 for 5.
I’ll take 4 out of 5 any night. I’ll take a card like this any night.
Once again – Francis N’gannou. We can watch that knockout in a loop for hours and not understand the power behind it. A combination of raw muscle strength and something only physics majors can explain about energy conversion and such. Are we looking at the next HW champion? I think we are. We could have the most dominant one in UFC history if things work out healthwise and USADA-wise for this whispering giant. That said, Stipe moves like no other heavyweight and I want to give him that, in anticipation of the clash of the best HWs in the world.
Max Holloway is poised to take Aldo’s place on the pedestal of FWs. Conor may have beat them both but Conor doesn’t seem to seek any kind of legacy, definitely not in FW, and Max has age on his side, as well as the skills, to string together the kind of title defenses which will put him as the top FW in history (assuming no extracurricular interruptions). Yes, UFC218 might be that point in history we will look at and say – that’s where legacies started in the extremities of the weight range.
And still our attention is called to MMA reffing. In a night that lacks on Big John and Goddard, the Herb Deans warn fighters for “too many back steps” (WHAT?) and ignore blatant fence and shorts grabs as well as knees to the head of downed opponents. I honestly don’t know what is the solution. Maybe that is why we keep seeing this… maybe they don’t know either. I only hope it’s that and not the lack of motivation to change.
Performance of the night: Like I said. Just watch it in a loop…
Fight of the night: That has to go to the undercard tornado in disguise between Yancy Medeiros and Alex Oliveira:
Don’t forget to check out Combat Docket for more good reads and post UFC218 fallout.