The first PPV of 2018 is behind us and as I write this opening line, I realize that any preamble I offer, will turn into what I normally consider the body of the post. So, no preamble for you!
Let’s discuss my picks quickly. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
Thomas Almeida Vs. Rob Font – This is a fight I was looking forward to, featuring two guys I really like watching, both coming in riding a loss. As you may have noticed by now, for me it’s not about the one fight. It’s about the journey and the progress. Part of me, the part that is a big fan of Almeida, wants to look at his recent losses (to Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera) with a lot of forgiveness and understanding – Heck, these are two really tough guys – and say that he simply had a tough schedule. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that there has been little to no development in the youngster’s game. He still starts slow and still forgets to defend and he still fights reckless. You don’t want reckless when facing someone who seems to develop and improve his game like Font. Rob kept a devastating pace, but didn’t go wild. Accurate, strong shots and a very impressive mix thereof culminating in a head kick that marked the way to a brilliant TKO victory. 0 for 1.
Gian Villante Vs. Francimar Barroso – I respect every fighter who walks into the cage and fights and both these guys did. Sort of. Villante is one of these guys who never caught my attention (except to wonder at the question – where is this going?). I guess there’s a place in a fighting promotion for a guy who just wants to exchange a few shots with another guy in a cage, but I wonder if the main card of the first PPV of the year is that place. Barroso on the other hand looks like a USADA victim (I haven’t considered this point when picking but no excuses). Villante lumbered forward, and Barroso sort of walked around waving an occasional hand towards him. As I said, it’s not about the one fight, but these are the fights we usually see from them. And my predictions night looks pretty grim so far… 0 for 2.
Calvin Kattar vs Shane Burgos – Welp… due to a… let’s call it scheduling mishap, I totally watched Rory MacDonald winning the Bellator WW title in a great fight with the wonderful Douglas Lima while this fight was going on so please forgive a Rory fan for not paying too much attention to two promising guys who reportedly gave a pretty good fight of their own on the UFC main card. I can’t pretend to be the authority on these guys and I picked Kattar for having the feeling he’s a bit more polished. Either way I’ll take a win when I can get one. 1 for 3.
Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir – Please tell me you haven’t – for a second – fallen to the hype around Volkan. Well, at least in the context of this title shot. This was really the easiest pick as Volkan had exactly 1 way of winning this and we’ve seen this fight before… it was the Rumble fight. Cormier as it stands, is on a completely different level than the rest of the division. You know, like Jones was. Only cleaner and more sportsmanlike. What a wonderful and underappreciated champion. 2 for 4.
Stipe Miocic Vs. Francis Ngannou – Naturally, UFC did what UFC does, as in taking a hot commodity and building the hype around it. You will remember that while discussing UFC218 I said that Stipe moves like no other HW and although initially I thought it was impossible for him to avoid all clean shots and that he might as well pay the price, as time moved on I remembered what a complete fighter Stipe is. Picking him to win wasn’t a decision taken with a 100% certainty. Just ask Overeeem and other victims. But as the fight approached I felt Stipe is actually the guy most equip to beat Ngannou. Not because he’s the champ. Because of his wrestling (bingo) and movement (bingo). I will now have to add – his chin. How well did he handle the few clean shots that did get through? After a performance like this one there’s no denying Stipe of the title – the baddest, scariest man. 3 for 5.
3 out of 5. I can live with that on a card like this one.
How about Rory MacDonald!? You didn’t forget about the Red King, did you? Robbie Lawler broke him they said. He’s done in MMA they said. Never going to be a champ they said. I really want to use some inappropriate language right about now. Instead I’ll just say this – After the wars Rory’s been through, to go and fight two really strong strikers (Daley can still knock people out, and Lima? faugedaboudit) and beat them is no small change. He annihilated Daley and when it comes to Lima, we’re talking about one of the most underrated WWs in the world. This is the complete package. With striking of another level, great BJJ and fight intelligence. Rory ended the fight looking like someone who went into a minefield (which he did) and still came out with the belt. Why? Because, on any given night, Rory is the best WW since GSP. Yes, there are still holes, but nobody’s perfect. And to all the Shmucks in LA who booed him then turned huge fans, I got two words.
I don’t really have much of the new coming out of this PPV, but if you’ve read my predictions, I didn’t think I’d have much.
Stipe Miocic has a problem. Well, not Stipe really, he’s poised to set a title defense record that I really don’t see broken for a decade or so. UFC has a problem and it’s called Stipe Miocic. They did all they can, The way only these clowns can, to bury their champion. To make him look weak and vulnerable. And he just stuck a middle finger in their joker faces and now… who can even pose a real threat? Go ahead. Review the list of candidates. Ok, Werdum MAY be the closest one and Stipe figured him out last time around. Cain? If you ask me, there’s no better fight if we’re looking at skill Vs. Skill. These are by far the best HWs in the world for years now. The only problem of course is that Cain’s body is unreliable in the best of times. So Who?
Daniel Cormier has a total of one legit contender. Alexander Gustafsson. And then what? Hey! I gots an idea. If the UFC don’t believe Cain is a viable contender for Miocic, I know a guy who can (and has) fight in HW and has a pretty impressive record at that weight class. Another hint? He trains with Cain and for that reason alone he went and conquered the LHW division instead.
Performance of the night: Rob Font methodical destruction of Thomas Almeida.
— Kyle Johnson (@KidNobuhiko) January 21, 2018
Fight of the night: Both fight of the night and post fight of the night go to the champion, Stipe Miocic. “kjfskjfdhskjhd!”
Don’t forget to check out Combat Docket for more good reads and post UFC218 fallout.