Well, we can’t really call UFC228 a “sleeper card”. It did originally feature two title fights, Zabit Magomedsharipov and a possible title fight eliminator in the women’s straw-weight division. But this card took so much s–t from many people, and, like one of the main performers, it simply shut that talk down. WHAT a card!
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
When I made my pick I knew that Price was the fighter with the wider arsenal. He had advantages on most areas, and my initial instinct was to go with him. But reviewing Alhassan’s recent outings, I thought he had a good chance of doing what he ended up doing, which was to overwhelm Price with a brutal barrage of wild shots. Granted, that alone, doesn’t guarantee anything, but that power – which we’ve seen twice against Homasi – is a game changer. I’d like to follow him and see how he fares with increasingly better competition, but I can definitely get behind an exciting fighter like Alhassan.
1 for 1
John Dodson is likely a very nice person, and I have nothing against him. It’s just the he irritates me to no end… his style, which becomes less and less aggressive, his little “cute” smiles and chirps (or whatever the heck these sounds he makes are called). But more than anything, I guess, He doesn’t seem to change at all. What we’ve seen from him in TUF is what we’re seeing from him years later. So yes, he has knockout power, which is impressive. But we see it very rarely, and in between there’s simply way too many fakes and faints, and jumping around. I picked Rivera as I was hoping he’d be able to cut the cage and catch Dodson with a good counter. He wasn’t able to do that, mostly due to John’s speed, but was able to edge out a decision based on being a little less inactive. I didn’t like this fight but I’ll take the point.
2 for 2
I was going to pick Zabit over Yair, and when Davis stepped in, It became an easier pick. Not because I think Davis is some useless can. I just think Zabit is a size or 2 up for what he has to offer. Magomedsharipov was methodical. He took the first 4 minutes or so of the first round to time Davis and get the range right, before grabbing hold of him and start grinding. The second round picked up from where the first dropped off. absolute control, takedown and an absolutely brilliant, innovative submission. I normally stay away from hype trains, but I’m definitely on board the Zabit express. Chad Mendez – Let’s go.
3 for 3
This is the second fight on the main card that ended on brute force. Andrade is plenty technical, don’t get me wrong. But her tactic was to nullify Karolina’s technical game, by being even more aggressive than usual (her usual being a high bar to start). KK weathered the initial onslaught and established distance for a short while, but Andrade closed in again and with a nasty hook, put her out on her back. Tremendous force to be reckoned with, and a very likely next contender.
3 for 4
Till’s two most notable wins on his way to this premature title shot, were against two guys who lacked a very big threat, that Woodley possesses against pretty much anyone. The takedown. Against Thompson and Cerrone, Till could very comfortably play his game, to varying degrees of aggression. Against a phenomenal fighter like Woodley, one does not really have any comfort zone. Woodley started the fight with forward movement and mixed strikes with level changes, throwing whatever plan Till might have had out the window. leg kicks, faints, in and out, strikes to body and head – all in one direction. Till shook his head for effect, but Woodley knew it was all show and Till went to his corner looking like he’d just seen a ghost. The champ went ahead with take down, vicious ground and pound and eventually a beautiful submission. More later.
4 for 5
I enjoyed these picks almost as much as I enjoyed this really fun event!
The UFC 228 prelim headliner between Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez was another indication, that the streaking Suarez is on a direct journey to the top. Having the size on most of her possible opponents, the wrestling to absolutely bury the former champ, and the will to capitalize on superior positions, in my opinion makes her one of the 2 most dangerous matchs up for Rose (The other obvious one is Andrade). I am not saying “give her a title shot”, but she can’t be more than 2 fights – tops – from meeting the champ.
Geoff Neal is one very interesting fighter. His prelim fight against Frank Camacho showed, not only a very powerful striker, but a very skilled one as well. Kudos to Camacho for standing as long as he did, under the clinic Neal put on him. We want more!
Tyron – The Chosen one – Woodley is one HELL of a welterweight. You may like him or hate him, but you can’t deny him. I honestly believe he is now in the club reserved for champions like Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre. Not a GOAT candidate, mind you. But in the very short list of the greatest WW champions of all time. He shut down every type of opponent, from BJJ master Maia, to a striker like Thompson, a tough and very well-rounded Condit, and he did it all with what seems like ease. I’d love to watch the competition with Colby (Which I believe Woodley will win emphatically) just so we can put a stamp on his status as one of the greats.
The early prelims ended with one UFC/MMA legend after another. Both victorious, both huge fan favorites. These old dogs came in, fought their ass off and left 2 fighters named “White” thinking “what the hell just happened?”. I don’t know how many more times we will see Jim Miller and Diego Sanchez, but I will be there every time, cheering for them. Miller with his humble, no-nonsense, power through anything mentality. Sanchez with the same, mixed with hints of insanity. God I love these guys.
Performance of the night: Where do I even begin? Luckily I don’t have to hand out the bonuses, so I will just list them… What an awesome card!
Vintage Jim Miller
Abdul Razak Alhassan destroying Niko Price
Geoff Neal with a kick that would make Cro Cop proud.
Zabit doing his thing
Jessica “Tyson” Andrade…
And of course, Tyron Woodley:
Fight of the night: Irene Aldana and Lucie Pudilova went to WAR!
Don’t forget to check out Combat Docket for more good reads and post UFC228 fallout.