UFC232 turned out to be greater than the sum of its shenanigans. It featured thirteen fights, only three of which went the distance. Upsets, KOs and submissions galore. What more can one ask for?
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
I was going to go with Volkanovski on this one, I swear. Then I though, man… this is Chad Mendes. Experience, power, you know. Well, it’s all still in there, but it didn’t stand in the way of the surging Aussie. First round was mostly prep work for the second. Volkanovski was a tad more aggressive it seemed, but most was feigns and fakes, determining range. Both guys came out to the second with vengeance, throwing bombs at each other, and the first to land – repeatedly – was Mendes. At which point I thought my pick was about to be secured. However, Volkanovski showed great recovery, and was able to turn the tide, landing some bombs of his own, en route to a TKO on one of featherweight’s powerhouses.
0 for 1
When I came to pick this one, the logic was – if Latifi is able to land one of his sledge hammers on Corey, it’s night-night. If not, most likely Anderson will stifle him for the rest of the fight with wrestling, and get the decision. I banked on the Swede landing and rocking Corey, and was not a 100% wrong. Anderson did take a couple of these punches, but weathered them nicely before surprising me with much improved stand up game. Not to say he became an excellent one, but last night we saw him able to rely on combinations, and maintain range using kicks and punches and hardly resort to TD attempts. He held his own and in the end, being able to frustrate Latifi, making him exert energy on the power, was able to get the decision. It wasn’t a great fight to watch – especially coming off of the barn burner that opened the card, but it was interesting to see new wrinkles to Anderson’s game. Kudos. (By the way, Ilir, before calling a machine like DC out, let’s get cardio enough for more than 7 min, eh?)
0 for 2
I’m not one to tell a fighter to retire. As long as said fighter wants to fight, and is cleared medically, by all means. It’s his current income. This becomes really difficult when it comes to someone like Condit, who is among the three fighters I love the most in this sport (GSP and Cowboy being the other two). I don’t pick against the NBK. So I take this in stride, but watching the fight, I have to say it felt sad. The speed, and output we were so accustomed to see from Condit is largely gone. Chiesa was able to, quite easily, close distance, avoid significant strikes from the clinch, and take him down. The game off his back is still there to some extent, but it wasn’t enough against a guy who is known, mostly for his submissions game. When I find myself on edge, watching a favorite of mine, praying that something lands and stops the opponent, I guess it’s as good indication as any, that it might be time to go… but of course, next time I see Carlos being booked for a fight, I’d still mark the date in my calendar as “Must see before gone”. And what about Chiesa? well, this is a nice feel-good win for him. Calling out Magney was awkward, but Mike is an awkward guy. I wish him all the best, but at welterweight he has a very clear ceiling in my opinion. Not in the league of the Woodleys and Usmans and Covingtons of this division.
0 for 3
In UFC231, a fighter, hailed for her all time status went up in weight to fight for a second title against Valentina Shevchenko and failed. Last night, a fighter with wins over Miesha Tate, Said Valentina (twice) as well as Rousey (for good measure) went up in weight to face Cris Cyborg. Not only was she successful, but she was emphatically so. I picked Nunes as a nice surprise pick, but boy… I did not picture it to go down the way it did. Under a minute… Like her, hate her, whatever. Amanda Nunes is the best female fighter ever. Exclamation mark. On a technical level, there really is not much to talk about. perhaps the selection of strikes from Nunes which was much smarter than the defending Cyborg. Quicker shots, aimed and timed to perfection.
1 for 4
With Jones, better I focus on the in cage action, lest I digress… So. In discussions leading up to this event, I kept saying that the outcome depends solely on Jon Jones, and how he shows up. Show up like he did to the OSP fight? things are open. Shows up like Jon Jones? Gus doesn’t stand a chance. All due respect to Alexander, he is no match for Jones (no one is…). The way this fight went down, signifies the actual differences between Jones and his peers. The first fight is history in every way possible. Jones said it – he gets much better in a rematch. Gus and his camp did not account for any adaptations from Jon. Why? did they really think he was going to come back for a rerun? This is part of what makes Jones such an effective fighter, the ability to learn, adapt and improve even though he is excellent as it is. Gustafsson tried to be patient, defended a couple of TD attempts and perhaps thought he was doing fine (he was not. a clear 2-0 to Jones, going into the 3rd). Then jones got the takedown, established position and – excuse the pun – mauled him until Beltran stepped in. Jones learned his lessons, took close to no damage, moved well, in and out and especially sideways, catching Gustafsson’s leg with some nasty kicks, from angles where the Swede had no chance of catching one. A few trademark step-in elbows were good for establishing his preferred range, in addition to his patented straight kicks just above the knee. It was a fight between one who relied on past (relative) success and one who was not satisfied with said past performance.
2 for 5
Excuses aside, I did horribly bad on my picks. blah.
2018 ended so well at the Nunes/Ansarof household. in UFC231 Nina got a very impressive win over Claudia Gadelha, and now Amanda Nunes is crowned first double champ in women history (and goat). At 135 there is absolutely no one who poses a real threat. at 145? perhaps a rematch with Cyborg? who the hell knows. None of the others seem like any serious risk. With Nunes reigning supreme in these 2 divisions, Shevchenko’s seemingly stable position at 125, it leaves 115 as still, the more interesting women’s weight class.
Beating Chad Mendes, definitely puts Volkanovski in the title contenders discussion. For me it’s now down to 2 runners-up – Volkanovski and Moicano. Either one would make sense, and I don’t see any controversy. Both would also make a fight with Max interesting, though I still think the champion holds some advantages on both. Regardless of who gets the nod, let us hope this fight comes sooner, rather than later. 2018 was a year of very low-frequency of fights from the leaders.
Jon Jones is still the best fighter to ever (dis?)grace the octagon. What else can we say about his fighting abilities? In cage intelligence second to none (I used to think GSP had the edge on that, but I think Jones actually does), that range control, not neglecting the importance of his wrestling to determine where he wants the fight to go. Effective striking… an understatement.
And now to the shenanigans. Let’s make something clear. I was a huge Jon Jones fan. I can’t really express how disappointed I am with his behavior, and repeated infractions of every rule, and his seeming inability to care about anyone but himself. For the record, I don’t believe that this picogram is 2017 ingested. But that’s just me. He is the best fighter they have, so they gave him (another) pass, completely F$%&ing the fans – which is the biggest disgrace in my humble opinion.
The above said, and my famous love for DC in mind, there is nothing for DC to look for at 205 with a rematch on Jones’ terms. No steroid I know of accounted for the brilliant trap Jones and his team prepared for him in the last fight. It’s simple skills and craftiness. I am however interested in fight #3, but only at Heavyweight. This is the only thing that may give Cormier a certain edge and put the two on a sort of even ground.
Performance of the night (2 of which):
Jon Jones destroying Gustafsson:
Amanda Nunes Rocking Cris Cyborg:
Fight of the night:
Alexander Volkanovski Vs. Chad Mendes:
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