So the super card is behind us. Miraculously, everyone (significant) made weight, all showed up, and even Jones came up positive on only 2 out of 5 what-have-yas and it was of course a pulse, so don’t worry. It was going to be the best card of the year, and while it was good, I allow myself to speculate that we have not seen the best 2019 card yet. But, I’m a little ahead of myself here.
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
I see a trend, and I’d like to share it with you. Every fighter who wins the Bantamweight title, meets TJ Dillashaw, loses, loses to him again, looks like the shadow of his former self… Ask Renan Barao, or Cody Garbrandt. The line of thinking – picking this fight – was not completely clean of MMAth. While Munhoz has nice wins, he fell a little short when facing the top ranked guys. While Cody, having lost twice to TJ, had a magnificent fight against Cruz. That, grouped with the sense of urgency – not to say desperation – I had to think Cody would have, made me pick him. Garbrandt is a talented fighter. You don’t run a clinic on the best 135er ever, without skills. But Pedro had his number. Boy, did he ever. He felt that Cody fights emotionally and that he could, and would, be drawn into recklessness, and while Munhoz rolled with the punches, Cody fell and the end came quickly after. It will be interesting to see where their respective careers will go from here. Munhoz has some tough hurdles in his future, and Cody? Cody needs to bounce back somehow, be it by being fed, or changing something up. It cannot go on like this, or he will become completely irrelevant.
0 for 1
This was a fight that, at least as I saw it, was decided on physical strength, and Zhang had the edge here. It took Torres some time to find the range and the timing, but she was able to land. The problem was that she couldn’t land more than a couple before being tied up and often thrown down, by the bigger and stronger Chinese fighter. Exciting fight it was not, but effective. I wonder what the cap for Zhang is, in terms of competition, as the better women division (115) has some very talented and strong ladies and I am not convinced that she can shut them down, or at least not as effectively as she did here.
0 for 2
I sat in the living room saying “He’s out!”, so I can’t point fingers at Herb Dean in this case. Robbie Lawler is a fan favorite because, among other reasons, he is a fighter first and foremost. No whine, no excuse, moving on. What a guy. I picked Ben for his wrestling, and as predictable as a sunrise in the morning, he went straight for a takedown which… was stuffed by Robbie, who proceeded to quite literally flip Askren on his head, WWE style. That choke looked deep, and in hind sight, seeing Lawler after the stoppage, there really is no telling where this fight would’ve gone, had it been let to continue. Hell, every card needs some controversy right? Or not.
1 for 3
I really hope you guys took my advice before the event, and read Benjamin Abrigo’s excellent preview piece on Combat Docket. Long before Rogan was complaining about it on air, we knew what the general texture of this fight will be. What we may have not known was, how strong it would be accentuated as fights do. Woodley immediately started his backward movement, inviting Usman to attack, and was looking for an opening. But Usman was so disciplined, leaving nothing open – especially the left side of his head – staying nice and compact. I honestly did not see this coming. While I respected the Nigerian before the fight (I thought he was the better challenge than Colby), I couldn’t even dream of the way he executed his plan. Taking Woodley down? repeatedly? and keeping him on his back? Are you kidding me? The look on Tyron’s face in those moments was very telling. It was a good try to mask helplessness. When round 3 started, I had a creeping feeling that there is simply nothing Woodley can do in this fight. He relied so much on the tried and tested, and even when his corner screamed at him to go on the offensive, he couldn’t translate it into action. Usman was absolutely phenomenal, with nonstop pressure, allowing Woodley no rest at all. Those constant strikes to the rib cage were devastating, even on the wild exchange towards the end of the fourth, it felt a lot more like an upcoming knockout on the defending champion’s expense than a lucky stray. there was a missed uppercut there from Usman that demonstrated the differences in the level of strength and energy left in both. It was not pretty. This fight does not change my mind about Woodley. He is still one of the best, in my eyes, but Usman’s game was tailor-made, and was – as usual I might add – on point. Congrats to the new champ!
1 for 4
After watching Jones beating Gustafsson so easily last time around, I think it was clear in which direction this fight would go. I respect Smith, I like him as a fighter, but picking Jones to win this one was easier than putting on a shirt. I was actually surprised only by the fact that Jones did not get the finish. To be honest, it seemed at large parts of the fight that he was not looking for one… The openings were there. I guess these are things that fighters feel in the cage, and from where I sit it’s difficult to understand.
2 for 5
Oh man… I took a beating on the main card picks, worse than Woodley took from Usman… So in my defense, I’ll point to the overall ones, where I scored a nice 8 out of 12 🙂
Kamaru Usman. Remember the name. Well, you won’t have a choice I guess. This new champion is here to stay. He already proved – before this fight – that he is top-notch. Dos Anjos, Maia, even Edwards, and now Tyron Woodley. Outside the cage, a very irate Colby Covington, was making faces and screaming (BAU) and he will likely get what he asked for – a chance to get beat by the Nigerian nightmare. While Colby’s style is different to Tyron’s I do not see him imposing his position on Usman. I think Usman ties up a nice string of title defenses, not unlike the champion he dethroned. It sure will be interesting to see where we go from here, as stylistically who is going to be the biggest threat (other than the aforementioned)? I’ll need to give this some thought. There are levels to this game.
After Jones cruised to another title defense I have to say what many of you are thinking – There is no reason to wait. It’s time to book him and Johnny Walker, as soon as that shoulder is healed… from a technical perspective it is still a very lopsided fight. Jones is miles ahead. But this is the fight game and Walker has long and powerful limbs, and if anything, has a better chance to actually make it within range, to land a big one. We’ve seen Jones get hit in the past, and he took it very well. But there seems to be something different about Johnny’s power. It could be that reckless abandon, in which he seems to throw some of them, though he also knows how to throw tight technique (Ask Khalil Rountree). There are 205ers who may be more rounded, more deserving, but we are talking about a division of Jones, and the rest. Levels, you see. So let’s see this fight sooner, rather than later. If Jones wins, we’re business as usual and we continue down the line of opponents. If he loses… well, a pretty dormant division wakes up all of a sudden.
And still I have to listen to Joe Rogan screaming hyperboles. “Jon, we may be watching the best welterweight of all times!” NO Joe. We are not. THAT welterweight retired about a week ago. I have a lot of respect for Woodley and his journey. I like him. But come on son… Georges St. Pierre is, and for the forseeable future will be the goat. At the very least in HIS division. There are levels to this game… So take a chill pill and let’s get DC back there with Anik. #ThugRose #ThugRose!
Ben Askren has always drawn as many jeers as he did cheers. I can see that people may not like his fight style, to each his own. I can see that some people may not appreciate his comments (although it does baffle me that some of these, enjoy Colby’s absolute rubbish…). But the man is 34 years old, a champ in two other organizations, whose sole goal in what remains of his career is justifiably – winning the UFC belt. He is not going to pretend otherwise, and he is not going to give Robbie a rematch. You may not like it. It may be a “d^%k move”. But it is the only thing he can do, if he wants to achieve his goal. So, instead of being bitter about it, take a page off of Lawler’s book and move right along 🙂
You didn’t think I’d finish this one without a word on Zabit Magomedsharipov, did you? He did not finish this fight, but he did beat the best fighter, toughest fighter at that, who stood across the octagon from him. Slowly does it. Next fight will become really interesting, as he makes his way up the featherweight ladder. His journey is very interesting, and I (along with so many of you) wonder where it may stop, if at all… I remain very impressed with the combination of skills, chin and savvy he shows in there.
Oh yeah, Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez also won! That is always fun. I love me some old school Diego Sanchez, this time putting the hurt on Mickey Gall.
Well. This was UFC235. Let’s look at
Performance of the night:
Kamaru Usman being very mean to Tyron Woodley:
Pedro Munhoz Finishes Cody Garbrandt:
Fight of the night:
Kamaru Usman Vs. Tyron Woodley:
Don’t forget to check out Combat Docket for more good reads and post UFC235 fallout.