When Joe Rogan screamed the pre-PPV hype, next to Anik and Cormier, he dubbed the Co-Main and Main event of UFC236 “Who knows fights”. That was true. Who knew? Well, some of us thought we did, but even those of us who called the right score, would admit it wasn’t a lock. For my part, I can say that all the main card fights were kind of “Who knows?” Let me put in a bit of, badly written, foreshadowing – Not me…
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
If the top two fights were who-knows-fights, I guess OSP is a who-knows-fighter. Here’s a guy who, on any given day, can take Jon Jones for a dance, or look like a shadow of himself. Sometimes both, all in the same fight. Krylov is no slouch, and I didn’t pick OSP without hesitation. I was just counting on an on-day for Saint Preux. The first round was not bad for him, and he mostly shut Krylov’s attacks. But it took a heavy toll, as we could all see him rapidly fade. All that was missing was an energy bar at the corner of the screen turning alarmingly red with every second. In the end, not only did Krylov had the technical edge, he also fought intelligently, and as a bonus, not only did he take revenge against OSP, he did so where his foe was supposed to have the advantage, returning the favor with flying colors.
0 for 1
This was one of those fights, where you think you know what’s about to happen, right? Well, if we’re honest with ourselves, we shouldn’t have expected a much different affair than what transpired in the cage. In one corner – a power striker, and on the other a technical striker. The power striker, holding, waiting, and pouncing when he sees an opening. The technical one relies on a lot of movement, fakes, timing. Still, we were left highly disappointed in the lack of output from both fighters, which is a shame, because both gave up on multiple chances to make something big happen for them in this fight. Grant cannot take joy in this win. All things said, he is power striker and was not able to put Jouban away, or even significantly hurt him, or make any kind of statement. Jouban, for his part, played it smart by avoiding most of that power, but… did not attack, even with many openings that his corner clearly identified for him. He cannot be frustrated with this loss, only with his offensive performance. Yes, I think he might have won, but quite frankly, this fight had a “draw” written all over it, and it would have been fitting for a fight that was drawn out for so long.
0 for 2
Eryk Andres was awarded a very charitable 30-26 loss in this fight. I guess that’s alright. No need to kick a guy when he’s down, and man was he down. My personal score card had it 10-8, 10-7 and 10-9. What in the Lord’s world happened to Khalil Rountree? It’s not that I thought he was bad, but after two – more than dominant – rounds, my jaw started to hurt, having hit the floor so many times. Devastating and lightning quick leg kicks, crisp, well-timed strikes that knocked Andres down repeatedly. Taking zero damage. I applaud Andres for never quitting, but perhaps he should have… he was actually doing much better in the 3rd round, but as he clearly lost that one too, it was more a testament to how badly he was losing the previous two, rather than anything actually good… I was absolutely sure that Andres will pressure, and out-strike Rountree in this one. But… what the hell do I know?…
0 for 3
I really hope you guys took my advice before the event, and read Benjamin Abrigo’s excellent preview piece on Combat Docket. He literally gave us a spoiler alert there, as to what happened late in the 4th round (and other aspects too). After taking a couple of good shots from Gastelum, followed by a head kick (!), Adesanya did what Adesanya sometimes does – walked straight back to the cage. Coming back from a less than stellar 3rd round, Kelvin did a great job on the 4th and it seemed like all that was left was to pounce on the wounded prey. So dear Gastelum went in for a double leg… an unsuccessful one, which allowed Israel to clear the cob webs, and prime himself for the 5th and final round. This fight went exactly how we pictured it, didn’t it? each fighter trying to make it his own. The rounds went to the fighter who was able to dictate the style and coming into the last one, I had it even with 2 a piece. Kelvin was visibly slower, Adesanya was visibly determined. This fight was also, so many kinds of fun to watch, making us move in our seats (when we were in them), fully engaged, like both fighters. Israel finally got the test we all wanted him to get, and he passed it. Great TD defense, good ability to withstand power and pressure, and more than anything perhaps, the ability to go into the money-time and take what he believes is his. This guy is going places (No S–t, Sherlock).
1 for 4
This was also a fight, where the rounds went to the fighter who dictated the texture and style. It looked like Dustin started with determination to take Max out as early as possible. That first round was phenomenal from his perspective. The problem is that Poirier still needs to consider game planning, in terms of energy consumption. We’ve seen it in his recent fights too, where he won, though looking fairly tired after 3 rounds of aggression. He still had a good tank in the second, though Max started to show signs of irritation and broke out with a couple of his patented flurries. The third was Max’s best round and he poured it on Dustin, who was definitely gassed. If during the first and second, the majority of Maxes shots landed on gloves or Poirier’s very good guard, those in the third stung Dustin. All things considered, it was a pick ’em between the two styles, and levels of power. However, it was interesting that Poirier who was the power in this equation, also landed a record number of strikes on Max. In the end of the day, Dustin won the fight on all levels, and proved he is a deserving contender.
1 for 5
No words to describe the shameful picking performance…
The second Nigerian champion was crowned, on the very next PPV after the first, and looking pretty good. The fight with Whittaker should also be very interesting, as he is a different style than Gastelum, but definitely holds power and has also fought bigger guys. I truly enjoy watching Adesanya fight. Technically and stylistically who wouldn’t? I would enjoy it even more, if he would not be so annoying as a “persona”… in every interview, commentary, he just has to belittle his opponents. Even after being taken through the grinder against Gastelum, where he was beaten more than ever before, he couldn’t help himself. He started by saying how Gastelum is “Mexicano” (meaning it as a compliment), then had to add “He’s not ready for this.”. Why not just give the kudos and move on? I don’t know why some fighters don’t get that, by sh—ing on all of their opponents, they leave the door wide open to question them… Well, Israel, if all of your opponents are just not good, perhaps you are not as big as you make yourself out to be? Beating all these less than fighters belittles your own legacy. Which is a shame, as I do believe he is that good.
And the polarizing example is Dusting Poirier. And Max Holloway. So classy, so gracious in win and loss. Dustin recognized the magnitude of his victory immediately because of the credit he gave Max. It’s not even about being a good person (which Dustin obviously is). He is recognizing greatness, thus achieving it. As a fan of Dustin (and Max) I’m so happy for him. He shows growth with every fight, being less reckless, improving his defensive game. What will he have to offer against Khabib? power and pace, for one. It’s very difficult to judge anyone’s ability to defend the champ’s takedown game, but if (and I know that is one big IF) Dustin can keep the fight upright for enough time, I think he can deliver shots that may hurt Khabib, tire him and leave more openings for damage. But… as I said. IF.
For the most part, last night (starting with the early prelims) was one of DC’s best commentary performances. I normally like hearing him, as he has the right balance (for me) between the technical level of details, and the fan perspective. Explaining Montel Jackson’s TD technique was a good example of, how you welcome new viewers to the sport. Showing how a fighter (I forgot who that was) sets up a combo, where the goal is landing a left hook, by slapping the opponent’s right hand (as the first step) was educational for me too, as someone with holes in his knowledge. It is clear that the man loves MMA, and remains enthusiastic about it.
Max can definitely hang at 155, but perhaps a few adjustments are needed, so he doesn’t take as much damage as he did from Poirier. His corner was calling for a kick, and he mostly ignored. His movement alone, may not be enough, against the power that some of the top LWs have, and more kicks, both high and low could help him manage distance, and take some of that power away from his opponents. Especially leg or body kicks, which he is more than capable of delivering.
Well. This was UFC236. Let’s look at
Performance of the night:
Dustin Poirier beating the best:
Khalil Rountree – demolition man:
Fight of the night:
Kelvin Gastelum Vs. Israel Adesanya:
Max Holloway Vs. Dustin Poirier:
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