How many times, did we wait, impatiently for a hyped up event, like UFC 239 only to have it end with a relative disappointment? All those missed weights, last minute injuries, not to mention judges “contribution” and post fights shenanigans… And 239 had Jon Jones at the top… scary prospect… But all the stars aligned, everyone showed up and I think the word to use, to describe this event as a whole is – Fantastic!
Alright, let’s jump right to my picks. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
I picked Chiesa but honestly, I always want Diego to win. As far as the fight goes, Chiesa had an advantage from the get go, in that Diego is a single minded individual who, predictably went forward, looking for the takedown as soon as the ref said “Go”. We know that few fighters can fight effectively from their backs, in MMA, and Chiesa is one of them. However, Mike didn’t even allow that. He welcomed Diego to join him on the ground – his bread and butter – but swept him every time, establishing positions, landing whatever was available. The difference in the levels of grappling was apparent, and while Sanchez deserves the kudos for protecting and fighting through all submission attempts, it was a very one sided affair when you watch it. The only round that was not a clear cut 10-8 was the first, and even the judges went very easy on Diego.
1 for 1
Jan came into this fight as an underdog… which is only one example of why I have so much contempt for the fabled “Vegas odds”. Here we have, a 205 mainstay, with a solid record. A very tough guy, who is bigger than his opponent, but somehow Luke was the clear favorite… I did pick Luke. But it was one of the two picks I made with very low confidence. The thought process was that Rockhold would be stronger in light heavy weight, that he would be able to take the fight to the ground and establish top position. It was a possible scenario, one of many. I didn’t quite understand Rogan’s surprise at Luke’s takedown attempts. You just got done talking about his top game… That is a way to get there, Joe… But going up in weight did not change a couple of fundamental flaws in Luke’s game. He still moves back in a straight line when pressured – which is frustrating to see at this stage of his career – and he still holds his hands low. Whether it’s over confidence (read: cockiness) or what, Blachowicz couldn’t (and shouldn’t have) care less. Jan did what Jan does, dish out pain wherever the opponent shows. Luke showed a lot of real estate, and got tagged a few times before taking a couple of really well placed shots.
1 for 2
Back in the bad old days of “UFC Forums”, one of the most popular arguments I participated in was the one about takedowns in MMA. The main accusation by some “fans” was “It’s not fair, he keeps taking the other guy down, and won’t stand up to bang with him.” To which I replied that perhaps the opponent of said wrestling based fighter should take a page off of Lidell’s book and you know… learn to sprawl. There are a few ways to fight a takedown. Many of which are in effect, after the attacker is engaged. But there are a few ways that can be effective even before. You know, like a solid knee to the face… Now, I don’t believe Jorge saw it happening exactly the way it did, but this was no wild and careless attack. What was Ben going to do? Very few answers are that obvious. So Jorge wanted to send him a clear message, and boy, oh boy… a new UFC record, a scary KO win over a guy who never lost, let alone finished. Paging Tyron Woodley for cleanup at Aisle 2. By the way, Jorge coming into this fight as a clear underdog is as ridiculous as they come. “Vegas odds”… Pff…
1 for 3
What can you say about Nunes that haven’t been said already? This is a lady who made pretty much one adjustment to her game, and turned from a dangerous fighter, to an unstoppable monster. No more a wild brawler as a game plan. That is all. She beat Cyborg in her own game, and she beat holly in the same way. Two fights, two styles of opponents, two Amandas. Adjusted, prepared, intelligent, I could go on and on. For Holly, she came patient, matching Holly’s movement and staying at a range that kept her safe for the most part (Holly checked her once) while being close enough to try and drive in. Amanda fired one kick earlier, which made me smile, then Holly got her leg caught mid-air, and Nunes with fantastic timing, capitalized with the finishing sequence. Who’s next?
2 for 4
Talking about dogs… Thiago Santos gave Jones a run for his money. I don’t believe the first Gustafsson fight was due to the Swede’s true level. I think it was Jones who came in not very well prepared. I do think that Santos forced this decision on Jon though. Jones came prepared for this type of fight, and took it eventually (I also think it was not a-s close as it seemed). But Thiago was also well prepared, and it was plenty evident in the 5th round. You know, the one where most of us thought he’d be totally gassed in, should he make it that far. Pacing himself very well throughout the fight, but throwing power when the chances to land were good – and they were – enabled him to earn Jones respect. That was the element that defined this fight. Jones didn’t feel very comfortable dipping for a takedown, did most of his artful striking from range, and though quite a few of those strikes were very effective, they were not the strikes Jon was going to end the fight with (liver kicks withstanding). Thiago, fighting on one leg for the most part, even throwing his obviously injured one many times, was able to touch Jones, and demonstrate that the champ does, in fact, have a chin. But in the end, it was Jones who had to be assisted back to the dressing room, having been chopped down by viscous leg kicks. Looking at the LHW division, a rematch between the two – after allowing for some healing – is not far-fetched. It was a very interesting fight to watch unfold, and the next one should deliver an equal (if not bigger) serving of fun.
3 for 5
3 out of 5 with 2 fights that were essentially pick-ems… Heck, I’d take 0 of 5 and let me have so much fun every time!
Jorge Masvidal cannot be ignored. Whatever happens next, should be one of two things – a number #1 contender fight with Woodley, or heck – When is Usman ready? Jorge is fresh off of a 5 seconds jog to the center of the octagon.
Other than that, There wasn’t too much new on the main card. On the prelims, though, we saw some newcomers and fresh faces, who started and/or continued their assault on their respective divisions. Arnold Allen with a clinic against Melendez was one. Beautiful work against a very tough veteran. I’m already excited for his next fight.
Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera with another impressive win, having weathered a pretty impressive storm, courtesy of Nohelin Hernandez. Both on short notice.
Song Yadong… the prelims started with a bang, and I wouldn’t mind playing that song in a loop. What an impressive young man.
The FightPass prelims also produced two very good performances. The curtain jerker was Julia Avila, who wasn’t far from giving us the first finish of the night, following a very solid outing. Edmen Shahbazyan with a quick combo of MMA, finishing Marshman very quickly was a nice cap to this segment, having watched an impressive, grinding win for Rencountre – the first of the underdogs to turn it upside down, over the surging Austrian, Naurdiev.
In the last couple of weeks, a decision was made in UFC headquarters. It seems pretty obvious, leading to this event, and throughout the night. The memo was passed to any UFC mouthpiece, anyone in front of the media. The message is clear – Jone Jones is the P4P greatest fighter of all times. It started with Dana expressing his desire to wipe that 1 from Jon’s loss column. I mean… I’m ok with that… but if that is done, shouldn’t Dana open this for all other fighters who have a loss that perhaps should not have been?
The promos leading up to, and throughout the event included the sentence “the Consensus P4P greatest fighter of all times”, or something very similar. The word I’m sure of is “Consensus”. Really, UFC? Consensus? No doubt? No one is arguing over this? Since when did this become a Consensus? No one sent us the memo. I, for one disagree… because
What was even louder than the mention of Jones as the GOAT, was the not mentioning of two fighters I believe are in the discussion. No mention of GSP and no mention of Silva. Where did these biggest MW champion of all times, and biggest WW champion of all times (champ champ, Dana ;)) disappear to in this conversation? Rogan did mention someone else… Mighty Mouse. Now, I love DJ. I think he is definitely a legend. But in my book, he comes after these two, who faced what I consider better competition. Well, at least Rogan did mention a fighter who is not Jones in relation to this.
But of course, we should know why this is happening. Conor is mostly absent, and may not be able/willing to drive as much cash as he previously did. So we need someone. Someone who is both active, as well as a title holder, to be the face of the sport. And who is better than “the Consensus P4P greatest fighter of all times”? Just do me a favor, UFC, You want to go with the guy who used and caught for drugs and PEDs on multiple occasions as the poster boy? Great. It doesn’t have to mean ignoring the other fighters who are considered by many of your fans as – at the very least – just as good.
Diego Sanchez left Jackson-Wink recently. Something that starts to raise some big questions. Perhaps Cowboy wasn’t just a spoilt brat… Having said that – showing up to his fight at 239 with one corner man (Anyone has an idea who that guy is?) is just another one of those weird Sanchez decisions. At this stage of his career (which should be the last) if you don’t intend to come in with the maximum possible help, should you even come in? It felt bad. It looked bad, and if it quacks like a duck…
Well. This was UFC239. Let’s look at
Performance of the night:
Jorge Masvidal with the UFC record for the fastest KO:
Amanda Nunes does a Holly on Holm:
Fight of the night:
Jon Jones Vs Thiago Santos:
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