An Education in Violence: What We Learned From UFC 210

No, UFC 210’s marquee fights may not have unfolded quite the way that fight fans envisioned or hoped, as everyone’s favorite knockout artist disappointed in the main event and NYSAC produced another debacle in the co-main. But things sure were interesting from start to finish, with several really good fights taking place on the undercard before things got wild late. There was plenty to learn from the fighters’ in-cage performances and the words that were spoken after the bouts were in the books – here are some highlights of what we learned from UFC 210:

Daniel Cormier (19-1) taps Rumble Johnson (22-6)

-The way this one played out made me suspect that the first Rumble/Cormier fight showed us what happens on the rare occasion when Rumble hits a flush bomb early on DC, while this fight showed us what happens when Rumble doesn’t hit his homerun punch and goes straight into panic-wrestling mode. Either way, when you put these two in the cage it’s pretty evident that Cormier by sub is going to happen sometime in the first few rounds. DC was a very happy man after this one and who can blame him. He made it look easy as the slight underdog, tallied defense number two of his 205 pound world title, and he’ll have an opportunity to make those cries of “paper champion” die conclusively if Jon Jones manages to make it to the Octagon later this year.

-No, Rumble Johnson isn’t about to start playing NFL football; as he mentioned in the post-fight presser, part of his motivation for retiring is to stop incurring head trauma. He also was very adamant about not sharing what he’s going to be up to next, except that it’s not MMA related. Maybe a position as a strength coach? A motivational speaker? Sad to see the knockout king go, and it will be interesting to find out where he lands.

-Rumble also flat-out stated that he could return to MMA if his mystery career didn’t work out. Sounds like a decent bet that this is more of a break from action for 33 year old than a true departure from the sport.

Gegard Mousasi (42-6-1) sort of TKOs Chris Weidman (13-3)

-As you know by now, this was a ridiculous display by NYSAC.   The fight was waved off while both men are standing around in the cage clearly ready to continue, while a handful of overwhelmed state employees stood around debating whatever it is that clueless bureaucrats debate. Does anyone employed by this commission know the rules, or anything at all about MMA?  Obviously we’re all going to have to suffer state athletic commissions for a while yet (if not forever), so it would be nice if NYSAC would do the MMA world a favor by hiring someone competent like Sean Wheelock to oversee the state’s growing slate of major MMA cards.

-In the postfight presser Mousasi wasn’t apologetic about the win. He pinned the TKO result on Weidman playing up his compromised state in search of a DQ win or a point deduction, and that seems a pretty apt assessment given how quickly the New Yorker sprung back to his feet after Miragliotta re-entered the cage and informed him that the knees were legal.

Cynthia Calvillo (5-0) subs Pearl Gonzalez (6-2)

-Both ladies looked crisp on the feet and well-versed on the ground. Gonzalez came in as a big question mark, as she’s never defeated anyone with a winning record, but despite being submitted in the third Pearl looked like she might have the chops to win a few fights in the UFC’s strawweight ranks.

-Meanwhile, Cynthia Calvillo looked vicious and sharp on the feet and dominant on the ground. This woman has only been fighting professionally for eight months and she’s already getting the job done decisively on back-to-back PPV cards.

-In the post-fight presser Dana White likened Calvillo to Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. Sure, we’re talking about Dana here, but those are still pretty strong words about Calvillo’s potential from the blustery head honcho.

Thiago Alves (22-11) decisions Patrick Cote (23-11)

-Pitbull Alves looked as strong as ever, as he rocked Patrick Cote several times during this very entertaining scrap and seemed a step ahead of his larger foe throughout. It’s good to see Alves back at 170 and still looking like a top-25 foe to be reckoned with.

-Kudos to Cote for getting out of the game while he’s still close to the peak of his abilities, as he was still very competitive in this bout with Alves . The ever-evolving Canadian enjoyed a stellar 21 fight UFC career, winning 10 of those and dropping 11 including a memorable debut in the main event of UFC 50 opposite Tito Ortiz and an unsuccessful bid at dethroning the GOAT Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 90.

Charles Oliveira (22-7) subs Will Brooks (18-3)

-This was surprisingly easy money for Do Bronx Oliveira. Sure, everyone knew that the jiu-jitsu wizard might be able to penetrate the top control of Will Brooks and lock on a submission. But I don’t think many people were expecting Oliveira to simply overpower Brooks and toss him to the mat with ease before hunting down an academic finish. Maybe Oliveira’s 145 pound weight cutting debacles have impaired him more than we knew, as he absolutely looked like a lightweight contender in this short bout.

-Meanwhile chalk up another very disappointing result for former Bellator champ Brooks. Even though Oliveira only weighed in at 153 he still looked like a bigger man than Brooks; if the UFC keeps giving him fights, maybe a cut down to 145 is in order for Ill Will?

Kamaru Usman (10-1) decisions Sean Strickland (18-2)

-While Kamaru Usman wasn’t able to finish Sean Strickland, it wasn’t for lack of effort or damage inflicted. Usman wisely used his overpowering wrestling credentials to plant dangerous striker Strickland on the mat for the entire first round, and then “The Nigerian Nightmare” used his own rapidly developing striking skills to pummel his fatiguing foe throughout the later rounds.  Usman looked to be on the verge of a finish in the second round, as he splattered Strickland with a right hook that send him crashing to the canvas, but kudos to the 26 year old Californian for battling on to the final bell.

-Finish or no finish, it’s time to retire the idea that Usman is a boring and one-dimensional grappler as this was the second straight fight where the top-10 talent showed solid power in his hands and a real willingness to use them on his opponent’s face.

Shane Burgos (9-0) TKOs Charles Rosa (11-3)

-This fight followed the formula of Burgos marching forward Terminator-style as Rosa frantically tried to poke at him from range and circle around the cage.  I loved how Burgos kept a consistent pace through the first two rounds before turning the volume up two notches in the third and utterly overwhelming the hide-tough Rosa for the finish. through two UFC contests Burgos has proven that he has the mental makeup, chin, and offensive firepower to take out top-level featherweights and I’m curious to see how the violent New Yorker fares against a top level wrestler as he continues his vault up the UFC ladder.

Patrick Cummins (9-4) decisions Jan Blachowicz (19-7)

-What a show of willpower from amateur wrestling champion Patrick Cummins, who took a thorough beating from Jan Blachowicz throughout round one of their 205 pound encounter. Cummins has never added head movement or feints to his dominant wrestling game, and against a precise striker like Blachowicz he found himself blasted with strikes every time he tried to close distance in the first. But Cummins is doggedly persistent, and despite having his face rearranged early he easily won rounds 2 and 3 for the majority decision nod.

-This was probably a must win for the 36 year old Cummins, who came in on the heels of losses to Glover Teixeira and Little Nog. It was a bowling-shoe ugly win but every Cummins fight is entertaining thanks to his constant aggression and non-existent face defense. This victory probably bought “Durkin” another high-profile opportunity, maybe against the likes of Corey Anderson or Ilir Latifi.

-It’s foolish to expect much from NYSAC, but what was up with two judges only scoring the first round a 10-9 for Blachowicz? Cummins took an absolute thrashing on the feet and was wobbled to the point of doing the chicken dance late in the first. It’s hard to understand how that damage-filled round could only be scored 10-9 while earlier on the card Des Green could sweep 10-8s with half a round of top control and no damage at all.

Gregor Gillespie (9-0) demolishes Andrew Holbrook (12-2)

-Gregor was pretty gleeful about scoring his first career knockout just 21 seconds into this one. And who can blame Mr. Gillespie for being excited, as he’s adding that knockout power to his existing terrific MMA grappling base. A fight with fellow top prospect Marc Diakiese would be a fun next test for both men.

 

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