Some cards look great on paper. Some of them disappoint come fight night. Some fizzle before our eyes, to become “average”. Others still, are made of the stuff of legend. Cards that – barring injury or other kind of craziness – you simply know, don’t have it in them to let you down.
Such a card took place in Anaheim, CA last night.
Let’s discuss my picks quickly. Then, we’ll chat about this, that, and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
Jimi Manuwa Vs. Volkan Oezdemir – In my prediction, I simply said that Manuwa just needs one. Well, I must have missed the memo because apparently so does Volkan… That was a shocker that really shouldn’t have shocked me. Seeing as he already beaten a couple of top-tier LHWs. We shall go back to these two further down the post, but for now… 0 for 1.
Donald Cerrone Vs. Robbie Lawler – I never like it when Cowboy loses. Thank god it doesn’t happen so much. It seemed like after a pretty dominant round 1 for Robbie, Cerrone won round 2 in Cowboy fashion. Then, as they met in the center of the cage to start the final round, both guys said “Alright, let’s give them what they want” and went to work, keeping strategy to a minimum. I have that round even-Steven, but since Robbie did, in fact make the forward movement for the most part, I won’t cry robbery. Fun fight. 0 for 2.
Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger – For me (and so many others) this was a question of when, more than who or how. If you knew Evinger before, you had to assume this won’t be as quick as usual, but in the end of the day, like it or not, Cyborg is the best female fighter. Definitely for her weight and only Joanna can claim superiority if we go into P4P and all that. So Cyborg keeps Cyborging, and we saw surprising patience in her game which is kind of scary… 1 for 3.
Tyron Woodley Vs. Demian Maia – Alright folks. Ranting time. Ready? Well, you can skip or join me for this short ride. 57 strikes… That’s Fifty Seven. in 25 minutes… For shame Tyron, for shame… Nick Diaz throws 57 strikes on his way to the speed-bag. GSP throws 57 strikes between flips on the gymnastics rings. Conor throws 57 strikes to warm up for a photo shoot. In other words, Tyron Woodley, you are the worst WW champion in UFC history. And that comes after two really questionable “fights” against Thompson. What took place inside the octagon last night was nothing short of an embarrassment. Yes, I agree that the responsibility is on the challenger to “take the belt”. But it doesn’t take the responsibility off the champion to e-n-g-a-g-e. Superb MMA Referee Marc Goddard warned Holly and GDR mid fight about this and so should have done Herb Dean. Woodley’s performance last night is the most shameful I remember from a reigning champion. No amount of whining and call-outs can change that. It starts from within. Stop trash talking GSP (who may not be considered “exciting” or “spectacular” by some, but was waaay more offensive and aggressive as champion. GSP engaged with strikers and grapplers alike) and stop calling Nick Diaz (He’s not coming). Start fighting already. I truly believed Woodley was going to Knock Maia out. I guess Tyron didn’t believe that himself. 2 for 4.
Daniel Cormier Vs. Jon Jones – I’ll be honest. I thought this would be a replay of their first fight. Didn’t think Jones would finish his first fight back and against one of the 2 best LHWs I’ve seen in a cage. But Jon found the opening, when it seemed like DC was finding his range and mounting an attack, Jones – like Jones does – found the spot and shot one of his long legs with precision. It was all downhill from there. 3 for 5.
I call this a good picking night…
Jon Jones, on his knees, begging for forgiveness. Jon Jones, with a compassionate speech, thanking his greatest rival and crediting his legacy. I’d like to believe. I pray, that this is the historic point in young Bones’ life where he takes responsibility, really owns up and make a 180 turn in his life. Leave fighting for a minute. This may very well be where puberty ended for Jon and manhood began. I am a super fanboy, and even a softy like me, won’t be able to forgive more. Please Jon, make this happen so we can stay behind you and cheer for your success.
Volkan Oezdemir made a really strong case last night. Having Jones finishing the fight in that fashion, this rules out the immediate rematch option and I believe leaves only two credible contenders. How ’bout Gus Vs. Volkan for the shot? That would be an interesting fight, although I believe Gustafsson deserves a shot straight up, based on his record and that awesome fight he already gave Jones.
Daniel Cormier lost. Lost in a devastating fashion. And still, he lost to a fighter I’m willing at this time to call goat. DC is a legend in the sport of MMA. Strikeforce HW grand prix champion, UFC LHW champion, a role model for any athlete. A nice person and an interesting commentator. No one can take away DC’s legacy. He did all that – by the way – as a constant underdog, underrated, disrespected. That’s without bringing up some really tough life circumstances. DC is the epitome of perseverance, endurance and overcoming. Regardless of his next move, I love DC and am grateful to have witnessed his journey. Part of me hopes it continues in HW where he has everything it takes to become another two division champion.
The LHW division now features a very short contenders list. No wonder Jones feels the need to call out a money fight. Gustafsson and Volkan aside, Manuwa was somewhat exposed last night. The rest of the rankings… not very promising, to say the least. It’s going to be interesting to see how the UFC plan to inject interest in this once packed pack of fighters.
Performance of the night: Volkan was going to get that nod. but I’ll be damned if finishing DC doesn’t count for more. Therefore, Mister Jones, king of the LHWs gets it for that sequence of head kick, punch, trip, finish.
Fight of the night: I don’t know about you, but Cowboy and Robbie delivered. No, it wasn’t a barn burner slug fest. It was a really engaging and competitive fight, a hair thin decision between two great veterans of this sport.