Conor McGregor and Luke Rockhold dethroned Jose Aldo and Chris Weidman, respectively, at UFC 194, and the card itself lived mostly up to the hype. In this roundtable, some on the MMATorch team rate and review the event.
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (9.0)
Yeah, so that happened. The card itself was great. While the fights themselves may not rank up there in the greatest ever conversation, it’s hard to argue that they didn’t deliver. But who are we kidding? After Conor McGregor startlingly and decisively ripped the title from the only Featherweight Champ the UFC has ever known, we could have had the singular most boring card in the history of MMA up until that point and no one would have complained.
I never thought I’d see anything as shocking as the decimation of Ronda Rousey by Holly Holm. When Rousey’s consciousness left her and her head hit the canvas, it was one of the singular most memorable sporting moments I’d ever witness. How is it that not even a month later I’m trying to figure out whether Holm’s victory or McGregor’s was a bigger deal?
The fights themselves were very good. Max Holloway fought smart, and showed no reason to think he won’t be getting a title shot as early as 2016. Demian Maia staked his claim for a top five fight with hopes he has one more run up the top of the food chain before Father Time forces him to call it quits. The likely next Middleweight Title match was decided when former Olympian Yoel Romero scored a minor upset in a victory of Jacare Souza. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Souza, as circumstance may keep one of the greatest middleweights in the world right now from ever getting a shot at a UFC belt (for the record, I scored this fight a draw). Romero proved he was a worthy challenger, and it’s nice to see the Soldier of God positioned to take home a belt at the age of 38.
Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman were having a competitive, technical, and enjoyable back and forth affair before Rockhold did what no other had ever done before and actually hurt Weidman. For some reasons unknown, Herb Dean wants Chris Weidman dead, as he let the fight go about 25 seconds too long, allowing the All American took repeated, hard shots to the face. I’m not a fan of early stoppages, but I’m even less a fan of brain damage. Can the NAC fine an official for, you know, sucking? Wiedman had his success at times, and it’s not a stretch to imagine the fight may have been vastly different had he not thrown an ill-advised wheel kick. I could see a competitive rematch down the road, as a first lost can have a tremendous positive impact on a fighter’s growth. Having said all that though, Rockhold proved without a doubt he is currently the best in the world, and championship belt should sit around his waist comfortably for a while.
The card gets a higher score than normal because the good fights were also so relevant in the divisional rankings. But even without all of that, the main event delivered one of the most unforgettable things ever seen in the world of MMA. That 13 seconds alone was worth the price of admission. Take the greatest featherweight who ever lived, a guy who hasn’t lost in 10 years, and had only lost once ever in his 26 fights. A guy who’s arguably the pound for pound greatest in the world, and still in the prime of his career at only 29 years old. Now imagine some loudmouthed character making the most grandiose and ridiculous claims ever talks himself into a title fight after not nearly enough time in the sport. And then this character dispatches one of the greatest fighters ever with basically a single punch, in the fastest championship victory ever. I’m not sure what’s more surprising right now, the fact that it happened, or the fact that McGregor didn’t predict it. Say what you want about the man, but he has backed up everything he’s said to this point. He destroyed the greatest featherweight that ever lived in the amount of time it took me to write this last sentence.
I didn’t think I could be more surprised after how UFC 193 ended. Was I ever wrong. I don’t think this will ever be topped. The only thing that would shock me more is if McGregor were to step into next week’s Lightweight Title fight and flatten Rafael dos Anjos is under 10 seconds. Actually, nevermind, I actually believe that could happen, particularly if McGregor says it will.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (7.0)
I don’t want to sound like the night was a disappointment, but my heart sank a little when Aldo fell to the ground in the opening seconds. I was very much hoping for an epic battle for the ages rather than an anticlimactic changing of the guard. Maybe it has something to do with the event itself having unrealistic expectations behind it. Overall it was a great night for fights that caps off a year with seven title changes… with the potential for one more change to come. I’ll give the event a 7 even as I realize that is probably low for the overall score, because I really wanted to see more than 13 seconds between Aldo and McGregor. I’m sure my score of the event will raise retroactively, but it will remain a 7 for now.
CASH NORMAN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (10.0)
This card was absolutely insane. I am probably not going to be able to sleep.
I can’t believe I just witnessed what happened. The absolute domination that Demian Maia showed in grappling. They seriously should have the Jaws of Life on standby to get him off his opponent. The Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza fight was a little weird. However, I have now come to expect this when it involves “Not for Gay Jesus” Yoel Romero. He is extremely athletic and unpredictable, but his cardio is absolutely atrocious, it’s almost comical at this point. I can’t imagine him even attempting to enter the Octagon for a five round fight.
Then came Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold and I had been debating with a friend for months leading up to this fight that Rockhold was the better striker and jiu jitsu practitioner. Over and over again he asked whom I thought would win and every time I said Rockhold. Although, I was very nervous as Luke was visibly tired at the start of round two and then got wobbled near the end of it.
Luke was right, Weidman is so slow and literally threw an ill-advised wheel kick in slow motion allowing a dead tired Rockhold to take his back. Although I along with most fight fans were probably screaming at the TV for Herb Dean to stop the fight, I can almost understand why he didn’t stop it, providing Weidman a chance to attempt to recover for the next round but it was obvious, he was done.
There’s only one… Conor McGregor. How can you doubt Mystic Mac? Well, I did, and he left my mouth agape as he quickly dispatched of Jose Aldo. I feel gutted for the former champion. If you watch the replay McGregor guided his left directly into Aldo’s chin. He literally did not take his eye off chin as he avoided Aldo’s right and countered with his own left. The craziness of the fights, the fans and aura of McGregor himself made this card fantastic. Again, I say there’s only one… Conor McGregor.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR: (10.0)