HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 153 and UFC 197

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch Contributor

Bellator 153 and UFC 197 both took place this past weekend. Let’s get right to it.MMAcolumnist-HydenFrank_300x250

Bellator 153

GOOD: Michael Page submits Jeremie Holloway

Page showed power by dropping Holloway a few times, then submitted him with the toe hold. This was a fairly fun two minute fight and Page continues to make a name for himself with these entertaining contests.

BAD: Brent Primus vs. Gleristone Santos

This was just a dull fight, it was just kind of there. I think the decision taints things for me, though. Primus won a split decision even though he didn’t land much, took a bunch of hits, and just generally do as much as Santos. I don’t see how the judges scored that as winning, but whatever. Moving on.

GOOD: Evangelista Santos submits Brennan Ward

The fight went to the ground early and Santos latched on to Ward’s leg and got the submission. Kneebars and heel hooks always make me cringe, they’re just so nasty. Good win for Santos, as he stops Ward’s momentum.

BAD/GOOD: Patricio “Pitbull” Freire submits Henry Corrales

The fight itself was fairly solid in the first round, then turned bad in the second round before Freire locked on the slick submission to force the tap. The GOOD is entirely for that submission, as Pitbull got the guillotine out of nowhere, and the BAD is for just about everything.

GOOD: Andrey Koreshkov vs. Benson Henderson

Koreshkov successfully defended his Bellator Welterweight Title here. It’s hard to go up in weight, and Henderson is probably better at lightweight. I’m sure he can beat some welterweights, but it’s asking a lot to fight guys a lot bigger than yourself. It’s certainly possible and doable, but it takes a special fighter to do so. I just don’t think that Henderson is at that stage anymore. I guess we’ll get a better sense of where he’s at now when he (presumably) goes back to lightweight for his next fight.

At the same time, though, Koreshkov is the Bellator Welterweight Champion. He’s not just some guy. He’s the champion for a reason and he’s a very good fighter. He made good use of his range against Henderson and pressured him relentlessly. He fought a great fight. He deserves the credit for winning here. Obviously, this was a big deal debut for Bellator, but Koreshkov squashed that quick. He couldn’t have asked for this fight to go any better. Well, I guess he could have gotten the finish, but Henderson is so tough that’s asking a lot. Koreshkov still almost had the finish a few times, but Henderson was too stubborn to go away. A disappointing debut for Henderson, but a bigtime statement win for Koreshkov.

UFC 197

GOOD/GREAT: Yair Rodriguez stops Andre Fili

Rodriguez came out looking for the highlight finish. He came close a few times, but then he got it in the second with an incredible kick that ended things. The fight leading up to the finish was good, because of Rodriguez, but that finish was awesome. I encourage you to check it out for yourself if you haven’t seen it. It was a leaping kick that reminded me of Chuck knocking out Babalu, except Rodriguez was leaping in the air. Anyhow, it was awesome.

BAD/GOOD: Robert Whittaker vs. Rafael Natal

To be honest, when I was watching this live I was very unimpressed. I just didn’t like this fight at all. But then afterwards, I got to thinking that maybe I was too hard on this fight because I had just seen Yair Rodriguez doing some kickass stuff in the previous fight. Whittaker and Natal both had some good moments in this fight, but it wasn’t much more than solid. Things never seemed to get exciting, it stayed in first gear. I might have to re-watch the fight, but it was just okay. Whittaker won the decision.

GOOD: Edson Barboza vs. Anthony Pettis

Barboza’s striking was unbelievable here. Pettis is a guy with dynamic striking of his own, and he looked completely out-matched. I don’t know if Pettis has slipped due to injury or something else, but he doesn’t look like himself in the cage anymore. He’s lost three fights in a row and it doesn’t look like he’ll recapture his former glory. To be fair, those losses are to UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, and Barboza, but Pettis has looked really bad in these losses. He’s been stymied in all three losses and beaten soundly. This is an unexpected turn of events.

As for Barboza, this is a big win. He looked great against a guy considered to be a top striker. In fact, he dominated him. The number one thing his future opponents should take away from this (as if they didn’t already know) is that you have to be very careful striking with Barboza. His kicks are so damaging that you have to do everything you can to avoid them. If you want to beat Barboza, you have to try to beat him in other areas. It’s hard to beat him on the feet. It’s not impossible, of course, Jamie Varner beat him by TKO, but it is a dangerous way to go.

GREAT: Demetrious Johnson stops Henry Cejudo

Cejudo got a takedown, but this was all Johnson. His striking was great, and he dominated Cejudo in the clinch. He dropped him with knees and it was over. Such a fantastic performance from Johnson. He made it look easy. Cejudo is tough and Johnson dispatched him like he was an amateur. This was so good, and Johnson solidifies himself as one of the best fighters in the world, possibly the best. This was a really impressive win.

BAD/GOOD: Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux

Jones hadn’t fought in over a year, and he looked like it. UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz showed that it’s possible to come back without ring rust, but it’s obviously not easy. It shows you how special Cruz is that he was able to come back the way he did. Back to Jones, I think he was also tentative because he knows that OSP can be dangerous. He didn’t want to come back and get knocked out or anything like that. He did what he had to. It wasn’t a very good fight, but Jones did what he had to in order to keep his fight with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier alive. I would have loved to have seen an explosive finish, and to be honest I was expecting it, but it wasn’t to be. That sucks, but Jones didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances. Now we get to look forward to his fight with Cormier. Jones won’t be able to take it as easy against Cormier, but I’m sure he knows that. Jones just wanted a successful comeback. It wasn’t the most exciting, but knowing that Jones is now back to fighting is exciting in itself. All in all, this was a pretty good event and a good way to end the weekend.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

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