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5/16/16: Top Takeaways From Saturday’s UFC 198 Event
Following major UFC events, we’ll be discussing the five biggest highlights, moments, or takeaways from the weekend’s fights. Today’s top five focuses on Saturday’s UFC 198 event out of Curitiba, Brazil.
5. John Lineker not there yet, but getting close: Lineker’s performance against Rob Font was important. It wasn’t as flashy or impressive as the one he had over Francisco Rivera, but what mattered more is that he showed he can have success against the taller, rangier type found in the bantamweight division. He’s a very short bantamweight, and wouldn’t be there were it not for difficulty cutting to the flyweight division, but the fact that he can utilize his skill set to effect against an opponent with that type of reach advantage was encouraging. He’s got the type of skills that can bring him very high up the bantamweight ladder, he may even be title challenging material, and though he has an uphill climb it’s nice to see him have the success he had on Saturday night in that setting.
4. Demian Maia likely to remain underappreciated: For as elite as he has been, for how fantastic his grappling game is, the fact that a large portion of the UFC’s fanbase doesn’t find him quite as fascinating to watch as the minority does hurts his chances at being the next Welterweight Title challenger. He’s more than deserving of the opportunity, and the fact that he can do what he does while completely avoiding damage is uncanny. He’s barely into the double digits on significant strikes absorbed over his last several fights, and he’s demolished several opponents in succession. Still, there’s a portion of the fight game entirely dependent on the support of those willing to pay to see a fighter, and Maia’s win Saturday night may not be enough to sway people into him getting the next shot, however deserving he may be.
3. Cris “Cyborg” belongs in the UFC: There have been times in the past I’ve argued for Justino to make the 135 lb. weight limit in order to justify giving her certain significant fights, but it was a flawed take in many ways because Saturday showcased the reality that she’s a legitimate Brazilian star who deserves the UFC stage. There are weight classes for a reason, sure, but from an entertainment and skill level standpoint there’s wiggle room in catchweight matchups, and Saturday was right in line with that thinking as Justino took out an opponent inside the Octagon. If you’re not going to give her a title fight without her making 135 lbs., let’s give her some fights against some other names who might not be getting a shot anytime soon. Then, if a belt is holding something up, throw the belt aside McGregor-Diaz style and let’s finally find out what happens when Justino and Ronda Rousey wind up in a cage together.
2. Jacare Souza’s a legitimate threat to take the UFC Middleweight Title: Rough first round against Yoel Romero aside, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is every bit as dangerous as advertised, and if he gets a rematch with Luke Rockhold yet or finds himself face to face with Chris Weidman, there’s every chance he wins that fight. Obviously defeating Vitor Belfort in 2016 is not the same thing as beating either Rockhold or Weidman, and Souza’s already lost once to Rockhold in a 25-minute fight. However, he’s improved greatly on the feet since that first fight, and has only gotten better on the ground. He may not wind up taking that title, but if he gets the shot next it will make for a hell of a title fight at 185 lbs.
1. Seriously, anything can happen at heavyweight: If last week’s event from Rotterdam didn’t drive this point home, Stipe Miocic’s first round KO over Fabricio Werdum certainly did. This division is absolutely insane and increasingly unpredictable. We’ve still never had one heavyweight fighter defend the title more than two times, and only four fighters have ever even hit that mark. Because of that we can’t be entirely surprised to see yet another title change in the division. Still, Miocic took advantage of Werdum fighting sloppy, and the musical chairs at the top continues. It presents a fresh new round of title fights, starting likely with Miocic against Alistair Overeem, but who knows what we’ll see in a UFC Heavyweight Title matchup come this time next year.