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5/31/16: Top Five Fights, Finishes, and/or Performances From MMA’s May 2016 Schedule
There were a few great fights in May, and several more great finishes. With the month’s schedule complete, today I look at the month’s best in MMA, from fights to individual finishes/moments/performances. Have others that stand out to you? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!
5. Jake Collier vs. Alberto Uda (UFC Fight Night 88): There were a lot of entertaining and newsworthy finishes, and several really good fights on the May schedule, so any number of other options could be on this list for others. However, every so often you get an undercard fight that deserves to get as much attentions as possible to keep it on the radar. The Collier-Uda fight from Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 88 card was one such bout, with an undefeated UFC newcomer equating himself well and a mid-tier UFC vet impressing in a way he hadn’t to date. Uda’s first round offense was effective and impressive, but Collier battling through a badly broken nose in order to score a second round TKO was equally as impressive. It gets a boost for the visceral nature of multiple spinning back kicks to the gut sending someone down, and though it didn’t even win this card’s “Fight of the Night” honors it was one of my favorite fights of the month.
4. Alistair Overeem secures UFC Title shot (UFC Fight Night 87): Now, Overeem’s first round with Andrei Arlovski in The Netherlands wasn’t really anything worth discussing. The second round finish certainly is. That jumping front kick was one hell of a highlight to begin the finishing sequence, and that it’s led to an Overeem title fight in September makes it even more note-worthy. Overeem has shown considerably improved patience in his approach since a poor stretch of fights, so this current four fight winning streak is as good as we’ve seen from him in quite some time.
3. “Jacare” Souza demolishes Vitor Belfort (UFC 198): We’ve known for years what “Jacare” Souza is capable of in the cage, but after he got rocked and had a rougher, more closely contested fight against Yoel Romero earlier this year he needed a major bounce back. That came on May 14, as he absolutely destroyed Vitor Belfort in the first round in front of 45,000 strong in Curitiba. Belfort was so worried about what Souza could do in that matchup that he failed to mount any effective offense, and once it got to the ground we got a dominant and violent beating from Souza to put himself back in the conversation for top contenders at middleweight.
2. Cody Garbrandt takes out Thomas Almeida (UFC Fight Night 88): I’m not sure that Garbrandt’s performance at UFC Fight Night 88 can be over sold. He entered as an underdog because of at least one shaky performance in recent activity, and despite success against a lower level of competition he was still expected to get beat by the Brazilian. Instead, he had a career best performance in his highest pressure position, looked absolutely fantastic from a technique and demeanor standpoint, and put together an eye-opening win that should raise expectations for his future well beyond what they might have been into last Sunday’s event.
1. Stipe Miocic captures UFC Heavyweight Championship (UFC 198): Come on, I had to end with this, right? A title change via first round knockout? Ok, ok, it’s the heavyweight division, this is far from the most surprising thing to have happened this month, but you’ve got to give Miocic credit for taking advantage of what was at the very least a poorly executed gameplan on the part of one Fabricio Werdum. Miocic’s power was never in question, and Werdum put himself in a terrible spot by rushing in hands down against the cage. Miocic timed a counter well while backing up, hit the mark, put Werdum out in one of the great KO highlights in title history, and now gets to bring a title fight to his hometown of Cleveland in September. Good month for that city.
[Photo (c) Jason Silva via USA Today Sports]
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