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7/8/16: Top Five Takeaways From Crazy International Fight Week (So Far)
The UFC’s International Fight Week has gotten off to an insane start, with crazy news and results hitting nonstop. And it’s only Friday. Today I’m breaking down five things that stand out to me from all the insanity.
5. Fun fight cards are fun: Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 90 card had very little in the way of name value, but for those who tuned in they were treated to a highly entertaining night of fights. Five straight submissions opened up the card, with an excellent D’Arce/anaconda choke variation, a uniquely set up guillotine, two straight armbars, and a nice rear naked choke. Add in a sixth on the card in the quick work from Joseph Duffy on the main card, a “KO of the Year” candidate flying knee from Alberto Mina, and Eddie Alvarez taking the UFC Lightweight Championship with a swarming standing TKO over Rafael dos Anjos, and that “forgettable” card on paper turned into a fun and memorable night.
4. Miesha Tate-Amanda Nunes odd choice as UFC 200 headliner: I understand the sentiment that Miesha Tate’s win over Holly Holm, who herself took out Ronda Rousey, deserves a great amount of respect into her first title defense. The fight itself should also prove competitive and fairly compelling in its own right. However, it was third from the top when Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt was added, and that Lesnar-Hunt fight, while not a title bout, will still be what fans are tuning in for on Saturday night. There’s risk in this particular bout going last that some in the audience leave or that those watching at home tune out as soon as the Lesnar fight is done. Maybe it won’t be an issue, but it’s another risk from the UFC after they’d already announced moving the Lesnar fight to the main event following Jon Jones’ removal.
3. DC-Spider is dangerous. For both: Anderson Silva stepping up to fight Daniel Cormier on two days notice is one of the craziest big-name fights ever put together, and it presents some significant danger to each of them. The most concerning is Silva, because he hasn’t been training after undergoing gallbladder surgery in May, and he’s facing a much bulkier, stronger opponent capable of hurting him badly. On the other side, it’s hard to know where Cormier’s head is at. He’s still got to make weight after the just crushing news of Jon Jones’ USADA failure, and though he’s got a real size edge on Silva it’s still entirely possible he gets clipped or that something crazy happens in a short notice bout. That can’t be discounted. It’s a huge risk, but one he’s obviously more than willing to take.
2. Eddie Alvarez earned that UFC Lightweight Championship: He didn’t necessarily earn the shot that allowed Thursday night to happen, but hell if Eddie Alvarez didn’t take advantage of an opportunity. His performance against Rafael dos Anjos was superb, and given how he’d looked against Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis, completely unexpected. It brought him back to the types of performances we’d seen from him consistently in Japan and in Bellator, and whether it’s a sign of how he’s going to fight as champion or not, this was everything anyone could have hoped to see out of him.
1. There may be no redemption for Jon Jones: Jones was coming into the week rejuvenated, confident he could regain the UFC Light Heavyweight Title, and ready to show all of his actions from last year are behind him. Popping for anything just destroys that narrative. Tainted supplement or no, six-month ban or two years, it’s going to be hard for any fan or fighter to look at him the same again, and things with the UFC might be irreparably damaged because of how this played out. In the event it’s legitimately a supplement causing a failed test with something off label, Jones should be suing the hell out of that company; if it was from something else he took and didn’t bother to research enough, well that’s on him. If he took something knowingly and is trying to get around it now, well those athletes always get found out eventually. There just may be no coming back from this.
[Photo (c) Bob DeChiara via USA Today Sports]