HYDEN: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from UFC Fight Night 96, and Hype for UFC 205 builds

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch columnist

UFC Fight Night 96 was this past weekend. Let’s get to the rundown.


GOOD: Brandon Moreno submits Louis Smolka

I expected Smolka to come out and be impressive in victory, but instead, it was Moreno who was impressive. He grabbed a guillotine off a Smolka takedown attempt and locked it in super tight to get the submission win. Big win for Moreno.

BAD: Joshua Burkman vs. Zak Ottow

This was just very dull. Not much was really going on in this fight. It was just kind of there. Ottow won the split decision, but I don’t know what that really means. Burkman is a solid fighter, but a lackluster win over him doesn’t necessarily mean all that much. At the same time, though, maybe Ottow just had an off night or maybe it was nerves in his UFC debut. Either way, this fight wasn’t good.

BAD/GOOD: Alex Oliveira stops Will Brooks

The first two rounds were extremely boring. It was just a bunch of takedown (and takedown attempts) but nothing happening afterwards. Brooks broke a rib in the first round, and that really affected things. He wasn’t his normal self. Well, he was in ways but not in others. In the third round, Oliveira knocked Brooks down and started pounding on him to force the stoppage. There were some extracurriculars after the stoppage as Oliveira had some words for Brooks. Nothing really came of it, but there was certainly some tension there.

GOOD/BAD/UGLY: John Dodson vs. John Lineker

There were good moments in this fight, but more bad moments. Well, more like dull moments. Dodson’s strategy was basically to evade and stay away from Lineker’s power. It’s a smart strategy, but it wasn’t all that interesting to watch. Lineker won a close split decision, which normally would put him closer to a title shot. I don’t think you could put him above Cody Garbrandt or T.J. Dillashaw, but he would definitely be in that mix and a win away against either of those guys from getting a title shot. However, this is where the UGLY comes in.

Lineker missed weight. Again. For the fifth time in his career, he missed weight. Granted, it was only by half a pound but they already give you a pound allowance and he still couldn’t make that. He blames his room scale, and said it was different, but you just can’t have this. Especially not from a guy who’s made a habit of missing weight.

To make things worse, Lineker laughably said afterwards that he doesn’t think this should prohibit him from getting a title shot. He deemed it a small mistake and said (as he has in the past) that it wouldn’t happen again. That rings hollow when it happens repeatedly. Lineker is very talented, but this kind of stuff can’t be allowed to stand. The UFC could cut him, but I think fines or just not giving him title fights. He made weight in his last couple of fights, but the UFC won’t give you a title shot if there’s a good chance of you missing weight. You’re just too unreliable. And it’s a shame because it would be interesting to see what Lineker would do against UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and how Cruz would strategize against Lineker.

UFC 205 has had its lineup mostly finalized and it’s the biggest and deepest card of all-time. I’ve said that before, but I think we’ve got a new best here.

It starts with UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor looking to be a two-division champ as he faces UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. That fight alone is monster and enough to carry an event on its own. However, you also have two more title fights. UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz. That’s another huge fight, I love watching Joanna Champion. She’s so exciting to watch, and I expect this fight to deliver as well. That’s not all, though. We’re also getting UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley defending against Stephen Thompson.

That means we’re getting three title fight. That’s never happened before. You could throw any other fights on this card and it would still be an incredible card. However, they’re not done. Chris Weidman will fight Yoel Romero. This isn’t necessarily a no. 1 contendership fight as Luke Rockhold fights Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at a different event, but it’s possible. It’s also likely to be a really good fight.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s also Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum, Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens, Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy, Meisha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington, and Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson. You could take all three title fights off the card and you’d still have a card that’s equal to some pay-per-view events the UFC has put on. To be truthful, though, that speaks more to how bad some of the cards the UFC has put on PPV before more than anything else, but still, that’s a terrific undercard.

UFC 205 promises to be the best and deepest card of all-time. I’m hesitant to say that because the injury bug has a bad habit of popping up and ruining cards, but I’m hopeful that can be avoided here. At least to a degree.

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

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