The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and UFC 213 were both this past weekend. Let’s get straight to the rundown.
The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale
GOOD: Jordan Johnson vs. Marcel Fortuna
I’m being generous with the GOOD rating because I’m in a good mood, and both guys tried, so there’s that. This is one those ubiquitous “solid” fights, ones that aren’t all that good but aren’t bad either. Johnson won the decision and has now won his first eight fights.
Now, this was a true GOOD fight. Tavares ended up winning the decision but this was a very close fight. Theodorou couldn’t quite pull it out, but he fought hard. Tavares landed more and had some good reversals, but Theodorou had success with his takedown attempts. Good win for Tavares.
GOOD: Jared Cannonier stops Nick Roehrick
Roehrick took a hellacious pounding before finally being stopped in the third round. Cannonier has tremendous power, but Roehrick stayed in front of him and keep coming forward. I was expecting him to take the fight to the ground, but he seemed content to stand and trade with Cannonier. That was very dangerous and he ended up paying for it. Cannonier is exciting to watch with his good stand-up. I don’t know how far he can go in the division, but it’ll be fun to see him try. He’s got the power to lay out most people, so he’s got a chance to beat anyone at anytime. Good win for Cannonier.
GOOD: Marc Diakiese vs. Drakkar Klose
Klose was able to do just a bit more than Diakiese here and was rewarded with a split decision victory. I’m not a fan of foot stomps in MMA and I hate when guys use them, so I personally would like to see Klose stop using them, but I suppose he’ll do whatever he thinks will help him win. Anyway, nice win for Klose.
GOOD: Jesse Taylor submits Dhiego Lima
Taylor was all over Lima with his takedowns and grappling. He just kept working and working, but Lima was able to avoid danger in the first round. In the second round, though Taylor took Lima’s back and that was it. Lima was forced to tap to a rear-naked choke and Jesse Taylor is your The Ultimate Fighter 25 winner.
GOOD/GREAT: Justin Gaethje stops Michael Johnson
This was a really fun and entertaining brawl. Johnson hurt Gaethje several times during this fight, but Gaethje just kept coming forward. It was incredible because Johnson was landing some big shots, he just couldn’t put him away. He would hurt Gaethje and swarm on him, but then Gaethje would just battle through. His chin is unbelievable. Both men were exhausted when, late in the second round, Gaethje hurt Johnson and started unloading on him. The referee had no choice but to step in and call the fight.
What a fantastic UFC debut for Gaethje. This perfectly encapsulated everything about him. You can hurt him, but you can’t stop him. And then he wears you down and finishes you off. Common sense tells you that he can’t keep this up forever and eventually this will take its toll, but it’ll be a fun ride until it does. I love watching Gaethje fight, and I think he can contend for the lightweight title. Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later so we can see Gaethje fighting on the biggest stages possible. Great win and debut for Gaethje.
GOOD: Rob Font submits Douglas Silva de Andrade
Font was landing some really good shots, especially in combinations. He dropped Silva de Andrade in the second round and pounced, securing the choke and forcing the tapout. Good win for Font as he looks to head up the rankings at bantamweight.
GOOD/BAD: Anthony Pettis vs. Jim Miller
This was another of those solid fights, not all that good, but not bad either. Pettis just look completely different from a few years ago. It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or something because he doesn’t seem like the same person at all anymore. Pettis won the decision in his return to lightweight, which was nice for him. I didn’t expect Pettis to get the finish, Miller is really tough and has a lot of experience, but it would have been nice to see him be more dominant here. He still seemed hesitant at times. Nonethless, solid win for Pettis.
BAD: Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes
Blaydes won the decision, but this fight was pretty bad. There was some effort there, but both guys gassed badly. That’s not surprising, considering this was a heavyweight fight, but it’s still frustrating to see. Moving on.
GOOD: Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
Werdum came out swinging, but Overeem had the advantage for most of the fight. However, at the end, Werdum dropped Overeem and started laying into him. It was too little, too late, though, as Overeem got the majority decision victory. After the fight, Overeem asked for a rematch with UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. I don’t think a win like this is enough to get you a title shot, but it is the heavyweight division so things are incredibly wide-open.
GOOD: Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker
Romero came out strong and hurt Whittaker’s leg with kicks. He took the first two rounds but started to gas and fade and Whittaker took over, winning the last three rounds and becoming the Interim UFC Middleweight Champion. This sets up a fight with UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping to unify the belts later this year (hopefully). This was a really tense fight as you knew that Whittaker had no room for error. And he came through bigtime. Romero is super tough and didn’t go away. He was able to somehow summon up the energy to make things tight in the fifth round. He was really close, and should get right back into the title mix with a few wins. However, he is forty years old and you can’t help but wonder when Father Time is going to catch him. I’d love to see these two rematch, or see Romero fight Bisping down the road. Either of those would be great fights to see.
UGLY: Dana White rips Amanda Nunes
This is going to sound very familiar, but Dana White has foolishly ripped one of the UFC’s champions. UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes was scheduled to fight Valentina Shevchenko on this card in the main event. However, the day of the fight, Nunes was hospitalized and pulled out. White says that the doctors told him that Nunes was physically fine and able to fight. He said that she just didn’t want to. We probably won’t ever know if that’s true or not, but White just needs to shut up on this. He has no credibility on this whatsoever. This is the same guy who’s ripped Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson and accused them of being scared to fight. He’s bashed UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor, Nick and Nate Diaz, Cris Cyborg, and numerous others, often with the vague line “They don’t want to fight.”
Basically, if you’re in the UFC and don’t do exactly what he wants you to do every single time, he calls you a coward by saying you don’t want to fight. There’s multiple problems with this, but I’ll just quickly cover the worst.
Would Adam Silver rip Kevin Durant and say he doesn’t want to compete because he joined the Warriors? Or bash Kawhi Leonard for not being more popular and being a bigger draw? Would Roger Goodell trash any of the NFL players for something like that? No, because that would be stupid. Those leagues are big boy leagues. The UFC wants to become a big boy league, and that means not acting like a petulant child on a regular basis.
You’re also undercutting your own product. Trashing your champions and saying they don’t want to fight isn’t going to get anyone interested in seeing them fight. I remember when Amanda Nunes beat Ronda Rousey for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title. The talk leading into that was about how all the focus and promotion was on Rousey. And when she lost, White said that he could have spent millions promoting Nunes and no one would still know her. Which is an idiotic thing to say on its own, but White also said that now everyone knows who Nunes is and will want to see her fight now. What a 180 here. Now all of a sudden she’s a headcase who doesn’t want to fight?
Let’s just assume that White is right here. What good does this kind of talk do? Running down your own product makes no sense whatsoever. I think he’s gotten too in love with being the “no BS, straight-shooting, maverick” type of character he wants to be and has forgotten to do the one thing he’s actually being paid to be, and that’s a promoter. I’ve bashed White and the UFC for years for being bad at promoting. And it seems like every time I start thinking to myself that maybe I’m being too harsh on him, he goes and does something stupid like this. Is there no one in the UFC willing to pull him aside and tell him to knock off the dumb stuff? That he’s hurting the product that he’s being paid to help? I would have thought that the new owners would have already done that by now, considering they paid 4 billion dollars for the company. It’s just too bad that Dana White isn’t as good at promoting the UFC as he is at promoting himself.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: HYDEN’S TAKE: Quick Hits on Germaine de Randamie refusing to fight Cyborg, Tyron Woodley vs. Damian Maia early prediction
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