Bellator 195 and UFC 222 were both this past weekend. Let’s get to the rundown.
GOOD/BAD- Juan Archuleta vs. William Joplin
This was an okay fight. Archuleta won the decision and he controlled things. Joplin had his moments, but Archuleta was the better fighter here. Solid win for Archuleta.
GOOD/BAD- Kristina Williams vs. Emily Ducote
Williams won the split decision in an ultra-close fight. I mean, one judge gave Ducote all three rounds while the other two gave Williams two rounds. It was super close and it all came down to what you consider more important. Solid win for Williams.
GOOD/BAD- Joe Warren vs. Joe Taimanglo
This was yet another solid, okay fight. It was close, as evidenced by the split decision victory for Taimanglo. There was some really good groundwork here, and this was a good victory for Taimanglo.
GOOD- Darrion Caldwell submits Leandro Higo
Caldwell got a takedown and quickly moved to a guillotine to force the tap about halfway through the first round. This was a big win for him, as he defends his Bellator Bantamweight Title for the first time. He also sends a message to upcoming challengers with this win as well, that he’s going to be tough to beat.
GOOD/BAD- Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira
Vieira won the split decision, but I’ve had about enough of these dull fights. They’re close and competitive but they’re also a nice sleep aid. I was probably too generous with my ratings for most of the Bellator fights and I’ll continue that here, because I respect the skill shown, but damn these fights are getting harder to watch.
GOOD/BAD- Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefen Struve
This was yet another “solid” fight, except this time it was mainly contested on the feet. Arlovski won the decision. I don’t want to be too harsh because these things happen, but so many of these fights over a few nights is a bit much.
GOOD/UGLY- Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
O’Malley came out with a great first round, but then hurt his foot. Despite the fact that he was clearly limping and in a lot of pain, Soukhamthath somehow couldn’t muster up the drive to push forward and take advantage of that. Thus, O’Malley survived and won the decision. Good win for him, but that was horribly botched by Soukhamthath there.
GREAT- Brian Ortega stops Frankie Edgar
This was a stunner for sure. For the first time ever, Frankie Edgar was stopped in a fight. Add in that he was stopped in the first round and it’s even more impressive. There’s lots to unpack here.
One, Ortega is obviously the next man to challenge UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. That should go without saying, but with the way the UFC sometimes does things, you never know for sure. This is a huge win for Ortega and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in his fight against Holloway. I don’t think I can bet against Holloway, but I would have said the same about Edgar and Ortega just stopped him cold. I still have to go with Holloway until I see him get beaten, but man this is an exciting fight to anticipate.
Two, I feel horrible for Edgar. He didn’t have to take this fight, he already had the title shot in hand. The only reason Ortega was even in this fight is the champ Holloway had to pull out due to injury. No one would have blamed Edgar for just waiting for him to heal and reschedule the fight. So, bigtime kudos to Edgar for taking this fight, but this also becomes Evidence A when it comes to guys not wanting to fight when they already have a title shot locked up but the champ gets hurt.
Three, there’s a few possibilities with regards to what this means for Edgar. One is that this is just a setback and he’ll be back to challenge for titles again. This assumes that Ortega is just a complete badass and this win says more about him surging forward and not Edgar slipping. Two is that Edgar is slipping and that Ortega caught him at the right time and this win looks bigger than it actually is. I think the former is much more likely, I’m still a big believer in Frankie Edgar. I think he’ll challenge for the title again someday.
Back to Ortega, this was about as emphatic and impressive a win as you could ever hope for. He’s going to have tremendous momentum heading into his fight with Holloway. I hope that fight gets made as quickly as possible and we get it sometime this year.
GOOD- Cris Cyborg stops Yana Kunitskaya
Kunitskaya got a takedown on Cyborg early and was having some success but Cyborg fought through it and ended up getting the separation and pounding out another first round stoppage to successfully defend her UFC women’s featherweight title. You could point to Kunitskaya’s success as a bad look for Cyborg but it was temporary and Cyborg battled through it and got the win. I think she looks just as dominant as she always has, and I’m eagerly anticipating her next fight.
That next fight will likely be UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. I don’t know who else would get the fight if not Nunes. It promises to be a tremendous fight, as Cyborg fights most always are. Just as with the men’s featherweight title fight, I hope this gets done this year. Nunes-Cyborg would be a highly anticipated clash and one of the most exciting fights of the year.
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