Bellator 196 and UFC 223 were both this past weekend, which will go down as one of the wildest weekends in MMA history.
GOOD- Ed Ruth vs. Ion Pascu
This was a fine fight. Nothing great, but it was solid. Ruth picked up the clear decision win.
GOOD- Brian Moore submits Giogio Belsanti
Moore got Belsanti down with a power shot, beat him up some, then slapped on a guillotine when Belsanti tried to stand up. Nice win.
GOOD- Denise Kielholtz vs. Petra Castkova
Kielholtz beat up Castkova for all three rounds, but Castkova showed heart. Still, Kielholtz won the decision and picked up a nice win.
GOOD- Adam Borics stops Teodor Nikolov
Nikolov looked outmatched from the beginning, as Borics was all over him in the first round. The second round continued things and Borics finished things with a big flying knee. Exciting win for Borics.
GOOD- Benson Henderson submits Roger Huerta
Both men fought pretty well in the first round, though Henderson was clearly the one with the edge. In the second round, Bendo went to work quickly and got Huerta down and locked on the guillotine for the submission win. Good win for Henderson.
GOOD- Chris Gruetzmacher stops Joe Lauzon
Lauzon started well but then faded. Gruetzmacher took over and beat Lauzon to a pulp in the second round. Lauzon’s corner wouldn’t let him continue and the fight was stopped in between the second and third rounds. I liked seeing that from Lauzon’s corner. He was getting wrecked and there was no need for it to continue.
GOOD- Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak
Magomedsharipov came out strong but Bochniak refused to give up. They went back and forth, with Magomedsharipov coming out on top and getting the decision win. Another exciting fight for Magomedsharipov, who’s been must-see TV in his fights in the UFC.
GOOD- Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar
Moicano destroyed the leg of Kattar with kicks, but also gave him the business everywhere else. Kattar was bleeding like crazy but he wouldn’t give up. Great shows of heart and toughness from the fighters this weekend. Moicano won the decision in a good fight.
GOOD- Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
I didn’t agree with the decision here, which saw Namajunas getting the decision win and winning four of the five rounds on all three judges scorecards. I thought Namajunas won rounds one and two while Jedrzejczyk won rounds three, four, and five. Full disclosure, I had been drinking and talking with friends all night so maybe I missed something. Maybe I was wrong about the fifth round? Maybe my bias towards Jedrzejczyk caused me to miss something?
At the same time, though, I completely disagree with giving Namajunas four of the five rounds. I think that’s crazy, I don’t see how a judge could do that. Jedrzejczyk landed more strikes. Namajunas got the only takedown of the fight and missed one as well. If I had just disagreed with one of the judges, I would be more confident in saying the decision was wrong. However, all three judges scored it the same so that makes me think I missed something. I don’t know, maybe I’ll rewatch the fight sometime and see. To be honest, I probably won’t, though. I’ll want to but I’m sure real life will pop up and keep me busy elsewhere.
Namajunas is an exciting fighter and keeps getting better and better. The heart she showed to rally back in the fifth round was spectacular. You could tell she felt as though Jedrzejczyk had won rounds three and four and needed to do something to stop the momentum. She came back and showed a lot of guts, that was impressive.
GOOD- Al Iaquinta vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
I’ll quickly summarize the events leading up to this fight. Nurmagomedov was supposed to fight Tony Ferguson, but Ferguson had to pull out with a week to go due to injury. UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway was then supposed to fight Nurmagomedov but was pulled by UFC doctors because they were concerned about his health and cutting too much weight. Anthony Pettis was then approached about fighting Nurmagomedov but they couldn’t come to terms, so Al Iaquinta was given the opportunity and he took it.
It wasn’t a title fight for Iaquinta, who was 0.2 lbs too heavy because he had already weighed in for his scheduled fight with Paul Felder. Side note about Felder, he would have taken the fight against Nurmagomedov himself but wasn’t allowed to because he’s not ranked. “Quickly summarize”, indeed.
So Nurmagomedov went through at least four different opponents in not quite a week. I don’t know if that’s a record, but I assume so. Bigtime kudos to both Nurmagomedov and Iaquinta for taking this fight on such short notice and being game. The fight itself went about as you could expect, Nurmagomedov took Iaquinta down and beat him up for five rounds. He actually fought more on the feet than I thought he would, and he did fairly well with it.
I’m not going to nitpick anything Nurmagomedov did in this fight because that wouldn’t be fair. He deserves all the credit in the world and I would hope the UFC rewards him. What I hope more than that, though, is that Nurmagomedov can enjoy an extended period of good health. I want to see this man fight, I want to see if anyone can challenge him.
Nurmagomedov is now the UFC lightweight champion. After the win, he called out Georges St-Pierre for a superfight. This fight would have to take place at welterweight, which means the UFC lightweight title would remain in stasis. I don’t care much for that, but Tony Ferguson is technically the interim UFC lightweight champion, so I guess he could defend that against someone. I think that someone’s name starts with C and ends in R.
I don’t believe for a second that the UFC is even remotely close to being done with Conor McGregor. The first chance they get to possibly have him fight for them again, they’ll get down on their knees and beg for it. There’s too much money at stake here and they don’t care about morals or doing the right thing or anything like that. They also desperately need stars because they suck at making their own, this is why they’d bring Brock Lesnar back and talk about giving him a title shot in his return. It’s also why they’ll bring Jon Jones back as soon as they can and try to squeeze every last drop they can from Anderson Silva’s diminishing star power. It’s why they let GSP win the UFC middleweight title knowing damn well that he would vacate it immediately.
The UFC is nothing but a bunch of money-hungry guys who have no qualms about prostituting the sport in order to make a buck. I have no problem with businesses trying to make money, that’s the nature of the game after all, but there’s a smart way to do it and a crazy way to do it. The UFC will gladly set fire to their credibility for a short-term gain, not considering the long-term effects.
Rant aside, I would be excited to see Nurmagomedov and GSP fight. Or Ferguson and McGregor fight. However, I’m a fan. Those who run the sport have to do what’s best for the sport, even if it goes against what fans may dream of. The NFL might want to see the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys in The Super Bowl, but they don’t fix every game in order to get that outcome. You could argue that they might give those teams a few BS calls here and there, but they don’t just make that the Super Bowl matchup. Why? Because they have to keep the integrity of the sport intact. We’ll see if the UFC agrees with that philosophy or not. Based on recent history, I would say not.
This wraps up the wildest weekend in MMA history. From the McGregor incident, to the rotating door of opponents for Nurmagomedov, it’s been crazy. I dislike drama in my real life, but as a sports fan, I have to say I love it. This was MMA’s version of March Madness.
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank
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