UFC 231 was this past weekend, and it featured two title fights. Let’s get right to the rundown.
GREAT- Thiago Santos stops Jimi Manuwa
This fight started fast right out of the gate, as Santos hurt Manuwa but then Manuwa battled back and hurt Santos. Then they were both swinging for the fences and landing big shots. What a crazy first round. Then, in the second round, Santos hurt Manuwa and was able to finish him off. Tremendous fight, this was a lot of fun. Santos with the big win and he’s looking good at light heavyweight.
BAD/GOOD- Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
This fight suffered by following a really exciting fight but it was also just kind of there. Dawodu largely controlled the fight but not a whole lot really happened. Dawodu won the split decision. Moving on.
GOOD- Gunnar Nelson submits Alex Oliveira
Nelson got Oliveira to the ground in the second round, after a tough first round for him, and opened up with some huge shots that bloodied Oliveira. He then moved to the choke and locked it in for the win. Good win for Nelson.
GOOD- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
This was for the vacant UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship. Shevchenko was just the better fighter and she got the decision. She was able to do more. I’m not sure if the strength of Shevchenko changed or altered the gameplan that Jedrzejczyk had, but she didn’t seem as active as she usually is. Even when Shevchenko’s cardio faded in the fifth round, Joanna didn’t really take advantage of it the way she might have in the past. I’m sure there’s a lot of factors that played into that but usually, she’s so tenacious that I was expecting a possible fight-ending flurry from her that never came.
Jedrzejczyk had talked before the fight of going back to strawweight. Whether she goes there or fights more at flyweight, she’s going to have tough fights ahead of her. UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas and Shevchenko are both incredibly good and really tough fighters so it’ll be hard to unseat either of them. It’s certainly possible, I know Jedrzejczyk can do it on a given night, but we’ll have to see what her future plans are. Either way, I’ll be watching.
As for Shevchenko, this might be the start of a long and dominant title run. She has the well-rounded game to defend against all comers so we could be looking at the next dominant UFC champion. I don’t know if anyone right now will be able to beat her.
GREAT- Max Holloway stops Brian Ortega
Holloway was defending his UFC Featherweight Title and it was brutal. Ortega showed unbelievable toughness here as Holloway was teeing off on him with a relentless pace. The first two rounds were just about all Holloway, as he pummeled Ortega. Give Ortega credit, though, as he hung in there and turned things around in the third round. He hurt Holloway and got a takedown. Holloway just stood right up, though, but Ortega hurt him some more with big shots. It’s crazy how Ortega was able to do this because he was getting the living hell beat out of him by Holloway. Ortega was taking an incredible amount of punishment, but he would give up.
The fourth round was probably the craziest of them all, as Holloway was just peppering Ortega with huge shots over and over again. Ortega was basically unrecognizable as he was just a complete mess at this point. It was unbelievable how he was able to keep fighting, he should have been knocked out by this point. Even at this point, though, Ortega never gave up. The cageside doctor stopped the fight between the fourth and fifth rounds. Mercifully, the fight was over. Obviously, this is hyperbole, but it truly seemed as though the only way Ortega was going to quit is if he was struck with a lightning bolt or something.
Holloway landed 290 significant strikes during these four rounds, an all-time record. He landed 134 of those in the fourth round, also a record. That means he landed almost half his total significant strikes in one round, and it was a round in which guys are supposed to be at least somewhat tired. As impressive as Ortega was in taking this monumental ass-kicking and never giving up, Holloway was far more impressive in giving out said ass-kicking.
Words fail to truly do this justice. I strongly encourage anyone who is able to, to find this fight and watch it. See for yourself how crazy this fight was. Hell, the gifs alone are worth seeking out. Max Holloway might be the best fighter on the planet right now. I don’t want to get too caught up in the moment and say he definitively is, but there’s only a few you could put in the same category as him right now. UFC Heavyweight and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier is one. UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is another and I would put Tony Ferguson on that list as well. Other than that, I don’t know who else you could put in there. Amazing fight and an awesome win for Holloway.
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