UFC Fight Night 143 was this past weekend, as the UFC made their ESPN and ESPN+ debut. It featured a champion vs. champion fight. Let’s get right to the rundown.
UFC Fight Night 143
GOOD- Glover Teixeira submits Karl Roberson
Roberson hurt Teixeira early with some elbows but Teixeira got him down and submitted him with an arm triangle choke about three and a half minutes into the first round. Good win for Teixeira and a tough loss for Roberson.
GOOD- Paige VanZant submits Rachael Ostovich
Ostovich won the first round but VanZant was able to rally and fought for, and got, the submission a little over a minute into the second round. Nice win for VanZant.
GOOD- Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
This was pretty close, as Ortiz was fighting hard and giving it to Benavidez as good as he got. Benavidez won the decision. There’s a definite case to be made for Ortiz winning the second round, but I think Benavidez clearly won the first and third rounds. This was a close and competitive fight with lots of reversals and high-level grappling. Good win for Benavidez.
GOOD/BAD- Gregor Gillespie stops Yancy Medeiros
The good is from Gillespie just completely dominating his opponent. This was one of those types of fights that UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has where he destroys his opponent’s will by being relentless and suffocating and grinding him down. These kinds of fights aren’t always the most exciting but the possibility of what Gillespie could do in the future certainly is. I want to see him against top-ranked guys. If he can replicate this kind of performance against some of the top guys, that’s an exciting thought. Good win for Gillespie.
BAD- Allen Crowder beats Greg Hardy by disqualification
The fight itself wasn’t very good at all. Hardy gassed hard and then he hit Crowder with an illegal knee about halfway through the second round and got disqualified. There was nothing really redeeming about this fight, I didn’t like it. Moving on.
GOOD- Henry Cejudo stops T.J. Dillashaw
Cejudo caught and dropped Dillashaw twice very early in the fight and the ref jumped in to stop the fight after 32 seconds. I don’t think it was a bad stoppage at all, to be honest. Dillashaw was on skates and even after a while, still looked not completely normal. He can protest all he wants at the post-fight press conference but in the moment, he wasn’t doing anything.
The stoppage was perhaps a few seconds early but that’s a good thing, especially for Dillashaw as it stopped him from taking even more punishment from Cejudo. Anyone who thinks the outcome would have been different if the ref had let it go is fooling themselves. Cejudo was aggressive and landing bombs, Dillashaw was getting beat, no matter how long the ref let things go. I’ll admit that I was fooling myself, I kept thinking before the fight that Dillashaw would be able to avoid the heavy shots from Cejudo. I’ve seen him avoid and move around so well in previous fights that I thought the same thing would happen here. I was wrong.
I don’t want to hear from Dana White that it was a “horrible” stoppage. For one, Dana is the Skip Bayless of the MMA world. He spews so much hyperbolic nonsense that on the rare occasion that he speaks the truth, you just can’t take him seriously. Besides, we all know why he thinks the stoppage was early. White was wanting Dillashaw to take the flyweight belt and then vacate it so the UFC can get rid of the flyweight division. Why? Because the UFC can’t do their job and promote the flyweight division properly even though they consistently have exciting fights. Now, with Cejudo winning, he can’t just junk the division.
Back to the fight, this was highly impressive from Cejudo. Coming out aggressive and nailing Dillashaw with big shots was a great strategy from him. This was the most impressive thing in MMA this year. Of course, this has been the only big MMA event of the year so far but that’s all right, I can go hyperbolic too. Cejudo said he wants to fight Dillashaw at bantamweight next so I think the UFC should put together a #1 contenders fight for the flyweight division. They could just go with Benavidez getting the next shot and sitting out until Cejudo is ready but it’s hard to say how long Benavidez would be waiting for that, and if he would even be interested in sitting out for a while.
So, they could go with Cejudo vs. Dillashaw at flyweight again, or they could fight at bantamweight. Or they could have Dillashaw defend the UFC Bantamweight Title against someone as Cejudo defends the UFC Flyweight Title against Benavidez, then run this fight back. Luckily, there are lots of options and they all seem good to me. Of course, they might lose the whole “Champion vs. Champion” thing but at this point, is that really such a bad thing? Not everyone has to be going for multiple belts at the same time. Superfights should happen organically, not be forced because you’re trying to sell tickets.
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