By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch Senior Columnist
Bellator 257 and UFC Fight NIght: Whittaker vs. Gastelum were this weekend and featured some good fight and a lot of decisions. Let’s get to the rundown.
GOOD- Veta Arteaga vs. Desiree Yanez
The first round was really close, as they both landed a lot of shots. I leaned Yanez but Arteaga looked good in there as well. Yanez did get a late takedown, though. Round two saw Arteaga drop Yanez early with a big punch, then got a takedown a little later. Unfortunately, she also hit Yanez with an illegal knee to a downed opponent and had a point deducted from her. The third round saw Yanez get a takedown but Arteaga started tagging her with punches. This was a really close fight, a tough one to score. I thought it would be a draw but Arteaga won by majority decision, good win for her.
GOOD- Paul Daley stops Sabah Homasi
Homasi dropped Daley twice in the first round, unleashing a relentless barrage upon him. Daley survived and battled back to land some nice strikes of his own, though Homasi got a late takedown. The second round saw Daley drop Homasi with some savage punches, but Homasi survived. He wasn’t able to survive the entire round, though, as Daley dropped him again and pummeled him with some vicious ground-and-pound to force the ref to jump in and stop the fight. Good win for Daley.
GOOD- Corey Anderson stops Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov
Anderson stayed busy and landed some nice strikes in the first round. Anderson got a takedown in the second round and started unloading on Yagshimuradov with some brutal elbows, but he survived. Anderson got another takedown in the third round and did the same thing, unleashing some vicious ground-and-pound to force the ref stoppage. Good win for Anderson.
GOOD- Vadim Nemkov vs. Phil Davis
Nemkov is the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion and this is the first round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix. The first round was pretty close, with Nemkov landing more strikes and probably winning the round. The second round saw Nemkov drop Davis but he was able to survive. The third round was more of the same, with Davis being too tentative and Nemkov getting a late takedown. Davis was more active in the fourth round but not much of note happened. Nemkov got a takedown in the fifth round but nothing came of it and Nemkov won the decision to successfully defend his title and advance in the World Grand Prix. Good win for Nemkov.
UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Gastelum
GOOD- Alexander Munoz vs. Luis Pena
Munoz got a couple takedowns in the first round, and landed some decent strikes. The second round saw Munoz get another takedown, though Pena had a lot of success striking so the round was close. Pena had more success striking in the third round and that got him the split decision victory, good win for him.
GOOD- Tracy Cortez vs. Justine Kish
Cortez got a trip takedown in the first round and landed some big hammerfists. Kish came out in the second round and landed some good strikes. The third round saw Kish nearly get caught in a guillotine but she managed to escape. Cortez won the split decision, good win for her.
GOOD- Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Jacob Malkoun
Malkoun got some trip takedowns and had some nice striking moments, as did Alhassan but all these decisions are really wearing on me. Don’t get me wrong, the effort is there and I don’t want to single these guys out but I think there were two stoppages all weekend, across two cards. Call me a casual fan if you want, but this is like watching a couple of average teams play a low-scoring game. This is like watching teams that are just barely good enough to not be good enough to make the playoffs. I suppose the matchmakers are doing a good job because these fights have been really close. As for this fight, Malkoun won the decision based on his grappling, good win for him.
GOOD- Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman
This was another close fight that went to decision. I thought this fight was a bit more exciting but it still wasn’t all that great to me. I don’t know, maybe I’m just in a bad mood because I found out that one of my friends paid for that stupid Triller pay-per-view. I have no problem with someone wanting to watch it, I understand the train wreck aspect of it and all that, but to pay $50 for that crap? Hell yeah, I was curious about it, to see how bad it was, but I’m not paying 50 damn dollars for it. Maybe if you get a bunch of friends over to split the cost but how many of your friends would be interested enough to do that? If they had charged $20-25 that would have made a lot more sense. It would still be overpriced but not nearly as badly. Of course, the actual smart move would have been to put it on TV somewhere. You’ll get way more people watching if the only cost is time. Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent, I just hope no one bought that show hoping to see Ben Askren beat up Jake Paul, I don’t even think a dope who’s always wrong about everything like Skip Bayless would think that had a chance to happen.
Back to this fight, Arlovski won the decision based on him getting the better of the exchanges on the feet. Good win for Arlovski.
GOOD- Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
First off, this is the very definition of a fight that didn’t need to go five rounds. It should have ended after the third round, when Whittaker swept the first three rounds. Alternatively, it should have ended after Whittaker also dominated the fourth round. Even if Gastelum had somehow pulled the rabbit out of the hat and gotten a fluke knockout or something, that wouldn’t be a win to be proud of as he was getting his ass kicked for most of the fight. You can be proud of the heart and tenacity he showed but you’d feel like he stole the win if he had gotten it.
Gastelum came to fight but Whittaker was just better. That’s all there is to it. It was a very good win and I could easily see him getting a title shot against UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. Do I think he wins that fight? No, I don’t. It’s certainly possible but I don’t think he’s shown enough to make you say he can beat Adesanya, unless Adesanya recedes. If he’s the same guy that beat Whittaker the first time, he should beat him the second time.
One last thing, I’ve noticed a whole lot of MMA sites and bluechecks on Twitter calling Whittaker’s performance against Gastelum “masterful” or saying that he put on a “Master Class”. Like, too many for that to be a coincidence. The way I see it is, it can only be one of two things.
One, a prominent member of the MMA community somewhere said that and everyone else just falls in line. We all know the hive mind is a very real problem in every aspect of life, not just sports. That crap bleeds over into everything you can think of.
Two, someone’s paying people to say that. I say this mostly in jest, I don’t really think anyone’s paying people to talk up a random UFC fight that’s not even on PPV, I just find it very odd that so many people were all saying nearly exactly the same thing. It was a good performance, even very good, but calling it masterful is too much. That said, if anyone’s looking for a hype man, feel free to hit me up at PayPal.me/frankhyden
Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank