Conor McGregor talked a metric ton of trash over the weekend which is pretty interesting stuff to dissect. But while all his talk may be interesting there are still some interesting topics to tackle as far as this past weekend’s fights are concerned. The main and co-main event of UFC Denver saw a pretty dominating victory and an unforeseen upset cap off a night of fairly entertaining fights. Valentina Shevchenko and Jorge Masvidal left the event in considerably higher standings than when they first arrived in Colorado.
For Shevchenko’s part she proved that she’s a slow starter no longer. Her judo black belt came in handy when she took Julianna Pena to the ground in the first round with relative ease. She dominated top position of a majority of the opening five minutes until a Pena armbar submission threatened to put all that hard work to waste. Even though it appeared tight, by the closing seconds it was obvious that Shevchenko had escaped danger even before the bell rang to end the round. Where it seemed like Shevchenko was playing a dangerous game by remaining in the clinch with Julianna Pena, the reality is that the “Venezuelan Vixen” was in fact biting off more than she could chew. Even after getting the fight to the ground where she wanted it, Pena couldn’t land any significant offense while Shevchenko remained patient in hunting for the fight ending armbar she slapped on her opponent seemingly out of nowhere. While many agreed that Shevchenko needed to win the fight on the feet in order to secure victory, the truth of the matter is that Valentina has been hiding some tricks up her sleeves and proved that even a risky situation can indeed pay dividends.
For Donald Cerrone that proved to be less than true.
After an impressive finish of Matt Brown at December’s UFC 206, there appeared to be nothing but upside for “Cowboy” Cerrone. But it appeared that his propensity to fight anyone at any place at any time got the better of him as he faced off with Jorge Masvidal. Cerrone won most of the first round which shouldn’t be ignored. But winning most of a round means nothing if you’re almost flatlined by the end of it. Masvidal executed a flawless game plan. The kicks of Cerrone have always been a dangerous weapon, but going to the well too often can leave it dry. Cerrone threw one too many kicks and Masvidal exploded forward with well timed right hand counters over the top. Cerrone has never been the best boxer in the game and Masvidal has always shown a propensity to light guys up with his hands. Kicking was definitely the best option for Cerrone, but the lack of variety gave Masvidal some easy reads as the fight wore on.
The knock out in the second round was a bit disheartening to watch simply because of the fact that Cerrone lost in front of his hometown fans. But this is the hurt business as they say and no matter how you look at it the game is always risk versus reward. Cerrone fighting so often may have been to his detriment. Though he performs better when he’s on a roll, the fact of the matter is that there are always diminishing returns as far as this game goes and taking a sabbatical from time to time can evolve a person’s game, even a man Cerrone. For now he has to go back to the drawing board while Jorge Masvidal announces himself as a person of interest in the welterweight division.
Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.
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