UFC 209 was an unmitigated disaster thanks to Woodley vs. Thompson 2, but things weren’t all bad.
UFC 209 in Nevada was a great card turned okay thanks to losing Khabib vs. Tony, but the main event would become the salt in everyone’s wound. Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson were not good. Joe Rogan and the commentary booth (quickly becoming a group of reservoir dogs) would describe the bout as “deliberate” and “tactical”, but if you google translate through MMA snob filters, they’re actually saying “lice” and “feces”.
But to be honest, I appreciated the main event. Why? Because I’m a social experiment junkie. Getting to see a network of real time reactions to Renzo vs. Ohara, Shamrock vs. Severyn, Gracie vs. Shamrock II, or Wiezorek vs. Shipp (especially Wiezorek vs. Shipp!) would have been a treat back in the day.
I apologize in advance if this tweetdown is somewhat unprofessional by blogging analysis through social media standards, but the main event tainted what could have been a reasonable PPV.
From Blockbuster to Filibuster
current emotional state pic.twitter.com/v0rGpU2gzV
— priscilla page (@BBW_BFF) March 2, 2017
I don’t watch anime. No not because I’m a cool kid who likes to culturally bully people for enjoying weird shit. I just never had time. But I had enough time to experience the Dragon Ball Z saga during its run almost two decades ago. Woodley vs. Thompson was a lot like a Dragon Ball Z fight: a psychokinetic staring contest stretched out too damn long. It was like watching Balrog vs. Sagat with the controllers unplugged.
Speaking of psychokinetic action, there was definitely a moment when I hoped gravity would invert, and both guys would just start throwing brain lasers at each other like in Dark City, as beer, nachos, and late night cosmetics flowed upward.
Real life turned out to be emphatically less entertaining. Since there was no action in the fight other than the last thirty seconds, I can’t really talk about except to note that it takes two to stare. Woodley made zero adjustments from the last night, constantly retreating against the cage. Dominick Cruz made the astute observation that backing up against the cage allows him to setup his counter right without throwing, keeping his opponent’s contained within a limited but recognized space. I alluded to this in our preview even, but couldn’t articulate it half as good as Cruz. Nobody’s making the case that backing up against the cage is actually good for your health, but Woodley isn’t completely neutralized by his bad habits.
Conversely, Joe Rogan was drinking the power sauce again. If you had watched the first two rounds, Rogan would have left you convinced that Woodley was playing a dangerous game against an elite striker implementing a dangerous game. Except Thompson is almost as limited. Despite switching stances, and throwing push kicks, his ambidexterity is completely illusory. He has a limited range on punch entries, and if you want a further indictment on Thompson’s gameplan then look no further than Jake Shields, who pressured Woodley to greater success (!) than this world class, Chuck Norris creature of combat Rogan and Crew claimed Woodley was up against.
Yet I’m pretty sure Rogan will never be talking up Shields’ striking skills. Confirmation bias, confusing eccentricity for brilliance, and all that.
As someone who actually considers Woodley’s personality a breath of fresh air, whatever criticism thrown his way will be well deserved. Even if it’s from people Woodley himself thought had his back. The good news is that Dana White will definitely not be interested in watching them fight again.
Man Sized Demetrious Johnson or First Round Shane Carwin?
Bloody Elbow’s Mythical Creatures of MMA is fantastic.
5th Round Lawler vs TRT Vitor in the finals for me. pic.twitter.com/y3U9ZBuF1F
— Graeme Harper (@GraemeHarp) August 19, 2016
I usually reserve the second tweet to talk about the loser of the main event, but since they both lost, I just wanted to plug BE’s Mythical Creature Tournament. The semifinals are underway. May I suggest new characters for any future tournaments? Center of the Cage Tyron Woodley, and Joe Rogan’s Imagined Wonderboy Thompson.
Paranaue! Paranaue, Para Na!
Lando Vannata putting on a show! #UFC209 pic.twitter.com/raZBdBgaxl
— Elliot McKay (@mckayelliot) March 5, 2017
I don’t like bagging on Joe Rogan this much, because I think there are real strengths to his commentary game, and rarely am I irritated this much, but I heard David Teymur’s name mentioned maybe one or twice throughout the telecast. Lando Vannata is an interesting guy, and someone I think we’re all rooting for, but that doesn’t mean the guys in the commentary booth have to act like fanboys too. For one, Vannata didn’t even fight a great bout.
Not only is his defense bipolar, but he rarely attempted takedowns where Teymur was theoretically most vulnerable. Granted, Teymur pulled off a great air sprawl in which he resembled Ponyo for a second (I told you, I don’t watch that stuff). Vannata might have felt like takedowns were lost causes given his comfort on the feet, but for the most part the fight was a wonderful blend of high wire violence that usually involved Vannata taking the business end of it. Teymur was great at timing his punches, sometimes showing creative execution, or sometimes capitalizing on Vannata’s creative apathy.
The MMA Oscar for Best Supporting Pugilist goes to…
Dan Kelly – from having his striking mocked, to beating Rashad Evans on the feet. Amazing. What an inspirational story and journey #UFC209 pic.twitter.com/bMAgBF91fU
— Submission Radio (@SubmissionAus) March 5, 2017
Character actor Brett Favre, or Dan Kelly as he’s sometimes known as, is not a guy you would have penciled onto a main card after his bout with Luke Zachrich at the Rockhold vs. Bisping show. Getting knocked out by Sam Alvey only further cemented this fact. But three wins in a row after that got him a bout with Rashad Evans, who looked physically and psychologically ready.
Kelly won in a surprisingly fun Rashad bout, using unique techniques (step in trip) to land his left hand that found its home on Evans’ dome with regularity. Evans fought what I thought was a reasonable bout too, chambering well timed uppercuts that landed with power, but Kelly just had that raw dog, Bronson swagger Evans could never really deflect.
Haha, dorks that dissed Calvillo for being green, then she used an anaconda choke to backflip into back control with hooks and finished RNC.
— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) March 5, 2017
Switching from gator roll to back control in the blink of an eye is not something many humans can do, but Cynthia Calvillo did just that, and finished the bout off with some Spanish and cursing. What’s not to love? Amanda Cooper, with more training and takedown defense, could definitely have a future, but this was the Calvillo show. More importantly, she has a critical skillset that could be difficult for talented contenders and prospects alike.
Overeem’s Hurt. Pack it in boys, wait, what?!
Reem actually won a fight that he got hurt in
— Rian Scalia (@rian5ca) March 5, 2017
The night was filled with comebacks. Alcantara, Elkins, and Alistair Overeem of all people managed to rise to the occasion. Overeem has that reputation of folding under pressure, and the reputation is not unearned, but it was nice to see Overeem fight through the stigma. That was a brutal shot Mark Hunted landed, and Overeem stood tall (well, taller than usual). Still, it was a tough watch. Hunt was violently knocked out, and you have to wonder how many fights he has left, especially in conjunction with his demeanor leading up to the bout.
UFC 209 may have been a disaster, but we still got some good fights, and enjoyable train wreck fallout. At least MMA fans have ton of great fights *checks Belfort vs. Gastelum card* to look…*checks Manuwa vs. Anderson card*…forward too (?).