Once again, an event with unexpected twists and odd changes in the landscape
Perhaps it’s a bit generous to say that UFC 210 did not face major expectations for popular success. The card did get something of a late push with the headlining fighters appearing on ESPN and the ongoing saga of one Gegard Mousasi exciting the more dedicated fans.
So while it’s difficult to predict what kind of buy rate was generated or how much of a financial success the event was, it was a surprising event with some moments that no one really saw coming. Not just in terms of the actual combat, but also the divisional impact of some of the extra-curricular activities.
Daniel Cormier – First off, I’d like to bring up something that Connor Ruebusch brought up earlier in the week. Cormier is and has been unjustly reviled by so many for so long, and it’s a terrible shame considering how good he is and how smart he fights. That’s to say nothing about him as a person, which is a part of the conversation better suited for another time. The worst part of this fight is that people still won’t give him the props he deserves for putting on an even better performance than his first fight against Rumble. He got hit quite a bit, which is to be expected by a Hooft-trained Rumble Johnson. He used a true flypaper approach in hugging and mugging at every opportunity and leaning heavily to tire Johnson out. Clinching up top then scooting back to generate space may have been ill-advised, but baiting the knee to the midsection to catch it on the way back? Great stuff. Then the point was driven home by finishing the fight with the same method as the last, after demoralizing him even more by flattening him out and giving him no escape. And he didn’t leave the meat and potatoes for just the fight, either. The post-fight banter was gold, as he seemed (finally) like he stopped caring if people liked him or not. The fun he had with it and the crowd reaction was great, and it didn’t sound like a ham-fisted dad-joke-level delivery, either. As someone that grew up watching professional wrestling, it makes you wonder what took someone that also grew up watching it so long to get to this point.
Anthony Johnson – Well, where else do we place him? The man never reached the mountaintop but fought for the title twice and left a terrifying legacy. From being cut to moving up through Titan, XFL and World Series of Fighting to blazing a path to the top of the division. It was an odd decision to wrestle instead of working from range, but it doesn’t matter now. Yes, he’s got a lot personal baggage from his past. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s done with previous trouble, and he’s handled himself with nothing but class in the end. From the shout outs to Jon Jones, his team and even Mike Goldberg (!?), it was a nice moment. Big ups to him for leaving while the going’s still good, and hopefully with his health to enjoy the rest of his life.
Gegard Mousasi – This was bizarre. As much as I try to not beat up too much on refs, but Dan Miragliotta was clearly out of position there. The knees where perfectly legal, but the ref still gave Weidman time to recover. Why? This just added to the confusion in a fight that shouldn’t have been broken up in the first place. I wanted to put Mousasi in the “neither“ category at first, because even while this is a win, there’s a cloud over it. It’s hard to make a case for yourself as a title contender after an ending like that, even if he started to really turn up the heat in the second round. It also doesn’t help that there’s a terrible logjam for the immediate forseable future in the middleweight division with Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza having very legitimate cases for the next shot as well. He looked good enough here to get him in the winning section, but he’s got of out-of-the-cage factors working against him.
Cynthia Calvillo – For all the moaning and eye-rolling when this fight was announced for the main card, this performance delivered. Calvillo was always a step ahead with Gonzalez playing catch-up, and the only time she was not in control while grappling… well, she turned that around with the quickness. Calvillo’s got two straight blistering performances thus far and showed a lot of her game in this fight. True, she didn’t fight opponents at the top of her division, but she’s making the most of what’s given to her and should be facing a higher-ranked opponent very soon. Plus, she gave the fans a hell of a show.
Kamaru Usman put on a dominant performance and is really maturing in his fight career. He’s not just looking great as an athlete, but he fights smart and overwhelms his opponents impressively. He may not get the Demian Maia fight he wants just yet, but he’s moving up at a reasonable pace.
Gregor Gillespie – Hey, when you make a UFC debut, you want to look great. There’s not much we can determine from this one performance, but he looked great and has a Ring of Combat pedigree against pretty tough opposition – even if they’re not very well-known.
Patrick Cummins – Can’t really say that I expected that. Cummins was in a spot of bother for a bit while being used for target practice for Blachowicz’s jabs, but rallied for the comeback and the decision win. After an unlikely chain of events that led to a UFC debut against Daniel Cormier of all people, he’s now got a UFC record of 5-4. You can’t predict this stuff.
Katlyn Chookagian – Chookagian keeps a steady pace and works her game efficiently to win rounds, and she did so again in a close but very tactical fight against the very slick Irene Aldana. She’s now 2-1 in the UFC, and in a small division that can see her move up rather quickly in relatively little time.
Patrick Cote – The Predator had a long and arduous career, and he always gave it everything he had. Whether or not he won last night is irrelevant – he fought some of the best talent out there since 2002 and was always a quiet and humble ambassador for the sport. Good on him, and wishing him the best in his future.
Charles Oliveira gets an impressive first round submission win to bounce back in his return to the lightweight division. This could be a great sign of things to come for him, and it’s great to see him come back to where he probably should have been for some time. Thiago Alves put on a great performance showing a ton of polish in his striking en route to a great decision win. Myles Jury snaps a two fight losing streak as well while blowing the doors off Mike de la Torre in the very first round. Shane Burgos made a massive statement putting Charles Rosa out on his feet and remain undefeated. Desmond Green extends his win streak to five with a close win over Josh Emmett, showing some veteran IQ and savvy in the process. Magomed Bibulatov also extends his undefeated record in a fight that saw him outwork Jenel Lausa at almost every turn. With the state of flyweight being what it is, it’s likely he’s on his way to being at the top of the division in short order with performances like this.
Chris Weidman – This was rough. Again, this was a very good fight and it was going well for Weidman in the first round. Mousasi started to mount a good attack in the second, but Weidman was able to hang tough until the debacle at the end. So now Weidman ends up with three losses in a row, albeit against world-class talent and some of the best fighters alive. That gets pushed aside when you consider the strange nature of the way this fight ended, and at this point, any Lost Batallion™ talk is more than valid at this point. It’s hard to tell where he goes from here, but his stock might have taken a bigger hit than what a decision loss would have given him.
Jan Blachowicz – As much as I love watching Jan fight, he’s getting his walking papers here. 4-2 in the UFC in an age where international events are being scaled back is a terrible sign. Yes, this fight was all sorts of crazy, sloppy fun. It won’t be enough, and it’s a shame. He’s a talented fighter for whom the UFC experiment didn’t work out.
Mike de la Torre – Another fighter that’s almost guaranteed to get cut. de la Torre’s UFC record now stands at 2 wins, 4 losses and a submission loss to Brian Ortega that was later overturned to a no-contest. He’d be a great addition for another roster in a smaller organization, but it’s not crazy to think he may make his way back to the UFC at some point.
Will Brooks – Tough break for Brooks here, as he loses his second straight bout. It’s softened a bit when you consider the controversy surrounding his last fight, and in the end it’s not the worst thing in the world to be submitted by one of the best submission fighters on the planet. The biggest reason he’s here is the fact that two straight losses in his division can set you back more than any other. Here’s hoping he can make things click together in his next bout.
Despite Andrew Holbrook dropping to 2-2 in his UFC run, this loss (to a newcomer, no less) sets him back a few spots. It also doesn’t help that his other loss was also a knockout loss. Charles Rosa is another fighter on the bubble with a 2-3 run, despite being a very talented fighter.
Jenel Lauza – Most of the time, losing a UFC debut isn’t all that bad. In Lauza’s case, it shouldn’t have much of a penalty given how good his opponent is and what kind of big things Lauza can do. He’s a great talent that just didn’t get the win this time around. For now, this is more of a light stumble than anything.
Irene Aldana – Split decision loss for the Mexican talent, who acquitted herself well in a very close fight. She’s 0-2 in the UFC so far, but women’s bantamweight is pretty shallow these days. Not only that, but she’s got quite the Mexican following as well. She should be able to stick around for at least another shot to see where things go from there.
Josh Emmett – Now 2-1 in the UFC, this was another close fight that won’t really set him back at all. Pearl Gonzalez had a whirlwind week with the New York commission fumbling due to an odd rule, but made it to the fight and lost her debut fight. Her track record shows this performance is not indicative of her overall talent, so we’ll see where she goes from here. Sean Strickland is now 5-2 in another tough fight where he took everything Kamaru Usman threw at him. This keeps him pretty much where he was with not much mobility neither up nor down in his division. It should also be noted that this snaps a three-fight win streak he had built.