The UFC 211 Tweetdown: Joanna and Stipe retain their gold, referees and judges still can’t get it right, and more.
UFC 211: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos 2 promised the usual in this sport: class, great action, history in the making, and hopefully less controversy than usual.
Scoring three out of four ain’t bad.
Miocic continues his brief reign as the oversized engine that could. Jedrzejczyk continues looking so unbelievable on the feet that the dark net has reddit threads waxing philosophical about whether she could fight Floyd Mayweather (the highest compliment to an MMA striker- in a vacuum).
And then there was everything else. The performances ranged from valorous to brilliant. The same can’t be said of the people in uniform. But we’ll get to them later.
Main Event #UFC211 pic.twitter.com/qnTcKJP7s5
— MMA GUERILLA (@BloodsportTV) May 14, 2017
I picked Miocic because he laid the violence on thick early in in his first bout with JDS. And because dos Santos is magnetized to the cage fence. And because JDS isn’t what he used to be.
Unfortunately for Cigano that’s exactly what happened within minutes.
Stipe did what he usually does: maintaining a strong base with strong punches that he uncorks with steady volition and menace. The economy of violence he inflicts is unique. Like a fixed Tim Sylvia (calm down-Sylvia, for all of his plodding faults, earned his status), he doesn’t look spectacular to the Just Bleed crowd. Until he does. Five fights. Five spectacular finishes. Who can argue with this?
It was hard to decipher his post-fight speech. He has a voice that sounds like a lottery machine gyrating bedrock. But no one needs an open duolingo tab to feel his joy. Miocic is dedicated to the sport, and that dedication has paid its own dividends. Can he maintain this reign with Cain Velasquez in the wings? Probably. As long as Cain keeps training in the Grasso mountains of Mordor.
JDS’ fate is a little darker. His style alone suggests future success. But against the elite? It’s hard to say. We used to say the same thing about Andrei Arlovski.
Nobody https://t.co/avCL6iWczc pic.twitter.com/XM2wZYsRqX
— Joanna Jedrzejczyk (@joannamma) May 14, 2017
It’s a scary thought: the division’s champion, reknown for her striking prowess whether at range, or in proximity, getting exponentially better at her craft.
But that’s exactly what happened. She’s still a bulldog of pugilism in close quarters. Sharp elbows that land square on her opponent’s mandible. Piercing knees that land square on her opponent’s sternum. Her ability to exact the same violence at range is something armchair critics like myself wondered aloud. It wasn’t a flaw so much as an inferior trait- something a fighter like Rose Namajunas could theoretically capitalize on with the right approach and technique.
Except that’s clear no longer the case. Even if you could argue that Andrade giftwrapped Joanna some of this offense, the improvement was explicit. As was the corresponding violence. She successfully landed a counter question mark kick. What further proof does one need?
Joanna teared up before Joe Rogan could conduct his postfight interview. A symbol of her elation? Sure. That’s certainly part of it. But I thought of it more as a sigil. Even with a hematoma the size of a facehugger pod, her dedication to craft, history, and status are almost unparalleled.
Noble but Mistaken
Jéssica Andrade may have lost her fight tonight but she just proposed to her girlfriend and she said yes. pic.twitter.com/8g5g7JO466
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 14, 2017
First off. Her postfight gesture to her girlfriend in the middle of Texas was kind of awesome. No, not because Texas is full of big bang denying stereotypes. We didn’t let Becky’s bad grades pass after all. But because it was a nice reward in an otherwise torturous endeavor.
Joe Rogan is a good, if flawed, announcer. But he was virtually useless in his assessment of Andrade. Everytime Jessica unleashed another right hand on a nearby pocket of air, Rogan would awe at her commitment and will. That’s reasonable. But when it becomes his collective description of Andrade’s performance, it does a disservice to what Joanna is doing, and doesn’t address what Andrade failed to do.
On a technical level, Andrade was listless. Despite a few attempted powerbombs, she never committed to mixing the fight up with more grappling. And her punches were rote: stuck at range, she would lunge in with the same overhand right-sweeping left hook combination that landed once in the first round and never again.
Jonathan Snowden remarked how interesting it is that UFC fans have vastly different reactions to one sided main events than those in boxing. Nobody exalted Chavez’ performance against Canelo. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Andrade could have done better enough to make a difference. But it’s equally hard to envision a scenario where her gameplan could be any more courteous to defeat. Future opponents will capitalize on her predictability if she’s not able to adapt herself.
Demain Maia #UFC211 pic.twitter.com/XJwChBWMaP
— MiddleEasy (@MiddleEasy) May 14, 2017
Maia’s clean, technical, almost proto-jiu jitsu once against led the path to victory. For all of our attraction to violence, it’s a pleasure to witness pure tactical grace. The fight wasn’t without its scares. Or incompetence. Judge Jeff Mullen and Aladin Martinez scored the first round for Jorge Masvidal.
But Masvidal once again failed to find volume in order to make the difference, and ended wearing Maia like a backpack for the better part of three rounds like he was stuck in the caves of Dagobah. And so now we ponder Demian Maia vs. Tyron Woodley.
Fans aren’t giddy over the prospect of five rounds between the two. It could look like Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock 2. It could look like Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt, unconscious cartwheeling and all. It could also look like Gracie vs. Shamrock 1. But it’s the fight welterweight needs, for better or for worse.
Lions for Lambs
Highlights from Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez #UFC211 pic.twitter.com/yf1gQvi84t
— Tony Fagnano (@BigToneMMA) May 14, 2017
This was a bad matchup from the get go. Edgar is one of the most disciplined fighters in the sport. Yair Rodriguez is one of the most quixotic.
The matchup turned out to be even worse than expected. Rodriguez’ footwork was functionally useless, allowing Edgar more efficient takedown entries. From the ground, he was put through a meat grinder. Edgar has already lost twice to Jose Aldo. If he retains the belt against Max Holloway, I assume Edgar vs. Aldo 3 is on the horizon? It’s not the greatest of circumstances, but if those are only two at the top of the mountain, I see no reason to complain.
Rodriguez will bounce back, but he needs to sharpen his fundamentals. He’s benefited from relatively soft matchups. A new camp, and an attention to detail could go a long way in restoring his unique image.
On an unrelated note: no your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you. In the first round that loud noise was, in fact, the American Airlines Center goal horn for the Dallas Stars.
We are not getting pizza huts best effort in the US. In the states they stop at cheese … https://t.co/6vqIRJSm1c pic.twitter.com/eFGUKncVwG
— Herb Dean (@HerbDeanMMA) February 11, 2017
Well Mr. Dean, one could say the same thing about you.
Herb is a good referee. And he seems like a genuinely good guy. But there’s no question he made the wrong call.
Up to that point it was a wonderful fight between Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. However, I think it’s clear that Alvarez is a step slower. A rematch is fine, but I’d kind of like to see them go their separate ways.
On yet another unrelated note, Joe Rogan’s attempt at Woodward and Bernstein when it comes to interviewing half conscious fighters needs to be laid to rest. It’s always painfully awkward. Rogan is interested in getting to the bottom of things. I get it. But clear the air with officials in charge of these calls. Not fighters still stuck in the blur of combat.
- Jason Knight has been dubbed “Hick Diaz”. As MMA’s resident nickname nerd (okay maybe that title belongs to Ben Goldstein but whatever), I take issue with this. Nick Diaz is a grappler of momentum and progression. Knight works in outbursts. Therefore, I’d like to correct this #problematic meme and dub thee, ‘Redneck Rumina’.
- Speaking of #problematic, I don’t know what Cormier and Rogan were trying to do in their criticism of the foreign fighter’s trashtalk. I’m a firm believer in humor as a broad sword. Given Rogan’s comedy roots, there’s plenty of material to mine from that presser. You could pick from cocaine and mullets, and Rogan opts for “foreign accents, tee hee!”. Come on guys.
- Did I skip the David Branch vs. Krzysztof Jotko fight? Sounds like everybody else did. Including the judges.
- Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter was a barnburner and half. I posed this pertinent question on Twitter, and now to you, dear bloody elbow readers.