UFC 247 AfterMMAth (The One)
I guess we can say that UFC's 2020 finally started. UFC246 did not feel like the new years celebration. It was a card leaning on one leg, which did not stand for very long. UFC247, on the contrary delivered on multiple levels and top to bottom. There was only one fight that was arguably not much fun, but from the first early prelims curtain jerker, all the way to the controversial ending of the main event, this was a great night of fights.
Let's jump right to my picks. Then, we'll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
I really thought Derrick would be able to handle Latifi early in the fight. Not because I think Ilir is anything but a stud, cause I don't, but because of the sheer power and size difference. All due respect to the Swede, he is not a DC caliber fighter, and although he followed Cormier's blueprints, he didn't follow them through with any kind of significant action. He got the clinches and the takedowns he was looking for, but did not capitalize on any of these positions. Whether it was due to Lewis, giving him things to think about, or just being hesitant, he simply didn't do enough to score. For a change, in this strange judging night, I'm happy the judges didn't give him the win based on this. As for Lewis, he showed progress on multiple areas, but as Dominick Cruz wisely said, he still lost the vast majority of the hands battles, which led to Latifi being able to keep them close, and prevent power shots for most of the fight. This wasn't such a fun fight, but it was interesting as a significant test for Latifi in this division. The jury is still out on this move.
1 for 1
I like Hawaiian fighters and Ige is another one of those aggressive, creative tough guys. It was a back and forth fight, but this aspect manifested in the resolution of rounds. Round one saw Ige push the action on the feet and imposing his will on Bektic, who returned the favor in round two, with wrestling heavy attack. The third round was a little closer, but I thought Ige drove it home eventually. Overall, Ige dished out the more damage, with some crisp striking with power attached.
2 for 2
This fight worried me. I was dreading a slow, 3 rounder that would have the potential to deflate the energy I fully expected from the featherweight who preceded it. I was very happy it ended pretty quickly with a beautifully executed uppercut. Action continues and we're all set for the top two fights of the night.
3 for 3
This was a fight I was looking forward to and not because I expected some tremendous competition, but because I thought it would be a great opportunity for Valentina to showcase her skills. Chookagian came in with bells and whistles, and quite frankly, that was a recipe for disaster from her perspective. Shevchenko came in focused, stayed so through the first couple of rounds, timed and measured her opponent and when the opportunity presented itself, she bit. the counters were there, with sharp shooting accuracy. That movement, on which Katlyn placed so much stock, didn't seem to trouble the champ in the slightest. If anything it made it look even better, with Valentina bouncing gently on her feet, leg and body kicking, spinning every now and then (and being effective doing so). That elbow in the first round was a nice little piece of foreshadowing, and once she took Chookagian down on the third, and straight into side control, all alarms rang. The end is near. The crucifix secured quickly, space created, elbows and punches rained, and still.
4 for 4
I will focus here only on the fight itself (more to come later). Dominick Reyes came in like a man possessed. For the first two rounds, he implemented a pressure game to near perfection. Jones, at certain points of the fight did look stunned. Things that worked for him in the past, didn't seem to be as effective. The third was a weird one. Reyes already showed signs of slowing down, although he was still able to offer consistent attack. The question in my mind, and I will have to watch it again before I can say it with certainty is, how many of his attempts actually land? and to which extent? Rounds four and five were all Jones, but not as I'd have imagined. Even in these final rounds, where Jones was visibly fresher, Reyes, running on fumes, was able to avoid any significant ground attack. Let us talk about the judging in the next segment.
5 for 5
If I want to be honest, this should've been 4 for 5... but I so rarely get all picks right, that unless Reyes appeals and turns it, I'll take the 5th. pick.
By most accounts, we should've had one here. Dominick Reyes truly emerged here as a serious contender. I will be the first to admit, I didn't give him much of a chance. When asked, I thought that Jones has faced his kind of threat on more than one occasion. I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the grit, the endurance (as manifested in negating the TDs in the last rounds) and the willingness to get in Jon's face with no hesitation. Judges decision or not, Dominick Reyes cemented his name in the discussion, whether via rematch, or if Jones goes up to HW, I'm convinced that this was not his last fight for gold. So, in a way, #AndNew.
Let's talk judges:
The good: Lewis Vs Latifi. Many of us whine when fights end up on the ground, or against the fence with little to no action. I have no objection to this particular style of fighting. I only have the objection of using it to stall, or simply prevent action from the opponent. When DC employed this tactic in his fight against Lewis, it was fun, because he used it to inflict damage and look for the finish. Latifi didn't, or couldn't, and I give this decision the thumbs up.
The Bad: Andre Ewell getting the decision over Jonathan Martinez. I believe that was also the fight, during which - according to Joe Rogan who was there in the arena - judges were not focusing on the fight. I don't know if that was the case, or not, but it did feel like the wrong call.
The Ugly: I disagree with the "robbery" cries following the main event. In my book, having only watched this fight live, I had it 48-47 Reyes. How can such a close decision be robbery? It might've been wrong, but it was no landslide. The ugly part of this is that one judge really outdid himself, giving Jones four rounds... I mean, seriously? Get yourself to an MRI, as you may suffer some brain trauma. I can see this 48-47 either way, especially based on how one saw round 3, but it was no 49-46... definitely not in Jones' favor.
Two fighters came to UFC247 saying "I'm the one!"
Dominick Reyes said it straight. He truly believed he's the one to dethrone Jon Jones. I have to tip my hat to him. He made a serious case. He also looks like one with the mental chops to come back from this disappointing fiasco, from his perspective. The poise in which he handled the fight, as well as the aftermath show me that he just might be the one.
Katlyn Chookagian also came in, citing her one-ness. In that case, it was a very empty proposition. I haven't had an easier pick in a while, to be honest. She said all of the right things, perhaps in an attempt to convince herself, but really... if you'd watched her fights, I seriously doubt you had any confidence in her ability to succeed, where Amanda Nunes had to spit blood. There is simply no one currently at 125 (or 135 really) who can hand with Shevchenko. Not really. The exception being Amanda.
Let me say something that might trigger some of you. In my humble opinion, Valentina Shevchenko is the best woman fighter today. Including the lioness. Note, I am not saying "goat" or anything. I am referring to skills, and talents. Valentina has the full package, and the fact that her opponents in Flyweight are lightyears behind doesn't make it any less valid. I really want to see Shevchenko/Nunes 3. It really is the best fight that WMMA can offer, and talking about judges, fight #2 left more to be desired.
Well. This was UFC247. Let's look at
Performance of the night:
Valentina Shevchenko Jon-Jonesing Chookagian:
Journey Newson making quick work of his fight against Domingo Pilarte: