UFC 245 AfterMMAth (Legends And Other Animals)
After the last Pay-Per-view event featured a BS Title fight and before the one that will feature a non-title fight, we all gathered to watch a card featuring not one or two, but three title bouts. The end of year (and decade) PPV outing was one of the most anticipated ones, and it did not disappoint.
Let's jump right to my picks. Then, we'll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
When I approached this fight pick I said to my self "Ok so, I think we can all agree that no one is finishing Faber, right?" Wrong! I picked the right winner, but I thought he was going to edge a decision here. I thought he would be more technical (check), throw the better strikes (check) and win on significant strikes advantage. That elbow though... This is the kind of strike that makes MMA the fun affair that it is, and it marked the begining of the end for Faber. I had no doubt that he wasn't going to stop fighting. There's a heart of a lion inside the California "kid". But he ate some big shots, and the fight ending kick, and that was all she wrote. Yan's patience is a thing of beauty. I don't know how far it will take him, but at the cusp of a championship fight, he looks amazing.
1 for 1
Let's start from the end. I am taking the point for picking Moraes, though I would've scored this for Aldo. Like so many of you, I picked Moraes more based on the seemingly dreadful cut that Jose went through, guessing he would be in less than an ideal shape for this tough opponent. Like many of you I was pleasently surprised. Aldo moved effectively, easily, for 15 straight minutes, taking some shots, throwing, smiling. I say Jose, if that's how you move in 135 and if there are no medical reasons not to do it again - let's go. As for the fight, I would've liked to see those trademarked Aldo kicks, as DC was imploring him to throw. Would have definitely helped cornering Moraes, slowing him even more and reducing the power that came back at him. But it felt like Aldo was having fun, trading, almost testing himself in this new weight class. I guess the late effort from Marlon turned the tide with the judges. Aldo's respectful reaction was also a great experience for me, as a long time fan of his
2 for 2
As Omar Little ("The Wire") said. "You come at the king, you best not miss." I respect De Randamie's intentions, and the journey she took since the first fight with Nunes. I apllauded her survival of round one, her taking over of the striking exchagnes, her sneaky (intended?) triangle, and in general, her refusal to quit. This is not a malicious dig at the challenger, but... When you come to fight a lady who is such a dominant force, for a while now, you have to expect that, she too had taken a journey of her own. What Amanda did, as soon as she realized she wasn't winning the striking game was GSP-like. She spoke of it in the fighters panel before the event, and she took a page out of the male goat's book. The key was control. De Randamie took it on the feet, so Amanda took that away from her. Yes, she wasn't inflicting incredible damage all the time, but she kept looking, she leaned on the challenger and frustrated her. She did what a smart, long lasting champion does - she controlled the action and dictated the terms. If you come at the queen - you best come prepared for a fight. An MMA fight, that might take you to your limits. That was the one championship fight I picked with no hesitation.
3 for 3
I normally pick Max with no more than a second's thought. I would say that this fight or the other may be more difficult or such, but the pick was an automatic one. Looking at this specific title defense, having watched Volkanovski rise through the ranks I was hesitant. I won't deny. A fighter that beats Mendes and Aldo, showing not only the obvious power, but a smart game and incredible cardio? This fighter is an actual, factual threat. The thing that tipped the scales for me in this fight was my belief that Max would - as he does - control the distance. I was surprised to see him taking so many leg kicks, but perhaps I need to look at previous fights again. Perhaps the Australian camp observed a tendency, and exploited it to the fullest. Volkanovski fought nothing short of a perfect fight. He took the belt without a doubt, without shenanigans, with hard honest work. As sad as I am to see Max lose, I can't think of a guy more deserving than Alex to wear the belt.
3 for 4
I picked Colby, on the basis of previous performances. It seemed like I wasn't that far off, all told except of course, for the fact he was finished in the 5th. Broken jaw or not, he fought his heart out and came short against a champ that begins to look unbeatable. Usman stayed disciplined for the most part and only threw less than technical strikes when Colby turned up the heat. I detected a lot of frustration on the challenger's face as the fight progressed, whereas on Kamaru's I only saw complete focus. The generous dishing of body attacks from Usman, his ability to control the range for the most part, and his calm made the difference.
3 for 5
3 out of 5 on this one. Best score in a while now, which - upon reflection - is not something to brag about.
Alexander Volkanovski stormed the castle and took over. His campaign to conquer the featherweight division was a thing of beauty. Undefeated in the UFC, taking names the like of Aldo, Mendes and now Holloway. He's 31 and can start a new campaign now to become the most dominant 145 champ. He has the skills, he seems to have the time. Would be a very interesting journey to follow.
When was the last time we saw Max in 3 round fights? 2016 against Ricardo Lamas. I don't know if he gets an "immediate" rematch (He very well might), but the prospect of seeing him in bouts that are planned for 3 rounds may be interesting. As a champion who based his game on outlasting his opponents, it might force him into even more pressure, to get the job done with less time.
Is the 170 division still sleeping on Geoff Neal? One of the breakout fighters of 2018 ended 2019 with a big exclamation mark. I'm down with any top 10 opponent next. He could be not more than two fights away from a title shot, depending on who these two opponents are.
In a fighter's panel last week, Amanda Nunes was asked about who is the greatest of all time. She said GSP and with a glowing smile on her face, went to describe what about him made her think that. The women goat then went to perform a goat title defense, showing her diverse set of skills, her resolve to remain at the top and yes, a lioness heart. The timing on some of those take downs was reminiscent of Saint Pierre, and the ease with which she controlled the bigger women, was another reminder that to sit at the top of the pack, one has to be very good at every aspect of the game. Honestly, do you see anyone in present roster that can dethrone Amanda? I didn't think so.
Colby's act is many things. Ridiculous, irritating, poorly performed and yes, successful. Putting this sub WWE level act aside, the way he "handled" defeat was simply disgraceful. From the in-action antics, to the whining to the ref, to the running out before Usman is crowned (hey, if you didn't see it, it must be "fake news" right?), and the cherry on top - the nasty tweet aimed at Marc Goddard - all are acts of a disrespectful, ungrateful, spoiled brat. And I don't buy that these shenanigans are part of the "act" either. This is a behaviour that Colby chose to show, in frustration. All he had to do was watch Jose Aldo, gracefully shaking Moraes's hand after arguably losing a fight he should've won, or taking Max Holloway, a far bigger fighter than himself as an example of composure. Colby was finished by TKO. Take the loss like a man. Babies don't get champion belts. And oh, Marc Goddard is a far better ref that you are a fighter.
Why exactly do we have so many events in Vegas? Because it's the fighting capital of the world or some other lame, meaningless statement? We just had THE card of the year, with three title fights, an undercard that could've easily been a full main fightnight main card, and great prelims. The attendence right up until the main card was shameful. A disgrace. the whole prelim card was viewed by patches of people amongst huge empty sections. Put this card anywhere else, and this doesn't happen. Schedule more fights out of Vegas and you win twice - once when these events, in different cities, get sold out and once, when the vegas crowd gets a little hungry for MMA.
Well. This was UFC245. Let's look at
Performance of the night:
Kamru Usman finishing Colby Covington:
Alexander Volkanovski winning the Featherweight belt: