UFC 248 AfterMMAth (...and Action!)
Many people said they're excited for UFC248 Co-Main event more than any other fight on this card and man, were they on the money. This was a very fan satisfying card all the way to the, somewhat anti climatic main bout.
Let's jump right to my picks. Then, we'll chat about this, that and the other.
For your reference, my picks:
These two guys came into this fight, on the heels of a less than stellar streak and both needed the win. I thought Griffin would be able to find the win, against Oliveira, who's known for some recklessness. Brazilian Cowboy almost handed him the W too, having elected for some odd reason to go for a submission on a fighter who's smeared with sweat and blood, pretty much giving away a dominant position. Had Griffin was able to throw more Ground and Pound, he would have edged the decision. At least Alex was able to tie him up enough to escape the top position with limited damage. It was a fun fight to watch though, as per the course for Oliveira, so I can't really complain.
0 for 1
Magny was away for so long, and Jingliang is such a strong guy, that I kind of forgotten to look at the obvious... Neil is such a tall and long fighter, and I should have really taken that - as well as his experience - into account while picking. Not only did Magny remind me that he is a good fighter, he showed new wrinkles to his game. Starting in the second round, he took over the fight completely and was able to dominate the strong but smaller man with seeming ease. The range control was right on point, the jab, and what came off it was spot on. Just do yourself a favour, and watch this fight (in case you haven't) to see a veteran display.
0 for 2
I had a feeling that Dariush had this fight. I certainly didn't expect it to end the way it did, but glad it went down that way. First round saw Dariush take Klose's back early, and he backpacked for the duration of the fight, trying to find the rear naked choke. Klose was able to defend well, and started the second round aggressively. Beneil was under pressure and moving backwards, but found a very well-placed counter, which he capitalized on, pushing Drakkar backwards until he caught him with a beautiful strike that had Klose out on his feet. Only the cage, at his back, kept him upright for about a second, but the lights were already out, as well as his mouth piece.
1 for 3
This was not what I expected. This was so much more. The way I saw it, Joanna was going to do Joanna and fight from the outside, with the usual high volume of strikes, while Weili was going to take some to land her fast and powerful combos. Well, that is exactly how it started. I honestly expected to see Joanna succumb to these barrages fairly early and be finished in the second or third round. She took those shots much better than I gave her credit for, and continued to dish out her own, and that turned this fight into a phenomenal display of technique, volume, power and heart by both ladies. Despite the constant jabber from Rogan about how Weili was slowing down and being fatigued, I did not see that at all. She may have taken a breath here and there, but the proof was in the pudding. Her shots were powerful from bell to bell. Both champion and challenger landed and marked the opponent's face - Joanna's responded more visibly. At the end of the day, I agree with the judges' decision. In my book, Weili took rounds 1, 2 and 5, while Joanna took the middle.
2 for 4
The less is said about the in fight "action" the better. It was not fun to watch, but it was a clear win for Israel. Again, a lot of unnecessary confusing talk from the broadcast team, about a fight that was ridiculous, and ridiculously one sided in favor of the champ.
3 for 5
After a perfect night of picks the last time around, I'll happily take these 2 misses. Both were following fun fights, ending with a deserving winner.
Yes, Zhang Weili is not the new champion, but in a way, she is A new champion. She came to Vegas ("fight capital") and won an absolute war against the most dominant Straw-weight champion to date. She came as the favorite, and took it to the challenger in every way, shape or form. She did not let Joanna bully her verbally and by all means, she didn't let her bully her in the fight. Entering the octagon, with many Chinese fans, and leaving it with many more international ones. Sure, she is not Ronda Rousey, and I seriously doubt she will generate that kind of noise stateswise. But there are so many more people in China... People who will continue to follow her, ask for her and buy merchandise. It's still very early, but we already saw her severely beat an aggressive powerhouse in Jessica Andrade as well as the former champ, and possibly the best technical striker in Women MMA (alongside/behind Valentina Shevchenko). We saw her face adversity and triumph, and we saw her dominate. I guess we have a new potential huge star in the making, and she continues to improve her communication skills, which will definitely not hurt her appeal to the western MMA fans. I'm definitely on board the Zhang Weili train.
Israel Adesanya is still the MW champion. Not a fight he will highlight in his memoirs, to say the least, but as he rightly said at the end of the fight - he did what he needed to do. No, it was not a fun fight, but what did the crowd expect from him exactly? Seriously folks, what would any of us have done in his place? He is the defending champion, facing a guy who refuses to challenge for the win. Ok, then. Why in hell, would Izzy jump into Romero's trap? What in the world is the incentive? The love of the Vegas crowd? The same people who let the whole prelims card take place in a near empty arena? THESE people? Don't make me laugh.
And then, we have the challenger, Yoel Romero. I really want to like him. I honestly do. But yesterday he just became a little too much. Look, I get it. His game plan was so transparent from the minute the referee said "fight" and he just stood there, with his guard up. It's clear he decided to make this a three rounds fight, by taking the first two rounds off. I get that he wanted to conserve energy for later rounds, by striking less, but with as much power as he could. I totally understand his fight plan. But then, at the end of the fight to get all indignant on the mic about how the champion refused to engage? Are you kidding me there, Yoel? Seriously. That speech should have been done in the dressing room in front of a mirror... When Adesanya challenged for the title, he went after it against a fighter who will not shy away. He went out there and tried to take his head off. Why? Because he was the challenger and that is his only goal to take the belt from the defending champ. So if you come in to try to win a belt and you are just waiting for the champ to come to you, you have about -1000 reasons to then blast him after he saw through your "cunning plan" and left you hanging.
Perhaps Yoel was discouraged by his previous attempts against Whittaker and decided to have a more conservative fight plan. But there is conservative and there is tentative and Yoel, you were tentative and friend - it is ALL ON YOU.
Next up on Israel's scope is Paulo Costa, who looked a bit like post retirement Brazilian Ronaldo. A scary prospect for anyone who stands, opposite to him in the cage. This fight will be action packed, if any of Costa's previous fights are any indication. This will give Adesanya all kinds of threats to battle, and present many more opportunities to counter and make this fight a much better viewer's experience,
Well. This was UFC248. Let's look at
Performance of the night:
Beneil Dariush finishing Klose:
Fight of the night:
Zhang Weili Vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk:
Neil Magny Vs Li Jingliang: