What We Learned from UFC 170
Ronda Rousey is as good as advertised-
A large contingent of MMA fans out there weren’t really drinking the Ronda Rousey Kool Aid yet. “All she has is an arm bar,” they’d say. “She’s a one trick pony, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s exposed.” Well, Ronda showed us in the main event of UFC 170 she’s got some other tools as well. She’s still getting better at other facets of MMA, and that is bad news for the rest of the women competing in the UFC 135-pound division. Ronda Rousey stopped fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann in 66 seconds with a crushing knee to the body, showing her doubters that she can get the job done on the feet as well. While I’ll admit referee Herb Dean may have stopped the title fight a bit early, there was no question that Rousey had McMann seriously hurt and in a compromising position. The reason this fight had a different feel than past Rousey fights was most fans knew that for the first time she wasn’t fighting a girl she could go in there and throw over her head with ease. McMann was different, if anyone was doing the tossing it was supposed to be her. I guess Rosuey received the memos and prepared accordingly. She went out there and threw every strike with nasty intentions and picked up the 8th first round finish in 9 pro fights. With wins over McMann, Miesha Tate, Liz Carmouche, and Sarah Kaufman already on her ledger, she’s already beaten most of the top names in the division. Rousey is quickly running out of interesting dance partner’s, and McMann was possibly the only girl that we thought could actually beat the champ. Rousey’s stoppage over McMann was the fastest KO/TKO in the short history of the UFC’s women’s division. Also according to FIghtMetric, Rousey recorded the first knockdown of the women’s division in UFC history. Not bad for a girl who supposedly only knows how to apply an arm bar.
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Don’t Piss Daniel Cormier Off-
“It had to be this way,” Daniel Cormier told Joe Rogan after knocking out the disturbingly overmatched Patrick Cummins in all of 79 seconds in his first career fight at Light Heavyweight. Yes, in deed it did have to be this way. When a fighter is as heavy as a -1050 favorite, winning in style is imperative. Despite being a monstrous underdog, Cummins infuriated Cormier leading up to the fight by apparently breaking a long time wrestling credo and exploiting stories that were supposed to stay on the wrestling mats. According to Cummins when the two were training and helping prepare Cormier for the Olympic games, Cummins apparently broke Cormier mentally in training. He supposedly made Cormier cry on the wrestling mats. While Cormier never denied the event-taking place, he became visibly furious and swore he would take it out on Cummins for using that material to promote the fight. Cormier went out there and showed a mean streak he hasn’t shown in the UFC before Saturday night, as he improved his professional record to a perfect 14-0. If there was one thing to take from the fight on Saturday night it was, don’t piss Cormier off. The guy is tough enough to fight without giving him extra motivation. Cummins learned first hand, I think he will learn to keep the wrestling stories to himself next time. As for Cormier he showed that he is a serious threat in his new weight class, and proved his punching power may be amplified at 205-pounds after spending the first 13 fights of his career at Heavyweight. Some fighters fight recklessly when they have bad blood with their opponents, we learned that isn’t the case with Cormier. Next time out Cormier will be matched up with a top contender at 205-pounds, and after Saturday night we learned it’s not a good idea to get under the usually soft spoken Cormier’s skin.
MacDonald & Maia Are Both Still Elite-
Maia and McDonald lost some serious ground after both losing lack luster decisions to Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler respectively to close out 2013. When the two fought Saturday night it was MacDonald that got back in the winner’s circle, but we learned both are still at the very top of the Welterweight division. The fight between two of the best 170-pound fighter’s in the world earned both men a $50,000 fight of the night check. Although MacDonald won on the scorecards, I don’t feel Maia lost all that much ground despite his second consecutive loss. Maia and MacDonald were both heavily criticized for being to lackadaisical and fighting passively in their previous bouts, at UFC 170 that wasn’t the case for either man. Both fighters came out and fought aggressively to dispel the notion that both men didn’t have the right mindset to eventually fight for the Welterweight title. Both men rebounded in a sense and it’s a shame one of them had to leave the arena with a loss.
This & That
Wishful Thinking Idea That Probably Won’t happen-
This past Friday Cris “Cyborg” Justino announced that she will in deed attempt to make 135-pounds with the goal of finally fighting Ronda Rousey. She said her plan is to have one warm up fight in the weight class, and then turn her attention to a possible December clash with Rousey. A fight between “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and “Cyborg” has been talked about by MMA fans for over 3 years now, so needless to say people are excited about this news. If she does intend to make the weight class I suggest why not have her fight Alexis Davis for the next crack at Ronda Rousey?Alexis Davis picked up her third consecutive UFC win with a split decision over Jessica Eye, which was the featured prelim for UFC 170 Saturday night. With Ronda Rousey planning to take a few months off from fighting to do some Hollywood films there is time for the next contender to materialize. While Cat Zingano is next up for a title shot, why not have Justino make her 135-pound debut against Davis? The fight could take place in the UFC, or they can loan Davis out to Invicta, the organization that currently has a contract with Justino. The UFC usually doesn’t do deals where they loan their fighters out, but Invicta being an all female promotion has worked closely with the UFC in the past so it is possible. It’s probably just wishful thinking on my part, but it seems like the most logical fight to decide who is in line after Cat Zingano.
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Erik Koch, Redefining The Protocol–
Usually when fighters go on a losing skid in MMA they change their diet up and torture themselves to move down a weight class, Erik Koch did things a little differently. After consecutive losses to top 10 Featherweights, Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier, Erik Koch decided he wanted to move up 10 pounds to Lightweight. Koch, who is now 25, claims that as he’s gotten older and is now beginning to hit his prime as an athlete the weight cut to 145-pounds was taking too much out of him. He thought he would be better off fighting at 155-pounds instead. While it was a small sample size, I think Koch made the right call. At UFC 170 Koch absolutely demolished Rafaello Oliveira in 84 seconds.Koch looked physically stronger and healthier than he has ever looked in his 9-fight career with Zuffa, Oliveira isn’t a top lightweight by any stretch of the imagination, but he also has never been dominated the way he was by Koch on Saturday night. Oliveira has been in there with accomplished UFC standouts such as Gleison Tibau, Nik Lentz, Yves Edwards, and Edson Barboza, and none of those guys ran through him the way Erik Koch did on Saturday night. Koch needed a statement win to remind us why we were all so high on him in 2012, and he certainly reminded us. I am now very interested to see what he does at lightweight. Maybe some fighters can learn from him and see going down in weight class isn’t always the best call, sometimes going up can be more effective.
Fights To Make-
Ronda Rousey– Cat Zingano.
This title fight was supposed to take place this past December, but with Cat Zingano blowing her knee out Rousey moved on to fight Miesha Tate and Sara McMann. If she’s healthy enough to go, it’s time to rebook the fight.
Daniel Cormier- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
While I would love to see the fight we were originally supposed to see on Saturday night with Daniel Cormier squaring off against former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans, Evans is expected to be on the shelf for the next 6 months with an injured knee. With Cormier dominating his fight and taking virtually no damage I think we will see him in the cage sooner rather than later. Little Nogueira, as MMA fans fondly know him, is coming off a win over Rashad Evans, but hasn’t fought since Febuary 2013. A win over an established veteran like Little Nog, would only bolster Cormier’s already impressive resume. If reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones beats Glover Teixeira in April at UFC 172, the UFC already said the Gustafsson rematch is up next for the champ. Which means a title shot for Cormier likely wouldn’t materialize till early 2015. In the mean time why not have him beat up on some top contenders like Little Nog?
Rory MacDonald- Winner of Lombard VS. Shields At UFC 171
Rory MacDonald looked great Saturday night and is back in the running for a title shot at 170-pounds. UFC 171 next month is set to determine the new champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title in December when Johnny Hendricks battles Robbie Lawler for the vacant title. On that same card former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard takes on Former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Jake Shields in a 170-pound showcase. MacDonald might need one more impressive victory before he gets a crack at gold. A win over an established fighter like Hector Lombard or Jake Shields might be enough for him earn that long desired title shot. I say give him the winner.
Mike Pyle- Demain Maia
Don’t look now but the 38-year-old Mike Pyle is slowly creeping into contention again. Pyle picked up a 3rd round TKO over T.J Waldburger on UFC 170 main card. Pyle, who says his goal for 2014 is to crack into the UFC’s top 10, doesn’t have father time on his side, so he better move fast. I say give him top 10-ranked Demian Maia who is coming off two consecutive losses to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald. Maia, who is 36, also doesn’t have much time to waste if he wants to be a champion. A win over a respected veteran like Pyle would be a nice bounce back for the former world title challenger at 185-pounds. With the UFC planning on visiting Brazil more then a ten times this year, I say this will serve as a nice main card bout for one of those visits.
Stephen Thompson- Erick Silva
Thompson has quietly won 4 of 5 bouts in the UFC, 3 by knock out. Thompson picked up an impressive 1st round KO over Robert Whittaker on the UFC 170 main card opener. Thompson is guaranteed excitement and has delivered in all 5 of his UFC bouts. Erick Silva is extremely talented, but has come up short when fighting the elite of the division. A match up between these two explosive finishers seems destined to be memorable. I say book it and let the winner get a chance at a top 10 opponent.