UFC 217 – the best UFC event in history

UFC 217 was an absolute monster of an event. Three title fights, and some fantastic match ups all the way from the early prelims. There have been several amazing performances over the years, but to see so many come together on one night was something astounding!

For the casual fans – this was a card with 11 fights – 9 of which were stoppages. Two of these stoppages were highlight reel material – Ricardo Ramos stopping Aiemann Zahabi with a spinning back elbow, and Ovince St. Preux landing a Cro-Cop-esque head kick and finishing Corey Anderson. We had a couple of controversial fights as well, but they just added to the excitement of the event and did their bit to move the needle. Curtis Blaydes vs Alexei Oleynik was a weird one, but definitely took Blaydes a step up the ladder in the heavyweight division. Paulo ‘Borracinha’ Costa probably took the biggest step forward in his young career at UFC 217. The young Brazlian absolutely dominated former WW champ Johnny Hendricks and finished him in decisive fashion. We might have our next Brazilian superstar in this kid, guys.

Let’s talk about three main event(s) now, shall we? Every fight had a ‘Holy Sh*t’ moment and I was barely seated once the main card started.

First up was Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas. Anyone who has been watching MMA for the last couple of years knows what a dominant champion JJ has been. She’s so good, she’s scary. At UFC 217, Jedrzejczyk was on the verge of beating Ronda Rousey’s record for successful title defenses. Rose Namajunas had gradually made a name for herself and earned this well deserved title shot. Everyone knew she was a good fighter, but many felt that JJ was in a different league altogether. Jedrzejczyk is a great fighter, but she also likes to talk trash before fights and try and get into her opponent’s heads. At 217, it all fell apart for her. Namajunas showed some serious skills and finished JJ in impressive fashion. This was such a huge upset, I was actually reminded of the time Matt Serra finished GSP some 6 years ago. Such a great performance by Namajunas, who remained humble in defeat and showed amazing poise for a 25 year old.

The next fight was the epic grudge match between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. These former team mates have been going at it for a while now. The tension between the two fighters had been at fever pitch for the last few months, and there’s some genuine bad blood there. Garbrandt was the favourite, but Dillashaw got the job done. After being dropped and losing the first round, Dillashaw came back strong and finished Garbrandt in Round 2. What a thriller this was!

Georges St. Pierre vs Michael Bisping for the Middleweight title. It’s insane that this fight even happened. GSPvacated his welterweight belt and stepped away from the sport four years ago, at the very peak of his career. He announced his comeback, and walked straight into a title shot at Middleweight belt. Did he leapfrog a bunch of legit contenders? Sure he did. But then again, GSP is GSP – the most dominant welterweight of all time. Leading up the fight, Bisping repeatedly pointed out how much larger he was than GSP. Pretty much everyone acknowledged that while GSP was a great fighter, Bisping would simply be too big for him. Plus there’s the matter of four years of ring rust.

The first two rounds were great. GSP didn’t show any signs of ring rust, but did seem to move slower than he did at Welterweight. He seemed to be tiring in Round 3, and Bisping managed to cut him up pretty well. Then, he caught Bisping with a hook that sent the Brit to the canvas. GSP pounced, sank in the rear naked choke and became the new UFC middleweight champion. Unreal.

UFC 217 was something rare. Three title fights in one night. All titles changed hands. All champions finished. JJ vs Namajunas – Round 1, Dillashaw vs Garbrandt – Round 2 and GSP vs Bisping – Round 3. It is this chaos and unpredictability that makes me love MMA! The UFC has put up some great events, but in my book, UFC 217 was the greatest MMA event of all time.

UFC 216 – The Mouse Is The GOAT

22308987_10154724154351207_203434297096494166_n.jpg

Demetrious Johnson – the most complete mixed martial artist in the world today. This is a picture of DJ, suplexing Ray Borg through the air and securing a fight ending armbar on the way down. The dust has settled on UFC 216 but I’m still sitting here, shaking my head in amazement at what Johnson achieved on Sunday. DJ has now broken the great Anderson Silva’s record and defended his title for a record 11th times in a row. The man can strike, he can grapple, his cardio lasts for days and it’s hard to think of a challenger for his belt. DJ has sometimes been criticized for being a boring fighter, but last night’s showing should shut critics up for good.

giphy (1)

This armbar is a thing of beauty, and fighters around the world are going to be practicing and training how to defend it now. There were multiple accomplishments rolled into that fight on Sunday and there are very very very few athletes like Demetrious Johnson and I’m pretty damn sure there’s an ESPY award coming his way. More power to you, champ!

Welcome to the UFC, Arjan Singh Bhullar

FullSizeRender 68

Woke up early yesterday to watch Arjan Singh Bhullar make his UFC debut. Indo-Canadian Bhullar is the first fighter of Indian origin to ever step into the octagon and showcase his skills under the bright lights. The guy is a former Olympic wrestler and is no slouch on the ground, but this fight showed that he can box too. He went to work against Brazilian Luis Henrique, and got the Win by Unanimous Decision. 31 year old Bhullar is talented, shows good striking discipline and head movement, but does have some work to do. After a close 1st round, and a great 2nd, he dropped the 3rd to Henrique and while he was never in danger of being finished, the fight did show some holes in his game.

He trains with current UFC light heavyweight champ (?) Daniel Cormier – also a former Olympian wrestler. who has successfully crossed over to MMA, used his strong wrestling as a base and made it to the very top of the game. One has to imagine that that’s the blueprint Bhullar is trying to read as well. The post-fight interviews showed a very articulate and confident fighter talking to the press – extremely aware of the opportunity he is faced with. India is the WWE’s largest international market, and the UFC has been weaning casual fans off fake fights in coloured spandex slowly but steadily. If Bhullar can make a name for himself and get a few big wins under his belt, he has the potential to become a huge draw and start pulling in audiences from a massive untapped market.

Here’s hoping he polishes his game some more, plays his cards right and seizes the opportunity by the horns. We’ve got a fighter in the UFC, India. A heavyweight no less!

 

Looking back on #MayMac

maymac

Mayweather vs McGregor – one for the ages! I expected Mayweather to win a boring 12 round decision, but was delighted to see such a perfectly executed game plan. He avoided McGregor’s power shots early and let the Irishman tire himself out. As soon as he had the cardio advantage, Mayweather moved in and started to pick his shots. McGregor had some great moments early on but in the end Mayweather’s superior conditioning got the job done and he put away his opponent in the 10th. For a guy who has been constantly criticized for “running” and fighting defensive, it is fantastic to close out a career on a finish like this.

Folks calling this an embarrassment for McGregor need to get their damn heads examined. The guy just stepped out of his comfort zone and went 10 rounds in his pro boxing debut against an unbeaten legend. He actually landed more punches on Mayweather than Manny Pacquiao and helped deliver one of the most exciting boxing main events in recent times. Who the f*ck has even come close to doing anything like that?

Obvious next questions –
Will Mayweather take an MMA fight now?
Hell no. He’d get eaten alive in the first round (see James Toney vs Randy Couture). Plus, an athlete of his stature has nothing left to prove now.

What’s next for McGregor?
Hopefully he now defends his UFC lightweight title against Khabib, Ferguson, Lee or whoever the hell is in line next; and continues to do things that shake up combat sports.

Much respect to both fighters. They gave us exactly what we were promised – an exciting barnburner of a fight that was worth paying for!

UFC 211 – #AndStill

UFC 211 was a great card. Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Stipe Miocic both retained their titles and came a step closer to entering the record books. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main card.

Eddie Alvarez vs Dustin Poirier
No contest at 4:12 of R2

This fight had Fight of The Night written all over it. Alvarez is clearly still smarting from the loss to McGregor, and Porier is simply on a tear of late. Both guys are known to bring it, and this fight could have easily been a headliner on it’s own. Both fighters got off to a great start, with Poirier getting the better of the exchanges. Alvarez showed his trademark toughness and kept attacking despite being tagged on several occasions. Then, he illegally kneed Poirier in the head. Three times. Herb Dean stopped the fight and it was ruled a No Contest due to unintentional strikes to the head. Really unfortunate. I have no doubt in my mind that the strikes were unintentional, but do believe that Poirier should have been awarded the DQ victory.

David Branch def. Krzysztof Jotko
Branch def. Jotko via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

I was excited to see Dave Branch and his mutton chops make their return to the UFC. Branch is an incredibly talented jiujitsu fighter who never managed to find success in his first run in the UFC. He later went on to dominate and even become a double champ in smaller organizations, but he has never truly showed us his skills under the bright lights. Krzystof Jotko came into this fight on a 5 fight win streak, and had some decent momentum behind him. This was a good back and forth fight which saw Jotko land some good shots to win the first round, and Branch getting rounds two and three. Not the most exciting performance, but Branch’s dominance on the ground was enough to get the Split Decision victory. Let’s see who he fights next.

Frankie Edgar def. Yair Rodriguez
Edgar def. Rodriguez via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00 of R2

Yair ‘El Pantera’ Rodriguez is red hot right coming into this fight. The youngster has shown off a repertoire of creative strikes, and made quite the name for himself in recent months. Frankie Edgar, has seen everything in the game though and is a true veteran of the sport. Significantly shorter than Rodriguez, Edgar did appear to have his work cut out for him. The bell rang, and Frankie Edgar unleashed a storm. He took Rodriguez to the ground in just over a minute and started some heavy ground and pound. Elbows punches and the kitchen sink. This was a 10-8 round for Edgar, easy. Rodriguez went back to his corner with a horribly swollen eye. Round 2 – Rodriguez tries to get off a few kicks, but Edgar is having none of it. Takes him down again and beats him up on the ground. Edgar’s experience is proving to be too much for the youngster. The eye is looking bad, and the doctor stops the fight.

Demian Maia def. Jorge Masvidal
Maia def. Masvidal via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Props to Demian Maia for taking this fight. The guy was already in line for a title shot but obliged the UFC and took a fight to stay busy. Taking a fight against the always dangerous Jorge Masvidal takes some serious guts and speaks volumes about the fighter’s confidence in himself.

Maia looks for the takedown right away. Masvidal defends but Maia ends ups getting a full body lock on a standing Masvidal. Maia hangs on for a good four minutes before Masvidal gets out, ends up on top and starts landing punches. The round closes with Maia having had more dominant position through out but Masvidal doing more damage. Round 2 was very evenly matched with both fighters had their moments, making it a hard one to score. Round 3 was similar to Round 1. Masvidal kept busy with strikes. Maia got the takedown and kept busy on the ground. The fight ended, and Maia got the Split Decision. He immediately went over to Dana and confirmed his next fight for the title.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Jessica Andrade TITLE FIGHT
Jedrzejczyk def. Andrade via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-45)

JJ has completely outclassed everyone in her division. Jessica Andrade is a great fighter, but does she really have a shot at this? Round 1 – JJ lands a few kicks, and Andrade returns fire. It’s pretty obvious that JJ has the reach advantage. That said, Andrade is throwing every shot with bad intentions and I daresay she can KO anyone out there if she connects. JJ does a great job staying out reach and landing her strikes in and out of the pocket. She kept this up for 5 rounds straight and while Andrade did have a couple of threatening moments, JJ was never in any real danger. The fight went the distance, and JJ won an emphatic Unanimous Decision. Spectacular scrap. Points to Andrade for never letting up and constantly attacking.

Stipe Miocic def. Junior Dos Santos TITLE FIGHT
Miocic def. Dos Santos via TKO (punches) at 2:22 of R1

Second title fight on the card! JDS has been in some big fights. He looked great in his last fight, and I think his experience gives him a significant advantage here. While Miocic has finished all his opponents thus far, some still feel it’s been a faltering on the parts of his opponents rather than skills brought to the cage by Miocic. Horrible sentence construction. I know. Anyway, JDS starts off with a couple of nice leg kicks. Miocic eats them, comes back with a few punches and they end up against the cage. Miocic lands a huge right that drops JDS to his knees. Keeps pounding till the ref stops the fight.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Amazing. Maybe now the haters will shut up. Stipe Miocic has now finished all his title defenses and is close to entering the record books.

I normally watch every UFC card on Fight Pass, at home. The events air at around 8 am on Sundays and it’s a nice way to spend my morning. This Sunday, I decided to step out and watch the fights at a bar. Boomarang – an Australian style cafe / bar is known to serve up good grub and air sporting events so I called, and made a reservation. A wise call, judging by the number of people who showed up to watch the fights. MMA is still small in Singapore, but interest is surely growing. It’ll be interesting to see how many folks show up for the live event next month.

Al Iaquinta – ragin’ against the machine

When I watched UFC Nashville, I didn’t quite get ‘Raging’ Al Iaquinta’s post fight interview. The man seemed unfocussed, off point and totally random with his comments. He showed annoyance, mumbled something about selling real estate, and that was it. I felt like he’d wasted his on-air time, and failed to say anything relevant.

In the days that have followed, we’ve seen Al really live up to his nickname and spew fire about the problems he’s been facing with the UFC. It started with him ranting about low pay – an issue he’s brought up in the past as well. What really pushed him over the edge though, was overlooked for the Knockout Of The Night bonus. His performance against Diego Sanchez was amazing, and produced a highlight that the UFC is going to use for long time.

Al Iaquinta KO Diego Sanchez

Hard to argue with that.

Then, there was the issue of sponsorship money he’d lost thanks to Reebok. And then, there was the matter of the UFC being selective in the fighters they promote. He took at aim at everyone’s favourite hate magnet – Sage Northcutt, then Mike Perry and then a whole bunch of other fighters, but most surprisingly, Al went after the boss himself.

Al_Iaquinta🗽___ALIAQUINTA____Twitter.jpg

Now there’s nothing passive aggressive about the manner in which Iaquinta is calling out Dana White. From telling Dana to “go f*ck himself” to declaring himself the new President of the UFC, to calling him a wannabe fighter – Iaquinta is mincing no words.

Al_Iaquinta🗽_on_Twitter___Warrior_king_that_never_was_one_https___t_co_4u7ca037bx_.jpg

Whether you’re on his side or not, it’s bloody hard to look away now. This is an employee taking it to his boss in the most aggressive tone we’ve seen since Stone Cold Steve Austin. The UFC has been silent but it will be interesting to see how they deal with this. Do they simply ignore this disgruntled employee, or will they let this thing turn into a hero vs establishment kinda thing that will get fans interested in his next fight. Post acquisition, we’ve seen the UFC become a lot more.. corporate. Will they fan a few flames and try to generate marketing content out of this, or will they simply have HR send Al a warning letter?

Let’s wait and watch.

Reflecting on UFC199

This is late. UFC 199 happened on June 4th. Almost a full month ago, but I’ve only just gotten around to doing this. UFC199 was hands down, one of the best MMA events I’ve ever seen.

Here’s what I thought of the main card.

Dustin Poirier vs Bobby Green

Green has been on the shelf for a while now, and he was returning to the Octagon after a bit of a layoff. He’s a good fighter, but I couldn’t stand the constant posturing and taunting he was up to in the cage. Dude looked like a straight-up moron, shrugging off punches, acting like Poirier’s strikes had nothing on him etc. It was pretty satisfying to see Dustin Poirier win by a nice strong KO. Green was visibly embarrassed, but fuck that. Poirier looked amazing! I feel like the loss to Conor McGregor really hurt him, but it’s great to see him now tearing things up at lightweight?

Dan Henderson vs Hector Lombard

Hendo is an ancient warrior who simply defies logic and continues to win big. Lombard is a bad dude made almost entirely of muscle. Witnessing a 46 year old Dan Henderson KO Hector Lombard via back elbow is probably one of the greatest things I’ve seen in an MMA fight. The shot put Lombard completely out and had me jump out of my seat! At this point, Hendo could pretty much ask for a title shot and get it.

Max Holloway vs Ricardo Lamas

I’ve had trouble looking past Max Holloway’s borderline pedo mustache. He’s a great fighter, but that mustache distracts me. Ricardo Lamas is another great prospect, like Dustin Poirier, who fell to Conor McGregor last year. This fight was a great slugfest, but Holloway going into beast mode at the end of the fight permanently converted me into a fan. Great fight.

 

 

Max Holloway Beast Mode

Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber

Dom Cruz is a hero. He’s come back from serious injuries, insanely long layoffs and still somehow made it back to the top of the mountain. Urijah Faber is a legend in his own right. Been around since forever and is probably one of the most well rounded fighters out there. Cruz is damn near impossible to hit. Lyoto Machida used to be the most elusive fighter in the world, but Dominick Cruz is just so wonderfully awkward. Cruz took the fight to Faber and won a sound decision. Now I know Faber is the head of Team Alpha Male, but subtly asking for a title shot for his buddy Cody Garbrandt during his post-fight interview was a little tasteless. Let Cody get in line like everyone else, man.

Finally – the main event! Michael Bisping vs Luke Rockhold

I never thought I’d see Bisping fight for a title, let alone win one. He got this fight only because Chris Weidman injured himself in training, and none of the contenders were available on such short notice. Rockhold totally underestimated Bisping and got too cocky with this fight. Bisping KO’d him soundly and just like that, became the Middleweight champ. Post fight antics were fun. Bisping sarcastically reminding Rockhold that he was in the Octagon. Rockhold not wanting to shake Bisping’s hand. Oh boy. Let’s see if Rockhold gets an immediate rematch. Either way, there are lots of good fights waiting for Bisping. Jacare, Soldier of God – Yoel Romero, and maybe even GSP? Who knows?

  • TITLE FIGHT: Michael Bisping def. Luke Rockhold via KO (punches) at 3:36 of R1
  • TITLE FIGHT: Dominick Cruz def. Urijah Faber via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
  • Max Holloway def. Ricardo Lamas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Dan Henderson def. Hector LombardDan Henderson def. Hector Lombard via KO (elbow) at 1:27 of R2
  • Dustin Poirier def. Bobby GreenDustin Poirier def. Bobby Green via KO (punches) at 2:53 of R1

All in all, this was a great night of fights put up by the UFC. UFC199 set the bar really high for UFC200 – which should be the biggest fucking card ever.

Oh! I totally marked out like a little kid when they said that Brock Lesnar was coming back for 200! Simply. Cannot. Wait!

Over and out.

Naming names – Shane ‘The Engineer’ Carwin

Shane ‘The Engineer’ Carwin will walk out at UFC 111 tomorrow. I thought this would be a fitting time to blog about the nickname that I suggested to Carwin’s team a few months ago. Jason Genet, Shane’s manager put together a contest on their website http://www.shane-carwin.com/profiles/blogs/official-shane-carwin and asked fans to come up with cool nicknames for the heavy-weight wrecking ball that is, Shane Carwin. I along with another chap named Josh Diehl won the contest and will soon receive some merchandise signed by Carwin.

Shane-Carwin

Shane ‘The Engineer’ Carwin

What’s really cool, is that this is the first time Carwin will be called by this name. I literally can’t wait to hear Bruce Buffer announce it. Carwin last fought a year back and is coming off a first round knock out of Gabriel Gonzaga. He faces his biggest test tomorrow, in Frank Mir. Good luck Shane.. Frank Mir is a beast.

This fight is for the interim heavyweight title and the winner will face Brock Lesnar to unify the belts. I’m a huge Lesnar fan, but we’ll get to that later. This fight, in the meanwhile looks to be solid gold and while it IS hard to make a pick, I’m leaning towards Shane because of his one punch knockout power. Mir is dead dangerous with submissions but he’s no match for Shane’s striking.

Lets see what happens. May the best man win.

————————-

Update: I actually won this contest, but the t-shirt never made it to India (where I was based at the time). Oh well. Still a cool story, right?