So UFC 213 is all over and gave us a pretty mixed bag, some fights were great with some good finishes too but some fights were pretty slow and uninspiring. For anyone who didn’t get to watch International Fight Week 2017 come to an end, below you’ll find the ten highlights from the event, both good and bad.
Mark Smith, Take a Bow
For all of the negativity that the sport’s officials receive, there are many examples of excellent refereeing limiting the damage a fighter receives to a bare minimum that can be expected during a fight. Referee Mark Smith gave us one of those moments last night in the very first fight of the event when debuting Trevin Giles separated James Bochnovic’s consciousness from his body via a savage ground and pound finish. Bochnovic ate a few hard shots in the final seconds of this fight but was constantly attempting to turn out of full mount and defend himself intelligently until one punch too many caused him to stiffen up and Mark Smith was immediately in to call off the fight. Excellent KO and Excellent refereeing.
Bringing the Body Punch Back
MMA is full of headhunters and understandably so, logic would say it’s easier to knock someone out with a headshot than anything else. Kicks are routinely thrown to the body or the legs but some fighters just simply do not punch to the body or not with any real intention behind it but Chad Laprise displayed exactly what a well-aimed body punch can do. One Liver shot in the final round is all it took to end what was shaping up to be a pretty close fight, Camozzi was visibly hurt and Laprise swarmed him with punch after punch until Herb Dean stepped in and spared him any further pain.
Aleksiy Oliynyk wins by…
Aleksiy Oliynyk pulled off an unusual submission to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, again. The Ezekiel choke he pulled off six months ago was a real surprise but last night was a real treat, at the age of 40 and nearly being knocked out in the first few minutes of round one things weren’t looking good for Oliynyk. The comeback started almost immediately when he wobbled Travis Browne in return and in the second round he managed to get Browne’s back (almost) and choke him out off the back of one of his own takedowns. This man should not be taken lightly by anyone.
“You looked like Anthony Pettis tonight”
Joe Rogan said exactly what everyone was thinking, It’s been a rough time for Anthony Pettis since he was dethroned as UFC Lightweight Champion and in his return to the weightclass he once sat atop, he turned in a pretty vintage performance. It was like watching 2013 Anthony Pettis again, the man that wasted Donald Cerrone inside of a round and showed off his slick submission game against Benson Henderson. Jim Miller is not an easy fight for anyone but Pettis has his confidence back again and once that builds into what it used to be, the sky’s the limit for him.
The Scariest Middleweight in The World (in a three round fight)
Robert Whittaker showed the entire world the main flaw in Yoel Romero’s game that everyone knew existed but so far, nobody had been able to expose. Romero has routinely flagged in the final round of his three-round fights but his explosive power and regular dominance in the first two rounds has so far gifted him comfortable decisions or a comeback via lightning-fast KO when his cardio does start to fail him. A five-round fight is a totally different beast and winning the first two rounds cleanly does not give you anything unless you can keep it up, and Yoel Romero can’t. His raw power and ability to knockout someone from a single strike will keep Romero relevant but his naysayers have finally been proven right, after round 2 he just did not have the cardio necessary to win any round and to his credit, Robert Whittaker took full advantage and in my mind clean-swept the final three rounds with relative ease.
And The Rest…
The Sickness bug
The first one here is going to be the shortest one due to the limited amount of information that’s come to light so far. The main downer on this whole event has to be the Nunes v Shevchenko rematch being called off and the main card for UFC 213 suffering it’s final loss out of a series of three excellent fights being cancelled or rearranged for future cards. Amanda Nunes pulled out of her title defense on the day of the fight due to illness and demoted this card to a single-title affair, definitely taking some of the punch out of International Fight Week 2017.
Douglas Silva de Andrade is undoubtedly a talented fighter but when someone comes in to the UFC with a 22-0(1) record you would naturally expect a real game-changer. I feel his lost last night is not only a setback in his journey toward the UFC rankings but also a damning indictment of the rise in padded “boxing-style” fight records. Of his 23 fights prior to entering the UFC, 15 of those fights were against an opponent who has lost half or more of their fights at present. More worryingly, 7 of them were against opponents who have never won a professional MMA fight (Statistics courtesy of Sherdog.com) Now that we’ve seen a 2-2 UFC run so far, It’s safe to say a padded record doesn’t do anyone any favours.
Always Have a Plan B
Curtis Blaydes has looked like a good prospect and by no means did he put in a bad performance during his victory last night against Daniel Omielańczuk but he definitely showed that the prospect label isn’t ready to come off just yet. Of course, he did face a step up in competition but at the age of 26, he should probably stick to fighting unranked opponents until he shows a more rounded skillset. Without a single successful takedown in fourteen attempts, he didn’t just show the limit of his wrestling abilities but more importantly, his lack of any reasonable plan B. This sort of one-dimensional gameplan won’t win him a title and if he’s rushed up the rankings too quickly, his career will probably suffer for it in the long run.
The Cries of “Robbery!”
Let’s get this straight right now, Fabrício Werdum was not robbed. Personally I had the fight at 20-18 for Alistair Overeem going into the final round and I would’ve scored the third round a 10-8 for Werdum, bringing the fight to a draw. One judge saw the fight the same as myself with a 28-28 final score but the other two must’ve scored the final round as a 10-9 for Werdum instead. A single point discrepancy on two out of three scorecards does not qualify as a robbery, especially not given some of the disastrous judging we’ve seen in MMA. The first two rounds could have gone either way really, neither fighter made a stamp on those rounds with few strikes landing and no takedowns at all, but Overeem seemed to be having the more meaningful shots land during both rounds. The final round was clear domination from Werdum but it was just too little, too late. He shouldn’t fall down the rankings much with this loss but Overeem shouldn’t gain much either. All in all it was a slow fight with no clear victor and shouldn’t propel the winner into a title fight, at least not with Ngannou and Dos Santos waiting to meet soon.
“You Make Me Sick!”
This was Michael Bisping’s statement to the newly-crowned Middleweight Interim champ Robert Whittaker and I would normally sympathize with a champion who’s had an asterisk put against their title reign with the creation of an Interim title. However, when that champion has had one title defense in the last year against Dan Henderson, who hasn’t won back-to-back fights in the last six years, and is currently angling for a fight against an unranked, previously retired opponent from a different weightclass, well that kills off any goodwill they have. It’s also worth considering the asterisk himself, a TUF champion on an 8-fight winning streak that includes an unbeaten record at Middleweight and victories over Derek Brunson, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and now Yoel Romero in the same space of time. Perhaps for once, the interim champion isn’t the “fake” one in this scenario.
All in All…
It was a good event that gave us some surprises and some interesting talking points, that being said, this wasn’t the same International Fight Week that we’ve all grown accustomed to these last few years.