I believe, for the second time ever (it’s time to brag, pat myself on the back and tout my gray hair/wisdom whisker-fueling foresight), I predicted the winners of the fights from the main card correctly. Now, not exactly the correct finishes (I got Demian Maia/Rory MacDonald and Patrick Cummins/Daniel Cormier correct — MacDonald defeated Maia via UD and Cormier TKO’ed Cummins in 89 seconds), but damn it, that’s besides the point.
I think that most people understood that Daniel Cormier was going to walk into Mandalay Bay in Vegas and put on an ass whoopin’ clinic on Pat Cummins. I’m a huge fan of Cormier. When he came into the UFC and beat Frank Mir and Roy Nelson at heavyweight, people kinda looked at him and thought, “Yeah, okay, he’s up in a division where it’s not natural for him to be at, but he beat two guys where one’s over the hill and the other one’s like the Butterbean of MMA; so what?!” and now he’ll have detractors taking away from him for beating Pat Cummins where Cummins signed a contract and fought off of 10 days notice. Cormier was going to beat Rashad Evans, but Evans’ knee blew out. DC is the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know if he’ll ever beat Jon “Bones” Jones, but he’s there and he’s not going away.
Props to Cummins for that, actually. Coming into the UFC on 10 days notice and fighting is commendable. However, for now, he’s at the bottom of the barrel in the UFC. When I got online this morning, I had a detractor comment, “Troy, really? Pat Cummins is a bumrat schmuck? I’ll have you know that this man is an Olympic wre–” Alright. Awesome. Cormier put him down.
(NOTE: I love the phrase “bumrat schmuck“. I’ll be using it a lot in regards to next month’s vacant Welterweight title-deciding UFC 171-centric fight that will feature “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler duking it out with that bleating beta whiner of a bumrat schmuck Johny Hendricks. I reckon Hendricks’ parents royally screwed the pooch and there was a typo on the birth certificate for leaving an extra “n” off his name which is how he grew up to be a short, stocky bridgetroll lookin’ son of a bitch that incessantly whines about having not defeated GSP (although I think he DID win that fight) for the title back in November.)
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the greatness of Ronda Rousey. I think one of the things that messes with the minds of so many fans (their problems — insecurities and mass confusion, perhaps?) is that she’s this outrageously attractive woman that’s so damn dominant at what she does in the women’s Bantamweight division. She’s sexy and she’s a badass. Her nickname is “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and she comes out, oh so fittingly, to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”. Up until last night she was 8-0 with all victories being earned by armbar submission. Last night, against what everybody — including yours truly — perceived to be her most challenging opponent in Sara McMann, she TKO’ed McMann in 66 seconds to retain her Bantamweight title.
Think about that for a moment — back in the 2004 Olympics, at the age of 17, Ronda Rousey earned a bronze medal in Judo. In the same games, Sara McMann earned a silver medal in wrestling. Last night was the first ever fight between two Olympic medalists going at it. Against the cage, Rousey threw about four body shots, and two of them — knees — connected as liver shots and dropped McMann, which is when referee Herb Dean stopped the fight. There’s been a lot of controversy over the stoppage, but listen, Dean had to do what he had to do, and that’s listen to his eyes — yes, the ol’ hearing eye-test; he ‘listened’ to his eyes from what he saw, and when McMann dropped to the canvas, he stopped the fight. That’s just the way it is, folks! The breaks of the fight game! Don’t criticism Herb Dean over it; it just happens! McMann dropped, and you could tell those body shots were taking a lot out of her.
Rousey showed some new facets to her game — she’d thrown good elbows and knees in tight against Miesha Tate in her last outing — and she continues to grow and evolve at a rapid pace, but that’s not what I want to focus on here. Instead, let’s talk about the fact that Rousey should be a legitimate draw, in the sense that she always puts on a fight that’s worthy of the price of admission. She’s one of the few fighters in all of MMA who both has the skills to be among the best in their weight class while still guaranteeing entertainment: in fact, the only fighters I can think of off the top of my head who fit that description are Junior dos Santos and Carlos Condit, which should tell you what a rare commodity that really is. If she doesn’t immediately go into movies, Rousey might not be that far off from being the UFC’s biggest star. It’s good that she’s polarizing — she’s outspoken, has a colorful personality and she’s dominant at what she does. She’s damn good for the sport of MMA, and denying that makes you look like a mindless detractor.
Also, the following is (was? Nah, still is!) hilarious. Listen to the first video. And then the second.
Sounds exactly the same. Amazing.
Mike Pyle has become one of my favorite fighters over the last few years. He’s not a great athlete, he doesn’t have great power, and he’s never going to fight for a title, but he manages to succeed against all but the division’s best by having absolutely no holes in his game. He’s capable at fighting at every range on the feet, he’s probably one of the five best clinch fighters in all of MMA, and his ground game is smooth and clean in all facets. In short, he’s the perfect gatekeeper, and if you’re going to have a guy like that on the roster, I’m glad that it’s one who’s as much fun to watch as Pyle.
I know I say this far too often when a fighter gets knocked out, but T.J. Waldburger really should consider retirement. He’s only 25, but his loss to Mike Pyle was his seventh KO loss, and chins don’t improve with age. In fact, they get demonstrably worse, as every investigation of the topic makes abundantly clear. Adlan Amagov sent him flying like a villain in a ’60s Batman cartoon in his last outing, and now Mike Pyle (who’s not exactly known for his power punching) tagged him repeatedly before putting him down. It’s unfortunate, but it should be clear that Waldburger simply doesn’t have the chin to compete at the highest level of MMA. That’s not a knock on his toughness — if anything it’s the opposite — but simply a statement of absolute fact.
Rory MacDonald’s hype all but disappeared after his lackluster, jab-heavy victory over Ellenberger and the fairly shocking upset loss to Robbie Lawler. We saw Rory’s flaws in full bloom in those fights: he lacks top-end athleticism and has very little power in his hands, exemplified by the fact that he has yet to knock an opponent down in nine UFC bouts. The backlash went too far, though, in ignoring the things that Rory does do well. He’s a good athlete, a fine wrestler, and a solid striker who knows how to use his rangy frame to control the distance. Moreover, he showed incredible composure in riding out Demian Maia’s top control in the first and third round and calmly scrambling back to his feet despite finding himself in some awful positions. He can be a bit robotic, but when your coach understands the game the way that Firas Zahabi does, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After that kind of performance, I’m excited to see what he can do against the top 5 at 170.
At 36 years of age, this was Demian Maia’s last chance to start a real run at the UFC belt, and he fell short. The smooth clinch entries and slick trips that we’ve seen from him in his previous outings at 170 were nowhere to be found, and he gassed hard after shooting takedown after takedown from too far outside. Part of that should be credited to MacDonald, to be sure, but aside from two occasions on which Maia chained his takedowns together he was almost completely shut out in the wrestling department. He showed flashes of solid striking, but at his age and against the kind of competition he’ll face moving forward, there’s no reason to think he’ll be able to find a long-term home in the top 5 of the division. Maia’s brand of ultra-technical Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a real rarity these days at the highest level of MMA, but he isn’t going to be the art’s standard-bearer moving forward.
It was a damn good pay-per-view, and people asked me beforehand, “Troy! Why are you buying the PPV?!” ‘Cause I’m an MMA fan, and it was an entertaining slate of fights!