Another UFC PPV come and gone and again a fair amount of surprises litter the card. The biggest question mark on the card however was whether or not Glover Teixeira would be able to overcome the most dominant champion in the world in Jon Jones and the answer was an unsurprising no. Teixeira had a few moments in the fight where he was able to get within range of Jones as the aggressor and though he landed a few shots, none of them were hard enough to change the outcome of the match. In fact, in typical Jones style, Jones often allowed Teixeira within his range to prove that he could beat Teixeira without having to keep him at a distance. To sum it up, it was another dominant Jones performance that was only lacking a finish. Not that the champ didn't try.
The rest of the card featured the emergence of a new contender at a light heavyweight division that is badly in need of fresh blood as Anthony "Rumble" Johnson made a loud statement to his legitimacy by dominating a tough test in Phil Davis. Davis is one of the best wrestlers in the division and he was unable to to get the former welterweight to the ground. Johnson walked through all of the meager strike attempts that Davis threw at him and landed a number of hard shots of his own. Though Davis falls a bit in the ranks, Johnson picks up right where Davis left off in chasing the title.
In other developments on the card, Luke Rockhold and Jim Miller scored 1st Round submissions and Max Holloway ripped a potential victory away from Andre Fili by grabbing a late submission to round out the main card.
* indicates I was right in my pick
*Jon Jones defeated Glover Teixeira via Decision
Jones' seventh title defense was never in serious jeopardy at any point. It was just about everything that you would come to expect of a Jones fight. He toyed with Teixeira. He used unorthodox techniques. He poked Teixeira in the eyes a number of times. He took him down. He used a number of kicks. He used a number of elbows both spinning and slashing elbows. There were clear attempts in the championship rounds to end the fight by Jones, but Teixeira hung in there until the final bell to show his rugged toughness. At the end after Jones had the fight in his hands he ran from Teixeira for the final 30 seconds or so.
Jones continues to give fans reasons to either love or loathe him. Some people enjoy his showboating and cocky attitude, but the majority of the fanbase finds it to be arrogant. Regardless of whether it is or not, Jones is the most dominant champion in the UFC today. He essentially picked Teixeira to be his next opponent rather than accept an immediate rematch with Alexander Gustafsson (another reason fans have to dislike him) and now that Teixeira is out of the way it seems another date with the Swede is in the works. As exponentially as Jones continues to improve (he showed plenty of improvement in this fight) it will be hard to believe that he won't be the favorite going into their second meeting. Needless to say, it will be the most anticipated match of the year.
I'm still inclined to believe that if this had been a straight boxing match that Teixeira would have been able to win. But MMA isn't just about fists being thrown and Jones had the much deeper arsenal to throw at the challenger. As a result of his loss he may end up being a forgotten man for a while. He didn't push Jones the way that Gustafsson did so there will be absolutely no one clamoring for him to get a rematch with Jones anytime soon. The way that Hones continues to mow down his competition means that it is unlikely the UFC wants to match him up with a potential title contender as they don't want to eliminate too many potential match-ups against the champ as Teixeira is still better than almost anyone else in the division. If Rashad Evans can be ready to go from a torn ACL by the end of the year he would make the most sense as both have lost convincing 5-round decisions to the champ and no one cares to see them get another shot.
Anthony Johnson defeated Phil Davis via Decision
It really is a miracle that Johnson could ever shrink himself down to 170 pounds. But it also shows how cutting too much weight can be a negative effect. He was much larger than his opponent Phil Davis and physically overwhelmed him in every aspect. He stuffed all of Davis' takedown attempts and easily won the striking battle. It isn't that Davis didn't land any shots... they just didn't have nearly the amount of mustard on them that Johnson's did. The biggest concern many had with regards to Johnson was whether or not he would have the energy to go 3 rounds without fading and he did so with great success. See what a well-tuned athlete can do when it isn't dehydrated?
If Johnson had simply caught Davis with a devastating head kick or punch early in the fight to put Davis to sleep, many would have said Davis just got caught or to wait until later in the fight when Johnson would tire. But since Johnson was able to dominate in every aspect the fight took place proved that he is for real and will likely land him a top 5 spot in the rankings. It isn't out of place to say that he might be one fight away from getting his hands on Jones. Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson will be squaring off at UFC 173 with talk of the winner becoming the #1 contender. More than likely though another fight would be needed for them and Johnson would make a worthy opponent to match against in a true #1 contenders match.
Everyone knew heading into the match that Johnson would have a striking advantage over Davis, but the question would be whether or not Johnson could handle Davis's wrestling. Davis couldn't get Johnson down which killed any chance Davis had of getting the W as Davis didn't have the confidence to fully commit to his strikes. Davis is young enough at 29 that he could still climb back into contention and someday challenge for the belt, but it wouldn't be happening for a while now. The last time Davis lost he was relegated to fighting Wagner Prado in his return bout. He shouldn't be falling that far this time around, but he will drop in his level of competition for sure. Jimi Manuwa is coming off of a definitive loss to Davis's teammate Gustafsson but is still a tough opponent and will force each fighter to brush up their weaknesses.
*Luke Rockhold defeated Tim Boetsch via Submission 1st Round
The match was very quick and straightforward. Boetsch attempted a takedown and Rockhold caught him in a tight reverse triangle and held it on Boetsch for the remainder of the fight. But it was acutally the kimura that made Boetsch tap rather than the triangle. It was a fantastic display of grappling and submission savvy that Rockhold displayed and solidified his status as an actual contender to the title at middleweight.
Rockhold has now produced a quick victory via strikes and another via submission over his last two bouts that label him at least a step above most of the division. While there are certainly ways to beat him, not everyone possess those capabilities and he has no glaring weakness. Rockhold called out Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping after the fight, but he shouldn't be expecting either fight at this point. Belfort will likely get the next title opportunity after Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida square off and Bisping is a step down from Rockhold's own standing as Bisping is coming off of a loss. While many see Yoel Romero as a step down as well, he is so physically talented that it is hard to know just how good he really is at this point. Rockhold would give us a true indication as well as solidify his own reputation. If not Romero, the winner of the upcoming Mark Munoz-Gegard Mousasi fight makes for a good alternative.
One might say that Boetsch simply got caught in a bad situation by a great grappler, but considering the overall underwhelming performances he has put forth in his last four fights, he was plain and simple overmatched. Boetsch had a lot of things go right for him in his climb up the rankings, but simply isn't that good of a fighter. Not that Boetsch doesn't belong in the UFC... just not in the upper echelon as having lost 3 of his last 4 proves. Seeing as how he has faced good competition, he'll get another chance to prove himself. The loser of Ed Herman and Rafael Natal represents a step down, but not the bottom of the division either. That fight would likely represent a pink slip match.
*Jim Miller defeated Yancy Medeiros via Submission 1st Round
While Miller isn't ever going to get a shot at the title, there is little doubt that he is one tough and smart bastard who will be a tough fight for anyone for quite a while still. After landing a shot to the gut that clearly hurt Medeiros, Miller pushed the fight against the fence and got it to the ground where he slapped on a tight guillotine choke as fast as he could which Medeiros refused to tap to. There were/are many stating that Miller is fading after a rough patch of tough fights. Considering he was able to dispatch of a much bigger Medeiros with relative ease, he will likely being hearing less of this... but not a whole lot less.
All the talk of Miller slowing down is going to continue for the most part considering he was supposed to beat Medeiros anyway. But it still shouldn't take away from his performance as he did exactly what a guy who was supposed to win should do. He is a very smart fighter who is continually able to overcome the fact that his opponents usually are more physically talented than Miller. Miller called out a number of fighters ranked ahead of him in the divisional rankings in an attempt to move up the rankings himself as the Medeiros win will do nothing for his rankings. About the only one that would make sense at this point is TJ Grant. Grant hasn't fought in almost a year due to concussion symptoms and its unknown if it will have a long-term effect on him. Miller represents a good test to see where he is at.
Medeiros is in an interesting situation. He has no official wins in three tries in the UFC (thank you marijuana), but has a lot of physical gifts that are worth looking into. His two losses were to Miller and Rustam Khabilov whom are both ranked, so it isn't like he has lost to scrubs. Throw in the fact that he stepped up to face Miller in a fight that was a lot loss favorable to him than his original opponent of Joe Ellenberger on short notice and he likely won't be getting a pink slip. But he needs a step down in competition. Vagner Rocha was signed to replace Medeiros against Ellenberger before he got hurt himself. But he does represent a good choice to match up Medeiros with.
Max Holloway defeated Andre Fili by Submission 3rd Round
The fight between the two youngsters went as was expected as both threw a lot of shots at one another and featured multiple swings in momentum. Fili held the power advantage, but Holloway held the advantage in overall strikes. They seemingly split the first two rounds and I had Fili winning the final round up until the point that Holloway landed a nice combo which led to Fili shooting for a desperate takedown and led to the guillotine choke Holloway slapped on him. Overall the fight showed the promise and potential that both youngsters possess, but also the need for continued development.
Its highly doubtful that Holloway will ever develop one punch KO power, but he is a great technical boxer, has a tough chin, and a great gas tank. He continues to polish up his game and has also shown a much better fight IQ since he first came into the UFC. While I don't see him being a future champion, I could see him developing into a potential contender. Remember people, he is still just 22. Even though Fili represented a good challenge, I don't think Holloway is ready for a ranked opponent quite yet. Charles Oliveira is a certain step up in competition that sits just outside the rankings and his submission skills represent a type of test that Holloway hasn't yet quite faced.
Fili has to be disappointed at the loss, but fans of his shouldn't fret too much. His star should still be burning bright as it is most often that fighters learn from their losses. For one, Fili is going to either need better conditioning or not throw so much into every punch. Though he showed good (not great) wrestling and was likely ahead on points until the stoppage, his gas tank is likely the biggest culprit in his loss as he lost his dominant wrestling position in the final round due to a lack of activity. As for where he goes from here, a match with fellow prospect Sean Soriano would be a great test for both of the youngsters. But even though I like the idea I'm expecting the UFC to go with a newcomer.
Even though Elliott took the loss, you gotta give him credit for being willing to take the fight to Benavidez. Hell, he even got the former title challenger to the ground multiple times with relative ease and landed some nice shots. But it is never wise to discount a member of Team Guillotine (aka Team Alpha Male) as Benavidez scored one of the most impressive guillotine chokes ever as he was able to tie up Elliott's arms with his legs while choking him out leading to Elliott taping out with his legs. I know that if you didn't see the choke it must be a bit difficult to fathom... but it really happened.
The biggest question with regards to Benavidez would be how he would react to losing his third title shot in the WEC/UFC and knowing he would be a long shot to get a chance anytime soon. While I admit he didn't look sharp throughout the match, he at least was able to show some resilience as Elliott landed more damage on him overall than what Benavidez did to him. But he is still a very long ways away from fighting Demetrious Johnson again for the title. All he can do is continue to chug through opponents until there is no one left to fight... kind of similar to what his teammate Urijah Faber has done. The one that seems most likely to me is Zach Makovsky. If Makovsky were to beat Benavidez, he would likely end up with the next title shot after Ali Bagautinov.
Elliott has only lost to guys who have or are going to fight for the flyweight title, which should tell you all you need to know about why he has a losing record in the UFC at 2-3. Before Benavidez scored the guillotine it was a clear round for Elliott as he landed more shots in addition to the aforementioned takedowns. Its clear at this point that he isn't amongst the elite of the division, but he has a fun balls-to-the-wall style that should keep him around for a while. Chris Cariaso and Louis Smolka face off in a couple of weeks and both are more than able challengers to steal a win away from Elliott. Give Elliott the loser from those two.
Gomi may not be fighting to get the title anymore, but if he continues to have fights like this one, people will tune in to watch him irregardless of what the stakes are. The two traded hard punches back and forth for the duration of the match. There were times when one would visibly rock the other, but both of their chins held up miraculously just to fire right back. As a result both were rewarded with a well deserved Fight of the Night bonus.
Even though it was a great fight and I loved watching it, it completely reaffirmed to me that the dominant version of Gomi is long gone. I'm convinced Gomi of 6 or 7 years ago would have finished Vallie-Flagg. Still, after a year away it was good to see Gomi fighting again and I would hope that he would be willing to step back into the Octagon in a quicker timeline this time around. He did show signs of tiring even in the first round, but fought on the whole time. As for his next outing, Danny Castillo looks like a fighter that would be able to push Gomi and would be a fun fight to watch. Castillo is like Gomi in the sense that he'll never fight for the title (in Gomi's case, he'll never do it again), but he can beat most of the roster even if not every night.
Vallie-Flagg has no lost 2 in a row which would put some in jeopardy. But he should be safe considering he went out and fought the fan-friendly type of fight that Dana White is always clamoring for out of his fighters. I expected Vallie-Flagg to try and use his wrestling more than he did, but he was content to throw. He probably can't afford another loss and remain employed with the company, but he'll receive a fight that he stands more than a good chance of winning. There has been no sign that Roger Bowling has been released. If he is still around, his always moving forward style represents another fun opponent for Vallie-Flagg in what would almost assuredly be a pink slip match.
This ended up being my least favorite fight of the night. Duke only seemed comfortable when she had the Muay Thai clinch applied to Correia and Correia was smart enough not to let Duke keep it on her for long. Duke clearly has no idea how to use her range effectively and allowed Correia to come into range time and time again to easily outstrike her despite Duke owning a massive 9' reach advantage. Overall it ended up being a sloppy affair in which both fighters had their moments (few and far between) with Correia taking the decision due to greater activity.
I really don't want to take anything away from Correia as she clearly deserved the victory. But this fight did nothing to improve my opinion of her. I think she certainly has potential and can put on fun fights (not her fault that this one wasn't), but Duke gave her the victory more than Correia taking it from her. She is far from ready to face someone in the top 5 of the division, but one more victory will almost assuredly grant her that opportunity in the still shallow women's bantamweight division. Jessica Andrade is very similar to Correia in the sense she is Brazilian, aggressive, and shorter than the majority of the division. The winner gets the opportunity to move up the rankings.
As I already stated in the last paragraph (but feel it needs to be said again), Duke beat herself more than Correia beating her. Her striking looked as though it had regressed. She only threw about two kicks and doesn't know how to throw an effective jab to keep her opponents at distance. Without those, she is giving away the greatest physical advantage that she owns. She did show improved judo, seems like a hard worker, and its impossible not to see her potential. She'll certainly get another shot... I just hope its after definitive improvement in her striking. Alexis Dufresne is another lanky and inexperienced fighter. A match between the two represents the most winnable fights for the both of them.
*Danny Castillo defeated Charlie Brenneman via KO 2nd Round
It speaks volumes about the quality of the finishes for the night when Castillo's clean KO of Brenneman didn't receive a Performance bonus. It was one of the most definitive one punch KO's in recent memory and should change some people's view of Castillo being a grind-it-out fighter only. It had been a competitive bout up to that point with the first round going back-and-forth between the two wrestlers. With neither known as KO artists, the finish was unexpected... but not unwelcome.
Castillo is proving why Duane Ludwig has been receiving so much credit as a striking coach. Castillo rocked Edson Barboza in his last fight and took off Brenneman's head this time around despite his long-standing reputation. Anyone want to argue about the work Ludwig has done now? No one is expecting Castillo to make a title run, but he is a very solid opponent whom has been able to add another dimension to his arsenal at a rather advanced stage in his career. As I mentioned earlier, a fight with Takanori Gomi would be fun and good for Castillo's career to be able to fight a legend. It would be great to test his newly found power too as Gomi has never had his lights turned out.
Brenneman was showing very well in the first round that most pundits believed he won. His biggest mistake was when he lost positional dominance in going for a submission, but that type of aggressiveness is a welcome addition to his lay and prey style that hasn't made him many fans. But the loss made for his fourth straight in the Octagon and lightweight is by far the most crowded division in the organization. I don't see Brenneman getting another shot in the UFC. Kind of a shame as he is a hell of a nice guy.
This fight was bi-polar. It started out with a good amount of excitement with both fighters getting some nice shots in, but degenerated into the second coming of Nate Quarry-Kaleb Starnes before the first round was out as Williams continued to run from Beal. In the end though Beal was able to salvage the match by scoring a very impressive jumping knee that put Williams out cold and made the fans believe in karma once again. I can deal with an ugly fight so long as the ending features such dynamics at the end.
How much do you want to bet part of the reason Beal got the Performance bonus due to him ending the somewhat torturous fight? Beal by far had the better gas tank which allowed him to throw his punches with some heat on them past the first few minutes... something Williams couldn't claim. Beal showed he has been working on diversifying his striking with that impressive knee and he badly needed that extra dimension as he has largely been a boxer only. He is still raw and needs some time to develop, so he should get a fight with a fellow prospect next. The winner of Pedro Munhoz and Matt Hobar would be appropriate.
Williams showed flashes early in the fight, but let it all go to waste and immediately made himself a target of wrath from the fans. I already mentioned that he gassed which is pathetic to do so in the first round. But I'll give some leeway. He had never fought at the weight class and took the fight with just over a weeks time. He also threw everything he had into every punch... stupid, but at least it was because he was trying to end the fight. Still... I don't know if he'll get another fight as his running was that bad. If he hangs around I expect the UFC to feed him to a youngster that they want to get back on the winning path such as Dustin Kimura.
Record for Card: 6-4
Record for Year: 96-55-1