As a sports fan a night like this can feel like work. The UFC is doing their thing, putting together what a Fight Night card should look like, and one of boxing's living legends continues to stay active.
Manny Pacquiao will always mean just a little more to me. He fought during the height of Featherweight at the turn of the century when guys like Erik Morales, and Marco Antonio Barrera were engaging in all timers. My father and I spent many a night with friends and family enjoying the spectacle. And so it was nice to see Pacquiao looking like his "old" self: predictably coming forward with the type of varied onslaught he's become famous for.
Speaking of domination, let's talk about Pacquiao's more American, whiter, Jersey-er soulmate.
- Frankie Edgar dominated Cub Swanson. Despite picking Edgar, I was still surprised by the ease with which he did it. Not only that but I could have never predicted he would be able to rack up so much damage on the ground, which is basically what set up the finish: his ground and pound. People will probably keep doubting him. So be it. He's not just a well rounded fighter, and former Lightweight champion. He's also armed with Mark Henry's coaching. When Henry isn't giving him technical advice, he's spouting broad wisdom: I appreciated him telling him to keep his head up when looking for takedowns because Cub was winding up on what could have been a brain altering uppercut.
- Obviously the Pacquiao fight can't be discussed without talking about Floyd Mayweather because the two are intimately linked. I suspect the fight will actually happen at some point, but Floyd likes the Sugar Ray Leonard way of making him sweat. Chris Algieri looked fine in the role of "outmatched opponent". Some good body shots despite suffering a brutal stretch midway through the fight made sure he had my respect. You can watch the highlights here.
- Bobby Green has a hell of a chin. Not only was he clearly stunned by a massive punch against Edson Barboza, but he took a spinning heel to the back of the head completely flush, and was back up doing his own Diaz brother imitation quickly after. Still, he was never gonna beat Edson backing up like that. I feel like Edson's career is salvageable in the way we want to believe when it comes to our blue chip prospects. But it'll take more specific matchups, and home improvement for it to happen. He's still doing that 'duck with an overhand right' thing ala Fabricio Werdum. If he can incorporate a jab, and a more active left hook into his game, the potential is still there.
- Man. Jared Rosholt was looking pretty good early on. His striking was lumbering, but not slow and then Oliynyk threw a couple of punches he found from a Celestial's severed head galaxies away. It was a brutal knockout, and a huge setback for Rosholt who seemed to be on his way towards winning. Still, Heavyweight is more forgiving than other divisions.
- Like Green, I have to talk about the loser first, because Dustin Ortiz took some absolutely blistering shots from Joseph Benavidez. I have no idea how he stayed upright. Credit to Benavidez, who looked more effectively aggressive than what I'd call great. He gets a little sloppy when hunting for that KO, but there's no question he's one of Flyweight's absolutely elite.
- Theme of the night: if you're gonna lose, lose impressively. Although Vallie-Flagg was kind of the exception here. I thought he made a terrible error of judgment against Matt Wiman. Isaac seemed to have the edge at range with a seering uppercut, but then he would get in the clinch where it would be more even, and then he'd attempt takedowns, where it was drastically less even in Wiman's favor. Wiman was good, but I came away less impressed with Vallie-Flagg's decision making, who to be fair, has had a brutal year inside and outside the cage. The two are rarely mutually exclusive.
- I can't decide if I was impressed with Ruslan Magomedov or not. Josh Copeland is an interesting sight in and of itself: short, stubby, looks a little too attached to those new Angus steak and egg bagel sandwiches from Dunkin Donuts, but the dude is a spitfire. He fought determined, and had Ruslan thinking twice about committing. Overall I enjoyed the fight. Ruslan's counters impressed me the most. Although the question mark kick was good too.
- James Vick: you're a good fighter. But start throwing all the punches.
- Sad to say, but Yves Edwards must hung them up. He's now winless in his last five, and 2-6-1 in his last 9. He'll always be remembered, however: whether for his performance in Pride Bushido, the Hermes Franca bouts, or his KO over Josh Thomson and Jeremy Stephens, there's a lot to be proud of.
- Doo Ho Choi did what what you're supposed to do when you're an Asian fighter in North America: don't give the judges the opportunity to not do their job, and slaughter your opponent in the amount of time it takes to heat up a kolache in a hadron collider.