UFC Fight Night 59 was saved by Conor McGregor. Yes, the crowd was great. Sure, there were some decent fights. But going into the main event, the card had not hit it out of the park by any means. Until the star of the show came out. And then it was truly captivating.
McGregor took longer than he said he would to put away Dennis Siver. Hell, Siver actually got some good shots in. But the bold Irish fighter looked truly relaxed throughout the entire thing and once he got Siver's timing down, it was all but over. McGregor tried a lot of fancy stuff, but it was his straight left that was his most effective weapon. Siver seemed thrown off by Conor's speed and was probably lucky to get out of the first round.
Once McGregor got the TKO win early in the second, he charged out of the cage and got directly into UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo's face. And if anyone came out looking better tonight than McGregor, it was Aldo. After putting together a funny costume and sign that he said he was going to wear cageside but didn't, he stood right in front of McGregor while he screamed at him. He didn't back down. He did flinch. He LAUGHED. He laughed at Conor's bluster the entire time, and it was badass.
We now have the biggest featherweight fight in UFC history on deck, and I'm looking extremely forward to it.
- Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone looked like a glorified sparring session to me. Both men are beasts when they want to be, but they seemed a little toned down tonight. Many wanted two more rounds, but I'm fine with 15 minutes of...that. I personally had Henderson winning the fight, but it was close enough that I wouldn't put up much of a stink. Still though - Boston judges.
- Uriah Hall was looking for another crazy highlight knockout to add to his tape. He didn't get it, but he did drop Ron Stallings and finished the fight by opening a nasty cut. A win's a win, I guess.
- Gleison Tibau vs. Norman Parke was straight up boring. Our own Dallas Winston had it 30-30, and I can't say that's a bad score because the fight was so terrible.
- Sean Spencer was robbed tonight in Boston. There is no way to justify giving Cathal Pendred two rounds, much less three. Pendred was almost knocked out in the first and two judges gave it to him. He did barely anything in the rounds two and three and all three judges gave him both rounds. It was an utter joke, and I was hoping the scorecards were somehow read wrong. They weren't. It was just total incompetence, and one of the most maddening things about this sport.
- Will Lorenz Larkin be a force at welterweight? It's hard to say right now, but he looked huge and knocking out John Howard isn't an easy thing to do. He's also a super nice guy, saying that he liked Boston but it's okay if they didn't like him.
- Well, Zhang Lipeng likes to hit his opponents in the balls. There's that. But his fight with Chris Wade was largely forgettable otherwise, and he dropped a decision.
- Joe Rogan was terrible during the Patrick Holohan/Shane Howell fight. I understand that his angle may have been blocked during the first round submission attempt by Holohan, but just admit that if it is. Instead, he went off about how the fight was a wrap. It was anything but - Holohan's arm wasn't even under the chin, and Howell gave the ref a thumbs up. Holohan looked good out-wrestling an Oklahoman, but that's what I took out of that fight more than anything.
- Johnny Case has a pretty ugly back tattoo. But he looked pretty good against Frankie Perez, mostly dominating other than one heel hook attempt.
- Charles Rosa looked excellent in his bout with Sean Soriano, but I was pretty impressed with Soriano's ground game as well. He did get caught in a few bad situations, but he showed poise and going out of a nasty armbar and held on during a peruvian necktie. Rosa wouldn't be denied at the end though and got the finish.
- Matt Van Buren has some baaad defense on the feet. I actually like his offensive game, even if it did get a bit repetitive at times. A well-rounded fighter would find their way around all those knees quite quickly. Sean O'Connell didn't really seem to care though - he came to blast, and he eventually did. You don't often see standup finishes in the UFC, but that was one of those times where it was absolutely called for. Van Buren was done.
- The opening bout between Tateki Matsuda and Joby Sanchez was a lot of fun. Both guys have pretty good power for flyweights and it was on display in this bout. Their grappling exchanges were almost as fun as them blasting away on the feet too. It was definitely a fight of the night contender right out of the gate.