The UFC walked away with a modest victory thanks to the exploits of TJ DIllashaw, Dominick Cruz, and Cruz' willingness to go after Jonah Lehrer.
However, everything else ranged from tragic to forgotten (as far as the main card goes) for the UFC fans in Boston, and the viewers at home.
1. Cruz Control
That fight followed by a UFC fighter calling out journalistic plagiarism is as good as MMA is ever going to get and we should shut it down.— Huge Mantis (@HugeMantis) January 18, 2016
I don't like the NHL website's pun machine either, but whatever. When Phil and I previewed their fight, we knew that the fight would come down to Cruz' defense oriented version of "neo footwork" and TJ's more pressure oriented version of so called "neo footwork". I'll break the fight down into more detail later, but one of the main takeaways was TJ' inability to land strikes. Dillashaw still needs to work within a pocket to land strikes. He just has a very uncommon strategy to executing a common philosophy. Cruz was able to shuffle in and out of danger in every round, including those he lost.
I had it three rounds to two without the benefit of rewatch for Cruz. I felt like he was successfully defending the first three rounds, and seemed to have little trouble early on in getting pressured by TJ's movement. That changed a bit as the fight wore on. Overall, I was impressed by both men though. Dillashaw needed to adjust, and did; it's why the fight was close. His output increased, and so did his arsenal. Needless to say, as Phil Davis impersonating Jon Jones because fans thought that one was no different than the other would say...nobody else in this division "would stand a chance against me!!" (them...in this case)
In hell we get to watch Alvarez/Pettis on an infinite loop. #UFCBoston— #TheKing (@Izi_Garcia) January 18, 2016
A really hyped fight ended up being just sort of...there. I don't have a problem with Alvarez' strategy; I just have a problem with judges rewarding him for that strategy. Unlike Melendez, Eddie wasn't setting up takedowns with strikes. He was just pressing Pettis up against the fence. That isn't octagon 'control'. That's octagon inertia.
Pettis didn't look good either. Not because this was a mediocre singular performance, but because Clay Guida, Jeremy Stephens, and now Eddie Alvarez have all successfully neutralized Pettis with predictable gameplans. If you're an elite fighter, these things just can't happen. Like those other fights, Pettis didn't pivot out, or do anything other than engage the body lock with the opponent which he clearly struggles with. Just like a six year old who can't wait to avoid having their action figure collect dust, it doesn't take much to go from being hermetically sealed, to being stuck in a microwave next to a plastic green armyman.
3. The Big Browne
Since Matt Mitrione's UFC contract is now up, he can transition to a career as a professional cartoon character: pic.twitter.com/T2AD3XeKrJ— Fury's Fight Picks (@FurysFightPicks) January 18, 2016
Just an embarrassment all around. Referee Gary Forman ignored Browne's second, more hideous eye poke, and for some reason didn't reprimand him beyond that. If he did tell Browne "one more and I'll take a point" with any sense of authority whatsoever, I didn't hear it. But after the second point, it was Matt Mitrione against the world. Unfortunately the world is like a Cormac McCarthy novel, cold and dark. And so a candid and cheerful barefoot presence beforehand was reduced to a busted clavicle, and that swollen abyss above.
4. Say No to Senescence
Cisco Trinaldo just keeps beating dudes he's not really supposed to beat. As a fellow 37-year-old, I can dig it.— Chad Dundas (@chaddundas) January 18, 2016
A this point it's clear that Ross Pearson just can't handle superior athletes. Their rhythm seems beyond his fight scope. I expected a competitive fight, but there was very little competitive about this bout. Trinaldo just kept bulling forward with knees, kicks, and left hands. Pearson kept backing up like his two weeks notice from two weeks ago should have been processed by now. He did absolutely nothing to counter, or adjust.
5. Luke Duke'Em
Maximo Blanco is officially done as anything but a mid level fighter. That's not news to hardcore fans, but it's still startling to see such sheer force of somnambulence. Meanwhile, credit to Sanders. I knew that Sanders was slick on the feet, but given his size (he'll probably go down to Bantamweight after this), wasn't sure that his power would translate. However, Luke wasn't just a left hand. His transition to the submission was lightning quick. I'm definitely excited to see where he goes from here.
6. Feld of Dreams
He did, to an extent. Looked like Felder cranking it at an angle helped find space under the chin. https://t.co/LDZk4C2x8i— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) January 18, 2016
I thought that Daron Cruickshank was handily winning the fight. It's also one of the only times I'll shout "man, those side kicks are brutal!" Felder was just plain not looking very good, and couldn't handle Daron's speed. Unfortunately for Cruickshank, he's in real danger of getting cut, which would be a shame. His decision to grapple was baffling, but I'm sure it sounded fine in his head. It shouldn't have since Felder had already put him precarious situations several times before. Now, on to some stray observations...
- Tim Boetsch is done. Dude is fried chicken at this point. He keeps brawling at the wrong time and now even fighters without a history of right handed violence are getting him.
- Great. Joanna Champion gets to coach TUF, which just means more time for her to be away from the cage. I'd really like to know whether or not stuff like this is a net loss for the UFC. Surely she's more valuable defending her title on a PPV than giving lectures to drunkards on a show no one watches?
- The MMA world started out not taking Ilir Latifi's seriously, and we're now as dead serious about him as O'Connell is dead.