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UFC 206: Holloway vs. Pettis post-fight results and analysis

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Mookie Alexander recaps and analyzes the whole of UFC 206, which had a spectacular night of action inside the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

MMA: UFC 206- Swanson vs Choi Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

While UFC 206 wasn’t a star-studded event like 200, 202, and 205 were, there were a lot of compelling fights on this card that had high potential to be incredibly exciting to watch. Guess what? It was an awesome night of fights. We saw some spectacular finishes, a Fight of the Year contender (frontrunner?) between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi, and to end the evening, Max Holloway dismantled Anthony Pettis to become the UFC’s interim featherweight champion.

The big news this week was Pettis’ failure to make weight, which meant the interim belt was only on the line for Holloway. He once again put in a terrific display, soundly outstriking Pettis (who broke his hand in the 1st round, but even with a healthy hand I doubt he outboxes Max), stopping Pettis’ takedowns, sweeping him to the mat multiple times, then finishing him with a brutal onslaught of kicks and punches to the body and to the head. The scary thing about Holloway? He’s only 25 and just started competing in professional MMA in 2010!

Up next for Holloway is a unification bout with Jose Aldo (Ho-say Waldo, as Holloway put it), and I cannot wait to see that fight. My early prediction is Holloway takes it.

More thoughts on tonight’s event:

Main Card

  • Pettis is heading back to 155 after his failed weight cut. I know this sounds harsh, but his days as a relevant contender are increasingly looking like they’re numbered, no matter the weight class. As much as it’s popular to praise his striking abilities, Edson Barboza at 155 and Max Holloway at 145 both tattooed him, and they’re just fundamentally better all-around strikers than he is. That’s not to say Pettis still doesn’t beat most other lightweights, but this division has historically been unkind to former champions, and I don’t think he’s ever going to compete for UFC gold again.
  • Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown put on a hell of a fight, with both men trading knockdowns in round 2, but Cowboy had been landing his head kick consistently from the opening minute of round 1, and he smacked Brown with a head kick from hell to end his night in round 3. It sounded like he’d just hit a home run in a baseball game. Cerrone is 4-0 at welterweight, and to knock out Cote, Story, and Brown in consecutive fights is an incredible achievement when you consider how all 3 of them entered 2016 having never been finished via strikes.
  • WERE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED BY CUB SWANSON AND DOO HO CHOI?! That’s one of the craziest fights in UFC history. I cannot believe that there was only 1 knockdown in this fight, and it came through a spinning backfist after Swanson had already done a Superman punch and a cartwheel kick on an exhausted Korean Superboy at the end of round 3. Those two men deserve $500,000 post-fight bonuses for what they endured. What a win for Swanson, and even though Choi lost the fight, he earned himself even more fans than the ones who were chanting his name mid-bout. God damn I’ll be buzzing about this epic brawl all week.
  • Kelvin Gastelum endured 3.5 minutes or so of Tim Kennedy draped all over him, and then basically dominated him with his striking for the rest of the fight. Kennedy, for his part, looked exhausted even at the end of round 1. Gastelum got the TKO finish in round 3, and now the question becomes whether or not he’ll return to 170, despite Dana White’s claim that he’s forbidden from fighting there again. As for Kennedy, that may have been the last fight of his career, and it was a devastating defeat to take.
  • Emil Weber Meek won a unanimous decision over Jordan Mein to kick off the PPV broadcast. It was a fun, back-and-forth opening round, with Mein able to take Meek down multiple times, but the Norwegian just smothered Mein in rounds 2-3. Mein’s return to fighting after his 2015 retirement ends in disappointment, while Meek is at least a very entertaining character in this sport.

Preliminary Card

  • We have a new contender at 205 lbs, and his name is Misha Cirkunov. He rocked Nikita Krylov late in the 1st round with a stinging left hand, then sealed the deal with a lovely arm-in guillotine. Cirkunov is 4-0 in the UFC and just beat a top 10 fighter. His striking is coming along, he’s a very good wrestler and a dangerous grappler. I think it’s very possible Cirkunov is fighting for the title in no more than two years.
  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier turned in arguably the best, most complete performance of his UFC career. “The Quebec Kid” showed improved striking (even though he was knocked down early in round 2), then outgrappled and choked out Drew Dober for the win. OAM was the first Canadian fighter to notch a W, with the previous four below him on the prelims all losing.
  • Viviane Pereira edged out Valerie Letourneau by split decision in a dismal fight. Letourneau has lost 3 in a row and missed weight for this one. She’s probably getting cut from the UFC.
  • Matthew Lopez rallied from a brutal 1st round knockdown to defeat Mitch Gagnon in a very entertaining bantamweight clash. Lopez used his wrestling and grappling to win rounds 2 and 3, thus earning him his first win inside the Octagon. Good stuff, and hopefully his testicles are back in place after Gagnon punted them to start the 3rd.
  • Lando Vannata probably just took home KO of the Year honors with a sensational wheel kick finish of John Makdessi. Vannata gave Tony Ferguson all he could handle on short notice, and he picked up an additional $50,000 with that pure destruction of Makdessi. MAN that was beautiful. He’s only got 10 pro fights in his career and he’s 24, so look out 155ers, he’s got high potential to be another contender in a division jam-packed with talent.
  • Rustam Khabilov dominated Jason Saggo for another unanimous decision win, which makes it his 4th straight. He’s not scintillating to watch, but there aren’t too many lightweights out there that can deal with his wrestling. I’m a fan of his callout of Kevin Lee, and that may be a fight we see next.
  • Dustin Ortiz smothered Zach Makovsky and turned in a very impressive performance to snap a two-fight losing skid. I have no idea why Makovsky got a 29-28 in his favor, but the rightful winner got the nod on the other two scorecards.