If you haven't already read Part I of this series, I strongly suggest you go do it now so you'll be all caught up. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Putting it mildly, 2016 was a batshit crazy year, and there was so much of it I felt the need to document it. Since I already covered the first (roughly) six months last time, now we're going to go over the last six.
Fight Night 90 – July 7th.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez – LW Title.
While there were still a few people doubting that we had entered an unprecedented era of upsets, most had started to come around to the idea that we were being subjected to a big cosmic prank by the MMA gods.
This was a fight that came about because there really wasn't anyone else around to challenge for the title. Anjos had been on a tear since joining Kings MMA and had ripped through his last five fights and looked unstoppable. (Sensing a pattern here?) Meanwhile Eddie lost his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone and had notched only two split decision wins over Gilbert Melendez and Pettis, who had both been utterly dominated in their previous fights with the former also testing positive for steroids after his loss to EA.
It wasn't a title fight built on very firm ground is what I'm saying.
The consensus view among the BE staff was that RDA was going to add Eddie's pelt to his collection and move on, only two of them were picking the upset. Since anarchy had become the new normal, I had given my Ruby pick a few weeks before and was sticking to my guns, and yet again it had proven to be the right choice.
It took less than four minutes for Anjos' reign as the 155lb kingpin to end with a standing TKO after being wobbled and unable to defend numerous shots from EA. Alvarez made history by not just becoming the first person to hold both a Bellator and UFC title, but he also reclaimed his lineal Bellator title (he lost it to Cowboy who then lost it to RDA) as well. Rafael had become another name on the list of victims 2016 would claim.
Ruby Counter – 6
Honorable mention, UFC 200 – July 9th.
I'm bringing 200 up not because there were any major upsets (my personal pain for Tate losing her hard earned crown not withstanding) like we've been counting up to now, but because of how badly things went for what was intended to be the biggest UFC event in history. I knew the minute that Conor vs Diaz II was announced as the original main event that things were going to get shot to hell, and I made that prediction publicly, but I didn't know just how crazy things would get.
First as I already mentioned, a planned rematch from 196 was scrapped after a dispute between Conor and the UFC brass. The replacement main event of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Comier for the 205lb title went up in a puff of smoke just a few days out because of Jones failing a drug test. The replacement for that fight featured Anderson Silva, though thankfully it wasn't for the title. The side dish was Johnny Hendricks suffering yet another cut and missing weight. And the cherry on top of all this was Brock Lesnar, after a 5 year retirement, failing both pre and post fight drug tests, and pissing off Mark Hunt in the process.
The best laid plans of both mice and men often go awry.
Honorable mention, Ariel Helwani vs. Dana White – June.
I had actually forgotten all about this until I started working on this week's DART. And while it wasn't a fight, it was significant enough to mention. Sometime before the UFC was ready to make the announcement during 199, Ariel broke the news that Brock would be returing at 200 for a one off appearance. Dana did not like his big surprise being spoiled one bit and promptly banned Ariel and everyone who worked with him from any and all future UFC events.
Of course the UFC and White were forced to recant a few days later as they were drowning under wave after wave of bad PR, but that doesn't change the fact that this bit of insanity actually happened.
UFC 201 – July 30th.
Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley – WW Title.
Literally no one was happy about this fight getting booked, with the exception of Woodley's family and myself. Why? The short version is that we're both from St. Louis and I don't have a whole lot of hometown fighters to root for, and Tyron becoming a champion is the best chance we have of finally getting our first ever UFC event.
But why was everyone else pissed off about this? Because most people felt he didn't deserve it, especially with guys like Damien Maia and Stepehn Thompson waiting in the wings. His last fight came roughly a year and a half before and it was a meandering split decision over Kelvin Gastelum who had missed weight by a whopping 10lbs. He had basically waited his way into a title fight.
I made a lot of predictions this year, but this was the one I trumpeted the most by far. I spent months beating the "Woodley is gonna be a UFC champ!" drum any chance I could, I could feel it in my bones and Ruby had my back on it. Plus, after what happened with Michael Bisping, the setup was too perfect for things to have gone any other way. And just like Bisping, he would make the most of this opportunity.
While Robbie had become a force of nature since his return to the UFC and been involved in an all time classic with Rory McDonald, 2016 had put him in its crosshairs. After just over 2 minutes, this is how his Cinderella title reign would come to an end.
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Ruby Counter – 7
UFC 203 – September 10th.
Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem – HW Title.
This fight wasn't actually an upset but it's still more than an Honorable Mention because it was one of the few examples of a champion almost falling to the 2016 curse before being able to beat it back into retreat. Something not a lot of others were able to do this year.
This was another title fight built on a very very shaky foundation. With the exception of his win over JDS (which I covered back in Part I), every single one of his UFC wins came over guys who had been knocked out in their previous fights. Meanwhile Stipe was still riding high from knocking out Werdum.
It would be yet another title fight that wouldn't see the end of the first round. After a left straight knocked Stipe flat on his ass, Reem went for a guillotine choke and it looked for all the world like 2016 would be adding a notch to its headboard. Despite Reem's claims that Stipe had tapped out, he didn't, Stipe gave 2016 a 6-pack of middle fingers while screaming "YOU'RE NOT TAKING ME WITH YOU!" and proceeded to show it what happens when it tries to mess with the wrong person.
After not getting the submission he hoped for, Alistair literally looked like he had already lost the fight. Gassed out, literally running away from Stipe to avoid more punishment, and throwing wild haymakers that missed by a mile in hopes that 2016 would step in to help him again. But it was all for naught as the heavy handed Ohio native would eventually find Reem's glass jaw and hand him yet another knockout loss for his record.
By Highlander rules, this makes Stipe the greatest HW of all time.
Ruby Counter – 8.
UFC 205 – November 12th.
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson – WW Title.
Remember back in Part I how I said you might find it freaky how the insanity came to a close almost exactly a year to the day it started? November 15th 2015 to November 12th 2016. What do you think, just an amazing coincidence or was there some cosmic force at work here? You decide.
The night of Woodley's upset over Lawler, I sent my friend and fellow BE Mod/DART member Ben Kohn an email that basically told him what Ruby had been telling me. The crazyness would start to taper off, because almost everyone had caught onto their plans by then, and they were saving up for one final kick to the happy sack near the end of the year.
Man I hate being right sometimes.
First up was former former Middleweight champ, the Bugstomper, Chris Weidman facing an alleged homophobe and steroid user Yoel Romero, or as I like to call him Mr. Poopy Pants.
It had been almost a year since Weidman's last fight, having dropped the title to Luke Rockhold and pulling out of their rematch, but despite the layoff and another injury, he was still expected to win the fight. After more shenanigans between rounds, as Romero and his corner is wont to do, a sudden flying knee to the skull scrambled Chris' eggs and put him out flat.
And no, I'm not posting a GIF of this one because it still pisses me off.
We now move onto Woodley and Thompson and I will admit, I said more than a few times after Woodley's win that I had the feeling Wonderboy would be taking it off his hands when they fought. However that wasn't Ruby telling me anything, just my gut, and by the time fight night came around I had flipped to Woodley retaining.
There was too much that happened during the full five rounds for me to get into, I strongly recommend watching it if you haven't already, and by the final horn no one was sure who had won. And I do mean no one, not even the judges or Bruce Buffer were sure, since Bruce began reading the card only to abruptly stop and leave the cage for a minute, then come back and announce a split decision win for Woodley despite two judges calling it a draw.
Partway through Tyron's interview Bruce had to jump in and make the correction that he retained his title but no one had won the fight. I'll remind you that this was the UFC's first event held in Madison Square Garden after NY finally lifted their years long MMA ban. Only in 2016 could we see something like this.
Next up was the clash between LW champion Alvarez and FW champion McGregor. Eddie, as I went over at the top of the page, had defeated RDA to claim the title in a major upset, while Conor had split a pair of fights with Nate Diaz at 170lbs. Many people were upset Conor was being allowed to challenge for another title while never having defended his first one, but the new UFC owners basically said "Fuck you, money!".
Conor's haters said he was finally going to be exposed because he struggles so bad with wrestlers, and while the fight wasn't as short as his bout with Aldo, McGregor would once again make a lot of people very very happy and very very pissed off at the same time. It was a fight Eddie was never really in from the start, getting tagged with shot after shot that knocked him to the ground three different times in the opening round alone.
Shortly into the second round another thunderous left sent him to the mat yet again and it was enough for the fight to be waved off. Conor was now the first man in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time, even if the second belt had to be borrowed from Woodley. Also, I am on record for picking Conor's upset here, so one final score for Ruby.
Ruby counter – 9.
This is one of the reasons I held off on publishing this till now, because I wanted to see if we were in store for one last shocker. I don't think all that many people were surprised that Ronda lost again, but at how quick and one sided it was.
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So... that about does it. Mercifully there are only a few hours left of this wretched year, all we can do now is tell it to fuck off and die and hope that a year from now we're not looking back on 2016 with fond memories because 2017 has been that much worse.
I need another beer, or 30.