The UFC's debut show in Rotterdam had a bit of an up-and-down preliminary card, but the main card was just hot fire. A really entertaining event further enhanced by a terrific crowd, and I can't stress how much fun the European-based atmospheres are, and today was no different.
Alistair Overeem capped off a perfect day for Dutch MMA with a sick crane kick and left hook combo that floored Andrei Arlovski. Ground-and-pound ensued and that was that. It is almost impossible to argue against an Overeem title shot at this point. He's 4-0 since the Rothwell loss and looks like a different type of fighter than when he was getting surprise KO'd by Travis Browne. Overeem even went as far as to lay out the UFC's plans for them -- he fights the Werdum/Miocic winner at Madison Square Garden in November, then defends his title in 2017 in Holland. At a minimum, that Madison Square Garden idea sounds ideal, and the UFC can definitely make it happen.
More thoughts on today's show:
- Afternoon MMA is great, and the finishes meant that the card ended at 4:45 PM ET. I'll take that 10 times out of 10.
- The uninspiring Mir win + the Miocic and Overeem losses should be the end of the Andrei Arlovski comeback fairy tale. He's not like Antonio Silva or anything, but he couldn't budge Overeem with anything substantial (and he tried to), and once Overeem got into a rhythm it spelled doom for him. I'll still watch him fight, but keep in mind the KO losses he continues to suffer.
- Stefan Struve just mowed down Antonio Silva with ease. It wasn't even close. Struve looked composed and took Bigfoot apart every which way one can do in 15 seconds. Great win for him and also a great tribute to Blackzilians teammate Jordan Parsons, who was tragically killed following a hit-and-run last week.
- There's literally ZERO reason for Antonio Silva to still be in the UFC. He's on such a bad run of knockout losses that commissions should start revoking his license, and it's for his own good. This one was just brutal to watch, and I cannot see a rational person arguing for him to continue fighting.
- Gunnar Nelson needed this win against Albert Tumenov in a big way. He wasn't blown out on the feet, and he got Tumenov to the ground and just schooled him. This was Tumenov's big test and he couldn't pass it. Nelson had him mounted twice, the first time Tumenov escaped in round 1, but the 2nd time marked the end of the right via rear-naked choke. The Maia and Story fights showed that Nelson isn't at the elite of 170, but he is unquestionably a top 15 welterweight, and he still has time to get better and break through as a top-flight contender.
- What a terrific performance by Germaine de Randamie against Anna Elmose. She had the home crowd in a euphoric state after stopping Elmose with a vicious knee to the body. It was noted that she turned down a fight vs. Cris Cyborg at UFC 198 so she could compete (with her mom in attendance) in front of her home fans. Great moment for her, and they might want to think about booking GdR vs. Cyborg down the line, because I'd watch.
- Nikita Krylov tapped out BJJ black belt Francimar Barroso with a face crank midway through round 2, further solidifying his case for a LHW title shot against the champion, Ilir Latifi. There's really no better fight to make in MMA than that, and to break character, they should genuinely look at making that fight happen.
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz didn't get off to a fast start, but she finished superbly against Heather Clark and got the unanimous decision win. Her speed and multi-faceted striking skills make her a clear contender in the women's strawweight divison.
- Rustam Khabilov beat Chris Wade in a pretty entertaining contest, but can someone explain to me how Khabilov survived this kick? My goodness. The amazing thing to me is how Khabilov actually performed better after the knockdown than (an admittedly tiring) Wade did. Quality fight and a great comeback by Rustam.
- Magnus Cedenblad tore apart Garreth McLellan for the 2nd round knockout win. The head kick started it off, then he bashed the South African with a bunch of uppercuts to force the 2nd standing stoppage of the night. Cedenblad has quietly won 4 straight, primarily because this was his first bout since 2014. As for McLellan ... let's just say South African MMA has some room for improvement.
- Josh Emmett got a short-notice win over the mostly offensively impotent Jon Tuck, but the only thing anyone will remember out of this fight was Emmett's grotesquely mangled ring finger on his left hand. If you want to see it, then click here. Otherwise, you don't need to see it.
- Reza Madadi vs. Yan Cabral was a sloppy mess of a fight that featured a 2nd round bro-hug, but Madadi had a sweet uppercut finish of the Brazilian, who went on autopilot and had to be stopped standing. That's only the 2nd KO win of Madadi's entire MMA career.
- On the FP prelims, Ulka Sasaki exploited Willie Gates' grappling deficiencies and choked him out in the 2nd round; Leon Edwards used his (powerful but low-volume) striking and his improved takedowns and grappling skills to dispatch Dominic Waters, and recorded a workmanlike decision win; Kyoji Horiguchi just pulverized Neil Seery and did everything but finish him. Seery was outclassed but somehow didn't get stopped, and Horiguchi at American Top Team should be a major springboard towards his rise back towards another flyweight title shot.
Nothing to do with this card
- Amir Khan is best advised not to compete in MMA. That is all.