We did it, everyone. Three UFC events in three days, and UFC 200 just wrapped up International Fight Week 2016. I won't lie, this card was a slight disappointment. It wasn't a terrible show by any means, but 200 is definitely not going to be remembered the way 100 was. The main card did not produce any real memorable moments. There was no H-Bomb type finish, back-and-forth thriller like Belcher vs. Akiyama, no "hit him with your groin!" corner advice, and frankly, the card just felt like any other PPV, except with a yellow canvas. Our site traffic was not on the level of UFC 189, 193, 194, or 196, which really confirms that this card badly needed McGregor and/or Rousey, even if Cormier vs. Jones 2 had stayed as the main event. We lost Cormier vs. Jones 2 and ended up with Cormier vs. Anderson Silva, which resulted in plenty of boos. Sometimes you get UFC 189, sometimes you get UFC 200. It happens, it's just that I'm sure some fans will be left a bit indifferent or underwhelmed with the event as a whole, which was billed as the biggest one in UFC history.
We did, however, get a new UFC women's bantamweight champion. Amanda Nunes was terrific against Miesha Tate. Nunes clearly had the skills to give Tate big problems early, but the question was whether or not Tate would weather the storm and take over in the later rounds, which is when Nunes typically fades. That never happened, because Nunes battered and bloodied Tate before the RNC finish to become the 4th different woman to hold the UFC women's 135 lbs title in as many fights.
What does the UFC do with the division? Since Rousey's loss, neither Holm nor Tate could manage a successful defense. Nunes is a great fighter but has limited mainstream appeal in the US. The UFC really was adamant about making Holm vs. Rousey 2, or Rousey vs. Tate 3, and now if Rousey ever returns to fighting, it will likely be against Nunes. If Rousey doesn't come back, then there are challengers lined up, with Julianna Pena and Holm (if she beats Valentina Shevchenko) the presumptive frontrunners. We'll see how it all shakes out.
More thoughts on tonight's event:
PPV main card
- Almost certain that some fans left after Lesnar vs. Hunt, which is a shame for both Tate and Nunes, but then again, Tate and Caraway pushed for the Nunes bout, not a Holm rematch. As a business decision and a fighting decision, it double backfired. If Tate vs. Holm 2 was the headliner, the atmosphere would've been a lot more vibrant.
- Brock Lesnar is back. If Mark Hunt hurt him with the few punches he landed, Lesnar hid it well. Lesnar took Hunt down several times and really poured on the punishment in round 3, which resulted in a unanimous 10-8 in Brock's favor. Lesnar just beat a top 10 heavyweight after 5 years away from the sport. He'll be facing Randy Orton at WWE SummerSlam next month, and from there? Clearly the Miocic vs. Overeem winner is next for him. I kid I kid. I think? My goodness, heavyweight will forever remain weird.
- Brock is a physical freak, but you already knew that. Felt like repeating it. Post-USADA Brock is 1-0 and ready to take over the world.
- Dan Miragliotta should've deducted Hunt a point for those flagrant and prolonged fence grabs in the 1st round. He didn't, because point deductions are just a working theory in MMA, not something refs tend to enforce.
- Daniel Cormier beat Anderson Silva by unanimous decision, and I barely feel like talking about it. Silva had some moments of success on the feet and performed admirably given the massive grading curve and the circumstances surrounding how this fight got made. Cormier was roundly booed (which is both expected and unfair), but he did what he needed to do.
- Silva's two biggest bursts of offense came as a direct result of unwarranted stand-ups by Big John McCarthy. Otherwise this would've been a hell of a lot sadder than it actually was. I'm just happy Silva didn't get nuked.
- I have no issue with the UFC's Silva vs. Cormier promo highlighting all of the Jones drug testing stuff. That wasn't throwing Jones under the bus at all. I've been critical of the UFC telling incomplete stories, but the Jones news was all over mainstream sports media websites, so them outlining everything on the broadcast is a-okay to me.
- Jose Aldo is incredible. He used a counterpunching-based gameplan against Frankie Edgar, who was the one throwing nearly all of the leg kicks. I've never seen Edgar so visibly frustrated before. Aldo tossed him like a child whenever he shot for a takedown. Aldo's power punches were crisp, his jab was on point, and he delivered some hard knees to the body. He is the only fighter who has twice proven that he can solve Edgar's angles and footwork. There's no way you can argue an Edgar win here. Now we wait and see if it's McGregor vs. Aldo 2 or Aldo vs. (presumably) Max Holloway. I'm stoked, either way.
- Brazilian MMA really needed this set of championship results tonight. They briefly had no UFC champions once Rafael dos Anjos lost on Thursday, but Aldo got the interim belt, and more importantly, Nunes got the undisputed title.
- Cain Velasquez whooped Travis Browne and got the 1st round TKO without much trouble. Velasquez's first big offensive moment was a wheel kick (!), so I hereby declare Velasquez to be known as Spinning Shit Sea Level Cain. Velasquez is an outstanding fighter who can still be champion again, and hopefully he can stay healthy so we don't end up waiting until 2017 for his next bout.
- Las Vegas is just over 2,000 feet above sea level. This wasn't Sea Level Cain even though I called him that and everyone likes to use that term. Velasquez needs to fight in Holland so we can get Below Sea Level Cain.
- Projecting video on some drapes really isn't my idea of an "Oh wow!" moment but I may be harder to please than some.
- Cat Zingano looked like she was on her way to a win against Julianna Pena based off of the first 7 minutes, but Zingano faded badly and Pena's strength, grappling, and control just took over. Pena is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, and if she's not the next title challenger (in which case, Rousey would be fighting next), then she's gotta be close.
- Johny Hendricks looked god awful for a good chunk of his loss to Kelvin Gastelum. He's done as a contender at 170, and is just going to be physically outmatched at 185. Hendricks is really stuck. What a fall from the top for "Bigg Rigg." I know it's been popular to yell "USADA!" for Hendricks, and maybe there's something to it, but the bad weight cuts that have plagued his career surely have probably wrecked his body irreversibly. Hendricks looked gassed, sloppy, and turned in a disjointed performance. I genuinely don't know if he's going to be fighting much longer. Meanwhile, Gastelum gets himself back in title contention.
- T.J. Dillashaw avenged his loss to Raphael Assuncao with a shutout win against the Brazilian, although I thought Assuncao performed reasonably well having not fought since October 2014. He had success on the counterstriking, but struggled to land anything on Dillashaw when leading the action. Dillashaw's footwork, timing, and speed was too much in the end.
- Just a couple of thoughts on Sage Northcutt. 1.) He should ditch his dad and join an elite camp full-time. Northcutt looks like a guy who should be on the regional scene for a few more fights, because he scraped by a bottom-of-the-barrel lightweight in Enrique Marin. His in-fight decisions are poor and his wrestling is thoroughly underwhelming. Northcutt needs actual, proven high-level coaching if he's going to develop into the star the UFC wants him to be. 2.) After all the shit he caught for tapping to Bryan Barberena's choke, he fought off Marin's 2nd round armbar attempt very well, and just when round 3 was going against him, his elbows to the side of Marin's head changed things in his favor.
- FS2 had to air the first prelim because extra innings Major League Baseball was on. Another reason to hate the New York Yankees.
Fight Pass prelims
- Wow. I'm not sure anyone thought that Joe Lauzon would be the one to stop Diego Sanchez with strikes, but that's what happened inside of 90 seconds. Lauzon looked terrific, his combinations were sharp, and Diego was totally out on his feet. Who knows what Sanchez's future holds after taking such a massive beating this late in his career?
- Gegard Mousasi got tagged by Thiago Santos, but then Mousasi just destroyed him the rest of the way. The 2nd knockdown came as a result of Santos trying to get back to his feet, only for Mousasi to drill him with a vicious right that put him down for good. Mousasi is still a clear top 10 middleweight, a super dangerous fighter, and with the topsy-turvy status of the division, perhaps there is still a path for him to make that serious push for a title shot.
A really unfortunate incident happened pre-fight, as several heathens pissed all over the canvas, which explains what you saw tonight.It was Dana White's idea for the gold/yellow/whatever it is canvas. Hope you liked the Cage Rage tribute.
- Jim Miller had Takanori Gomi's back, which was the worst case scenario for Gomi, and then when the submission didn't come, he just flattened him out and got the TKO. Miller got the much-needed win, but Gomi is w-a-s-h-e-d. No reason for him to get another UFC fight aside from him making Tim Burke miserable.