UFC 212: Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway was the card that had a great main event, and nothing much else. But they say main events can save a card. By that metric, UFC 212 was successful, so let’s unpack how in six easy tweets.
Holloway is the new featherweight champion - a distinction as emphatic as the punches he rattled Jose Aldo’s brain with. Yes, great performance. Yes, featherweight gets new blood. Okay, Aldo might not ever be champ again and some people must come to terms with that. These are all important, but most important of all is the fact that featherweight finally gets its legitimacy back.
The previous champion is chasing the sports equivalent of Sasquatch’s baseball card collection. The champion before that dealt with a series of injuries over the last several years. But now the division can breathe. And cower. There’s a new sheriff in town. And your best Sunday punch on him has the same effect as cracking wind.
Your new featherweight champion stopped the goat at his weight class... then had to ask for a bonus.— Phil Mackenzie (@EvilGregJackson) June 4, 2017
Okay so non-fight talk: this whole “50 G’s baby!” talk is an active shame. The joke hit home for fighters at the UFC retreat, and will continue to do so. But for Holloway - a man on an 11 fight winning streak with interim gold around his waist before adding the undisputed title - to do the same thing...well, let Phil’s tweet sink in. And that’s not even counting his manic plea on his way out.
It’s easy to forget that Max is just 25. His performance was legitimately one of the best I’ve seen from a contender in years, if not more. His adamantium jaw was on full display early when Aldo caught him with a left hook, and combo’ed out with a knee that would have slept most humans. Holloway’s gameplan seemed stiff at first. The commentary team - or what sounds like a schoolbus full of children ten Pixy Stix in, it’s so loud and active at times - mentioned Holloway’s lack of switching stances as the basis for concern.
They may as well have been shouting ‘Mayday mayday mayday!’. In truth, Holloway has always been a steady presence early on. Yea, there was that one moment at fight camp. But for the most part he’s a careful striker, and more or less approached Aldo the same way he approached Anthony Pettis. Once he became more active, he began to straight piece Aldo up at range. Aldo’s famous leg kicks (read the horror stories for yourself) were not a factor, which was unfortunate but somewhat expected. As our village Mookie has noted, Aldo hasn’t thrown leg kicks consistency since he broke his foot on a Korean Zombie. Aldo’s stationary counter attack bested him - instead of flowing a series of combinations he picked and chose in a field of punch determinism.
MMA twitter took the loss hard. Phil needs a hug. But like Connor, he can stuff his sorrows in a video game sack. All around the world, media statues crumbled for Aldo. But I walked away most impressed by both men. Especially Max. It was enough to make me forget that Conor McGregor is in the middle of the ultimate “50 G’s baby” request by asking for it in another sport.
What do they do with Gadelha? She would be champ if Joanna didn't exist.— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) June 4, 2017
Just a dominating win for Gadelha, who I thought kind of left the choke in too long (?). The irony is that Kowalkiewicz actually looked good - her striking looked like it had developed pop to support the poetry. Unfortunately for her, nothing is more poetic than brilliant submission grappling. While Karolina mismanaged her grip, grappling is a game of grip mistakes and grip advantages. The choke was academic at that point. The question moving forward is how Gadelha could hope to get a title shot. Sure the UFC can market the trilogy as legit and revise the first fight as a "robbery" (it wasn't) but I think Gadelha would need one or two more dominant performances to force the division's hand as second in command.
I played Belfort vs. Marquardt on UFC 2 and pic.twitter.com/QIFx47dktj— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) June 4, 2017
Belfort vs. Marquardt was an odd one. It was clear, at least to these eyes, that Vitor wasn't a great fit for TriStar. Tristar favors nuance, strategy, and tactics that accentuate the benefits of attrition. Belfort has never been any of those, and frankly, he's succeeded precisely because of his video game pugilism. His inability to be effective against Nate's tactics were an illustration of that. On first watch I thought Nate clearly won a close fight. But Nate "left it in the hands of the judges", which is to say, he let those least qualified to judge fights judge the fight.
Oluwale Bamgbose had a clear plan: shoot first. Ask questions in training camp. Early on it looked like Bamgbose’s plan to sink Paulo Henrique Costa’s battleship with two nuclear warheads - just to be sure - might work. Costa got taken down, and seemed rattled by the Bang Bus pace. But eventually he took over, culminating in a body attack Bamgbose’s pancreas may never recover from.
I like how Eduardo Herdy always looks vaguely sad about reffing a fight. Like he really wishes these two could talk it out instead.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) June 4, 2017
Erick Silva lost to Yancy Medeiros in a fight that was stopped too early. I’m less a fan of late stoppages than early ones, but I think the line between is fairly obvious, and somehow Herdy missed it. It’s a big win for someone like Medeiros, and a par-for-the-course loss for Silva who is always at war with consistency.
Seeing Aldo go down like that is tough for long time fans, but in the end the cold embrace of Mario Yamasaki comes for all of us pic.twitter.com/nuIXlkNoGr— smoogy (@smoogymma) June 4, 2017
I know. We’ve been here before. Fighter X gets beat up by fighter Y. Fighter X is losing consciousness. Wait. Fighter X might be gaining consciousness back. Nope, it’s gone again. Wait. He’s still twitching. Okay fight’s over - Signed, Mario Yamasaki.
Johnny Eduardo vs. Matt Lopez was another example of Mario’s unquenchable bloodthirst. If there’s one thing distracting the world from Mario’s lust for murder death kill it’s the fact that the judges were significantly worse than the refs last night.
- Phillipe Iorio had Raphael Assuncao over Marlon Moraes by a 30-27 score. Do bodyshots not count or something?
- Moraes looked as advertised, but there’s no way a prospect just runs through Assuncao. Raphael is still probably the most underrated fighter in the UFC - he’s a wonderfully technical boxer, still elite on the ground, and makes very few mistakes.
- I heard the infamous 'W' word thrown around about a certain undercard fight. I'm not here to make grand claims, but you can talk about a work without sensationalizing it into a parallax view. Even within MMA, the work has a sordid history. Obviously there are different types of works: the professional loser (think Shannon Ritch), the dive, the betting scam, and so forth. In a sport where you have more to win than to lose unless Dana or Reebok answers your “50 G’s” prayers, anyone who thinks that ‘the work’ is just a fantasy of a bygone era simply has their head in the sand IMO.
- If anyone knows why Jim Wallhead didn’t have a UFC logo on his gloves, send me a tip: covfefe at ufc dot com.
- Luana Chagas kept the chingasos cooking like migas. I have no idea what to even call that reverse jab (?) that caught Wallhead, but it was fun, and I look forward to more Chagas in the morning.