Folks, we have a new heavyweight champion. A dual champ. A whole different landscape at the upper weights in the UFC. Daniel Cormier looked smaller than Stipe Miocic, even though he weighed more. But that didn’t matter. He stood toe to damn toe with the baddest man on the planet, took his shots, and persevered. He got inside and clubbed Miocic with the perfect right hook, toppling the giant. He jumped on him, pounded him out, and became a legend in a few short seconds.
And a few short seconds later, the WWE theatrics began.
I love Brock Lesnar. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge pro wrestling fan, but there’s a time and a place. While their little push-apart and mic work will undoubtedly generate a ton of buzz and a ton of traffic (thanks guys!), it came across as really forced and awkward. But hey, DC has loved pro wrestling his whole life, and if this is his chance to live out his wrestling dreams, who am I to tell him he can’t?
We all know that Brock doesn’t deserve a title shot. Let’s be real here. Apparently this is supposed to go down in November in MSG. That’s cool. I’ll watch. But it’s just another step in the wrong direction for the “new” UFC. This is what’s known as hotshot booking in pro wrestling. You give away the money matches right way, when you could generate more money from them with a bigger build. Neither of these guys are getting any younger, so I get why they want to do this right now. But it’s debasing the integrity of their titles, and I’m not a big fan.
- Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou was the worst heavyweight fight since Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski 3. And it might have been worse than that. Ngannou just refused to engage or throw strikes. Lewis looked baffled and didn’t want to try too hard because of the countering threat. It just lead to a awful, awful fight between two guys that are usually total entertainment. Everyone is baffled, and rightly so. It was almost a spectacle in itself because it was so weird.
- Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry was fun, but it might have been spoiled by a clash of heads just a few seconds into the fight. Felder seemed a bit off, and may have injured his arm as well, which didn’t help. He was game, as he always is, but Perry busted him up and took a split decision. I personally thought Perry won all three rounds, but hey - I’m not a judge.
- Man, that transition! We all think of Anthony Pettis as a striker, but his ground skills are severely underrated. Remember when he subbed Ben Henderson out of nowhere from the bottom? Tonight he was talking on Michael Chiesa, who put it on Pettis quickly. But after arguably dropping the first round, he touched up Chiesa in the second and ended up on the bottom after a failed guillotine. That didn’t matter though - he immediately transitioned to a triangle (from a weird angle) and grabbed an arm. Chiesa was dead to rights, and tapped. It was a very good reminder of what Showtime is capable of at any given time.
- I love kickboxing. I love a lot of fighters in kickboxing. If Gokhan Saki got into MMA six years ago, I’d be all about it. But at 34 and leading with his chin for his entire career? It seemed like he was destined for failure at some point. I’ll admit that I didn’t think that Khalil Rountree would be the guy to put him down, and good on him for it. But I wish the fun train kept going a bit further.
- Paulo Costa is a bad, bad man. There aren’t many fighters in the UFC that actually intimidate me just watching them do what they do. Ronda Rousey did. Francis Ngannou does. And Paulo Costa does. Uriah Hall caught him with some monstrous shots and he walked through them like nothing. And he beat Uriah down when the time came. Even his interview came across as intimidating - his English isn’t the best yet, but he’s learning. I almost never say things like this, but he’s going to be the middleweight champion one day. I’m calling it.
- Raphael Assuncao just keeps winning. He shut down Rob Font’s game completely, and won on both the feet and the ground. I loved the takedown to start round two, because he didn’t even look for one in the first and it caught Font completely off guard. Ideally the # 3 guy should be beating the # 11 guy, but he’s a baller for taking those fights no matter what.
- With that being said though, he had the perfect opportunity to campaign for a title shot or ask for Dominick Cruz (and Rogan even set that up for him, to no avail), but he’s just too nice to do it. Sometimes, even if it’s out of character, you gotta take that stuff when it’s offered up.
- Drakkar Klose looked excellent in a win over a game Lando Vannata. He didn’t let Vannata get into his groove (pun intended) at all, landing low kicks whenever he tried to spin and do the funky stuff he does. He ate some big shots, but he took everything with ease and largely controlled the fight, to my surprise.
- I know Vannata can be one of the most entertaining guys in MMA, but for whatever reason, his recent opponents have been able to shut him down. He’s 1-3-1 in the UFC now, which boggles my mind. I guess that bonus money comes in handy though.
- Curtis Millender and Max Griffin certainly fought, but there isn’t a ton to say about it. Millender landed some nice knees and didn’t let Griffin implement his game. It wasn’t memorable, but a win is a win.
- Daniel Hooker is for real. It shouldn’t have taken me ten fights to come to that conclusion, especially since he knocked out one of my all time favorites (Hatsu Hioki) three years ago, but stopping Gilbert Burns is a really big statement. He’s stopped four big time fighters in a row, super quietly. He asked for a top ten fight, and he completely deserves it off of that.
- Emily Whitmire vs. Jamie Moyle was a curious way to kick off a card. Their fight was largely a non-event, but Whitmire owned the mic when given the opportunity. She called out Moyle cornerman Vinny Magalhaes, and made a statement when given the chance. With so many fighters choosing to not make waves when they get the chance to talk, I found that a bit refreshing.