Wow. What is there to say about Henry Cejudo? It took him five rounds to squeak by Demetrious Johnson. It took him 32 seconds to stop bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. A punch behind the ear and a head kick had Dillashaw hurt right away. He kept trying to get back into it, but Cejudo was super accurate with his strikes and kept putting Dillashaw back on the mat. Eventually the referee had seen enough, and Cejudo had kept his flyweight belt. And possibly kept his entire division alive as well.
Dillashaw protested the stoppage, saying he was fine. He most definitely did not look fine to me. He took some very hard shots, and the referee absolutely made the right decision when he stopped the fight. They’ll run it back at 135 probably, which is the right thing to do. But it’s kind of funny how one-sided all these supposed superfights have been so far. Just another thing that didn’t go right for the UFC tonight.
- The pacing of the undercard on ESPN was bad. But, the pacing on the main card was flat-out great. So there’s hope yet. But for the love of all that is holy, please don’t let Stephen A. Smith on a UFC broadcast ever again please.
- Greg Hardy. I have really hated the UFC’s promotion of a man convicted on domestic violence charges. It’s uncomfortable hearing him talking about things being “murderously awesome”. Apparently Jon Anik did mention his DV history off the top of the broadcast. I missed that. They said nothing about it other than mentioning his “transgressions” as he was being introduced for his fight. I think that’s, for lack of a better term, complete and total bullshit.
- Then there’s the actual fight. Hardy, a guy well-known as the opposite of an upstanding human being, landed the most blatant of illegal knees on Allen Crowder and it got him disqualified. Was it just inexperience? Maybe. But it wasn’t exactly shocking. And I’m not going to lie here - I’m glad the UFC’s Greg Hardy experiment just blew up in their face, in a way that no one would have predicted. Don’t put an awful person in the co-main event of your ESPN debut with zero context. If you do, it could go sideways. It did. And I hope this means we won’t be seeing Greg Hardy on our TVs again. That’s unlikely. But a man can hope.
- Gregor Gillespie is a beast. He was on Yancy Medeiros for the entire fight, never letting go of him. Medeiros did his best to defend against the grind, but he was just outmatched. Gillespie finally got Medeiros flattened out on the mat late in the second round, and got the finish just before the horn.
- Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz was a treasure for grappling fans. It won’t get much press, but it was one of my favorite fights in some time. The scrambles were insane, just back and forth and back and forth. It went for the whole 15 minutes. Benavidez clearly won, and there’s nothing to dispute there. But Ortiz came to fight, and it was a lot of fun.
- Did Paige VanZant fight a very good fight? No, not really. Rachael Ostovich largely dominated her in the grappling area and VanZant was taken down really easily. She did manage some submission attempts, and picked up the win with what will go into the books as an armbar victory. It looked to me like she fell onto Ostovich’s arm, which injured it, and that’s what Ostovich was tapping out to. Either way, a win is a win.
- For the record, I thought the way that the UFC dealt with Ostovich’s return from a domestic violence incident to get back into the cage was done with class. As was VanZant’s post-fight speech.
- Glover Teixeira sure rose from the ashes in his bout with Karl Roberson tonight. He ate a bunch of brutal elbows and seemed to go out as he fell to the mat, but it looked like landing woke him up. The bout could have been stopped there, but it wasn’t. And less than a minute later, Teixeira was in mount and on his way to secure an arm-triangle choke win. That was one of the best comebacks in a while, and proved that Teixeira isn’t done quite yet.
- How about Cowboy? Long in the tooth you say? On the way out you say? Not a chance. Donald Cerrone largely owned Alexander Hernandez tonight, and finished him with a thunderous and patented Cerrone head kick (well, there were a few shots afterward to actually get the finish, but I like that narrative better). It was the first time in a while that I flinched at a shot landing, and yelled with happiness when it was stopped.
- Do you want to see Cowboy vs. Conor McGregor? I’d actually rather see him fight Justin Gaethje personally. But either one would be awesome.
- Joanne Calderwood looked like a whole new fighter tonight. I never thought I’d see her totally dominate a fighter on the mat, but that was the first round of her fight with newcomer Ariane Lipski. She held her own on the feet in the next two rounds as well and took home a dominant win in her best UFC performance to date.
- Alonzo Menifield almost finished Vinicius Moreira in about 10 seconds. It didn’t matter though. He just took a little longer before he knocked him out. That man hits hard. Like, really hard. And Moreira didn’t look UFC-worthy at all. In fact, he was so slow he looked like he was fighting underwater.
- Wow, is Cory Sandhagen ever slick with his grappling. Who secures an inverted triangle when they’re being taken down? That was video game stuff. He just kept trying different submissions, and eventually got the armbar win over Mario Bautista in the first round. He’s someone I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on at bantamweight.
- Dennis Bermudez gave fans a lot of thrilling fights over the years. Remember his bouts with Matt Grice and Jeremy Stephens? This matchup with Te Edwards wasn’t on that level, but it was a lot of fun. Bermudez got dropped early, but grappled his way to a good win. Then he tearfully retired. Thank you for everything, Mr. Bermudez. The UFC was a lot better to watch whenever you were in the cage.
- Geoff Neal has a lethal left hand. Belal Muhammad has heart for days. This led to a fun three-round decision win for Neal where he dropped Muhammad a bunch of times but couldn’t get the finish. Neal is going to be a problem for some people at welterweight.
- In the opener, Chance Recountre looked slick in taking out Kyle Stewart via choke halfway through the first round.