I was cageside at Madison Square Garden, drawing during the fights. It was a cool experience that I’d love to do again. While Rory Macdonald vs Neiman Gracie was an excellent technical fight and part of an ambitious tournament, there were two pivotal moments that have to be noted.
First: Chael Sonnen retired. Long before Conor McGregor, Sonnen revolutionized how fights could be promoted. Yes his shtick was lifted from Billy Graham and various other WWF era wrestlers, but his pivotal contribution to MMA was to establish the dynamic that “personality goes a long way.” While retirements in MMA are rarely kept, I’ll acknowledge it this time and not the next.
Second: Kyoji Horiguchi has established himself as the most successful free agent to leave the UFC. Not Rory Macdonald, Demetrious Johnson, not even Ronda Rousey! The man has gone 10-0 in MMA since leaving the UFC, and won belts in both RIZIN and Bellator. He’s gone from an unpromoted preliminary card fighter in the UFC to one of the cornerstones of the RIZIN promotion. Defeating Darrion Caldwell who had a massive size advantage and capturing a rival promotion’s belt only adds to the depth of his success.
And finally, Dillon Danis showed up in leopard print shorts and worked Max Humphrey in less than one round. His personality rankles many, but he’s being brought along deliberately by Scott Coker and the MMA world is better for it. Just look at what happened to Aaron Pico.
Take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
PS Who’s that bearded guy up top? That’s Juan Archuleta, who had a stunning one punch KO and then flexed his callout skills on the mic for a bout with The Gooch. Nice work, Juan.