It’s not often that I write up an analysis post that starts with the co-main event, but I absolutely have to lead off with the all-time classic that was Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
That was not just arguably the greatest women’s MMA fight of all-time, it’s one of the greatest MMA fights regardless of gender. What Zhang and Jedrzejczyk did to each other over the course of 25 grueling, gutsy, indescribably violent minutes is something that I will never forget. It is a damn shame either of them had to lose, because they put forth winning efforts and then some. Zhang is still the UFC strawweight champion, having found a second wind to take the split decision over the most dominant champ in the division’s history. Joanna suffered a nasty hematoma that makes Mark Hominick’s vs. Jose Aldo look like a minor bump. Weili’s face was swollen, her lead leg damaged and swollen from devastating leg kicks, and yet there were no knockdowns recorded.
You witnessed outstanding technical striking, exciting brawling exchanges, impressive strength from Jedrzejczyk to avoid being held down by Weili on the mat after she tripped her multiple times, inhuman chins from both women for absorbing that much punishment that would have felled so many of their strawweight counterparts. What was most impressive to me was that Zhang was able to take the fight in the championship rounds, where Joanna is historically the strongest. That was high-level savagery that exemplifies so much why we love this damn sport so much.
Thank you so much to these two for a truly special battle. Zhang’s rise to stardom continues—I’m sure this win was extra sweet given what’s going on in China with the coronavirus outbreak. As for Jedrzejczyk, I am sure she’ll want a rematch and frankly who am I to be against seeing that chaos again? For all of the bad press she deservedly received for her coronavirus “joke” and half-assed apology, she is still a phenomenal fighter and in my opinion one of the best women’s MMA fighters there has ever been.
As for the main event? Oh that sucked. Out loud. Israel Adesanya won with leg kicks over Yoel Romero, who was demonstrative and pissed off as if he had no role in that fight being 25 minutes of a lot of feinting, waiting, and low-volume. I scored it for Romero and frankly I don’t even remember why and the fight just ended. Adesanya is still the UFC middleweight champion and while I understand why he didn’t want to play a dangerous game with someone like Romero, that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy it. That fight was bad bad bad and Romero probably isn’t getting another crack at winning a title again.
Their respective post-fight interviews were probably more entertaining and they both didn’t come off particularly well given we endured a “chess match,” which is usually code for boring.
Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa will surely be better than that, right? RIGHT?!
More thoughts below:
- WOW!!! Beneil Dariush backpacked Drakkar Klose for all of round one, seemed to tire in round two after his failed choke attempts in the previous round, and Klose had him dead to rights. It looked like Dariush was going to get knocked out, then he turned the tables in a flash and knocked Klose out cold in one of the craziest sequences you’ll see this year. They were swangin’ and bangin’ until one of them fell over, and that’s the first stoppage loss of any sort for Klose in his career. DAMN that was insane.
- Much like Sean O’Malley, Neil Magny lost quite a bit of time dealing with his USADA case for a tainted supplement, and much like O’Malley he was phenomenal in his return. Li Jingliang was a considerable favorite to add to his winning streak and instead received a comprehensive butt-whooping. Magny outstruck him, owned him in the clinch, outworked him on the ground, it wasn’t competitive at all. A huge win for Magny that has to go down as one of his best performances in quite some time.
- Alex Oliveira and Max Griffin had the most Alex Oliveira and Max Griffin fight possible. It was close, it was bloody (because of Griffin’s blood), it was entertaining, it was sloppy, and Oliveira did juuuust enough to get a split decision. That third round should’ve been his all the way when he had full mount and could’ve gotten a TKO, but he lost the position and it was Griffin on top the rest of the way. A badly needed W for Oliveira and another close defeat for Max.
- Wow. Sean O’Malley bulldozed Jose Alberto Quinonez with ease. He did not miss a beat after a two-year layoff and easily got a first-round TKO. Given the nonsense he had to deal with battling his USADA case, this must have felt great to get back into the cage and deliver a brilliant performance. As if men’s bantamweight couldn’t get any more stacked, “Sugar” Sean is back in the fold in a big way.
- Danish wrestling star Mark O. Madsen (or Mark O’Madsen, if you listened to Joe Rogan in that fight) escaped with a decision victory over Austin Hubbard. Through two rounds, he was in control and utilizing his Olympic silver medal winning credentials to great effect... then he got tired. Hubbard made a serious charge in the final frame as Madsen tired, but it wasn’t enough to get a stoppage or at least a 10-8 to get a draw. That certainly should pump the brakes on Madsen’s rise up the lightweight ranks, as he has quite a bit to work on.
- Rodolfo Vieira had a brief scare (and a very messed up left eye) after Saparbek Safarov hurt him with a front kick, but the four-time BJJ world champion soon took the fight to the mat and completely owned the Russian until he got the fight-ending arm-triangle choke. A good thing he got that win in round one, because the doctors may not have let him go to round two.
- Gerald Meerschaert was able to rock and submit Daniel Cormier protege Deron Winn in the third and final round of their middleweight bout. Meerschaert’s body shots were giving Winn huge problems, and after getting hurt early in round three, Gerald recovered and sent Winn down with several shots before the rear-naked choke finish.
- Mongolia’s Batgerel Danaa really had his way with Guido Cannetti on the feet, knocking him out with a left hook and follow-up shots early in round one. He showed poise, power, and exploited the wide open defensive flaws in the 40-year-old’s game. Meanwhile, former Glory kickboxer Giga Chikadze eked out a split decision over Jamall Emmers in a fight that was Chikadze’s early and then Emmers’ late. Round two proved pivotal and two judges favored Giga’s damage in that frame. Good scrap booked on short notice.