UFC Vegas 41 is in the books. Some of the pre-event questions were answered on Saturday night, others remain unanswered, and a few more popped up during the event.
With the ESPN+ streaming fight card in the rear-view mirror, I take some time to reflect on what happened during fight week and ponder the questions that are still begging for answers.
What if Vettori had said no thanks?
Think what you may about Marvin Vettori, but the man made a fantastic point when he sat down with Michael Chiesa and Karyn Bryant after his win over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC Vegas 41. Vettori, fresh off a decision win in what was supposed to be a battle of top-five ranked middleweights, but turned into a meaningless light heavyweight fight because of Costa arriving in Vegas at a reported 219 pounds, said his opponent showed he was willing to scrap the fight because of his severe weight miss.
Vettori mentioned he was going to buy a watch with some of his earnings from the fight. The UFC should show its appreciation for the Italian fighter and purchase that watch for him.
What was Costa thinking?
We know Costa blamed a bicep injury for his coming in way overweight, which doesn’t seem to make much sense, but okay. The problem is that Costa seemed to be fully aware he would not attempt to hit the middleweight limit. Instead of letting the UFC and perhaps his opponent know the fight, which again, was set to feature two of the top-five middleweights in the UFC, he just sauntered into fight week without a care.
There were several theories on Costa’s shenanigans. Did he come in heavy as a form of gamesmanship? Did he come in heavy because he didn’t prepare for the fight? Did he make a misguided attempt at gaining his release?
Judging from his performance in the cage and his dejection after the judges gave the win to Vettori, all those assumptions went by the wayside.
I don’t think we’ll ever get an understandable answer from Costa on this subject.
Will Dana White stand by his words?
After Costa’s loss to Vettori, UFC president Dana White was asked about Costa’s future at 185 pounds. White plainly stated the former middleweight title challenger was done at that weight.
“He’s a light heavyweight,” White said at the UFC Vegas 41 post-fight press conference. “You guys saw him tonight. He’s massive.
“He can’t make ‘85. It just goes to show you that he cannot make 185 pounds.”
White was then told that Vettori had referred to middleweight as his weight division in his post-fight talk with Megan Olivi.
“This is going to be fun,” White said. “I promise you it’s not.”
White is right to force Costa to move up to light heavyweight, but when push comes to shove, will White stick to his decision? I’m not so sure he will.
One thing that might make White change his mind is if Costa works with the UFC PI to come up with an in-depth plan on how to make the middleweight limit safely and effectively.
What did Michael Bisping see in Mason Jones?
At the start of the Mason Jones vs. David Onama bout, UFC commentators Paul Felder and Michael Bisping spent a fair amount of time pumping Jones’ tires. Jones deserved some hype. He is a former Cage Warriors champion, and he was one of the biggest favorites on the card, but it seemed as if Bisping and Felder were going a bit too hard. Jones struggled against Onama, who took the fight on short notice, and Felder adjusted his hype levels appropriately as the fight wore on — Bisping did not. By the time the fight ended with a Jones win, social media seemed more pumped about Onama than Jones, yet Bisping still stuck with the Mason Jones future champion narrative. Which leaves me to wonder, what did Bisping see in that fight from Jones that would make him think that way?
Can David Onama capitalize on his performance?
David Onama was on vacation when he accepted his fight against Mason Jones. He gave Jones a tough go in the lightweight scrap. The 27-year-old lost the contest, but he picked up a lot of fans for the effort he gave against Jones. I expect Onama will get another shot in the UFC and if the promotion is wise, it will book Onama as soon as it can and give him a bit of a push.
Is Jeff Molina a future champ?
After his win over Daniel da Silva, the 24-year-old Jeff Molina proclaimed he will one day be a UFC champion. The 10-2 flyweight, who is on a nine-fight winning streak, looked impressive in picking up the win on Saturday. I don’t know if Molina will live up to his brassy assertion, but he’s someone to keep an eye on at 125 pounds.
Will Jason Herzog be an inspiration?
Jason Herzog did not hesitate to enforce the rules at UFC Vegas 41. When Seung Woo Choi blasted Alex Caceres with an illegal knee, Herzog paused the action, gave Caceres some time to recover and deducted a point from Choi. When Paulo Costa dug his finger into the eye of Marvin Vettori, Herzog deducted a point.
I hope Herzog’s actions, and most of all his confidence in his decisions, lead other referees to follow his example.