MMA Weekly (11/6-11/13): Conor McGregor Stuns Eddie Alvarez, Douglas Lima Finishes Andrey Koreshkov
Noteworthy news, a solid Bellator 164 card, and possibly the biggest fight event ever in UFC 205 made this week one for the MMA record books.
Let’s recap all the fight results and news from the past seven days!
Conor McGregor Becomes Two-Division Champ at UFC 205; Woodley-Thompson Ends in a Draw
Although the last-minute losses of Kelvin Gastelum versus Donald Cerrone and Tim Kennedy versus Rashad Evans hurt UFC 205, the event was still one of the best—if not the best—held in UFC history.
UFC 205’s main card got moving with a pivotal women’s bantamweight contest between former champion Miesha Tate and the streaking Raquel Pennington.
Through three rounds, Pennington used her movement, quick jab, and ground-game prowess to simply overwhelm Tate; really, we’ve never seen Miesha defeated like this. The aggressiveness and constant activity of Raquel Pennington were too much, and now, she’s found herself knocking on the door of the Rousey-Nunes winner.
Following the bout, Miesha Tate announced her retirement from MMA. Given her intelligence and veteran experience, this probably wasn’t an emotional slip after a loss; it really looks like she’s ready to hang the gloves up, despite being defeated only by elite competitors.
This isn’t a terrible time to do so. Tate has made a name for herself over the course of a decade, besting some of the highest-level bantamweights in the world and competing against most every athlete in the top fifteen. She is a pioneer and a legend of women’s MMA, and I’m sure she’ll find an abundance of work outside the cage.
After this, middleweight title contender Yoel Romero and former middleweight champion Chris Weidman clashed in an affair likely to determine the next challenger for Michael Bisping’s crown.
The bout began well for Weidman, as he used range and movement to pepper Romero while initiating his wrestling on occasion to keep his opponent guessing. The second round was closer and featured more pure wrestling from the Cuban Olympian.
In the final period, however, one mistake from Weidman would be capitalized upon by the freak-athlete Romero. As Weidman faked a takedown and accordingly dipped his head downward, Romero jumped up with a huge knee and immediately put him out of commission. The vicious blow opened a massive gash on Weidman’s head and forced the referee to intervene.
It’s difficult to not appreciate a fighter like Yoel Romero. The man, in many instances, simply throws technique out the window and tries to brutalize his opponents. By and large, he’s achieved great success with this method of competition, although Chris Weidman, even in defeat, showed some massive holes in Yoel’s game—holes that the volume and cardio-minded middleweight champion Michael Bisping may very well be able to capitalize upon when they battle.
The featured fight of the evening was a strawweight title match between champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk and fellow Polish athlete, Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
These ultra-skillful women fought it out over twenty-five minutes, and each had to overcome adversity. Joanna tagged Karolina with an astonishing volume of tough strikes, including both leg kicks and punches to the head and body, and Karolina badly rocked Joanna with a stiff right hand in the fourth stanza.
The story of the fight, as a whole, was Joanna’s striking accuracy and volume, and Karolina’s resilience, durability, and tenacity. Even though the bout picked up towards the end, few doubted that the reigning champion deserved to keep her belt. The judges ultimately scored the fight unanimously for Joanna.
This top-quality win over a fellow Pole should be enough for the UFC—with the help of Marcin Held, Karolina, and of course, the champ—to hold an event in Poland next year.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley put his welterweight crown on the line against Stephen Thompson, in his first title defense.
The frantic action that ensued was nothing short of incredible. Woodley caught a kick from Thompson in the first round, and used it to take him down, control the period, and land punishing ground and pound.
Stephen likely outpointed Tyron in the second period and perhaps the ultra-close third round, but the fourth was all Woodley. The champion caught and badly rocked Thompson with a series of punches on the feet and followed him to the ground with shots afterwards; most other men would have been stopped here.
But Stephen Thompson is not most other men. Furthermore, when “T-Wood” poured every ounce of his formidable grip strength into a guillotine following this sequence, it looked like a done deal. But Stephen, somehow, persevered.
Exhausted from this onslaught, Woodley was clearly bested in the fifth round.
The entertainment didn’t cease after the fight ended, though, as the NYSAC had Bruce Buffer exit the Octagon with the scorecard (after taking a while to enter initially), so it could be “checked.”
What’s most frustrating about this episode is that the judges still didn’t get things right, and had Bruce Buffer read the majority draw as a split decision for Woodley. Claiming Tyron was the winner, and then telling him he didn’t actually receive the victory, was awkward, as was having Buffer reverse the decision.
I can count the times I’ve gotten angry at the actions of others during an MMA event on one hand, but this is now included on the list. While it doesn’t directly affect me, the judges’ incompetence here is astonishing. They get paid to watch an event that others spent a significant amount of hard-earned money to witness, and their only job is to note the fighter they thought bested the other in each round.
After all the rounds are over, they add two sets of three or five numbers up and the athlete with more points wins. His or her name is circled, and here especially, it becomes clear that the process isn’t rocket science!
I could go on and on about the subject, but then, I wouldn’t be able to tell everyone about featherweight champion Conor McGregor’s (lightweight) title-clinching victory over Eddie Alvarez.
Indicative of McGregor’s pure striking prowess and skill, this bout wasn’t even close. The Irishman dropped Alvarez multiple times in the first round, stuffed some takedown attempts, and essentially avoided all damage.
In the second of five scheduled stanzas, “The Notorious” went right back to work, punishing Alvarez with well-timed strikes and dropping him yet again. Right after the three-minute mark, as the ultra-durable and tough lightweight champion was sent to the canvas with a gorgeous combination, the referee rightfully had seen enough and intervened.
With that win, Conor McGregor has adopted another belt, and cemented his elite and remarkable abilities as legitimate, for the few who still weren’t convinced. He might have an affinity for silver-tongued promotion, but damn if McGregor doesn’t back it up inside the cage.
UFC 205 was incredible, and the best part is, next week will be pretty awesome as well, with two different UFC cards on Saturday.
Bellator 164 Results: Douglas Lima KO’s Andrey Koreshkov, Noad Lahat Submits Scott Cleve
Bellator 164 was a quality card, but its lame tape-delay airing (over one day after the fights occurred) and UFC 205 caused it to fly pretty far under the radar.
The (televised) main card kicked off with a featherweight tilt between Georgi Karakhanyan and Kirill Medvedovsky. Georgi dominated with tight top control until his opponent succumbed to an injury, and forced the referee to intervene. Despite the unfortunate stoppage, this was an impressive showing from Karakhanyan.
After that, undefeated bantamweight Honor Kalaesh defeated Israel-born Omri Barel, who was making his professional debut. This was a great win for Kalaesh, but it seemed ill-advised to book an undefeated athlete against a nineteen-year-old making his debut—especially when the debuting fighter is the hometown guy!
Lena Ovchynnikova defeated Karla Benitez in the next televised contest (this fight actually occurred two bouts from the main event), intelligently using her range, movement, and striking expertise to clearly best her opponent across fifteen minutes.
After this, undefeated welterweights Jackie Gosh and Joaquin Buckley battled in a solid fight. Gosh’s quick hands were on full display as he thrilled his hometown crowd by securing a first-round KO. The win didn’t come without adversity, though, as Gosh was dropped by a huge punch, at one point.
Next, UFC veteran and hometown superstar Noad Lahat clashed with a highly underrated featherweight in Scott Cleve. The crowd roared as both men traded hands, and especially when a well-timed takedown allowed Lahat to assume top control. The back mount and a rear-naked choke came not long after this ground control was established.
This win certainly must have felt good for Noad Lahat, who probably deserved a spot on the UFC roster yet.
The highly anticipated main event and rematch between Andrey Koreshkov and Douglas Lima excited fans when it finally began broadcasting on tape delay (it took about an hour and forty-five minutes to reach this point).
The bout was competitive until the third-round finish, but more than likely, Koreshkov was ahead on the scorecards—he certainly had momentum on his side. In the third period, though, the Russian competitor got a little bit too confident with his striking as he achieved more and more success, and the heavy-handed Lima took advantage of an opening by connecting with a vicious left hand and follow-up shots, which put his opponent out.
Both of these top-level welterweights are good enough to warrant spots on any fan’s top-ten rankings, and undoubtedly, they’ll both be back, better than ever.
UFC Strips Jon Jones of Interim Light Heavyweight Belt
In a move that surprised few, but nevertheless reflected the unfortunate state of Jon Jones’s career, the UFC stripped the former undisputed champion of his interim belt, which he secured after defeating Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197. Then, Jones failed a drug test, was pulled from a big rematch against Daniel Cormier and is now stuck on the shelf.
Thus, the stripping was both warranted and intelligent. Hopefully, Jon Jones gets it all together, once and for all because he truly is one of the best fighters ever.
Romero Cotton, Three-Time NCAA D2 Wrestling Champ, Joins Bellator Ranks
Bellator isn’t ready to stop cultivating young talent in the form of elite college wrestlers just yet, as it was revealed this week that Romero Cotton, a twenty-six-year-old multi-time champion, would be joining the promotion.
Cotton has indicated he’ll fight in 2017 as a middleweight. Good luck to him in his MMA career, and as we’ve seen from countless collegiate wrestlers ascending the MMA ranks over time, he may leave his mark on the sport.
Jon Jones to Fight Dan Henderson—In A Submission Underground BJJ Fight
Don’t roast me too badly for the above headline, because you will be able to watch Dan Henderson versus Jon Jones once and for all, just not inside an MMA cage.
It was revealed this week that Submission Underground, Chael Sonnen’s Portland-based BJJ promotion, had booked Henderson and Jones in a December 11 grappling contest. The two were supposed to fight in MMA at UFC 151, but after Henderson’s late injury and Jones’s refusal to compete against Chael Sonnen on short notice, the card was canceled.
Now, Jones will look to make some extra cash, stay active, and give fans one form of the Hendo fight they always wanted at Submission Underground 2.
UFC Announces A March 2017 Return to London
British fans have something to be excited about, as the UFC revealed this week that they’d be returning to London in March of next year (March 18, to be exact), with a Fight Night event.
This point (the event being Fight Night, as opposed to pay-per-view) usually drives ticket prices down a bit, and there’s no denying that the UFC puts together truly stacked shows for knowledgeable English fans. The last event held in London, UFC Fight Night 84, featured Michael Bisping versus Anderson Silva, Gegard Mousasi vs. Thales Leites, Brad Pickett versus Francisco Rivera, and several other awesome bouts.
MMA Fight Announcements
Donald Cerrone vs. Matt Brown at UFC 206 on December 10
Following Kelvin Gastelum’s failure to make weight ahead of his UFC 205 welterweight tilt opposite Donald Cerrone, “Cowboy” has been rescheduled in an exciting and divisionally significant showdown against Matt Brown, for the UFC’s December 10 trip to Canada.
Court McGee vs. Ben Saunders at UFC Fight Night 103 on January 15
Both McGee and Saunders are high-level fighters with a knack for putting on exciting action, and their in-cage meeting cannot be missed.
Eric Koch vs. Tony Martin at UFN 103 on January 15
Koch and Martin have encountered and overcome difficulty in their careers, in the form of Octagon losses, and now that they’ve secured “W”s in their prior contests, it’s time to see who wants to knock on the door of the top fifteen; this is a pivotal contest.
Devin Powell vs. Jordan Rinaldi at UFN 103 on January 15
Powell was signed after a showing on Dana White’s Lookin’ For a Fight program, and Rinaldi is a skilled, up-and-coming lightweight looking to make a name for himself inside the Octagon.
We’ll find out just how skilled both men presently are after their January 15 clash.
Tim Kennedy vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 206 on December 10
The New York State Athletic Commission’s rigorous testing and licensing procedures bumped Rashad Evans’s middleweight debut from UFC 205, and now, he and Tim Kennedy will entertain Canadian fans on December 10.
Irene Aldana vs. Leslie Smith at UFC on Fox 22 on December 17
Leslie Smith is a tough and well-rounded bantamweight, and as such, she’s the perfect athlete to welcome young finisher Irene Aldana into the Octagon.
This week was nothing short of amazing for MMA fans, but we’ll be able to enjoy incredible bouts like Timothy Johnson-Alexander Volkov, Ross Pearson-Stevie Ray, Gegard Mousasi-Uriah Hall 2, Bader-Nogueira 2, Thales Leites- Krzysztof Jotko, Michael-Page-Fernando Gonzalez, Michael Chandler-Benson Henderson, Brandon Girtz-Adam Piccolotti, and many others next week too!
See you then!