MMA Weekly: (5/8-5/15) Miocic Knocks Werdum Out to Become Champ, Phil Davis Beats King Mo, and More
This week in MMA was nothing short of incredible, between its fights and announcements. Let’s recap all of the action!
UFC 198 Results: Stipe Miocic Defeats Fabricio Werdum, Jacare Finishes Belfort
Overall, UFC 198 was a solid show for Brazilian and international fans alike.
In the main event of the evening, reigning champion Fabricio Werdum was viciously stopped by Stipe Miocic in the first round, by a single punch. Werdum found some success early on, and even made Miocic back-up, but this success resulted in overconfidence and recklessness on the part of the Brazilian.
While Werdum was charging towards Stipe Miocic, he was tagged with a stiff shot (a warning of sorts), and still undeterred, another, which put him out completely. The win is the biggest of Miocic’s career thus far, and the heavyweight division just got a whole lot more interesting with him sitting on the throne.
In the co-main event of the evening, Jacare Souza made short work of Vitor Belfort, defeating him via first-round TKO. The BJJ expert Souza didn’t encounter any serious offense from the tentative Belfort before dragging the fight to the mat (in coordination with what appeared to be an ill-advised guard pull). Once there, Jacare easily passed the guard and landed a barrage of strikes, which eventually forced the ref to call a halt to the action.
The win puts Souza even closer to a shot at the belt, although many—myself included—believe that the next chance to become middleweight champion should be awarded to Michael Bisping, given the quality of his latest triumph as well as his three-fight winning streak. It’s also worth noting that Jacare is just one fight removed from a split-decision loss to Yoel Romero (although this loss came mainly as a result of poor judging, it is still a loss).
In the featured fight of the night, Cris Cyborg picked up a first-round TKO of Leslie Smith in a slightly premature, but not ridiculous, stoppage.
I’ve been critical of Cyborg’s career choices in the past, and this fight didn’t change a thing in that regard. After the win, Cyborg voiced her desire to return to Invicta and defend her belt or participate in more catchweight bouts in the UFC. This is not how fans are attracted and intrigued, and honestly, the statement made the Smith bout feel like a tremendous waste of time, given that its result accordingly didn’t impact the bantamweight division (or any other UFC division) at all.
Before that, fans saw Shogun Rua defeat TUF winner Corey Anderson in what was a very close contest (the final verdict, which depended upon one’s scoring of the second round, came back as a split decision). Shogun dropped the younger competitor twice but was consistently troubled by the takedown and the threat of the takedown throughout the bout.
The contest will serve as a rite of passage of sorts for Anderson (45,000 fans screaming in favor of an opponent isn’t easy to deal with, especially when this opponent is a former world champion), and a reminder to fans that Shogun still has what it takes to hang with the upper echelon of the division.
Finally, the main card kicked off with an awesome welterweight bout between Bryan Barberena and TUF Brazil winner Warlley Alves. Despite being the big underdog yet again, Barberena prevailed, ultimately claiming a unanimous decision.
Alves landed early, but the speed and technique of the MMA Lab product Barberena prevailed later on, in the face of a fatigued opponent. Once again, this loss will serve as a rite of passage of sorts for Alves, who undoubtedly fought with tremendous pressure on his shoulders, and a reminder that Barberena is a high-level MMA fighter (and the bettor’s favorite competitor!).
Phil Davis Earns Title Shot Over King Mo at Bellator 154, Saad Awad Stops Cyborg
Despite its awful timeslot (switching back and forth between the UFC prelims and 154 required more effort than I’m comfortable giving while enjoying fights!), Bellator 154 was a good event.
Phil Davis versus King Mo was a close fight, as many expected it to be, that allowed Davis to show-off his ever-improving stand-up skills over King Mo. With this unanimous decision win, Davis will receive a title shot against reigning light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary, in what should be an excellent contest.
In the co-main event of the evening, Saad Awad defeated the always-game Cyborg Santos via first-round TKO. Cyborg rolled for a leg lock, undoubtedly because of his win over Brennan Ward, and paid for it big time, as Awad peppered him with a barrage of unanswered strikes before the referee intervened. The stoppage wasn’t as bad as some claim, as Cyborg was still moving in the position, but the punishment could have been halted much sooner than it was.
Before that, Adam Piccolotti kept his undefeated record intact with a win over late replacement Joe Wood. Wood came to fight, but against a skilled competitor like Piccolotti, one has to be at his best to find success. The finish came in the first round, in the form of a rear-naked choke.
Bellator 154 was good, but 155 looks to be even better, although it is about one month away.
Bellator Cuts Lightweight Champion Will Brooks, Strips Vitaly Minakov of Title
Bellator is playing hardball.
It was announced, this week, that lightweight champion Will Brooks had been cut from the promotion, and that heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov—who hasn’t fought in Bellator since 2014—had been stripped of his world title (although not cut).
The Will Brooks development doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and honestly, is a good thing. Brooks is an elite fighter who could very well crack the top ten and even the top five (or better), but it’s been clear for some time now that his relationship with the Bellator brass isn’t great; both parties can move on.
For Minakov, this move makes clear that he won’t be returning to the Bellator cage anytime soon (and probably not ever, realistically). His dispute with Bellator comes down to dollars and cents, and as nothing has been solved yet, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for progress to be made in the future (Minakov can still earn a living competing professionally in Russia, under his current Bellator contract).
This week in MMA was solid, and next week may be even better.
On Friday May 20th, Bellator 155 will go-down, with Rafael Carvalho versus Melvin Manhoef, for the middleweight title, serving as the main event. Also on the deceivingly stacked card is a featherweight tilt between former champion Pat Curran and Georgi Karakhanyan, amongst other awesome bouts. Additionally, Venator FC is holding a very interesting show on Saturday May 21st, which features Jason Mayhem Miller versus Luke Barnatt for the middleweight title, Rousimar Palhares vs Emil Weber Meek for the welterweight title, and much more.
Enjoy the fights!