Many people said this was not a card worthy of a PPV and you know, they might still have a case. It was, however a very enjoyable night of fights, with tons of action and fun fights, starting in the early prelims (very early if you were in Perth Australia…) all the way to the main event. We saw Israel Adesanya’s violent debut and a spinning back fist knockdown, A magnificent GnP and a surprising but welcome Kimura. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Let’s discuss my picks quickly. Then, we’ll chat about this, that and the other.
Tyson Pedro Vs. Saparbek Safarov – The fight started pretty much as expected, with the Russian trying to force his style on Pedro. Pedro however had different plans and stood the fight back up, beautifully getting separation then started picking at his opponent. When Safarov made another attempt to grind Pedro down against the fence, the Aussie defended using a Kimura, which he turned into a fantastic submission finish. 1 for 1.
Jake Mathews Vs. Li Jingliang – While I am not a huge fan of Jingliang, and have nothing in particular against Mathews, I thought the chinese had the edge. Apparently, the Australian did some good work in the off-season, coming in with greatly improved striking which put Li on the defensive a lot more than he hoped for. Even with grabbing of Mathews glove as well as raking – nay, digging – at his eyes, he wasn’t able to get past him on the score card. 1 for 2.
Tai Tuivasa vs Cyril Asker – I thought Asker was going to be able to take Tai down. I thought he was going to find a submission after tiring him out. All of that went right out the window when Tuivasa’s first strike landed. Like all of us I gaped at the fact that Asker didn’t fall down after the first two or three trucks hit him flush in the face. But as soon as he took those first couple of punches and hellbows it was pretty clear that it was a matter of time… and my predictions were going in the same direction Asker’s head was… 1 for 3.
Mark Hunt vs Curtis Blaydes – After doing so poorly on my picks thus far, I really wanted my picks to go wrong, and when Hunt wobbled Blaydes late in the round I was on the edge of my sofa rooting for just one more clean shot. However, it seems like my initial assessment of how this fight will go down was correct after all. Blaydes – to the choir of unjustified boos from the crowd – did what he HAD to do. Take Hunt down, tire the older man and grind a decision. Not very exciting, but very effective when you have the size and skills. The ranking is written by winners… 2 for 4.
Yoel Romero Vs. Luke Rockhold – Many people apparently dislike Rockhold. My understanding is that it’s due to his self-centered, ego maniacal behavior. I guess this came to bite him in the behind… I have no explanation for someone getting knocked out by Bisping due to moving backwards in a straight line, who then comes into a title contention fight and… does the exact same thing. They say loss is a great teacher. We know that DC is a very intelligent fighter. If Luke had both these teachers and still didn’t learn, I guess it means that his biggest problem is indeed ego. I predicted Romero by TKO but I saw it coming off of some GnP after a takedown (which was also there for the taking), but a TKO win is a TKO win. 3 for 5.
3 out of 5. The way this main card started for me, I consider this a win.
Yoel Romero is one of my least favorite fighters because of his antics in previous fights. I cannot be happy for him. But he is the #1 contender and after defeating Rockhold in the way he did, there’s only one fight to make. All there’s left for me to do is hope that Whittaker will find a way to beat him more soundly the second time.
My colleague Tim Dunkedon wrote in CombatDocket about Israel Adesanya almost 8 months ago, and we finally got to see him in a UFC card, making a statement. Yes, there are things to work on, but it seems like he is. In case you were wondering, no, you weren’t the only ones who saw a resemblance to Jon Jones. His striking is (as expected) sharp and varied, and he showed a lot of patience and composure. It’s more than ok to start getting excited folks. He is the real deal.
And still we have issues with referees and judges. Big John went to the commentary table and we’re left with one Marc Goddard, and he can’t ref every fight on every card. The judges showed a lot of “creativity” in understanding what happens in the cage, and that is not new. What can be done? Seriously, I’m asking…
The middleweight division is all of a sudden in a state… Whoever wins the inevitable rematch (Whittaker/Romero) will be left with a list of possible opponents who he already beaten, or fighters who are not on anything resembling a hot streak. No clear contender. With both Whittaker and Romero in apparent need to medical attention, perhaps a MW tourney?
Performance of the night: We weren’t short on good performances, but I’ll have to go with Yoel Romero who faced the stiffest competition.
— Ahmar Khan (@AhmarSKhan) February 11, 2018
And just because I love Kimuras so much, Tyson Pedro with a beautiful one:
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) February 11, 2018
Honorable mentions: Formiga, Adesanya and Tuivasa.
Fight of the night: The honor will go again to the main event.
Honorable mention: Volkanovski/Kennedy.
Don’t forget to check out Combat Docket for more good reads and post UFC221 fallout.