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Cutting Through The Bullsh*t: UFC 182 Edition

(Photo via Getty)

By Alex Giardini

After an abundance of trash talk, a pre-fight press conference brawl, asking pussies if they’re still there, technical breakdowns, and moving betting lines, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier duked it out for five rounds in an early “Fight of the Year” candidate, which went exactly how most of us thought it would. The main card of UFC 182, however, was pretty putrid.

Our excitement was at an all-time high, which is rare nowadays when it comes to MMA in general. This truly felt like 2008 all over again, but sometimes, we rely on nostalgia to compare upcoming fight cards that may or may not be worth viewing live.

Nevertheless, Jones vs. Cormier lived up to the billing, as both light heavyweights engaged in a dogfight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV., this past Saturday night.

Truth be told, their fight couldn’t have come any sooner to save the day. There was uncontrolled excitement running through our veins Saturday morning, but after the FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass prelims concluded, we were better off rummaging through our Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition and watching some of our favorite episodes.

The prelims were off to a raucous start, with Marion Reneau pummeling Alexis Dufresne in a unanimous decision win, and making the latter look like she came straight out of those So You Wanna Fight? events we used to see on our PPV listing (they must be at #341 by now…talk about real oversaturation). The highlight from that fight was Dufresne’s pathetic corner, who had too much pride to throw in the towel and actually made it seen like their fighter could have bounced back when she lost every second of that fight.

After Omari Akhmedov and Evan Dunham returned to winning ways over Mats Nilsson and Rodrigo Damm, respectively, Shawn Jordan scored another highlight-reel knockout over the debuting Jared Cannonier. Then, Team Alpha Male witnessed some ups and downs, as rising prospect Cody Garbrandt scored a stoppage victory over Marcus Brimage with 10 seconds left in the round.

Although the happiness was short-lived, as Paul Felder, taking the fight on short notice, blasted Danny Castillo with a spinning back forearm that sent “Last Call” into the Himalayas. If Garbrandt was seen as one of the starlets of the under card, the undefeated lightweight stole his thunder minutes later, and even walked out of Las Vegas $50,000 richer. The downside is with the sheer volume of athletes competing inside the Octagon these days, it’s impossible for bar bros to remember their names come Monday morning.

The main card was supposed to be off to bang, since Hector Lombard was going to smother the returning Josh Burkman in seconds. However, the former WSOF welterweight title challenger hung in there, hands down and guns blazing, stepping up to “Showeather” and looked good early. Lombard eventually cracked Burkman enough times to convince us the scrap was a lot more lopsided than we initially thought, earning the unanimous decision victory and disappointing UFC President Dana White in the process, since he thought the winner should have tried harder to finish.

Regardless, Lombard looks set to challenge either Rory MacDonald next, or casually inserts himself as the number one contender to fight the winner of Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks when the time comes for their trilogy bout.

Then, it all went miserably downhill from there. You know, there are plenty of things to do on a Saturday night when staying in. MMA fans have sacrificed hitting the club or having a meaningful social life outside of the bubble, and that’s okay. But watching the next three fights (all involving popular fighters like Donald Cerrone, Nate Marquardt, and according to Fightland, the next Prime Minister of Japan, flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi), over the NFL wildcard playoff between the Steelers vs. the Ravens, Saturday Night Live, a black market copy of Birdman, or Louie on Netflix was an absurd decision. I’m not saying the main card of UFC 182 wins The 2015 Potato Award for Greatest-Hype Deflation, but it’s definitely worth consideration.

The main event was a straight-up dogfight, and even looked like a street fight at times. The battle was highly competitive for the first three rounds, as “Bones” was off to a flashy start, throwing strikes from every angle with every limb. It was the back-and-forth scuffle we hoped it would be, thanks to “D.C.” staying in Jones’ face and willing to close the distance, or better yet, nullify the champion’s reach advantage in the clinch. If the first round went to Jones, then it was fair to award Cormier the second.

The tide turned when Jones, who swore he could take down Cormier and presumably started this mess, took the Olympic wrestler down at will, and stuffed his adversary’s attempts, too. From that moment on, it seemed as if Cormier let the fight slip past him, with AKA’s Javier Mendez and Bob Cook yelling in his face while he sat on the stool before the fifth frame.

The challenger didn’t do much to finish the fight in the final round like he needed to, and instead, went for the takedown because of pride issues. He scored somewhat of a toss, and grappled with the champion when he should have separated and swung for the fences. As the fight concluded, Jones, who had given “D.C.” the crotch chop seconds after the final horn, blasted his adversary in his post-fight interview and told fans to return their “Break Bones” t-shirts. Finally, “Bones” embraced the heel persona, and did as good as Shawn Michaels did on The Barber Shop.

A while back, UFC announcer Bruce Buffer compared Jones to Muhammad Ali. Considering Jones was prepping for the Ryan Bader fight at UFC 126, and hadn’t even won his coveted 205-pound strap yet, some knew the comparison would eventually come to fruition, while others chose not to believe it. Ironically, leading up to this contest, there was a lot of talk as Jones being Ali, and Cormier serving as his Joe Frazier, even though “Bones” thought Alexander Gustafsson better suited the part.

However which way the media wants to spin it, Jones isn’t Ali, and quite frankly, he’s something even greater in the sport of MMA. Nobody talks the same way as they did when referring to Anderson Silva and Fedor Emilianenko, and with Georges St-Pierre absent from the whole scenario, Jones truly is the greatest fighter on planet earth right now, and maybe the greatest ever. It’s not like the main event was as close as Jones’ scrap against “The Mauler” at UFC 165.

When it comes to “Gus,” if the Swede beats Anthony Johnson later this month at UFC on FOX 14, he’s obviously next. But the division is so thin that “Rumble” would earn his spot against Jones if he pulls off the upset against the former title challenger.

But you have to wonder what happens after that. Jones sticking around to face his old foes would get tiresome, and maybe even pointless. Some are under the impression that “Bones” should move to heavyweight after his next fight, which would be the right call. If Jones was announced to face Cain Velasquez in four months from now, I’ll go out on a limb and say not only could he win the heavyweight title, he could even be favored. It’s all speculation at this point, yet this athlete is just too special, being 27 years old and already beating the division’s most dangerous fighters. We can say that he may not have even entered his prime yet, but we can also agree he’s wiped out everyone he’s had to in order to be called the greatest, with not much else to prove.

Apart from a lackluster PPV card, UFC 182’s main event was the perfect way to start off 2015, even though problems will continue to persist, like domestic abuse cases being thrown out the window, drug testing woes, odd MMA debuts, PPV price increases and the other nonsense we have to put up with. Apart from the cool Fight Pass library news, some other stuff has been getting us mildly intrigued, like Bellator in it to win it, Brock Lesnar’s rumored return, and the potential superfight involving Ariel Helwani vs. Front Row Brian at Cowboys Stadium (now the AT&T Stadium), stemming from their continued fight announcement rivalry.

Let’s not hold our hopes high for a groundbreaking year. We’re just praying it’s better than the last.

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