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Fight Night 90 Aftermath: The Only Constant is Change

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I remember the exact moment I knew that Rafael Dos Anjos was going to lose last night.

It came just prior to the co-main event tilt between Roy Nelson and Derrick Lewis, oddly enough. While hyping up the featured bouts of the evening, Jon Anik referred to Dos Anjos’ win streak as “legendary.” He had made a similar comment earlier in the evening (something about Dos Anjos looking to secure his legacy as “one of the greatest lightweights to ever step foot in the octagon,” which I guess was technically true), but I had brushed it off, as I do with most commentators, as a case of simply needing some words to fill time.

But the moment that word hit my ear, I pricked up in my seat a bit. Wait, how many fights *has* Dos Anjos won now? Have I really been that asleep at the wheel? I had to consult Wikipedia, and you’d imagine my surprise when I found that Dos Anjos’ current win streak stood at five. Granted, these five wins came over incredibly tough guys — Cerrone, Pettis, Bendo — but still, the use of the term “legendary” seemed a bit hyperbolic when describing it. Like they had done with Renan Barao previously, it seemed that the narrative the UFC/Anik/whoever had decided to push Dos Anjos with was the “unstoppable killer” one — which, if you think about it, is really the only angle that the UFC has *ever* used on a Brazilian/foreign champion with not-so-great English (like how unathletic, pudgy white fighters are always praised for being a “hard worker”).

The thing is, we had never seen Barao lose when we were slapping him with “P4P king” status and other such superlative titles. We’ve seen Dos Anjos lose, multiple times, and though he’s clearly a far superior fighter to the guy we first saw in the octagon, we’ve still seen that he’s not indestructible. So for whatever reason, as soon as I heard Anik even attempt to push that narrative, I said to myself, “Well, you had a good run, Two Angees” (I don’t speak Portuguese). Because this is MMA after all, where the UFC’s best laid plans are treated with as much hostility by the powers above as MMA reporters are treated by the UFC.

And wouldn’t you know it, it took less than a round for those misanthropic MMA Gods to show me their divine light.

In a year that has seen Michael Bisping become the middleweight champion, Miesha Tate become the women’s bantamweight champion, Robbie Lawler continue to reign at welterweight, and Dominick Cruz return to form like nothing had even happened in the past three years, perhaps it makes sense that Eddie Alvarez would blitzkrieg and blister Dos Anjos in a matter of minutes to become the lightweight champion. Predicting fights has alway been a bit of a fool’s game — one which I love participating in because I am a fool — but recently it’s like we’re just being laughed at. If things keep going the way they have been, then I fully expect Brock Lesnar to be featherweight champion by this time next year. You heard me, featherweight.

Another interesting question raised by the late career resurgence of guys like Alvarez, Lawler, Bisping — to me at least — is how much of a role the UFC’s recent USADA-implemented drug testing program might be playing in all this. For the most part, these were guys being touted as the future of their respective divisions when they first entered the UFC (the same goes for Alvarez in Bellator), only to be written off as simply not being able to keep up with “the modern era of mixed martial artists” as the years progressed. Now USADA is tagging fools left and right (even the young ones!), and this collective group of old farts is once again leading the pack. Does this mean that they were the greatest fighters all along until steroids screwed everything up? Or does it just mean that they’ve found the BEST steroids? I can’t say for sure, but I know this: someone or something is definitely on steroids.

Speaking of steroids, lets talk about one guy who definitely isn’t on steroids: Roy Nelson. Squaring off against human wrecking ball Derrick Lewis in the co-main event of the evening, Roy Nelson went out there and did the damn Roy Nelson thing, meaning he threw his overhand right out there a bit while taking shots to the chin like a f*cking Goron. After getting nearly finished in the first round, Nelson did manage to slow things down in the second with his takedown game (a phrase I can’t imagine has ever been used before), getting Lewis to the mat early and often but failing to mount any real offense in doing so.

It was a fight you could see going either way on the scorecards — especially in an era where nearly *every* decision is a split decision — but one that ultimately went to the right guy if you value damage over control. It’s all arbitrary in the end, really. We’re just dots spinning on a big blue marble in the sky, waiting until the hand of our Holy Maker rises to crush us all.

That took a bit of a turn at the end there, but you get my point.

The full results for Fight Night 90 below.

Main card
Eddie Alvarez def. Rafael dos Anjos via first-round TKO (3:49)
Derrick Lewis def. Roy Nelson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Alan Jouban def. Belal Muhammad via unanimous decision (28-27, 29-28, 29-27)
Joseph Duffy def. Mitch Clarke via submission (rear-naked choke, 0:25, Round 1)

Alberto Mina def. Mike Pyle via knockout (flying knee, 1:17, Round 2)
John Makdessi def. Mehdi Baghdad via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Birchak via Dileno Lopes via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Pedro Munhoz def. Russell Doane via submission (guillotine, 2:08, Round 1)
Felipe Arantes def. Jerrod Sanders via verbal submission (armbar, 1:39, Round 2)
Gilbert Burns def. Lukasz Sajewski via submission (armbar, 4:57, Round 1)
Marco Beltran def. Reginaldo Vieira via submission (rear-naked choke, 3:04, Round 2)
Vicente Luque def. Alvaro Herrera via submission (D’Arce choke, 3:52, Round 2)

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