So UFC 203 was pretty crazy. No, not the Mickey Gall domination of CM Punk, that played out pretty much how many had predicted. No, what was crazy was all the chaos in the final two fights of the night. For my money the heavyweight division is perhaps the least interesting weight class in combat sports. Sure, the big guys can produce some pretty devastating knock outs and moments straight out of a Rocky movie, but it’s usually at the expense of clean technique. With that said, the final two fights of the night produced the most fireworks on the main card.
On the Eve of the UFC 203 card, I’m excited. There are a bunch of close matchups here and if you’re a betting man (or woman), good luck making heads or tails of how it’s going to play out this saturday. But before they get down and dirty there’s one more technicality, the weigh ins.
We’ve talked a lot this week about CM Punk and his chances of picking up a UFC victory over the fellow inexperienced Mickey Gall. In reality no one knows exactly what’s going to happen in that fight, making a breakdown impossible. Besides, there’s bigger fish to fry as the main event features two heavy hitters in the heavyweight division. Stipe Miocic versus Alistair Overeem should be a damn good fight, one that’s most likely to produce a vicious knock out.
We’ve seen many different versions of Alistair Overeem over the years — Skinnyreem (aka PRIDE-era Reem), Demolition Man Reem (aka K1-era Reem), and of course Ubereem (aka Arianny be mirin Reem), but thanks to a few humbling losses and a USADA-backed drug-testing program, we’ve seen a newer, arguably better Overeem emerge in recent years. One who relied less on overwhelming power and arrogance to carry him to victory and more on dynamic and patiently-implemented offense. A “Newbereem” if you will.
At Fight Night 89 on Sunday, Newbereem unveiled what may very well be his final form — a trimmed-down, 248-pound version of the goliath we once knew with a positively Super Saiyan-esque haircut — and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Facing off against Jackson-Wink teammate and former Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, Overeem looked calm under pressure, fierce when on the offensive, and finished the fight with arguably the most impressive sequence of his UFC career. He frickin’ crane kicked Arlovski in the face is what he did, then followed it up with some hellacious ground and pound to put away the “Pit Bull” in what may very well end up being a performance that earns him a title shot.
A few years ago, when it was time for free agency in the NBA, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all decided to each take a little less money and play together for the Miami Heat. How did that turn out? Oh, not too bad. While they failed to live up to the expectations placed upon them, they still managed to win back-to-back championships and made the NBA Finals four years in a row.
What does this have to do with mixed martial arts?
Much like James, Wade and Bosh are considered three of the very best players in the NBA, there are currently three MMA fighters on the free agent market that have the opportunity to introduce a sea change to the sport.
That’s the question we found ourselves asking following Cowboy’s quick and violent loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in their lightweight title rematch at UFC on FOX 17 on Saturday. Cerrone, who has managed to rattle off an unprecedented win streak in the UFC’s most stacked division, has wilted under the pressure of title fights time after time dating back to his WEC days. First, he dropped a technical decision to Jamie Varner at WEC 38, then followed it up with a pair of losses to Benson Henderson at WEC 43 and 48, respectively.
To loosely quote Tim McCarver, as good as Cerrone has looked in non-title fights, that’s how as bad he’s been in title fights. And against Dos Anjos this time around, oddsmakers and fans alike were giving Cerrone a far better chance than his previous performances against the true elite would indicate, and he simply “didn’t show up to work.”
Which is a real shame, because Cerrone’s win streak leading up to Saturday night was nothing short of remarkable — an eight fight killing spree which included three head kick KO’s, two subs, and decision wins over former champions in Henderson and Eddie Alvarez (and Myles Jury). He had earned far better than a 66 second ass-kicking to a guy with about 10 years less striking experience, but such is what we’ve come to expect from the most unpredictable sport in the world.
It’s the most heated rivalry in the heavyweight division today, and on Saturday, Dec. 19, Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem settle the score in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
In the FOX-televised card’s main event, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone challenges for a UFC title for the first time when he battles lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in a highly-anticipated rematch.
Nelson (20-10, 7-6 UFC) most recently fell victim to a Mark Hunt walkoff KO last September at UFC Fight Night 52. It was just the second knockout loss in Nelson’s career. Meanwhile, Overeem (38-14 w/1 no-contest, 3-3 UFC) bounced back to the victory column with a first-round knockout of Stefan Struve last month at UFC on FOX 13. Loser gets Lesnar, maybe?
No other fights have been announced yet for UFC 185, besides the main event. We’ll let you know when that changes.
Before the main card action was underway this past Saturday night, we had a pretty eventful weekend already.
The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale saw a new women’s strawweight champion crowned, as Carla Esparza submitted Rose Namajunas in the final, after a string of pretty decent fights.
Then came UFC on FOX 13, headlined by a heavyweight fight featuring Junior dos Santos against Stipe Miocic. The prelims were strange but sufficient, Henry Cejudo winning his debut, younger-than-he-looks Joe Riggs suffering an injury in his Bellator superfight against Ben Saunders, John Moraga being dropped by Willie Gates after complaining about a low blow to the official, last-minute food poisoning for Derek Brunson, Jamie Varner retiring after a loss with hopes of starting a fighter union, Ryan Jimmo’s terrible seats, Phil Baroni’s shlong, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk outpointing Claudia Gadelha (who pulled a Paul Daley in the heat of the moment, but apologized right away) to go on to face Esparza in the near future.