UFC 241

Well, I just watched the damn UFC.

I was expecting Daniel Cormier to have another pretty easy heavyweight title fight against previous champion Stipe Miocic, despite the Croatian-American’s size and reach advantage. I was wrong.

I was right for a while. DC nearly ended it in the first round, after a combination of quicker hands, an amazing takedown and perfect top control. it got closer in rounds two and three, as Stipe was better able to make some space and use his reach to prevent DC from coming in so easily.

But the knockout from Miocic in the fourth was surprising. He started laying some left hands into DC’s midsection, which all went unblocked. Which I guess is understandable, because it’s boxing 101 to make a guy block the body and leave the head open.

I didn’t see DC drop his hands, but maybe he had the wind knocked out of him. Either way, Stipe landed a shot to the jaw. Then another. Suddenly, Cormier was against the cage, then in a heap. The shots kept coming, and the former champion was once more.

I often don’t give Miocic sufficient credit. Maybe it’s because he didn’t impress early in his UFC career, and for me primacy seems to be key. But I can’t really argue with him after this. It’s just a shame, as I liked the DC legacy angle, and I’m now not sure what is left in the heavyweight division.

Nate Diaz doing the biz on his return

Elsewhere on the card, Nate Diaz had a successful return to the Octagon after years out, as he did a number on Anthony Pettis at welterweight. It was pretty standard Diaz fare, but no less exciting for it. He put a ton of pressure on the shorter man, pouring the mid-strength, very fast punches, rather than going for a hail Mary shot. Pettis was game as ever, going for submissions on the ground against the Cesar Gracie black belt. But Diaz was too good, on the feet and the ground, and he won the well earned decision.

The other big fight for me was the return of the monster Yoel Romero, against the hard hitting He-Man figure Paulo Costa. Again, it was a story of pressure, as Costa walked Romero down, and hit him with regular power shots. Romero hit plenty of shots back, but he seemed to lack the quickness and – as the punches added up – the pep, as he resorted to sticking his tongue out after each decent strike he took.

Romero, as well as the takedowns he uses to blast people to the ground, is mainly known for his explosive strikes. He fights like Bayman from Dead or Alive (remember him?), as he explodes into combos from almost stillness. But though he often seems to create space by magic, he was unable to do this under the Costa pressure – there was no room to breathe, let alone chuck a spinning kick. A shame as I love Yoel.

And it’s worth mentioning Colby Covington. Even though he wasn’t fighting, he still managed to get the biggest reaction of the whole show. He entered the arena as an audience member, and though there was a fight on, the place erupted into “Colby sucks!” chants. Even in my days of watching pro-wrestling, very few heels got that kind of heat. Pretty impressive.

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