On Friday MMA fans were treated to a night of fights that shook up the whole entire UFC scene. There were two fights on this card that I think will have a huge long term impact on the UFC. Before we get to those however, let’s look at the other fights on the card.
The main card started off with an impressive performance from Ray Borg against Louis Smolka. There really isn’t much to say about this fight. Borg just held Smolka down against his will and smacked him around for three rounds. Borg is a young guy so this win should do good things for his career moving forward.
The next fight featured decent scrap between Dong Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine. The theme of this fight was constant pressure. Kim was constantly moving forward clinching and throwing strikes, while Saffiedine was constantly backpedaling. It was a close fight, but since Saffiedine didn’t land many big shots, the constant pressure by Kim won him the fight.
The third fight of the main card featured a fight between perennial number one contender in the bantamweight division, TJ Dillashaw and a guy trying to work his way into the title scene in John Lineker. TJ put on a masterclass in defensive technique in this fight. Lineker is known for his heavy hands, but he was unable to do anything. TJ did a wonderful job slipping punches and hitting take downs all fight leading to a unanimous decision. With this win I figured TJ would get the next title shot against Dominick Cruz, but Cody Garbrandt threw a wrench in those plans in the co-main event.
This is the first of the fights that I think will have a huge impact on the UFC. In the co-main event, top five pound for pound fighter Dominick Cruz defended his bantamweight title against young up and comer, Cody Garbrandt. Going into this fight I expected Garbrandt to charge forward and try to take off Cruz’s head while Cruz danced around and made him miss. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cody took all my doubts about him and flushed them down the toilet.
Early in the fight Garbrandt did a great job of using his quickness to tag Cruz a couple of times and when Cruz tried to answer back, Garbrandt used amazing head movement to slip his punches. I would have never guessed that Cody would have the better defense in a fight against one of the best defensive fighters in the world. Cody got up on the score cards early, which forced Dom to become more one dimensional and that was the beginning of the end of this fight. Once it became clear that this fight would be taking place exclusively on the feet, I started to realize that Cody may very well become the new champ.
In the fourth round of this fight, Cody did the unthinkable, he hit Cruz and hit him hard. Hard enough to drop him not once, not twice, but three times. As a fan of Cruz, I have never seen him get hit like that and it gave me a whole new level of respect for Garbrandt. The fight pretty much carried out the same way in the fifth and just like that, it was over. The most dominant champion in bantamweight history had been dethroned and Cody Garbrandt was the new champion. Cody could very well be on his way to becoming a star in the UFC. The way he taunted and danced around Cruz in this fight, even hitting a sweet robot in the middle, gained him a ton of fans and at his age he could reign as champ for a long time. I hate to use this comparison, but the way Cody dominated this title fight, in a fight that most people thought he wasn’t ready for at his young age, but dominated anyway reminded me of Jon Jones’s title win over Shogun. On that night Jones started his run that eventually made him one of the biggest fighters in the UFC. I could see the same thing happening to Cody.
Presumably, with Cody’s victory, his first title defense should be against former Team Alpha Male teammate, TJ Dillashaw. Alpha Male and Dillashaw have had bad blood ever since TJ left them to train with Duane Ludwig. The build up for this fight should be huge and it could be one of the better fights of 2017.
The main event featured the women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes defending her title against the most polarizing figure in MMA, the returning Ronda Rousey. The lead up to this fight was so pro Ronda that some casual fans probably didn’t know who she was fighting. Well, now everyone in the world knows Amanda’s name. Ronda came into this fight after over a year of inactivity so you’d think that she would have time to get better. Oh how wrong we were. From the very first punch that Nunes threw, it became apparent that the skill level difference was massive.
The first punch Nunes threw was a jab that sliced through Ronda’s guard like butter and snapped her head back hard. From that point on Nunes smelled blood in the water and she swarmed Ronda. Nunes unloaded on Rousey and hit her flush with almost everything that she threw. After about thirty seconds of being mauled and probably a punch away from dropping dead, Herb Dean mercifully stopped the fight. This fight confirmed all the fears most people had about Rousey. The thinking about her was that she was good in the clinch and on the ground, but if you can keep it standing the fight would be over quick. Ronda knew that after the Holm fight, Amanda would be implementing that strategy, but she still didn’t do anything about it.
Part of the blame lies on the shoulders of Rousey, but most of it I think lies on the shoulders of her head coach Edmund. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, Edmond Tarverdyan is the worst trainer in MMA. He ruins careers. The current list of high profile fighters that he has ruined is up to three, those being Jake Ellenberger, Travis Browne, and Rousey. Enough about Rousey, the real star of this card was the champ Amanda Nunes.
Amanda came into UFC 207 as the vessel with which Ronda would use to make her comeback. Amanda rightfully took much disrespect to that and she unleashed all her built up anger on Ronda’s face. Nunes proved that she is without a doubt, one of the very best woman fighters in the whole entire world. In her last two fights she has destroyed two of the founding mothers and legends of woman’s MMA in Miesha Tate and Rousey. Her ceiling is so incredibly high.
Just like in the co-main event, I think that this could be the launching point for Amanda to become one of the biggest names in MMA. Her great personality mixed with her killer fighting skills will surely make her a favorite of the casual viewing audience. She really is the baddest woman on the planet and I would be terrified if I had to fight her.