10 Thoughts on UFC 170:
1. Someone finally stops Rousey’s arm bar streak. That someone was, of course, Ronda Rousey. Yet another first round win and a dominating performance by the champion who showed a lot of things in the fight. She took some big shots and didn’t seem that fazed by them. She went after McMann and showed some serious aggression for a champion with so much to lose. It’s hard to name another champion (or any fighter period) that fights so fearlessly. And of course, she finally won a fight that didn’t end in an armbar. Her camp mentioned that the goal was to win this fight in the stand up and KO Sara McMann. Those knees were well timed and placed and they got the job done. That is a very encouraging sign for Rousey and should be a disheartening one for her challengers. She showed she can win and finish a fight in the stand up, and by simply overpowering and overwhelming an opponent in the clinch. Her win by armbar streak had to end at some point and it finally did. However, for future challengers, what she did to McMann has to play in their heads a little bit because Rousey still won in dominating fashion. It could be we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of Rousey’s potential.
2. You call that an early stoppage? Fans booed it, but watching the replay, it wasn’t that controversial or questionable and McMann acknowledged that herself. She fell like a sack of bricks after a huge knee caught her, and Rousey was about to lay into her even more. It was arguably early, but break it down. Was McMann actively defending herself? Her body shut down on her and she just collapsed. She didn’t even go into a shell and cover up, she just fell. Yes, she started to get back to her feet, very slowly, but she still wasn’t remotely close to actively defending herself. It would have been nice to see the fight continue and play out to a more definitive and conclusive ending. Nice for us. Not for Sara McMann.
3. DC wins in a rout…as expected. What did we really learn from his win over Pat Cummins? He successfully made the cut to LHW, but demolishing a guy with four professional fights in his career? Come on, the guy didn’t even have any fight highlights to show during the intro segment of the show. Daniel Cormier has beaten guys like Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, and Bigfoot Silva in dominating fashion. He was supposed to walk all over Cummins and he did. This was a “please the fans” fight more than anything else. It would have been more informative had Cummins been able to take Cormier to three rounds, as it would have told us a lot about where Cormier’s conditioning is at this weight. Cormier needs a fight like Rashad Evans before thinking about challenging for the title. We haven’t seen him truly tested at light heavyweight.
4. Rory MacDonald looked good, not great. Time to backtrack a bit on the Rory MacDonald hype train. The guy absolutely has what it takes to be a champion, but no more so than Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Nick Diaz, etc. When he was running through Che Mills and BJ Penn, it looked like a foregone conclusion: Rory MacDonald would soon have to challenge GSP for the title. Even after this win against a very tough Demian Maia, he doesn’t have that same aura about him. Give him credit for gutting out that first round where Demian Maia brutalized him while trying to advance position or set up a submission. That was a tough spot to survive in and MacDonald showed some serious experience and know how there. Then he took Maia to school in the stand up, but he couldn’t earn a finish and he got taken down again in the third. Maia looked gassed and it probably had a lot to do with those body kicks from Rory, but if Maia kept MacDonald down in the third, he probably wins the fight. MacDonald is a lock to challenge for the title at some point, but just a year ago he was almost a lock to win it. Not so much now.
5. Maia wins the deflated balloon of the night award. He had MacDonald in all sorts of trouble in that first round and won it clearly and emphatically. He was masterful in taking MacDonald down and keeping him there, then implementing some nasty ground strikes to set up better positioning. He even mounted Rory MacDonald. Who does that? That was some elite level fighting right there. It was looking like MacDonald would have to dig deep to mount a comeback and that’s exactly what he did. How much of that was due to MacDonald’s brilliance or a mistake on Maia’s part is hard to say, but Maia went from looking like a title contender to an outmatched drunk in a bar fight. He probably isn’t going anywhere and he’ll have to shore up the striking defense, especially to the body as that’s what did the most to cost him a win. If he can reach a higher level of striking, the guy is going to be someone to be reckoned with.
6. Vintage performance by Mike Pyle. Boy did he turn back the clock. That trip in the first round was a thing of beauty. Rogan kept complimenting Pyle’s savvy and veteran experience, at times probably a bit too much as Waldburger got the better of him in some exchanges. But Pyle does have a legitimate chance to crack the top ten. He has to get the right matchup, but there are a few names ahead of him where Pyle would have a solid chance of coming out on top. Kudos to the 38 year old for hanging in there and banging with the young guns. One true thing that was said about him: the guy can fight.
7. Stephen Thompson looks sharp. Super sharp. He’s still a bit raw and depends on movement and diversifying his striking a bit too much, and he’s going to run into a guy that won’t play that, but for where he is right now and the guys he is being matched up against, it’s working wonders. His only loss came to Matt Brown right in the middle of Brown’s current and unbelievable win streak, and Thompson is the only guy to have survived to get to a decision during that streak. He’s going to get someone tougher again, but he shouldn’t accept a big name just because it’s offered to him. Thompson could and should win another fight or two before getting a key marquee matchup. Polishing up his takedown defense and ground game could make Thompson an incredibly dangerous matchup for anyone in the division.
8. Alexis Davis is officially on fire. First off, she owned Liz Carmouche in a fight that many thought Carmouche would win. Let’s not forget Carmouche threatened to hand Ronda Rousey her first loss on the biggest stage of her career. That’s not an easy win to pick up and Davis did it in impressive fashion. Then she follows that up with a win over Eye, who recently beat Sarah Kaufman (overturned to “NC” for Eye testing positive for marijuana). Davis isn’t the quickest puncher, but she is skilled enough to overcome that deficit and make opponents fight her way.
9. Erik Koch could be one big win away from a title shot at FW. Sounds crazy, right? But look at the division. Jose Aldo has run through most of the top contenders already. Cub Swanson might be next in line and the other potential contenders would need another win or two to really earn some merit. Dustin Poirier deserves to be in the discussion as well. Koch, even ranked at #12, could possibly find himself in title talks with a big win over a fellow contender.
10. Aljamain Sterling a solid addition to Serra-Longo. He turned it up against Cody Gibson in round 3. You could argue he won the first and Gibson got the second, which meant Gibson carried the momentum going into the deciding Round 3. Serra was in Sterling’s ear, telling him it was now or never and Sterling rose to the occasion in a big way. A very impressive, technically sound performance from Sterling in that fight, especially the third round, and at times it literally looked like he didn’t even break a sweat. Look for bigger things to come from this fight camp that is home to some quality fighters, including of course UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Tags: Alexis Davis, daniel cormier, Demian Maia, Erik Koch, Jessica Eye, Mike Pyle, Robert Whittaker, Ronda Rousey, Rory MacDonald, Sara McMann, Stephen Thompson, UFC 170