First Strawweight Champion Crowned
I don’t watch The Ultimate Fighter very often so I can’t really say much about the happenings of this season, but I do know Carla Esparza faced a murderer’s row on her way the strawweight gold. After defeating Angela Hill in the first round, she went on to defeat Tecia Torres, Jessica Penne, and finally Rose Namajunas to win the gold. Penne, the former Invicta atomweight champion is just one of many drafted for this season. Esparza has been undefeated since her 2011 loss to World Series of Fighting’s number one ranked Jessica Aguilar. She’s had five official fights and three exhibition matches for the filming of The Ultimate Fighter since the loss and has continued to improve considerably.
Matt Mitrione Commands All the Respects
Matt Mitrione and Gabriel Gonzaga embody the finish or be finished spirit of the UFC’s heavyweight division. Only two of Mitrione’s twelve fights have made it outside of the second round, and eight of his nine UFC wins come as TKO/KO’s. Similarly, Gonzaga is 12/12 for finishes in the UFC with only two of his twenty-five career fights going to decision.
Mitrione chained together his third straight first round knockout with his 1:59 finish of the Brazilian veteran and looked as tough as ever. It’s time the UFC feeds him a step up in competition as he has cleared out much of the lower echelon of the UFC’s thin heavyweight division. Ben Rothwell seems to be a logical choice. Overeem could work, but now seems the best time to pit him against fellow vet Andrei Arlovski in either the main event slot of a Fight Night or the co-main position of a Fight Night or ppv.
Palhares Subs Fitch in 90 Seconds
After months of back and forth, Palhares submitted Fitch in 90 seconds. It looked a lot like this:
Nate Diaz: All Heat, No Fire
We should have known Nate Diaz was spiraling down the drain of self-destruction heading into last night’s fight. Earlier in the month, his twitter account was allegedly hacked when a picture of a big “fuck you” along with a choice message about the UFC’s new “bitch ass uniforms” showed up. Diaz said it was not him along with a “100” emoji to cement his innocence in the whole messy affair. He missed the open workouts because he overslept, he walked out of his pre-fight interview where everyone talks about how they’re positive they’re going to finish their opponents and had a great training camp and best shape ever, and he sealed the deal by missing weight by five pounds.
The more the UFC tries to paint him as a villain, the more his fan love him. Going into his fight with Rafael dos Anjos, he was basically the Stone Cold Steve Austin of mma, the lone voice of discontent leading an army against the big corporate machine and its iconic CEO. Unfortunately, the Nate Diaz that once famously slapped the cowboy hat off of Donald Cerrone days before delivering a three round drubbing did not show up Saturday night.
Interestingly enough, it was the Cerrone fight that seems to have provided Dos Anjos with the blueprint for this fight. Both of the Diaz brothers like opponents willing to stand in the pocket and throw punches with them. We also saw this in Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit. They become visibly frustrated when opponents are not willing to stand in front of them and exchange. Cerrone’s only success in his battle with Nate came from hard leg kicks from the outside, some of which were able to temporarily drop Diaz. Dos Anjos heavily peppered the legs of Diaz throughout the fight. By the end of the first round, Yoel Romero could have found the image of Jesus in the bruise swelling on Diaz’s thigh.
This continued for three rounds and concluded with one of the most one-sided scores in UFC history. Dos Anjos handily won all three rounds with two judges giving him a 10-8. Unfortuntely, the drama surrounding Diaz really underscores how far Dos Anjos has come as a fighter. Dos Anjos, who dropped his first two fights within the promotion to Jeremy Stephens and Tyson Griffin has been quietly working his way up the ranks since 2012. He’s now won seven of his last eight with his only loss being at the hands of undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. With Khabib still sidelined, Dana White has already confirmed that dos Anjos will be next in line to face Anthony Pettis for a shot at the lightweight belt.
Dos Santos: Another Five Round War
It seems like every fight Junior dos Santos has becomes his toughest battle to date. Stipe Miocic was the latest to challenge the Brazilian boxing specialist in the main event of last night’s card. Miocic was aggressive and pressed “Cigano” hard throughout most of the earlier rounds. Visibly, dos Santos was the more damaged of the two after the fight, but both were bruised and bloodied. Dos Santos appeared to have his confidence shaken in the second and there were points where it looked like Miocic could finish the fight. Dos Santos, however, was able to outscore Miocic on many of the exchanges, and only one of Miocic’s eighteen takedown attempts was successful. Had Miocic been able to completely neutralize dos Santos, the fight would have been his, but dos Santos pulled deep and kept the fight standing. It was a fight of the week performance from two of the best in the division, and it was great seeing both men back after such a long layoff.
It’s hard to pick the next opponent for each of these guys. Miocic remains a strong, credible contender, and dos Santos is sitting in title shot limbo. Dos Santos could fight Travis Browne, but it seems unlikely that there would be any title implications. Mark Hunt vs. Miocic seems like it needs to happen, but there’s also Josh Barnett and Arlovski quietly creeping up the official rankings as well. The division is stuck in a state of limbo until Cain Velasquez makes his long-awaited return. We’ll keep you posted on whoever ends up fighting next.