UFC 214 was everything we wanted (Jon Jones and Cris Cyborg looking like GOATs), desired (Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone throwing down properly), and expected (Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia doing whatever it was that they did).
This was one of the best UFC’s I’ve seen in ages. Top to bottom, I’m safe in making the MMA snob comparison of likening it to Pride’s Bushido 9 (this is how you introduce a pair of fighters), or Final Conflict.
I didn’t expect a GOAT rampage, but the finish to the fight was as violent as any we’ve seen in recent memory. Cormier leaned directly into a head kick cleaved right into his cortex. Miraculously, he almost survived. Unfortunately, Jones got him on the ground and mangled whatever was left of Cormier’s grip on consciousness with five knuckles sundered onto the flesh heap that was Cormier. It was like setting fire to a corpse, and hard to watch.
What wasn’t was the method by which Jones got there. Admittedly, I picked Cormier alongside my favorite British co-worker. But you could tell when it turned on Cormier. As Jones continued to apprehend his liver, ribs, stomach, and chest, Cormier slowed. It was an abdominal assault of the senses. Kicks, punches, knees – Jones was ruthless. And that was despite Cormier looking fresh, motivated, and as savvy as ever.
Jones is the GOAT. Plain and simple.
And as GOAT, he gets what he wants. I don’t know if Dana would sit by and actively promote Jones against Tyson Fury like he did McGregor (“that is totally different! Conor has been f—king training boxing since he entered the sport! Jones is just being f—king selfish!” the baldfather might retort). But I do know he has carte blanche (sort of).
Apparently, what he wants is Brock Lesnar. Would anyone not watch it?
In the Game of the Father
Cormier’s got game. You almost hope Jones didn’t beat it out of him.
It was tough watching him, broken, beaten, and crying. Cormier was hurt: for reasons as physical as they were existential. Frank Mir, ever the indignant but often articulate analyst, went Inception deep to observe why on Twitter.
But since this is MMA, even the most human moments can’t be given a moment of silence. Which reminds me of that Patton Oswalt skit on birth control that’s eventually interrupted by a heckler. And since nobody was acting bloodthirsty, or overly aggressive, Joe Rogan decided to do what he said he’d not do, and interviewed a fighter who just got knocked out. He has since apologized, of course.
Jones did exactly what he said he’d do to Daniel. Now Cormier has to figure out if he can accept being second to Jones, now and always.
Artist in the Somnambulence
This was just a bad fight. Violent for a glorified staring contest I guess, but this isn’t the Ultimate Staring Championship, yet that’s what fans were witness to.
There were a lot of things worth observing: Demian Maia’s unwillingness to throw kicks, adjustments Woodley could make to be more aggressive, adjustments Maia could make to counter Woodley’s limp leg tactics, et cetera. So of course Rogan kept talking about the size of Woodley’s legs.
It takes two to not tango, and each fighter’s flaws were on full display; Maia’s lack of versatility and Woodley’s skim output.
As Patrick Wyman noted, Woodley will beat himself before somebody else does. He’s earned his status, but it’ll be hard to keep that status as long as he continues to let judges decide his fate.
Cyborg Santos fought a perfect fight: defensively aware, economic, and as dangerous as ever. To casual fans, it might have looked uninspiring. She didn’t let her hands go against Tonya Evinger, who looked like the landlord from Kung Fu Hustle, hair curlers nestled atop her head like a crown wearing the defeated faces of everyone who ever underestimated her.
But she was no match for Cyborg. The biggest question is ‘what now’? Her contract is up in October. Her boss once said this about her. Which is funny coming from a guy who has been less critical of guys who have popped for steroids far more often than Cyborg (Sonnen, Barnett, and Vitor just to name a few). But you don’t see Dana stretching his stomach to make fun of Josh.
De Randamie’s future is probably a little more certain. She’ll go back down in weight and keep fighting. Unless you believed Rogan on last night’s telecast. In which case, De Randamie volunteered to colonize Mars in order to avoid fighting Cyborg (thanks Mr. Kimbell).
I don’t support what De Randamie did. But Rogan and crew buried a fighter as harshly as they possibly could just short of calling her a ‘pussy’, and I can’t help but think – what about Dana? He’s the promoter. If there was any potential chance of De Randamie vacating the belt, or if Dana ever had doubts, then De Randamie should have never fought for the title to begin with.
Anyway, credit to Cyborg. She’s had a tough, long road to the UFC title. It’s well earned. She’s the baddest woman on the planet. Regardless of what her UFC future looks like.
There can be only fun
that was a pair of highlanders who couldn’t behead one another
— RusticBaller (@ByYourLogic) July 30, 2017
Lawler vs. Cerrone was everything we expected and then some. Lawler displayed how good head movement need not be obvious ducking and swaying. Rolling with Cerrone’s punches allowed him to mitigate the impact, which sometimes kept Cowboy’s aggression at bay. Both guys also showed great awareness – Lawler taking advantage of Cerrone’s slow starts, and gradually working strikes to the body; Cerrone weathering the storm, using short clinch elbows as well as anyone I’ve seen. I’m guessing Lawler will fight Woodley for a rematch. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that. But that was a great technical display from both welterweights.
I’m a man of my word: I will pick Volkan Oezdemir against either Jones or Cormier.
— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) July 30, 2017
Did you lose a bet, bruv? Anyway, on a night of brilliant performances, it was the opening act that might have the biggest impact. Where did this Turkish superhero come from? Aside from Switzerland I mean. Jimi Manuwa got careless in the clinch and Volkan seized the opportunity, cracking him with short punches, and chambering the most violent shove you’ll ever witness. If Jones vs. Lesnar is something actually real, Volkan might be fighting someone else, but right now he’s your number one contender.
- Jason Knight can thank the MMA gods for using him as a marionette doll to keep him upright after getting hurt. Before that Knight looked fluid in the ground, and he has a bright future. But Ricardo Lamas continues doing what he’s always done; show strategic aptitude, and nerve agent lethal level ground and pound.
- I was impressed by Aljamain Sterling. It was a tough matchup, and Sterling did everything he could to take over the bout. Barao, meanwhile, has shown himself to be a prime example of how damage away from the cage can lead to deterioration inside of it. Brutal weight cuts have turned him into a shell of his former self.
- Brian Ortega vs. Renato Moicano was easily fight of the night. And better than Johnson vs. Gaethje for me, as best fight of the year thus far. Both guys were swinging with bloodfeud punches. It looked like a high level version of Vatos Locos vs. Tres Puntos. Moicano will get criticized for attempting a takedown, but Ortega had done some brutal bodywork. Moicano didn’t go for a takedown out of strategy. He did it out of desperation. Great work from both men. We have a new MMA mythical creature in town and its names is Third Round Ortega.
- Good work from Calvin Katter and Drew Dober. Both guys took advantage of two opponents with zero head movement.
- I thought Eric Shelton won the bout versus Jarred Brooks. Brooks is better at fighting than trying to be clever in interviews, but I thought Shelton did enough to take a razor thin decision. Brooks has a fantastic lunging uppercut, so the foundation is there to remain successful at flyweight. Same for Shelton.
- Aleksandra Albu vs. Kaillin Curren was as crazy as Albu’s Instagram account. Albu made zero effort to eat anything less than every punch Curren threw. It was a tough loss for Curren, who was seen crying on her way out. At 1-5 in the UFC, there’s no question she’s not coming back. I’ve always felt like she had the potential to be a solid veteran with better tactical awareness. And indeed, when she was pressured by her corner to let it all go, and throw more kicks, she let it all go, and threw more kicks. But she’ll need to prove these things in Invicta. Albu is brick wall tough. But there will be better strikers than Curren in the division she’ll need to adjust to.
- Tweets that didn’t make the cut: the unofficial Jones vs. Cormier 2 poster, and footage of Jones’ afterparty.
- Speaking of tweets, I’d like to do this via mailbag in the future. If you think you can find better tweets, or you’re just secretly the most clever man or woman on Twitter, send me links to my email account the night of or the following Sunday. I can be reached at davidcastillo1981 at gmail.