Let’s be honest, the previous two UFC PPVs were a trainwreck. UFC 274 will be forever known for the Thug Rose deciding to throw a strike a round in losing her title to an opponent that threw like three strikes a round (hyperbole but just barely). While Gaethje and Olivera and Ferguson and Chandler at least set off some fireworks, both of these fights were relatively short and couldn’t overcome the aforementioned fight and three other boring decisions. UFC 273 was very similar as the Volkanovski battered the Korean Zombie in a mercifully quick stoppage but the remaining card was a snoozer. Every other fight in 273 was a draw and much hyped Khamzat Chimaev followed an irrational fight plan that left many questioning his ceiling. UFC 257 had to bring it and reverse a trend of low value PPV offerings that stretched four months.
Thank you Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira. You literally saved UFC PPV events and guaranteed that I will continue to watch these events live. The Jiri-Glover bout has to be on the short list for Best Fight of the Year and of all time. Aside from the first round, you could make an argument that both fighters won each round. While Glover tapped with less than 30 seconds to go, he had to have been on top of the scorecards. Based on Round One, Glover looked like he was cruising and giving hope to all of us old timers. Jiri’s crisp hands swung rounds only to fall to Glover’s wrestling. Both men literally left it all (bloodwise) on the mat. The UFC needs more fights like this if it wants to keep its base coming out. Decisions have been too common as of late, which is awful considering that the judges ringside get it wrong way too often.
Talia Santos, you won the fight. I don’t care what anyone says; you flat out owned the champ. While Shevchenko had her moments at range and in full guard defense, the Shevchenko spent a large part of the fight on her back. I will give Shevchenko her due; she did win the final round, convincingly. Still, this was one of the easiest 49-46 score cards ever to be seen. I was in utter shock when the first judge went 48-47 Shevchenko. I might have shrugged that card if it was in favor of Santos. Card two went 48-47 Santos. I was okay with it, but I was still wondering what round, aside from the fifth, Shevchenko won. Then out of nowhere, we hear 49-46 Shevchenko. Shevchenko wins.
There are only two possible explanations: a fix or a misprint. Shevchenko showed no urgency throughout the later rounds. I was rooting for her until the fourth round; I wanted her to win. This isn’t a pro-Santos fan being pouty. Shevchenko only threw a strike or two for most of the last two rounds. No way she won. The accidental head strike did all of the damage, and Shevchenko stopped attacking that side midway through the fourth. Why was there no urgency? Simple, Shevchenko had to know that it was fixed. The UFC wins when the big names win; we have seen champs underwhelm and be saved by the judges. The only other option is that some how someone meant to write Santos and it looked like a Shevchenko. Nope, I don’t think that would be it, so it was a fix.
Santos, you’re my champ.
The Champ to Be
The first edition of Zhang Weili-Joanna Jedrzejczyk has to go down as the greatest women’s fight of all time and maybe the greatest of all time regardless of gender. I was super stoked to see them run back. Well, I was excited until I realized that Weili was way to much for Joanna. The spinning backfist that left Joanna in a puddle on the was a thing of beauty. It was also a harbinger of Weili regaining her belt. Weili looked amazing against one of the greatest UFC women of all time. Weili deserves her shot for the belt, and I’d be willing to put the deed of my house on her to defeat Esparza.
On a side note, Thank you Joanna. You gave us a lot of great memories and ruled the UFC for a time. We wish you the best in retirement.
Andre Fialho was supposed to be the hot new fighter to push for UFC glory; the only problem was that no one bothered to tell Jake Matthews that he was supposed to lose the fight. Jake was masterful with his footwork. Fialho is known for forward pressure and was able to hold the center of the octagon for a brief time. Then, Matthews just started picking him apart. Matthews had Fialho baffled and stuck in quicksand. After a flurry of shots, Fialho went down and was so out of it that he tried wrestling the ref. Jake Matthews is definitely a fighter that we need to watch. I would give him an A+ for his effort, but he done serious damage to Fialho’s lead leg and then mysteriously went away from it. I’ll give him a pass if the injury report mentions damage to his foot (it looked red and irritated from a check). Still, well done young man.
In all, this card provided what so many recent cards have not: action. Hopefully, Dana, who was a no show, can start putting more cards like this together.