On paper UFC 178 was spectacular. A former champ looked amazing, a current champ seems unbeatable, we have a Cowboy on a roll, and a Cat on top, and it wouldn’t be a UFC card without some controversy. Here are my lessons learned from UFC 178.
Flyweights Need Love Too
When DJ’s opponent was named we all stopped and said, who? Chris Cariaso is definitely not a household name but it’s hard to find challengers when the champion has pretty much cleaned out the division. Was Cariaso deserving of a title fight? That’s not my job to determine but it’s not going to stop me from watching a Mighty Mouse fight. There were reports from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that fans were actually leaving before the main event. Apparently, it was because they knew he was going to win and win easily. Early in his career, we all knew Mike Tyson was going to destroy his opponent and did that stop me from watching? No. It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that Floyd Mayweather is going to win by decision and does that stop me from watching? No. As a hardcore fan of fighting, I enjoy watching the best fighters in the world fight. When it comes to the best all-around fighters in the UFC, Demetrious Johnson is easily one of the best. It’s time that he and the rest of the flyweights start getting the respect that they deserve.
The Champ is Back
The best story of the night came from Dominick Cruz. After a ton of injuries and three years outside of the octagon, he finally made his return and it was amazing. We saw a new side of Dom in his destruction of Takeya Mizugaki. He was aggressive and visually you can tell he was out for the finish. It was simply a “thing of beauty.”
I’ve always been a big fan of Cruz, and I’m sure a lot of that comes from my time working with him at Fox Sports, but I had no idea what he was going to look like in his return. I honestly wasn’t confident that he would be close to what he was. I knew he was putting in the work because that’s just who he is but his style is all based off of his footwork and striking angles. Having multiple ACL surgeries on the same knee, it seemed almost impossible. He made it back into the Octagon and looked better than ever.
So what’s next for the former bantamweight champion who never lost his belt? It’s easy, title shot. There’s no question that he should be the next in line for TJ Dillashaw. Dana White confirmed that he would get that fight at the UFC 178 post-fight press conference. Dominick Cruz taking on Team Alpha Male one more time for the title! It doesn’t get much better than that.
Hype Train Moving Fast
There is no question that there could be something special about Conor McGregor, but I feel like the hype train is moving a little too fast. I still need to see more from the brash Irishman before I jump on board.
I predicated that Dustin Porier would defeat McGregor and I was obviously wrong with that pick. I believed that Porier’s style would give McGregor some issues but it was the other way around. McGregor was very impressive with his striking, finishing Porier in the first round. I do think he will be a tough matchup for anyone who’s primarily a striker. We still haven’t seen him in the cage with a high caliber wrestler and there are a coupe of them at the top of the division. That’s the toughest test in my opinion. Not sure if someone on Twitter was joking or not, but they said Clay Guida beats McGregor. I don’t know about that, but point taken.
McGregor was on the UFC post-fight show with a UFC Title saying Jose Aldo gave it up to him. He also said at the press conference that he would maul Chad Mendes. He clearly already believes that he’s the best and should be fighting next for the belt. Right now, I really don’t think he’s deserving of a title shot. In my opinion, he needs more than one win over a top-10 opponent to get a shot at the title. So, let’s look at the options.
He just beat Porier who was ranked fifth. Ranked number four is Ricardo Lamas who fights Dennis Bermudez, who’s ranked seventh, on November 15th. Third Ranked Frankie Edgar is fighting second ranked Cub Swanson on November 22nd. Finally, number one contender Chad Mendes is fighting for the title against Jose Aldo on October 25th. Personally, I would like the UFC to take their time with him. I know he’s really hot right now and people really want to see him fight but there’s no need to rush him. I want the deserving fighter to get the title shot not the more popular fighter. The winner of Bermudez-Lamas could be a good fight for him. The winner of Edgar-Swanson should be next in line for a title fight. If McGregor destroys the winner of Lamas-Bermudez then we can talk number one contender fight. Until then, lets pump the breaks a little.
Cowboy Riding High
Donald Cerrone had the tall task of welcoming Eddie Alvarez into the UFC and looked phenomenal doing it. Ignore that 14th ranking next to Alvarez’s name because he’s much better than that. If you aren’t familiar with Eddie, he was a two-time Bellator lightweight champion and one of the best 155 pound fighters in the world who was riding an impressive 3-fight winning steak.
Cowboy started slow but picked things up in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and went on to dominate the fight. Cowboy has now won 5 fights in a row with 4 of them being in 2014. For his own sake, I hope he takes the rest of the year off so he can do things the right way. But for a guy who was wakeboarding everyday the week of one of his biggest fights ever, I don’t expect him to slow down at all. He is potentially one win away from a title fight and I would love a matchup with Russian standout, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
What happened to Tim Kennedy was an absolute travesty. If a fighter does not get up to answer the bell, he loses the fight. That did not happen on Saturday night. Yoel Romero received a reported 37 seconds of extra time to sit on the stool and after almost being finished moments before. Romero receive over a minute and a half to recover between rounds and it may not sound like much, but that’s an eternity. Kennedy is going to protest the result, as he absolutely should. Romero should not have been allowed to continue. The Commission should do the right thing.