Happy Sunday fight fans!
UFC 249 didn’t go on as originally planned. The coronavirus still has the sports world ravaged, but amidst these uncertain times, the UFC found a way to deliver us an action-packed fight card. I do have a few minor issues with what transpired last night. Like, I was really hoping that Greg Hardy would get knocked out, but I can’t say I’m surprised that Yorgan de Castro wasn’t able to get that done. And I would’ve much rather seen Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone kick off the main card. It was also a bit disappointing to see Jeremy Stephens miss weight, and I’ve heard enough of Dominick Cruz’s complaining. But all in all, I’m glad the fighters were able to find a way to train and give us an entertaining show.
Francis Ngannou had the most dominant performance of the night. He just decided to charge directly at his opponent while throwing devastating haymakers. Rozenstruik did his best to avoid, but it only took one punch to land clean to seal the deal. It looks like it may be a while before we see Francis get another crack at Stipe’s belt, so I’m hoping the UFC decides to keep Ngannou busy by feeding him the likes of Greg Hardy next.
I was also incredibly happy to see Calvin Kattar get the stoppage victory over Jeremy Stephens. I can’t exactly explain why, but I always find myself cheering for whoever is facing off against Stephens. It’s certainly not due to a lack of effort, Lil Heathen always comes to fight. I think all those blows to the head are finally taking their toll on the longtime UFC vet. Stephens hasn’t won a fight since February of 2018. He’s lost 4 fights during that time and had one match ruled a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke. Missing weight can’t help his case. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stephens is handed his walking papers in the near future.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Henry Cejudo. He certainly is one of combat sports most decorated athletes, but I can’t bring myself to say he’s the top pound for pound fighter in the world. I need to see a little more. He now holds victories over Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz, but his fights always seem to be marred by controversy. His split decision victory over Mighty Mouse wasn’t very convincing. Dillashaw and Cruz both complained their fights were stopped early. While I have no sympathy for that rule-breaking snake in the grass Dillashaw, I can see why Cruz may feel shortchanged. I certainly don’t condone Dominick’s complaining, but he was attempting to get up when the fight was stopped. The point is Cejudo doesn’t hold enough clean victories to lay claim to being the pound for pound king. It seems like he’s still improving as a fighter and it would’ve been nice to see him defend that bantamweight belt a few more times. His announcement to retire from the sport leaves me feeling the same way I’ve always felt.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t give Justin Gaethje a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a fight against Tony Ferguson. Especially if it went into the championship rounds. Gaethje himself stated that he’d have a hard time finding a way to win if the fight went past 12 minutes. I bought into that theory. I figured Gaethje would come out swinging for the fences. And that’s precisely what he did. His coach, Trevor Wittman, had to remind Justin to take a bit off his punches in between rounds. I was thoroughly impressed at the patience Justin Gaethje displayed throughout this contest. I thought he was going to pounce and go for the finish several times, which is exactly what’s gotten him into trouble in the past. I hated seeing Tony Ferguson’s amazing win streak come to an end before he got the chance to fight Khabib, but It was great to see Justin Gaethje’s maturity and growth as a fighter. I’m sure glad the UFC is back!!