A 14-fight card at UFC 274 produced some huge wins, implausible motion, memorable knockouts and a lackluster co-main occasion sandwiched between two wonderful bouts. Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi react to the pay-per-view and supply their largest ideas on the evening.
Large battle nights headlined by championship bouts usually present readability. However what UFC 274 delivered as a substitute was contradiction.
On Saturday evening in Phoenix, Charles Oliveira stepped into the cage as UFC light-weight champion. He then choked out Justin Gaethje within the very first spherical — and walked out of the Octagon as ex-champ.
The rationale for that mixed-up circumstance is that Oliveira had missed weight Friday, leaving the UFC to remove his title the second his battle with Gaethje started. What that led to, on the conclusion of the battle, was an empty feeling that one thing was lacking — no “And nonetheless!” announcement by Bruce Buffer, no belt being wrapped round Oliveira’s waist by Dana White.
And but one factor is simple: Belt or no belt, Charles Oliveira is one of the best 155-pound fighter on the planet.
That turned evident in the course of the 3 minutes, 22 seconds the battle lasted. Oliveira wobbled Gaethje within the opening minute, however moments later Gaethje dropped him with a punch. Then Gaethje dropped him once more. However anybody who was considering this was the start of the top clearly had not been watching Oliveira recently.
The 32-year-old Brazilian was damage badly a 12 months in the past in Spherical 1 of his battle with Michael Chandler for the then-vacant title, however Oliveira got here out for the second spherical and instantly clipped Chandler, then completed him at 19 seconds of the spherical. Seven months later, Oliveira needed to persevere by way of a tough begin in opposition to Dustin Poirier earlier than choking out his challenger in Spherical 3.
This time Oliveira, his face marked up by the vicious work of Gaethje, scored a takedown halfway by way of the spherical and shortly seized again management, placing him in place to sink in a rear-naked choke for the thirtieth end and twenty first submission of his 33-win professional profession. Contained in the Octagon, he has 19 finishes and 16 submissions — each UFC data.
If solely there have been a powerful grappler within the division who may be capable of cope with Oliveira’s floor recreation. Too unhealthy Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired.
Which may simply depart the job as much as Islam Makhachev, a Nurmagomedov buddy and teammate who has been known as Khabib 2.0. The 22-1 Makhachev has been working his manner up the light-weight hierarchy, and his emergence could not have come at a greater time. — Wagenheim
Ought to Tony Ferguson actually have confronted Michael Chandler?
Michael Chandler reveals off his athleticism as he nails two backflips after knocking out Tony Ferguson.
Early throughout battle week, after I was plotting out the UFC 274 bouts that had been must-see, I additionally famous a pair that I suspected is perhaps onerous to look at. One which I picked out ended up not taking place, after Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone took sick Saturday, sparing us from the potential of seeing him prolong his six-fight winless streak in a manner which may make us cringe. The opposite battle I chosen did go on and was certainly troublesome to look at — however not essentially for the rationale I anticipated.
I feared that Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson can be a painful show of what occurs when somebody at or close to the highest of his recreation (Chandler) faces a fighter whose profession has been fading (Ferguson, who was coming off three brutal losses). It might get ugly quick, I assumed.
However then Ferguson got here out for the light-weight bout and damage Chandler straight away. Early on, Ferguson regarded fluid and harmful and clearly aggressive. Possibly I used to be improper about this reserving?
Within the opening seconds of Spherical 2, Chandler threw a straight proper kick up the center, and when the ball of his foot related flush on Ferguson’s chin, the battle was over immediately. Ferguson fell limply on his face, unconscious, and lay there immobile for a number of moments. Even after he got here to and was helped to his ft, Ferguson nonetheless regarded dazed.
Was this scary knockout a direct byproduct of Ferguson being light, his reflexes too gradual to guard him and his chin now not capable of face up to influence? Or was this simply one thing that might occur to anybody, even a champ or prime-of-career fighter? Nobody is aware of for positive, however I will simply say this: It was the kind of ending I used to be envisioning as a chance for Ferguson and Cerrone after I expressed concern over their bookings.
“Cowboy” and “El Cucuy” are legends of MMA. Each have delivered numerous thrills and wonderful moments over time. Nobody is asking for these end-of-career guys to be shut down totally, however matchmakers want to acknowledge when each fighters are of their careers earlier than sending them into the cage collectively.
Throughout a UFC run highlighted by a 12-fight successful streak, Ferguson was breathtaking. However now when he fights we’re left to carry our breath. — Wagenheim
Namajunas-Esparza: A title battle in contrast to some other
“I am one of the best! I am one of the best!”
That was the mantra Rose Namajunas stated aloud, quietly and resolutely and again and again, as she walked out to the cage for the co-main occasion.
I’m wondering what mantra she had for the lonely stroll again to the dressing room as a former champion.
Namajunas, to be truthful, has proven herself to be one of the best strawweight on the planet these previous few years, with two reigns as champ and a number of victories over former champs Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili, in addition to a win over one other titleholder, Jessica Andrade. However Saturday evening she was not one of the best — or not less than she opted to not present us her finest.
Carla Esparza was booed after getting her arm raised and having the belt wrapped round her waist. She did not deserve that response. She had moved ahead throughout a lot of the battle, however Namajunas stored her distance and refused to interact. Esparza completed little over the 5 rounds, it is true, however little is best than nothing, and that “nothing” is what Namajunas confirmed till the very finish of the bout, when it was too late.
Two questions linger: First, was this the worst title battle in UFC historical past? It is definitely a contender. Esparza landed simply 30 vital strikes, the fewest in a choice victory in a UFC title battle within the promotion’s fashionable period. However hey, Esparza is primarily a wrestler. Namajunas, however, is called a slick striker. She related with simply 37.
Carla Esparza will get Rose Namajunas’ again and scores a takedown in her split-decision victory.
“It is onerous to search out somebody who would not wish to battle,” Esparza stated within the Octagon after the bout.
That results in the second query popping out of this battle: What will we make of Namajunas? Why did a fighter who had stood her floor in opposition to a number of extra harmful foes dance across the Octagon for the higher a part of her 25 minutes in there with Esparza? I do not know that there is a severe reply, however are you aware who ought to have recognized that reply because the battle unfolded? The Namajunas nook. From what I might hear of her coaches, nobody tried to gentle a fireplace and get Rose to battle like Rose.
Namajunas is an enigma, a lot in order that this dud of a efficiency would not sign a demise. The subsequent time she’s within the cage, she may appear like a world-beater. Which is what she usually regarded like… again when she was a champion. — Wagenheim
Francisco Trinaldo, younger at 43
Francisco Trinaldo makes Danny Roberts double over after he hits him within the physique with a crushing left hand.
If you wish to understand how deep the UFC light-weight division is, simply check out the unranked veteran Francisco Trinaldo. He went all-out in opposition to Danny Roberts — who was coming off a two win streak — to shut the prelims at UFC 274 and light-weight up the Footprint Heart.
”Massaranduba” earned his 18th victory contained in the Octagon with an entire putting efficiency and had Roberts in bother greater than as soon as in the course of the battle. He is one of many many gatekeepers the division has and he is definitely at all times a enjoyable fighter to look at, continuously in search of the knockout end. Trinaldo has defeated Bobby Inexperienced, Jim Miller and John Makdessi.
At 43 years previous and with over a decade combating for the promotion, he is standing with a 5-1 document in his final six fights. Like Andrei Arlovski, who can be stacking wins in opposition to fighters who in all probability weren’t even coaching when he signed with the UFC, Trinaldo is not displaying indicators of slowing down and needs to make some reminiscences for his 5-year-old son. And tonight was a great one. — Legaspi