With Conor McGregor and Luke Rockhold’s victories at UFC 194, my week of wrongness has hopefully come to a merciful end. Hats off to both McGregor and Rockhold for terrific performances.
I have to express extreme disappointment with the McGregor-Aldo match. I’m not disappointed that McGregor won; I actually think it’s a great thing for the featherweight division. I’m just disappointed that the fight was so short. I love nothing more than a great back-and-forth fight and thought we would get it with McGregor vs. Aldo. Unfortunately, it was not to be. All of the build-up, the international press tour, the trash talking, the promos… all for a 13 second fight.
I do wonder if McGregor’s trash talk and taunting caused Aldo to fight more emotionally than he normally would. It seemed like Aldo came out more aggressive than usual, wanting to really hurt McGregor… but that’s already a lot of speculation for such a short fight. Still, seeing Aldo lunging forward with his right hand down is unusual, since his striking defense is normally so airtight.
McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar has to be the fight to make. You can’t just give Aldo a rematch after being knocked out in 13 seconds. I mean, I suppose you could, but I really think automatic rematches should be reserved for close fights. Of course, the UFC has been very quick to grant an automatic rematch for a title fight in recent years, regardless of whether the fight itself was competitive.
I expected Chris Weidman vs. Rockhold to be a pretty even match standing, but in practice, Rockhold was a lot faster and was able to land his strikes very consistently. It seemed like he was just a step ahead of Weidman, although Weidman had some success with kicks of his own. Weidman was definitely getting the better of Rockhold in the takedown game early, but Rockhold’s constant threats to choke Weidman seemed to really make Weidman hesitate in the clinch.
Weidman lost the second round pretty badly, but seemed to be doing well in the third round… when he threw a wheel kick in an apparent attempt to duplicate Vitor Belfort’s knockout victory. That was pretty dumb, but the fact that Rockhold was able to turn that into a takedown and full mount was a display of his skill and an indicator that Weidman was really hurting. Herb Dean should have stopped that fight in round three as Rockhold landed a huge number of uninterrupted strikes towards the end of the round. Weidman may have been moving and at least trying to fight back, but when a fighter is powerless to stop the onslaught of strikes being thrown at him, that should be considered “checkmate.”
I thought Jacare beat Romero 29-28, but if Jacare had won, I would have complained (once again) about the ten-point must scoring system. I know, the system isn’t going away, but Romero really hurt Jacare in that first round, while Jacare’s performances in rounds two and three were much less convincing. Even so, I think Jacare was the rightful winner by the letter of the law. Romero is a physical specimen but it’s really hard to see him doing well against Rockhold.
And then I have to mention Kevin Lee, a favorite of mine who Leonardo Santos made look bad on the prelims today. I was prepared to talk about how the UFC needed to take off the kid gloves and let Lee fight a top 15 opponent. But Santos exposed Lee’s lack of head movement and inability to adapt. It’s easy to forget that Lee has only been training martial arts for a few years – he doesn’t have the long history of training in any one discipline that most fighters have when they go into MMA. I think Lee should consider studying T.J. Dillashaw to figure out how to attack an opponent with more effective movement. He’s still a very good prospect but it’s never good to lose a fight by TKO.