Johnson rules at UFC on Fox 24
by Tony Cline
On Saturday, the UFC made its first ever visit to Missouri, a stronghold of rival promotion Bellator, for UFC on Fox 24. The main event saw Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson successfully defend his flyweight championship against Wilson Reis, forcing him to tap to an armbar will 11 seconds remaining in the second round. Some takeaways from this event:
- BIG NAMES DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE THE BEST FIGHTS. This card had a lot of guys that casual fans, and even some more hard-core enthusiasts, have never heard of. However, as is often the case, the lesser known guys fought their hearts out and made this one of the more entertaining cards we have seen this year. Tim Elliott and Louis Smolka put on an amazing contest in their flyweight bout and earned $50,000 each as they took home fight of the night honors.
- MIGHTY MOUSE MAY BE THE BEST MMA FIGHTER WE HAVE EVER SEEN.
Note the word “may.” It is exceedingly difficult to compare fighters across weight classes and eras, but Demetrious Johnson tied the UFC record for title defenses with his 10th consecutive defense and took home one of the $50K Performance of the Night bonuses, and no one really looks like they can stop him anytime soon. Johnson has never lost a fight at flyweight; his last loss was at 135 lbs. to Dominick Cruz, another all-time great who has a 5” height advantage and a 2” reach advantage on the diminutive flyweight champ. Johnson has beaten the best the flyweight division has to offer, some of them multiple times, and he seems to get better every fight. At only 30 years of age, Johnson could rack up a ton more defenses, and maybe even meet the current bantamweight champ in a superfight. I’m not ready to call him the GOAT yet, but it is conceivable that he will reach that status before his career is over.
- MIDDLEWEIGHT IS MORE TOP HEAVY THAN I THOUGHT. The contenders in the UFC’s middleweight division, rather than be ranked 1-6 should be ranked 1a-1f. I said in my preview of this event that the top five contenders were a murderer’s row who could all beat each other on any given day and there was little daylight between them but that Robert Whittaker, for now, sits just outside that group. I was wrong, and Whittaker proved that in devastating fashion on Saturday night by gaining the TKO at 3:28 of the second round. This was no one punch knock out by a powerful puncher who otherwise would have been manhandled by Ronaldo Souza (my prediction for this fight) but rather Whittaker surprised many of us by dominating Jacare in almost every facet of the fight before finally finishing him off in the second. For his efforts, the Australian headed back down under $50K richer as he took home one of the two Performance of the Night bonuses.
- THUG ROSE IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER. Rose Namajunas lost her last fight, a title eliminator against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, after she seemed to tire in the middle of the fight. We later learned that Namajunas had been dealing with some personal issues that likely affected her training. On Saturday, a rejuvenated and focused Thug Rose showed exactly how dangerous she was as she simply outmaneuvered Michelle Waterson, herself a top contender on a nice run in the UFC, on the feet and on the ground en route to a convincing win. Rose battered and bloodied Waterson on the feet and controlled the ground game, even when Michelle was the one who managed to land the initial takedown, and finally forced the tap with a rear naked choke just over halfway through the second round. Dana White said after the fight that Rose is next in line for a title shot, and Rose’s creative striking and ground game will offer a real challenge to the winner of the Joanna Jedrezjczyk-Jessica Andrade title tilt coming up on May 1st.
- RULES NEED TO BE STANDARDIZED. In the Rashid-Magomedov fight, referee Mario Yamasaki issued a warning to Magomedov for striking with his fingers out. In New York last week, referee Dan Miragliotta utilized replay information from another referee to decide the outcome of a fight. Both of these calls were improper, but only because of the states they were in. Unfortunately, most referees work in many states, so it is easy for them to get confused on what rules happen to be in effect on any given night. Imagine if the NFL had different rules for games based on whether they were played in Dallas or Seattle or Atlanta. That would be considered seriously unfair to both the players and the referees, and so it is in MMA. There is a “Unified Rules of MMA” that is suggested by the association of athletic commissions that govern the sport in the United States, but the association only has the authority to suggest, not mandate, and different states have different rules. This places the refs, the fighters, and the promotions in a real bind at times. There needs to be one set of rules that all commissions use (and the UFC uses outside the US, where they self-regulate). The UFC should force this point by refusing to hold events in states that do not adopt the full set of unified rules. The loss of revenue would push most states to adopt the standardized rule sets. For those that do not, the UFC could simply avoid them in the name of providing a consistent product to all fighters, referees, and fans.
Demetrious Johnson defeats Wilson Reis via armbar submission (R3, 4:49)
Rose Namajunas defeats Michelle Waterson via rear naked choke submission (R2, 2:47)
Robert Whittaker defeats Ronaldo Souza via KO/TKO (R2, 3:28)
Renato Carneiro defeats Jeremy Stephens via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Alexander Volkov defeats Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27 on all cards)
Tom Duquesnoy defeats Patrick Williams via KO/TKO (R2, 0:28)
Rashid Magomedov defeats Bobby Green via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Tim Elliott defeats Louis Smolka via unanimous decision (30-27 on all cards)
Aljamain Sterling defeats Augusto Mendes via unanimous decision (29-28 on all cards)
Devin Clark defeats Jake Collier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Anthony Smith defeats Andrew Sanchez via KO/TKO (R3, 3:52)
Zak Cummings defeats Nathan Coy via guillotine choke technical submission (R1, 4:21)
Ketlen Vieira defeats Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)