By Tony Cline, Staff Writer
- UPKICKS MATTER
Cortney Casey faced off against former world #1 Jessica Aguilar on Saturday night, and she showed how important a good upkick game can be. On the feet, Casey used her sizable reach advantage to keep JAG at a distance for large portions of the fight and tag her repeatedly with significant strikes to the head. However, on three separate occasions, Aguilar managed to get a takedown. In these situations, Aguilar historically jumps into the guard and rains down punches as she passes to a more dominant position. Casey, a former Division I soccer player, had a different plan. Every time JAG tried to enter the guard, Casey was able to land an upkick, most of them to Aguilar’s head. The UFC doesn’t keep such statistics, but I would bet that Casey’s performance at UFC 211 was the most accurate display of upkicks that has ever been seen in the Octagon. What we learned is that a practiced and powerful upkick game can neutralize a good ground game. Will they prevent a control wrestler from taking you down if they can maintain control of your body the entire time? No. But they can be a good tool for a striker to keep grapplers at a distance in certain situations.
- YAIR RODRIGUEZ IS NOT CHAMPIONSHIP MATERIAL…YET
After his last fight, I said that Rodriguez deserved a shot at one of the top guys in the division. He got that shot in Dallas, but we found out he isn’t quite there yet. Frankie Edgar took Yair to the ground and beat him badly. Yair stayed busy on the ground, using hus jiu-jitsu to go for kimuras, knee bars and various other submissions. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, Frankie stayed calm and collected, never making a mistake that Yair could translate into a finish. In the meantime, Edgar landed punch after punch to the young upstart’s head, eventually swelling Rodriguez’s left eye closed. Between the second and third round, the cageside physician examined that eye and, very correctly, waved off the bout. As Edgar said in his interview after the fight, Rodriguez will be the champ one day, just not now. Edgar is clearly the second-best fighter in the division, and he deserves one last chance to get over that Jose Aldo-shaped hump…if Aldo can get past Holloway next month.
- STIPE MIOCIC MAY BE THE SCARIEST MAN IN THE WORLD
I’m really not sure why I put “may” in the sentence above. Stipe has knocked out his last four opponents, the last three in the first round. These aren’t bums, but the best of the best in the UFC’s heavyweight division: Mark Hunt, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Junior dos Santos. If Miocic wins his next match, the firefighter from Cleveland will become the first man to EVER defend that belt three times in a row. Here’s hoping that USADA doesn’t find those cinder block implants Stipe has in his fists.
- JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK IS NOT VERY GOOD…AT HUMILITY
And that may be all. The understanding she showed of timing and distance in Dallas was amazing. How many fighters have you ever seen land a round kick to the head as a counter while jumping backward? The champ picked Jessica Andrade apart from start to finish. She has amazing conditioning, her defensive wrestling is superb, her striking game is the best in the division. She stood across the cage from a woman who dominated the last three fighters she faced, all top ten fighters, and Joanna simply outclassed her in every way. Andrade was a beast, she took an amazing amount of punishment and kept coming. Joanna hit her 225 times in 25 minutes. As a comparison, Canelo Alvarez hit Chavez 228 times in 36 minutes. Everyone can be beaten, but it is clear that Joanna is going to be nearly impossible to defeat via decision. She will need to run into an amazing power puncher (which Andrade is) or get caught with a submission to ever relinquish her belt. No, she’s not humble, but she doesn’t have to be. She deserves every accolade she gets.
- THE RULES MUST BE MORE CONSISTENT
Controversy visited the UFC once again on Saturday night and marred an otherwise fabulous fight between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. In the second round, Poirier hurt Eddie and looked like he had him finished. Then, Alvarez came roaring back to but Poirier on the verge of knockout. Then, Poirier leaned over and touched the ground with his hand. Just one hand. So, Eddie kneed him in the head. Then again. Finally, Dustin dropped to a knee before Alvarez through a third knee to the head that finished the fight. The referee ruled that the final foul was accidental and so he ruled the fight a No Contest. The first problem here is that the state of Texas has not adopted the new Unified Rules, so the two shots landed when Poirier was touching the canvas with his hand were fouls. However, in a moment of apparent confusion, referee Herb Dean did nothing to stop or penalize those fouls. Because the rules change from state to state, it is hard to blame Dean or Alvarez for not realizing those were illegal blows. Every commission in the country needs to agree on a set of rules and stick with them. If a commission refuses to adopt the Unified Rules, the UFC and Bellator should refuse to hold events in that state until they do so. The second problem is the lack of penalty for a clear foul. The third knee, clearly illegal and likely unintentional, was still a foul and should have led to a disqualification of Alvarez and a win for Poirier. It is nonsensical to think that a referee can gauge the intent of a fighter who commits a foul. However, it is a standard that is used all the time in the sport. No matter the foul, there is rarely any punishment for a first, or even second, offense. An eye poke, a groin shot, and even grabbing the fence to prevent a takedown can change the entire trajectory of a match, yet the perpetrator nearly always gets a few free broken rules before risking a penalty. It is time to stop asking referees to judge intent and simply to have a hard system of penalties for fouls so that fighters will know exactly what will happen if they break the rules. It is unfair to offender and victim not to have a solid expectation of what the results of a foul will be.
Gadzhimurad Antigulov def. Joachim Christensen via submission (RNC) at 2:21 of Round 1
Enrique Barzola def. Gabriel Benitez via UD (29-28 x 3)
Cortney Casey def. Jessica Aguilar via UD (30-27 x 3)
James Vick def. Polo Reyes via TKO at 2:39 of Round 1
Chase Sherman def. Rashad Coulter via KO at 3:36 of Round 2
Jason Knight def. Chase Sherman via TKO at :39 of Round 3
Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier ends in a NC due to illegal knees at 4:12 of Round 2
David Branch def. Krzysztof Jotko via SD (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez via TKO (doctor stoppage) at 5:00 of Round 2
Demian Maia def. Jorge Masvidal via SD (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Jessica Andrade vis UD (50-45, 50-45, 50-44)
Stipe Miocic def Junior dos Santos via KO at 2:22 of Round 1
Fight of the Night: Chase Sherman vs. Rashad Coulter
Performances of the Night: Jason Knight and Stipe Miocic