UFC 196, Nate Diaz and Miesha Tate upsets. Mark Hunt KO’s Frank Mir.Also- Jon Jones Jnr pulled over for drag racing, Cris “Cyborg” Justino enters the UFC and Paige VanZant in Dancing with the stars. Diaz tells Justin Bieber to shut his bitch ass up.
March 2016 for the UFC has certainly not disappointed, with plenty of action occurring both in and out of the Octagon.
I take a look at the big stories of the month with my March recap of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
UFC 196: Two major upsets at the top of the food chain
The March 5th event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, featured some promising fights that certainly delivered.
Some of the early fights were exciting to watch with a personal highlight being when former Ultimate Fighter contestant, Nordine Taleb knocked out Brazilian Erick Silva. This was seen by many in the crowd as poetic justice after Silva went to deviously touch gloves in round one. What seemed like a well meaning show of sportsmanship, quickly exposed itself as a façade when Silva tried to land a cheap shot. The crowd responded appropriately by booing Silva loudly for his poor conduct.
In round two, Silva tried to front kick Taleb who grabbed his foot and landed a solid right hand. That was all she wrote, due to the fact that the Brazilian went crashing into the floor. “Instant Karma’s going to get you,” wrote John Lennon, a lesson painfully taught to Silva on that particular night.
The female bouts of the night both finished differently to each other but still had their own unique appeal. The first fight on the main card, Nunes Vs Shevchenko was deemed as fighting in the shadow of a Rhonda Rousey Comeback.
This was purely due to the fact that the bantamweight female belt was on the line at the same event with Holm Vs Tate. The winner (and perhaps the loser) of this bout is anticipated to fight Rhonda Rousey at a later time.
Nunes and Schevchenko are awesome fighters in their own right with a (prior to this bout) professional record of 11-4 and 12-1 respectively.
The women’s bantamweight class in the UFC is particularly tough at the moment with a lot of talent. These two mixed martial artists would be strong contenders under normal circumstances but the talent pool in the weight class is unarguably higher than average.
Surprisingly, the fight started off slow. The majority of the first round was lacklustre with not a lot of activity. Amanda Nunes managed to get in more shots before the fighter known as “The Lioness”, scored a takedown to seal the round. The first round was not fantastic but it definitely belonged to Nunes.
Nunes came out harder in the second round, seemingly wanting to seal the deal. Nunes took Schevchenko to ground, manhandled her and landed some very nice strikes. Valentina “The Bullet” Schevchenko put up a valiant defence fighting against the strikes and submission attempts. Nunes’s strength was shining through though, she is an extremely strong female fighter and Schevchenko’s corner knew The Bullet needs a knock out for the win.
In round three that is what Schevchenko tried to accomplish. The third round was very different compared to the preceeding two. The Bullet landed some impressive strikes and reversed a takedown into side control.
Schevchenko then went on the attack with some elbows and an Americana. With only a few minutes remaining, a tired Nunes struggled to her feet and attempted to fight back. The Bullet again landed some nice shots and took out the round on points but it wasn’t enough to win the fight. Nunes was the victor of the bout by being awarded the decision, this further highlighted her as having to skill to be considered a potential title challenger in the future.
The other female fight of the night was the Bantumweight title fighting between defending champion, Holy Holm and Miesha Tate. Holm, the recent newly crowned title holder after defeating Rhonda Rousey wanted to capitalise on her big win. She wanted to show the MMA world she was here to stay at the top of the game and send a message that she was going to be a dominant champion. Miesha on the other hand obviously had to know that it would be hard to get another shot, if she lost this bout. Both women had a lot to prove and it promised to be a great match up.
Round one opened with patience, a bit of range finding, a little sizing up and some initial trepidation before Tate was the first to score. Tate landed a few nice shots but Holm reciprocated with a higher work rate. Holm managed to land more strikes overall and confidently won the first round.
The second round was a different story with Tate coming out aggressively. Miesha Tate demonstrated impeccable timing and was able to dominate on the ground. Holm was lucky to survive the round with Tate getting her arm under the chin a couple of times, looking for the submission. Holm was tough and stuck it out, surviving the round.
Round three ensured that both fighters went back, to a more patient approach. The scoring was now one round apiece and the two women started feeling each other out again, during this time there were a lot of strikes coming up short. Holm came into her own towards the end of the round with two nice take down defences and a few nice strikes landing on her opponent. Holm narrowly took out the third round.
A similar showing to the previous round, happened for the start of the fourth. The last couple of minutes of the round heated up with both fighters striking in some nice exchanges. Holm managed to defend a lot of Tate’s attacks and as was the tale of the night was landing the harder shots.
With the final round approaching, Miesha needed a very strong round to win the fight. Holm wanted to secure the victory and came out strong.
She threw strikes with conviction, landing some heavy blows and firing well with her left hand. Holm displayed other weapons in her arsenal to, including her push and side kicks which proved effective at keeping Tate back. At this stage, it looked as though the bout was all Holly Holm.
Then something dramatic happened.
Tate got a back clinch. Then she scrambled into Holly’s back, survived a throw attempt, dragged her down to the floor and secured the rear naked choke. Holm didn’t want to tap and was soon unconscious, there was now a new women’s champion!
Both women fought with a lot of intelligence and while it was passive to watch at times, the bout especially in the last couple of rounds was exciting. Congratulations to the new female bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and well done to Holly for a great fight.
The main event featured a entertaining pre fight build up. McGregor Vs Diaz was always in my opinion going to live up to the hype. Connor McGregor dramatically increased his weight, moving up from his usual featherweight class up to bantamweight.
Connor started the bout strongly, landing some great strikes and severely bloodying the face of the opposing fighter. Nate Diaz is undeniably tough though and seemed to weather the storm.
If anyone was affected after the first round break, it appeared to be McGregor. McGregor appeared to have less gas in the tank and was visibly tired.
McGregor threw a combination and Diaz responded with a jab and straight left that rocked the Irishman. Diaz moved in with the clinch, striking several more times before McGregor made his way to the middle of the cage.
Diaz threw the same jab, straight left combo that had earlier troubled McGregor before the Irishman shot for the take down.
Diaz, who is known as the Stockton Slugger caught him in a guillotine before Connor rolled to escape. Nate then mounted him, punched him until Connor turned and locked in the rear naked choke. Connor quickly submitted knowing he had lost and the fight was over.
Some critics don’t think he can fight at welterweight saying his power which while it does transfer, is not as formidable as when he is fighting in the 145 pound weight class. I disagree. I think Connor can compete at this class, maybe not as effectively as at his chosen weight but he can definitely shock some of the heavier fighters. Fighting Nate was a bold move for his first welterweight opponent. As Nate Diaz demonstrated, he is extremely tough, not everyone in that division can make that claim. Connor made a massive mess of his face and it didn’t seem to phase him.
Connor demonstrated his punching power, it just didn’t exhibit as well because of the nature of the man he was fighting.
Despite several people at the UFC trying to talk him out of it, Connor has pushed for a rematch with Diaz. This has been confirmed and will occur at UFC 200 at (despite Connor being advised it is not a good idea) 170 pounds.
Connor McGregor unsurprisingly gets clean drug test back after Diaz bout
I almost laughed out loud when I heard Richard Perez, who is Nate Diaz’s boxing coach suggest Connor is on performance enhancing drugs. What was even more funnier was his sleuth like explanation behind his claims.
“When [Diaz] told him that he was on steroids, he blew up on that. If it had of been me, I would have been laughing,” Perez told Submission Radiorecently. “When somebody is guilty about something, they get defensive,” he said. “That’s my point of view.” His reasoning for the claim was that Connor bulked up too fast and was “all muscle.”
Detective Perez was proven to be incorrect however, when Connor’s drug results came back clean. It wasn’t only The Notorious who came back clean, every single fighter in UFC 196 tested negative to PES’s. Diaz was even cleared of using marijuana, a drug that was included in the screening.
Nate Diaz tells Justin Bieber to shut his bitch ass up!
Nate Diaz is for real, I don’t see how anyone can argue with that fact.
When Justin Bieber came out only hours after the win and said, “his style is terrible,” Nate responded by posting a cartoon of himself, on twitter, bitch slapping the pop star.
The speech bubble from Nate in the cartoon stated, “Shut Your Bitch Ass Up.” I laughed and laughed for about twenty minutes at that meme, well played sir. Nate probably noticed a huge spike in fans on twitter after his latest win, no doubt this incident also helped with his popularity.
Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino signed to UFC… finally
After years of this being talked about, it has finally happened.
The woman who was long considered the only serious challenge to Rhonda Rousey will be making her UFC debut at UFC 198 in Brazil.
Cyborg, who is the featherweight title holder at Invicta FC, will fight Leslie Smith on May 14th. Justino is a controversial character but there is no denying her talent. She has absolutely slaughtered the competition in her last five fights since returning from a year long absence after failing a drugs test.
Justino is an absolute beast, having won her last 15 fights straight, Smith will have her work cut out for her, that is for certain. This reflects in the fact that Justino is already a massive favourite to become the victor.
With Justino’s last five fights resulting in stoppages, there is no doubt that she is an entertaining human wrecking ball.
Her presence in the UFC is welcomed by a lot of fans but it will be interesting to see how the whole Rousey dynamic works out, especially in light of recent events.
Hopefully Cyborg stays manages to stay clean and pass the stringent drug tests the UFC conduct.
Jon Jones: problems with the law… again
Jon Jones must have thought he was in a real life version of the popular video game, “Grand Theft Auto.” The highly regarded MMA fighter was pulled over in Albuquerque on Thursday night and had the book thrown at him.
John “Bones” Jones was initially pulled over on an allegation of drag racing. The former UFC champion endeared himself to the police officer calling him, a “f#$%en liar” and a “pig.” Albuquerque PD released footage of the incident from the officer’s body camera.
The tickets soon piled up and Jones was eventually ticketed for drag racing, having a loud modified exhaust on his car, an illegible license plate, being unable to maintain a traffic lane and exhibition driving.
Jones is no stranger to the wrong side of the law, he is currently on probation stemming from a prior felony hit and run charge. Jon handed himself in on Tuesday morning, after violating the above probation, due to the issuance of the traffic tickets.
Jones is supposed to face Daniel Cormier in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 197, on April 23rd in Las Vegas but now this may have to change.
Jones had a traffic incident in January that was only recently cleared up. The judge in the case warned him to stay out of trouble so it will be interesting to see the outcome of the latest shenanigans.
The UFC released a statement acknowledging that they were aware of the incident but remained tight lipped on any further response.
UFC Fight Night: Hunt Vs Mir
From Brisbane, Australia came this epic fight card. Hunt and Mir, the two veterans were the main event with a generous sprinkling of former TUF Nations, Australia vs Canada Representatives.
British fighter Ross Pearson defeated the winner of the Tuf Nations, Australia Vs Canada series Chad Laprise. Laprise, a Christian fighter who fights out of Montreal and is known as “The disciple,” suffered his second defeat in a row. The Canadian still has an impressive 11-2 record but hopefully he can bounce back and get the W in his next fight. Ross Pearson extended his record to 21-10, winning by split decision.
Alan Jouban had a first round TKO win over former Australian TUF contestant Brendan O’Reilly with a onslaught of knees, elbows and punches.
Former Australian Olympian and judoka Daniel Kelly had a nice round three TKO victory over Antonio Carlos Junior. Kelly has been performing very well lately winning four out of his last five UFC fights. Carlos Junior is certainly no slouch with a BJJ black belt and having won The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, season three. A win over Carlos Junior is a great achievement and Kelly will be looking to capitalise on this in the near future.
Jake Matthews submitted Johnny Case in round three. Matthews, another former TUF contestant for Australia snapped Case’s 12 fight winning streak in an impressive showing.
For the main event, Mark Hunt destroyed UFC legend and former champion Frank Mir with a fantastic knockout punch in the first round. Hunt turned and walked off in his trademark fashion, confident that the hit had done its job. He was 100% correct with Mir later claiming that Hunt is the biggest hitter he has ever faced, by far. Hunt has knocked out six of his seven UFC opponents, not great odds if you are tasked with facing the Super Samoan. Hunt even invited the fans down to the local Hamilton Hotel for an after party, what a top bloke!
Paige VanZant kills it on Dancing with the stars
Paige VanZant is no stranger to footwork but lately she has been utilising footwork of a different kind on television show, “Dancing with the stars.”
Paige did great under difficult circumstances on the popular tv show. Her dance partner went down with an injury and she had to compete with a replacement.
This did not seem to bother her though as the performance was touted as the best so far on season 22 of the show. She received three scores of 8 for her dynamic salsa which culminated in an impressive total of 24/30.
Her experience as a fighter having to fight replacements helped her when she had to switch partners, she claimed.
“It was scary. When I fight, opponents switch, so I thought about it like that and (we) had to pull it together.”
The UFC has publically supported Paige in her quest to become the next champion, of Dancing with the stars. The UFC even tweeted for fans to vote for Paige after the latest episode!
This can only mean good things for the sport and the UFC obviously recognises that, appealing to a wider, mainstream audience. All the best Paige, you have been kicking arse on the dance floor.
Written by Rob Currell
Sources: cbsnews, fansided,