Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada to hold UFC 170: 'Rousey vs. McMann' last night (Feb. 22, 2014). The card featured former Olympians Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann doing battle for the UFC Women's Bantamweight title.
It was supposed to be Rousey's stiffest test as a competitor. Instead, she showed that she's improved her striking and once again proved to be the top female athlete in the UFC.
The co-main event was expected to be a light heavyweight tilt between Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier but a knee injury forced Evans from the card 10 days out. Cormier instead faced former 2x All-American Patrick Cummins. It wasn't a tough test for Cormier and there still remain a lot of questions regarding his standing at light heavyweight.
Anyways, this preview has gone on long enough so let's talk about last night.
Ronda Rousey by ... TKO?
Within the UFC's women's bantamweight division, Ronda Rousey is king...er...queen. She's proven to be light years ahead of her peers as a grappler and last night she proved that she could not only take a punch, but give one as well.
She faced her stiffest competition yet in Sara McMann, a fellow Olympian and former Silver medalist in wrestling. It was the perfect opportunity to see how their styles would clash inside the cage. However, instead of it playing out on the mat, the two traded punches against the fence in the clinch (video highlights here).
The knee she landed to McMann's liver was great. It shows that she's improving everywhere instead of just constantly playing to her strengths. My only issue is that the win felt cheapened by the fact that Herb Dean rushed in to stop the fight when McMann was recovering, but more on that later.
Solid showing from the champ. I hear "Cyborg" is waiting for her ...
Hey Pat, Daniel would like a Venti Chai Latte ...
Pat Cummins did exactly what he needed to do in the short pre-fight build. With 10 days to go before the fights, he needed to give people a reason to watch him step in on short notice to face Daniel Cormier. Obviously, he didn't stand much chance, but he needed to do the talking anyways.
Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg did their jobs as well, telling the television audience that Cummins is a monster in the gym and the most talented guy outside of the UFC. It was all bologna but they've gotta make it seem like it's a fair fight, right?
Cormier did what everyone expected and then some. He just smashed Cummins and sent him to the floor with punches to the dome piece (video highlights here). As DC said in his post-fight interview, when you talk shit, you gotta back it up. Cummins got the first part right, but epically failed with the second.
So with a win over unranked, unsigned Patrick Cummins, where does Cormier stand in the light heavyweight division? Does he have to pay dues or is he fast tracked to a title shot because of age and potential?
The return of Rory MacDonald ...
Rory MacDonald has been rightfully criticized lately for fighting a "safe" style. Once deemed the heir apparent to Georges St-Pierre's throne, he instead became a boring fighter who utilizes a jab instead of engaging with his opponents. I guess in that way, he is a lot like St-Pierre (Boom! Roasted).
He needed to show that not only is he still a top flight fighter in a stacked welterweight division, but he can also bring the noise when needed.
Enter Demian Maia.
Maia pushed the pace in the first round and put MacDonald's back against that proverbial wall by taking the first and forced him to fight in the second and third rounds (video highlights here). Instead of seeing another "safe" MacDonald fight, fans were treated to the guy who was expected to take the division by storm.
Now I want to see him do it again.
Herb Dean's awful night ...
Herb Dean is often called "the best referee in the business." Sure, he'll make mistakes, but for the most part the guy is absolutely bullet proof when it comes to being the third man inside the cage. It's the reason why he gets the top assignments on any given card.
Unfortunately, lately he's been amazingly inconsistent. First there was the stoppage in the Renan Barao/Urijah Faber bout at UFC 169. Dean missed several opportunities to stop the fight when Faber was rocked. Instead, he chose to wave off the fight when Faber was defending himself and Barao's punches were landing to the shoulder.
If it was a one time screw up, that's fine.
But he boned the call not once, but twice last night as well. First was the aforementioned title fight between Sara McMann and Ronda Rousey. McMann did get dropped by a knee to the liver, but she was on her way back to her feet when Dean decided to step in.
More egregious was his stoppage in the Mike Pyle-T.J. Waldburger fight. Pyle locked in a very tight arm-in guillotine choke from mount while also trapping Waldburger's other arm. There was a very quick tap before T.J. went to sleep. Dean missed the tap so Pyle continued to unload punches. And more punches. And more punches before finally stopping the fight (video highlights here).
A referee's number one priority is ensuring fighter safety in the cage. Because he screwed up miserably in early in the night, he was overly cautious in the main event. If a ref loses his confidence, he's useless to the fighters and commission. That happened to Herb last night.
- Respect to McMann for not placing the blame on Herb Dean for the stoppage. It was a classy move by a classy athlete.
- Stephen Thomson is a lot of fun to watch. Like a lot of fun. He won't ever be a title contender but jeez is he fun to watch.
- Alexis Davis looked good against Jessica Eye but I want to see more from her. More of her on the feet and more on the ground. Riding out a decision gets wins but it doesn't get fans.
- I seriously hope T.J. Waldburger is okay. He's 25 years old and has been knocked out seven times already. That's not good, especially considering last night's beating.
- Zach Makovsky needs to face a top fighter in the flyweight division next. He's got the skills to compete at the highest level so why is Joe Silva holding him back?
- Erik Koch will be fun to watch at lightweight. I doubt he ever sniffs a title shot but weirder things have happened in mixed martial arts (MMA).
- Yosdenis Cedeno has the worst hair in MMA ever. EVER.
- Did we ever find out what a "Durkin" is?