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Here’s everything that happened at UFC 232: ‘Jones vs Gustafsson 2’ last night

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made a last minute trip to Inglewood, Calif., last night (Dec. 29, 2018) for UFC 232. The final event of the year proved to be a high-quality affair, featuring a pair of titles on the line and an undercard filled with exciting match ups. More than any actual bout, however, Jon Jones’ drug tests and their respective picograms dominated the news leading up to the actual fights. Fortunately, most of the noise was forgotten once the fists started to fly, so let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!

The Bad Guy Wins

Jones might have been stripped of the title three separate times in the last few years. To quote Mark Hunt, he might be a “cheating rat.” He might also be a terrible person ... but he is definitely the Light Heavyweight champion, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind after last night’s hugely impressive win (watch highlights).

Jones had his way with Gustafsson, denying the Swede anything similar to a boxing match. Instead, “Bones” met Gustafsson’s attempts to break into the pocket with painfully hard, body-breaking kicks, bony elbows, and dogged takedown attempts. Jones broke him down slowly, gained top position, and finished him completely. Inside the cage, Jones is brilliance.

There is no challenge for Jones at 205 pounds right now. He might as well go after Daniel Cormier’s Heavyweight crown and give the division a couple years to catch up to him. Maybe at that point, someone like Dominick Reyes would be a true threat to the champion, rather than rushing Reyes into a title shot in the next 12 months.

Until then, let’s keep an eye out for USADA notifications.

The Greatest Female Fighter of All Time

MMA is way too obsessed with the “G.O.A.T.” label, but Nunes’ case compared to her peers makes it clear there is no competitor.

Opposite Cyborg, Nunes showed no fear of the hulking Brazilian. Immediately, Nunes opened the fight with a massive overhand, trying to shut her lights off. Cyborg seemed incensed at the idea that anyone would dare trade with her and threw technique out the window, brawling with Nunes. As the woman jumping up in weight, Nunes was faster, which meant that her overhand landed first ... and that overhand is brutally heavy (watch highlights).

Let’s take a brief recap of Nunes’ accomplishments and claim to G.O.A.T. status:

  1. Knocked out Cris Cyborg, the previous long-time queen of Featherweight
  2. Knocked out Ronda Rousey, the previous long-time queen of Bantamweight (watch it)
  3. Twice defeated Valentina Shevchenko, the current (and likely long-time) queen of Flyweight

Ho-ly crap!

Bantamweight’s Growing Depth

The 135-pound division has a ton of talent, and never is that more obvious than when a bunch of young, relatively unproven Bantamweights show off their skills. Between the FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass “Prelims” portions of the evening, three up-and-coming Bantamweights secured finishes against tough opponents and showed off great technique all while early in their respective careers.

Petr Yan was the most impressive of the bunch, as the Russian kickboxer scored his third straight victory inside the Octagon, finishing the year 3-0 in his new promotion. Opposite a dangerous man in Douglas Silva D’Andrade, Yan picked apart his hulking opponent and never removed his foot from the gas. Yan’s combinations and defense while pressuring were devastating, wearing D’Andrade down and forcing his corner to throw in the towel.

Previous to that fight, Montel Jackson and Nathaniel Wood showcased true skill and athleticism in their victories, promising performances that push them forward as future contenders. There’s more detail on their fights below, but all three men are about 25 years old and should leave fight fans excited about the future of the Bantamweight division.

Additional Thoughts

  • Michael Chiesa submits Carlos Condit (recap): It was a major question whether Chiesa’s size and grappling prowess would carry over to 170 pounds, but he seemed to have no issues opposite Condit (who admittedly has never been difficult to take down). Chiesa was still the bigger and stronger man, hanging on Condit in the clinch and throwing him to the mat seemingly at will. Condit threw up some dangerous submissions from his back, but Chiesa continually frustrated him with control and top position. Condit was in more of a hurry to stand back up in the second, which quickly exposed him to a kimura submission. Chiesa’s final step to finish was very interesting: after getting the arm behind the back, he released the two-on-one grip — generally a bad idea, as that grip is majorly powerful — but was able to put way more pressure on the hold as a result.
  • Alexander Volkanovski crushes Chad Mendes (recap): In an excellent mirror match, Volkanovski’s jab and pace made the difference. Mendes was the faster man early and landed the harder punches as a result, but Volkanovski maintained constant pressure and stuck a jab in Mendes’ face the entire time. In addition, Volkanovski’s ability to immediately stand up after Mendes took him down was exhausting as well, culminating in the eventual finish when “The Great” teed off on his fatigued foe along the fence.
  • Ryan Hall taps B.J. Penn (highlights): I expected an ugly kickboxing match, and for a few minutes, we got one. Penn looked a bit more muscly than recent fights but definitely still old. Hall shambled about and threw random Karate kicks. That changed in an instant when Hall rolled into a heel hook, immediately locking down the knee and tearing at Penn’s ligaments for a first-round victory.
  • Nathaniel Wood defeats Andre Ewell (highlights): Wood is very much another real deal prospect at 135 pounds. Opposite the lanky Ewell, Wood kept his defensive tight as he stalked, firing in combination and kicking the lead leg. In addition, Wood’s ability to close distance with a sudden right hand lead was really impressive. As the fight wore on though, Wood’s realized Ewell had nothing for him on the mat and eventually choked him out.
  • Uriah Hall stops Bevon Lewis (highlights): Hall won approximately 30 seconds of the fight and was dominated throughout the rest before another miraculous knockout. Lewis went after him early and did real damage, landing stinging combinations, hard low kicks, and a lot of brutal elbows and knees in the clinch. Lewis had his way with Hall, all until the third round when Lewis slowed a bit and leaned too hard into a right hand. His head came past his knee, and Hall countered with a shifting uppercut straight to the jaw, a true one punch knockout. We leave this fight knowing two things for certain: Hall can win or lose any fight at any time, and Bevon Lewis is a hell of a young prospect at 185 pounds.
  • Curtis Millender decisions Siyar Bahadurzada: An absolute war graced the Fight Pass “prelims” card. Millender was the far superior technician, and his skills carried him through the first round easily. Early, Millender’s low kicks were brutal, and his right hand fired like a piston whenever Bahadurzada reached for him and missed. In the second, however, fatigue slowed his feet a bit, allowing Bahadurazada — a man with bricks for a chin and fists — to begin connecting a bit more and land a takedown. It all came down to the final five minutes, where were tremendously back-and-forth: Millender nearly knocked Bahadurzada out to start, later wound up on his back, and the round ended with close exchanges of punches and ground positions. All in all, Millender did prove himself the better man but was forced to work very hard in the process.
  • Montel Jackson rocks and stops Brian Kelleher (highlights): It has to be said that Jackson missed weight, which is something to keep an eye on, but besides that ... wow. Jackson picked Kelleher apart from the first snapping jab he threw, forcing Kelleher to force his way close and try to wrestle. There was no refuge for the New Yorker in the clinch though, as Jackson countered his forward pressure with a short elbow, stunning him badly. The fight was nearly finished with strikes, but Jackson instead rolled into a d’arce choke to secure the tap. A technical and violent win for yet another Bantamweight (or maybe Featherweight) prospect.

For complete UFC 232: “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.