Last night was an extraordinary night of combat sports by any standard. Vasyl Lomachenko became the youngest ever three-weight champion in boxing thanks to a killer liver KO; UFC 224 equaled the record for most finishes ever on a UFC event (11), including a wheel kick, a throwback Machida front kick KO, a vintage John Lineker KO over Brian Kelleher after a ferocious fight, the second-ever UFC Ezekiel choke by Aleksei Oliynyk (the first also being by Aleksei Oliynyk), and Amanda Nunes’ finish over Raquel “Rocky” Pennington.
The last finish was the source of some controversy, as Pennington’s corner sent her back out for the fifth round after “Rocky” was telling them she was done. As a result, she took a lot of unnecessary damage before the stoppage, something that had professional fighters divided in how they responded.
Many fighters (including Amanda Nunes) were in agreement with the chorus of consensus that Pennington’s corner let her down by not throwing in the towel.
Damn. This is awful to see and hear! No technical changes given to mentally make Rocky feel like she could win. Just a be tough, push through, and take more damage, while looking for an opening that no one pointed out for her at all. Rocky wanted to Live to fight another day. https://t.co/LOeHK82nsO— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) May 13, 2018
However, there were several (including fellow American Top Team member Will Brooks) who weren’t in that camp. Brooks maintained that people don’t understand the decisions handler’s make because they don’t understand the psyche of a fighter.
Regular people will never understand the depths of the psyche of a fighter. We’re just a different breed of human that need a different breed of person (handler) to deal with us.— Will Brooks (@ILLxWillBrooks) May 13, 2018
That said, a lot of fighters were of the opinion that it wasn’t okay for Pennington to be sent out to get slaughtered like that.
They should have never let her go into the 5th round like that.— Brian Ortega (@BrianTcity) May 13, 2018
Coaches should throw that towel...sad— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) May 13, 2018
Former UFC champion Tim Sylvia had one of the harshest takes, saying Pennington shouldn’t even be a fighter (nor should anyone who quits between rounds).
Shouldn’t be a fighter then if you try to quit in between rounds https://t.co/xTo9CMSwU0— Tim Sylvia (@timsylviamma) May 13, 2018
Violent Bob Ross, who competed on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), split the difference saying sometimes you need the corner that will push you past self-doubt.
I’m just saying I sustained a cracked orbital and a concussion in the first round of my last fight before I got in the House my coaches told me fuck that shit and I went out there and got the finish in the 3rd sometimes you need that voice— Luis Antonio Pena (@violentbobross) May 13, 2018
And I’m not taking anything from rocky I’m just saying there are gonna be times you don’t believe in yourself and honestly do you want the people around you who agree and say nah you’re right you can’t do it or do you want the people that believe you’re already the world champ— Luis Antonio Pena (@violentbobross) May 13, 2018
But, many were pointed to Trevor Whittman, who is the very rare mixed martial arts (MMA) corner who did stop the bout the moment his fighter Nate Marquardt had had enough.
From UFC 188, Nate Marquardt tells his coach Trevor Whittman he has nothing left and coach immediately calls off the fight. Respect the coaches that have their fighters best interest at heart. pic.twitter.com/QEqZRpNQao— Punch-Drunk Pauly (@punchdrunkpauly) February 5, 2018
While it certainly helps to have a corner to push you past your limits, it doesn’t seem controversial to conclude that your corner should also be looking out for your safety in the cage. Until MMA corners learn that sometimes it’s okay to let the second outweigh the first, the beatings will continue.
Cub Swanson’s a dad now and he is coming in strong with the appropriate jokes for the role.
Speaking of dads, I didn’t realize “Big” John McCarthy’s son, Little John* McCarthy, judges MMA fights.
*Not his name
“King Mo” has decided the time has come for him to move to Middleweight after Bader’s quick win.
This is MMA. Things don't always go the way you expected. Congratulations to @ryanbader for his big win tonight. He deserves it. Now, this being said, It's now time for me to move to the Middleweight division #KingMoneyweight pic.twitter.com/KY49qbXTub— King Muhammed (@KingMoFH) May 13, 2018
On a night of liver shots this was Bas Rutten’s highlight.
We have seen some livershots today and Lomachenko, but none like this one, look at 3:30, ducks and a livershot delivered with his head?! Those Giraffe’s! https://t.co/e21NvF0Sbp— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) May 13, 2018
Machida’s front kick was an incredibly unique historical mirror both because his teammate Anderson had done it before to Vitor, and because this is the second time Machida has followed Anderson’s path by retiring a legend with a front kick knockout, the first being his switch kick against Randy Couture.
John Lineker got a variety of responses from other UFC Bantamweight fighters after his awe-inspiring knockout of iron-chinned Brian Kelleher.
One can only dream.
Remember that one time John Lineker and Cody Garbrandt were supposed to fight in 2016, but it never happened? I hope it happens someday.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 13, 2018
Meanwhile, Paul Daley was booing his own fight in Bellator.
Slips, Rips, KO Clips
This ring contained the most pugilistic skill on display all year. Credit to Jorge Linares for knocking him down, but Vasyl Lomachenko is the master.
We are spoiled in this era for quality MMA, but it’s not every day you see a wheel kick knockout, so let’s appreciate it.
Aaron Pico got another body shot finish -- this is becoming his thing.
Gaston Bolanos brought his leg kicks with him on the Bellator 199 “Prelims” undercard:
Thats why I prefer the ground game lol. Ouch... . . - @bellatormma tonight I’ve said it before but @dreamkiller_bolanos has some of the nastiest Leg Kicks in the game ... this is his 5th Leg Kick TKO in his career Repost @shai_yaya ・・・ Respect them leg kicks! @dreamkiller_bolanos @csagym #Bellator199 - #bjj #jiujitsu #mma #legkicks
Mackenzie Dern not even bothering to cut weight certainly didn’t HURT her against Amanda Cooper.
Mackenize Dern drops Amanda Cooper with a big looping right then chokes her out with a quickness. Fighters who miss weight in the UFC move to 6-0 in 2018. #UFC224— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) May 13, 2018
Mackenzie Dern is wildly talented and that's going to take her a long way regardless of how much time she spends doing "cardio" or "cutting weight" or "training"— Patrick Wyman (@Patrick_Wyman) May 13, 2018
John Lineker is an anomaly.
Aleksei Oleinik hit this Ezekiel choke from the bottom, which is just ... unprecedented.
Aleksei Oleinik finishes the fight with yet another Ezekiel choke. pic.twitter.com/UambFMvU57— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) May 13, 2018
Then there was this ...
Oh my god. Barbara Nalepka KO's Beata Bardziak with an INSANE flying kick at Ladies Fight Night 9. pic.twitter.com/FzNcdGGYIH— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) May 12, 2018
... and this leaping head kick KO
This fox is diving for mice in the snow like he always does
I’m mad how well this goes:
Enjoy your Sunday, Maniacs!