UFC made its presence known to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat., March 7, 2020) for UFC 248. Arguably the best pay-per-view event yet in 2020, UFC 248 featured two compelling title fights, and the rest of the card was solid throughout. Even though one fight did get cancelled the day of the event, there’s still plenty to talk about.
Let’s take a closer look at the best fights and strongest performances of the night!
Israel Adesanya did what he needed to do last night (watch highlights).
It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fun. None of that particularly matters though, as Adesanya walked away from the cage with his belt and championship in tact. He stayed ahead on the cards and scored the more damaging blows. By the end of the fight, Romero’s leg was trashed, which was clearly the most significant damage done by either man.
“Stylebender” is still an exciting fighter, he’s earned one mediocre fight.
The Greatest Fight In Women’s MMA History (Watch Highlights)
There have been brawls in WMMA before. It’s actually not that uncommon, a likely result when two women without wrestling backgrounds meet in the cage. When neither woman has the ability to take down the other, we very often witness the two ladies throw down in the center.
There have also been highly technical showcases. Valentina Shevchenko routinely puts on displays of expert efficiency that are rarely matched by anyone, male or female. Tatiana Suarez can chain wrestle with serious grace, and Rose Namajunas’ footwork and distance management are a joy to watch.
However, I cannot really think of a previous WMMA fight that qualifies as a technical brawl. Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk both threw an inhuman number of strikes and demonstrated incredible toughness. They also kept their wits with them throughout the brutality, showing smart setups and tricky counters until the final bell.
It was a victory for Women’s MMA.
Things were going relatively according to plan for Drakkar Klose.
He was never likely to win the first round against Beneil Dariush, the more technical man by pretty much any metric. The fact that Dariush soundly out-grappled him in the opening round was not a shock. However, it was equally unsurprising when Klose stormed out of the gates in the second looking the fresher man. His game is toughness and grit, whereas Dariush is known to slow down in fights.
Klose had the fight he wanted at the start of the second round. He found success hammering the calf and landing right hands. Before long, he cracked Dariush with a right hand, and his opponent was stunned (watch highlights).
All according to plan — except everything went wrong immediately. Dariush is not known for his durability; Klose is. A straight up brawl favored Klose on paper, and it was finally happening! Then, Klose got whacked hard while pushing forward. Undeterred, he kept throwing and got cracked again. Klose backed away in a hurry this time, only to find himself on the end of a picture-perfect overhand left from Dariush.
It was awesome and unexpected, a classic example of MMA’s crazy nature flipping everything on its head.
Return of the Suga Show
After two years away from the Octagon, Sean O’Malley styled on Jose Quinonez last night.
From the first bell, O’Malley had his range figured out, while Quinonez was a step behind. Really, “Teco” was in a tough position, dealing with both a range and speed disadvantage. O’Malley made the most of both traits brilliantly, showing one strike before bursting in with another. For example, at one point, O’Malley whiffed on a huge right hand as Quinonez stepped back. Half a moment later, O’Malley took another deep step forward, this time with a cracking body kick.
The finish was gorgeous as well. O’Malley landed a great check hook from the Southpaw stance to off-balance Quinonez. As “Teco” recovered, O’Malley feinted to bring his guard up then fired a cross-same side kick combination. The kick wrapped around the guard and did damage, and O’Malley followed it up with a perfectly timed uppercut as Quinonez dived forward.
Disregard the weed and fact tattoos: O’Malley is the real deal.
It took one clean snap kick to the jaw to revert Rodolfo Vieira to his background. Saparbek Safarov’s strike sent Vieira into fight-or-flight mode, and the Brazilian went full BJJ.
Luckily, that was always the “Black Belt Hunter” game plan. Once Vieira committed to his takedown, he scored top position almost immediately. From there, his mastery was evident. Even with his eye rapidly swelling shut, Vieira tied up his opponents arms and flattened him out, forcing Safarov into back mount and mount.
From mount, Vieira landed a hard elbow, forcing Safarov to cling to his waist to prevent further punishment. Vieira knew that reaction would come and countered, swimming his arm inside and dropping his head. It’s a classic arm triangle setup, but one that remains incredibly difficult to stop when implemented by a black belt with gigantic muscles.
The Failed Experiment
It was fun while it lasted, but Deron Winn has helped educate the world on why being a 5’6” Middleweight is unrealistic.
Winn won his debut fight against Eric Spicely, and he did so impressively, setting records for volume. Unfortunately, that was also something of a red flag: top prospects do not need to brawl with Spicely, the jiu-jitsu guy. His next fight proved the problem, as Winn somehow missed weight — again, he’s 5-foot-6!!! — and lost a split-decision to Darren Stewart.
We cannot write a fighter off after a sole loss though. After all, Stewart is an excellent athlete, a knockout artist coming into his own. The fight was close! There was still reason to hope for a positive outcome.
Gerald Meerschaert shut all that down. I like “GM3” a lot, but he’s a very straightforward fighter. He’s not a particularly good athlete — just a tough dude with great jiu-jitsu and a heavy left kick. A good test, but one a top prospect must pass in order to escape the center of the division’s ranks.
Winn didn’t do much to adjust. He moved forward and flurried, occasionally landing his nasty overhand. Otherwise, Meerschaert patiently slapped him with jabs and crosses, slamming home that left kick occasionally. By round three, the damage accumulated, and Winn stumbled around while rocked until mercifully choked out.
Winn faces a huge disadvantage at every fight, and he hasn’t shown an ability to adjust to that problem. If he’s to ever become a contender, Winn needs to shed some mass and head to Welterweight.
- Neil Magny defeats Li Jingliang via unanimous decision: The important of cardio cannot be overstated. In the first round, Jingliang landed some hard punches and a couple takedowns. He also expended a ton of energy to do so, getting wrapped up in Magny’s more technical clinch game. By the second, Jingliang was exhausted, and Magny was able to completely take control and pick apart his foe to return to the win column.
- Danaa Batgerel defeats Guido Cannetti via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Batgerel and Cannetti wasted very little time in exchanging heavy blows. Cannetti looked to circle and blast left kicks, while Batgerel pressured with combinations. Some of Cannetti’s kicks landed well, but Batgerel’s constant pressure saw him find Cannetti’s chin with consistency. Out of nowhere, Batgerel connected directly to the chin with a dipping left hook, which sent Cannetti down hard and earned Batgerel his first UFC victory.
For complete UFC 248: “Adesanya vs. Romero” results and play-by-play, click HERE!