The Monday After: UFC 249
Source: Douglas P DeFelice/Getty Images
Initial thoughts; No attendance, no gate, and you know what? It was one of the better cards the UFC has ever put on. This isn't the first card with no fans but it was the first BIG card to be given the Covid treatment, and to Dana White's credit, it was executed rather seamlessly. Great job all around by the UFC. Now, the fights.
After weeks deprived of actual sports (no, I don't count marble racing or video game watching solid replacements) this is what I imagine crack addicts feel like after going a day or two without, well, crack and finally getting to take a hit. It felt like the world was good again without all of the nasty side effects of being addicted to crack, I imagine that's not good, idk to each their own. No judgement.
Like I was saying though, the card was excellent. The prelims were so stacked that by the time we got to the main card it felt we had already indulged in too much MMA goodness. It felt like going for fifths at Thanksgiving, you know it's technically not wrong, but there comes a point where even you start to feel that maybe you've had a bit too much. But yet here we were, fork and knife in hand leaning into the main course.
I'll say this, Justin Gaethje is a monster. Maybe that didn't need saying but after that performance I think I may be equally stoked to see him fight Khabib. You gotta feel for Tony though, his time in the sun always seems to be delayed or put off or even taken from whether it's injuries or a goddamn pandemic. However, I think cutting weight twice in under a span of a month had to have some sort of effect on his performance. He seemed late to the punch and at times just simply outclassed. Honest perspective.
At 36 you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. Barring that uppercut from hell, I don't think anyone was prepared for such a one-sided contest. You could see his frustration at the end of the fight and the disappointment in his voice while talking to Rogan. Tough situation for him, but if anyone can bounce back it's "El Cucuy". How long he'll be out and who he'll fight next is anyone's guess, but I believe he'll want to be thrown right back into the fire.
But as one door closes, another one opens. I know the world was looking forward to Tony-Khabib, but after that performance "The Highlight" looks like his game is ready and refined enough to take on the ultimate challenge in the Lightweight division. I don't know how anyone could bet against Khabib, but he may just be in for the biggest test of his career, and after UFC 249 he probably knows it. Hyped to see it.
The other big news of the night was the retirement of Henry Cejudo. Whether you love or hate the "King of Cringe" you have to respect what he's done in the sport. Thinking back to his first title fight with Demetrious Johnson to now, the man has just simply improved in every facet of the game. Just a shame he couldn't let fans in on the personal moment given the circumstances.
As for the stoppage? I didn't agree with it, but to be honest I don't think that that fight was ever going to go in Cruz's favour. Cejudo was chopping down the legs and closing the distance at a rapid rate, and it was only the second round. It would have been tough sledding for Dom to come back in that fight. Regardless, if I was him I would've been upset as well, but with the current landscape of the division it could be a quick turnaround for him and getting another shot at the Bantamweight crown.
Cejudo's retirement seems concrete, but I just can't help but foam at the mouth with the thought of one more fight between him and Mighty Mouse. Round 3 boys, let's go!
Quick recap for the rest of the card; Ngannou is Thanos, such shame with what's happening with Stipe and DC, he needs another shot. Kattar really showed his medal against a game Stephens, another shot at the top 5 at 145 is an obvious given. Hardy is still very raw and apparently owes the win to DC, check kicks kids! The prelims were awesome, Bryce Mitchell looked incredible as well. All-around 249 was legit.
Up next we have a UFC Fight Night in Jacksonville this Wednesday headlined by Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira, I'll have a preview for that bad boy later this week, until then though, follow @Laymanssports for more wonderful sporting news and follow your boy @ReallyRobbieC if that's something you desire as well.