How? How did Volkanovski survive that? Especially applied by someone like Ortega who knows how to choke a sod out better than most. Incredible fight. Points wise it was a clear win for Volk but it was so exciting to watch and Ortega certainly had his moments, once again showed a ton of toughness and heart and somehow having a strong 5th round despite the beating he was taking. Once again though, it was a rough one.
An all too familiar sight. Not quite as bad as he looked after the Holloway massacre but not far off. These title fights just aren’t panning out for T-City are they? He’s nearly there, he’d have finished almost anyone else with that mounted guillotine, but he’s just a shade below that very elite tippy-top of the division.
Not sure where Ortega goes after this. Calvin Kattar maybe? Would be fun but I feel cold blooded even suggesting it with them both coming off severe trashings from Volk and Max respectively. Does Ortega take a couple of steps down in levels now, maybe try 155? And what about Volko? I’ve already seen talk of a third go with Holloway but Holloway’s booked against Yair in November now. Until it inevitably goes tits up again anyway. If that fight does go ahead, I reckon the most likely scenario is Volk rests up and fights the winner of that one in 2022. I did see Henry Cejudo tweet something about fighting Volk but he always does that on fight nights doesn’t he? Same with McGregor. He had a pop on Twitter, I can only assume out of bitterness because the commentators said Volk beat ‘the 2 best Featherweights of all time - Holloway and Aldo’. Something like that. Hop-along Con’s fragile ego apparently couldn’t handle it. All that silly shite aside, it’s a really interesting time at 145. Max vs Yair coming up, the Zombie’s still knocking about, Chikadze’s rising up the ranks, Kattar could still rebound, prospects like Ilia Topuria coming up. And now Coach Mark Henry’s just hinted at Zabit making a return! So much going on. But yeah, one of the best fights of the year so far easy. If not the best.
Valentina Shevchenko killed another one.
Who can they even throw at her next? Seriously I can’t think of anyone who’s obvious or stands out as having earned a shot. There’s definitely nobody left who’s interesting. Not for the foreseeable anyway. Maybe there’s something juicy down the road if a Tatiana Suarez can come back with a bang or something, or if Manon Fiorot can keep winning. But we’re talking way down the line for both. Suarez hasn’t even made her Flyweight debut yet and it remains to be seen how she looks after all the time away and the injuries etc. And Fiorot, it’s still very early days. The thing with Shevchenko as well is her defences have been so one-sided that it doesn’t even really leave things open for a rematch. I think they’re gonna have to go with Shev vs Nunes 3 soon. Especially if Nunes just wrecks Pena in December like I suspect she will. There’s nothing to work with for either in 2022. I’m not usually a fan of two champs facing each other and holding up 2 divisions unless it’s something mega. But in this case, what would they even be holding up? They’ve cleaned out their divisions. At least if they face each other it’ll give the rest of them some time for a contender or two to emerge. Maybe.
Yeah. Just book it. It’s 2-0 to Nunes but both fights were very close and Shevchenko has improved just as much and arguably more than Nunes since they last met. Sod it. If Nunes beats Pena in December, let’s get Nunes vs Shevchenko 3 on around March/April.
Lawler vs Diaz 2 was a right mix of emotions. I can’t deny it was a ‘mark out moment’, for lack of a better term, for me watching the walkout. Took me back and it’s something I never thought I’d see again, Nick Diaz walking to the Octagon. Despite all the concern and doubts about him this week, it was a bit of a goosebumpy moment for me and as much as I love MMA, there hasn’t been many genuine goosebump moments this year. Then Anik with this…
“I haven’t smelt marijuana all night, you can certainly smell weed now inside the T-Mobile arena!” - Jon Anik
I was ready. And I’ll be honest, this wasn’t as sad to me as it seems it was to many. Well not all of it anyway. I pissed myself at Diaz opening up with the worst fucking attempt at a spin kick ever. He used to do weird shite like that way back. Still, Diaz throwing his own “spinning shit”, the same week Condit retired, did tickle me. There were moments in the fight where Nick kind of looked like the old Nick and I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoyed spells of the fight and a lot of the exchanges. Slow as a lot of them were. But yeah, I’d have enjoyed it more if Diaz looked like he wanted to be there. Forget the little bit of a belly and him not looking too sharp. I’ve seen a load of doom and gloom about that but it’s worth remembering this was his first fight in over 6 years. There was bound to be some rust. It’s the overall vibe he was giving off that made it a bit uncomfortable to watch for me more than anything. Even during the walkout which I mentioned as a positive there above, he just didn’t look arsed. There was no mean mug like he always had in the past walking in, no scowling during the intros, just seemed to be no go in him at all. He threw shots because he had to, Lawler was coming at him guns blazing. And he’s still a tough fucker. Some of the body shots and kicks he absorbed were nasty. He kept a poker face and kept marching forward. He’s always been a hard bastard. But the combination of him clearly not feeling it and Lawler looking more up for a scrap than he has in years was a recipe for what we got.
The record books will say ‘TKO via retirement’ and maybe that’s fitting because that’s likely where Diaz is heading. Maybe. Depends how much he needs the money I suppose.
There was something he touched on during his interview with Brett Okamoto the other day that caught my attention. He was saying there were plans he had to open his own gym and the people he was in business with fucked him around. It was something like that but you know Nick, it was hard to make sense of what he was trying to say and it seemed like he was gonna say more but cut himself short. Maybe he got fleeced or maybe it’s just a case of him blaming bad choices with money on other things like how he blamed losses in his career on anything but himself. I know that sounds harsh and maybe it’s not the case at all here and he’s genuinely been fucked over. Who knows? But I’ve got a feeling this is why he’s back fighting. It’d be a shame because the money he must’ve made from those GSP and Anderson Silva fights could’ve set him up nicely if invested properly but this whole thing feels very much like he’s back because his money ran out.
I don’t know what happens now. You’d think it’s over but if he’s skint these days I could just as easily see him convincing Dana this was all just ring rust and being booked in another fight in a few months. Dana wasn’t at the post-fight press conference but it felt like the kind of fight where he’d usually be calling for retirement after but you never know. If he’s gonna fight again, and based on this it’s probably a bad idea, but if he’s gonna then it needs to be against someone like Cowboy Cerrone. But even then, unless he makes huge gains from this he’s probably getting beat up again. Just thank fuck they didn’t do that Chimaev fight eh? Or do something really stupid and get him killed by Usman.
As for Lawler, he looked about as good as you could in a fight like this. Yeah it was a badly faded Diaz but if Lawler showed anything then at least he wasn’t gun-shy like his last few. He’s never gonna be 2015 Lawler again but I still think with the right style opponent you’ll get fun fights. I think his previous few fights gave a bit of a distorted impression of how shot he was. Put him in with a Niko Price or do a Matt Brown rematch or something and I’m sure you’ll see flashes of the old Ruthless Bob. Throw him in with a grinder or a top contender and of course he’ll be hesitant. The guy who took Johny Hendricks’ soul and went to war with Rory and Condit, he’s not that guy anymore. But he’s not last legs BJ Penn either. I still wanna see him twat Mike Perry, to be honest.
Blaydes vs Rozenstruik was a snoozer. Totally got why Blaydes played it safe though, coming off that crushing KO from the Black Beast. And then add in his eye was swollen shut halfway through. He needed that W and he went about it in a smart way. Just not one that made for the most exciting viewing. Blaydes will be getting stick for it today but it’s as much on Rozenstruik for not being able to do anything about it. He had nothing for Blaydes’ wrestling game. Fair play to Blaydes for calling out all the killers at the top of the division but I doubt he gets any of those fights at this stage.
Jessica Andrade bashing up Calvillo was a pleasant way to open up the PPV. That sounds well harsh on Calvillo I know but I was hoping for 2 things in this fight - 1) an Andrade win and 2) the fight not to be boring. Andrade delivered on both fronts. She’s in a funny old spot now though. She’ll beat all of these contenders convincingly and she’ll keep getting to the title shot but when she gets there she just doesn’t have quite enough to beat the champs. She’s basically the Joseph Benavidez of Flyweight/Strawweight. Similar spot to where Brian Ortega finds himself at 145 now as well actually.
Dvalishvili vs Moraes was tremendous. On any other card this would’ve been a lock for FOTN but they missed out here because of Volkanovski vs Ortega. Hopefully they still got something extra because this was brilliant. This though…
I jinxed him, didn’t I? Soz Marlon.
The knock on Merab had been that he’s not always been that exciting to watch and had become a bit of a decision merchant. But you could always tell watching him and the pace he sets that he’s an animal. He just hadn’t really had his feet held to the fire before to bring it out of him. Well Moraes nearly knocked his head off in the first round and Merab showed what he’s made of. Crazy first round, even crazier comeback from Merab and then to finish it the following round was the cherry on top. Great fight. If this had been on the main card in place of Blaydes vs Rozey then it would’ve been one of the best main cards ever.
Hooker vs Haqparast was good, although not quite the stormer I thought it might be. Strong showing from Hooker though and he needed it coming off the Chandler KO. I’ve often picked up on a bit of a dickhead vibe from Hooker but I’ve kind of warmed to him a bit more recently. And I really liked his post-fight interview last night, all class towards Haqparast who must be a ball of emotions right now losing his mum then having the chaos surrounding this event. Loved the Tsarukyan callout as well. That one needs booking next. They’ve been bickering for months on and off on social media, Tsarukyan is due a step up, Hooker’s trying to rebuild. It’s perfect. Do it over 5 rounds, I say.
I like this Chris Daukaus. Sweet finish against Abdurakhimov here and came across well in the post-fight interview. He sounds like Stipe just easier to understand. Him and Tom Aspinall could be a fun Heavyweight bombfest somewhere down the road.
Taila Santos beat Modafferi quite comfortably as expected. Fair play to Modafferi though. She takes on these tough fights and she’s always game. She was standing and throwing strikes at times and actually landing the odd decent one but Santos just had too much for her, even getting the better of it on the ground which is Modafferi’s strength. Santos didn’t blow anyone away here but I still think there’s a lot of potential there. Modafferi’s awkward and crafty and hard to look good against.
Only caught snippets off the Fight Pass bit. Jalin Turner beating Uros Medic was a little bit of a surprise. Turner had been inconsistent previously and I think there were high expectations for Medic. Oh and Matthew Semelsberger just wasted Martin Sano in 15 seconds…
Must’ve had other things to do because he wasn’t hanging about here. At all. I said in the opening post I thought Sano was just getting the shot here as a favour to Nick Diaz because he’s a teammate. Looking at his record there was no other reason to think they’d sign him. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ‘one and done’ for him after this. Semelsberger is worth keeping an eye on though. This is twice now this year that he’s wiped someone out in seconds. He had a 16 second KO back in March. Lost to Khaos Williams on points in between. I don’t see him amounting to much or going much further up the ladder but he can definitely crack and he’s exciting to watch.
Yeah, thought that was one of the better cards this year. It had a bit of something for everyone, two FOTY candidates, a big return, big finishes etc. The only bad fight was Blaydes-Rozenstruik but it didn’t drag the overall card down for me. It was more like a breather before the top 3 fights got underway.
I give it, y’know…uhm…
Would’ve got 5 if it was held in the Tokyo Dome, obvs.