With UFC 202 in the books here are my five most notable things I took away from the event.
(5) Donald Cerrone is a beast
Donald Cerrone became the fist man to stop Rick Story by strikes. He finished the fight with a beautiful combination of left jab, body blow, and left cross, then finished with a head kick. It was a hugely impressive fight and brings him to 3-0 in the Welterweight Division. One thing that struck me is that with his frame I think he could fight at Middleweight. That leaves a lot of doors open to him and options that could potentially lead to some huge paydays. The fight with Story was the last on his contract and he asked for a fight with the lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and to fight on the card in New York. Both are big asks; every fighter on the UFC is asking to be on the card in New York and, while he holds a win over Alvarez, it was not the most awesome fight and Alvarez has been calling out McGregor. Oh, and there is also the small matter of the 23-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov.
(4) UFC needs to keep Lorenz Larkin
Lorenz Larkin put forth a complete destruction of Neil Magny as I thought he might. He came into the fight as a late replacement. He is now a free agent and is looking to be marketed. Personally, I think he has huge potential and has won four out of his last five fights. At age 29m he should be nearing the peak of his career and I believe he could be a real draw. It would be foolish for the UFC to allow him to move to a direct rival. It’s time to get the man paid.
(3) Cody Garbrandt has arrived.
Okay, I realize I may have been a bit slow on the uptake, but I’m now sold on Cody “No Love” Garbrandt. With knockout wins of Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugakik, he has arrived. I still believe he should be behind T.J. Dillishaw who should get his rematch with Dominick Cruz, but he was very smart to call out the Bantamweight Champion. Not enough fighters do that and it was a breath of fresh air rather than the usual defaulting to Joe Silva’s match-making that so many fighters tend to do. One more fight with the John Lineker- John Dodson winner should be his final hurdle to clear before getting the shot.
(2) I thought Nate Diaz won, but it doesn’t matter
Conor McGregor enacted his revenge on the younger Diaz brother, I personally had it 48-47 Diaz, but this was one of those fights where both men came out looking positive from the result. For Conor, his win solidifies him as box office entertainment. He can continue the bravado and his fight options are many and plentiful. For Diaz, he is now 3-4 over his last seven bouts, but thanks to the win over McGregor at UFC 196 and this closely fought fight, his star is as bright as it has ever been. This was not a fight for rankings, for the belt, or any divisional relevancy. This was two fighters putting on a show for the fans and earning a truck load of money in the process.
McGregor now gets back to being the best paid athlete in the UFC after Brock Lesnar’s temporary shunt and took a cool $3 million from the event. Diaz earned $2 million. To put that into context, the next highest paid athlete on the card was Anthony Johnson at $270,000 which included his $135,000 win bonus.
With it being 1-1, they can have their rubber match, but first Conor must defend or relinquish his Featherweight Title. For his part, Diaz said he will not fight again until he fights McGregor, which personally I think is a good idea as there is no one else around who can help him earn the sort of money he thinks he deserves.
(1) Rumble young man, Rumble
Holy Hell. Glover Teixeira called out Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and was duly sent into cloud cuckoo land after 13 seconds with a thunderous uppercut. The shot not only separated him from his senses, but also one of his teeth. It was one of the most devastating KO’s I have ever witnessed. Rumble will surely now go on to rematch with Cormier, despite the possible return of Jones after his tainted supplement saga.
As Joe Rogan put it. “Good lord, that is a terrifying man.”