Greetings, fight fans and BMFers everywhere! UFC 244 is in the books, and it was live from Madison Square Garden in New York so you know what that means: there was some weirdness afoot! Whether it's curious judging, leaning on your cornerman while weighing in apparently not being a big deal, or the title of baddest motherf*cker being decided by a cut stoppage, the Big Apple always delivers. Let's not mince words, and get right down to what the hell happened!
The Main Card
Masvidal dominates Diaz, but takes home the BMF belt after anticlimactic doctor stoppage
#3 Jorge Masvidal def. #7 Nate Diaz by TKO via doctor stoppage (5:00, R3) to win the BMF title
Have the UFC not learned their lesson yet? They already have a bad enough track record as it is with huge events going awry, but to do this in New York where something pretty much always goes wrong? Of course things didn't go the way they'd hoped. This time the main event decided the first-ever BMF champion, and although the UFC would love for you to believe that they were just so enamored with Diaz's clame that he was the BMF champ and wanted to defend it against Masvidal that they just had to create an actual belt and put it on the line, it's more than likely that the true reason was because they're contractually obligated to put a title fight at the head of every pay per view, and therefore couldn't have this fight as the headliner unless it was for an actual championship. Eh, I'll roll with that, though the belt could use more cracks, chains, and barbed wire.
Jorge wouldn't be caught dead with this thing on the streets.
The fight itself essentially confirmed what in my head I already knew: Masvidal is just the vastly superior fighter of the two at this point in their careers, and he's pretty much better everywhere. Clearly the faster, crisper striker of the two, he consistently beat Diaz to the punch with hard right hands and kept him from getting too aggressive with a steady diet of body kicks and punches. He hurt Diaz badly early on, first starting off with some hard elbows in the clinch, which he followed up with a right hand, and head kick as Diaz turned away from him that put him in danger of getting ousted from the fight just as fast as he came in. In what was no surprise, Diaz was lacerated from the affair and already starting to bleed everywhere. Although Masvidal would let him up, he wasn't really much better off as he continued to eat punches liberally, and mostly offer meager offense in return. Masvidal didn't appear to have any respect for Diaz's power, and was not only relaxed with his defense in exchanges at times, but often smiled after Diaz landed on him. This wasn't the typical "I'm smiling to hide the fact that you stunned me" type of smile; this smile specifically looked like the sort someone would give you if they're just having fun and don't really see you as much of a threat. Masvidal looked like he had quite a bit of fun in this one.
Dawg I thought he was a BMF he literally RAN!!! Should have just taken it like a man. https://t.co/NddPbVC92V— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) November 4, 2019
Yes, he even faked the flying knee. Also, Ben might have a point here.
Round two was Masvidal's most dominant. Early on he rocked Diaz with an overhand right, and followed it up with a kick to the body that hurt him and put him down. Masvidal let him and lands a hard switch-stance left, very similar to the one he knocked Darren Till out with. Diaz was always keen to fire back, but he really just got beat up for the entirety of the round. He even managed to get a body lock and slam Diaz to the ground, where he showed that he could easily deal with Diaz's grappling by coming out on top in the scrambles. Demian Maia doesn't call just anyone the best grappler he's dealt with in the UFC.
Diaz would go on to have the most success in round three, but much of that could be attributed to Masvidal feeling much more comfortable trading in the pocket and indulging Diaz in some more extended exchanges. Even still, he was in control of the round for almost the entirety and still outlanded Diaz by a sizable margin. Following the third round doctors determined that the gashes no Diaz's face were too bad for him to continue and the fight was waved off, much to the chagrin of Diaz, Masvidal, the fans, and The Rock, who had to awkwardly stand there and look disappointed before presenting a title belt crowning the the baddest motherf*cker to someone who won via cut stoppage. That sucked, especially since we've seen fights go on with worse cuts displayed. If blood leakage was the reason, well the cut was no longer bleeding when the fight was stopped. I think this is just a good ol' case of the NYSAC not being content unless they perpetuate some high profile controversy at a UFC event.
Now I will dial it back a bit; it's not like Diaz just had a tiny scratch. He had two deep cuts, one over his right eye and one under. Neither of them looked particularly good, but I don't think they looked worthy of stopping a fight either. Although I think Diaz was more than likely just saved from a more prolonged beating, this was a fight that was poised to take advantage of the championship rounds on paper, and it was stopped prematurely before it could get there in practice.
Still, Masvidal looked great and his confidence level really shined in this fight, which only helped his performance. It's lead to more conviction in his actions, and it's clear he trusts his body and his skills much more than in the past. He assuaged my fear that he may not have been completely over his tendency to take his foot off the gas and allow his opponent to dictate the fight; something that would have been very detrimental to do against Diaz. It was the only thing that I thought might give Diaz a shot to win. The immediate reaction of many to the result was to schedule an immediate rematch. While I'm fine with this, I don't think it's ideal from a pure matchmaking perspective. Much like the case was with Tony Ferguson following his sudden doctor stoppage of Donald Cerrone, Masvidal already showed that he was the better fighter of the two. A rematch is unlikely to change that, and the only purpose of one would be to procure a more satisfying ending. Dana White has mentioned he's not wild about the idea, and honestly I think it makes a ton of sense to just pencil Masvidal in against the winner of the Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington welterweight title fight. He's already got a built-in story if Covington comes out champion, and either way you can even market either potential fight as some ridiculous "champion vs champion" fight.
As for Diaz, I said it during the Pettis fight, and my opinion wasn't changed at all here: his boxing has gotten worse. I thought maybe it was rust against Pettis, especially since he became more effective over time; I even heard some analysis that Diaz spent a lot of that fight in orthodox, and maybe that accounted for his shoddy technique. Well neither of those really applied in this fight, and he still often overextended on his punches and threw himself off balance, and just didn't look as sharp as he usually does on the feet. He also made the curious decision of lifting his lead leg up frequently when Masvidal advanced on him, which I would think has to do with the initiative he's been taking to check leg kicks. Unfortunately for him he jumped the gun constantly when Masvidal wasn't even looking to throw a leg kick, and it just left him stationary on one leg with his chin in the air free to get punched.
And it did...a lot.
After the fight he said he couldn't run during training, and that his plan was to get the fight to round four and take over. I don't doubt that he might have been injured, but that "plan" is ridiculous. The days of the Diaz brothers being the gold standard of cardio is long gone. He might be able to take over in a big away against a mad Michael Johnson or opponents with shoddy cardio like Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, but at a high level fighters are just so much better when it comes to cardio. Masvidal wasn't going to get tired enough for him to wail on and get a finish (which he absolutely would've needed had the fight not been stopped), and neither will most high level welterweights. Hell, probably even mid-level guys.
I've always found the Diaz brothers' cardio a tad overrated; they do clearly get tired at times, they just push through it. They don't have the truly boundless cardio we see from fighters like Usman, Covington, or Demetrious Johnson, who are more impressive because they maintain a high pace despite being more explosive. As such, it's hard for me to place Diaz at welterweight, as I assume that is where he'd like to stay. There aren't too many winnable fights for him that are also against opponents notable enough to hold his attention. The two guys who are closest to that description are Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren, both of whom may present pretty tough but interesting matchups for him.
Till shuts down a curiously tentative Gastelum for a successful middleweight debut
#10 (WW) Darren Till def. #4 Kelvin Gastelum by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 27-30)
They straight up posted nothing about this fight, so here's the champ dancing to Sweet Caroline.
I don't think anyone ruled out the possibility that Till could win this fight, but the result definitely felt like a mild upset considering the style matchup. This was a fight where it was all too easy to imagine Gastelum pushing the pace and ultimately taking advantage of Till's tendency to back up in straight lines with his chin up and his arms outward. While he definitely played the aggressor through most of the fight, he was never able to get inside on Till and land much in the way of clean, hard offense. While there were definitely some adjustments Gastelum could have made to get to Till better, a lot of the credit should go to Till for just being composed and risk-averse enough to neutralize Gastelum's entries. It's not the most exciting thing to watch, and Till generally isn't incredibly exciting when he's not on the front foot pressuring his opponent, but it's proven to be the most effective way for him to fight opponents who aren't overmatched stylistically. Coming off two losses, the last of which was a brutal knockout, it's actually good to see him fighting such an intelligent fight.
I imagined he would actually try and take it to Gastelum, which in my estimation would've gotten him finished, but he just stuck to the outside with some improved defensive footwork, kept Gastelum honest at range with hard leg kicks, and met Gastelum's blitzes with clinches. This was a new wrinkle for him that I believe really contributed to his success. As previously mentioned, Till's most common response to blitzes is to back straight up with his chin exposed; it's what got him knocked out against Masvidal and knocked down against Tyron Woodley. Here he decided instead to duck under Gastelum's jab and grab a body lock, essentially stuffing his combination and making him to second guess his entries. Gastelum did eventually start to try and land big left hands on the break but was still unable to reach Till's chin. This I think was a missed opportunity at an adjustment for Gastelum, because Till showed a bad habit of disengaging from the clinch by leaning out of the way of any shots Gastelum threw, which is essentially the same thing he would do when backing away from punches. If Gastelum threw combinations or made an effort to cover more distance off the break, he may have been able to tag him similarly to the way Masvidal did. Alternatively, he could have also used uppercuts to catch Till ducking in for the clinch, but for all his gifts Gastelum is a relatively limited fighter who doesn't accomplish much in the way of making reads and fight-altering adjustments. He did have his best success in round three, where he turned up the pressure a bit and actually pushed the issue in the wrestling department a bit, but it was too little, too late.
Instead, Till was largely able to evade eating punching combinations, which caused Gastelum to fall back on body attacks and leg kicks of his own. It wasn't a bad idea in terms of creating offensive opportunities, but Till just never indulged Gastelum in the fight he wanted, and his significant size and reach advantage made it easier for him to dictate the action. With the win Till is suddenly right in the mix at 185 lbs. Jared Cannonier had been tabbed as a replacement opponent in case one of these men couldn't compete (and yet he was the one who missed weight...well, officially), and he makes as much sense as anyone for Till's next opponent. It would probably even be a title eliminator. Gastelum has now dropped two straight, and Jack Hermansson makes the most sense for him to fight next unless they want to put him up against Derek Brunson to give Brunson a chance to move back up the ladder.
Oh, and of course we got some horrendous judging with this one, where what looked like a pretty clear Till decision apparently looked like a clear Gastelum decision, as evidenced by Dave Tirelli's 30-27 scorecard in his favor. And for those of you out there who think the answer to bad judging is to get former fighters to do the job...well Tirelli is one of those and he's apparently as good at judging as he was at fighting.
Thompson's still got it, puts on a clinic against Luque
#9 Stephen Thompson def. #14 Vicente Luque by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Sure he was beating Anthony Pettis pretty handily up until the end, but being brutally knocked out for the first time in his lengthy combat sports career understandably made people consider the possibility that his time was up and Luque might have been the man to further crack his chin. He wasn't; not by a long shot. Not only did Thompson put on a brilliant striking display but his chin was also tested by the hard-hitting Brazilian, and held up just as well as it had prior to his knockout loss. It was not a total wash, as Luque did have quite a bit of success early on with hard leg kicks, which are a bane of karate stylists in MMA. Luque has always had very strong kicks but is mainly a puncher, so it was good to see him change things up where necessary. Over time Thompson began to break up Luque's rhythm with frequent jabs, and once he began to get his timing down it really was off to the races for him.
Thompson had to go through the wringer before he found his range.
Thompson at range against an opponent looking to engage is just a great thing to watch. He has the elusiveness of Lyoto Machida, but without a lot of the tentativeness, and he's keen to frequently switch stances and make short movements in all directions until he can find angles for big right hands and blitzes. When his opponent gets a little too close, he whips out a front leg side kick to push them back so he can reset, and a couple of those even dropped Luque, who was caught putting too much weight on his back foot.
Those side kicks are tricky.
Thompson had a lot of the success I projected he would. For as talented and dangerous as Luque is, he's a pretty plodding muay Thai fighter who generally relies on a high guard for defense. He plants to throw most of his attacks, which makes him a stationary target that a movement-heavy, timing-reliant fighter like Thompson can easily read and react to. This also goes for his defense, which as mentioned is usually no more than a high guard. Whenever Thompson stunned him (and it happened a good amount), Luque would usually just put his hands up and back up to the cage, allowing Thompson plenty of time to be patient and plot how to get around the guard with punches and kicks. In the third round, Thompson was just landing at will with little competitive resistance from Luque, and he even dropped him with a left hook and landed some pretty big shots on the ground. It was just a dominant performance from Thompson.
It wasn't a perfect one though. Thompson is still pretty vulnerable in the pocket in the event his opponent does manage to track him down and/or put him against the cage, and Luque was able to do so and stun him on a few occasions. However, Thompson's chin did manage to hold up well; probably better than usual considering he tends to get dropped and/or rocked against hard hitters even in fights he wins. Leaving his hands down is indeed part of his style and it has its advantages, such has his opponents not being able to easily see where his punches are coming from, but it will always be pretty risky.
Thompson still gets hit in the pocket a bit much for my liking.
It's a bit of a dubious distinction, but Luque's granite chin was also on full display, because he took some huge shots and wore many of them pretty well. Thompson is someone who has finished fighters with historically solid chins when he's able to tee off, but Luque took what he dished out and stayed aggressive until the final horn. The only hope is that fights like this aren't deteriorating his durability too quickly.
Now back in the win column, Demian Maia seems like a great next opponent for Thompson, as well as being a very interesting striker vs grappler showdown. Alternatively, Santiago Ponzinibbio is another opponent that makes sense, though he's a relatively similar style matchup to that of Luque, and more importantly he can't seem to stay healthy. I worried when this matchup was made that Luque might have gotten a bit to high a step up in competition, but I'm sure he'll make the most of what he learned here. Since the elder Pettis is intent on sticking around welterweight and is still ranked in the top 15, I'd love to see him go strike-for-strike with Luque.
Lewis' opportune flurries earn a narrow decision win
#5 Derrick Lewis def. #8 Blagoy Ivanov by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Speaking of great displays of durability (a bit of a theme tonight), Ivanov also showed an impressive chin against one of the hardest hitters in the UFC. This was a closely-contested affair, and I'm a bit surprised more people didn't score the fight for Ivanov (all 15 media outlets on MMADecisions.com also went with Lewis). Although I did score it narrowly for Lewis, I think there was a great case for Ivanov winning. It's likely that the visual of Lewis' huge winging punches masked the fact that he was also getting countered, was stunned a few times, and often didn't land cleanly at distance. His most effective work was in the clinch with knees and dirty boxing. Ivanov not only got the slight better of the striking at distance, but he managed to take Lewis down and particularly in the second round he put Lewis in some trouble with an Americana attempt. All three rounds had a degree of closeness to them, but honestly when I went back and reviewed the notes I had taken throughout, they told a story that looked more like an Ivanov win than a Lewis win. It makes me think I might have been fooled by Lewis' throwing big bombs for a bit as well.
Swangin' and bangin' by both men.
Regardless, this was a win that Lewis needed and also keeps him in a good place in the division. He could fight Curtis Blaydes if he wants to get right back on the track to a potential title shot, and otherwise he could fight the winner of the upcoming Greg Hardy vs Alexander Volkov fight. People have asked for the Hardy fight for a while now (mostly because they feel Hardy will lose), and I wouldn't at all mind a rematch with Volkov since he was pretty thoroughly losing the first fight before landing a hail Mary knockout with just 11 seconds left in the fight. Can he prove it wasn't a fluke? What am I talking about? Of course it was a fluke, because it's Lewis. He'd either go out there and show it was a fluke, or just have another fluke. Otherwise, Curtis Blaydes also makes some sense, though it's a rather tough matchup for him. Ivanov shouldn't slide down the rankings much for this loss. Shamil Abdurakhimov or Aleksei Oleinik would be a good fit.
Lee rights the ship in a big way with a brutal head kick knockout
#10 Kevin Lee def. #11 Gregor Gillespie by KO via head kick (2:47, R1)
I mean ffs, Kevin https://t.co/3nZZIY97Gq— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) November 3, 2019
I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but Kevin Lee may have finally turned a necessary corner to bring his style together. Ever since the untimely death of his coach Robert Follis, Lee seemed a bit lost both in and out of the cage. Ahead of this fight he did his training camp at the vaunted Tristar Gym in Montreal, and so far it looks to be paying massive dividends. This really comes as no surprise, as Lee seems like a pretty ideal candidate for head coach Firas Zahabi’s brand of instruction. Two of the most prominent marks against Lee have been his cardio and how he really never looked comfortable striking. He has a freakishly long reach for the division, but he’s never been adept at establishing a jab. One of the most notable traits of Tristar’s fighters is that they’re taught to be very educated with their jabs, and Lee immediately made the jab a priority in this fight, which was a great sign. His reach, thick frame, and wrestling ability make him similar to a certain high profile French Canadian understudy of Zahabi who benefited quite well from his coaching.
In the fight, both men came out ready to strike, and it was pretty cool to see both men just meet in the middle and battle with jabs. Gillespie looked to be landing the stiffer jabs, and marked up Lee’s face quickly, but Lee landed more volume and appeared to be picking up the timing a bit easier. The only wrestling we saw in the abbreviated contest was a quick single leg attempt from Gillespie early on that was easily rebuffed. Lee looked much more comfortable and composed on the feet than usual, which was something I was concerned about coming in since Gillespie has historically seemed the more composed and willing striker of the two. The main difference tactically I could see between the two was that Lee looked more to be making reads and devising setups, whereas Gillespie appeared to be relying more on flow and instinct. Lee showed shortly before the finish that the head kick was something that he was looking for, as he used his right hand a few times to lead Gillespie to circle to his right. In the end, Lee slipped a jab and landed a right hand over the top, and when Gillespie circled out to his right Lee launched a beautiful switch-left high kick that landed right on the button and put Gillespie out instantly, causing him to sail backward and land in a seated position against the cage. Lee landed one more hammerfist to follow up, but it was completely unneeded, as Gillespie was indistinguishable from the town drunk passed out against the alley wall outside everyone’s favorite tavern.Tough first loss for Gillespie, but one I think he’ll learn a lot from.
I’d still like to see how this new version of Lee fares in a more extended fight to test out his cardio, but he looked like the Kevin Lee many of us believed could potentially be champion in the future. In terms of matchups, there are plenty of options for him at lightweight if he’s intent on staying there. Paul Felder makes the most sense to me at the moment, but Dan Hooker is also a viable option. Islam Makhachev also respectively called out Lee after the fight, and that’s actually a fight I’d love to see. For Gillespie, Alexander Hernandez sounds like a very appropriate matchup for him, as he’s a more manageable matchup than Lee, but someone who still has good enough wrestling that we may get a better idea of Gillespie’s plan B in a more prolonged fight.
That knockout almost claimed another life in Megan Olivi.
#7 Corey Anderson def. #11 Johnny Walker by TKO via strikes (2:07, R1)
And there goes the hype train. Although the quick finish was certainly unexpected, it really shouldn't be very surprising that Anderson won (I actually picked him to win by decision). On the other hand, this is how Walker historically loses, and it's because his being an offensive powerhouse comes at the expense of having extremely poor defense. He typically keeps his hands down and employs many awkward, jerky movements and feints, and this works in his favor to get reactions out of his opponents. Here, his own reactions where his undoing. Anderson being the textbook technically sound fighter he is, he immediately came out pumping his jab to establish the range. Jabs are not the strikes you want to have exaggerated reactions to; since they come out relatively straight a slip of the head will usually serve you well. However, Walker reacted to Anderson's jabs with by leaping backward and standing tall, which just made him easier to close the distance on. The ball got rolling on the finish when Anderson dipped slightly as if he was thinking takedown to get Walker to drop his hands before launching a huge overhand right over the top that badly rocked Walker and sent him retreating. Anderson swarmed with a series of hooks that dropped him briefly before taking him down to resume the punishment. Walker was able to grab a hold of Anderson and stand again, but he continued eating shots in the clinch and trying unsuccessfully to brawl once they separated before a straight right rocked him back against the cage and the referee had seen enough.
It really was just a matter of time before Walker lost like this; he wasn't going to knock everyone out in under a minute, and because of how his UFC run had gone most people were unfamiliar with the fact that he's historically shown very bad defensive tendencies, and when he's hurt he tends to go into mindless attack mode rather than trying to actually use defense to recover. He had several chances in this fight to try and slow things down to recover, but instead falls back on trying to land a big shot even when he's wobbly and hurt. He certainly still has time to improve, but what we saw here proved that all the talk of him being the man to give Jones his toughest fight was silly. Anderson put on a fantastic performance that exceeded what anyone thought he'd do, and afterward threw his hat in the ring for a title shot. I have my doubts he's getting there before Dominick Reyes, but he does have a prior altercation with Jones and honestly Reyes' resume isn't at all much better than his. Either way, if he doesn't get a title shot Anthony Smith or the winner of Jan Blachowicz vs Ronaldo Souza works for him.
#12 Shane Burgos def. Makwan Amirkhani by TKO via strikes (4:32, R3)
Persistence was key in Burgos' late TKO of Amirkhani. It was a trademark showing by both men. Burgos stayed active, aggressive, and ramped up the volume and intensity as the fight went on, while Amirkhani constantly worked hard for takedowns, threw big single strikes on the feet, and gassed himself out doing it. Burgos was just a bad style matchup for him, because Amirkhani needs someone he can control for a long enough period before he gets tired and goes into survival mode. Burgos just wouldn't go away the entire fight, and after landing three-of-ten takedowns, controlling the action, and seriously threatening with an arm-in guillotine to take round one, it was clear Amirkhani was pretty spent and was in for a long night. From then on he desperately shot for exhausted takedowns that were easily rebuffed, and was punished for doing so. The punishment finally caught up to him late in the final round after a series of uppercuts and a right hook put Amirkhani down and prompted the finish.
Burgos put on a solid performance, but his defense (or lack there of) will probably be an issue for him as he moves up the ladder. While he didn't get hit a lot (he outlanded Amirkhani 105-to-22 in significant strikes), he could've been hit much less since Amirkhani essentially only headhunted, and every time he did get hit it was pretty flush and simply because he didn't opt to use actual defense. There were a few moments where he literally just stood there and took a shot to give shots back. Josh Emmett can really test out that chin of his or force him to actually be defensive. Amirkhani is a known quantity at this point, and surprise, a move to SBG didn't lead to an improved fighter. He's fun when he can style on someone on the ground or knock them out early, but other than that his game is full of holes.
Mr. Finland just did not have a good time.
#13 Edmen Shahbazyan def. #11 Brad Tavares by KO via head kick (2:27, R1)
Shahbazyan appears to be the real deal! Many pegged a tough vet like Tavares to be the toughest test of his career, but he made it look easy. While he'd been known for extremely quick starts leading to quick finishes, Shahbazyan showed a lot of maturity and composure in feeling things out and staying defensively tight in the early exchanges. When he then dropped Tavares with a lightning fast 1-2 combination, he sought the finish but didn't over-commit, and took his time to pick his shots when Tavares appeared to recovered a bit. Still pressuring Tavares back to the cage, Shahbazyan threw a jab which Tavares slipped to the outside of, which put him out of position and right in the path of a head kick from the same side that caught him on the chin and put him down and out. A followup shot appeared to wake him up, but this one was over. Maybe it's because he's coached by the infamous Edmond Tarverdyan, but in all of Shahbazyan's fights I'm skeptical of how good he'll look, and every time he blows me away. It's time for me to start taking this kid (he's still only 21!) seriously, and I'm excited to see how he develops. The fast knockouts are great, but hopefully we see him against a good enough opponent to give him some more cage time next.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Andrei Arlovski by KO via punch (0:29, R1)
It had been nearly three years since Arlovski was finished with strikes, and his durability had actually been looking pretty solid as of late. Perhaps this caused him to develop some misplaced confidence in his chin. There wasn't much at all to this one; Arlovski attacked early with leg kicks, but a stiff jab immediately wobbled him, though he was able to survive the followup shots just fine. Then almost as if Arlovski felt he needed to scare Rozenstruik away with his power, he ran at him with a stiff right-left combination and ate a fade away check left hook right behind the ear that sent him crashing down face-first to the canvas. That was all she wrote. At this point we already know what's next for Rozenstruik, has he's signed on to replace Walt Harris against Alistair Overeem on December 7.
#1 Katlyn Chookagian def. #5 Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Although this fight most likely determined the next contender for the flyweight title, it wasn't particularly inspiring. Chookagian seems to have learned to pick her shots a bit better, as she turned in slightly less output and was a bit more accurate, landing 40% of her significant strikes (the best accuracy she's had thus far in her UFC tenure, as she usually misses a comically high number of strikes). The story of the fight was basically that Maia was too small and couldn't figure out how overcome Chookagian's considerable height and reach advantage. That's all the more unfortunate for Maia since she missed weight for this fight, which makes that two straight weight gaffs that indicate that maybe she just can't make the flyweight limit anymore. She's fought her entire career at flyweight, and a move to bantamweight would just pit her against women with even greater physical advantages over her. She's only 2-2 in the promotion, but with the weight issues I could see them forcing her up to 135 or we'll see her back in Invicta. As for Chookagian, at this point she's earned her beating at the hands of Valentina Shevchenko.
Lyman Good def. Chance Rencountre by TKO via strikes (2:03, R3)
Rencountre is tough as nails, but he basically looked like he didn't belong in there with Good, whose right hand was basically tethered to Rencountre's head. Though he's a wrestler (and not a particularly effective one), Rencountre only attempted one takedown in the opening round, and the entire fight was essentially a kickboxing match where Good beat the hell out of him until apparently breaking his nose and causing him to turtle until the referee stepped in, leaving him in a puddle of blood. He basically looked like a less skilled Darren Elkins out there, and while being tough can be endearing to watch at times, the kind he displayed ultimately just makes him look like a bad fighter who can take shots, though he's actually gotten some surprising wins in the promotion. Good is...good. He has his issues, but I think he'll be a solid roster guy for the foreseeable future.
Hakeem Dawodu def. Julio Arce by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
In the curtain jerker we got a pretty clear but competitive decision that got the questionable judging off to an early start with Chris Lee's 29-28 Arce card, when Dawodu very arguably won all three rounds. It was far from thrilling, but just a technical, buttoned-up kickboxing contest where Dawodu's speed won the day with quick counter punches and some notably hard low kicks used to counter Arce's high kicks. As one might have predicted, Arce ran into a lot of the same issues he did with a similarly athletic striker in Sheymon Moraes. Dawodu still seems to be finding his footing, but now on a four-fight win streak, he's definitely building some good momentum.
And that does it for UFC 244, which turned out to be one of the best cards of the year as advertised, despite the whole BMF title fiasco. Speaking of that, the best thing to come out of it was at the very end of the show, when Joe Rogan suddenly had the epiphany that maybe the title didn't make sense afterall. He pondered defenses and whether or not every division would have one, because the title can't just be limited to one weight class. You know, all those questions most of us didn't really spend to much thought on because we knew this was just a made up gimmick belt for this pay per view. It still made for a fun moment to close out on though; you know how Rogan gets. Anyhow, it's been a big recap for a big card so I'll cut it short here and catch you all next week in when Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar clash in Moscow, Russia. Sado, out!