Greetings fight fans, and what a night of fights we just witnessed! As has become commonplace, a card that lacked much to get excited about on paper turned out to be a thrill in practice. Although most of the card held few notable stakes for any division, the final two fights picked up the slack in that regard in being de facto title eliminators at flyweight and heavyweight, and even the third fight from the top had potential to add another fighter to the title mixed (didn't quite work out so well though). We have lots of action to break down, so let's talk about just what the hell happened!
The Main Card
Ngannou makes quick work of dos Santos, makes his case for a title shot
#2 Francis Ngannou def. #3 Junior Dos Santos by TKO via strikes (1:11, R1)
NGANNOU'S. POWER. IS. STUPID!!!! pic.twitter.com/SsFGP5DPMe— #34 (@ftbeard_17) June 30, 2019
Ngannou once again just did Ngannou things. We knew coming in that this was most likely going to be a relatively quick finish or dos Santos picking Ngannou apart down the stretch. Given dos Santos' defensive liabilities and deficiencies moving in and out, I didn't see it going too well for him, but it's heavyweight MMA, so you can never be too confident about that. Ngannou immediately started the fight with what was pretty obviously a new tool for him: the leg kick! This is a major development for a man that was essentially a walking left hook and overhand right. He immediately started off with two pretty hard leg kicks that definitely got dos Santos' attention. Not to be outdone, dos Santos did show him what happens when you leg kick someone who has been leg kicking slightly longer than you have, and dropped Ngannou briefly with an even harder leg kick. Good times in the heavyweight division!
This appears to rile Ngannou up slightly as he begins to pressure dos Santos, which is something he doesn't customarily do; he's usually a pretty dedicated counter puncher. As is customary though, dos Santos allowed himself to be backed right up to the cage even though he did employ some lateral movement, and very nearly ate a huge flush right hand from Ngannou. Having escaped the true death, he made his way to the center where the two men traded leg kicks once more. Then dos Santos did what everyone outside of Stipe Miocic regrets doing to Ngannou: he got a bit aggressive and tried to knock his head off. Trying to knock Ngannou's head off is an almost sure-fire way to get your head knocked off. Dos Santos stepped in with a big overhand right similar to the iconic one he dropped Cain Velasquez with on the first UFC on Fox show, but completely whiffed it and overextended himself, leaving him off-balance and stumbling forward. Ngannou reacted immediately with a nice right shovel hook as dos Santos was still following through on the punch, but momentum carried dos Santos in such a way that Ngannou actually ended up behind him. Is there a much scarier moment out there than being in the cage with Ngannou and suddenly not knowing where he is? Those fears were completely justified when Ngannou landed a sneaky, short right hook around his head that looked to totally discombobulate him and drop him to the canvas. The right hands continued to come, and all dos Santos could do was double over on his knees and cover up until the fight was stopped. The finish was eerily similar to the way Ngannou finished off Andrei Arlovski, another boxer who dared to throw a naked overhand right at him.
Not that we didn't already know it, but Ngannou's power is scary. That right hand that dropped dos Santos didn't look incredibly devastating live, but dos Santos was arguably done just from that punch. If Ngannou just walked away after that landed I'm not entirely sure dos Santos would've been good to go. The most intriguing thing about Ngannou revolves around a question I have: how is it that everyone ends up trying to swing on him? I totally get that Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes are going to try and rush in for takedowns and it leaves them open to getting cracked, but it's odd that both Overeem and dos Santos became uncharacteristically aggressive early and got knocked out for it, when they both have styles that can give Ngannou trouble if they sta patient. Is there a moment of anxiety where they feel they need to quickly get his respect? After dos Santos narrowly escaped that big shot against the cage, I thought he did look a tad affected, as if he really didn't want to be put in that scenario again, and maybe throwing a big overhand right was his way of telling Ngannou "I can hit hard too, so don't get so comfortable throwing at me!" But as mentioned, Ngannou is a dedicated counter puncher; he has a pretty solid eye for timing, and telegraphed strikes are just not a good idea against him, as several people have found out the hard way.
That scenario would make sense to me, because dos Santos typically uses jabs pretty liberally, both to the head and the body. That could have served him well as they're much harder to counter, than a big looping overhand right. So not only did he fail to establish a jab to measure the distance and set up his big punch, but when he did throw that big punch he overextended on it and overshot his own feet. In retrospect, this was a perfect recipe to be countered by a fighter like Ngannou. Even in his title win against Velasquez, dos Santos set up that overhand right by feinting jabs to draw out a reactionary left hook from Velasquez that he threw over the top of. Against Ngannou he just threw it naked from too far out and was dealt with accordingly. But hey, I get it. Ngannou is a terrifying man and I'd certainly freak out a bit after I felt a bit of his power.
Following this the only fight that makes sense for Ngannou is the winner of the title rematch between champ Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. I'm still not sure if Ngannou has improved enough to top Miocic in a rematch outside of him just landing another big bomb, and I don't think he fares much better against Cormier. However, if Cormier does indeed retire after this fight, Ngannou might very well have a totally new opponent to fight, which you figure works in his favor no matter who it is. As for dos Santos, it's tough to place him in the division at this point, but Alexander Volkov could be a fitting match up.
Benavidez takes out Formiga again, stakes claim to contendership
#2 Joseph Benavidez def. #1 Jussier "Formiga" Da Silva by TKO via strikes (4:47, R2)
If the flyweight division is indeed still a thing, no one deserves a shot at the title as much as Benavidez. Outside of a misstep in a close decision loss to Sergio Pettis, he has been nothing short of sterling unless there was a title on the line. Generally, if you're not a championship caliber figther, you're probably not beating him. That trend continued as perennial title hopeful Formiga learned that despite some significant improvements, the second time is not the charm. As expected, this fight played out much more competitively than the first, where Formiga was more or less run over in short order. Benavidez came in hot flashing 1-2s and landing a couple hard body kicks, but Formiga quickly got himself into the fight with a counter left that cut down Benavidez's aggression and a right hand that cut him above the left eye. The cut was apparently caused by Formiga's fingernail, and actually began to turn the tide a bit as Benavidez was clearly bothered by the blood leaking in and around his eye. Formiga then opened up a bit, even throwing a couple spinning attacks. When Benavidez slipped on a kick, Formiga pounced on the opportunity to use his world class jiu jitsu, and particularly his world class back-taking skills. That didn't last long as the expert scrambling of both men led to both men standing and Formiga grabbing a guillotine that was escaped with little issue. Toward the end of the round Benavidez began switching stances frequently to throw Formiga off, but not much occurred until the horn.
Benavidez started round two with another hard body kick, and he resumed his pressure game, winging right and left hooks while switching stances mid-combination. Not much is connecting clean, and he eventually ran into a counter left that slowed his roll a bit. Though he still resumed his in-and-out striking game. Eventually Formiga timed a level change to a very nice rear-waist lock slam, but Benavidez immediately scrambled his way into top position.
Fine, cut the clip before the good part.
After they returned to their feet Benavidez again slammed a kick into Formiga's body, followed by a left hook-right hook-right low kick combo, and another that had Formiga hurting to the leg. Benavidez started turning up the pressure at that point, and while Formiga was backed up against the cage a switch left headkick at the end of a combination caught Formiga flush and stunned him. Benavidez fell back off of the kick but immediately popped up and landed a right hook to the body and then the head that really had Formiga wobbled. From there he swarmed in with Formiga visibly hurt, winging lefts and rights on a shelled up Formiga until he fell to the ground turtled up awaiting a merciful stoppage, which came shortly thereafter.
Even though he's clearly lost a bit of a step, Benavidez's unorthodox style still works great at a high level. You'd think with the way he crashes into the pocket, often with his chin exposed, that he'd get cracked often, but defensively he's right up there with the other elites of the division. Even though a major knee injury seems to have left him a bit slower and probably contributed to the narrowing of his stance that seems to throw him off balance when striking more often than in the past, his reflexes are more or less still there and his hands are still fast and come from odd angles. It was also nice to see him using more kicks in this fight, especially seeing as how a high kick was what got the ball rolling in his favor to an eventual finish. On one hand he didn't look quite prime tonight, but he was facing the #1 ranked fighter in the division, and it's hard to argue with the results; overall he put in great work.
Great enough to say he might finally get that elusive world title he's been so close to for much of his career. Sadly I think not. As was pointed out during the broadcast, Benavidez does have a win over the current champion Henry Cejudo. However, even besides the contentious nature of that win the most significant factor lies in how far they've come since that fight. They were pretty evenly matched back then, but in the time since that fight Benavidez has started to meet the downside of his career while Cejudo is the best he's ever been. As talented as Benavidez is, it's hard to imagine him posing too much of a threat to Cejudo these days. But still, he's earned his chance to prove everyone wrong and it's still a compelling match up. There aren't too many flyweights around for Formiga, but he could take on Tim Elliott or maybe Alexandre Pantoja if he loses to Deiveson Figueiredo next month.
Maia chooses human fanny pack over human backpack routine, halts Martin's rise at welterweight
#12 Demian Maia def. Anthony Rocco Martin by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
First off, how impressive is Maia just overall? Sure his style can be very ugly, he gets tired, and his fights can be dreadful to watch if he can't get his game going, but on the flipside he has the second-most wins in UFC history at 21 (behind Donald Cerrone's 23), the second-most cage time in the promotion behind Frankie Edgar, he's one of the few fighters with at least 30 octagon appearances, and he's doing it all despite being 41 years old and possessing a pretty limited overall game. I'm surprised by half of these things as I type them, because it really doesn't seem like Maia has been as prolific in the UFC as he has. He has quietly amassed an arguable Hall of Fame-worthy UFC career, and would be a guaranteed lock if he had a title to his name.
As for this fight, Maia did was Maia does. Martin knew what was coming, but like so many others he just couldn't do much to stop it. Maia's patient, pressuring stand up is just really difficult for a lot of fighters to figure out, and the next thing they know they're committing to a strike and he's ducking under it for a takedown. Not being the most athletic guy around, the initial takedown isn't much of a worry for most opponents, but it's Maia's elite ability to chain takedowns, pull guard to sweep, and generally just latch onto opponents relentlessly that make him so difficult to escape once he closes the distance. He's not at all afraid of or discouraged by failed takedowns, as evidenced by his rather poor 25% takedown accuracy despite having landed the sixth-most takedowns in UFC history regardless of division at 65. A little math tells me that means he's attempted around 260 takedowns in 30 fights, which is pretty crazy. So essentially, the first two rounds were mostly spent with Martin either defending takedowns or trying to get up from being taken down. Maia would take him down against the cage, he'd scoot his back to the cage trying to get to his feet, Maia would step over and trap his legs, land some short punches to the head and body, Martin would free one or both legs, Maia would trap them again, rinse, repeat, etc. etc. etc.
Down two rounds, Martin needed to pick things up and go for the finish in the final round and Maia is almost guaranteed to gas after a couple rounds. But how do you really open up much against an opponent specifically waiting for you to open up so he can change levels and capitalize? As well as he did in that final round, even stunning Maia with a right hook and ending the round on top after a blown Maia takedown, he could never manage to sell out on his shots enough to put the notoriously durable Maia in grave danger and finish the job. In the end Maia won a decision that was shocking because judge Nick Palmer decided to be a wiseguy and give Martin a totally undeserved 10-8 third round. It's almost as if he was angry Maia wasn't putting on the most exciting performance and refused to give him the win. Martin clearly won the round, but it wasn't especially dominant. With the win Maia remains ever-relevant in the division, which as endearing as it is, really doesn't do the division a ton of favors. Not that it's in dire need of prospects. As such, he probably serves as a good barometer for guys looking to venture into the upper echelon. Vincente Luque might be the only guy left in the top 15 that really makes sense, but that's also a potentially scary match up for an aging vet. At the same time, how many other guys are so other-worldly with their grappling that they can convincingly win a decision while landing only three significant strikes? Despite the loss, Martin's stock shouldn't drop too much and could get a chance to bounce back against someone like Alex Oliveira or Curtis Millender.
Pichel's pressure too much for Roberts
Vinc Pichel def. Roosevelt Roberts by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
I favored Roberts prior to this fight, but extremely slightly. Part of me felt that he would suffer his prospect loss here against the well-rounded Pichel. Roberts had his moments, especially when he managed to grab a Thai clinch or time Pichel coming in with jumping knees, but after a nice start to the fight Pichel's pace and wrestling ended up being enough to win the latter portion of the fight. As mentioned, Roberts' found early success with long punches as Pichel attempted to figure out the range, and also appeared to have the edge in the wrestling department. However, in round two Pichel began having success of his own with wrestling as well as on the feet, and though he appeared to be starting to slow halfway through, he found his second wind and started to shift the moment in the latter part of the round. When he ended up on top of the scrambles and achieved full mount just before the round ended, things looked up for him leading into the final round in a fight that was anyone's up to that point.
Pichel really turned up the pressure in the final round, landing an early takedown and controlling Roberts while still landing a steady stream of ground and pound. At one point he locked in a very tight guillotine as Roberts made it back to his feet, even briefly jumping guard on it, but he would return to his feet and eventually abandon it. Roberts reversed position to push Pichel against the fence, only to be smacked with a tight spinning back elbow in close quarters, followed by a right hand and double leg takedown into mount. There he dominated Roberts positionally, landed hard elbows, and kept Roberts defending submissions until Roberts managed to get to his feet with seconds left and land a straight right before the horn. It was a relatively competitive fight, but Pichel got stronger as the fight went on and really took over in the second half. Having flown under the radar for a while now, it's probably time he get a nice step up and take on the winner of next month's Beneil Dariush vs Drakkar Klose match up. Roberts is still young and has time to develop. He should get a bit of a softball for his next fight, or as much of one as he can get in a stacked division like lightweight. I don't like matching winners and losers, but maybe Alex White would be a good fit.
Dober bulldozes Reyes in a little over a minute
Drew Dober def. Marco Polo Reyes by KO via strikes (1:07, R1)
I fully expected a Dober win, but I didn't expect it to happen that quickly and effortlessly. Both men tend to get into brawls, but Dober's chin is better and he has a bit of wrestling. I thought the latter would come into play more to allow Dober to secure the win. Instead he just bit down from the start and tagged Reyes with lefts and rights from the onset, forcing him to shoot a desperate takedown in order to survive. He did, but not without eating some hard hammerfists. Once he made it back to his feet he engaged and was immediately pressured by Dober tagged with a counter left hook that staggered him along the cage. Dober swarmed him and he tried to swing back, but the left hand was just there all day as Dober landed two more flush to his chin, the second of which put him down hard and awkwardly on his right ankle. Dober only needed one more followup shot before the fight was stopped, granting him a rather impressive win. Dober continues to impress, and it mustn't be forgotten that he fared extremely well against Dariush before being caught in an armbar. Had he minded his Ps and Qs more he might be on a five-fight winning streak right now. Again, I don't like matching winners and losers, but I think a fight with Alexander Hernandez would be a helluva contest. I wouldn't be shocked if the UFC cut Reyes after this loss, but if they don't he could fight Darrell Horcher in a "loser leaves town" type of affair.
Ill-advised wheel kick lands Craig on dream street courtesy of Menifield
Alonzo Menifeld def. Paul Craig by KO via strikes (3:19, R1)
I'm gonna come right out and say it: I can't stand Craig fights. At least from a picking perspective. He is dead set on doing the exact opposite of whatever I predict. If I think he can get it done he goes out there and loses horribly, and if I think he's outmatched he gets beat up before pulling off a hail Mary submission. I finally decide to pick him in a fight I think he loses to attempt to outsmart my luck, but of course he goes right ahead and blows the fight in an incredibly boneheaded way, almost as if he was mocking me for thinking I could skirt the system. I'm not even kidding; officially I'm 0-7 in picking his fights.
Menifield began throwing hard punches immediately, and it wasn't long before they found themselves clinched against he cage. As this presented the best chance for Craig to get the fight to the ground and win the fight, Menifield's corner yelled at him to separate for what seemed like an eternity before he finally broke away. Shortly after Craig managed to time a double leg takedown, but was denied. Craig then threw a wheel kick that was blocked before shooting another unsuccessful takedown. He tries pulling guard and rolling for a leg, but Menifield is having none of his grappling. Upon standing, Craig throws another wheel kick, and for reasons I can't fathom, he deems it necessary to immediately try another one. Now let's get something straight: these aren't good wheel kicks. It's not like he's throwing TRT-riddled Vitor Belfort decapitation wheel kicks. These are telegraphed, unathletic kicks that clearly show that Craig is not a striker. And he threw three of them in short order. *Sigh*
Naturally, Menifield saw that third one coming and sidestepped it, causing the as-mentioned unathletic Craig to lose his footing and stumble to the ground and roll to his back, where Menifield immediately shut his lights out with a right hand, and managed to land a few more, unnecessary shots before the fight was stopped. Nothing good comes from clumsy wheel kicks. Nothing! Anyway, this is light heavyweight so I'm not sure it even matters who either of these guys face next. Just get Menifield a winner and Craig a loser.
Ricardo Ramos def. Journey Newson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
What kind of chin is this?
I didn't expect a ton out of Newson in this fight, but he kept it relatively competitive the whole way through despite losing a clear-cut decision. As dubious a compliment as it is he showed off a pretty impressive chin, walking right through a flush spinning back elbow and into the clinch in the opening round, and another in round three that dropped him to a knee very briefly before he popped up continued as if nothing happened. His best moment came in that final round when Ramos shot a takedown and he locked in a tight guillotine (something he also attempted in round one). It almost looked as if he might get the tap, but in trying to adjust his grip he lost it and was eventually picked up and slammed on his face for it. Ramos has his defensive liabilities (they're what got him finished by Said Nurmagomedov his last time out), but he's a pretty solid action fighter and Newson was a good match up for him to show off his skills in all phases without a ton of risk.
Another slick elbow...but that chin though.
Eryk Anders def. Vinicius Moreira by KO via strikes (1:18, R1)
Ya Boy is back! Well, sort of. This was a bounce-back fight if I've ever seen one, and it was sorely needed. I have not been a fan of how the UFC has brought Anders along, but I have to put some of the blame on Anders' team as well. Anders wants big fights; that's only natural. It's your team's job to rein you back in if your penchant for a challenge is too risky. Calling out and actually getting a headlining fight against Lyoto Machida so early in his career just did him no favors. He would lose a razor-thin decision (that I actually thought he won), and hadn't looked particularly good since. He also took a ton of punishment in losses to Thiago Santos and Khalil Rountree in decisive losses. Here he got a softball with Moreira, a grappler who doesn't have the best takedowns and is pretty lacking on the feet both offensively and defensively.
Anders has generally been pretty adept at stuffing takedowns or getting up from them, and he immediately reversed a lazy takedown attempt from Moreira at the start of the fight to end up in mount. Moreira being the level of grappler he is was able to escape quickly, but his only real recourse was to continue holding onto a single leg and getting hammerfisted for his efforts. After denying the takedown, Anders landed a big straight left as Moreira got to his feet that rocked him, and followed it with a right and a left that dropped him against the cage. From there he landed several left hands on his prone opponent until he was unconscious, and uncomfortably long after that point thanks to some pretty horrid refereeing from Vance Swerdan, who did not have a banner night in general. He also stood up Maia and Martin later on in the night when Maia was in a dominant position, which you just don't do. Nonetheless, Anders is back in the win column and hopefully continues to get fights that help him to develop. I don't see much of a future for Moreira in the UFC, but a fight with Paul Craig might be fun on the ground. He may very well be that "loser" I was referring to earlier.
Jared Gordon def. Dan Moret by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
It wasn't a good night for the hometown charge here, but he certainly made Gordon work hard for the win. After a competitive opening round that was arguably won by Moret's potent clinch striking, Gordon kicked it into high gear in rounds two and three, and used his wrestling to slow Moret down. That wasn't before Moret managed to land a beautiful hip toss and step right into mount in the second round, but despite that success Gordon would eventually reverse position and run away with the round from top position from there.
The throw was a beauty though.
Moret's corner implored him to stay on his feet before the third round, so I imagine they were pretty miffed when early in the round he took advantage of Gordon slipping on a high kick by jumping for a guillotine and ending up on bottom. They'd have a few scrambles and clinch exchanges from there, but the story was Moret insisting on indulging Gordon in the grappling department, and usually ending up getting the short end of the stick. It was a decently fun fight, and a solid if much needed win for Gordon, who halted a disappointing two-fight skid after coming into the UFC with a bit of hype and winning his first two fights.
Dalcha Lungiambula def. Dequan Townsend by TKO via strikes (0:42, R3)
In case you missed the dozen or so times it was pointed out on the broadcast, Lungiambula is EXPLOSIVE. He is a bundle of fast-twitch muscle fibers waiting to pounce. This is has its obvious pros such as the the bevy of high-amplitude slams he landed and the finishing sequence, which saw him suddenly surge forward early in the final round and drop Townsend against the fence with a left hand (and a right that caught him on the way down). From there he pounced with punches, stepped into mount, and dropped a torrent of elbows until the referee intervened. That explosion also has cons, as Lungiambula had some moments of clumsiness in transitions and on the feet, and went for a particularly ugly hip toss where he pulled Townsend directly on top of him (something that happened oddly frequently throughout this card).
Champion Dalcha pic.twitter.com/5GRNRQuUSE— JOhn Jack (@ViolentGIFS) June 29, 2019
They can't all look like this drop seoi nage.
He's still pretty raw technically, and when you mix that with a high level of explosive athleticism, you'll get some hefty misfires. However, obviously explosiveness worked out for him here. He sort of reminds me of Oluwole Bamgbose with better wrestling. Neither of these guys have shown to be particularly great up to this point, but Townsend did take the fight on three days' notice, so we'll probably see how he fares at middleweight next. Hell, just a couple years ago he was fighting at welterweight. And just how crazy is it that this fight featured a 5'10" former heavyweight fighting a 6'3" former welterweight? I'm with it.
Amanda Ribas def. Emily Whitmire by submission via rear naked choke (2:10, R2)
Ribas certainly made up for lost time with an impressive performance here. For the uninformed, she tested positive for ostarine in an out-of-competition drug test in June of 2017. This was during a rather heavy handed phase for USADA when it came to testing, and she was slapped with a two-year suspension after she was unable to find the cause of the positive test, though she maintained her innocence throughout. Fast-forward to May of this year, and USADA determined that most cases of ostarine found in fighters' systems were likely the result of tainted supplements. They promptly terminated Ribas' 24-month suspension...after she'd served nearly 23 months of it.
That all being in the past, she made the best of the present. Whitmire looked out of her depth from the outset, as Ribas immediately grazed her head with a high kick and bullied her way into the clinch before dragging her to the ground before taking her back. Most of the first round was spent with Ribas on Whitmire's back landing punches and searching for chokes. Round two saw Ribas continuing to pressure on the feet before dragging Whitmire to the ground and jumping on her back once again. This time after opening her up with some hard punches, she found the rear-naked choke and got the tap in a very impressive performance that showed she was worth the wait. I had actually started to get behind Whitmire after her performance against Alexandra Albu her last time out, but this fight showed that her lack of athleticism and her awkwardness on the feet can still pose real problems for her. On top of it all, I think Ribas really did manage to get into her head with the weigh in scuffle, and it caused her to lack focus.
I'm looking forward to seeing more from Ribas, as I really didn't have too high expectations for her leading into this fight. It also helps that she gave a pretty adorable post-fight interview where she proclaimed that she's a black belt in judo, a black belt in jiu jitsu, and a white belt in English. I'd probably put her at yellow belt level.
Maurice Greene def. Junior Albini by TKO via strikes (3:38, R1)
Greene really showed out for his hometown crowd here. I expected a slower-paced bout in line what what he normally produces, but he came out aggressively from the start and immediately landed a right hand to get Albini's respect. He also threw much more volume than he normally does, and his shot selection looked improved. A crackling straight right early on dropped Albini to a knee, and he popped back up only to be put down with a followup left hand. He managed to tie Greene up and survive the ground and pound onslaught that followed, only to make it back to his feet and stun Greene with a big right hand. Greene almost made him pay for following up recklessly, but ultimately put Albini down as he stalked forward with an overhand right. From there Greene moved past his legs and dropped hammerfists until the fight was stopped. I wasn't all that thrilled about Greene coming into this fight, but he looked solid here. It's good to see a 6'7" heavyweight actually use his reach a bit, and it's something Greene had struggled to do prior. Albini has now dropped four-straight and will more than likely be cut, which is a shame because he does have some skills but can't seem to put it all together.
And that's it for the UFC's third entry on ESPN! As mentioned, it's a bit of a trope these days that weak cards on paper are some of the most entertaining, and it's a big part of the reason that I never lament when an event lineup isn't strong on paper. You may not necessarily get the level of high skill you do when notable fighters clash en masse on a fight card, but there's something to be said for how the zeal and the effort of fighters looking to make a splash and obtain relevance in the world's biggest MMA promotion lends itself to the entertainment of those tuning in. Up next: a card that is strong on paper, as Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes defend their titles against Thiago Santos and Holly Holm respectively. Will it match the excitement of this card? Looking at the lineup, it certainly might and I'm looking forward to finding out. Until then, sado out!