While you construct a card with as many huge fights as UFC 249 had, the fallout goes to be appreciable, particularly coming from the highest of the cardboard.
Justin Gaethje placed on the efficiency of his profession in ending the 12-fight win streak of Tony Ferguson to turn into UFC interim light-weight champion (regardless that he threw that belt away and proclaimed his need for the “actual” belt Khabib Nurmagomedov holds). Henry Cejudo defended his UFC bantamweight championship towards Dominick Cruz, one of many division’s innovators, after which promptly introduced his retirement on the age of 33.
After which there’s Francis Ngannou, who took all of 20 seconds to remind the world of his devastating energy as he knocked out Jairzinho Rozenstruik and acknowledged his case for an additional heavyweight title shot.
At house, the fighters in every of these divisions have been paying shut consideration.
Al Iaquinta, the UFC’s No. 9-ranked light-weight, fought Nurmagomedov for the belt Gaethje is at present after. Iaquinta misplaced the choice on April 7, 2018.
Urijah Faber, who defended the WEC featherweight title towards Cruz after which fought him twice for the UFC bantamweight championship, was known as out by Cejudo after he gained the belt final June.
Curtis Blaydes is caught proper behind Ngannou within the heavyweight logjam, on the lookout for some degree of decision within the championship image as he hopes to push towards a title problem of his personal.
All three fighters provided their insights into UFC 249’s greatest fights, what the fallout may imply for every of these fighters and the way the way forward for their respective divisions may form up.
Al Iaquinta on Ferguson-Gaethje
Justin Gaethje lands stiff punches all through his interim light-weight title struggle vs. Tony Ferguson en path to victory in Spherical 5.
When the principle occasion of UFC 249 started, Al Iaquinta was on the sting of his seat in anticipation of watching Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje throw down. When the struggle finally ended within the fifth spherical, Iaquinta, like a lot of the viewing viewers, was completely impressed by Gaethje’s efficiency.
“It was the proper tempo for Gaethje, and he simply managed that entire factor,” Iaquinta stated. “He received caught with one huge punch, however aside from that, he was just about in management the entire time. And the toughness of Ferguson, the quantity of pictures he took was 5, 10 fights value of pictures in a single night time.
“Ferguson simply saved coming ahead, like he did towards the final 12 guys he fought, and beat. Normally guys cannot maintain it. They get caught up in that loopy struggle, the place Ferguson scrambles and he sinks in these chokes. The mayhem that Ferguson is comfy in simply by no means occurred, as a result of Gaethje actually placed on a large masterpiece of a efficiency.”
Regardless that Gaethje did not have a full camp as a result of he was a late alternative for Nurmagomedov, the three added weeks of preparation have been greater than sufficient to get him prepared for this struggle. Whereas the early barrage wasn’t a shock, sustaining that method and quantity of assaults for greater than 20 minutes was staggering. Iaquinta stated that boils right down to preparation from fighter and coach alike.
“Trevor Wittman, in between rounds, was even like, ‘You are throwing an excessive amount of into his shot. Calm it down a bit of bit,'” Iaquinta stated. “I believe he listened, and it was nice teaching within the nook. The one time he received a bit of loopy, and opened himself up for that uppercut, I believe Wittman received him proper again in focus.
“Gaethje beat him from high to backside. It was so satisfying to observe Gaethje put all of it collectively the way in which he did, and the facility in each shot. Nevertheless it was fairly unenjoyable watching Tony take all that. He was simply too powerful for his personal good.”
Whereas Ferguson was visibly upset that referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the struggle whereas he was nonetheless on his ft, from an outdoor perspective, Iaquinta believed Ferguson had merely sustained an excessive amount of injury to successfully defend himself.
“These final two rounds weren’t good. That was an excellent stoppage,” Iaquinta stated. “At that time, it was a achieved deal. It appeared like he received hit with one final jab, and he shook his head. It appeared like mentally he was simply not conscious. His legs have been sort of giving out. You undoubtedly do not wish to see him take extra.”
The victory places Gaethje in the identical place Ferguson was in beforehand — in line for a shot at Nurmagomedov and the UFC light-weight championship. When it comes to struggle fashion, although, Nurmagomedov presents a completely totally different problem than Ferguson.
“I believe with Gaethje’s scrambling capability, he poses some threats. It should be an fascinating struggle, as a result of Gaethje stated he does not actually wish to wrestle an excessive amount of as a result of he will get drained,” Iaquinta stated. “I believe that this tempo, this struggle, the way in which Gaethje fought tonight, I believe he can do this tempo perpetually. If Khabib will get his fingers on him and Gaethje’s arms refill with blood and tire out these muscle groups, it is simply going to be a distinct struggle. I do not understand how that one goes, however what an excellent matchup.”
Urijah Faber on Cejudo-Cruz
Henry Cejudo efficiently retains his bantamweight championship with a second-round TKO victory over Dominick Cruz.
Urijah Faber has most likely seen extra tape on Dominick Cruz than anybody else on the planet of MMA. Along with three title fights over time, and a fourth bout that fell by way of, Faber additionally helped TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt put together for their very own title fights towards Cruz.
In watching Saturday’s bantamweight title struggle, Faber was impressed by how properly Henry Cejudo had ready.
“Dominick has gotten extra harmful all through the years, however his bread and butter has all the time been profitable factors,” Faber stated. “He hits well timed takedowns, he is very laborious to actually join with and has a excessive output. That is how he is had so many victories on the highest degree. I believe Cejudo was doing job of countering that, and I did not assume that he was going to have the ability to do it in addition to he did.
“Henry was tight, kicking right through his legs in order that even in case you transfer one leg, he is kicking the second leg. He additionally was taking part in the counter sport, which I felt labored for me in 2011 with Dominick. Let him do his motion, after which when he units, then you definately are available and assault.”
The one ingredient of the struggle Faber was upset about was the end, as referee Keith Peterson stepped in with two seconds left within the second spherical. Cejudo had landed a devastating standing knee and several other big-swinging left fingers on the bottom to Cruz, however the challenger standing again up when the struggle was stopped.
“While you’re preventing for world championships, and you place your entire coronary heart and your thoughts and your soul into being the very best on the planet, after which get your alternative to struggle and show that you’re, you wish to be finally given each probability to point out that you’re the very best,” Faber stated. “I’ve seen fights which have been let go, and guys have come again. Loopy issues have occurred. Individuals speak concerning the comebacks, and it is what motion pictures are product of.
“Dom was within the struggle, for positive. I believe, had he not received caught like he did, he would have continued to choose up some momentum. Nevertheless it was fairly evident that Cejudo was the extra harmful of the 2 fighters. So, the longer the struggle went, for my part, the extra factors Dominick would have scored, however there would’ve been extra alternative for Henry to point out his ending energy and his hazard.”
Faber appears like Cruz nonetheless has one thing to supply at 35 years outdated. Regardless of accidents, Cruz hasn’t suffered in depth injury contained in the cage, and he has plenty of intriguing matchups he may make, from legends like Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo to earlier opponents like Dillashaw and Garbrandt.
As for Cejudo and his retirement announcement, Faber is a little more skeptical.
“I am going to let you know this a lot: I like Henry Cejudo. I’ve all the time revered him,” Faber stated. “I met him earlier than he was a fighter, when he was an Olympic gold medalist. However he’s cringe-worthy and awkward, and typically not self-aware. Sadly, if he is critical about it, it is a tremendous anticlimactic approach to exit, for my part. I believe it is most likely extra of the truth that he desires to jockey for higher cash, which he ought to.
“The issue with the leisure enterprise, and William Morris Endeavor and the UFC perceive this, accomplishments do not all the time imply that you are a bankable star. Demetrious Johnson is a testomony to that. Placing pay-per-view buys on the books, and placing butts within the seats, being an individual that different firms, manufacturers, TV networks wish to dangle their hat in your endorsement, that is not one thing that you just select.
“Anderson Silva was in the identical boat. Anderson Silva wasn’t all the time the man that was commanding huge pay-per-view, and it took till he had an enormous struggle with Chael Sonnen, with some actual gamesmanship, so far as selling by Chael. … It takes a very long time so that you can turn into a staple within the public eye, and I believe Henry goes to be giving up some huge cash and alternative, if he actually simply folds his tent up now.”
Curtis Blaydes on Ngannou-Rozenstruik
Francis Ngannou did not waste any time in enacting his sport plan, as he pushed ahead, linked with some actually devastating punches to Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s head and cemented his victory in a matter of 20 seconds.
It is a feeling Curtis Blaydes is aware of personally, having dropped TKO losses (the one losses of his profession) to Ngannou since becoming a member of the UFC.
“I believe it was a mixture of Ngannou’s aggression and size, as a result of he is received extraordinarily lengthy arms. I believe additionally it was a little bit of Jairzinho,” Blaydes stated. “He is aware of deep down inside that first 40 seconds, particularly that first half minute, you have to be tremendous defensive. You’ll be able to’t be getting right into a slugfest that early with Ngannou. That is what Ngannou desires. I believe it was lapse in judgment.
“I knew it had a risk to go that approach, as a result of it is Ngannou and he is already proven a bunch of instances that he is received the facility and the aggression to stroll guys down,” Blaydes stated. “However I used to be a bit of shocked, as a result of I hoped that Jairzinho would have extra of a defensive sport plan, at the least initially in that opening minute. I assumed he’d be a bit of extra defensive, however he selected to face his floor. I can not hate him for that. That is what most fighters would do, lean in direction of his ego, his satisfaction. Most likely not the very best choice, although, however he did it and he paid the worth.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) Might 10, 2020
Whereas Ngannou added one other win to his tally, the end result finally did not do a lot to result in change on the high of the heavyweight division. Champion Stipe Miocic, who gained the belt again from Daniel Cormier final August after a year-long layoff, handled a watch damage suffered in that struggle and has but to defend the belt. Cormier has been ready for his probability at a rematch, stating it will be his final struggle earlier than retirement, however within the meantime, little progress might be made by different heavyweight contenders.
“Stipe, he has the belt, and if he is not going to take any fights — all of the top-running guys, all of the title contenders, and any one among us must be preventing him — then these guys ought to struggle it out amongst one another. If he is not going to present anybody a possibility to take a crack at him, there’s nowhere to go. There is no upward trajectory. Ngannou simply gained one other struggle, however he is nonetheless behind DC.”
Miocic has pointed to plenty of components, from his job as a firefighter to the thought he will not begin a camp till his gymnasium in Ohio, which might be closed till at the least late Might, reopens amid social distancing efforts to gradual the unfold of the coronavirus pandemic. Blaydes prompt that if Miocic goes to proceed to attend, the heavyweights may make the most of an identical method to what was achieved with the light-weight division at UFC 249. However he additionally feels just like the clock is ticking on Miocic — emotions echoed by UFC president Dana White, who stated the division has to maneuver on if Miocic cannot struggle in a well timed method.
“His focus is on his precise job proper now, and I get that,” Blaydes stated. “For now, I would not be towards an interim title struggle, possibly DC versus Ngannou, after which I get the winner after I beat Volkov. Nevertheless it’s actually on Stipe.”
“We will not make any strikes till he makes a transfer. … I am like, let’s be actual, bro, you do not want your coach’s permission to coach. If you happen to wished to do a camp, you possibly can have did your camp. You are stalling, and I get why you are stalling, as a result of being the champ, he has lots of endorsement offers, lots of sponsorships which can be unique to the man with the belt, and the much less instances he has to struggle minimizes the probabilities of him not getting these paychecks.
“He earned the belt, however you need to defend the belt. You do not get to simply hang around on the highest of the mountain. There are guys who’re scaling the mountain and after we get to the precipice, after we get to the sting, we anticipate to be met. We anticipate the problem to be accepted, and he is not doing it. He is not holding up his finish of being a champion. It’s a must to regularly show you are deserving of that strap round your waist.”