Curtis Blaydes stored rolling Saturday, defeating Alexander Volkov within the UFC Struggle Night time fundamental occasion by unanimous resolution in Las Vegas, however Dana White wasn’t proud of the efficiency. White mentioned Blaydes appeared “silly” for not with the ability to again up his speak.
No matter fashion factors, Blaydes gained his fourth straight struggle, outlanding Volkov 40-Three in complete strikes in Spherical 1. “Razor” made historical past, too, recording 14 takedowns — a heavyweight single-fight report that topped Cain Velasquez‘s mark of 11.
Although White wasn’t thrilled about the primary occasion, the co-main earned the $50,000 fight-of-the-night bonus. That noticed Josh Emmett win a thriller over Shane Burgos in what some are calling a fight-of-the-year candidate, and veteran Jim Miller rapidly submitted rising prospect Roosevelt Roberts.
However earlier than these performances, there was some controversy involving the UFC debut of Max Rohskopf within the evening’s opening bout. Rohskopf entered his struggle with Austin Hubbard 5-0, however took a pounding within the second spherical and stop moments later regardless of his coach, Robert Drysdale, making an attempt to speak his fighter out of it.
ESPN’s skilled panel of Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim addresses a few of the evening’s greatest performances, what occurred with Rohskopf and extra.
Who’s subsequent for Curtis Blaydes?
Curtis Blaydes talks about his exhaustion after his victory over Alexander Volkov and provides there’s extra work to be completed if he will struggle for the heavyweight title.
Helwani: Ordinarily this might be a straightforward one: Blaydes vs. Francis Ngannou subsequent. Easy. They’re each on four-fight profitable streaks now and it is a stable struggle. Downside is, Ngannou is 2-Zero in opposition to Blaydes already. In order that is not sensible for Ngannou proper now. In consequence, I believe Blaydes ought to struggle the winner of the Derrick Lewis vs. Aleksei Oleinik conflict set for Aug. 8. I’ve at all times needed to see Blaydes vs. Lewis, and sure, I do know Blaydes has a win over Oleinik, however when you recall, that 2017 struggle ended with controversy, so it will be a straightforward one to run again.
Okamoto: Uncertainty. Sleepless nights. Checking headlines. Blaydes did his job. He went out and beat Volkov in a UFC fundamental occasion. That is what he was answerable for. Now issues are out of his management. What occurs within the trilogy title struggle between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier? Which ones retires? Neither? Each? Solely DC? After which what? What occurs with Ngannou, whom Blaydes has misplaced to twice? Does Jon Jones transfer up? Blaydes cannot do something about any of those issues, however all of them influence him. I am saying Blaydes deserves to attend for a title shot if he needs, although that is a protracted, lengthy wait. And if each Miocic and Cormier have been to retire, I would be in favor of Blaydes combating Ngannou a 3rd time. However once more, all of that’s up within the air, and it is all out of his management.
Raimondi: By any metric, Blaydes needs to be getting a title shot subsequent. He has gained 4 straight, has appeared dominant and has just one loss in his previous 11 fights. At heavyweight, that’s extraordinarily robust to drag off. He has been constant and continues to be solely 29 years outdated. However the issue right here is that Blaydes has two profession losses — and so they’re each by way of end to Ngannou, the highest contender within the UFC heavyweight division. Ngannou completely should get a title shot after the Miocic-Cormier trilogy is sorted out at UFC 252 in August.
Blaydes is type of in no-man’s land. It does not make sense for him to struggle once more. He has completed sufficient for a title alternative, however Ngannou is firmly forward of him. There is not any approach round it. Blaydes most likely should compete yet another time, and the opponent that makes probably the most sense is the winner of the upcoming struggle between Lewis and Oleinik.
Wagenheim: If I am Blaydes, I am not signing a struggle settlement till after Aug. 15. Cormier has dedicated to retiring on the finish of that evening, and Miocic has hinted that he would possibly do the identical. If each guys depart their gloves on the heart of the Octagon, that might create two spots in a heavyweight title struggle, and Blaydes would deserve one in every of them. It will be his third matchup with Ngannou, who has knocked him out twice. However a championship struggle deserves a matchup of the 2 greatest, and that might be them. If Miocic beats Cormier and opts to stay an energetic fighter, and the subsequent title shot rightfully goes to Ngannou, Blaydes would possibly as properly look forward to the winner. He already has defeated the massive man located proper behind him within the ESPN Prime 10, Junior dos Santos, so there is not any have to show himself but once more.
Who needs to be subsequent for Josh Emmett?
Helwani: Emmett is slowly however certainly getting into that contender dialog at 145. Sadly for him, fellow contenders Chan Sung Jung, Yair Rodriguez, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Brian Ortega would possibly get matched up quickly. So, I believe a struggle in opposition to the winner of subsequent month’s Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige fundamental occasion makes plenty of sense. Now, that’s assuming Emmett’s knee damage is not all that critical. Whether it is, that is all moot as a result of he could be out for an prolonged time frame. If not, he positively deserves to be in that dialog after his third win a row.
Josh Emmett takes Shane Burgos down with a robust left hook early within the third spherical of their bout at UFC Struggle Night time.
Okamoto: Man, I type of want the UFC hadn’t simply booked Kattar vs. Ige on July 15 — as a result of Emmett vs. Kattar would certain make plenty of sense proper now. There are lots of matchups for Emmett close to the highest, however the issue is, they could all be booked quickly. Magomedsharipov vs. Rodriguez is a struggle that should occur and has been booked earlier than. Ortega vs. Jung, very same deal. These are nice fights, and I would not need to see them get damaged up. So, truthfully, the reply is, I haven’t got a solution proper now. I believe the division must play out a bit. In lower than a month, we’ll know the outcomes of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway and Kattar vs. Ige. I might see Emmett’s subsequent opponent presumably popping out of a kind of two fights. Positively Ige, if Ige have been to beat Kattar.
Raimondi: Featherweight is fairly stacked on the prime proper now, is not it? Volkanovski is defending the title in opposition to former champion Holloway subsequent month at UFC 251. Then there’s Magomedsharipov, Rodriguez, Jung and Ortega. Plus Kattar and Ige, who’re combating one another in July. Emmett belongs proper there in that group. However I’ve a little bit of an outside-the-box matchup for him subsequent, supplied Emmett does not have a torn ACL and isn’t out for a lot of months. How about Arnold Allen? He is 6-Zero within the UFC and has gained 9 straight general. He’s badly in want of a step up in competitors, and Emmett — who appeared unbelievable Saturday evening in opposition to Burgos — certainly is that.
Emmett vs. Allen could be an impressive struggle. With the opposite six guys within the combine, put them collectively in some permutation and whoever is most spectacular can get the subsequent shot on the Volkanovski vs. Holloway winner. What a division 145 kilos is in the mean time.
Wagenheim: First off, I need to acknowledge the wonderful matchmaking on this co-main occasion, which appears solely honest after I have been so crucial of many latest UFC struggle bookings. Emmett is No. 9 within the ESPN males’s featherweight rankings, and he acquired the higher of No. 10 Burgos regardless of hurting his knee early on and absorbing a groin shot in Spherical 3. That is the type of resiliency that propels a fighter towards the highest of the division. Downside is, everybody ranked above Emmett is both booked in opposition to one other contender already or no less than has been talked about for a matchup. Emmett needs to be in entrance of his TV on July 15 watching Kattar, No. Eight within the ESPN Prime 10, tackle Ige. The winner of that one would make a superb subsequent opponent for an Emmett struggle that would produce much more fireworks than Saturday evening’s slugfest with Burgos.
What was your tackle Max Rohskopf not popping out for the third spherical?
Pay attention in as Max Rohskopf and his coach, Robert Drysdale, debate Rohskopf’s eager to cease the struggle after the second spherical.
Helwani: I really feel very snug saying this: That was a few of the worst — if not the worst — nook work within the historical past of the UFC. Atrocious, reckless job by Rohskopf’s chief cornerman, Robert Drysdale. I counted Rohskopf saying “name it” 9 occasions in that minute, and that does not embrace the opposite occasions he was clearly making an attempt to state he was completed. Probably the most uncomfortable half was watching him having to whisper, “name it” in an try to keep away from the embarrassment that for (some motive) is hooked up to quitting on the stool. At no level did the cornermen ask Rohskopf what was mistaken. At no level did they provide any constructive teaching. All they did was ignore his a number of verbal cues and cling their fighter out to dry.
Earlier than Saturday, I believed the nook work — or lack thereof — within the Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington struggle two years in the past was the worst we might ever seen. In case you recall, Pennington needed out of the ladies’s bantamweight title struggle going into the fifth, however her nook ignored her and despatched her out to get completed within the fifth. That was reckless, too, however I suppose if somebody needed to they might make the argument that it was a title struggle and price taking the chance. I disagree with that argument, however others made it on the time. This? This was a short-notice prelim struggle. Come on. What are we doing right here, guys? Dwell to struggle one other day and study to hearken to your fighter. If the cornermen aren’t there to guard the fighter in these weak moments, finally what’s their objective?
Good on Rohskopf for ignoring his nook and going to the inspector to ask out, and good on inspector Charvez Foger for listening to him. Rohskopf ought to by no means have been put in that place, however no matter embarrassment which may come from that — and there needs to be none — it pales compared to the extreme injury he would have taken within the third.
It is a robust sport and there’s no disgrace in being completed when you possibly can’t go any additional. I personally could be in remorse for the remainder of my life however hey I haven’t got to struggle Austin
— Randa Markos (@randamma) June 20, 2020
Okamoto: I believed it was a particularly smart move, and I want his coach would have made it for him. Rohskopf requested his coach to name it — principally begged him to — however his coach opted to provide a pep speak as a substitute. Look, there are occasions when a coach wants to provide his/her fighter a chat, after which there are occasions when coaches have to shut up, hearken to and shield that fighter. I noticed some on Twitter saying, “Hey, that is MMA, something can occur. A struggle can change in a second.” Sure, that is true. However on this case, the fighter himself was saying, definitively, “I can not flip this round. I am in bother. I want out.” This wasn’t a UFC title struggle, it was a curtain-jerker that Rohskopf took on quick discover. He is 25 years outdated. He was outstruck within the second spherical 45-6. He mentioned he was completed, and I imagine him.
Raimondi: It was a very distinctive prevalence in MMA, one I want occurred extra. That is a particularly harmful sport. If a fighter is aware of she or he is finished and there is not any sense going again on the market, why hassle? What is the level? You are solely risking additional damage. UFC president Dana White mentioned it himself Friday. It’s extremely straightforward for one thing to go mistaken in MMA after which swiftly a promising profession is derailed or worse. I do not blame Rohskopf in any respect for not eager to proceed. He was coming in on quick discover and is very inexperienced. He wasn’t prepared for this UFC debut and was self-aware sufficient to confess it within the second, defending himself from additional injury. It is a disgrace his coach, Robert Drysdale, did not see it that approach and tried to proceed to goad him into going again out.
Wagenheim: What a hype prepare Rohskopf rode in on for his UFC debut, after having completed all of his earlier fights by submission. The 25-year-old appeared calm throughout introductions, and he put Austin Hubbard in bother on the canvas early. However when Hubbard turned the tables, Rohskopf not solely had no solutions, however he additionally questioned himself. And that didn’t change through the break after Spherical 2. It is by no means a superb look, quitting on the stool, but it surely was an excellent worse search for his coach, Robert Drysdale, to disregard his fighter’s repeated pleas to “name it.” By my depend, Rohskopf spoke these phrases or another type of give up 18 occasions over lower than 40 seconds within the nook. It was high quality for Drysdale to make a few makes an attempt to perk up his fighter, particularly with Rohskopf not showing to be severely broken bodily. However at what level do you simply determine to hearken to your athlete? Rohskopf is younger. He has time on his facet, in addition to some important struggle instruments, to rebuild himself from a nightmarish finish to this evening. Drysdale has some studying to do, too.
Lauren Murphy catches Roxanne Modafferi with a proper hand jab that sends her stumbling within the second spherical.
Helwani: I am going to vote in favor of Murphy. She has now gained 4 of 5 at 125 and has the second-most wins at flyweight behind champion Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian, who’ve 5 apiece. Additionally, maybe most significantly, she explicitly referred to as out Calvillo afterward: “I need to struggle Cynthia Calvillo subsequent,” she mentioned. “She’s the woman to beat proper now. She’s a very, actually wonderful fighter. She walked proper into the division and she or he took the No. 2 spot, and I believe that is an awesome matchup for me. I believe I can beat her and I need to present everyone that I can.” Signal me up.
Okamoto: Calvillo simply made her flyweight debut final week. There are infinite choices for her subsequent struggle at 125 kilos. So sure, Murphy or Robertson would work — and I would be down for both one — however I believe there are higher choices on the market for Calvillo. She’s already very extremely ranked after beating Jessica Eye in final week’s fundamental occasion, however she’s additionally new to the division and has mentioned she needs to be energetic. There is not any actual motive to hurry her right into a title shot, or have her wait round for one. I like potential matchups in opposition to Montana De La Rosa or Hannah Goldy, however there’s actually no mistaken reply right here.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 20, 2020
Raimondi: I wrote final week that the winner between Roxanne Modafferi and Lauren Murphy would make a superb subsequent opponent for Calvillo. Murphy appeared very stable in beating Modafferi. She has gained three straight, and shifting to Houston the place she trains with the likes of Derrick Lewis below coach Bob Perez has clearly clicked for her. Calvillo continues to be behind Joanne Calderwood, who’s about to get the subsequent girls’s flyweight title shot in opposition to Valentina Shevchenko. Katlyn Chookagian is within the combine, too, although she misplaced to Shevchenko earlier this yr. Calvillo vs. Murphy might find yourself being a title eliminator. So far as Robertson, she appeared nice in beating Cortney Casey, however she was coming off a loss to Maycee Barber, who has misplaced to Modafferi. She nonetheless wants one other win or two to be thought-about in that higher echelon of the ladies’s 125-pound division.
Wagenheim: Depend me in for Calvillo vs. Robertson, and the way about we begin the struggle on the canvas? Robertson scored her fourth profession submission on Saturday, giving her probably the most in UFC girls’s historical past. She broke a tie with 4 different girls, Calvillo amongst them. These are two of the strongest grapplers within the flyweight division, and it appears that evidently if a challenger goes to get to Valentina Shevchenko, it will occur on the mat. Sure, the champion is a judo black belt with seven profession submissions (two within the UFC). However do you want anybody’s possibilities in opposition to her in a standup struggle?
Whose efficiency exterior of the primary and co-main occasions was probably the most spectacular?
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 21, 2020
Helwani: I am going to go together with Justin Jaynes. As of Wednesday, Jaynes wasn’t even within the UFC. He was signed solely after Matt Frevola was pulled from the cardboard after his cornerman and fellow UFC fighter Billy Quarantillo examined constructive for COVID-19. So he principally took this struggle on two days’ discover after which gained his debut Saturday evening with a 41-second TKO over Frank Camacho. That’s supremely spectacular. I additionally preferred that he referred to as out UFC veteran Drakkar Klose afterward as a result of he beat him in a highschool wrestling championship. That is enjoyable.
Okamoto: Lyman Good. That most likely sounds wild, contemplating Good misplaced to Belal Muhammad, however Good went into this weekend having overcome COVID-19 earlier this yr and lately enduring the lack of his father. Muhammad is a particularly underrated welterweight. He is now 7-2 in his previous 9, and people losses got here in opposition to two of the perfect younger contenders within the sport in Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal. He’s a man who can crack the highest 10, perhaps prime 5, of this division, and Good took him to the brink of defeat, regardless of a few of the most tough emotional circumstances below which one might compete. Good is not the primary athlete who has ever been in a position to compete on the highest stage below emotional duress, nor will he be the final, however that does not make it any much less spectacular to me.
Raimondi: It’s wonderful that Jim Miller continues to rack up wins and finishes. He was on a four-fight shedding streak in 2017 and 2018. Being in his mid-30s on the time, it appeared as if which may have been it for the New Jersey native after a chic, constant profession. If that ended up being the case, it will have been OK. Miller was coping with Lyme illness and it was clear he wasn’t as bodily or robust as he as soon as was.
It is a time period that will get overused in MMA, however I will say it right here: Jim Miller is again. At 36 years outdated, he has gained 4 of his previous six fights, and all 4 of these victories have come by way of submission. Roosevelt Roberts is a legit light-weight prospect, and Miller took him out inside a spherical. Absolutely recovered from Lyme illness, Miller has his athleticism and motor again. He is one of many winningest fighters in UFC historical past (tied for third) and there’s no finish in sight to this run. Few have epitomized guts, will and consistency in UFC historical past like Miller.
Wagenheim: Jaynes scoring a 41-second KO in his UFC debut, coming in on three days’ discover, is hard to beat. However I used to be most impressed by fighters taking their opponents out of their recreation. Austin Hubbard opened the evening by keeping off the wrestling of Max Rohskopf. Tecia Torres did the identical in opposition to Brianna Van Buren. I’ve to go together with Jim Miller, although, as a result of he knew he had a bonus on the canvas in opposition to Roosevelt Roberts and he seized it within the opening seconds. Then he didn’t let up till he had effectively submitted Roberts in lower than 2½ minutes. Miller is greatest recognized for his longevity — he is tied for many UFC fights — however on this evening the 36-year-old confirmed off why he is nonetheless competing at a excessive stage.