Thoughts: on the conclusion of UFC 226 [2018]

some thoughts by the Crow.
curated by the Azure-Winged Magpie (◔◡◔)!

As I originally typed this sentence a few hours one day ago, I found myself slightly let-down by the conclusion of last night’s event. And now, after a much-needed nap and a day of moderate labour, I think I should address my thoughts in a quick post.

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

But before I get to those thoughts about the finale, let’s address one of the fights that came before it.

DERRICK LEWIS vs FRANCIS NGANNOU

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UFC 226’s co-main event, in which Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis traded with Franis Ngannou for fifteen minutes was a bit of a snooze-fest. 

Now, I’m not the kind to be let down by technical, cautious displays of point-fighting (the excellent matches between two-time challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and defending champion Tyrone Woodley come to mind), but this fight — summed up into a nutshell by veteran referee Herb Dean‘s stepping in with a warning to both fighters about their lack of aggression — was a servere disappointment. For all I could care, Lewis took the fight by 10-9 in each round, since Ngannou didn’t seem bothered about even trying.

Where does this leave both men? Ngannou goes back to the drawing board, I think. As for Lewis: he understands — as he spelt out in his post-fight conference interview — that this fight hardly qualifies him as championship material. 

A damn shame, all-around. 

STIPE MIOCIC vs DANIEL CORMIER

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Following their boring display of stand-and-trade, we reached the Main Event of the evening, in which champion Stipe Miocic was set to defend his Heavyweight title against the Light-Heavyweight champion Daniel “DC” Cormier in a ‘super-fight’. Miocic had been quite the successful champion in the usually notorious division leading up to the fight, with a record three successful defences (overall record: 18W-3L-0NC), equalling DC’s own number of defences of the LHW title. And DC, on the other hand (overall record: 14W-1L-1NC), had never been defeated at heavyweight, and was the last undefeated Strikeforce Heavyweight champion before the promotion was absorbed by the UFC.

And it was a blistering, short affair, closing with a finish at four minutes and thirty-three seconds into the first round via a knockout. But while it was a decent fight, it was what came after the horn was blown that I take umbrage with.

First, was the lack of attention given to Mr Miocic following his KO loss: Sure, he was attended to, and kept safe, but he went unmentioned in the in-ring speeches that came after the fight. This is a minor point, but one I feel I must mention.

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Second, was the “Hollywood” nature of DC’s in-ring interview. Nothing wrong with DC being overcome with joy at the win, but once he delivered the ‘call-out’, everything went to pot.

Enter Brock Lesnar (overall record: 5W-3L-1NC), the former — heavily-pushed — heavyweight champion, in response to the call-out. DC had earlier admitted that Lesnar would be a guaranteed ‘money-fight’; and therefore, it was no surprise that DC jumped at the opportunity following his KO victory. And we proceeded to shoving and jostling and a display of marketing bravado over the microphone. 

While this sort of thing is certainly entertaining to some, and not something I particularly mind so much, since bums have to go on seats and so on and so forth, the recent upswing in “Hollywood” moments in the UFC has me a little tired. 

Of course, this is nothing compared to the incident involving former Featherweight and Lightweight double champion Conor McGregor earlier in the year, which was a disaster for the sport as a whole, but it upset me all the same. 

And mind you: Lesnar is still serving a USADA suspension following his PED-fuelled “win” over Mr Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt. That’s a point that doesn’t tire me, or upset me. It just makes me a little furious, actually. 
Perhaps it’s the nostalgic in me, but I miss the days of fighters shaking hands in the ring, all-smiles as it was announced they were set to do battle at a future date. I want MMA to have a more respectable image. 

But what do I know? That doesn’t bring in the money. It just isn’t profitable, for obvious reasons. 

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While I still feel bad for Mr Miocic being overshadowed wholesale by the post-fight theatre, I’ll leave it to uncle Dana White and his team to capitalise on the moment and turn this into a spectacle as only they can. 
Let’s just have a good fight and get it out of the way. Then, with the theatre finished, the UFC can return to its regularly-scheduled programming and rebuild its Heavyweight division. 

— Crow out.

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