Top 5 Performances from Saturday Night

Miocic x Ngannou

Top 5 Performances from the Saturday Super-Card

What a night if fights. Never before has a card been assembled that had the pieces that this mega-card had. Of course, that statement still stands because we’re talking about two separate MMA shows, but the logic is sound. No need to distinguish between the two. And it largely lived up to the hype. But of all the fights we witnessed in that beautiful 4 hour span, there were 5 performances that stood above the rest. So what were the top 5 performances of the night? Let us see…

#5 Rob Font

Rob Font made quite the impression last night.

He starched Thomas Almeida in the second with a vicious head kick and some follow-up shots that sealed the deal. He out-savaged the savage. Thomas Almeida has earned his knockout artist title but it was usurped by Rob Font in front of his Boston faithful. Font looked slick on the counter and took advantage of an over zealous competitor. And quite frankly, he out shined him. Many have pegged him as a fun fighter to watch but not much of a threat to the top.

Well, after last night, our perceptions are forced to change. With the win, Font is 5-2 in the UFC with 4 KO’s and a submission over top level competition. That makes him amongst the best new faces in the division and primes him for a run at the title.

The knockout dropped jaws everywhere and put Font right in the middle of the contenders list at 135. A win over a top-10 guy, and such a highly respected guy at that, means a big fight is coming for Rob. But exactly who should he be eye-balling after that performance?

What’s Next?

After the knockout Aljamain Sterling suffered at UFC Fresno, it’s tough to put him back in with a guy who hunts chins as a calling. But danger is present any time you step in the cage and there’s really no sense in hiding a guy from threats like that. Rob Font called him out in a post-fight interview and seems excited to make that fight happen.

With the bantamweight title picture in a weird spot as they wait for the DJ x TJ fight, the very top of the division is on hold. So, those fights aren’t available for someone like Rob. But after beating #10 in the world, why not just move right up to #9 and take him out as well?

It’d be a tall task but one Font must overcome to prove he can be a world champion in that division. Any fight Rob Font is involved in gets me excited. So put him in there with another exciting contender and let’s clear this thing up.

Rob Font vs Aljamain Sterling

#4 Rory MacDonald

The path to gold has been an arduous one for the “Red King”.

Rory MacDonald first hit the national spotlight back in 2010 and has faced the very best welterweights on the planet. He holds wins over current UFC champion, Tyron Woodley, Nate Diaz and Demian Maia. And went to championship rounds with Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson. All those contenders and all those wins and at long last, he is a world champion.

Many told me I underestimated Douglas Lima as a fighter. But perhaps they underestimated Rory. He’s fought at the highest level for years and has experienced a tremendous amount of adversity within the cage. But all that allowed him to stay calm under the toughest of circumstances at Bellator 192 and walk away victorious.

The fight played out largely on the ground. Naturally, given the damage Lima accumulated on the leg of MacDonald. But Rory dug deep and kept the pressure high with tenacious shots and relentless re-shots until the bout found itself on the mat. From there, he controlled Lima and found his way to victory because of it.

It wasn’t the greatest of performances. In fact, I considered not putting him in the top 5 performances list. But how could I do that? The guy went five hard rounds with Douglas Lima and did so with mostly one leg. It wasn’t anywhere near flawless, but he got the job done. And as a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, i’m reminded of a quote from the great Bill Cowher.

“Who cares if you win ugly?”

What’s Next?

Rory has consistently teased big fights inside the Bellator cage. He’s said he wants a crack at the heavyweights in the year-long grand prix the promotion is putting on for 2018. He’s said middleweight is a division he’d like to explore as well. But exactly what should be done with Rory after his belt winning performance on Saturday night? Well, first he’s got to take some time off. It seems that every time he fights it turns into a debacle. And last night was no different. But as far as his next fight is concerned there are a few options.

The fight last night was very close. Despite the lopsided scorecards, I would have been fine with the judges giving Lima the nod over Rory. He probably did more damage to his opponent but control was heavily in favor of the challenger so that likely did him in. Still, the fight was close and a rematch could be warranted.

The second is a fight with Rafael Carvalho for the middleweight belt. Champ-champ seems to be the goal for most fighters these days and I don’t see why Rory couldn’t get a piece of that. It would be a big fight for Bellator and an excellent match-up for the “Red King”.

Finally, Andrey Koreshkov just recently lost the belt to the man Rory defeated last night. He’s proven himself worthy of top-level competition and a bout with MacDonald would make for a violent spectacle. It’s a legitimate title defense and allows Rory to settle into his new division as an active champion. So what’s the final answer?

Rory MacDonald vs Andrey Koreshkov

#3 Michael Chandler

When Michael Chandler lost his title last year, it was in controversial fashion.

He got hurt early on and simply couldn’t physically overcome that barrier, eventually forcing the doctors to stop the fight. But to me, he’s still the champ. And at Bellator 192, he got the opportunity to back that up.

Goiti Yamauchi is a dangerous guy. He had submitted his last 3 opponents headed into the night and posed a serious threat to Michael Chandler’s unofficial crown. But straight from the jump, it was clear Chandler was there to remind people who the best lightweight in Bellator is. He was conservative on the feet and aggressive in pursuit of the takedown. And after rousing success getting the fight to the floor, he controlled every piece of Yamauchi’s game and cruised to victory.

The win represented a beautiful dynamic we hand’t seen from Chandler in a while. Lately, we’ve come to know Chandler for his heavy right hand and aggression on the feet. But he’s a wrestler at heart and he showed that last night. Iron Mike shut down one of the best grapplers in the promotion and did so with ease and a bit of flair.

Who’s Next?

Well, Scott Coker wants him to rematch Primus for the belt. But Michael Chandler doesn’t seem very enthused with that option. In fact, several times in the course of this week, we’ve heard him denounce his intentions to go for gold once more.

No, what he’s after is glory. And he doesn’t feel he’ll get that with Primus. Now, I think that should be the next fight but just for shits and giggles, why not brainstorm another fight for him?

Chandler and the Pitbull brothers have a pretty long history together. Iron Mike has two wins over Patricky, the most recent being a brutal 1st round KO that inspired his brother Patricio to defend his unconscious honor. At the moment, Patricio is the featherweight champion of the world and Michael Chandler is the uncrowned king of the lightweight division. Super-fight anyone?

You know Bellator would be down. I gotta believe Patricio wants in. And we all know Michael Chandler is up for anything. So let these two hash it out where it counts.

Michael Chandler vs Patricio Friere

#2 Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier has had a rough go of it. The fans have always had an oddly negative opinion of the champ and his rivalry with Jon Jones has left him with more questions than answers.

That’s why it’s nice to see him get this dominant win at UFC 22o. The story of both title fights was technique and experience over power. Volkan represented a man with a knack for sleeping dudes at close range but lacked the skill and experience Cormier had collected through the years. And it showed. Round 1 started in a precarious setting. Oezdemir came out on fire, wailing shots at the primarily defensive DC, looking for the shot that always seemed to expose itself for him.

But after a few minutes of firing with reckless abandon, DC was still there. He walked through the storm and asked Volkan what he had left. The answer? Not much. From there, Cormier brought it home. He lit him up on the feet to end the first and came out early in the second with a takedown, moved straight to crucifix and landed hard shots on top that forced the referee to save the challenger from the champ.

The performance earned Cormier his belt back and proved he is truly amongst the very best in the world.

What’s Next?

This is easy.

The rematch with Alexander Gustafsson is the only fight to make. Glover is out there. Jimi could get back on track soon. Both are options.

But honestly, I feel like we just saw how the Jimi fight would go and Glover isn’t the most exciting option of all-time. On the other hand, DC x Gus II would be a fantastic fight and is proven to be a stylistic winner after their war at UFC 192. Gus hasn’t been heard from much since his defeat of Teixeira back in May of 2017, but that could be him waiting on his title shot. And if that’s the case, he shouldn’t wait any longer.

DC didn’t take much damage and he’s said this will be his final year of competition so he wants to be as active as possible. All those variables lead to one conclusion.

Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson

#1 Stipe Miocic

I can’t say enough about this guy. Stipe Miocic just physically broke the most physically imposing fighter in the history of the UFC. Everyone talked about the size, strength and power of Francis but Miocic used those attributes against him.

On the feet, he stuck to the outside, allowed Ngannou to control the center and draw big shots out of the Frenchman. As a result, Ngannou overthrew his strikes in an attempt to land that kill-shot everyone praises him for. But it didn’t come. Because Stipe Miocic is a heavyweight who moves like a lightweight. He stepped out of range smoothly and re-entered the pocket with crisp counters that hurt Ngannou several times. From there, he took over. This fight was done after 1. From then, it was a case of delaying the inevitable.

After the first, because of Stipe’s excellent work, all Ngannou had left was the one-shot KO. So, he fell back to his wrestling and in yet another fashion, used Ngannou’s physicality against him. Francis relies on explosive movements to defend takedowns and force stand-ups. Stipe was relentless on the shots, wore him down with the body locks and forced Ngannou to carry his weight from round to round.

In summary, Miocic became what many believed Ngannou to be. The most physically imposing heavyweight in the world. Ngannou was gassed beyond imagination and Miocic poured it on. He stayed safe and showed us all the type of fighter he is. The disrespect he received prior to this fight was unbelieveable. But he won’t be disrespected anymore. Somehow the champ was David against the Goliath of a challenger. But at the final bell, Miocic stood alone.

He’s the baddest man on the planet.

What’s Next?

Stipe Miocic just earned himself the title of most dominant heavyweight champion in UFC history. He is disgustingly good and just steamrolled a man many pegged as the next big thing in MMA. And he still may be that. For as much as people will talk about the weaknesses Ngannou displayed, more should be said about Stipe’s dominance. He took his lumps but avoided the kill-shots and eventually overwhelmed the challenger with superior technique and experience.

And that allowed him to walk out of the cage at UFC 220, still the King.

So, what’s next? We all want to see him and Cain Velasquez fight. The winner would probably be considered the greatest heavyweight of all time rather than just in the UFC. But at this point, Miocic could already be considered for that title. He’s torn through some of the best heavyweights to ever walk the earth and just mauled the most dangerous contender we’ve ever seen. Still, the fight feels necessary.

And it could be on the horizon. Cain has said he will be back soon so perhaps that could be this summer for Miocic’s next defense. It’s the fight we need.

Stipe Miocic vs Cain Velasquez

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