UFC 249 Quick Hits
By Jason Paglia
RYAN SPANN vs SAM ALVEY
We didn’t see anything we didn’t expect from Sam Alvey. He was slow, he was ineffective and his supposed power was missing. I guess you could say late in the 3rd round was the only time that Alvey hurt Spann, but it was more Spann being tired then Alvey being effective. However, Ryan Spann did not impress me. He was close to submitting Alvey in the 1st Round with a standing arm triangle, but aside from that he never had Alvey on the ropes. Spann was not dynamic. His striking game was sub-par, and he had trouble taking Alvey down. Spann won the fight, but not sure how many wars he will win in the future if what we saw is the best of him.
BRYCE MITCHELL vs CHARLES ROSA
Bryce Mitchell was spectacular on Saturday. I spoke about the hype train surrounding Bryce Mitchell on Talkin’ Hands Friday night, and I said he hadn’t really proved anything. Well, he may still need to prove something because Charles Rosa did not look like a UFC caliber athlete at UFC 249. For 15 minutes Bryce Mitchell was on the mat like a barnacle on top of Charles Rosa. He had Rosa in submission trouble countless times on Saturday night, even though he wasn’t able to slam the door shut and finish him. Either way, it was the most dominating performance of the night. There might not have been leather being thrown every second, and the average fight fan might have thought it was a snoozefest it was complete domination nonetheless. Excited to see Mitchell’s next test. I hope it’s against a top 15 guy.
VICENTE LUQUE vs NIKO PRICE
By the end of this fight, the only thing that went through my mind was, Niko Price had no business being a (+215) underdog. For 15 minutes he answered every shot that Vicente Luque threw at him. The bet that we were on at The Sports Keg FightCast was OVER 1.5 Rounds. It was a scary bet. I knew these two fighters would not waste any time throwing heavy hands, and they didn’t. 15 minutes of meeting in the middle of the cage and banging. Nothing was a surprise in this fight. In the end, Luque had slightly more technique and was slightly more effective to get the decision victory. I left the fight equally impressed with the loser as the victor. I can’t wait to see both these guys in the cage again.
CARLA ESPARZA vs MICHELLE WATERSON
This fight did not go down as I envisioned it. I had no action on this fight, but my friends were on Esparza. I sat there and rooted them in while thinking, what the hell is happening right now. Going into the fight, the common sense analysis was Waterson needs to stay on her feet to win, and Esparza needs to get it to the ground to win. Welp, I was wrong. Michelle Waterson and her karate standup game were lacking conviction. She got the fight she wanted. She avoided the takedowns all fight, and the victory was prime for the taking but she was out struck by Carla Esparza? Really? On the flipside, Esparza went for takedowns and tried to institute her wrestling game, but she struggled to nail them. Instead she was forced to play Michelle Waterson’s game and strike. That’s exactly what she did, and better than the Karate Hottie.
ALEKSEI OLEINIK vs FABRICIO WERDUM
This fight was pretty awful. It looks like Fabricio Werdum needed a fight under his belt before e see the Werdum before the USADA suspension. He better hope so anyway. Aleksei Oleneik was surprisingly successful on his feet in Round 1 and most of round 2. I do think that Werdum finally realized he was in a fight late in round 2. In the end, Werdum won the 3rd round, but Oleinik won the fight, and not by Ezekial choke. That was the most surprising thing about the fight.
ANTONHY PETTIS vs DONALD CERRONE
I have to watch this fight again. I was running a live broadcast while this card was going on, but the social media ether thought the wrong person won this fight. I thought the wrong person won this fight in real time, and the winner of the fight thought he lost the fight. I thought Cerrone was more effective on the feet, and the entire fight was on the feet. Do the math….. NEXT.
GREG HARDY vs YORGAN DE CASTRO
This fight was pretty much exactly what we thought it would be. It was a dominating victory for Greg Hardy. The only question we really had was how would it happen, decision or TKO. In the end it was a decisive victory for Hardy. His jab was working, and he was more comfortable stepping into the pocket and banging with the much smaller man. What does this mean for Harry’s future? Not much. A win against De Castro means nothing in the grand scheme of the UFC heavyweight division. Hardy has lost to the only UFC caliber heavyweight that he has faced in Alexander Volkov. He needs to get in there with another and beat them before I get excited about Greg Hardy. As far as Yorgan De Castro’s UFC career….. meh.
JEREMY STEPHENS vs CALVIN KATTAR
What happened in this fight? Exactly what I said would on Talkin’ Hands. Jeremy Stephens is one of the best UFC veterans to never win a championship. He is a gladiator and I love everything he has given us the last 13 years. With all that said, it’s time for him to retire. At what point does Dana White become concerned enough with Stephens’s health that he asks him to walk away. Calvin Kattar was flawless. He did exactly what he set out to do. Stay at the range, and pick him apart from the outside until it was time to drop the hammer in the pocket. He beat the featherweight gatekeeper, now he is on the path to an eventual title shot. He is and deserves to be against the elite of the division. He is a few wins away from the conversation begins and I’m totally here for it
FRANCIS NGANNOU vs JAIRZINHO ROZENSTRUIK
OH MY GOD !!! Ngannou TKO in 20 seconds……………………… That is all…
HENRY CEJUDO vs DOMINICK CRUZ
This was the biggest bet of the night for me, and it was one of the most impressive performances of the night. Henry Cejudo absolutely dominated Dominick Cruz. Dom looked like a fighter that had fought 4 times in 9 years. Dominick Cruz looked like a fighter that was coming off an almost 4-year layoff. The travesty of UFC 249, was indeed the fact that Dominick Cruz was in the fight and had the opportunity to face Cejudo, to begin with. Henry Cejudo looked like a two-division champion that over the last 7 years molded himself into a machine. The most surprising aspect of the fight was Henry Cejudo retiring immediately after it was over. Personally, I 100% believe we see Henry Cejudo inside the cage again. My gut says this is a contract ploy. He has been undervalued for a while. We know how tight Dana White is with money, and it’s time for him to pay up. Things will get squared away at some point because Cejudo has a ton left to give inside the Octagon.
TONY FERGUSON vs JUSTIN GAETHJE
The only bitter pill I had to swallow on Saturday night was this fight. I had a VERY profitable night. The one fight that took a small chunk out of my winnings was Tony Ferguson losing to Justin Gaethje. Who knew that Justin Gaethje had this fight in him? I didn’t. I said on multiple shows that Gaethje was fully capable of winning this fight. I said he was elite, and deserved to be in this fight since Nurmagomedov dropped out. What I didn’t see was how he would do it. I thought he had 2.5 rounds to get it done. His stamina has been an issue before, and that is an undeniable fact. Whatever issues he had with his cardio in the past, he did not have the same problems Saturday night. He was flawless. He fought the perfect fight. He landed an incredible amount of hard combinations on Ferguson. It is truly amazing that Ferguson ended this fight on his feet. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight in the last round because Tony would not quit. He would not go down, and Herb probably made the right decision, but Ferguson went through a war and deserved to make it to the judges’ scorecards, even though he probably lost every round.
Gaethje deserves his title shot with Khabib Nurmagomedov. That is without question and its undisputed. However, I’d rather not end this article talking about the victor. Instead, I will end with my thoughts on Tony Ferguson. He’s earned it. Tony Ferguson will go down in history as one of the top 3 lightweight mixed martial artists of this era. An era in which he won 15 of 17 inside the cage, on the world’s biggest combat stage. An era in which he won 12 straight fights going into UFC 249. The world of sports, and more importantly the world at large needed Tony Ferguson Saturday night more than he needed us. He was called upon even though his legacy had nothing to gain. Instead, he had everything to lose. Through it all, his streak has been snapped, multiple championship opportunities were taken from him, he never had a true lightweight championship fight, and he may have lost the potential to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov forever. Even still, a man was called upon and he answered the call.