UFC Fight Night 36 is in the books. The results are as follows:
- Lyoto Machida def. Gegard Mousasi, Unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)
- Ronaldo Souza def. Francis Carmont, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Erick Silva def. Takenori Sato, Knockout (Round 1, 0:52)
- Nicholas Musoke def. Viscardi Andrade, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Charles Oliveira def. Andy Ogle, Submission (Round 3, 2:40)
- Joe Proctor def. Cristiano Marcello, Unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Rodrigo Damm def. Ivan Jorge, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Francisco Trinaldo def. Jesse Ronson, Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Iuri Alcantara def. Wilson Reis, Split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
- Felipe Arantes def. Maximo Blanco, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Ildemar Alcantara def. Albert Tumenov, Split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Zubair Tuhugov def. Douglas Silva de Andrade, Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Next up? The injury-ravaged UFC 170.
It's a card full of names, but oh my, what could have been. What was once a card topped by the women's bantamweight championship bout between Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann and backed up by Gilbert Melendez vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Cormier and Rustam Khabilov vs. Rafael dos Anjos has been ravaged by injuries, a contract dispute and more injuries.
What we have now is decidedly less good but still an interesting collection of fights. So what topics should you be discussing entering next Saturday? Find out right here!
Remember back when Erik Koch was the top contender in the featherweight division? And then he got hosed by the Dana White's backwards explanation for why Frankie Edgar should fight Jose Aldo? Well, the world has been even less kind to Koch than the UFC has been.
Ricardo Lamas ended up smacking him around, then Dustin Poirier did the same. Then the brutal mistress named "biology" came in, and the 25-year-old wound up with a particularly brutal weight cut that stunted his potential as a featherweight.
Now, the "New Breed" is getting a fresh start at 155 pounds against Rafaello Oliveira. At 2-5 in the UFC, Oliveira, on paper, should be a slam-dunk win for Koch.
So will the 155-pound Koch look better than the 145-pound version? We'll see.
Remember how the UFC turned away top-10 welterweight Ben Askren? One of the most popular theories for why that happened (outside the fact that he had a deceptively good shot at laying and praying his way to the belt) is that it might legitimize Bellator as a hotbed of MMA talent.
Unfortunately for them, they might have another former Bellator champion do that regardless.
When an injury situation left WEC veteran Scott Jorgensen without an opponent for his flyweight debut, the door opened for possibly the best non-Zuffa flyweight in America: former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach "Fun Size" Makovsky. He took a unanimous-decision victory over the former title contender that suddenly thrust him into relevance near the top of the UFC's flyweight division.
He is slated to face off with Joshua Sampo, who is no slouch with a 1-0 UFC record and notable wins over Alexis Vila and Antonio Banuelos. He submitted Ryan Benoit in his debut, and the winner of this fight could wind up in the thick of title contention, if the ending is dramatic enough.
Makovsky is somebody to watch in the flyweight division, and if he ends up making some noise, he might wind up being the guy to shut up people who say Bellator lacks legitimately talented fighters.
Now look, I sometimes say less-than-nice things in these "Burning Questions" articles. I bear no ill will when it comes to 99.9 percent of fighters. I'm just here to ask questions and point out things worth keeping an eye on before, during and after fight night. More often than not, that revolves around the title picture.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro Munhoz and Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye? Everything about those fights is worth keeping an eye on.
Mike Pyle vs. TJ Waldburger and Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen Thompson? Not so much.
For some perplexing reason, Assuncao vs. Munhoz and Davis vs. Eye are on Fox Sports 1, while Pyle vs. Waldburger and Whittaker vs. Thompson are on the main card.
In the immortal words of My Living Doll's Rhoda Miller, "does not compute."
Now, both of these are good fights. Pyle is one of the most underappreciated welterweights in the UFC, Waldburger is solid, and Whittaker vs. Thompson is a favorite to win Fight of the Night.
Frankly, though, this just doesn't make sense, and the logic behind the way this card is laid out should be questioned.
Raphael Assuncao vs. any opponent is a crucial fight when it comes to the bantamweight title picture—mainly because he is the only legitimate contender in the division.
He is on a five-fight winning streak—the longest in the division among anyone not named Renan Barao—and owns wins over Top 10 bantamweights (for whatever that's worth) Mike Easton and TJ Dillashaw.
The only fighter who has a comparable streak is Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres, who would be on a five-fight winning streak if not for a win being turned to a no-contest due to a failed drug test (but he also hasn't faced the competition that Assuncao has).
He finds himself facing a UFC newcomer in Pedro Munhoz (I had to re-check Wikipedia to remember the guy's name), an RFA import who owns a 10-0 record.
Munhoz might be legitimate, but all signs point to a dominating win for Assuncao. If that comes to pass, should we expect him to face Barao at some point this spring?
In case you missed it, Jessica Eye made herself look like bad in the last couple of weeks; you can check out Chad Dundas' breakdown of the story here.
However, winning cures all ills and ends all controversies, and Eye, if she can pull one over on Alexis Davis, will have much bigger things to worry about than lying about her possible weed habits.
Things like a potential title shot, in fact.
If she manages to add Davis to her resume, which already includes Zoila Gurgel, Carina Damm and Sarah Kaufman (more or less), it's hard to argue that she shouldn't get a crack at the belt, even potentially ahead of Cat Zingano. While Davis is a very tall order, Eye matches up well against her stylistically. This is a deceptively winnable fight for Eye, who opens as a plus-145 underdog via Odds Shark.
If she can pull it off, this whole Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation fiasco will be a distant memory for all parties. So can she pull it off?
Alexis Davis has always been on the short list when it comes to queen-killers in the women's 135-pound division. She is among the best submission artists in women's MMA, and every time Ronda Rousey shows the slightest hint of weakness in a grappling exchange, her naysayers reflexively say, "Well, if she was fighting against a better Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, she would've been tapped in Round 1!"
Well, Davis is the best BJJ artist among the current crop of female bantamweights, and if she can beat Jessica Eye in convincing fashion, it's hard to imagine she doesn't find herself, at the very least, set up for a top contender's match with Cat Zingano.
Or does she?
The reality is that Davis, despite being one of the greatest threats to Rousey, remains a complete mystery to most fans. The fact that this bout has gone completely un-hyped is also noteworthy, because there was a great hoopla over the last legitimate top contender's bout between Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate.
So why is this?
Is the UFC legitimately committed to a Rousey vs. Zingano fight in the future? Is Rousey going to be out for a while due to her Hollywood obligations, leaving the winner of Davis vs. Eye in a holding pattern until the champ returns? Is the UFC maybe...just maybe...planning to bring in Cris "Cyborg" Justino?
I have no idea, but we shall see.
I was complaining about two of the welterweight bouts on the main card before, but Demian Maia vs. Rory MacDonald? That's actually a good one. MacDonald and Maia both came very close to title contention in 2013 but suffered split-decision losses (to Robbie Lawler and Jake Shields, respectively) that threaten their future in the division.
From 2011 to 2012, the UFC plugged Rory MacDonald as the next big thing in the welterweight division. For his part, he lived up to the hype, racking up a four-fight winning streak over Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills and BJ Penn. A boring fight against Jake Ellenberger, though, had many wondering if he might have lost the Terminator-like mercilessness that made him popular, and his loss to Robbie Lawler all but confirmed it.
Maia, meanwhile, set himself apart from the middleweight pack when he racked up an impressive five-fight winning streak from 2007 into 2009. Things went sideways from there, but he ended up dropping to welterweight and took three quick wins to establish himself as a contender. He dropped a razor-thin decision loss in an all-grappling affair to Jake Shields, however, and while the fight could have .
The stakes are high here. The winner jumps back into title contention. The loser falls into the middle of a crowded welterweight division.
So who will land where?
Some people are buying into this Patrick Cummins character, but we all know what this fight is. It's a squash match. Plain and simple.
The question isn't if Daniel Cormier will win. Unless you're crazy or can see some craziness in the future with a crystal ball, you know Cormier will win. The question is how quickly and thoroughly he can pull it off.
That, actually, is an important question.
Cormier exploded into the heavyweight top 10 back in Strikeforce when he knocked out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and then tossed around Josh Barnett with ease. While he is one of the best fighters in the business these days, all of his outings since winning the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix have been completely devoid of the "wow" factor that made him an overnight star in 2011.
He was panned for a lackadaisical approach against—let me check Wikipedia here—Dion Staring. Then he ended up taking decisive, but by no means impressive, wins over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson.
Still, Nelson and Mir are crafty veterans, and Cormier knocked out Staring.
Cummins is just 4-0 as a professional mixed martial artist. His opponents have a combined 10-20 record.
If Cormier doesn't annihilate him, he's going to hear about it.
Back in 2013, I posed a question: Is the UFC shielding Ronda Rousey?
I asked that in response to the news that Rousey would be matched against Miesha Tate, an opponent she had already demolished who had just recently lost to Cat Zingano, rather than Sara McMann. In fact, I went so far as to state the following: "The only female with a win in the UFC outside Rousey and Zingano is Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann. McMann, on paper, is the most likely to dethrone Rousey, and could arguably be favored if the two fought today."
It was a bold statement that made sense at the time. Since then, though, Rousey has converted me to "true believer" status when it comes to her invincibility against the current crop of female bantamweight talent.
McMann, though, remains amazingly skilled. Her wrestling credentials are matched by few fighters in either men's or women's MMA, so if she has polished up her hands and built up more of a gas tank, this could be legitimately competitive.
Even if she did, though, it is Rousey's fight to lose. Will McMann become the Alexander Gustafsson to Rousey's Jon Jones? Or will she end up as more of a Nate Marquardt to the champ's Anderson Silva?
You hear it all the time from the media. You hear it from Dana White. You hear it a lot.
Ronda Rousey is the biggest draw in the UFC or at the very least, one of the biggest.
Is she really, though?
In fairness, she's had a lot of help in her two UFC main event fights. There's no denying that UFC 157 was helped by the novelty of having the first-ever women's MMA fight in UFC history. UFC 168 was stacked up and down, and would have been a strong seller with or without Rousey vs. Tate 2 (don't get me wrong, though, it wouldn't have gotten one million buys without it).
Now, though, she headlines an under-hyped card with very little support behind her and no season of The Ultimate Fighter to grow a rivalry between her and her seemingly impossibly overmatched opponent. On top of that, there was a pay-per-view event just three weeks earlier, with an atrocious UFC Fight Night the previous weekend and another card the following week.
Will Rousey prove herself to be the bulletproof draw and transcendent star the UFC believes her to be? Or will UFC 170 prove she is "just" another champion?