Stipe Miocic used UFC 211 to quickly put himself in a position to become the best heavyweight champion in UFC history.
Taking on Junior Dos Santos in a rematch of their instant classic in 2014, Miocic confirmed that he's the best heavyweight in the world.
JDS landed some leg kicks in the early going, but that's where the positives end for the Brazilian challenger. Miocic backed him down early and often and landed overhand rights at will. That's not a recipe for sticking around long with the champion.
The UFC passed along the right that ultimately ended the fight:
UNREAL. @StipeMiocicUFC ties the UFC HW title defense record. #UFC211 https://t.co/P4ksJ9X57V2017-5-14 05:04:34
Given Dos Santos' technical performance against Ben Rothwell last time out, this was an unexpected showing of regression. Andreas Hale of Champions MMA noted the tendency for JDS that ultimately ended his night:
Andreas Hale @AndreasHale
Like I said, JDS has a nasty habit of leaving his hands down when he’s moving. I don’t know why, but he never covers up. #UFC2112017-5-14 04:57:41
With five straight knockout victories over some of the best in the division, the question remains as to who is next for the champion. Jason Floyd of the MMA Report took his best crack at the conundrum:
Jason Floyd @Jason_Floyd
If Cain Velasquez was healthy, he would be the choice for Stipe's next title defense. Likely either Fabricio Werdum or Francis Ngannou2017-5-14 05:05:50
Either way, it's clear that Miocic is the best heavyweight in the sport right now. He'll have a huge opportunity in his next fight as he looks to become the first heavyweight champion to defend his belt three times consecutively.
The impressive knockout from Miocic was just the icing on a very violent cake that was UFC 211. This card didn't fail to deliver on the hype as Joanna Jedrzejczyk also defended her title in brutal fashion.
Here's a look at the quick results along with a breakdown of each of the main card fights.
UFC 211 Main Card
- Stipe Miocic def. Junior Dos Santos, TKO (Round 1, 2:22)
- Joanna Jędrzejczyk def. Jessica Andrade, unanimous decision (50-45, 50-46, 50-45)
- Demian Maia def. Jorge Masvidal, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Frankie Edgar def. Yair Rodriguez, TKO (Round 2, 5:00)
- David Branch def. Krzysztof Jotko, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Prelims on FX
- Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier, no contest (Accidental Foul - Round 2, 4:12)
- Jason Knight def. Chas Skelly, TKO (Round 3, 0:39)
- Chase Sherman def. Rashad Coulter, TKO (Round 2, 3:36)
- James Vick def. Marco Polo Reyes, TKO (Round 1, 2:39)
Prelims on UFC Fight Pass
- Cortney Casey def. Jessica Aguilar, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Enrique Barzola def. Gabriel Benitez, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Gadzhimurad Antigulov def. Joachim Christensen, submission (Round 1, 2:21)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade
There's Joanna Jedrzejczyk then everyone else in the women's strawweight division. That's the takeaway after watching Joanna Champion defend her belt for the fifth time.
On paper, Andrade looked like the ideal fighter to give Jedrzejczyk problems. She had experience fighting at 135 pounds, power and a strong ground game with the threat of submissions.
None of that mattered.
Jedrzejczyk simply put on a masterclass in the art of stick and move. The more Andrade charged at the champion with looping hooks and takedown attempts, the more Joanna Champion tagged her with head kicks and jabs.
The result was a five-round decision that felt more like a 25-minute beatdown for the champion.
After the bout, the champion summed up the state of the division quite well, per UFC on Fox:
FOX Sports: UFC @UFCONFOX
JJ: There is only one strawweight champion of the world and it's me, Joanna Jedrzejczyk from Poland. No one is taking this from me! #UFC2112017-5-14 04:34:02
Andrade should be given credit for her toughness. She kept coming despite diminishing returns for her labor. Sometimes a contender just runs into a transcendent champion, and that's exactly what happened in this fight.
At 25 years old, Andrade will probably continue to lurk in the division, and it wouldn't be shocking to see this fight happen again.
Then again, she'd have to make some extreme improvements to have a shot against the champion in a rematch.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Demian Maia
Jorge Masvidal grappled with Demian Maia and managed to survive all three rounds, but he couldn't do enough to convince the judges that he won the fight. Maia controlled all three rounds on the ground en route to a split-decision victory.
Masvidal put in a great showing. He started off guns blazing and appeared to have the Brazilian in trouble early on, but Maia did what Maia always does—he got the fight to the mat and resumed grappling excellence.
In all three rounds, Maia took the back of Gamebred. The impressive part for Masvidal was being able to avoid being submitted in all that time on the ground and even doing some damage of his own at times.
For Maia, the win pushes his winning streak to seven. According to Damon Martin of Fox Sports, the win locked up a title shot for Maia in his next fight:
Damon Martin @DamonMartin
Demian Maia asked Dana White for his title shot and Dana said "You got it" #UFC2112017-5-14 03:43:18
The title shot is a long time coming for Maia. His fighting style isn't for everyone, but he's been effective at imposing his will since moving to the welterweight division.
Tyron Woodley will be a difficult matchup for the challenger, though. Masvidal's quickness on the feet had Maia in trouble at times, and Woodley is one of the most explosive fighters in the sport.
This sets up an interesting fight pitting Maia's jiu-jitsu against Woodley's wrestling and power.
Yair Rodriguez vs. Frankie Edgar
Yair Rodriguez wasn't ready.
It didn't take long for that to become apparent to anyone watching the 24-year-old take on Frankie Edgar.
Rodriguez took a big step toward becoming a well-known commodity in his last bout when he beat up an old BJ Penn in a main event, but Edgar showed he has much more to give in the cage than the antiquated Penn.
Edgar quickly took Rodriguez down and went to work on rearranging his opponent's face on the ground. The result was a badly swollen eye and a cut that kept the cutman working throughout the break between rounds.
The second round didn't look much different. The UFC passed along the epic slam from The Answer:
Big slam by @FrankieEdgar here in round 2! #UFC211 https://t.co/I2xfAVHFTO2017-5-14 03:01:58
From there Rodriguez flailed in desperation for submissions but had no answer for the problems that Edgar gave him. The former champion continued to blast away with punches and elbows at the swelled-up eye.
When the doctor had a chance to look at it between rounds, that was it.
As Patrick Wyman of the Washington Post noted, this was the kind of loss that should force Rodriguez to evaluate where he is as a fighter:
Patrick Wyman @Patrick_Wyman
Back to the drawing board for Rodriguez. That was bad in every way - bad game plan, bad in-fight decisions, lacking fundamentals. #UFC2112017-5-14 03:08:27
For Edgar, this was a clear indication that he should be in line for a title shot soon. This is his second TKO win over a top-10 opponent since losing to Jose Aldo at UFC 200.
David Branch vs. Krzysztof Jotko
No. 9 middleweight Krzysztof Jotko welcomed David Branch back to the UFC for the first time since 2011 to kick off the main card in a fight that was forgotten almost as soon as it ended.
With a five-fight winning streak coming in, the 27-year-old Jotko is one of few middleweight prospects, but he became victim to Branch's smothering wrestling. Branch was released by the UFC in 2011 after establishing a reputation for being a dull fighter.
He didn't do much to change that perception against Jotko. He effectively closed the distance, avoided damage and stifled Jotko's offense, but he didn't do much to cause damage himself.
The crowd was sure to let Branch know their displeasure, but as Connor Ruebusch of Bloody Elbow noted, it was Jotko that allowed Branch to get great position in the clinch consistently.
Connor Ruebusch @BoxingBusch
Branch's wrestling was just a little too much for Jotko, but Krzysztof repeatedly gave him the clinches.2017-5-14 02:36:49
This fight probably did more to damage Jotko's rise than it did to say anything about Branch. The veteran's successful comeback gives him 11 straight victories that included two championship belts in World Series of Fighting, but there's not much he did to make fans believe he can become a factor in the UFC heavyweight division.
As for Jotko, this was a classic case of a dynamic striker getting outpointed by a wrestler. He can complain about Branch's approach, but ultimately he has to figure out how to create space to do damage.