Marina Rodriguez‘s performance in the short term after travel nightmares and Donald CerroneThe ongoing decline was two of the main storylines of Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas and the continued success of Neil Magny cannot be overlooked.
Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim from ESPN have their biggest takeaways.
Helwani: Rodriguez draws comparisons with Jedrzejczyk
In view of the main event on Saturday between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson was completed on Tuesday, and considering half of the main event – Rodriguez – arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday after one hellish travel experienceThe main event was way better than I expected.
It was never really in doubt. Rodriguez was the better fighter from the start. Waterson had her moments, but it was a fun fight from start to finish.
What I really appreciated was that the most exciting round was the fifth and final verse. None of the fighters gave up, despite the short-term nature of the fight and despite fighting in a weight class above their usual division.
In my opinion, Rodriguez clearly won the first three laps. Waterson did enough to win the fourth and even injure Rodriguez in the fifth, but ultimately Waterson didn’t do enough to take down Rodriguez or even steal the fight.
– Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) May 9, 2021
That’s now three losses in their last four fights for the popular Waterson, though it’s hard to get too excited about for the reasons above.
On the other hand, there are now two wins in a row for Rodriguez, who defeated the popular Amanda Ribas in January. I still hesitate to label the 115-year-old Brazilian a contender – remember, she lost a split decision Carla Esparza in July and has drawn against Cynthia Calvillo and Randa Markos – but I think it’s close. Her punch is crisp and she hits really hard. She’s big, she’s strong and Daniel Cormier nailed down in the show: It has a style that is reminiscent of the great Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Of course, she still has a long way to go before entering Joanna Champion’s territory, but I can safely say that the deepest women’s division in MMA has a new player in Marina Rodriguez. I wouldn’t mind watching them fight Mackenzie Dern in a fight between two straw weights that seem to be on the verge of bigger things. Or, hey, how about Jedrzejczyk himself? No doubt it would be fun.
Okamoto: Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone needs a fight for retirement
Man I hate that. Hate it. I’ve been MMA almost every Saturday for the past 10+ years, and how many of those Saturdays has Cowboy been involved in? I remember his WEC career against which his title hit back at the time Benson Henderson, its rivalry with Jamie Varner. If you’re a new fan and don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and get to know it. And if you’re an old school fan who is there for everything, go back and relive.
Cowboy had one of the best careers of any fighters in the sport. He never won a WEC or UFC championship, but I would run his career over many fighters who did. And all of these memories … they have a price, after all.
“I don’t know what to say to you, ‘Is it this time? [to retire]? ‘ I dont know. I don’t feel like it, but how I feel and how I play are two different things, you know? “
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2021
Cowboy no longer has it as much as we all want. He doesn’t want to go out like that, and I don’t think he has to. But he and the UFC have to sit down, find the right fight, put it in front of the fans, and then, whatever happens, head off into the sunset.
Just one more cowboy.
Raimondi: It’s not too late for a Gillespie lightweight run
About 18 months ago Gregor Gillespie was seen as a real problem in the UFC Lightweight Division. “The Gift” was someone, people thought, who could soon get a top contender and potentially fight for the title. Gillespie was 13-0 with five straight results to go into a fight with Kevin Lee at UFC 244 in November 2019. We know what happened in that fight. Lee headbutted Gillespie, a Challenger of the Year. Then Gillespie was all but forgotten. Injuries kept him away from the cage. Even Gillespie himself admitted he wasn’t sure he could keep up with the top guys in one of the UFC’s top weight classes.
Guess what? The former NCAA wrestling national champion can absolutely still hang. That and more. Gillespie, 34, had a few problems with it Diego Ferreira On his comeback on Saturday, Gillespie Ferreira took over and stopped Ferreira via TKO in the second round with ground and pounds. Gillespie is a great wrestler. But that wasn’t necessarily why he won. He just survived Ferreira. And that level of heart and perseverance – combined with that wrestling pedigree, of course – can still take him far at 155 pounds.
“Of course I believe in myself, but f — man, you never know. Doubt creeps in sometimes. It’s been a year and a half, can I still compete with these guys?”@gregor_the_gift was all heart in the fight and in his interview with @dc_mma after this # UFCVegas26 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/38hbNzvMVS
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2021
Now think about the division. Michael Chandler fights Charles Oliveira for the vacant title next week at UFC 262. Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight in summer. Justin Gaethje waiting in the wings. Gillespies Wrestling and will make him a tough challenge for almost everyone in this group. Khabib Nurmagomedov came to the top of the bunch and became one of the best fighters in MMA history with his wrestling. Gillespie isn’t quite at that level. But in Nurmagomedov’s absence, “The Gift” could be the difficult wrestling matchup in the top tier of the weight division.
Wagenheim: Magny’s secret weapon is no secret at all
Fighters are suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency if they fail PED screening. But perhaps the most performance-enhancing factor in the game is completely legal. Shouldn’t all fighters train at height?
OK, maybe these elite MMA gyms at sea level don’t need to close. But Neil Magny It has certainly shown the benefits of training in Denver, where the air is thin and the lungs are strong. In three tireless rounds he started 214 strikes Geoff Neal. That gives an average of 4.2 seconds. In reality, they came even more often because of some arguments.
Khamzat Chimaev and Neil Magny still want to scrap scrap # UFCVegas26
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 9, 2021
Magny stayed so busy that he gave Neal few openings to answer. Neal charged himself with his shots and while he did some damage, his output came one punch at a time. For much of the 15 minutes of the fight, the offense was largely one-way traffic. Magny drowned Neal in volume.
It was a confident, impressive performance from Magny, who has won four of his last five fights. The only defeat during this stretch was having the fight in January Michael Chiesaduring which Magny was controlled on the ground for long stretches. This time he stayed mostly on his feet and was always busy. If he can continue to carry out this plan, it will be difficult for opponents to climb it.