During his systematic two-round beating of Dennis Siver, Conor McGregor didn’t deliver on his promise of ending the fight within two minutes, but he still sent an emphatic message to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Immediately following the stoppage McGregor rushed to hurdle the cage to get in Aldo’s face. He stretched his undefeated streak in the UFC to five (13 overall) and will be handed a UFC featherweight title shot against the Brazilian, who greeted the screaming McGregor with a wry smile. Whether it takes place in Dublin or Las Vegas, it’s one serious title fight to look forward to later in the year.
After the bold statements and trash-talking, anything but a first round victory may have been labelled a disappointment. Although falling short of his prediction, the way the Irishman took Siver apart meant fans in the TP Garden in Boston didn’t want it to end, such was the excitement of the one-sided victory.
Before the fight, as both fighters squared off, Siver refused to touch gloves and received a middle-finger in return. That was about as authoritative as the Russian was all night as from then on McGregor dominated. Stalking his opponent across the Octagon, Siver had nowhere to hide and was unable to deal with the range of his opponent. The number 10 ranked fighter was left battered and bloodied at the end of the first round as a series of straight left jabs did the damage, ‘The Notorious One’ demonstrating his full arsenal of skills by mixing it up with some lightning head-kicks.
The finish came in the second round when one of those straight left-hands finally sent Siver to the ground. McGregor was calm in taking full mount, and then forced the referee to stop the fight as Siver covered up. Calmness personified. Never letting himself get impatient during the bout, McGregor was always in control and when he sensed the stoppage was near, he took his time to gain position and then finished the job.
Following up his beating of Dustin Poirier, putting Dennis Siver away without even appearing to break sweat shows that maybe Conor McGregor has the skills to back up his continuous barrage of taunts and promises. Aldo says he’s not convinced, but you can bet your bottom dollar he won’t be talking McGregor lightly.
In the co-main event Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone earned what looked a fortunate decision victory over his friend Benson Henderson. Having beaten Myles Jury 15 days ago at UFC 182, Cerrone avenged two previous defeats to Henderson in a closely-contested lightweight match-up. Taking his winning streak to seven, the unanimous scorecard decision means Henderson has lost two consecutive fights for the first time in his career.
Uriah Hall also tasted victory in Boston. After a deep cut under Ron Stalling’s eye forced the referee to end the middleweight bout, Hall took his winning run to three. Stallings was making his UFC debut and took the fight on short notice when both Costas Philippou and Louis Taylor withdrew through injury.
McGregor’s fellow Irishman Norman Parke, unbeaten in five UFC fights, lost a split-decision to veteran Gleison Tibau in the first fight on the main card.
Full UFC Fight Night 59 Results (courtesy of MMAJunkie)
Conor McGregor def. Dennis Siver via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:54
Donald Cerrone def. Benson Henderson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Uriah Hall def. Ron Stallings via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 3:37
Gleison Tibau def. Norman Parke via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Cathal Pendred def. Sean Spencer via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Lorenz Larkin def. John Howard via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:17
Chris Wade def. Zhang Lipeng via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Patrick Holohan def. Shane Howell via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Johnny Case def. Frankie Perez via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:54
Charles Rosa def. Sean Soriano via submission (D’arce choke) – Round 3, 4:43
Sean O’Connell def. Matt Van Buren via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:11
Joby Sanchez def. Tateki Matsuda via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Full Fight Card for 18th January 2015 – TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts
Conor McGregor vs. Dennis Siver – Featherweight
I don’t really plan long term. I live my long-term goals every day in my reality, but in my mind, I am already a multiple-weight world champion.
Rest of the Main Card
Donald Cerrone vs. Benson Henderson – Lightweight
Uriah Hall vs. Ron Stallings – Middleweight
Norman Parke vs. Gleison Tibau – Lightweight
Cathal Pendred vs. Sean Spencer – Welterweight
John Howard vs. Lorenz Larkin – Welterweight
Zhang Lipeng vs. Chris Wade – Lightweight
Patrick Holohan vs. Shane Howell – Flyweight
Johnny Case vs. Frankie Perez – Lightweight
Charles Rosa vs. Sean Soriano – Featherweight
UFC Fightpass Preliminary Card
Matt Van Buren vs. Sean O’Connell – Light Heavyweight
Tateki Matsuda vs. Joby Sanchez – Flyweight
Main Card Picks
McGregor, Henderson, Hall and Tibau
Jon Jones v Daniel Cormier – UFC 182 – Saturday 4th January 2015
Rounding off my countdown of the fights to look out for in the UFC in early-2015, there was only ever one winner. At #1 it’s to be the light heavyweight matchup finally going down at UFC 182 between vicious rivals Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier
The bitter grudge match seeing Jon Jones and top contender Daniel Cormier do battle kicks off 2015 with a bang for the UFC.
Jones is aiming to extend his record breaking run of light heavyweight title defences to eight by beating wrestling specialist Cormier, unbeaten in his MMA career and looking as dangerous as ever having confidently submitted veteran Dan Henderson last time out.
The dust may have settled since the postponement of their scheduled fight at UFC 178, where during the build-up they brawled in the lobby of the MGM Grand and were recorded trading vicious insults after an interview, but if they truly do hate each other as much as previous antics suggest both are primed to blow the roof off the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Jon Jones is coming off the back of two decision victories against Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira and Daniel Cormier has been impressive in putting away both Henderson and Patrick Cummins since stepping down from heavyweight. The challenger will be a tough test for a champion who despite destroying Teixeira over five rounds in his last fight was previously taken to the absolute limit by Alexander Gustafsson.
Jones’ points win over the Swede was somewhat fortunate with many believing the decision should have gone to the other way. A rematch was booked, however Gustafsson was cruelly denied his chance through injury. He will though finally get another shot at the belt if he emerges victorious in his homecoming bout with Anthony Johnson at ‘UFC on Fox’ in Stockholm on 24th January.
If Cormier can upset the odds and end the longest current championship reign in the UFC it will blow the light heavyweight division wide open, setting 2015 up for an unpredictable ride no one could have anticipated.
‘Bones’ Jones demonstrated his full array of skills against Teixeira at UFC 172. He didn’t get the finish but as a master of fighting on his terms you would expect him to attempt to avoid letting Cormier take the bout to the mat and keep it contested in the stand-up. Cormier is a world class wrestler but Jones is no slouch in that area either.
The fight is maybe much closer too call than many observers would like to suggest, and the challenger has not backed down from Jones in any way whatsoever so far. Its been a long time coming, what a way for the UFC to see in the New Year.
Anderson Silva v Nick Diaz – UFC 183 – Saturday 31st January 2015
At #2 in my countdown of the fights to look forward to early next year, attentions turn to UFC 183 and the long-awaited return of mixed martial arts legend ‘The Spider’ Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva makes his comeback from the horrifying career-threatening leg break suffered in his re-match defeat to Chris Weidman almost 12 months ago, facing bad boy Nick Diaz who is returning to the Octagon for the first time since his loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158.
Having vowed not to test the legitimacy of recovery in his Brazilian opponent’s leg, Diaz should ask serious questions of Silva. Returning after consecutive defeats to Weidman, can the former middleweight champion return to anywhere near his imperious best? Silva has re-assured fans that he has fully recovered and will surely be targeting a return to the middleweight title picture should he earn the win.
There will still be doubts surrounding a 39 year old fighter returning from an injury as serious as the one he suffered when kicking Weidman. Even a full medical recovery cannot fully eliminate those mental doubts as he plants his right foot forward on the offensive and aims a kick with his left, but this highly anticipated return could be exactly what the former champion needs.
The Brazilian faced accusations of complacency and disrespect when caught with his guard down in the first defeat to Weidman. On that occasion the challenger seized his chance to knock Silva out to claim the belt. An incident like that had been due, Silva overstepping the trash talking and goading of opponents during fights many times before. A renewed focus after injury though could give him a new lease of life as he approaches his twilight years.
Hopefully a focussed Anderson Silva can put the previous defeats to Weidman and questions over the state of his body to bed in a strong showing at UFC 183.
Nobody likes to see the career of a legend fade out in the midst of failed comebacks and mounting fitness problems. Maybe one last assault on UFC gold will bring the very best out of one of the sport’s truly global icons.
Anderson Silva might allow himself a round to gauge how much the previous injury limits his effectiveness in competitive combat, however if and when the belief grows you wouldn’t put it past him turning on the style and dismantling Nick Diaz before they sound the bell for the final five minutes.
The Cali-born BJJ black-belt has all the tools to inflict his own damage on Silva. He may do well though to avoid getting caught up in the bombast and theatrics Silva’s comeback is set to attract.
Chris Weidman v Vitor Belfort – UFC 184 – 28th February 2015
Coming in at #3 of my countdown of the UFC fights for early 2015, I’ve gone for the middleweight title fight at UFC 184 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, where unbeaten champion Chris Weidman is scheduled to finally get his hands on ‘The Phenom’ Vitor Belfort.
The UFC middleweight title fight was postponed twice in 2014. At UFC 173 Belfort pulled out following the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s (NSAC) ban on testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), and more recently Weidman was forced to withdraw from the UFC 181 card due to a broken hand.
Weidman hopes controversy and injury lay-offs are behind the match-up now. “That’s the guy I want to fight. That’s the fight we’ve been talking about for a year now,” he said at a recent UFC promotional event.
The champion, currently the #4 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, burst onto the middleweight scene when he knocked out longstanding champion Anderson Silva 18 months ago. Weidman was then handed a TKO victory in the re-match when Silva brutally broke his leg, before a more routine unanimous points win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 173, who had taken the fight on short notice due to Belfort’s withdrawal.
The challenger Vitor Belfort is no stranger to controversy but, based on current form, deserves what will be his third attempt at winning UFC middleweight gold. The impressive trail of destruction left in his wake in the past year includes Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson, but this title opportunity still remains overshadowed by outside factors.
The TRT debate continues to rumble on and mandatory random drug tests by both the NASC and their Californian counterparts are written into his licence to compete at the event. He has been given the all-clear from the NASC but with over two months until the fight you wouldn’t be surprised if further scandal ensued. Weidman echoes this sentiment, “I’ll be disgusted if something happens.”
Also on the card is the women’s bantamweight title bout between champion Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, the challenger finally getting her chance after pulling out on a title shot through injury more than a year ago.
En route to retaining the UFC Featherweight Championship on Saturday night in the Maracanazinho Gymnasium, Rio de Janeiro, Jose Aldo proved his fighting champion status once again, magnificently overcoming the spirit and improved all round game of Chad Mendes.
In a back and forth rematch Aldo ensured he remains the only current UFC champion from Brazil, taking his record to 25-1 and extending his impressive unbeaten run that stretches back to 2005.
The Brazilian came through a hard fought five round contest by earning the unanimous points decision 49-46. Always looking dangerous in the stand-up and staying elusive whenever Mendes tried to take the bout to the mat, it was another master class in aggressive striking and mental toughness from the powerful 145 pounder.
Chad Mendes was coming off the back of a five fight winning streak and looked much improved since Aldo inflicted his only career defeat in the same city back in 2012. He looked confident and active throughout, but after only winning the fourth round where he caused a cut to Aldo’s left eye, the champion always had an extra gear to shift into.
Controlling the early rounds with some strong leg kicks, Aldo unsettled the challenger by forcing him to constantly switch stance, and in between a couple of desperate moments for himself where Mendes caught him with the odd strong left hook, Aldo rocked his opponent several times and looked the stronger as the fight was called to a close.
Aldo, when quizzed post-match as to what was in store next for a man extending his winning run to 18 fights, inferred Conor McGregor ‘‘a joker,’’ seemingly responding to the Irishman’s brash presence in Rio all week. It does not take a genius to work out Dana White’s next move once McGregor beats Dennis Siver in January, but he should be careful what he wishes for based on the champion’s display.
Elsewhere on a mixed card, Phil ‘Mr Wonderful’ Davis continued his excellent form in Rio by winning his Light Heavyweight contest with Glover Teixeira on points. Dominating every round with his high level ground game and using his huge frame to take Teixeira to his knees and punish him with some heavy right hands, Davis surprisingly called out UFC legend Anderson Silva at the close, who was watching on Octagon-side.
The crowd had already seen plenty of ‘The Spider’ earlier that evening. In a top of the cage embrace with former training partner Fabio Maldonaldo, the pair banished any previous fallout when celebrating the latter’s second round TKO victory over Dutchman Hans Stringer.
There was also an impressive victory for Iranian Beneil Dariush in his Lightweight fight with Diego Ferreira, and Darren Elkins also scored the win over Lucas Martins in an uneventful contest second up.