Rating UFC 226
International Fight Week and the biggest UFC card of the year (so far) are now behind us. Did UFC 226 live up to the hype, even after losing it's co-main event? I've gone through and rated all of the biggest happenings from the weekend's card on a 0-5 star system.
Paulo Costa finishes Uriah Hall: 4 Stars
The prelim main event saw former prospect Uriah Hall take on current prospect (and Brazilian beefcake) Paulo Costa. In a fight where both had their moments, Costa ended up coming out looking like the star many think he could be with a second round finish of the former TUF standout, and earning a POTN bonus for the effort. Paulo stands to take on a higher ranked opponent with his next trip into the octagon, unless the UFC grants the wishes of Israel Adesanya after the surging prospect called for the winner of this one the night before.
Khalil Rountree KO's Gokhan Saki: 3 Stars
Another prospect came out with a statement at UFC 226 when Khalil Rountree KO'd the latest product of the UFC hype machine in Gokhan Saki. While this one may have been rated higher on a card that didn't feature so many other big moments, it without a doubt shakes some things up in the 205 lb division. Rountree came into the weekend unranked (something that will almost certainly change), but in a division with an unclear title situation... Rountree could just be a couple of similar showings away from making a run for UFC gold. Rountree cashed in the 2nd of 4 POTN bonuses for the finish.
Anthony Pettis submits Michael Chiesa: 3.5 stars
The third POTN bonus went to former 155 lb champion Anthony Pettis after an impressive submission victory against #9 Michael Chiesa. Pettis has notably struggled since losing his world title to Rafael dos Anjos in March of 2015, but after a few consecutive improved performances capped off by last night's win, many are wondering if the "Showtime" of old could be making a return. The finish was a record setting 7th submission finish from the bottom, making Pettis the all time leader in major MMA history in that category.
Mike Perry def. Paul Felder: 3.5 stars
The middle fight of the PPV main card was a highly anticipated 170 lb bout between exciting scrappers Paul Felder and Mike Perry. The fight was made with less than 10 days notice after Felder's UFC Boise opponent James Vick was moved to a Fight Night main event against Justin Gaethje & Yancy Medeiros pulled from his scheduled bout with Perry. In Felder's welterweight debut, he suffered a cut on the first punch "Platinum" Perry threw. The fight went the 15-minute distance with the striking stats looking virtually identical (miss you Goldie), but Perry edging out the Irish Dragon by just 2 total strikes over 3 rounds. 2 of the 3 judges gave Perry the split decision victory, earning him his 12th pro win and ending his 2 fight losing skid.
Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou were present: .5 star
Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou put on a buzzkill of a co-main event, made even worse by knowing we were supposed to be watching Max Holloway and Brian Ortega in this spot. Ngannou spent the entirety of the bout too gun shy to throw anything of note, and looking like an amateur the few times he actually attempted to launch any offense of his own. Lewis' mobility appeared to be hindered by a back injury, but managed to look just competent enough to earn a pretty meaningless win as far as career advancement goes. A fight that in all likelihood would have earned the winner a title shot ended up putting a big question mark on both fighters heading into their next UFC bouts.
Daniel Cormier KO's Stipe Miocic: 4 stars
In a back and forth one round fight, Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier pulled off an upset knockout victory to take Stipe Miocic's Heavyweight championship. Adding the 265 lb championship to DC's long list of accomplishments in MMA made him just the 2nd fighter in the history of the UFC to hold belts in two weight divisions concurrently. With his only losses (or loss, depending how much you care about overturned results) to Jon Jones, Daniel has earned at least a mention in the MMA "GOAT" discussion. While it's unclear if he'll be forced to give up one of his titles like Conor McGregor did, it certainly throws a wrench in the title pictures of the UFC's two heaviest divisions.
Main Event post-fight: 4 stars
After Bruce Buffer made it official, and Dana White strapped heavyweight gold around Daniel Cormier's waist, DC gave one of the great post-fight interviews he become known for. After the usual pleasantries, Cormier took the mic from Joe Rogan and cut a pro wrestling-style promo calling out former heavyweight champion and current WWE champion Brock Lesnar. Lesnar then made his way into the UFC octagon, shoving Cormier and cutting a promo of his own.
Was it a little over the top and very WWE-esque? Yes. But it doesn't matter. It was awesome, and it was fun. The sport needs things like this. Everyone is talking about it, and everyone will be talking about it throughout the surely fantastic build-up we'll see leading up to the fight. It'll more than likely break PPV buy rates for the heavyweight division, and it's a pretty damn intriguing fight to boot. Live a little, people. Have some fun.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
UFC 226 had no shortages of great moments, it only really lacked a jaw-dropping classic fight. Holloway/Ortega very well could have filled the only missing role, but alas... all turned out pretty well in the end.