The UFC 223 card was considered a snoozefest by many fans, but there were some standout performances in the main event and on the preliminary card. The two most exciting matches of the night were for welterweight contests: Charles Oliveira vs Paulo Costa and Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade.
The “rose namajunas next fight” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer is yes, but it will take time for her to rebound from her loss against Rose Namajunas.
UFC 274 had a 14-fight bill that included some significant victories, exciting action, great knockouts, and a disappointing co-main event sandwiched between two incredible fights. Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi respond to the pay-per-view event and provide their main takeaways.
Typically, big fight nights with title fights bring clarity. Instead, UFC 274 provided a slew of contradictions.
Charles Oliveira entered the cage as the UFC lightweight champion on Saturday night in Phoenix. In the first round, he choked out Justin Gaethje and walked out of the Octagon as the champion.
Oliveira had missed weight on Friday, allowing the UFC to strip him of his championship the minute his bout with Gaethje started. At the end of the fight, there was a hollow sensation that something was missing — no Bruce Buffer’s “And still!” statement, no Dana White’s belt being wrapped around Oliveira’s waist.
Even so, one thing is certain: Charles Oliveira is the finest 155-pound fighter on the globe, belt or no belt.
All bouts from UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje will be available to watch on ESPN+ if the PPV is bought.
• Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje • Rose Namajunas (c) vs. Carla Esparza • Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson • Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux • Randy Brown vs. Khaos Williams • Francisco Trinaldo vs. Danny Roberts • Macy Chiasson vs. Norma Dumont Andre Fialho vs. Cameron VanCamp • Tracy Cortez vs. Melissa Gatto • Kleydson Rodrigues vs. CJ Vergara • Ariane Carnelossi vs. Loopy Godinez
On ESPN+ PPV, you may see the whole card.
That became clear throughout the battle, which lasted 3 minutes and 22 seconds. Gaethje wobbled Oliveira in the first minute, but Gaethje downed him with a punch shortly later. Gaethje then dropped him once again. But anybody who thought this was the start of the end certainly hadn’t been paying attention to Oliveira recently.
The 32-year-old Brazilian was seriously damaged in Round 1 of his battle for the then-vacant championship with Michael Chandler a year ago, but he came out for the second round and promptly clipped Chandler before finishing him at 19 seconds of the round. Oliveira had to fight through a rocky start against Dustin Poirier seven months later before choking out his opponent in Round 3.
Oliveira, whose face had been scarred by Gaethje’s merciless work, secured a takedown halfway through the round and swiftly regained control, putting him in position to sink in a rear-naked choke for his 30th finish and 21st submission of his 33-fight pro career. He has 19 finishes and 16 submits in the Octagon, both UFC records.
If only the division had a powerful grappler capable of dealing with Oliveira’s ground game. Regrettably, Khabib Nurmagomendov is no longer active.
That might leave the task to Islam Makhachev, a Nurmagomedov comrade and buddy who has been dubbed Khabib 2.0. Makhachev has been steadily rising through the lightweight ranks, and his debut couldn’t have come at a better moment. Wagenheim, Germany
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Should Tony Ferguson have confronted Michael Chandler in the first place?
When I was laying out the must-see UFC 274 matchups early in the week, I also listed a handful that I believed would be difficult to watch. After Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone became ill on Saturday, we were spared the potential of watching him extend his six-fight losing run in a manner that would make us cringe. The second battle I chose did take place, and it was painful to watch — but not for the reasons I imagined.
I was concerned that Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson would be a devastating demonstration of what occurs when a boxer at or near the peak of his skill (Chandler) meets a competitor whose career has been waning (Ferguson, who was coming off three brutal losses). I was concerned that things may quickly deteriorate.
However, Ferguson appeared for the lightweight battle and immediately injured Chandler. Ferguson was smooth and dangerous early in the fight, and he was certainly competing. Maybe I was mistaken about this reservation?
Chandler unleashed a straight right kick up the center in the first seconds of Round 2, and when the ball of his foot hit flush on Ferguson’s jaw, the fight was over in an instant. Ferguson collapsed, unconscious, on his face and remained motionless for many seconds. Ferguson seemed bewildered even after he awoke and was assisted to his feet.
Was Ferguson’s chin no longer able to endure hit because his reflexes were too sluggish to protect him and his reflexes were too slow to protect him? Was this something that might happen to anybody, even a champion or boxer in their prime? No one knows for sure, but it’s the kind of finish I was imagining for Ferguson and Cerrone when I voiced worry about their bookings.
“Cowboy” and “El Cucuy” are two MMA legends. Over the years, both have provided innumerable thrills and magnificent moments. No one is advocating for these end-of-career boxers to be completely shut down, but matchmakers must consider where both fighters are in their careers before pairing them in the ring.
Ferguson was tremendous throughout his UFC career, which included a 12-fight winning streak. But now we have to hold our breath while he fights. Wagenheim, Germany
Namajunas vs. Esparza: A unique championship battle
In the UFC strawweight title bout at UFC 274, Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza exchange blows. Zuffa LLC/Chris Unger
“I am the greatest! I am the greatest!”
That was Rose Namajunas’ motto as she went out to the cage for the co-main event, calmly and firmly, again and over.
I’m curious about her motto for the lonely trip back to the locker room as a previous winner.
To be fair, Namajunas has shown herself to be the finest strawweight in the world in recent years, with two stints as champion and wins against previous champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili, as well as another titleholder, Jessica Andrade. But she wasn’t her best on Saturday night, or at least she chose not to show us her best.
Carla Esparza was booed as she lifted her arm and put her belt around her waist. She didn’t deserve such a reaction. Namajunas had pushed forward for the whole of the bout, but she maintained her distance and refused to engage. True, Esparza did little during the five rounds, but little is better than nothing, and that “nothing” is exactly what Namajunas displayed until it was too late.
Two questions remain unanswered: Was this, first and foremost, the worst championship battle in UFC history? It’s a strong competitor. Esparza landed just 30 meaningful blows in his decision win, the fewest in a UFC championship bout in the modern era. Esparza, after all, is essentially a wrestler. Namajunas, on the other hand, is recognized for his quickness. She only connected with 37 people.
After the battle, Esparza remarked in the Octagon, “It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t want to fight.”
That brings us to the second topic that has arisen as a result of this fight: What do we think about Namajunas? Why would a fighter who has kept her feet against multiple more dangerous opponents dance about the Octagon with Esparza for the greater part of her 25 minutes there? I’m not sure whether there’s a real solution, but do you know who should have known it as the conflict progressed? The Namajunas’ nook No one attempted to spark a fire and motivate Rose to fight like Rose, according to what I heard from her instructors.
Namajunas is a mystery, so this lackluster performance doesn’t portend his doom. She may appear like a world beater the next time she’s in the cage. That’s how she used to look… back when she was a champion. Wagenheim, Germany
Francisco Trinaldo, 43, is a youthful man.
Take a look at unranked veteran Francisco Trinaldo if you want to see how deep the UFC lightweight division is. To conclude the prelims at UFC 274 and light up the Footprint Center, he went all-in against Danny Roberts, who was coming off a two-fight win streak.
‘Massaranduba’ won his 18th bout inside the cage with a comprehensive striking effort that put Roberts on the defensive many times. He’s one of the division’s numerous gatekeepers, and he’s always entertaining to watch because he’s always seeking for the knockout. Bobby Green, Jim Miller, and John Makdessi have all been beaten by Trinaldo.
He’s 43 years old and has fought for the organization for almost a decade, with a 5-1 record in his previous six bouts. Trinaldo isn’t showing any signs of slowing down and wants to build some memories for his five-year-old kid, like Andrei Arlovski, who is also piling victories over guys who were likely not even training when he joined with the UFC. And tonight was very enjoyable. Legaspi —
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