mma / Columns

UFC 210: The Worst of MMA In One Hour

April 10, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Lambert

In the span of one hour at UFC 210, everything bad in MMA took place.

It started with Gegard Mousasi vs. Chris Weidman. The fight was a strong co-main event between a former middleweight champion looking to bounce back after two straight losses and a top middleweight riding a four-fight win streak.

In the first round, the commentary of Joe Rogan and Dominick Cruz began showing bias towards Weidman. They praised everything he was doing while giving Mousasi little to no credit. And, of course, Rogan proclaimed a guillotine to be “tight” just one second before the defending fighter easily escaped. Cruz is a breath of fresh air in the booth and his analysis is something that Rogan has almost never provided. But he can’t fall into the bias trap that Rogan so often sets.

Then, we had that illegal knee that wasn’t illegal. I’m going to try my best to describe it, but I’m going to fail because some things are indescribable in their nonsense and must be seen in order to fully capture this beauty of the mess. Mousasi had Weidman in a front headlock. Weidman looked to put his hands to the mat in order to avoid eating a knee. He took the first knee prior to his hands hitting the mat. He took a second knee just as Mousasi raised his hands off the mat. Referee Dan Miragliotta, who believed the knee to be illegal, paused the fight.

Replay showed that both knees were legal. Rogan is freaking out on commentary, which was by far the best part of the whole situation. Miragliotta told Weidman that the knees were legal, but still gave him time to recover. A doctor entered the octagon. The fight was stopped. No one was happy.

There’s a lot to unpack here. We’ll start with the obvious: the rule is really dumb, made even dumber by the change that only affects certain states. In some states, you only need your fingertip down to be considered a downed opponent. In other state, you need both both hands. Knees to the head of a downed opponent should be illegal. It would make fights more exciting and eliminate certain stalling positions. A knee to the head on the ground is no more dangerous than a flying knee to someone who is ducking under. Change the rule, eliminate the gray area, make fights more exciting.

Dan Miragliotta was in a no-win situation. I’m sure 99% of people at home probably thought the knee was illegal and would have stopped the fight. I don’t blame him for making the call he made. Anyone blaming him for the mess that followed have a lot of misplaced anger.

Why was there a replay? This is the first instance I can recall of a mid-fight replay changing the outcome. I’m not against replay in MMA, but as far as I know, it’s not used to overturn calls like this in New York. So, why was the referee’s call overturned? After they determined that both knees were legal, why not immediately restart the fight in the same position? A case can be made that Weidman was concussed and not able to continue, but Weidman was definitely arguing that case. Once the doctor entered the cage, the strike should have been treated as an illegal strike. If the doctor ruled that Weidman couldn’t continue, the fight should have been a no contest.

No one looked good once this whole thing was over. Mousasi got a win that looks cheap, but could have worked to his detriment had the fight been restarted. Weidman took a loss that doesn’t look good, but would have been unfair if he were allowed to continue. The New York Athletic Commission looked like bumbling idiots who didn’t know the rules. And the UFC and fans lost out on a co-main event that was progressing nicely.

Things got worse when Joe Rogan interviewed a glazed over Weidman, who was made to look stupid. Did they learn nothing from interviewing Alistair Overeem following his loss to Stipe Miocic? Of course he thought the knees were illegal. The replay was going to disprove his argument, but let that happen at a later time. Let him watch the replay when he’s had time to recover from getting punched and kneed in the head.

Finally, we got to the main event of the evening. A rematch between Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier for the lightweight title.

There was nothing wrong with this fight. Johnson’s game plan was certainly questionable given his abilities vs. his opponent, but plenty of fighters have followed stupid game plans in big fights. Even though he retired after losing, I don’t think Johnson mailed it in or anything like that. I think he tried to surprise Cormier with a different approach and it failed, miserably.

Rumble’s retirement is the big story here. Anthony Johnson is 33-years-old and good enough to sleep any fighter he steps into the cage with, with the notable exception seeming to be Daniel Cormier. He said after the bout that he’s retiring because he took a different job and wasn’t having fun.

It’s probably not a good look for the sport when the second best light heavyweight in the world walks away for a different job that I would assume is more fun. To me, this comes down to money. I’m sure it’s not fun getting punched in the head on a daily basis, but compensation cures all.

Johnson then subtweeted the organization by giving thanks to Mike Goldberg, who the company failed to recognize for his work at any point during his last broadcast.

Johnson’s retirement was followed by Daniel Cormier building up a fight with Jimi Manuwa, like anyone cares. The good news is, he also built a potential rematch with Jon Jones. The bad news is, Jon Jones is about the most unreliable person in the sport right now. Even though I think Cormier is corny, I was a fan of his promo, and it was about the only good thing in the last hour of the event.

To recap: bias commentary, stupid rules, lack of understand when it comes to the rules, cheap finish in the co-main event, interviewing concussed fighter and making him look dumb, underwhelming main event, top fighter retires for a better job, building fights that no one cares to see or may not happen.

MMA truly is the best sport.

Let’s be friend on twitter @jeremylambert88

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UFC 210, Jeremy Lambert