That semi-debacle at UFC 174 seemed like a long time in the past after Saturday night, which featured not only an entertaining slugfest in the Main Event between Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida, but also the second-fastest knockout in UFC history, as well as several other crowd-pleasing fights.
The successful event was marred only by the news that heavyweight Stefan Struve, who had been sidelined for over a year with a heart condition, would be unable to make his comeback fight due to complications with his condition. His grudge match with Matt Mitrione would have been incredibly fun to watch. Alas.
In addition to the entertainment value of the night, the event gave us outcomes to ponder as we look to the future. Here are the most important lessons learned from UFC 175.
Urijah Faber’s Still Got It
At 35 years old and coming off a devastating first round knockout loss to Renan Barão in his last fight, Urijah Faber’s career seemed to be at a crossroads heading into his bout with No. 13 Alex Caceres. Another loss would likely have signaled that it was time for him to take a step down in competition, putting him out of title contention for a long time and possibly permanently.
Fortunately for the California Kid, that’s not all how the fight played out. The seasoned veteran controlled the first two rounds of the fight before getting the last of several takedowns in the third and finishing the youngster with a rear-naked choke. With the win, Faber launches himself right back into the title conversation and could be a victory over Rafael Assuncao away from fighting the winner of a Baräo-TJ Dillashaw rematch for the belt. Meanwhile, we should be keeping an eye on Caceres. He held his own against Faber and rattled him with a beautiful combo in the second round. “Bruce Leeroy” has a ton of talent and he’ll be a serious contender soon.
Ronda Rousey is Running Out of Opponents
Looking back at the tape, the most startling aspect of the fight other than the knockout itself was the way that Davis’ demeanor changed when Rousey entered the Octagon; she had been the face of calm during her own walk-up but her expression changed upon seeing Rousey’s stone-cold, unflinching glare. I don’t think Davis was scared per se but a little intimidation was evident.
As Rousey soaked in some of the first cheers that the long-time villain has heard as a member of the UFC in the post-fight scrum, it became increasingly clear that other than maybe Cat Zingano, Rousey is out of big-time opponents in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. No woman at 135 pounds is going to touch her anytime soon. Bring on Cyborg.
Chris Weidman is Done with Doubters
‘All-American’ Weidman (pictured above) still had something to prove as champion in the minds of many fans and pundits heading into his fight with cagey veteran Lyoto Machida. In this writer’s eyes, he had already erased any doubts as to the legitimacy of his claim to the belt, but that argument was rendered moot when he scored a convincing title defense Saturday over a fighter not named Anderson Silva for the first time.
What stood out most over the course of the fight was the way that Weidman was constantly on the offensive. He forced Machida to stand against the cage for virtually the entire bout, not letting him into open space no matter how much the former light heavyweight champ faked and feinted. At times, Machida seemed like a running back trying to juke his way around a safety. Weidman is known for his wrestling, but he did plenty of damage with his striking and showed just enough endurance to withstand a late charge from the Dragon, who acquitted himself well in his first title fight at 185 pounds.
Weidman did nothing with the win except prove once and for all that he has staying power as a champion. A fight against top contender Vitor Belfort seems to be next on the docket, but for now the king of the middleweight division can spend his time showing his doubters the door.
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