As we wrap another successful UFC event in 2019, we look back to what was a card filled with joyous moments for some as well as bittersweet moments for others. From the early prelims full of back and forth battles to the main events that delivered more than anyone expected, this was a card to remember, worthy of the “best of this year” trophy. So, what is the UFC 241 outcome, what is next? I will try to sum up my answers and present to you a few possible future scenarios or the divisions that were involved in last night’s event.
DC’s Happy Ending
Fan or not, the story of DC and his way to the top is nothing short of inspirational. Through the loss of loved ones, career ups and downs, and adversity, the Olympic Wrestler from American Kickboxing Academy stood against one of the best Heavyweights we’ve seen in the octagon.
There was a lot of retirement talk before this fight, and honestly, nothing has changed now. Many fans just want to see DC gone, as well as many want him to stay and keep delivering world-class performances. Dana White was one of the people that spoke against DC’s retirement at the post-fight press conference. It doesn’t take much to realize where he is coming from.
Before the TKO in round 4, DC was decisively winning the fight. Even more, he was out striking a former champ with heavy boxing fundamentals and a near 8-inch reach advantage. That by itself is the reason why most people don’t want to see DC retire. After all, why retire when you can still stand and bang with the best in the world, right? Well, according to DC it isn’t as simple as that…
These decisions surely don’t come easily, and in order to avoid being Anderson Silva #2, Daniel Cormier needs to really dig deep and think about his future. Of course, there are a few potential bouts that will get him motivated to stay. One of those is a rubber match with Stipe. In his own words, the only thing that will truly motivate him to keep fighting is a chance to prove himself against Stipe one last time.
After all he is been through it seemed far too good of an outcome for him to just win this fight and retire at the very top of the organization. If he decides to stay and keep fighting it will just show that the fighter in him never quits.
Where does Jon Jones fit into all this?
Of course, it cannot be a Daniel Cormier story without it involving Jon Jones (or him involving himself in it). After the fight, “Bones” tweeted what had to be a very personal thing to say against his former rival. Take a look:
Typical for Jon to kick a man while he is down, he kept coming with tweets regarding DC and his loss:
That refers to DC being the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the organization, ahead of Jones who is currently ranked number two.
One last thing that Jon went for was the comment DC made about getting more money in this fight alone than all of Jones’ last fights combined.
So, the logical question would be is this all going to boil further and result in a third match between the two? Remember, the score is technically 1-0 for Jones, even though he failed a drug test some time after his first fight as well. The second knockout was ruled a No Contest after Jones failing another in-competition drug test.
The Third Fight
A third fight is basically all that most fans want at the moment, even though, loyal Jones fans think that it makes no sense having a “rubber match” after a 2-0 score. Still, the only person that can present any potential threat to Jones currently has to be DC, assuming we are talking about a Light Heavyweight bout.
I am saying that because DC has stated numerous times that if a third fight happens, it has to happen in LHW, in order for him to redeem his loss. Even so, many people want to actually see how Jones fairs in the “big boys” division and move to his natural weight class to face his rival. If Jones decides to move up eventually it would seem unlikely for it to be against DC as he knows how much power Cormier carries in that weight class. What’s worse is that there are some real killers waiting besides DC that also have quite the heavy hands, such as the current champ Stipe Miocic and the title contender Francis Ngannou.
So, is Jones going to face the real challenge in a heavyweight DC or going to keep winning against former Middleweights? I guess only time will tell. Currently, the LHW champ is looking to book a fight at the MSG card in November.
The Return of the OG
After his return after a three-year absence, Nate Diaz shocked the world by dominating what looked to be a very motivated and hungry Anthony Pettis. Pettis was coming off an impressive second-round KO victory over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and was looking to cement his welterweight title-run.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go Pettis’ way and Nate neutralized him in every aspect of the game, outstriking him on the feet and taking into deep grappling waters. After almost being knocked out in the third round, Pettis managed to survive due to his veteran experience and pushed the fight to a Unanimous Decision victory for the Diaz brother.
As everyone held their breaths, Diaz called out the only other OG in this game – Jorge Masvidal. Jorge stood in the audience and smiled, as it was almost destined for this fight to happen. The fans cheered, and pretty much everyone liked that, including the boss-man Dana White, who stated in the press conference that this was the fight to make now, and oh boy what a fight would that be.
Diaz went on the mic to say a few things of his own after the fight and claimed that he is the owner of the “baddest man on the planet” belt and wants to defend it against another “bad dude”, which happens to be Masvidal. He summed things up by saying:
“I know my man is a gangster but he is no west coast gangster.”
That being said, we are just waiting for this fight now, as both fighters seem to want it and are currently active. November in Madison Square Garden seems like a great option for this fight even though it isn’t a title fight. One issue with that is that everyone (including Dana White) wants this to be a 5-rounder, so we might see them headline a fight night card of their own, although it is insane to think the UFC would waste this PPV opportunity.
Dana White also stated that he “surely has a message from Conor McGregor” on his phone right after the right but it seems like most people, fans, and matchmakers have moved on from the former Irish double-champion. If McGregor decides to return, a row of killers is waiting for him in UFC’s Lightweight division which will pave a hard path back to glory for him but would be the ultimate tool for him to redeem himself. Now we have to wait for next month and see how Poirier vs Khabib plays out. Then, we will know what will happen with Tony Ferguson and most likely McGregor.
Costa vs. Romero – Clash Of The Titans
This fight was expected to be absolute fireworks and near-KO punches all the time, and it basically was exactly that. The first round started with Costa almost knocking out Romero and then it was followed by full three rounds of non-stop war. The winner was Paulo Costa via a UD, although many people strongly disagreed with that, even as far as some fighters calling the decision “a robbery”. Take a look at the official stats:
Romero had a weak first round, while he picked up in the second and finished very strong in the third round with a takedown that for some reason wasn’t noted on the statistics and cards. With the first round going Costa’s way, the second being tightly contested, and the third going potentially both ways, it was weird that Costa got his victory with this particular score (29-28) but the thing about MMA judges is that you cannot argue their decision, you can only tweet about it.
Both fighters showed tremendous heart and skill, though, which was the point of the whole fight – to show who is worthy to be the next title challenger. If you see the hitting statistics, you can tell that Costa is shaping up to be a more technical fighter who doesn’t just go for the head-KO:
Either way, Costa made sure that his voice is heard afterward, even amidst all the booing and cheering from the crowd. He also made sure to talk to Dana White afterward as he wants to travel to Marvel Stadium in Australia and watch the title bout between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya from the first row.
The other two events from the Main card were worthy of this whole event as well. The fight between Sodiq Yusuff and Gabriel Benitez had everyone on their feet, as in less than a round they managed to go to absolute war and both men almost knocked each other out. Still, Yusuff ultimately coming on top with a spectacular KO finish. His future is bright, as he will now most likely enter the top 15 of his division, which is already stacked full of killers but he more than proved tonight that he has the chops for it. Benitez said that he will have to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate his approach to similar situations.
A better Derek Brunson?
One pretty shocking fact about Brunson up until recently was that he didn’t really have a coach staff and a team behind him similar to all other fighters on the roaster. He is now 20-7 and has pretty much faced every other top fighter in his division. What’s more important is that he now has a proper coaching staff behind him and he showed everyone last night that he can be calm, collected, and technical which makes him a potential threat to all other middleweights out there, who I am sure were taking notes during the fight.
Brunson fought opposite to his usual style and seemed to be still fresh going into the third round, even against a big-hearted opponent such as Ian Heinisch, who did all he could to take Brunson out but came short. Still, the future is ahead of him and he is showing a lot of potential.
Prelims and Early Prelims
The Preliminary card and Early prelims showed us that there is a lot of new talent coming in and other fighters that will quickly rise through the ranks. It is always interesting to watch those fights as some of those fighters might end up on a main card sooner than you think. After all, it was only one year ago when we saw Israel Adesanya first walk into the octagon and now he is facing the champion in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest live UFC events in the history of the organization.
Drakkar Klose, Christos Giagos, and Khama Worthy were the highlights of that card and they surely delivered. In what was a very close back and forth battle, Drakkar Klose managed to edge the Decision victory over a very tough and technical opponent.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the event stats…
Some Event Stats
As we can already guess by the viewing figures this event was pulling, it has to be big in terms of actual numbers. Here are some of the metrics after the event wrapped up:
- Gate – 3,240,000$ (highest gate in CA history for an MMA event)
- Attendance – 17,304 (sold out)
- Fight of the night – Costa vs. Romero
- Performance of the night – Khama Worthy and Stipe Miocic
Initial PPV reports aren’t out yet but it is thought that the event will easily pass half a million buys which was a hard achievement for the organization this year, especially with the ESPN subscription options.
UFC 241 was one of the most successful and entertaining cards for this year, a worthy continuation of the momentum UFC 239 built for the company. There are a few more notable events coming, though. One of them is the lightweight title bout in September between Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov supported by a guaranteed battle between Paul Felder and Edson Barboza. Still, what happened last night will resonate within UFC’s divisions for quite some time now, especially with the two heaviest divisions.