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Riley’s Reflections: Dissecting UFC 244

I’ve been away from my beloved home here at Stipe Tapped, there’s been some health issues and the prospect of a new job has kept me silent these past few months, so what better way to return then to share my thoughts on the amazing event that was UFC 244.

The ‘BMF’

The main event ended up playing out like many had expected. Nate Diaz has always had issues with bigger, stronger welterweights. The last time he fought a legitimate welterweight was at UFC 129, where we saw him get rag-dolled by Rory Macdonald. This was the fight which led Nate towards a 155lb division switch up.

Masvidal was on brand the entire fight, smiling and laughing at Diaz, all the while landing solid shots to the ribs and dome of Diaz. I don’t really see this as much of a gage for what Masvidal could achieve in the upper echelon of the division. He did what he was supposed to do in this fight, and he made it look easy all the way up to the stoppage, but that’s where it was just getting interesting.

Both Diaz brothers feed off of small momentum changes in a fight. Nate had clearly lost three rounds, but towards the end of the third he was starting to touch Jorge up. Very few his shots were landing cleanly, but Diaz was starting to get the timing and pace down.

Nate doesn’t need many weapons to work, his jab, right cross is the preferred combination and once it starts to land it comes in high volume. I have no idea if Nate would have been able to finish Masvidal, but I do believe it would have been a difficult two rounds for Jorge had the fight have continued.

The Stoppage

I’m not sure if it was a good stoppage or not. I am no doctor and as anticlimactic as it was, if the doctor felt that Nate’s eye was in danger it was the right call. Maybe a couple of months ago I would have reacted differently, but it was a short time ago that I saw a fighter pluck a fake eye out of his head.

Co-main Event

In the lead-up, I thought this was a horrendous fight for Till to take. He was going up a division after being knocked clean out and was to be matched up with one of the biggest power punchers in the division. Going in I thought Till would have moments and show some of the diverse striking ability he has, but in the end get slept by Kelvin; who most thought was the superior striker.

What we saw was a much more measured Darren Till. In the clinches he didn’t over react and kept great positioning which helped keep Gastelum off his legs. He picked his spots and landed some nice strikes without risking getting caught.

Kelvin looked a little lazy in this fight, but I presume it mostly due to the cumulative leg kicks he ate. Right from the start he didn’t have the pop in his strikes. His movement was deliberate and plodding, with telegraphed strikes. In the clinch he didn’t push for positioning. It seems as though Gastelum had another bad weight cut leading into this fight, could be a reason, but if that remains an issue it will keep him from reaching another title shot.

This was a huge win for Till. but I fear this will rush him to the top of the division. Till may have pumped the breaks on that when asked about Romero and was frank when he said that he didn’t want to fight him. So it’s possible Darren will take his time and work through the middleweight division.

Main Card

Kevin Lee fought with staph again, and it was pretty fucking gross. How did the commission miss the huge ball of pus that was sitting on his chest. This is the second time Lee has fought with this and it’s ridiculous. The commission is there to protect these athletes, yet they keep continually failing to provide oversight.

Now that i’m done ranting, outside of the flesh eating disease he had on his chest, Lee looked amazing in this fight. His skill set didn’t seem to change much, but the time at Tristar seems to have helped him with composure. Normally, Lee uses explosive movements and his athletic abilities to over match his opponents. In some cases he’s been forced to initiate much of the action, which has led to cardio issues.

This time around he was facing someone in Gillespie, who has that grinding style that burns through gas tanks. Kevin was able to end this fight before Gregor could get anything going. The head kick that Lee landed was nasty, and it only took him a little over half a round to find it. This is a statement win for Lee, and a triumphant return to the lightweight division after a failed debut at welterweight. Kevin is a big lightweight, but like Diaz he isn’t huge for welterweight and with his style, it was always going to be a long hard road fighting guys who are as strong if not stronger than he is.

Derek Lewis won a fight, not sure the decision was right, but i don’t care enough to write about it. I will touch on scoring a little later.

Stephen Thompson picked up an impressive win. Luque had no answers for what Thompson brought to the table and was stung multiple times with straight punches. Thompson can finish anyone with his sharp striking, but it seems he needs to dead them in one shot. Luque was badly hurt a couple of times during the fight, but Thompson wasn’t able to close the show. I attribute it to his inability to land the closing shots on the ground, unless the guy is already half out.

The Rest

In the prelims we were treated to some break out performances from the likes of Edmon Shahbazyan and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. I would give the nod to Edmon for making the bigger statement as Tavares has only been finished twice, one of those finishes came at the hands of former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.

Jairzinho put out the lights of former champion Andrei Arlovski off. The man posses a ton of power that he showcased when he landed a retreating shot to the side of Arlovski’s head which brought an end to the bout. For both fighters their next fights will tell a lot, more so if they end up fighting a top ten fighter, not seasoned vets who are tough tests. but not top of the food chain.

Shane Burgos managed to stave off the early submission to take over the fight against Makwan Amirkhani. Makwan was burnt out after he tried desperately to lock on the choke. It was an impressive performance from Shane, but i am hesitant to call him the next ‘up and comer’ as he was controlled early in the fight and if he struggled at this stage it’ll only get worse for him as he climbs up the rankings and faces harder competition. Granted i am being overly critical, he does seem to have an endless gas tank and his body work was spectacular. Also, he did fight off a tight choke and was able to avoid a lot of damage while his back was taken.

I don’t know if Corey Anderson poses a real threat to Jon Jones, but my thinking is heavily influenced by Jones being so dominant in almost all his fights. Anderson went into this fight with a chip on his shoulder, it was almost as though he was the stepping stone to get Jonny Walker to the next level. Jonny went in there and was completely ran over by Anderson. This is a huge setback for Walker, but it could be one of those points in his career where he takes what he learned from defeat, and uses the loss to help him evolve into a huge threat in the 205lb division. (Akin to Darren Till)

Scoring

I have no idea what can be done about MMA scoring, i don’t have a system nor do i have any good answers. Maybe it’s just meant to be one of those topics where it gets harped on when problems arise, but falls to the way side until the next time it has to be discussed.

Either way, last night we saw a split decision, which is fine as the fight was close. The problem lies in the scorecards themselves. In the Till/Gastelum fight the first card was a 30-27 win for Kelvin, which is a horrible card, and the final card read 30-27 Till. How does this happen? What is the criteria they’re using? Letting it go to the judges is a crap shoot even after all these years.

Mr. President Front Row

They made a big deal about Trump attending, he got booed, i laughed.

The end

Wrap-up

Overall, this was one of the best cards of the year, even with the lackluster main event finish. Fans were treated to a pile of finishes and introduced to some very exciting prospects. Also, fans got reintroduced to former challengers as they start the climb back to title contention.

Until next time, enjoy the scraps!

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