The biggest event in MMA history has come and gone, and while some may chalk it down as a major disappointment, I do not.
Sure, it lacked the fireworks to sate the general MMA community’s ravenous appetite for ultraviolence, but there was still an abundance of skill on show that seemed to pass people by. The undercurrent of storylines that also played out was absolutely fascinating and I believe the UFC made the best of a bad situation, particularly since Jon Jones threw a spanner in the works so close to the event.
But through all the chaos, what did we actually learn from UFC 200?
- Lesnar is the real deal
There were certain question marks hanging over the head of the former heavyweight champion going into his bout with Mark Hunt. Most notably, the idea that he was a “chinny” fighter had been floated since the tail end of his career, when he succumbed to successive TKO defeats at the hands of Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem.
In Hunt, Lesnar faced a man that could knock out anyone on the entire UFC roster with one strike and despite being cracked a couple of times, he stood firm. Granted, they weren’t the typical Hunt haymakers that chopped down the granite-chinned Roy Nelson, but it’s still a very impressive feat for a man that apparently couldn’t take a punch.
The other question surrounded his athletic ability.
Lesnar hadn’t competed in five years and didn’t look to be at his blistering best in his last two fights. This left many observers wondering if diverticulitis had stolen a march on his physical prowess and prevented Lesnar from performing at the peak of his powers.
If his showing against Hunt told us anything, it’s that he is still very much in his physical prime. The speed at which he shot for takedowns and bulldozed Hunt to the ground suggested that Lesnar has retained all of the attributes that brought him to the UFC summit back in 2008.
Taking stock in the aftermath, it’s pretty simple. Brock Lesnar came back after five years out of the game and convincingly dismantled a top ten opponent. He may not have the skill of some fighters in the heavyweight division, but his inhuman speed and strength more than make up for those shortcomings. The man we saw crumpled over in agony against Alistair Overeem was not the real deal, but a broken version that was still recovering from losing twelve inches of his colon.
The raging bull who ragdolled Mark Hunt at UFC 200 is the true Brock Lesnar and if he decides to take another run at a career in MMA, don’t be surprised to see “The Beast” steamrolling his way to a title shot.
- Aldo is back
After losing his title in a shocking thirteen-second knockout at the hands of Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo had been tossed onto the “has been” pile of fallen greats. Coming into his fight with Frankie Edgar, Aldo was (somewhat astonishingly) cast as the underdog by the Vegas bookmakers. There were lingering doubts over his state of mind due to the nature of his last fight and the fact that he hadn’t taken part in a proper rumble since Chad Mendes pushed him to the brink in 2014.
Aldo addressed these doubts emphatically, by stepping into the Octagon and putting on an absolute masterclass.
He drew Edgar in like a matador with a bull, picking his shots more carefully than the American and making them count, busting up Edgar’s face in the process. “The Answer”, for the first time in five bouts, ironically couldn’t live up to his name and was left almost begging Aldo to engage in the final moments of the fight, such was his sheer frustration.
Unlike fellow Brazilian, Renan Barao, who has never looked the same since losing to TJ Dillashaw, Jose Aldo is too good to let one defeat send him into the abyss. The reality is that “Scarface” had never encountered a man with the gift of the gab quite like Conor McGregor and became emotionally invested in their brawl. He was too eager and too angry, then overextended and got caught with that famed left hand of the Irishman. The blow landed right on the light switch and coupled with Aldo’s forward momentum, there was never going to be any other result.
Most new MMA fans didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Jose Aldo in action prior to his clash with McGregor, so were quick to make incredibly wayward assumptions about the validity of his fighting credentials. His performance at UFC 200 has put those assumptions to rest and should have created a cause for worry in the McGregor camp, because this is a man who will not be caught in an emotional tornado again.
Aldo is sponge-like in his aptitude for learning and will come into any potential rematch with the “Notorious” better than he has ever been. I dare say that the Brazilian may even do what Cain Velasquez did to Junior dos Santos after their first encounter and take the featherweight champion apart.
Watch this space.
- Anderson Silva is the G.O.A.T.
Let’s get some perspective on this first: “The Spider” added himself to the biggest card in UFC history on a mind boggling 48 hours notice, completely out of shape and having only recently recovered from gall bladder surgery (he also admitted that he hadn’t actually trained since the surgery). Not to mention he was stepping up a weight class and fighting the reigning champion, Daniel Cormier.
Yet through it all, Silva still somehow managed to give an admirable account of himself.
With the pressure unquestionably on a fully-prepared Cormier, the MMA legend came out with boosted credentials, while fans booed the champion relentlessly. Yes, Cormier dominated him on the ground and eventually ran out to a decision victory, but the way in which the battle played out is testament to Silva’s unwavering ability as a fighter, even as he nears the end of his career.
“DC” was so wary of Silva’s lethal striking that he opted to keep him pinned to the mat to reduce any chance of a shock knockout for the Brazilian. Undersized, under-trained and seemingly overmatched, when Silva did have an opportunity to hurt Cormier in the final round, he took it and delivered a scything kick to the midsection that had the champ unable to disguise the pain. If Silva had more time to prepare and bulk up, there’s a good chance he’d have stuffed a lot of those takedown attempts and kept the fight standing, where I feel he’d have lit Cormier up.
He’s clearly not the fighter he used to be, but is still a very tough matchup for anyone on his day and remains a major draw for fans. Who knows, maybe even one last title run against a very beatable Michael Bisping or Dan Henderson might manifest itself. In any case, this wasn’t a victory in the purest sense of the word for Silva, but a moral one which helps him to put his recent injury and suspension troubles in the past.
He shouldn’t have made it through the fight, but he did, and his inclusion also saved the card at the last minute. Only a true great could have pulled off such a feat.
Welcome back, Anderson, all is forgiven.