Usually, the Tuesday Takedown would take into account Bellator action but given the stellar nature of what was a truly epic UFC 178, Shane Saunders has decided to give his full attention to the main card from Saturday night.
There’s only one place to start and that’s in Las Vegas where, on Saturday night, a large travelling support witnessed “The Notorious” Conor McGregor take an impressive leap towards UFC gold as he finished Dustin Poirier in just 106 seconds.
In the lead up to the fight, much back and forth verbals between the two came to a head at the weigh ins when a fired up Poirier was incredibly animated as the two fighters had to be pulled away from each other in a very intense stare down.
Emotions were running high and remarkably, for the third fight of the night, the bout was given a main event-esque introduction with long walkouts for each fighter. With the Irish in full voice at the MGM Grand, the raucous crowd were chanting loudly right from the off.
It only took 1:46 of round number one for McGregor to make quick work of his opponent. A looping left hook caught Poirier who dropped to the canvas with the Irishman throwing shots until referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight. With McGregor in celebratory mode, Poirier was seen complaining about a supposed illegal shot to the back of the head amid the flurry of punches and elbows.
It’s hard to make a case for Poirier given that both fighters were moving and McGregor made a conscious effort of changing his angles in which he threw.
It was an intense build up that truly delivered on the night but the rest of the main card was just as entertaining.
A much welcome return to #1 contender, Cat Zingano kicked off proceedings to the main card as she took on the ever game, Amanda Nunes. An epic back and forth chess match on the ground made for some exciting viewing. Ring rust may have been a factor for Zingano as Nunes dominated for the opening round and landing some heavy ground and pound which looked to have Zingano hurt.
Whatever was said in the corner of Zingano in between rounds clearly worked as she managed to stifle Nunes’ attack more effectively landing some clean shots of her own in a very dominant second round which had the score cards tied at one round apiece.
Elbows are a very effective way of seeing off an opponent and Zingano used hers with such viciousness that Nunes couldn’t even defend them such were the precision of the strikes reigning down on top of her. A TKO victory was awarded to a very emotional Zingano who has sights firmly set on current champ, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
Perhaps the most controversial fight of the year was up next as Yoel Romero took on American Tim Kennedy. “Big” John McCarthy’s first fight back in Vegas after some time could not have gone more wrongly for him. After a tentative first round, Kennedy looked to have Romero badly hurt right at the death of round number 2.
A call for “seconds out” generally means that corner men take their stools, equipment out of the Octagon for their fighters to go again. However, in this case Romero looked to have been stalling as a good 20-25 seconds passed and was still sitting on a stool in his corner.
Technically, a fighter who doesn’t answer the call should be disqualified and their opponent awarded with a TKO victory. This didn’t happen however and despite much crowed displeasure, the fight continued and Romero, now fully recovered, fought forward, dropped Kennedy and managed to land a flurry of unanswered punches. Some may say that it was a great comeback victory but in the interest of fairness, Kennedy should really have been awarded the victory.
In the co-main event, Donald Cerrone took on former Bellator champion, Eddie Alvarez in his UFC debut. Alvarez, a game scrapper looked to have Cerrone hurt early in the first round when he wrapped “Cowboy” up in a Thai clinch and landed some short range punches but somehow Cerrone managed to fight through and escape the round.
From here on out it was all Cerrone who took away the legs of Alavarez with some hard and vicious leg kicks. Alvarez was forced into switching stances ad nauseum but with his leg taking a lot of damage, he couldn’t manoeuvre himself out of harm’s way.
Interestingly though, late on in round 3, Cerrone decided to go to ground with Alvarez when the KO/TKO would surely have been there on the feet for him. Nevertheless, a very convincing win against a very dangerous opponent means that Cerrone will certainly be eyeing up a championship fight in the near future.
Finally, in the main event, Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso for the flyweight title. It was interesting to note that Johnson looked like a man who wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible during his entrance to the Octagon and boy did he deliver.
In hindsight this may have been one step too early for Chris Cariaso as he was never really at the races. Coming up against one of the fastest and most technical fighters in the division is no easy task and a second round takedown from the champion signalled the beginning of the end for the challenger.
Patience was the name of the game for Demetrious Johnson who rarely looked in trouble against Cariaso and a textbook kimura meant a successful retention of his most priceless possession.
Overall, UFC 178 was an epic card that truly delivered everything it said it would and more. A brief mention for returnee Dominick Cruz who flattened Takeya Mizugaki inside one minute of the first round putting the bantamweight division on notice.
Keep an eye on Pundit Arena for updated rankings and another fight night preview as the ‘Irish Take Over’ is set to continue next weekend with Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan and Gunnar Nelson all in action.