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Grading the Card: UFC 247

The UFC is bringing a pair of title fights to Houston after three years away from Texas’ largest city. Jon Jones and Valentina Shevchenko are stars in their own right being two of the most dominant champions in the sport, while Dominick Reyes and Katlyn Chookagian have some fans believing that they’ll be the ones to dethrone the perceived unstoppable champions. But for those who aren’t fans of either title fight, is there really much to look forward to at UFC 247? It’s time to go into the gradebook and hand out a report card. Just how good is UFC 247?

Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Feb 3, 2020 at 12:07pm PST

Gauging from what I’ve seen in the buildup, there seems to be two different types of people interested in this fight: people who are serious Jon Jones fans who are expecting the usual from the greatest to ever do it, and people who may or may not necessarily dislike or hate Jones, but are just interested in the prospect of seeing him lose. While those two groups do encapsulate a large number of people within the MMA fan community, the people who don’t fall into either group seemingly tend to look at this fight with a simple expression of “meh.” And, honestly, that’s sort of how I look at it myself. Any time Jon Jones fights, it’s exciting because he is, in my opinion, the greatest mixed martial artist to ever do it, and because there even is, still after everything he’s accomplished, somewhat of a lingering doubt that always seeps into the subconscious that makes us believe that his next fight may finally be the one where he cracks. It almost happened against Thiago Santos at UFC 239, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that Dominick Reyes didn’t have a chance to do it himself. Although, if I’m being honest, the most likely scenario is that of a stereotypical Jon Jones victory, where he completely controls the fight and Dominick Reyes may have a small modicum of success that will make us all play out the scenario of a Jon Jones loss in our heads once again when his next fight comes around. I do believe there’s an *outside* chance this fight could turn into a war, a la Jones vs. Gustafsson 1, but it is very much an outside chance. It is a fun headliner, but in all likelihood, we see nothing but the usual from Jones.

Grade: B

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Feb 3, 2020 at 2:02pm PST

From one extremely dominant champ to an even more dominant champ, the co-main event for UFC 247 might be the most one-sided title fight the UFC has ever put on. On paper, Valentina Shevchenko is far and away the best women’s flyweight and it’s not a completely unfeasible argument that the second best, Katlyn Chookagian, is miles behind her in terms of skill, experience, grit, and everything else that comes with having legitimate championship mettle. Not to say that Chookagian is not a fantastic fighter, she clearly is to have made it to this point, but to say Shevchenko holds every advantage against her save for literal size would be an understatement. I’ll keep this short and sweet. Shevchenko wins this going away, and the most compelling aspect of this matchup is really whether Shevchenko will finish her or not.

Grade: C

Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa

With UFC 247 in Houston on the horizon (Sat., Feb. 8 at the Toyota Center), people are naturally curious about my thoughts on the Main Card matchup with Justin Tafa. What I feel confident in saying is this: My opponent and I know know one another’s strengths and weaknesses really well, and we’re both coming to show the world what we’re each capable of. Whoever executes their game plan better, and who ever adjusts better to the way the fight evolves… that’s who will win. As for myself, I’m grateful for the chance to move beyond my last fight and show my hometown what I can do when I’m properly focused and prepared. The card itself — from top to bottom — is great, made even more so with the two title fights headlining the card. In other words, it does not matter when you start watching this card because it is stacked from top to bottom with exciting fighters and even more exciting fights. . . . #ufc247 #htown #chosenjuan285 #toyotacenter #mma #ufchouston

A post shared by Juan Adams (@chosenjuan285) on Feb 1, 2020 at 1:21pm PST

This one honestly perplexes me. Why is this fight anywhere near a pay-per-view main card? Adams is coming off of two consecutive losses and Tafa just got waxed in his debut. I would assume this is a “loser leaves town” match, and I would also assume that the only reason this fight got a main card spot is because the UFC is banking on either a highlight reel knockout or a classic heavyweight brawl. My best guess? It’s fun for a few minutes and then the two run out of gas and stare at each other for 10 or more minutes. I guess I’m happy for both guys, in that they get a little exposure, but let’s just hope it delivers.

Grade: F

Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige

A post shared by Dan Ige (@dynamitedan808) on Dec 21, 2019 at 11:56am PST

Now, this one is interesting and could be the most entertaining fight on the entire card. Bektic was once considered one of the division’s hottest prospects, a designation that Ige now embodies. Bektic has only lost twice in his career, to Darren Elkins in a fight he was winning and against Josh Emmett, a legitimate featherweight title contender. Bektic has always done well against fellow prospects. As for Ige, he lost his UFC debut and has won four consecutively since then. His last win over Kevin Aguilar has put him in a position for a top 15 ranking that he will all but definitely earn if he gets past Bektic. This, again, is a fantastic fight, and will all but surely contend for “Fight of the Night” honors. That being said, it feels much more appropriately placed as a featured prelim rather than a pay-per-view bout.

Grade: B

Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:33pm PST

Another one that could act as a double-edged sword. It will either be fun as hell, or a repeat of Lewis vs. Ngannou. Card placement for this one intrigues me. I assume the UFC is banking on a fight like this getting people to tune in early? But my biggest issue with this fight, IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. Why is this fight even happening? Lewis is currently ranked sixth at heavyweight and is coming off a win over a fellow top 10 heavyweight in November. Latifi is making his heavyweight debut off of two consecutive decisive losses at light heavyweight. Was no one clamoring to fight Lewis is Houston? While the matchmakers have made some excellent fights lately, this one really, really confuses me. Similar to Adams vs. Tafa, I guess they’re banking on a crazy knockout or an awesome heavyweight brawl. Still doesn’t change the fact that the fight makes no sense from a merit perspective.

Grade: C+

UFC 247 is, to put it kindly, top-heavy. Jon Jones and Valentina Shevchenko are always must-see television regardless of who their opponents are, but outside of that, Bektic vs. Ige, and a few good ones on the prelims, UFC 247 is relatively shallow.

So, like we did in the first edition, we’re gonna average these grades out on a quality points scale, just like mean ol’ Mrs. McGillicudy did in 3rd grade. So, our grades are a B, C, F, B, and C+. when averaged out, with an A being worth four points and an F worth none, we come out to a quality score of 2.1, or essentially, a C average. Honestly, not the worst card in the world, it’s diminished slightly because of the misplaced Adams-Tafa fight, but overall, UFC 247 could be a lot worse. It could also be a lot better. Again, it’s the the epitome of average.■

Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro

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