The final UFC pay-per-view of 2019 delivered with so many great finishes, breakthrough performances, and multiple fights that would be fight of the night winners on practically any other card. UFC 245 was so massive, and so groundbreaking, that my video recording software just flat out decided to stop working in the midst of just how amazing and awe inspiring it truly was.
A post shared by KAMARU USMAN (@usman84kg) on Dec 16, 2019 at 5:16pm PST
Okay, that’s not exactly what happened. Extenuating circumstances have made me unable to produce a video this time around, but if there’s one thing you should know about me by now, it’s that I never turn down the opportunity to discuss any sort of intriguing fight. So if you thought Afterthoughts wasn’t happening in the wake of the biggest UFC event of 2019 just because the circumstances weren’t perfect, you better sure as hell think again. We’re just heading back to the OG way of doing it.
So, my name is Johann Castro of Unknown MMA, and welcome to this vintage edition of Afterthoughts recapping UFC 245, headlined by Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington facing off for the welterweight title.
THE OLD KAMARU USMAN CAME BACK, AND HE’S WAY BETTER THAN ANY OF US THOUGHT
A post shared by KAMARU USMAN (@usman84kg) on Dec 15, 2019 at 12:48am PST
I think it’s fair to say in most instances when a fighter becomes a champ in any given weight class, even one such as heavyweight where a power advantage is sometimes all you need, they are clearly a vastly superior fighter to the throngs of their cohorts- if not in a completely well-rounded sense, than in one aspect of their game that is so sharp, crisp, and technically superior that it’s all they really need to succeed, a la Khabib Nurmagomedov. Kamaru Usman was someone who I thought would also blend into that category, at least if his fight with Tyron Woodley was any indication. The fight with Colby Covington instead solidified a new belief that he instead fits in more with the former of the two comparisons. We all knew Usman had power in his hands after he knocked out Sergio Moraes cold, but that power seemed to dissipate a bit once he began to fight up in the rankings, and we began to see him utilize much more of that Khabib-style approach, where he would almost exclusively utilize his vastly superior wrestling pedigree and just impose his will on everyone he crossed. UFC 245 reinvigorated, if not gave a new sense of, that belief, and reminded us of that old Kamaru Usman, the one who ran through The Ultimate Fighter, the one who choked the life out of Hayder Hassan, and the one who folded Sergio Moraes. That Kamaru Usman looks unstoppable, and that Kamaru Usman is now primed to have a clenched fist atop the welterweight division for a very long time.
THIS WAS THE BEST WAY FOR COLBY COVINGTON TO LOSE
A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Dec 14, 2019 at 11:13pm PST
Seems loaded and nonsensical to say, but here’s why it isn’t. Simply put, the shtick can still live on despite him actually losing the biggest fight of his career. Covington 100% lost against Kamaru Usman, had the fight not been finished he would’ve all but certainly lost by decision given the obvious 10-8 round 5. But luckily for Colby, Marc Goddard got a little ahead of himself in that finishing sequence. That’s not to say Usman wouldn’t have necessarily finished a few moments later, but this way, there’s now some controversy behind it, and if there’s one thing we should all know about Colby Covington at this point, it’s that controversy is his best asset when it comes to self promotion. My guess is as soon as he can talk again, after he recovers from his Usman-induced broken jaw, he’ll say something to the effect of “I was robbed. That limey referee stopped the fight early, I was coming back. Dana, give me my rematch or I’ll sue and go to WWE! Donald Trump will make you pay!” I don’t know, something to that effect? Either way, if Colby had to lose this fight, this was probably the best case scenario for him to do so, because his fighter character has a new lease on life that he wouldn’t have had had Usman gotten those few additional seconds to really cement the result.
ALEXANDER VOLKANOVSKI WAS THE PERFECT KRYPTONITE FOR MAX HOLLOWAY
A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Dec 14, 2019 at 10:14pm PST
I received so much sh*t back in August after I said Frankie Edgar gave Max Holloway problems at UFC 240. Keep in mind, this is someone who believes Frankie is held on an undeserved pedestal by most fans. I mentioned then that Alexander Volkanovski would give Holloway way more problems than people believed, which, again, spawned a world of criticism from Holloway fans. This is by no means an indictment of Max Holloway as a fighter or as a champion, this is just simply an accreditation of the man who I thought back in August was his nightmare matchup. And for all intents and purposes, I was right. I’ve seen some people lay claim to the idea of Holloway “being afraid to pull the trigger” as the reason he lost his title. Let me offer a salient extinguisher to that idea; what if Volkanovski, I don’t know, neutralized him in a way that Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega couldn’t, and a way that Edgar almost did? Holloway probably was a little gun shy, but considering the short-range power coming back from the mac truck that is Alexander Volkanovski, I would expect an intelligent champion to fight no way other than strategically. Volkanovski peppered Holloway with leg kicks and jabs, with an occasional lead hook mixed in here or there. Nothing fancy, very much a “death by a thousand cuts” method, but when fighting someone with the accuracy, range management, and octagon control capabilities of Max Holloway, you do what you must to win, even if that means not gunning for the finish as Volkanovski has been known to do previously. A rematch is supposedly in the cards, and I’m not entirely against it I suppose, but at the same time, I don’t particularly think a second fight would yield a different result. Volkanovski is shorter, with a longer reach, more power, and more well-rounded with better cardio and a constant striking output. And call me crazy, but we’ve now seen Holloway struggle with fighters like this consecutively. How is that bound to change so soon?
AMANDA NUNES IS STILL THE GOAT, AND THAT FIGHT PROVED WHY
A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Amanda Nunes🦁 (@amanda_leoa) on Nov 1, 2019 at 3:36pm PDT
This one irks me on a much different level, and I’ll try to keep this one brief and to the point. Germaine de Randamie is a 10-time Dutch kickboxing champion, a multiple time Muay Thai champion, and as Joe Rogan so frequently says when referencing her, “she KOed a dude.” Amanda Nunes is a brawler who carries a lot of power. She’s also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, which incidentally enough is her base. The thing is, we never see it because she typically overwhelms ladies with her insane power. Both fights, not just UFC 245- BOTH FIGHTS against de Randamie- saw Nunes use her base, and if anything that should remind everyone trashing her just how good she actually is. She doesn’t even need her base to win the vast majority of her fights against the literal best of the best women’s MMA has to offer. So she grappled with the best kickboxer in the division in de Randamie. That’s called intelligent fighting. Is it aesthetically pleasing? God no, but like I mentioned above, I would expect nothing less from an established champion, let alone the greatest women’s fighter on planet Earth. She still holds wins over every single champion north of 125, and if she ever beats Nicco Montano, she would hold wins over every single champion north of strawweight. For the people in the back, you still think she isn’t the GOAT? Whoever you think the WMMA GOAT is, chances are they’ve already been battered by Amanda Nunes.
A FEW QUICKIES…
MORAES VS. ALDO WAS SCORED WRONG, BUT LET’S NOT GIVE ALDO A TITLE SHOT. Henry Cejudo, go fight Joseph Benavidez or drop the flyweight belt and stop calling yourself “Triple C” (God, it just makes my skin crawl typing it). If you only want to fight at bantamweight from here on out, there’re two guys already in line, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. If you run to fight Jose Aldo who just lost his bantamweight debut, that’ll look a lot worse on your legacy than otherwise.
A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Dec 14, 2019 at 8:35pm PST
I CAN SEE WHY NOBODY WANTS TO FIGHT PETR YAN. I’ve known Petr Yan was contender worthy since his debut in Singapore in June 2018 against Teruto Ishihara. It was the featured prelim of that card, to give any indication of his prospects then (and my weird obsession with this sport that I would remember the exact placement on the card). Either way, he’s a natural wrestler with the heaviest hands in the division and a Justin Gaethje-esque style of pressure. He’s incredibly dangerous and I can see why Henry Cejudo is avoiding him like the plague.
#Repost @archangl_michael with @make_repost ・・・Отличное завершение рабочего года 🙏🏻💪🏻Спасибо всем кто рядом ! Пётр Ян @petr_yan : Я получил шесть побед подряд за полтора года, и я тот, кто заслуживает шанс на титул ⠀ «Я очень рад, что моя карьера в UFC продвигается так быстро. Я очень много работаю для этого, это не легко, у меня было много боев в этом году, и я рад, что смог закончить этот год большой победой. Я получил шесть побед подряд за полтора года, и я тот, кто заслуживает шанс на титул» ⠀ Ph @ufc #archangel_michael #ПетрЯн #ufc #rccmma #rcc_sport #UFC245 #petryan #rcc_academy #rcc_sport #petryan #ufc #чозажелтый #строимдорогу #путьвоина #история #сделатьневозможное #россия #неотступатьинесдаваться #сибирь #омск #екатеринбург #ufc #tigermuaythai #дорога #chicago #teampetryan #бокс #мечта
A post shared by Петр "No Mercy" Ян (@petr_yan) on Dec 15, 2019 at 1:57pm PST
GEOFF NEAL IS A FUTURE CHAMP. That, that’s it. He’s special. Real special. His rise is already very similar to Usman’s in that no one in the top 15 wants anything to do with him. A massive welterweight with knockout power, a wrestling base and a competent submission arsenal. Yeah, he’s already living in the nightmares of so many elite welterweights.
That's another one for the books! Finally got some downtime to check my social media, and man the love y'all are giving is really humbling. It's just a constant reminder of where I've been on this journey called life and all of the amazing people I've met along the way. Like I said before if I don't get back to you don't hate me! Big shoutout to the SQUAD! I couldn't do this without y'all! @fortis_mma @strkingsllc @sayifsaud @djbert @fl_boy_ @extremestudioperformance @mfscaccia @coach_bagby @travismanndc @fit.meals.prep I ❤ my job! On to the next one! #ufc #ufc245 #welterweight #future #mma #hardworkpaysoffs
A post shared by Geoff Neal (@handzofsteelmma) on Dec 15, 2019 at 10:37am PST
BOY, I SURE WHIFFED ON THAT. Look, I may be a condescending a-hole sometimes (well, a lot of the time), but even I must admit when I’m not just wrong but vehemently wrong. 1) I once said Ketlen Vieira would give Amanda Nunes issues because of her submissions from the guard and her ability to get the fight to the mat effortlessly. Well, turns out the only way she’d get to the mat with Nunes is if, or more likely when, Nunes flatlines her with an even less impactful shot than the one Aldana hit her with. 2) I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I compared Viviane Araujo to a young Joanna Jedrzejczyk. I still think she has an incredibly bright future, but the young Joanna comparison was…optimistic. I know that now because Joanna would never lose to, let alone get outstruck by, a mid-carder like Jessica Eye. 3) I once said Kai Kara-France would give Henry Cejudo problems. Brandon Moreno, a BJJ black belt who by far has his best success on the ground, outstruck him. I need not say more. ■
Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro