UFC 237 has wrapped, and in an event that had great moments, sad moments, and strange moments, we take a look back and predict the next dominos to fall after the UFC’s most recent Brazilian pay-per-view event.
A NEW STRAWWEIGHT QUEEN AND AN EXCITING DIVISIONAL LANDSCAPE
A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on May 12, 2019 at 1:16pm PDT
In the capstone of the event, Jessica Andrade captured Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title in brutal fashion. After getting outworked and pieced up for the majority of the fight, Andrade was able to grab a hold of Namajunas and deliver a slam that instantly knocked out the champ. Andrade is now the fourth ever undisputed UFC strawweight champion, and has a cavalcade of contenders waiting for their shot at her newly acquired gold. Tatiana Suarez and Nina Ansaroff face off at UFC 238 in June in what could very well be a ticket to a date with Andrade later in 2019. There’s also Michelle Waterson, who’s coming off the biggest win of her career against Karolina Kowalkiewicz in March. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who holds a win over Andrade, and Rose Namajunas, who was having great success prior to getting slammed. The strawweight division has never been more exciting than it is right now.
CANNONIER IS TALENTED, BUT DON’T OVERVALUE A WIN OVER ANDERSON SILVA IN 2019
A post shared by Jared Cannonier (@killagorillamma) on May 9, 2019 at 2:24pm PDT
Jared Cannonier was obviously one of the biggest winners of the night, but it didn’t come without its share of argument. After a slow first round which saw both men feel each other out, Cannonier delivered a perfectly placed inside leg kick on the former champion, flooring him and forcing Herb Dean to stop the fight as Silva writhed in pain from an apparent knee injury caused from the strike. Amidst a rain of boos, Cannonier made a call for a bout with the winner of the upcoming middleweight title unification bout between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya. Make no mistake, Cannonier is a legitimate middleweight contender, and beat Silva in legitimate fashion with a perfect inside leg kick, the same way Yoel Romero put Luke Rockhold out with a perfect overhand right. However, it’s important that we not get very ahead of ourselves. Cannonier holds all of two wins at 185, over the now unranked David Branch and a 44-year-old Anderson Silva. While the win over Silva is impressive, it doesn’t warrant a title shot in 2019, especially in a division as stacked as middleweight. Realistically, the next step for Cannonier is a low-end top 10 contender, perhaps a gatekeeper. Chris Weidman, Derek Brunson, and Jacare Souza come to mind off the top. As for Anderson, I’ll keep it short. If it’s an ACL injury, then retirement is the only answer. ACL injuries can sometimes take up to a year to heal, and already at age 44, coming off of back to back losses, there’s not much left for the former champion to do for himself and his legacy. It would almost be disgraceful to allow him go down the same path as B.J. Penn.
VOLKANOVSKI IS AS REAL AS IT GETS
A post shared by Alexander "The Great" (@alexvolkanovski) on May 9, 2019 at 4:30pm PDT
A new top contender at featherweight emerged when Alexander Volkanovski dominated the former featherweight king Jose Aldo and solidified his status amongst the truly elite. Volkanovski now joins a class that includes only himself, Conor McGregor and Max Holloway as men to beat Aldo in the UFC. While he didn’t get the finish, a dominant performance in Brazil over the “King of Rio” does wonders for the championship status of the Australian. Volkanovski has now all but locked up a title fight for his next bout, and whether that comes before or after a Max Holloway-Frankie Edgar bout, it should go without saying that Volkanovski is as dangerous a top contender as there is in the UFC right now. For Jose Aldo, this loss does hurt, but it isn’t the end of the world. Aldo’s status is unique in that he is no longer in title contention, but is still incredibly elite. I personally like to dub him “the second to last boss,” since he’s essentially the ultimate gatekeeper for a title shot in the division. Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano lost title opportunities at his hands, and just because Volkanovski was able to pass the test doesn’t mean Aldo loses that status. A bout with another rising contender, perhaps the likes of a Josh Emmett or Mirsad Bektic, seems to be logical for the Brazilian legend moving forward.
FOUR EXCITING PROSPECTS TO WATCH
Prior to the three biggest bouts of the night, there were a collection of fights that MMA nerds like myself had a particular close eye on due to the status of some of the prospects competing. The first one I wanted to keep an eye on was Laureano Staropoli, who battled Thiago Alves on the main card. I personally thought Alves’ experience and pedigree would be too much for the relatively raw Argentinian. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Staropoli stunned me and various others due to his exciting and dynamic karate kickboxing-oriented style. Even though he didn’t get the finish, it’s safe to say Staropoli will be a difficult test for many going forward, as the diverse skill set he brings to the table is unorthodox to so many in the division.
Ayer fue un día hermoso ya que pude cumplir muchos sueños, pelear en una cartelera numerada con leyendas, llevarme la victoria y poder enfrentarme a un ídolo de la infancia, muchas gracias @thiagoalvesatt por la oportunidad de poder compartir octágono con vos, gracias a mis equipos @chuteboxesp🇧🇷 @invictusamm 🇦🇷, a mis compañeros de treino y a todos los argentinos que me vinieron a hacer el aguante, un gran abrazo y cariño está victoria es para ustedes.
A post shared by Laureano Staropoli (@pepilaureanocb) on May 12, 2019 at 8:49am PDT
The second I wanted to watch was Ryan Spann, and while I did envision a win for Spann against the aging Lil Nog, I didn’t anticipate it being so definitive. Spann knocked out Rogerio with a perfectly placed uppercut on the chin of the Brazilian legend, just a minute into the fight. Many thought he was robbed of a performance bonus, feeling he earned the $50,000 performance of the night bonus. The LFA and Contender Series alumnus appears to have a very bright future in the UFC’s very shallow light heavyweight division. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities for him to get a top 15 opponent next.
A post shared by Ryan Spann (@superman_spann) on Sep 19, 2018 at 6:24pm PDT
And then, on the ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass preliminary portion, I really wanted to catch Raoni Barcelos. The Brazilian finisher had two consecutive finishes in his first two UFC bouts, and added a third against the Peruvian newcomer Carlos Huachin. Barcelos was able to administer ground and pound on the Peruvian at the end of the second round to earn the win and the luster of many fans in the process. With so many exciting bantamweight prospects rolling around at the moment, it’ll be fascinating to see how they matchmake the Brazilian finisher moving forward.
A post shared by Raoni Barcelos (@raonibarcelos_ufc) on May 1, 2019 at 3:29am PDT
So, I had three in mind entering the night, but I left the night with four prospects on my mind, and the fourth may have impressed me the most. Viviane Araujo opened up the card against a ranked bantamweight contender in Talita Bernardo, in a fight where she was a 2-1 underdog, taking the fight on six days notice and fighting up two weight classes. The former Pancrase strawweight champion put on an absolutely stunning performance, flatlining the more experienced Bernardo- again, two weight classes above her own. Prior to the knockout, Araujo was effectively using her kickboxing prowess to dictate range and force Bernardo into taking chances on the feet. Her speed advantage allowed her to dodge and counter strike at an alarmingly fast rate. Araujo said in her post fight interview that she intends to return to strawweight moving forward. All I have to say is, if she carries that kind of power at bantamweight, she’s going to be a real force to be reckoned with at strawweight. At the risk of jumping the gun far too early, I saw glimpses of a young Joanna on Saturday night.
🇧🇷 Enfim o grande dia da estreia no @ufc chegou. E veio como a gente imaginava que seria, seguindo a estratégia mesmo tendo tão pouco tempo pra estudar a adversária, veio de maneira sólida e consistente, estamos conquistando o nosso lugar nesse grande evento e chegamos pra ficar, pés no chão, passo a passo e muita gratidão aos envolvidos! • 🇺🇸 Anyway the big day of the debut at @ufc arrived. And it came as we imagined it would be, following the strategy even though we had so little time to study the opponent, it came in a solid and consistent way, we are conquering our place in this great event and we come to stay, feet on the ground, step by step and much gratitude to those involved! @cerradomma @aliabdelaziz000 @daniel.bev @sauloverissimo @anderson.carvalho.mma @ufc_brasil @canalcombate @espn @reebokbrasil @essencialfarmmanipulacao @tratamentodechoquebrasil @lpnutricaoesportiva @vivaoftalmologia @pumpsuplementos @henquelimajj @lucianacbribeiro @phsebba @ronnymavros @mariojampaulo @babiruska @reficc @masterssportwear @pratiquemovimento @alessluis_ @stopngoconveniencias #teamessencial #teamtc #teamlp #teammasterssportwear #teampump #teamjampaulo #psicologiaesportiva #vivaoftalmologia #bjj #lutalivre #boxing #wrestling #mthai #boxe #mma #wmma #fight #grlpwr #fightlikeagirl #mindset #focus #motivation #resiliencence #reebokbrasil #discipline #lifestyle #blackbelt
A post shared by Vivi Araujo (@viviaraujomma) on May 12, 2019 at 5:12am PDT