UFC on FOX 17 Top Takeaways: Fading Former Champs, Bright Lights and McGregor Money

December 21, 2015

When the old guy, you know, your dad or your grandpa, starts telling you that MMA fighters are not as skilled as boxers, it’s because of nights like UFC on Fox 17. Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos hardly put on a boxing clinic, even though JDS is supposed to be one of the heavyweight division’s best strikers.

By the way, where would dos Santos be right now had he not landed a looping overhand right on Cain Velasquez in 2011? Perhaps working as Randy Orton’s stunt double. He certainly didn’t look like the guy who ruined the first UFC on FOX by knocking out Daniel Cormier‘s bestie.

And what about Nate Diaz? Here’s a guy whose stand-up has more holes in it than one of Charles Bronson’s victims, yet he still managed to feint and shuck and jive to a decision victory. I thought Diaz would have learned from Josh Thomson‘s kick that leading with your face is not among best practices for standup. Fortunately for Diaz, however, his head games left Michael Johnson more confused than Steve Harvey, and Johnson lost a sloppy slap-boxing affair.

And way to crumble to Donald Cerrone. Yes, Rafael dos Anjos is good, but Cerrone’s ability to stand with the shorter man was disappointing. For Cerrone, the bright lights of title fights are blinding.

So where does this leave us going forward? Let’s find out:

1. Junior dos Santos is fading

We all have bad nights. Was it a bad night or the end for dos Santos? He looked slow, lethargic, and worse, scared against Alistair Overeem, a guy that looks like the much younger brother of the guy who once TKO’d Brock Lesnar. You just can’t take a beating for nine rounds like dos Santos has against Cain Velasquez and expect not to age quickly. The truth is dos Santos should have rushed Overeem and knocked him out in seconds, but he was instead afraid of getting knocked out, which is eventually what happened, albeit in what was an unfair early stoppage. It’s hard to imagine that dos Santos being anything close to competitive with Fabricio Werdum or — God forbid — Cain Velasquez, again.

2. Let’s not put Alistair Overeem on a pedestal quite yet

I can appreciate that Overeem decided to play chess while dos Santos was playing checkers. But that’s not going to work again. These Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA Academy fighters know how to follow a blueprint for victory, but eventually their opponents are going to figure that out and force them to change their plains mid-fight. Overeem kept his distance well, and resembled a house cat that was cornered by the golden retriever. He hissed, pulled his head back, and when the timing was right, slapped his paw against the rugged dog’s face and then got the hell out of there just as the owner broke things up. Overeem has always been a smart fighter, limited by his ability to take a punch. He certainly has some gas left in the tank, but Overeem’s game of chess won’t work against a fighter who decides to say “screw this” and flip the chess board over.

3. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor would be like printing money

Yes, we can go the high road here and say that Diaz doesn’t deserve a shot at McGregor. We could say that McGregor should get an immediate title shot against Rafael dos Anjos in the lightweight division and that Diaz should fight Donald Cerrone or someone like that. But let’s get real — McGregor vs. Diaz would make for one of the most exciting build-ups for a fight in MMA history. Diaz is fearless and McGregor is the best talker in the business right now. The only reason UFC President Dana White would give McGregor an immediate title shot is because he’s probably afraid that McGregor will get KO’d by taking a fight in the division first. Who better than Diaz to stand there and trade punches with McGregor? Diaz is not going to knock McGregor out. McGregor is not going to knock Diaz out. Instead, we would get 15 minutes of sloppy stand-up bliss. Eventually they would tire, the fight would go to the ground and Diaz could put McGregor in leg scissors while flipping him off. McGregor would probably win a decision and then he could get his title shot against dos Anjos, or whomever the champion is by that time.

4. Rafael dos Anjos is MMA’s version of Stephen Curry

This guy just keeps impressing everybody. He’s on a Jon Jones-like run here, stopping all of the division’s top stars, including Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis. He thumped Cerrone like he wasn’t even a Top 10 fighter. “Cowboy” looked like he had never been hit before. He had no Plan B. As for lightweight champion dos Anjos, there’s something really cool about seeing a fighter rise organically rather than talk his way to the top of the division. Dos Anjos appears to be the real deal and it’s refreshing to see that you don’t have to be the class clown like McGregor to stand tall on top. If White is smart, and we’re not sure that he is if he’s voting for Donald Trump, he will keep McGregor away from dos Anjos for awhile.

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