Making the Grade: Passes/Fails from UFC 172
Jon Jones put on one of his most impressive performances ever, Anthony Johnson returned to the UFC with a bang and Luke Rockhold did ridiculous things to Tim Boetsch.
UFC 172 was an amazing card, maybe the best of the year so far. But you already know the results. We at Haymaker are more concerned with reading between the lines.
Here's what we took away from the Baltimore event:
One down, three to go
If you didn’t know who the hell Bethe Correia was before Saturday night, you do now. It wasn't so much that Correia was dominant in her unanimous decision win over Jessamyn Duke. She looked good, but that wasn't it. Her taunt after the fight was priceless and what's going to build her brand.
Correia held up four fingers and then put down one of them. Duke and her roommates Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir call themselves "The Four Horsewomen" after the pro wrestling stable. Correia was saying she's already defeated one, now she's coming for the rest. Awesome. It would be fun to see Correia try to go through the gauntlet toward Rousey, the UFC women's bantamweight champion. Could Baszler be next?
Keepin' up with the Joneses
Unless you're like a Kennedy or something, chances are the Joneses are much more successful than your family. Arthur Jones and Chandler Jones are starting players in the NFL. The awkward middle child -- Jon -- is the best mixed martial arts fighter on the planet. Mama and papa Jones should be very proud -- like, overcome with joy. How do you produce such incredible athletes?
Outside of the Manning brothers, what family is more accomplished right now in sports? It's not just two brothers, but three that are at or near the top of their profession. And yeah, if they want to dance on FOX, go on boys. Do your thing. You earned it, you beasts.
Not just "The Wire"
The UFC's marketing research people are earning their money and not just their gambling winnings from Dana White. White didn't want to go to Orlando last week and even bet his employees that FOX UFC Saturday wouldn’t draw in Central Florida. White was wrong and Orlando ended up being one of the most profitable FOX shows yet.
When Baltimore was announced late last year, most people questioned the UFC's judgment again. Baltimore? Why? It ended up being a home run -- a sold-out crowd of 13,485 and a $2.3 million gate. UFC 172 was the biggest sporting event in Baltimore Arena history. And the best part was the extremely intelligent fanbase, who cheered grappling, chanted for Tanakori Gomi and booed a referee standup. The crowd was hot all night. They loved every minute of it. Amazing stuff. Who knew?
Phil Davis didn’t look past Anthony Johnson. Let's get that out of the way. He talked a bunch of junk about Jon Jones over the last week, but does that mean he didn’t work his butt off in training camp at Alliance MMA for his fight with Johnson. Of course he did. That was not Davis' failing. He simply just lost, getting outdone in basically every aspect by "Rumble."
That is a shame, too, because Davis was finally getting it. He was putting the world onto a different side of him. Yeah, he was over the top. But Davis is a funny, affable and exceedingly likable. He was just on the verge of connecting with the fans and had he won, a fight with Jones down the road would have been an easy sell. It doesn’t mean that won't ever happen in the long run, but if Davis actually "beat the brakes off" Johnson like he said, it would have been the high mark of his career and a jumping-off point.
White said they're definitely thinking Jones-Gustafsson II in Sweden. Said Jones will fight wherever they want him to fight.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 27, 2014
Dana White thinks Jon Jones will have no problem defending his light heavyweight title next against Alexander Gustafsson in Gustafsson's home country of Sweden. Maybe White is right -- he knows a hell of a lot more than I do about his company. But my gut is that Jones won't be convinced to make that trek out to Europe easily. And he really shouldn’t have to do it at all.
Jones is the champion and he really wants to be a fan favorite. He reveled in the cheers Saturday night in Baltimore. Jones wants to be loved. He will get absolutely zero love in Sweden. He will be the enemy, the villain. He'll be seen as the guy whose Instagram account posted homophobic slurs on a Swedish teen's photos. Jones is not going to be thrilled if the UFC decides to do the mega rematch on Gustafsson's home turf.
As incredible as the Baltimore fans were -- and they far exceeded expectations -- the arena was awful. It was decrepit, dirty, old and in a crappy area of the city. I have no problem with the UFC going to Baltimore and even coming back next year. They should. I just wish there was a better alternative. A show at M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play? Camden Yards? The fight would have to be right and Dana White doesn't like outdoor venues.
It's not Baltimore, but the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park is beautiful and holds 17,950 for basketball. It's only about 45 minutes from the city limits. Maybe that's a better option.
Please, let's take absolutely nothing away from Jon Jones' performance Saturday night. He was phenomenal. Watching him work in the Octagon is an absolute treat and being there cageside was special. He's a master at mixed martial arts; a savant. It's exceptional.
I just wish he didn’t try so hard with the fans. The Ray Lewis dance. The Baltimore Ravens music. Shouting out Baltimore at the weigh-ins. Thanking Brazilians in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. The fans that like Jones already like him. Kissing up to the rest is not going to win them over. Keep being the best fighter on the planet -- and maybe ever. Screw the haters. They're going to plunk down their hard-earned money to watch you anyway.