Making the grade: The Passes/Fails of UFC 171
Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler engaged in what might have been the Fight of the Year in the main event. Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard upped their stock in the welterweight division.
UFC 171 was an incredible night of fights. But here at Haymaker, we’re more concerned with reading between the lines.
Here’s what we took away from the event:
— UFC (@ufc) March 16, 2014
The UFC takes heat for a lot of things — too many shows, Fight Pass issues, lack of firm drug testing. The list goes on and on and on. Some of that stuff is wholly warranted. But one of the things the UFC has always done well is give back to fans, especially in charitable cases. Saturday night was no exception. They completely gave Jake Stoneking, a terminally ill 19-year-old, the VIP treatment. Stoneking is a big UFC fan and put on his bucket list — he could lose his fight with cancer within three months — seeing a live UFC show.
I got a chance to talk to Stoneking during the prelims for a few minutes. He was watching the fights in the hospitality room with UFC names like Forrest Griffin, Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz. The kid was absolutely floored by the experience. His quotes in my article don’t even do justice to how excited he was. Stoneking also walked out for the main event with Johny Hendricks, hung out with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta and took pictures with Ronda Rousey and the Octagon girls. All of them were class acts and treated him like gold. It was awesome to see. I’m as cynical as anyone (OK, maybe not anyone, but I’m a jaded New Yorker), but seeing that warmed my typically cold heart. Great job, guys.
Holy crap, Texans love UFC. Gilley’s Dallas was jammed for the weigh-ins Friday afternoon. (Side note: Don’t these people have jobs?) The crowd was awesome for the Anthony Pettis and Chad Mendes Fan Q&A. I echoed that to a member of the UFC PR staff and was reminded me that this was only Fight Club members. Fans on the general admission line were wrapped around the building.
And, to top it all off, more than a hundred people actually hung out an extra two hours to watch Johny Hendricks weigh in a second time. Pretty cool. The buzz in the building Saturday night was excellent and made the incredible main event that much better. Hendricks is a huge star in Dallas, his adopted hometown. There was even an electronic billboard congratulating him on winning the title on one of the local highways, just hours after the fight, per MMA Junkie’s John Morgan.
If you weren’t old enough to rent a car, it was a pretty good night for you at UFC 171. Kelvin Gastelum, Jessica Andrade, Sean Strickland and Justin Scoggins all took home victories. Combined, they’re about the same age as Dan Henderson. Strickland, at 23, is the elder statesmen in that foursome. Scoggins is 21 and Gastelum and Andrade are both 22. These four are already winning big fights. Imagine what happens when they get out of diapers.
How hard is it to find a healthy meal in Texas? Ask the four guys who missed weight on the first try at weigh-ins Friday. Renee Forte, Dennis Bermudez, Kelvin Gastelum and Johny Hendricks were all over on their first attempts. All but Forte ended up hitting their mark, but how many times do you see four guys fail to make it? If Daniel Cormier can do it after chowing down on some Popeye’s 10 days before his fight with Pat Cummins, these guys should have been fine.
Then again, trying to find some grilled chicken and veggies in Texas is like trying to find a Democrat (and no, I don’t count Austin). If you don’t like Tex Mex or BBQ, you evacuate the state immediately.
Was Tito Ortiz in town or something? There’s something to be said for a fighter who takes accountability for what happened and just says, "It wasn’t my night." Diego Sanchez wasn’t that guy this weekend. He blamed his loss to a younger, more technical Myles Jury on food poisoning. Sanchez said he had some bad beef tartare and quail egg Friday night after weigh-ins. I’m more stunned by the fact that he found those two things in Texas. But he probably shouldn’t have eaten them at Whataburger.
Sanchez was able to make weight on the first try, though, unlike Johny Hendricks. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would have been if Hendricks didn’t get down to 170 and they had to do a half title match? If Hendricks won and got nothing for it, it might have turned out to be the most anticlimactic main event in UFC history and this is organization that once put on Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop.
Anyway, we’re talking excuses and Hendricks’ nutrition guy Mike Dolce blamed the scale at the hotel. Dolce is the best guy in the business for this kind of stuff. But if you had a feeling the scale was tampered with, then why trust its number in the first place? The UFC has scales in the hotel workout room to use. Credit to Hendricks, though. He never brought up the scale when asked about missing weight. He took full accountability. Championship-caliber stuff.
— Melissa Hallinan (@melimango_mma) March 15, 2014
We couldn’t just have a normal Q&A with Anthony Pettis and Chad Mendes could we? Nope. This actually happened: Some dude asked Mendes if he would have sex with his wife while the dude watched. This is basically how it went:
Dude: "My wife says she wants to hit it. Are you down?"
Mendes: ::blank stare::
Crowd: Laughs (at the dude, not with him)
Dude: "And can I watch?"
Mendes stumbled over his words and said it was the weirdest thing he’s ever been asked. That’s some embarrassing stuff. Even the idiot who snuck onto the stage, actually got on the scale and flexed while his buddies took pictures didn’t come close to matching ‘will-you-bang-my-wife’ dude.
C’mon, Texas. Get it together.
Dana White on Crosby scorecard: They never cease to amaze me. That quote came after a blank stare. Couldn’t believe it.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) March 16, 2014
I would love Crosby to explain his scoring of the main event. Because it’s so bizarre that it defies any kind of logic. Crosby had Johny Hendricks winning the second round 10-8. That’s right. Crosby thought Hendricks thoroughly dominated Lawler in the second. What was he watching? Hendricks won that round, but it was close. Seeing it as 10-8 is disturbing.
It gets weirder. Crosby scored the fifth round a draw, 10-10. It was unanimous from everyone at American Airlines Center than Hendricks won that round. He controlled Lawler from top position for the latter part. Was Crosby just correcting his earlier gaffe of 10-8 because he knew he screwed up? If he was going to score a round 10-10, shouldn’t it have been the first? That one actually was tight. Both Yahoo’s Kevin Iole and Sherdog’s Greg Savage had it for Lawler. I had it for Hendricks, as did the judges. But yeah. I could see it for Lawler.
Just bizarre stuff. Crosby’s final count was correct, but the way he got there was mind-boggling.