MMA Review: #529: UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor

-While not the absolute biggest UFC show ever – that honor still goes to UFC 100 for me although UFC 200 will probably shade it – this was probably the best top-to-bottom card the promotion had ever put together, with two title fights, a Middleweight title eliminator and then two fights between top ten contenders on the main card. Even the prelims were stacked with the likes of Urijah Faber, Tecia Torres and Warlley Alves. Obviously the main drawing card was Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor – finally! – but more on that later, and to be fair I think hardcore fans were just as excited for Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold. This was the show of the year on paper, easily, and probably one of the best in MMA history too.

UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor

12/12/15
Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Featherweight Fight: Max Holloway vs Jeremy Stephens

Holloway had entered the top five at 145lbs earlier in the year thanks to his win over Cub Swanson, and while his next win – over Charles Oliveira – felt a bit flukey thanks to Oliveira’s random neck injury, the word was that he could put himself in line for a #1 contender’s spot with another win here. Stephens was of course coming off that wild win over Dennis Bermudez at UFC 189 and was looking to spoil Max’s party, but I couldn’t see it happening myself just because Holloway is so much more polished these days.

Fight begins and they circle with Stephens glancing on a pair of early low kicks. Double jab lands for Holloway. Crowd are chanting the “ole ole” stuff already but no idea which guy it’s for in this fight. Glancing right hook from Holloway. Both men are being surprisingly tentative so far. Both men glance on body kicks and it looks like Holloway is a bit nervy about getting into range due to Stephens’ power. Good combination does land for the Hawaiian though. Right hook connects clean for Max and he backs Stephens up a bit. Body kick from Holloway but Stephens clinches and forces him into the fence. He really drives for the takedown, but he can’t get Holloway off his feet. Couple of knees to the body land inside for Holloway before he manages to separate. Body kick from Holloway. Decent leg kick answers for Stephens. Glancing combo from Holloway and he dodges a serious haymaker. Nice leg kick almost chops him down though. Left hand replies for Holloway and he follows with a combo. Takedown attempt from Stephens with seconds remaining, but he can’t get Holloway down and the round ends there. 10-9 Holloway in a relatively quiet round.

2nd round and Stephens lands a low kick before switching stances to try his RDA-killing uppercut, but Holloway avoids. Body kick lands for Jeremy but Holloway fires back with one of his own. Holloway’s movement in avoiding shots really is tremendous. Stephens manages to clinch, but he takes a knee and a hard right hand as Holloway quickly breaks. Body kick from Stephens but Holloway counters with an overhand right. Spin kick from Holloway is caught, but Stephens can’t get him down again. Holloway’s takedown defense really has improved like 1000% since his debut. He escapes with half of the round to go and then they exchange wildly with both men landing. Holloway’ standing right in front of Stephens now. Good chopping leg kick lands for Stephens and he looks for another takedown, but again Holloway stuffs it. Again Holloway escapes and nails him with a right hand on his way out. Left hook lands for Holloway too. Single leg attempt from Stephens but again the Hawaiian defends it. Seconds to go and Stephens has another takedown stuffed. That’s the round and it’s another one for Max Holloway in my opinion.

Third and final round and Stephens pushes the pace right away and lands another low kick, but he gets caught by a nice right hand counter from the Hawaiian. Cerrone-style step-in knee to the body follows for Holloway. Another good leg kick from Stephens but Holloway catches him with an uppercut, clinches and hits a takedown! He moves into half-guard and lands some solid punches while tying up Stephens’ right arm, and then he passes into side mount. Stephens puts his feet up the cage as it looks like he’s trying to reverse, but as he does Holloway gets the neck and takes the back to look for a rear naked choke. He’s got one hook in too. Stephens wriggles free, but he’s still grounded on his back in half-guard. Hard elbow lands for Holloway. He takes the back again with both hooks, and begins to work for the choke again. Holloway is so awesome these days. Stephens keeps wriggling though and he does an excellent job to escape to his feet. They remain clinched before Stephens breaks with a left, and now he’s really pushing forward. Big left hand from Holloway but Stephens fires back with a hard left hook of his own. Holloway smartly circles out to avoid the haymakers, and then he lands a clean left hand. Another good leg kick from Stephens and he shoots and almost gets the Hawaiian down, but somehow Holloway manages to stuff it. A slam attempt follows but somehow Holloway avoids that too and lands on a spinning elbow to force Stephens back. Left hook answers for Stephens. Flying knee glances for Holloway. Leg kick from Stephens sets up another takedown attempt but again he can’t get Holloway down. Seconds to go and he comes in winging haymakers, but he can’t catch Max who pops him back with cleaner counters. 30-27 shutout for Max Holloway on my scorecard.

Indeed the judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Max Holloway. Not the barnburner I think we were hoping to see going in, as Holloway chose to play it smart and rather than brawl with Stephens he picked him apart from the outside and outworked him when the fight hit the ground too, making both look pretty easy which is impressive. Post-fight he calls out the Aldo/McGregor winner which would usually make sense given this was his 8th win in a row, but it’s a weird division at the minute thanks to Conor’s antics so I don’t think he’ll get that opportunity just yet. In the future though for sure as he’s a tremendous fighter.

Welterweight Fight: Demian Maia vs Gunnar Nelson

This sounded like a grappling dream match, as both men have some of the best grappling credentials in the UFC right now and unlike some fighters they actually tend to look to use it, too. While Maia had won his last three fights impressively – tapping the rising Neil Magny in August – I was taking Nelson here as I thought he’d be able to hang with Demian on the ground and outstrike him on the feet with his unorthodox style as he’d inexplicably done to Brandon Thatch.

Round One and the crowd are insanely hot for Nelson. Maia shoots in on a double leg right away but Gunnar somehow hits this ridiculous leg trip reversal that puts him on top. He looks to pass the half-guard but Maia reverses up to his feet and looks for the takedown again. They jockey for position in the clinch and Maia looks for a takedown again, but Nelson clamps onto the neck and it looks like he wants a guillotine. Demian avoids that and hits a trip, but Gunnar reverses on the way down and lands on top again, almost in side mount but with one leg trapped. Maia looks to be working for a reversal, but Nelson avoids it. Only for a second though as Maia reverses, dumps him and then hops onto the back as Nelson scrambles. Both hooks in for Maia and he lands some punches before Gunnar hits a front roll in an attempt to escape. It fails though and Maia takes full mount and lands some solid punches. Gunnar rolls and gives his back, and then ends up mounted again as Maia won’t let up. Big punches land for Maia and he’s in total control, insane grappling from the Brazilian. More punches land for Maia and he switches to a body triangle. Rear naked choke attempt from Maia but Nelson manages to avoid it. Looks like Gunnar has a bloody nose and he also looks pretty shocked that Maia’s able to do this to him. Really nasty elbows begin to land for Maia from back control. Armbar attempt with seconds to go and Nelson’s in deep trouble. He manages to spin free though and gets on top, and from there he lands some hard shots of his own to end the round. That totally lived up to all expectation. 10-9 Maia.

Round Two and Nelson looks pretty marked up coming out of his corner with swelling around both eyes. Snapping right hand glances for him and he dodges a left from Maia. Takedown attempt from Maia and he gets a single leg and works to get Nelson down. Reversal from Gunnar puts him on top for a second but Maia scrambles and gets back up to look for the takedown again. Blatant fence grab from Nelson but Big John McCarthy pulls the hand away. He does it again and that ought to be a point deduction but of course it’s not. Maia keeps working and trips him down, right into back control with both hooks again. I’d almost forgotten how good Maia’s grappling is. Gunnar stands with him on his back, but the Brazilian is in total control here with a body triangle and he opens up with some hard punches. He manages to ground Nelson and opens up with some really nasty shots, and Nelson looks stuck. Didn’t expect to ever see him in this sort of trouble on the mat. He manages to roll somehow and pretty much turns into Maia’s guard, but Maia’s legs are so tight around him that it’s an awkward spot. He keeps working though and manages to free himself into butterfly guard. He looks to pass but Maia hits a reversal and gets top position again. More punches land for Maia from the butterfly guard and he works to pass, getting to half-guard. Nasty elbows thud right through the guard for Maia and Nelson is in big trouble here. Full mount from Maia with seconds to go and Nelson looks exhausted. He manages to survive the round but shit, that’s a 10-8 for Maia.

Round Three and Maia pushes forward and hits an immediate takedown. Nelson scrambles to his feet and looks to grab a front headlock, but Maia works him to the ground anyway. Guillotine attempt from Nelson and he tries to use it to take top position, but Maia avoids that and ends up on top in the butterfly guard. Punches to the body and elbows to the head connect for Maia and Gunnar looks totally out of steam to me. Looks like he might be considering going for a leglock, but he can’t commit to it and Maia passes into half-guard to deliver more elbows. This is one of the best performances of Maia’s career. He works to take the back again and slaps on the body triangle. Two minutes to go and Maia works to sink the choke, but Nelson defends. He continues to eat punches though with seemingly no answer. Seconds remaining and it looks like the fight is basically over, but Nelson manages to spin into Maia’s guard. Crowd pop but it’s too little, too late and the fight ends there. 10-9 Maia for a 30-26 I’d call it. Could be 30-25 though easily.

Judges call it 30-26, 30-25 and 30-25 for Demian Maia. Totally dominant performance from the Brazilian. I guess I forgot how good Maia’s grappling was as he absolutely dummied Nelson on the mat and made him look like an amateur at times, which is insane given Gunnar’s credentials and skill there – remember *he’s* made guys look like amateurs at times too. Nelson had a couple of good positions but they were all too fleeting and for the majority of the fight he was reduced to defending and taking punches and elbows. One of the best showings Maia’s ever put on I’d say. Post-fight he asks for a title shot and goes on a rant about the official UFC rankings and I’d have to agree – for the most part they do stink – but I don’t think he can get a title shot just yet. Maybe a fight with Carlos Condit while Robbie Lawler fights Tyron Woodley though? That’d work for me.

Middleweight Fight: Yoel Romero vs Ronaldo Souza

With both men on massive win streaks – Romero winning six in a row, Jacare eight – and having beaten the likes of Yushin Okami, Lyoto Machida, Tim Kennedy and Gegard Mousasi between them, this was a clear-cut #1 contender’s fight. It was also third time lucky as they’d been booked twice before – at UFC 184 and Fox 15 – before injuries cancelled the bout. Ignoring any x-factors (largely involving the improved USADA drug testing as both guys are insanely hench for men pushing 40….) I was taking Romero to win in a tight call, as I thought he would be able to outstrike Jacare standing and due to his ridiculous wrestling, wouldn’t be taken down.

First round begins and Romero circles on the outside and lands with an early body kick. Nice right hand lands for Jacare and backs the Cuban up a little. Right to the body glances for Jacare. Low kick follows. Lot of movement from Romero but not much thrown yet. Couple more shots glance for Jacare before Romero clips him with a lunging left hand. Quick exchange sees Romero knock the Brazilian slightly off balance with a left hand. Double jab from Romero and he continues to dance around on the outside. Front kick misses for Romero but he throws a spinning backfist to follow and LEVELS JACARE! He’s in big trouble but Romero stands over his guard rather than drop down into it. Finally he does go to the ground and from there he opens up with some big shots, avoiding the guard at the same time. Big punches land for Romero and Jacare is still in trouble. The threat of his guard is preventing Romero from really opening up though. He settles down into the guard and then lands a series of hard elbows, but Jacare throws up an armbar that forces Romero to defend. Some more vicious elbows begin to get through for the Cuban and he shrugs off another armbar and lands some heavy shots with Jacare in the turtle position to end the round. Jacare takes an age to get up when the buzzer goes. Romero’s round, and I’d actually go 10-8 due to the amount of damage he caused in that last minute.

Second round and for a second Joe Rogan’s panicking about another STOOLGATE issue but with Jacare rather than Romero this time. He does come out for the round though and surprisingly he comes forward as Romero circles on the outside again. Front kick glances up the middle for Romero. Jacare continues to press forward and both men glance on rights before Jacare shoots. Romero stuffs it pretty easily and almost throws him down, but then he decides not to and backs out. Good right hand connects for Jacare. Couple of left hooks glance for Romero as he looks like he’s trying to keep distance. Jacare shoots for a takedown and almost gets a single leg, but Romero blocks it. Another attempted takedown from Jacare is blocked by a REALLY blatant fence grab, and as they do go down Romero reverses and takes top position. Referee Marc Goddard is right in there no messing around, saying Romero only got top position due to the fence grab so he’s restarting them standing. Fair play! He also says one more and it’s a point deduction. Action slows down a little before Jacare lands with a good left hand. Body kick answers for Romero. Jacare fires back with one of his own. Looks like Romero might be slowing down. Right hand from Souza and he goes for the takedown, but again Romero shakes him off. Right to the body lands for Jacare. Crowd begin to boo the tentativeness a little as Romero glances on a couple of front kicks. Nice leg kick from Romero almost buckles Jacare’s leg. Round ends there. Super-close round so call it 10-10.

Third round and Jacare looks like the fresher man. He wings a big right hook early but Romero just about avoids it. Front kick to the body from Jacare and he follows with a leg kick. Front kick into a left hand from Romero but he’s looking really slow now. Takedown attempt from Jacare but Romero again stuffs it. Big body kick lands for the Brazilian. Leg kick and a left uppercut answer for Romero. Front kick to the body from Jacare. Combination follows and he’s got Romero in trouble against the fence. Jacare lands some big shots and then drops for a double leg and puts Romero on his back! He passes right into half-guard and Romero as tired as he is may be in trouble. Nice punches land for Jacare and he looks to be setting up for an arm triangle. Romero’s half-guard is wide open. Jacare opens up with some hard elbows and throws some knees to the body for good measure. We’ve got less than a minute to go now and Jacare is in firm control but he may need a finish to win. Romero tries to escape but Jacare’s base is too good and he keeps him down. Seconds to go and he manages to reverse to his feet, but he can’t get anything going and the round ends there. 10-9 Jacare and I’d call it 29-28 for Romero, but it could be scored so many different ways so who knows.

Unsurprisingly it’s a split decision; 29-27 Romero, 29-28 Souza, and 29-28 for Yoel Romero to pick up the win. Crowd seem torn which is understandable – you could make an argument for Jacare taking the last two rounds and if you didn’t score the first 10-8 that means he wins, or you could’ve scored it a draw too with two rounds to Jacare and a 10-8 first for Romero. Super-close fight at any rate so I’m fine with the decision as it was. This should’ve set up a title shot for Romero but this week it’s come out that he’s potentially failed a drug test for some sort of ‘designer steroid’ which is massively disappointing, but given what he looks like and the teammates he’s got (Gleison Tibau, Hector Lombard to name two) it isn’t all that surprising. So no idea what happens from here regarding him! Fight was a bit tentative at times as Romero did a lot of circling and seemed to slow down a lot after the first while Souza probably never did recover from that early barrage, but the portions of action we did get made it decent enough.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold

While all the attention was on Aldo vs. McGregor, this fight could easily have main evented a big PPV and people would’ve been into it too, as it was a meeting between the clear two best 185lbers on the planet and due to the age and relative freshness of both, it was easy to see it as the first fight in a potential series between the two as well. Weidman had last fought in May, coming back from an early scare to crush Vitor Belfort, while Rockhold had reeled off four wins in a row including submissions of Michael Bisping and Lyoto Machida to cement his shot. Despite Rockhold having a lot of tools in his bag – massive size for 185lbs, incredible striking and grappling – I just couldn’t pick against Weidman as I never have in the past and with his wrestling background to go with his equally great striking and grappling – as well as an insane chin – I thought he’d somehow pull the win out.

Crowd seem more in favour of Weidman upon entrances but it could be the fact that he’s got one of the best walkout themes in the UFC (I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty) and the fans are outright singing along to it.

Round One begins and they circle with Weidman throwing an early glancing kick and a decent inside leg kick. He swings his way into the clinch and gets Rockhold’s back, and right away he hops on with both hooks in! Rockhold manages to stay standing and seems calm, and then he tries to swing Weidman off to the side. Weidman slips and goes for a triangle, then manages to work almost to his feet in a really weird position. Rockhold pushes him into the fence, but Weidman reverses him and cracks him with a knee to the body before hitting a double leg. Rockhold looks like he’s going for a kimura, but Weidman passes into side mount and takes the back again. Lot of pressure from Weidman early on. Rockhold works back to his feet, but he takes a knee en route. Big crowd chant for Weidman. They exchange knees from the clinch and then Weidman nails him with a hard inside elbow too. Big takedown from Weidman but Rockhold grabs onto a guillotine. Weidman’s in side mount though and it doesn’t look tight. Rockhold does manage to control one of Weidman’s legs to prevent a possible Von Flue choke, but Weidman scoots further out to the side to really avoid the guillotine. Less than a minute to go and it looks like Rockhold’s just content to hold the position. Ref Herb Dean calls a surprising stand-up, and Rockhold connects with a hard kick to the body. Low kick is caught by Weidman and he goes for the takedown, but Rockhold reverses and then looks to lock up a guillotine in the scramble. Weidman avoids, but ends up on his back in guard, and he kicks Rockhold away as the round ends. Excellent stuff. 10-9 Weidman I’d say.

Round Two and Weidman comes forward recklessly, but he gets caught coming in with a right hook and he’s in trouble! Rockhold opens up on him with a flurry as Weidman desperately covers up, but he seems to recover quickly. Big body kick from Rockhold. Weidman comes back though with one of his own and a left hand that sets up a clinch. Rockhold quickly separates and glances on another body kick. Body kick from Weidman but Rockhold fires back with a head kick that glances. Good leg kick from Rockhold. Weidman backs him up a bit and then clinches and goes for the takedown, but Rockhold shrugs him off and lands with a head kick. Another big head kick is just blocked by Weidman but he does land with a front kick. Punches glance for both men before Weidman rushes him and forces him into the fence. Big knee to the body separates for Rockhold. Weidman is looking a bit tired. Question mark kick glances for Rockhold. Big right hand from Rockhold backs Weidman up but he takes it well. Straight left lands for Rockhold. Weidman continues to push forward but he’s finding it hard to get inside on Rockhold. Solid low kick from Rockhold. Crowd are now chanting for Rockhold. Weidman lands with a body kick and an inside leg kick of his own. Wild swing misses for Weidman. Another good leg kick from Rockhold. Not long to go now and Weidman nails him with a kick to the body and backs him up. Rockhold shakes his head but he was hurt there. Left hand and another leg kick come back for him and that’s the round. 10-9 Rockhold to even it up.

Round Three and Weidman pushes forward and lands with a body kick and a low kick. Counter left glances for Rockhold and he follows with the body kick. Weidman swings his way into the clinch and forces Rockhold into the fence, where they exchange knees. Rockhold does a good job of separating but Weidman lands with a pair of body kicks. Big overhand right from Weidman and he follows with a double jab and a heavy left hook. Takedown attempt follows and he gets Rockhold down. Weidman looks to get into mount, but Rockhold’s got his back against the fence which might prevent it. Sure enough he reverses up to his feet and they remain clinched. This is a gruelling fight for both men. Good knees inside for Rockhold before they break. Left hook from Weidman but Rockhold comes back with one of his own and a body kick again. Good leg kick from Weidman and he dodges a Rockhold head kick. Nice combination from the challenger. Body kick from Weidman and he lands with another. Right hand follows for the champion. A combination answers for Rockhold but he eats another body kick. Head kick glances for Weidman and he throws a ludicrous wheel kick, but Rockhold dodges, gets a bodylock and hits a takedown. He takes the back as they hit the ground and slaps one hook in, and then gets the second in and Weidman might be in a sticky spot. He turns over, but finds himself mounted with one minute to go. And from there Rockhold begins to land punches and then postures up and lands some nasty elbows. Brutal elbows begin to get through for Rockhold and now he’s PUMMELLING WEIDMAN FROM THE MOUNT! Herb Dean is hovering over them as Weidman is busted WIDE OPEN and it’s looking like what he did to Vitor Belfort! Crowd are going INSANE as Rockhold continues to abuse him from the mount, but somehow the champion survives the round! Holy shit. 10-8 Rockhold for that wild finish and man, that wheel kick might be one of the all time worst mistakes in UFC history as I had Weidman winning the round up to that point!

Round Four and Weidman’s face is a mess and he still looks wobbly. He still manages to walk Rockhold down in the opening seconds and lands with a body kick, but Rockhold hits him with one of his own and follows with a hard right hand that leads to a takedown attempt. Weidman stuffs the initial attempt but the challenger drives him into the cage and looks to muscle him down. Nice takedown from Rockhold and he passes into half-guard right away. Weidman looks out of gas completely. Rockhold traps the right arm and begins to drop some elbows, busting Weidman open even further, but the champ works back to full guard. The challenger postures up to drop some punches through the guard, and as Weidman looks to work to his feet Rockhold stands over him to drop some more shots. He moves into side mount and hammers Weidman with some more elbows, and with two minutes to go he takes full mount again. Weidman manages to just about get a weak half-guard, but Rockhold postures up again and begins to PUNISH him with elbows and punches and this time Herb Dean’s seen enough and calls the fight off. Unbelievable.

Well, first off upon a rewatch that was a much better fight than I remembered. Probably the best Middleweight title fight since the first Silva/Sonnen match back in 2010 in fact. At the time I said that the wheel kick was the pivotal moment that cost Weidman the fight and I still stand by that – while Rockhold appeared to be taking over in the second round, Weidman was ahead by a hair in the third and seemed to be gaining the momentum back before he missed that kick and after that it was all Rockhold. I’d say that move goes down in MMA history with Chael’s spinning backfist as one of the worst of all time. Regardless though this was a fantastic showing from Luke Rockhold – he weathered the early storm from Weidman and ended up dominating him on the ground, and Weidman was of course a guy who’d literally never been taken down in his MMA career before. Wheel kick or no wheel kick you can’t argue with the fact that Rockhold’s the best 185lber on the planet right now. Who’s next for him? It would’ve been Romero but after the failed drug test it’s hard to say – personally I’d just give the shot to Jacare as the fight with Romero was so close but I suspect we’ll see Rockhold defend against the last guy to beat him – Vitor Belfort – which I’d say would be bullshit but UFC loves Vitor, or maybe a rematch against Weidman which I wouldn’t be a fan of either really as I’d prefer to see him rebound with a win first. Regardless this was a great fight – I’d say it lived up to the hype although it wasn’t quite a FOTYC or anything – with tons of momentum switches and stuff and I loved it.

UFC World Featherweight Title: Jose Aldo vs Conor McGregor

We’ve heard the term ‘biggest fight in UFC history’ so many times now – Liddell/Couture II, Liddell/Ortiz II, GSP/Penn II, Lesnar/Mir II, Silva/Sonnen II, etc – that it’s almost cliché, but I think you could probably make a fair argument for this one given the amount of hype going in. It honestly felt somehow bigger than the sport of MMA in a lot of ways, as so many media outlets were reporting on it (over here in the UK at least) that it felt more like a major boxing match, and I say that in a good way as boxing has always been far more mainstream than MMA. Everyone was gutted when the initial match at UFC 189 was cancelled but it was probably a blessing in disguise because since Conor had beaten Chad Mendes, the hype only became bigger. The feud had of course been building since the moment back in January – a year ago this weekend in fact – when Conor knocked out Dennis Siver and then screamed into a laughing Aldo’s face – but I’m sure if you asked Conor himself he’d say everything had been building to this since before he’d even debuted in the UFC, such is his confidence.

I’d been saying since the Mendes fight that McGregor would beat Aldo here too, and I stood by the pick – my feeling was that all of the various wars Aldo had been through – both in his fights and in the gym – were probably catching up with him, especially when the alarming stat that Aldo had five times the cage time than Conor had was revealed. After all, he’d had eleven years of professional MMA coming into this fight and that’s a hell of a long time, disregarding all of his injury problems. Add in the three main facets of Conor’s game – his phenomenal pressure game, like a souped-up Diaz brother; his reach, something Aldo had never dealt with before; and his rock-solid chin to the point where he could shrug shots from Chad Mendes off – and I thought it was a recipe for a new champion to be crowned.

Crowd seem torn during the introductions but they’re LOUD. Probably more cheers for McGregor and boos for Aldo in fact. McGregor also looks incredibly confident and loose while Aldo looks very tense and nervy. Aldo won’t meet Conor’s gaze during the staredown and we get no touch of gloves. Here we go.

First round begins and Conor comes right out and fires a left hand that misses. Oblique kick follows but also doesn’t land properly. Aldo comes forward but walks right into a CRUSHING LEFT HAND AND GOES DOWN FACE FIRST!~! One hammer fist later and it’s ALL OVER. Jesus fucking Christ. Whole fight went thirteen seconds.

Post-fight Conor celebrates and then in a classic moment, shrugs his shoulders like that moment in Snatch when Brad Pitt’s gypsy boxer knocks out his opponent with one shot too. Replay shows Aldo actually connected with his own left hand but he was probably unconscious at the time as McGregor timed the counter left hand perfectly and 100% accurately on the jaw too. One of the all-time great knockouts in MMA and one of the most shocking, too. Aldo’s first loss in TEN YEARS and it came in thirteen seconds, the fastest finish in any UFC title match. I’ve seen it like twenty times now and I still can’t really believe it. Aldo for his part looks like a totally broken man, covering his face with a towel before revealing a badly bloodied nose. Crowd go apeshit and rightfully so. Basically there’s never been anyone in the UFC or shit, in MMA point blank like McGregor. All of the other major trash-talkers and big personalities either ended up being humbled (Tito Ortiz, Ronda Rousey), fell at the final hurdle (Frank Mir, Chael Sonnen, Nick Diaz) or turned out to be not that good in the first place (Phil Baroni). Only time will tell whether Conor ends up being humbled but shit, he’s backed up every single word he’s said so far and who am I to doubt him? In a year filled with classic moments (three from Ronda Rousey alone and then stuff like Lawler/MacDonald and Cormier/Gustafsson) this was easily the most memorable and in fact I’d say it was the most memorable finish since Cain Velasquez dethroned Brock Lesnar back at UFC 121, even bigger than Weidman knocking out Silva, Holm taking out Rousey and Silva ending his feud with Sonnen or front kicking Vitor Belfort. A fitting way to cap off one of the biggest shows of all time.

-Show ends with Goldie and Rogan discussing where McGregor goes from here and then we end with a highlight reel.

Final Thoughts….

The Aldo/McGregor finish alone would be enough to make this show a must-see but while the undercard didn’t quite deliver as much as I’d hoped – Sherdog are crazy to have this one over UFC 189 as the best show of 2015 – it’s still a massive thumbs up thanks to the great Weidman/Rockhold fight as well as Demian Maia’s sick grappling and a solid if a little unspectacular match between Romero and Jacare. If you’re an MMA fan of any kind you’ve probably seen the McGregor knockout already but it’s definitely worth checking out the whole show anyway. Thumbs way up for this one.

Best Fight: Weidman vs. Rockhold
Worst Fight: Holloway vs. Stephens

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com