UFC 177 Recap: Sacramento Gets a Fun Show, But Is That Enough?

TJ Dillashaw BeltLast night, one of Dana White’s favorite rallying cries picked up momentum, even though it had no business doing so. White always proclaims that you can’t judge a fight card before the fights actually take place, which is of course an absurd assertion. Regardless of how Saturday night’s bouts played out, UFC 177 would still remain a poor offering from the company, as it was a pay-per-view event featuring just one top ten fighter based on the UFC’s own rankings. Even the much maligned card the organization just put on in Macau featured more top fighters than this event. Was UFC 177 fun? Sure. Does fun necessarily equal quality? Absolutely not. In the main event, Joe Soto (15-3) made a far better account of himself than anyone could have predicted, taking champion TJ Dillashaw (11-2) into the fifth round. Eventually, Soto suffered the same fate that befell Renan Barao, being stopped by a head kick and follow up punches in the final round of the bout. This seemed like a classic case of an overreaction to a challenger doing better than expected. Dillashaw was outlanding Soto nearly 3:1, and yet the bout was being sold as competitive. Dillashaw didn’t seem to fight with the same urgency he displayed against Barao back at UFC 173, and given the circumstances it’s hard to blame him. Many UFC champions would not have even put their belt on the line given just 24 hours notice, and fewer still would have done it against a former training partner. Dillashaw should be commended for not just his performance inside the cage, but his willingness to step up and play the role of “company man” as well. It seems like Dillashaw’s next challenge will not come from Renan Barao, begging the question why this fight was booked in the first place. Instead, should Dominick Cruz look anything remotely close to his old self in four weeks at UFC 178, he will likely get a chance to reclaim his belt. A victory over Cruz would probably boost Takeya Mizugaki into the same position. The only other bout which could affect the title picture is the UFC Fight Night 53 contest between Raphael Assuncao and Bryan Caraway. Given the UFC’s difficulty selling their lighter divisions of late, one would have to think Cruz gets the nod however. He was involved in the highest grossing PPV for a sub lightweight main event back at UFC 132 with Urijah Faber. The second last bout of the night featured lightweights Tony Ferguson (16-3) and Danny Castillo (17-7), and it was a battle between stupidity and inactivity. Luckily for Ferguson, his terrible tactics won out as he got the split decision from the judges. Ferguson got off to a fantastic start, stuffing Castillo’s early takedowns and winning the striking. Inexplicably, Ferguson kept sacrificing position in order to go for low percentage submissions even as Castillo began to look tired on the feet. Despite spending a significant amount of time on his back, the judges saw the fight in favor of the former Ultimate Fighter winner. As Ferguson moves up the ladder he’ll need to shore up his tactics or they will cost him fights. Ferguson’s biggest struggle to this point in the UFC has come against Michael Johnson, so I think he should face another striker in Ross Pearson to see if he can deal with a technical pressure striker. In what likely won’t be the end of this pseudo-pro wrestling storyline, Bethe Correia (9-0) picked up her first stoppage victory in the UFC (and just second overall), as she treated Shayna Baszler (15-9) like a punching bag against the cage and forced John McCarthy to step in and call the standing TKO. Baszler tried to get her grappling going early, but couldn’t really find much success against the Brazilian. At the beginning of the second round, Baszler just seemed to have nothing left in the tank, as a failed takedown attempt resulted in her just sitting against the cage eating shots to the head and body from Correia. Consecutive wins over unranked opponents should not earn Correia a title shot against Ronda Rousey, but unfortunately it may be the most marketable fight in the division aside from the UFC bringing in Gina Carano or Cristiane Cyborg. Carlos Diego Ferreira (11-0) remained unbeaten in his MMA career, and picked up his first TKO win by stopping Ramsey Nijem (9-5) in the second round. Nijem had some success standing in the bout, but it seemed like Ferreira had more behind his strikes, while his grappling made the Ultimate Fighter runner-up wary of staying on the mat too long. Ferreira is far from a finished product, but the tools are certainly there for him to become a very good lightweight. There are quite a few Brazilian lightweights in the middle of the lightweight division, so perhaps the UFC could use Ferreira against Elias Silverio, Michel Prazeres, Alan Patrick, or Adriano Martins on an upcoming show in Brazil. It would also offer Ferreira a chance to fight in his home country for the first time, as all of his bouts up until last night had taken place in Texas. Opening up the main card, Yancy Medeiros (10-2, 1 NC) finally showed some of the potential people saw in him leading up to his UFC debut. His defensive wrestling looked good, he seems to have cleaned up his striking a bit, and when he was presented with an opportunity to snatch a submission, he took it. The submission was fantastic, as Medeiros caught Damon Jackson (9-1) halfway through a sitout which resulted in a reverse guillotine choke that looked more like the finishing move of pro-wrestler Ultimo Dragon rather than something out of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu book. Of course, this shouldn’t have people going overboard on him. After all, he was facing a featherweight who took the bout on nine days notice, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. Medeiros should be built up a bit more slowly if the UFC actually wants to see him advance through the division, as he has already faced solid lightweights Rustam Khabilov and Jim Miller. I think a bout against someone like Frank Trevino would allow Medeiros to show off some more of his striking without a huge concern of the takedown or ground game of his opponent. Alternatively, if they want to test those attributes from Medeiros, throw him in with Joe Ellenberger. It turned out to be an entertaining night of fights, far exceeding expectations. Unfortunately it will still end up one of the lowest drawing events the UFC has done in the past decade, and simply being a fun show isn’t enough at this point. The organization can’t keep putting on sub par events in the hopes that the fights will “deliver”. If a card isn’t worthy of a PPV slot, the UFC has plenty of other channels to put events on whether it be through their partnership with Fox or on UFC Fight Pass. In the future, forcing your fans to either pay $60 or miss out on a product that isn’t worthy of that kind of money isn’t a smart business decision and it will only serve to alienate an already diminishing fan base. Highlights 135 lb title: TJ Dillashaw (c) vs Joe Soto

 Women’s 135 lbs: Bethe Correia vs Shayna Baszler


Written by Brad Taschuk

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