The talk about UFC Fight Night 59 was all about Conor McGregor heading in, and it is largely about ‘The Notorious’ following the event as well. The Irishman came in to Boston in front of a partisan crowd and did what many expected against Dennis Siver — although it took a bit longer than many had predicted, McGregor himself included. The performance was McGregor’s second-longest in the Octagon thus far, as Siver lasted a shade under seven minutes with the next featherweight title challenger, but the bout was extremely one-sided. Siver landed a handful of strikes, but by the midway point of the first round the contest had already been decided. The German fighter was backing up against the cage and covering up liberally to try to gain some sort of respite from McGregor’s accurate attack. He never found it, and even in the brief moments where Siver seemed to score takedowns, the Irishman showed excellent hips to immediately pop back to his feet. It was an impressive performance from McGregor, but also exactly what was expected of him given this matchmaking.
The fight, and McGregor’s performance were not the topics of conversation following the event however. McGregor overshadowed it all by leaping over the cage following the stoppage to confront longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who promptly laughed at him. This sets up what will be the biggest featherweight bout (in terms of stature) that the UFC has ever held. Several locations have been thrown out for the forthcoming title fight, but Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend seems to be the front runner. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas was ready with the opening lines for Aldo/McGregor as soon as the main event of Fight Night 59 concluded, and regardless of where the fight takes place, the champion is favored to retain. The co-main event in Boston continued a theme that was present throughout the night — questionable judging — as Donald Cerrone picked up a unanimous decision over his friend and foe Benson Henderson. The decision came as a surprise to most — Cerrone included — but it was a competitive fight, and nowhere near the worst decision of the night. The win was Cerrone’s seventh straight, and seems to have gotten him past the spot where he would normally see that streak broken and his title shot disappear. If there’s ever a time for ‘Cowboy’ to challenge for the UFC lightweight title, it is 2015. I think he’ll have to go through Khabib Nurmagomedov sometime in the summer before he gets that title shot however. There is still a chance that either Anthony Pettis or Rafael dos Anjos gets injured prior to their fight, and Cerrone steps in once again on short notice for a crack at the title. You just never know with the UFC’s most active fighter.
Past those two fights, which were worthy of a big stage, this event really felt like a mediocre TV event. Uriah Hall hurt Ron Stallings in the first round of their middleweight bout, but before he could finish the job, Herb Dean called the doctor in who waved off the bout due to a massive cut on Stallings’ left eyebrow. It was hard to take any information from this bout, but Hall showed off his extremely quick striking once again, and seemed on his way to a stoppage had the officials not intervened. Kicking off the televised portion of the card was a Gleison Tibau fight, because apparently the UFC wanted to drive away as much of the NFL audience as they could. Tibau picked up a characteristically Tibau-esque decision, winning the first two rounds against Norman Parke before slowing in the final frame and allowing his opponent back into the fight. In terms of technical skills, Tibau showed what a big step up he was for the fighter from Northern Ireland, landing the cleaner strikes early and routinely winning any grappling exchanges between the two. Parke made a decent account for himself in the bout, but it is difficult to look good against Tibau for all but the very best in the lightweight division. The undercard for this event produced several entertaining bouts and a pair of dominant performances from Lorenz Larking and Johnny Case, but all of that was overshadowed by what is likely going to end up the ‘Robbery of the Year’ for 2015. Sean Spencer dominated the striking against Cathal Pendred, stuffed the majority of the takedowns from the Irishman, and only saw one spot of trouble in the entire bout, but somehow Pendred was awarded a unanimous decision. Spencer rocked Pendred several times in the first round, even knocking him down, and two judges still scored the round in favor of Pendred for a pair of takedowns which accomplished virtually nothing. It was an abysmal display of judging, as out of 16 scorecards tabulated on MMADecisions.com, 12 had the bout 30-27 for Spencer, with the other 4 all awarding him a pair of rounds. All in all, the UFC’s latest trip to Boston was another successful event for the Irish MMA contingent, and will be remembered for setting up one of the biggest fights the organization can make in 2015.