The Last Word on UFC 197

Jon JonesThe Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was live this past Saturday night (April 23, 2016) with UFC 197: Jones vs St Preux and featured a solid night of scraps. Leading off the action for the Fight Pass preliminary card of the evening was a 155-pound contest between Kevin Lee and Efrain Escudero, who were each looking to return to the win column following recent Octagon defeats. It was Lee who managed to come out on top, largely in part due to a takedown scored in the third and final round of action. I believe the fight came down to how you scored the very close second round, and while all three judges’ scored it for Lee, I personally gave it to Escudero and had the fight for him 29-28. That said, I do think the round was so close that it could have easily been scored either way. Marcos Rogerio De Lima defeated Clint Hester via first round submission in what was likely a “loser goes home” match-up for the light heavyweight fighters, and to close out the Fight Pass prelims, Walt Harris defeated promotional newcomer Cody East via TKO in the opening stanza. “The Big Ticket” looked impressive with the come from behind win and enjoyed having his hand raised for the first time inside the Octagon. The FOX Sports 1 preliminary card of the evening saw all four contest reach the judges’ scorecards, with James Vick defeating Glaico Franca, Carla Esparza defeating Juliana Lima, Danny Roberts defeating Dominique Steele and Sergio Pettis defeating Chris Kelades. Following 2/3 of finished on Fight Pass, things slowed down on the televised prelims. The featherweights got the Pay Per View main card rolling on a high-note, with Yair Rodriuez scoring a beautiful, highlight-reel, flying karate kick knockout of Team Alpha Male product Andre “Touchy” Fili. The Mexican fighter continues to impress and will now likely draw ranked opposition after recording the biggest win of his professional mixed martial arts career. I have high on Rodriguez and really favored him over Fili in this match-up, as evident in my article for the fight. There was a ton of value to be had there and hopefully you cashed in. Australia’s Robet Whittaker continued to climb up the ranks with his main card win over veteran Rafael Natal, successfully keeping the fight on the feet and outstriking the Brazilian for a unanimous decision victory on the judges’ scorecards. This fight was a lot closer than many expected, but personally, I expected more from Natal and thought he would have a better game-plan going into the fight. Opting to stand and trade with the 25-year old knockout artist for the entirety of the first frame was not a wise move, and his takedown attempts in the second and third were to no avail. I think the fight proved that Whittaker was an overvalued favorite at 3-to-1, but I was wrong about Natal being a good play. This shold have been a fight to avoid betting. The featured bout of the evening came in the lightweight divsion and saw former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis take on Brazilian Muay Thai specialist Edson Barboza. The Brazilian got the better of “Showtime” on the feet over the course of three rounds to pick up a unanimus decision on the judges’ scorecards, handing Pettis his third straight defeat inside the Octagon. UFC’s former 155-pound title holder now finds himself with his back against the wall He will need to avoid a fourth straight loss in his next outing, which will almost surely be in the UFC, as I don’t see him being released following the three consecutive defeats. What else does this mean for Anthony Pettis? I am not quite certain if his chances of earning another shot at 155-pounds are dead, as I don’t think anybody would be shocked to see him go red-hot and put a few big wins together, though truly, I don’t think he will ever earn another shot and if he gets one it would be solely due to name value, a la Faber vs Cruz III. Barboza simply outclassed Pettis en route to picking up the biggest victory of his professional mixed martial arts career. Fight fans eagerly look forward to his next UFC outing. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson made another successful title defense with a first round TKO of then-undefeated Henry Cejudo in the co-main event of the evening. The Olympic gold medalist freestyle wrestler found success with his grappling in the early going of the round but Johnson was able to get the fight back to the feet, where it was only a matter of time until he hurt Cejudo and put him away in one of his most impressive UFC perforances. The main event of the evening saw the return of Jon Jones, as he took on Ovince St Preux in a five round interim-title fight. Cage rust appeared to be a factor for Jones, though it did not keep him from outperforming OSP in all five rounds to earn the unanimous nod from the judges at Octagon-side. “Bones” was hoping to return to action for the Cormier rematch at UFC 200, and as of this morning, it appears he is getting his wish, as the match-up has been reported to serve as the main event for the event.

Written by Gabe Killian

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