UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux post-fight results and analysisGet the Full StoryMookie Alexander recaps and analyzes all of the action that happened at UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC 197 is all finished, and the card as a whole felt a bit uneven. There were some entertaining moments, not a lot of entertaining fights, and I think it's safe to say the star of tonight's card was Demetrious Johnson more on that later . Jon Jones is the UFC interim LHW title with a decision win over Ovince Saint Preux. By his own admittance, Jones said it took him awhile to pull the trigger, and we didn't actually see him commit to takedowns until the 4th round. He took OSP's best shots and threw his usual amount of spinning attacks and brutal body shots, but it was a clunky sort of fight that had little rhythm to it.
I've read a lot of comments suggesting that this version of Jones loses to Cormier, which is quite possible, but I also don't think Jones would fight Cormier or Rumble the same way he fought a very different style of opponent on less than 3 weeks notice. This is the tough read when you analyze short-notice fights, particularly when one of the combatants last competed in a UFC fight in January 2015. Not everybody can be Dominick Cruz. Jones probably could've finished OSP in round 4 but didn't, and I'm sure this fight will resonate in the minds of fans who believe that Jon is looking very vulnerable heading into a Cormier rematch. Alternatively, you can say that Jones didn't suffer any injuries while not performing at his highest level, shook off the cobwebs against a credible opponent, still won comfortably, and has now put himself in a position to headline UFC 200, should Cormier also be ready to fight by then.
But let's leave Jones aside and talk about the UFC's awe-inspiring dynamo. Demetrious Johnson was taken down by Henry Cejudo, and then the Olympic gold medalist was crumpled on the canvas in incredible pain about a minute later. Johnson's dangerous clinch striking had Cejudo badly hurt, particularly the knees and the elbows. The flyweight champ finished things off with a beautiful knee to the body to give him his 8th successful title defense. Cejudo got destroyed by the master. Yeah, I'm fine with calling him #1 P4P in the world. Best fighter ever, as Joe Rogan proclaims? How dare he disrespect Ilir Latifi that way? But seriously, Mighty Mouse is no doubt one of the best fighters to ever step foot in an MMA cage, and it is a pleasure to watch him easily defeat high-level competition on a consistent basis.
More thoughts on tonight's card:
Daniel Cormier was the guest commentator and I thought he did a really good job on the Fight Pass fights. The obvious conflict over who he wanted to win the main event made things a little tougher for him when Jones OSP rolled around, but the UFC has a nice staple of active and retired fighters who have molded themselves into quality analysts.
All the respect in the world to OSP for taking this fight on short notice. He's a top 10 guy who's not at the level of DC Jones Rumble Teixeira Gustafsson, but a very solid fighter overall who has made serious strides since Strikeforce.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez 3 or that TUF 24 thing, pending the reason behind the tryouts cancellation is probably next. Honestly, this flyweight title is Mighty Mouse's to lose until his skills decline, and that could be a really long time from now. He's way ahead of the established talents, and prospects like Horiguchi, Smolka, and Scoggins need more time to develop into bona fide championship caliber fighters.
Edson Barboza turned Anthony Pettis' left thigh into Barney the Dinosaur levels of purple. The fight wasn't close. Pettis wanted to fight a striker and got thoroughly outstruck. Barboza turned in a superb performance to secure a top 5 ranking, and Pettis, rather unthinkably, has lost 3 in a row. It's hard to see Pettis ever returning to championship form. Those days are gone, and I feel that the numerous injuries and surgeries have played a significant part in that. Also, lightweight's a shark tank, and once you dip in form, you're not likely to ever return to the top.
I ran Bloody Elbow Twitter tonight, and during this fight, I got bombarded with "Post-USADA Pettis" remarks because he's 0-2 since it was fully implemented. Please, I beg of you guys, STOP doing this so much. It's become the laziest go-to for explaining why certain fighters have dropped off, and it's driving me insane.
Robert Whittaker improved to 4-0 at middleweight with a decision win over Rafael Natal, whose best offense all night was busting up Whittaker's lead leg with a series of hard leg kicks. That said, Whittaker stuffed all the takedowns, hurt Natal several times with punches, and then rocked him with a flush head kick at the end of round 3. Somehow Natal didn't go out, which is a credit to his chin. Joe Rogan had this fight way closer than it actually was.
Yair Rodriguez is an outstanding talent. The 23-year-old TUF Latin America winner destroyed Andre Fili with a beautiful flying roundhouse kick in the 2nd round, giving him his first finish in the UFC in some style. That will be a surefire KOTY candidate when 2016 is all said and done. Rodriguez is exciting, marketable, young, and should be the face of Mexican MMA in the long-term, not Cain Velasquez.
Sergio Pettis shutout Chris Kelades to get himself to 5-2 in the UFC. He's not as exciting as his older brother is, but he's a clear top 15 flyweight with solid fundamentals, and while he's not near title contention now, he could do with some more seasoning and Kelades type of matchups for the next few fights.
Danny Roberts and Dominique Steele had a grueling, back-and-forth fight, but Roberts picked up the unanimous decision win. The crowd disagreed with the decision, and I had it 29-28 Steele, but can see an argument for giving Roberts the 3rd and decisive round. As a whole, both men were rocked multiple times, Roberts had a strong 2nd round after being dropped early in the 1st, but there was very little to separate these two.
Carla Esparza used takedowns and minimal ground-and-pound damage to beat Juliana Lima in an utterly dreadful fight. Not much to analyze here beyond the obvious point that Esparza is a long long long ways away from a rematch vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
James Vick picked apart Glaico Franca in rounds 2-3 to win a unanimous decision and remain undefeated in his MMA career. The big moment in the fight was Vick poking Franca in the eye towards the end of round 1, and Dan Miragliotta didn't see it. Vick just had his way with Franca from range for the rest of the fight, and Franca also was unable to mount any serious offense with his takedowns.
On the Fight Pass prelims, Kevin Lee used his wrestling and top game in round 3 to secure a unanimous decision over Efrain Escudero. It wasn't a great performance, but at least Lee got the W to avoid a two-fight losing streak. Marcos Rogerio De Lima literally didn't absorb a single strike in his blowout win over Clint Hester, whose 205 debut may also mean the end of his UFC career. Lastly, Walt Harris drilled Cody East with a left hand and then busted him up with ground-and-pound to send yet another Lookin' For a Fight prospect to a UFC defeat.