UFC 197 Breakdown: The Return of the Twitch King

As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed UFC 197. The preliminary bouts didn't fully meet my expectations. A ton of decisions and not enough action. However, this event presented one of the most entertaining main cards I've seen in a while. It successfully told stories about failure, legacy and accomplishment. Today, I'll be briefly talking about the three biggest fights of the night. Before we talk about those bouts, I'd quickly like to shout out Yair Rodriguez for getting a killer knockout and Walt Harris for finally getting his interview with Rogan. With that being said, let's talk about UFC 197.

Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza

Going into this fight, I was expecting fireworks. Both guys are some of the hardest strikers in the lightweight division. I was picturing a battle full of crazy combinations, kicks and an eventual KO. That did not happen.

I'm not taking anything away from the contest. It was extremely tactical and hard fought. At the end, Edson Barboza won in a pretty clear unanimous decision. What was his key? He never allowed Pettis to get going. Anthony just didn't feel comfortable out there. Some can say it is because he was nervous, but I think it's a result of Barboza’s gameplan. From the very beginning, he stuck to fundamentals. Whenever Pettis attempted to start something, Edson would counter with an incredibly fast jab and an overhand hook. At times it would connect, at times it wouldn't. The important thing is that Pettis didn't land any major strikes.

However, something that did land are leg kicks. Seriously, Edson went in on Showtime’s left leg. Over and over. Countless, vicious leg kicks that left Pettis tight looking rather purple. By the time the bell rang, there was a clear winner, and his name was Edson Barboza.

You have to be happy for Edson. He went in with a killer gameplan, and it worked. But a part of me feels really bad for Anthony. If we're being honest, this was a make or break moment for him. If he wanted to remain as a title contender, he had to win this fight. This is his third consecutive loss. Something has to change. Now.

Thankfully, it has been reported that Pettis is switching gyms, going to Jackson's, home of Jon Jones, Holly Holm, and Donald Cerrone. I think this is a smart, necessary change if he wants to regain the killer instinct. As for Edson, he's sitting in a good spot. Not quite ready for the next title shot. But another big victory could send him to the front of the line. I would like to see him face the loser of the upcoming RDA vs. Eddie Alvarez title fight.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo

The first out of two title fights, Johnson vs. Cejudo had me shaking from the very beginning. Like usual, UFC's production team did an excellent job promoting Cejudo as DJ's toughest title defense. Particularly, they really went home with the "Olympic Gold Medalist" shtick. Well, like Demetrious said after the fight: there are thousands of Olympic medalists, but there is only one Flyweight champion.

If you read my preview, you know that I had Johnson winning it. However, I expected a closer fight. Johnson dominated in every field. And that's not taking anything away from Henry. He's an amazing wrestler with solid boxing. Sadly, he was facing one of the best fighters of all time. DJ is an elite competitor in every aspect of the MMA game. On the ground, on your feet, he's probably going to smash you. In this contest, he displayed his sensational Muay Thai skills.

From the very beginning, DJ did his thing, pushing forward and staying on Henry's face. After the initial exchanges, Cejudo took Demetrious down. This was the decisive moment. How would Demetrious escape the grip of a wrestler with such credentials? By putting his feet on Henry's hips and pushing him up. I was surprised by how easily he escaped. Just like that, it was back to the feet. It didn't take long before they engaged in the clinch, and that's when everything change.

During the post-fight press conference, Cejudo revealed that his gameplan was to clinch as often as possible. In his head, that was the only area in which he was superior to the champion. Well, it wasn't true. As soon as the clinch began, Mighty Mouse began to land some brutal knees to the body. In different sections, using a variety of angles. It was a stunning thing to watch. After some time, he landed a brutal knee to the head that rocked him. Cejudo ended up dropping to the ground, and the fight was over.

If anything was made clear by this, it is the fact that the champion is on another level. He has defeated the best fighter in the planet, some of them twice. There's no stopping him. Most fans want to see him go up and challenge Dominick Cruz. I might be in the minority, but I actually want him to stay in his division until he surpasses Anderson Silva for most title defenses. He's not far off, it clearly is important to him, and he honestly deserves it. After that, I would die to see Johnson vs. Cruz 2. As for Cejudo, he still has a long career. The first loss is always hard, but I'm sure he'll come back looking stronger than ever.

Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux

Finally, we get to the main event. And after Demetrious' show stealing performance, this was quite lackluster. When Jones was coming out to "Coming Home", it felt like something special was happening. There was that "something legendary is about to take place" vibe. And while we saw some glimpses of Jones' greatness, this is probably the most ordinary he's ever looked since his UFC debut.

Before the fight, we knew that Saint Preux's biggest asset was his KO power. If he could hit Jones with the right punch, his hand would be getting raised. And that's where Jones triumphed: he was composed and patient. He never put himself in a bad position;for the most part, he avoided the big shots.

I definitely saw some ring rust in Jones' part. He wasn't as aggressive as he usually is. Bones said it himself: he was able to see the openings, but he wasn't taking them. So this was five rounds of Jon dominating, without doing an enormous amount of damage. Unfortunately for OSP, he broke his arm when Jon kicked him in the second round. After that, he was more focused on not getting finished, and his confidence significantly decreased.

Having said that, was I impressed by Jones' performance? Not really. To an extent, I wasn't expecting to be blown away. When you've been out for so long, and you're one victory away from getting to fight the guy you hate the most in the most important bout of your career, you might want to play it safe. It's time to focus on Daniel Cormier. As for OSP, I think he came out looking better than he did before he stepped into the octagon. He survived 5 rounds against the best fighter of all time, with a broken limb. I expect him to get a top 15 guy.

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