DAVID ESTRADA ON MMA: Texas wins in latest UFC showing

Published 12:17 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

The UFC’s return to Texas for its first major event since Houston’s 2015 UFC 166 was a rousing success. UFC 211 held in Dallas last Saturday was the deepest of the year and the bouts reflected the skill of its pool of top competitors.

Two championship bouts were the treat of a fight card that was full of cherries on top.

In the co-main event the 115-pound UFC women’s strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, dispatched yet another challenger, Jessica Andrade, via unanimous decision. Andrade got takedowns on Jedrzejczyk but they were inconsequential with Joanna quickly getting up and back to form. Jedrzejczyk was methodical with her attack going high, middle and low with punches and kicks. She fought a war, not a battle.

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Jedrzejczyk is levels above other competitors in the division and proclaimed in an interview, “I am shooting for superstardom.”

Afterwards in the 265-pound men’s heavyweight main event the gears shifted from first straight to fifth. Champion Stipe Miocic faced former champion Junior dos Santos. The second most revered Cleveland champion (the first being LeBron James), Miocic was the aggressor in the one-sided-bout. From Octagon-side the strawweights’ landed punches sounded strong, but the heavyweights’ in comparison were jackhammers.

Dos Santos had been known to take a licking without getting knocked out throughout his career. However, there is a phenomenon where a fighter with a “strong chin” loses this resiliency and gets knocked out more easily. Examples of such fighters include Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, and Andre Arlovski.

In the first round Miocic buckled Junior dos Santos with a right, something JDS would have withstood in the past, and ended him with a flurry of lefts.

The surprise bout of the night, however, was an absolute war between heavyweight newcomers, Chase Sherman and Dallas native Rashad Coulter. Sherman battered Coulter like mama’s fried chicken in the first round and dropped him in the second. Feeding off his hometown crowd, Coulter battled back landing a left hook and turned the tide with more strikes.

The 17,834 sellout crowd got to their feet. Coulter displayed resiliency but he succumbed to a fight-ending elbow strike by Sherman. The bout was awarded Fight of the Night.

The event had an extraordinary no contest. Former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez fought Dustin Poirier in what was a slugfest. Unfortunately, Alvarez landed a couple of illegal knees to Poirier, who could not continue.

Jersey native Frankie Edgar faced Latin American Ultimate Fighter winner Yair Rodríguez. This bout proved the importance of having a wresting pedigree. Edgar used this discipline to take Rodríguez down at will and control the fight. Fighters from countries such as Mexico, the U.K., and the Netherlands lack this skill and are exposed because of it.

In a pivotal welterweight matchup, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt Demian Maia showed his mastery against the ever-dangerous Jorge Masvidal. We live in an instant gratification society and fans want action now. Maia’s style is meticulous, which is captivating to MMA enthusiasts but not to the casual fan.

Fans booed at perceived inaction but the referee did not pander to the crowd letting the fight go without splitting them up. Maia was relentless with his telegraphed takedowns and submissions and won by judges’ decision.

The victory earned Maia a title shot against current champion Tyron Woodley. In the post fight press conference Maia stated, “You cannot please everyone. … I’d rather die than change my principles.”

This was a win for the sport. Too many times lately animated, trash-talking fighters have gotten title fights with ticket sales in mind. Merit finally defeated flamboyancy.