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Painful Reality

UFC News - Spittin' Cap

A spread of pain dropped down to cause destruction in Jersey, creating some painful realities after UFC 302's curtain close. Pain for the warriors that took part, as well as pain for those who root those warriors on. Some pain negative, some pain sad, and some pain withstood in order to reach triumph. The newfound realities have a similar circle of different emotions. All stemmed off the square root of pain. Pain of possibly seeing an all-time great put it all on the line one final time. Pain of broken limbs. Pain of war with a killmonger. Pain of competition. The battlefield left most of the warriors facing a different reality moving forward. I'll break those down in more depth on this read.

UFC 302 Aftermath

The event all-in-all was quite lackluster. We certainly were blessed with some solid pros, but the cons were quite nasty. The action inside the cage was solid across the card- the most important pro. If you are like me, and actually enjoy all elements of mixed-martial-arts, then you should have been left quite pleased. Sure, there was zero knockouts, but the subby game was poppin' off. We also experienced some solid chess matches; game-plans and style played a big part for those who won. I expected some more noise on the main-card, specifically the co-main event, but the noise meter kept me content (higher % of you are never happy regardless). On top of the action inside the Octagon, the hype was fun; we witnessed a legendary pop for a certain former president; the crowd was solid; and the main-event brought the noise. So what was left to be angry about?

The judging across the entirety of the event was the worst that I have seen. I wish I was exaggerating. It was nasty. Just continues to pile up for this beloved sport. I want Dave Tirelli banned and forbidden from ever judging MMA competition at this level again. Tirelli ruling Costa to be the victor 49-46 literally put my jaw on the floor for a minute and a half. I was nothing short of floored. Appalled beyond all belief. The clown also went 29-28 in the opening fight for Raposo, while his two colleagues each went 30-27 for the winner, Andre Lima. That was a banger of an opening fight by the way, but also the start of what ended up to be a night of hell in regards to the scoring table.

That Costa ruling was real nasty. One I will never wrap my head around. I also can't comprehend how these judges can occasionally rule a fight with a complete 360 opinion from their colleague(s). It's not even on occasion anymore. It's every card; damn near every main-event or top fight as well. I can write a whole piece on Sal D'Amato. That cat either gets it right, or he turns into an utter blind fool (suspicious hmm..). He drives me mental. D'Amato is usually the culprit of having a complete 360 ruling from the other scores. This crap has to stop. I really hate commissions. I am well aware on why the UFC (TKO) has their hands tied in being forced to fold to using commissions, doesn't mean I won't speak my public hate for them. They suck! 49-46 Costa!? Nasty work.

Thankfully, the judges didn't strike their venom on the opening fight of the main-card, nor did they fang the second fight; which also went the distance. The only two fights on the card that had the three judges lock in the same score-card. The opening fight was a real solid bout between Rude Boy and Dos Santos. It's odd people degrade it. The second fight warrants degrade- not the first. I enjoyed the fight. Big win for Randy Brown. The second fight was a tough watch due to Alex Morono's lackluster cardio work, but Kevin Holland swooped in to keep the stove hot with a FLAWLESS arm-breakin' first-round sub dub over Oleksiejczuk. From being close to getting finished, to flipping the switch with a flawless arm-bar... should have tapped man, should have tapped:

video via realkevink//X

Snap she goes. It takes major resiliency to flip a knockdown into a sub attempt within milliseconds. The grandest defense mechanism there is. Snake-like. Holland trumps Oleksiejczuk from activating fight finishing ground-n-pound to place him deep into a fatal trap. Doing so in the midst of fighting through cob webs in the dome. Elite mixed-martial-arts. Holland showin' it in full display, which enticed the two victors in the closing acts to follow his display by going beyond it.

Sean Strickland goes full seeker mode on Paulo Costa

Sean Strickland's win over Paulo Costa was a golden example of elite mixed-martial-arts. I find it really odd and annoying to see Strickland receive the degrade that he has regarding his path to victory. It was a flawless performance by Sean to weather the storm of Costa to create his own fight. Boring? Bad style? You lot sure that you like mixed-martial arts? Strickland showed a true display of MMA! I'm talkin' highest level type of display. Unreal defense, spacing, pace, and game-plan. I can see old heads who only talk about Don Frye havin' a gripe on it... If you want nothing but blood and gore- go watch old ECW clips or something. MMA is special due to it's many different displays of art and sport.

Strickland's IQ and ability to adjust in a fight is unmatched. Sean knew it was only a matter of time until his leg would be compromised if he continued to allow Costa to chop at it. The adjustment? Using a rare approach and style to alter the vibe of the fight. To shift the control fully in his favor. People laughing, trolling, or being upset about the style is beyond me. I thought it was brilliant. Just look at the result. Strickland kept his trademark stance and pressure, but added elevation to his lead leg to create constant offense as well as a ready and able leg-check defense mechanism. It literally took Costa's game-plan, rippled it up, and threw it in the trash-bin. The pressure and constant body shots with the front leg put Costa in quicksand. Eliminating his power and any success in the fight. The cat didn't know what to do. So he just back-pedaled and circled, back-pedaled and circled (that's what ya need to be butthurt about). Strickland was in full-seeker mode. Guiding towards his goal, one step at a time. One kick at a time. Instead of using the jab, Strickland jabbed with his lead leg. It was brilliant. Here is a visual example:

video via AmritICT//X -- footage via Zuffa LLC

The stance seems like it wouldn't work, but when you have that constant pressure forward- it works to elite standards. Costa could do nothing but gas out. Going backwards like that was fatal. Strickland's game-plan was second to none. Crazy thing is... it may not have been his OG game-plan going into the bout. The cat is that smart of a fighter. Costa made significant damage to Strickland's base with just a few opening shots. Adjusting led Sean to a cruising victory, but more importantly it kept him from meeting mister mayhem. This is the effect the stance had on checking Costa's leg strikes:

video via @lookatmyopinion//X

Just beautiful work. There is so many beautiful elements in MMA, it's not all about flat-lining a guy. Defense is electric too! Seeing fight IQ to that level is electric. I'm a sucker for this sport. It's kickass we are fortunate enough to see so many different kind of styles in the game; so many different routes to glory. Strickland literally was doing audibles like he was Peyton Manning. It was stellar to watch. We saw Costa go straight at the likes of Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold, but witnessed him do the complete opposite against Strickland. Things get different when you go up against intelligent; well-rounded fighters like Rob Whittaker and Sean Strickland. Fighters who can use defense to create offense. It's not like Costa was losing confidence against the strong defense, he just simply didn't know how to attack around it. That's why they say there is levels. It's not just a slogan to sell tee-shirts. It's factual language. One punch power can only bring you so far. Need to have a bag. You have pack-a-punch, but need a few more perks activated to pass the hardest levels. Hats off to Sean Strickland. We will need that Dricus rematch and stat, cha heard.

Islam Makhachev retains his UFC Lightweight belt

All hail the king. Islam remains in his throne after the war of his reign to this point (well outside of Volk 1). A war against a lion that needed the full arsenal in order to slay. Makhachev went to the depths of war before puttin' the nail in The Diamond's coffin via a gorgeous D'Arce in the 5th round. The title defense helped prove the king's place atop the mountain; showed just how elite his game is; and the defense creates many new questions regarding the 155 division moving forward into the future.

The champ earned himself a double-bonus for fight of the night, and performance of the night (1 of 2 handed out). Makhachev also earned a lot of respect across the masses (don't mind Dana, I see what he is doing). The cat outboxed Dustin freakin' Poirier; one of the best, if not the best boxer in all of UFC. People getting mad on reading that sentence are weird. I have been seeing that all over X. Islam is not a better boxer than Poirier, but on Saturday night he was. Plain and simple. I was shocked at that revelation as it played out, but I won't sit here and disregard the fact of the matter. You all must still be shocked too with how you hide around the fact in stone. Checkout a mix of Islam proving his game:

video via @schwick6//X

Not only did he out-box DP, but he out-struck him in all facets. Makhachev's knee usage was well calculated and a big factor as he landed some big-time body shots to set up his combinations and attack. The performance all-around by the champion was elite. Islam had to dig deep. The deepest to date. Poirier was right there at the front door. It was no landslide. Islam may have had the best striking performance of his championship reign... that I didn't see coming against the brass of Poirier. He out-landed Poirier 147-104, landing 56% of his strikes, and finished with an 80% clip from distance. Flawless execution all-around to defend the gold successfully for the champ. It was no small feat; he had to go deep into the bag; pulling off all the stops to secure a finish of The Diamond.

The title run for Makhachev is beginning to prove the type of chin he has. Poirier being the biggest testament to that. Throughout the fight, it still felt DP could land a devastating blow. That didn't strike any fear in the champion. King's defence wasn't complete until he completed his kill. His new true way as the win marks eight finishes in his last nine fights. The kill was long and earned. Poirier's takedown defense was incredible, and his chin was in war-mode. Plus the clock was ticking in the fifth and final round. Islam went deep into the bag, pulling off a FILTHY ankle-pick twister to jump the top and find the fight-finishing D'Arce:

video via @PrestigePrince9

Such a nasty move. All the many routes to victory- that surely is one of the sweetest. Smooth as butter. That can be said for his entire performance. Withstood the most damage faced in his career, faced dangerous smoke with Poirier footed; ready to drop the power left, and faced strong takedown defense. All the makings for an upset. I was thoroughly impressed in the champs' performance to trump it. He extends his win-streak to 14 which surpasses his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov's historic 13-fight win streak at lightweight. Islam ties Khabib, BJ Penn, Benson Henderson, and Frankie Edgar for most UFC lightweight title defenses (3) of all-time. His 4-fight span of winning the title and defending three successful times may outweigh Khabib's 4-fight span:

Islam Makhachev's title reign compared to Khabib Nurmagomedov's

It's been an epic run since claiming the gold for Makhachev. My opinions on him have changed drastically throughout the run. Islam is a different breed. I think it's arguably a better span compared to Khabib, with the two Volk fights being the decider. Personally, I think he has cleared Khabib in general (still undecided relax). May be controversial to some, but come on with it. Beating Oliveira to win the strap was a massive feat; one that doesn't get near the credit it should. Olives was DOGGIN. The most confident and dangerous fighter on the planet in that moment of time. Oliveira was ridin' an 11-fight win streak and had ran through a FIERCE gauntlet of Chandler-Poirier-Gaethje- finishing them all. Islam went in and defanged the snake, gutting many fight fans across the globe. Islam then defends the strap for the first time against the pound-for-pound king Alexander Volkanovski; beating him in a chess match for the ages.

Makhachev's case only gets stronger from there. The second defense against Volk was one of the more ballsiest defenses in UFC history. It took major grit for Islam to accept Volk again on short notice, after having a full camp for a different opponent, and after having won against Volk in the most difficult fight of his career. To knock him out in thunderous fashion was the cherry on top. First man to ever flat-line Volk in the UFC (only the 2nd man ever to KO him). Now Islam successfully defends against a dangerous gladiator with nothing to lose. A gladiator who was seeking his third and final crack at gold. Overcoming the obstacles to continue to reign supreme. Makhachev is that cat. I can't diss him anymore. He's earned my respect; and a newfound evaluation of his game. Khabib couldn't strike like Islam. On the feet that is. The GNP is heavy to Khabib- all other striking scales over to Islam's side. Makhachev just continues his evolution. Just when you think he has hit the peak- he continues to climb higher. Adding elite striking on the feet is scary for that division... and other divisions. Excited to see who's next to challenge for the throne. All hail King Islam, cha heard.

Dustin Poirier eyes retirement after tough UFC 302 loss

Remaining champion was a painful reality for Makhachev; he was sure sore the next morning after another war of a title defense. Wasn't near the pain of Poirier's reality. A moment of silence for Dustin Poirier, whom points at UFC 302 being the final time the Octagon would feel his presence. The final time an arena would take in his aura. If it was the final time; if he surely is ready to start the next life- then it's been one helluva honor to watch Dustin Poirier compete. Perhaps the greatest non-title winning UFC fighter ever.

Dustin's reality is a tough pill. Poirier was unable to become a UFC champion in his third and final opportunity. Gutting for one of the hardest working cats in any room. A warrior who dedicated his life and career to have the chance to be a champion wrapped in UFC gold (he did win interim gold). Third time was not the charm. A very difficult failure to take in. Poirier was always right there; capable of winning all three opportunities. He just ran into three of the nastiest champions possible: peak Khabib, peak Oliveira, peak Makhachev. Poirier had chances to win in each; just couldn't get it done. Instead, he gets tapped out in all three attempts; making up three of the four submission losses in his luxurious career.

When I say Makhachev "out-boxed" Poirier, that doesn't define a blowout or landslide by ANY means. It was a close and competitive fight. As all fights are regarding DP. I am no Chris Lee (3rd judge), who had the fight scored 38-38 prior to the sub. That's wild; I had it 3-1 Makhachev. A 3-1 score doesn't always mean it's a cruise! The rounds were close- Makhachev was just more superior. Bottom line. Poirier had a chance to find a finish in the 5th round as well- Islam was more superior. Gotta give it to Poirier. The gameplan was solid.

Poirier lacked the execution to throw Islam off his path. The takedown defense was lights out good by DP. Lights out good. Which makes the loss sting even more. To have that kind of success against Islam's strongest tool & not come out victorious is gutting. Poirier's patience and game-plan was in perfect alignment. I have one real blame for his loss. Something I'd like to address. What the hell is up with the short grabbing? Poirier has done that in the past in spurts and it was like "ehh whatever". The cat SPAMMED it against Islam. Dustin was dead*** grabbin' his shorts every five to ten seconds it felt. I can rewatch the fight and count, and it will be a ridiculously high value of short pulls. What is up with that?

Pulling on his shorts that much throws of his hand placement. Throws off his focus. Throws off his execution. It's very odd. It's like a basketball player constantly pulling his shorts up on defense. Like big dawg, that's not going to make you play better defense. Usually a ballhandler will time when they do that and slash the paint. It's a huge flaw that becomes one of the first branches of coaching. Like in boxing when you have a bad habit of bringing your hand down from your cheek; allowing the window to open for your opponent. I think it was Poirier's kryptonite. It's a fatal flaw, especially with how many times he did it. Not sure if it's a bad habit, or a psychological trigger. He does it when he isn't loose or when he is releasing a high dose of energy. The elite boxing of Poirier comes when he is formed and driven forward. Not erratic and spacy.

Tough loss for The Diamond. Not sure how the game will be with him not actively in it. Poirier is without a doubt one of the biggest attractions of his generation. One of the best warriors of his generation as well. If Justin Gaethje didn't take claim to the nickname; DP would be the guy considered "The Highlight" (it's definitely Gaethje's after the KO). Poirier delivered a slew of classic wars and a reel of special moments. I will never forget his pointing of the canvas challenge in the depth of war with Max Holloway:

One of the best warriors in UFC history. A pure gamer. Oh, the cat could also really-really fight. If he decides retirement is in stone; the masses will sure have a void. I respect his decision if that's his path. This is what Dustin had to say to Joe Rogan regarding retirement, in his post-Octagon interview:

Dustin Poirier contemplates retirement

Poirier is 35 with a family. He also has been in some major wars and works his tail off day in, and day out for most of the year. If he can't fight for the title and is content financially and with his morale- then why fight? I getcha. It's sad; the game will sure miss him. Poirier was a complete joy to watch inside the Octagon. The energy, the brass, the skill; man he was a special fighter. It's a shame he didn't win that strap, but that's the game. Poirier will walk right into the UFC Hall of Fame, no problem. I'm going to miss the Diamond's energy:

video via MMAMania//X

Updated UFC Men's Pound-For-Pound List - Spittin' Cap

I didn't have too many changes to either one of the pound-for-pound list after 302. I did feel obligated to reward Strickland in the latter of the top-ten. I had some changes in the thirties as well. Here is my current Men's top-15:

Updated UFC Men's Pound-For-Pound List - Spittin' Cap
Updated UFC Men's Pound-For-Pound List - Spittin' Cap

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