10 Feb - 
UFC 234: Adesanya vs. Silva results and post-fight analysis

Mookie Alexander recaps and analyzes the action that took place at UFC 234, which sadly didn’t include a middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum.

UFC 234 should’ve featured a middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in the main event, but Whittaker’s latest health problem led to the matchup’s cancellation. We can only wish the safest and fullest of recoveries for Whittaker, who’s twice now withdrawn from PPV shows in Australia due to medical scares.

Alas, the show did go on, and we got a pretty damn quick night of fights thanks to some early finishes and several completely non-competitive contests. In fact, zero underdogs won tonight.

Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva were bumped from co-main to main event status on fight day, and while it was expected that Adesanya would dominate, this was a pretty entertaining battle. Adesanya still clearly won, but Anderson had his moments! Silva showed off a good chin while eating flush shots, dodged some dangerous kicks from Adesanya, and engaged in what I thought was fun gamesmanship. It was high-level stuff that showed that Silva still has something left in the tank, and there was clear mutual respect and admiration in-fight and post-fight. That was really the best possible outcome as a fan of both men. Adesanya got the win, and Silva didn’t get blown out or seriously hurt in there, plus the bout itself was compelling! I imagine some may have found the lack of pure violence within the fight a bit of a bore/disappointment, but hey, everyone has different tastes.

Will that performance net Adesanya a title shot? Does he leap over Kelvin Gastelum? Will he and Gastelum fight for an interim title? I’m sure we’ll have those questions answered soon. One thing I do know if that while Adesanya is on a path to greatness, Silva gave us some reminders of what a joy he was to watch in his prime, and that he is one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time. A credit to both men for giving the fans a show on a day that started off with bad news.

More thoughts on UFC 234:

Main Card

  • You are not the champion, Kelvin Gastelum. Maybe one day, but you’re not the champion. This was lame.
  • Someone please tell Dominick Cruz it’s not “reckless abandonment.”
  • “Groovy” Lando Vannata was elevated to co-main event due to the last minute change, and he was able to tap Marcos Mariano out with a kimura just before round one ended. Even better? He did it without getting into a war, too! Mariano, who looks a bit like his friend Anderson Silva, showed nothing off of his back, and Vannata had little resistance on the mat. Good for Vannata, who gets just his second UFC win, and he called for a fight with Jim Miller, someone he says he has great respect for.
  • Ricky Simon scored a pair of knockdowns, and had impenetrable takedown defense on his way to a shutout decision over veteran grappler Rani Yahya. This was somewhere in the range of a “good-bad fight” on MMA Depressed-Us, but it was no doubt compelling. Simon even got hurt in round two but then planted Yahya on the ground with a shoulder. Seriously. That shuts down Yahya’s feint hopes of a title run, while the mullet-sporting Simon has quietly won eight straight.
  • I don’t want to totally downplay from flyweight Montana De La Rosa’s easy and dominant second-round armbar win over Nadia Kassem, but Kassem shouldn’t be on a pay-per-view main card. Her spot on the UFC roster is borderline, at best. She is an extremely raw prospect who looked embarrassingly overwhelmed in there. De La Rosa did damn near whatever she wanted, and now she’s got three finishes inside the Octagon.
  • Jim Crute opened the PPV with a first-round TKO of Sam Alvey, but not without controversy. Firstly, Crute shouldn’t have channeled his inner Mark Hunt, because that wasn’t walkoff worthy. The controversy stems from what Alvey believed was a premature stoppage by Marc Goddard, as Crute threw several ground strikes to the side of Alvey’s head, but he gave the thumbs-up signal, and was immediately protesting the call at the end of the fight. Even if you disagreed with the stoppage, Alvey has now been badly rocked in his last two fights, and the record will say TKO losses on both occasions.

Preliminary Card

  • I really like up-and-coming lightweight talent Devonte Smith. He is stupidly quick and powerful, as Dong Hyun Ma found out. Another first-round knockout for Smith, who’s now 2-0 in his promising UFC career. He’s an entertaining fighter and based on his post-fight interview, an entertaining personality.
  • Featherweight prospect Shane Young ended all three rounds strongly against Austin Arnett, even getting a knockdown in the final round when Arnett wanted to trade real heavy leather with him, and he got a deserved decision.
  • Flyweights Kai Kara-France and Raulian Paiva engaged in a very competitive scrap with plenty of big shots landed by both men. Kara-France got the split decision, and it’s certainly a fight that could’ve gone either way. Hopefully the UFC doesn’t cut Paiva after his debut, especially given the increasingly obvious plans that men’s 125 is going away.
  • Bantamweights Kyung Ho Kang and Teruto Ishihara were in slugfest mode for much of round one, with Kang suffering a knockdown, but he would later hurt Ishihara multiple times with powerful shots, get a takedown, and put Ishihara to sleep with a rear-naked choke. Fun fight, but it might be the end of Ishihara’s UFC career, as he’s lost five of six.
  • On the Fight Pass prelims — yes, they still exist — bantamweight Jonathan Martinez and lightweight (!) Jalin Turner picked up their respective first UFC wins. Martinez outgrappled Wuliji Buren on his way to a decision, while Turner smoked short notice replacement Callan Potter in 53 seconds.