The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of UFC 229

By Anthony Walker Oct 7, 2018
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

* * *

The Ultimate Fighting Championship brought UFC 229 to Las Vegas on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. With it came some good, some bad and plenty of ugly.

THE GOOD


The future looks bright after UFC 229. The calamity after the bell may be what gets all the headlines, but the UFC has many good things to look forward to, with much of the talent on display being in two divisions that desperately need it. Derrick Lewis and Dominick Reyes can be bright spots for their respective and unimaginably thin weight classes.

Lewis proved just how good heavyweight fights can be with his improbable come-from-behind win over former Bellator MMA and M-1 Global champion Alexander Volkov. Lewis is now sitting on a three-fight winning streak and is undoubtedly a part of the title picture. While he dismissed the idea after the fight and said he wanted to improve upon the cardio that troubled him against Volkov, there’s no way his fan-friendly style, personality and recent success won’t be in the minds of matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard when it comes time to map out the division.

Even with the belt likely tied up -- Daniel Cormier is waiting for Brock Lesnar to be reinstated from his United States Anti-Doping Agency suspension, and Jon Jones could possibly muscle his way to the front of the line -- there’s no way Lewis’ next outing won’t have a premier spot on a big card. Expect the Houston native to walk out to more classic H-Town hip hop and drop the fight-kit trunks on another big show in the near future.

The landscape at light heavyweight has been desolate. With Cormier rumored to be stripped of half of his UFC championship belt collection and many older names being recycled in the Top 10, Reyes is a breath of fresh air. He used his incredible athleticism and increasingly devastating striking skills to do away with Ovince St. Preux. This win translates into the Victorville, California, native remaining undefeated and successfully making a big leap in competition.

St. Preux has been a mainstay at 205 pounds since 2013 and has enjoyed some great moments in his career. Beating him in that fashion cements Reyes as a force to be reckoned with and opens the door to several fresh matchups that are sorely needed.

THE BAD


First, let’s celebrate Aspen Ladd. She has proven herself a top prospect with her destruction of Tonya Evinger. Ladd, like Reyes, has positioned herself nicely with a win over an established veteran and can make waves in the women’s bantamweight division. However, Evinger’s tenure in the UFC receives the bad label for UFC 229.

Evinger’s time in the UFC so far has been rough, to say the least. This is the second time in as many fights that she has lost via technical knockout. There’s no shame in losing to Cristiane Justino, especially when she’s not a natural featherweight. There’s no shame in losing to a clearly skilled and dangerous undefeated fighter like Ladd. However, it’s a shame that UFC fans haven’t seen a glimpse of the dominance Evinger showed while defending the Invicta Fighting Championships title multiple times. At her best, Evinger is tough as nails and relentless, known for brutal finishes and a grueling pace. It’s unclear whether or not this is actually the beginning of the end for the longtime veteran. Perhaps the devastating knee injuries she has been battling are still an issue.

At 37 years old, it’s very possible Evinger’s best days are behind her. However, until we see her return to action, we won’t know. In the meantime, let’s not forget what she has already accomplished and appreciate Ladd for a job well done.

THE UGLY


This is too easy. If you have any doubts as to what was ugly about UFC 229, then you either don’t have access to any telecommunications or you turned off the TV immediately after Conor McGregor tapped to the fourth-round neck crank from Khabib Nurmagomedov.

What happened after the violence was legal was easily the ugliest thing that has ever occurred in our sport. We’ve had shady characters, domestic abusers, rapists and even murderers walk into the Octagon. To be perfectly clear, there has been far worse behavior surrounding the sport. Throwing a dolly into a bus filled with unsuspecting fighters is much worse than the brawl we just witnessed. However, this is one of the rare times when the reckless criminality happened in the arena with cameras rolling. Even the aforementioned bus incident that was previously the flashpoint for the realest feud in mixed martial arts history occurred away from the eyeballs of the world, although the UFC choose to feature it prominently in promotion of the event.

This was without a doubt one of the biggest events in the history of mixed martial arts. On a night when the entire world was watching, MMA put its absolute worst on display. On any given Saturday, at any given random fight night card in the middle of nowhere, this would have been terrible. The fact that UFC 229 garnered more attention than any other had in the past only magnifies the negativity.

As the UFC moves closer to the prestige of mainstream sports with the forthcoming ESPN broadcasting deal -- a fact that UFC President Dana White was keen to mention at the post-fight press conference -- this is simply not what is needed. Let’s not forget that the Strikeforce-CBS partnership was given a death blow by the melee between Jason Miller and the Cesar Gracie team in Nashville, Tennessee in 2010.

The Nevada Athletic Commission has been historically intolerant of similar actions. Nevada didn’t hesitate to fine and suspend Mike Tyson for a year for the infamous ear biting that incited a brawl of its own. White did not rule out the possibility of stripping Nurmagomedov if the NAC chooses to hand out a lengthy suspension. This is a likely scenario that would once again add uncertainty and confusion to already muddled title picture immediately after the lightweight division was given a long-awaited air of clarity.

While the story that will be told on your favorite non-MMA sports news source will likely start with Nurmagomedov diving out of the cage to confront Bellator fighter and McGregor teammate Dillon Danis, let’s not forget the ugliness that led up to this. The cultural insults, taunts about family, unsanctioned violence and bully-like intimidation tactics make this far from an isolated incident, even if the promotion treats it like such.

White was reluctant to acknowledge the dangers of crossing certain boundaries when promoting a fight. He even doubled down on the idea of using the bus footage and said he would do it all over again, so in case the stars align for Nurmagomedov and McGregor to cross paths again, expect to see clips of the ruckus woven into commercials for that rematch. It sells tickets and it can be fun to watch, but these are real possibilities when playing so close to sacred lines.

Comments

Comments powered by Disqus
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>