In what some deemed the craziest week in combat sports history, especially for the UFC, actually ended up producing some very good action, all things considered.
Quietly behind all the UFC 223 turmoil and earlier in the week, boxing losing its biggest bout of the year due to a failed drug test, Bellator Budapest proved to be a good one two card of high level MMA and Kickboxing. Seeing NCAA standout Ed Ruth make a dominant debut at 170, one weight class down, solidified the staple of high level wrestling recruits this organization is building upon. The MMA portion was capped off with two former UFC standouts in Benson Henderson vs Roger Huerta. Seeing former UFC lightweight champ Benson stay true to his word and come out aggressive after a shaky start in Bellator, was refreshing. Benson seemed to channel his old self with forward aggression and a variety of attacks and had no problem finishing what seems to be a shop worn Huerta who was once literally the UFC posterboy and was the first MMA athlete on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I am not back on the Benson bandwagon just yet considering his previous 3 uninspired fights in Bellator and the caliber of opponent in this bout but it looks promising. As for the kickboxing card that followed the MMA card, seeing Raymond Daniels continue to be a living video game is always a good time. It only leads me to wonder, can and will he do it in MMA one day?
UFC 223, where do I begin? What started as a cancelled lightweight title fight and climaxed with Connor Mcgregor battling a bus and ultimately becoming the culprit for 4 fight cancellations, UFC 223 was entertaining for what it ended up being. Talks of Khabib being exposed after putting a one sided beating on a fringe top ten contender on a 24 hour notice and being in the middle of all the pre-fight turmoil is ludicrous. He proved his dominance even more so considering the circumstances. The best part of the night was the championship rematch between Thug Rose and Joanna Champ, I mean “former champ”. In a very close back and forth bout that came down to the fifth round, both ladies came out winners since Joanna proved she could bounce back from a devastating KO in their first bout and Rose proved that the first fight was no fluke. Both are a few fights away from a rubber match and solidified what is a new formed rivalry. Due to the loss of 4 fights on this card, many of which were ones to watch on paper, the rest of the night was not noteworthy but had some entertaining bouts, ie Herring vs Kerolina and Zhabib’s bout.
The biggest winner this week in combat sports is the fake combat sport, professional wrestling, or WWE. Earlier in the week it was announced that WWE champ Brock Lesner was returning to the UFC, and former WWE champ CM Punks second UFC bout was announced. Finally the week ended with Wrestlemania where standout UFC star and champ Rhonda Rousey made her wrestling debut and Brock winning the heavy weight belt. Between Connors UFC bus melee which was so Pro Wrestling and the crossover between both sports’ starts, the WWE was back in the public spotlight after this week and not the one reeling from PR nightmares like UFC and boxing.