UFC 252: What I Got Right, What I Got Wrong

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Last Saturday night, the UFC put on one of the best cards since the return from the COVID-19 shutdown with UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier III.

As always, I am holding myself accountable from the picks I made in the preview with this week’s “What I Got Right, What I Got Wrong” column.

What I Got Right

(C) Stipe Miocic vs #1 Daniel Cormier

The younger legs and more physically fit champ gets it done. And still.

Stipe Miocic closed the book on this clash of heavyweight titans. Stipe’s athleticism was a huge factor in this fight. He was able to use his footwork to create the right angles to do damage with his boxing. Also, both guys got eye-poked, but that’s not what produced or influenced the outcome in this fight. Daniel was hurt badly way before the poke occurred, just look at him starting the third round. 

In the end, Stipe’s boxing and ability to press DC up against the fence in the clinch rained on DC’s retirement parade. 

Father Time is undefeated, and the 41-year-old DC has a lot of miles on his body. 

DC fought hard, but I do also believe he looked a step slower. He appeared to be hesitant on pulling the trigger in a couple of situations where I believe it would not have been something he hesitated on in year’s past. He would have just done it.

The Olympian wrestler, DC, only scored one single takedown in the entire 25 minutes. He also lost in clinch exchanges and allowed Stipe to sink his underhooks at will. We know that DC has had trouble with his back in recent years, and he has also had severe hand/wrist injuries dating back to his Strikeforce days.

While he was still high level and hasn’t completely fallen off of the age cliff, he showed signs of that drop-off being on the near horizon. 

#10 Sean O’Malley vs Chito Vera

Chito is one of the most exciting bantamweights to watch because he brings it every single time. He’s won five of the last six, all by finish and has never been finished. His willingness to bang and high-level jiu-jitsu (blackbelt) make him easily the toughest test for O’Malley who is on the fast-track to a title shot… He comes to throw the eff down and wants to put on a show.

Chito put on a sweet, but sugar-free performance on Saturday when he derailed the hypetrain that is “Suga” Sean O’Malley.

To the casual observer, the injury has been used as an excuse for O’Malley getting finished. Bullshit. Chito caused it and people who understand calf-kicks know that Vera shut the nerve off in O’Malley’s leg, which basically made him roll his ankle when he walked forward. This is the same thing that happened to Michael Chandler against Brent Primus and Henry Cejudo against Demetrious Johnson. 

While I gave Sean the nod in my official pick, I put money on the Chito finish because the odds were straight up disrespectful. Even though I lost, I still won.

#5 Junior Dos Santos vs #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik

You have a one-shot one-kill type of dangerous fighter in Rozenstruik. His only loss was a 0:20 knockout to Francis, and he has stopped heavyweight fixtures such as Alistair Overeem and Andre Arlovski. Add 90 kickboxing fights into the mix and you’ve got a very dangerous fighter on the feet.

Rozenstruik is definitely dangerous. He also looked to be comfortable the entire time standing in front of the former champion Junior Dos Santos. Rozenstruik is in a tough position right now, and may need to sit and wait for the Harris/Volkov winner if the UFC decides to book #3 Curtis Blaydes vs #4 Derrick Lewis. Lewis vs Rozenstruik tickles the striking pickle, but that fight is a step back if I am putting myself in Lewis’ shoes.

#12 John Dodson vs #15 Merab Dvalishvili

Merab is a takedown monster, but they don’t call Dodson “The Magician” for nothing. 

Merab attempted 20 takedowns in the fight, but John Dodson defended 18 of them. This was such a weird performance from Dodson who did well defending, but never really got his offense going. He did not have his normal bounce (more on that later).

The safe pick is a Merab decision.

“The Machine” plugged away to a clear-cut decision. The scary thing is, Merab has only been training once a day, but with his earnings from Saturday night, he is finally able to quit his construction job to begin training on a full-time schedule. Longo-Serra BJJ in Long Island, NY, has a couple of the most savage bantamweights in the world with him and Aljo Sterling.

Jim Miller vs Vinc Pichel

On last week’s episode of The MMA Plug Show, I pegged this as the matchup to keep your eyes on and that it had the potential for Fight of the Night.

In the write-up, I did not get one thing right. Nothing. Not a damn thing. 

Livinha Souza vs Ashley Yoder

The over is tasty since Yoder is tough to finish, but hammer the Souza moneyline.

As wrong as I was in the write-up with Pichel vs Miller is as right as I was with this one. Livinha “The Brazilian Gangster” Souza put on a gritty performance that went the distance for a Unanimous Decision win. Called the moneyline and the over, boomshakalaka.

Herbert Burns vs Daniel Pineda

You have a game veteran who has only gotten better with time… Pineda will certainly be the toughest test of Burns’ career.

To quote Daniel Pineda, he “took his balls” on Saturday night. He broke the will of Herbert Burns in the cage en route to the TKO in the crucifix position. 

Burns missed weight, and man, did he have lingering effects of a bad weight cut. He was sluggish, his overall energy was low, and he had zero explosion to get himself out of bad positions. 

Pineda has finished every single victory in his career, and he can step back in the mix a lot a great potential matchups for this last ride at 35-years-old.

Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba

This woman is for real, and if Felice is not ready, this will be Amanda Ribas vs Paige VanZant all over again… You won’t make much money with such a heavy line favoriting Jandiroba, but it is likely the safest return of the evening to lock in.

Virna made lightwork of Felice Herrig with a performance bonus worthy armbar submission in less than two minutes. Virna has won 13 of 16 by submission and was the first to ever submit Herrig. 

I would imagine that a highlight reel outing like that will get her a bigger name on Fight Island this fall. If she gets it to the ground, that’s looking like a bad time for anyone.

TJ Brown vs Danny Chavez

If he can pull the muscled-up Brown into deep water and get him tired the way Jordan Griffin did, it will be a good night for Chavez… Keep your eye on the over for this one. That might be the best play for this matchup.

TJ Brown fought tough, but the later the fight went, the more it favored Chavez. Brown landed a couple body strikes in the third, but by then Chavez was in the driver’s seat.

This went to a decision, which covered the over and if you followed my advice, you’re going Sizzler with it.

Chris Daukaus vs Parker Porter

We may see these big boys throwing heavyweight hammers right from the get go… Neither of them likes to go to the cards, and they each have finishes by KO/TKO and submission.

From the opening bell, we saw this one was not going to the cards. They were throwing heavyweight heat and Chris Daukaus found his mark more often than Parker Porter. 

The Philadelphia police officer, Daukaus, was able to secure the UFC debut victory that eluded his younger brother Kyle back in June. 

Kai Kamaka vs Tony Kelley

Kamaka has a collegiate level wrestling base to pair with that Island scrapper mentality. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: those Hawaii boys can bang…  Give me the “Fightin’ Hawaiian” in this one.

Kudos to Kai Kamaka III and Tony Kelly who each picked up a $50k bonus for Fight Of The Night in their UFC debut. This was the second war in two weeks that Kamaka has been in, so hopefully that bonus gives him a nice little cashflow cushion to take a little time off to heal and recover. 

He embodies that Hawaiian warrior spirit and is a real scrapper. I look forward to this kid’s future.

What I Got Wrong

(C) Stipe Miocic vs #1 Daniel Cormier

The smaller cage and wrestling prowess of Cormier is certainly an advantage, but make no mistake about it, Stipe can wrestle.

For months, Daniel said he hopes Stipe brings his wrestling shoes. After the first takedown that Stipe got right back up from, he abandoned wrestling from the gameplan.

#10 Sean O’Malley vs Chito Vera

Pour some Suga on me. O’Malley by KO/TKO.

Shit the bed and fell in here. Him getting stretchered off was enough to make me hop off the train. I get that he was injured, but that looked soft as baby poop. Maycee Barber shredded her knee in her first UFC loss and she was tough enough to hop off on one leg and the aid of her team. Sean could have done this and chose not to. 

#5 Junior Dos Santos vs #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik

I’m going against the grain here and taking a chance on JDS.     

It’s not that Junior looked all that bad, he just looks past his prime. His technical skill and veteran savvy gave me faith that he could avoid a storm from Bigi Boi, but the 42 significant strikes that landed at a 63% rate determined that to be false.

#12 John Dodson vs #15 Merab Dvalishvili

If you are feeling froggy, a Dodson finish is not out of the realm of possibility.

My official pick was a Merab decision, but I thought there was a good chance that Dodson would pull out and explosive knockout. The only problem was, Dodson just did not do much of anything and had zero bounce in his step.

Jim Miller vs Vinc Pichel

This one comes down to cage time and experience for me. I’m riding with Miller, and do not be surprised if he finds a submission

This one almost came true with that guillotine at the end. Pichel even said in the press conference that he was close to being finished in the choke, but was ultimately able to pop his head out.

Miller needed the finish to win, as “From Hell Pichel” picked up the Unanimous Decision.

Livinha Souza vs Ashley Yoder

Nottanilnada. If you are the first person to message me with where this reference is from, I will send you a gift card.

Herbert Burns vs Daniel Pineda

I like Burns in this one.

This one burned me, get it? 

Herbert Burns had really only a couple of positive moments in this fight. He did have a solid scramble that saw him make his way to Pineda’s back, but he was so depleted that he could not even maintain the position, much less score a submission.

Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba

See Souza vs Yoder. Hit the nail on the head with this one and won nicely with bets on the moneyline, the under, and the submission. Gimme my money.

TJ Brown vs Danny Chavez

Nothing. Hit on the moneyline and the over.

Chris Daukaus vs Parker Porter

Porter’s well-rounded game finds a way.

Porter may have been the more experienced fighter, but Daukaus was the more violent fighter. In the heavyweight division, aggressive striking doesn’t have to find it’s exact mark to hurt. Daukaus unloaded bombs and TKO’d Porter.

Kai Kamaka vs Tony Kelley

Tony Kelley has not fought since May of 2019, so the time off is definitely something that will likely play a role in the 33-year-old 5-1 Louisiana fighter’s performance.

Though Kelley lost and I predicted Kamaka to win, I did not expect Kelley to put on a Fight of the Night performance for a $50k bonus. For both rookies, that’s one hell of a way to put a stamp on their UFC debuts.

-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303

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