Saturday’s UFC 243 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Melbourne, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Marvel Stadium.
I held my breath when Israel Adesanya decided to do a cartwheel on the stadium floor just minutes before the biggest fight of his life, hoping that he didn’t land wrong and turn an ankle or worse. He didn’t, and minutes later, he was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. That told me a couple things. A) Adesanya’s confidence is on another level than most humans and B) This is a special fighter. We should have known that as soon as he debuted in the UFC just a little over a year and a half ago, but if there were any doubts, they had to be erased when he won the 2019 Fight of the Year frontrunner over Kelvin Gastelum. To follow that up with a second-round finish of Robert Whittaker, that caps off one of the greatest years put in by any UFC fighter in history. And it probably won’t be the last time he does it.
In looking at the Dan Hooker-Al Iaquinta co-main event, a recurring thought was that when these two lightweights are on, how did they ever lose? Today, two days after Hooker beat Iaquinta, I wonder if he’s ever going to lose again. Using a smart fight strategy that kept Iaquinta a step behind all night, Hooker is only getting better, and if he keeps performing when the lights are at their brightest, he’s going to be a handful for anyone at 155 pounds. As for his request for a meeting with Dustin Poirier, I’m in for that fight, for sure.
Could there be any better coincidence than “The Mad Titan” fighting and winning at Marvel Stadium. I don’t think so, and it was also a sign to Yorgan De Castro that his decision to keep fighting was the right one. The power the Cape Verde native has is real, and no one, especially Justin Tafa, will argue with that. Will he be able to tackle the big dogs at heavyweight? Time will tell, but it will be fun finding out.
There always seems to be one fight per card when a fighter wins and you think, ‘They needed that one.’ Megan Anderson was that fighter on Saturday night, and she got the job done in impressive fashion, submitting Zarah Fairn in less than four minutes. For those who haven’t followed her career, Anderson was wrecking people in the Invicta FC promotion, but by the time she made it to Melbourne, she was only 1-2 in the UFC, with the lone win a controversial stoppage of Cat Zingano. So for her to even up her Octagon slate and to do it at home in Australia, that was the kind of boost that should take her well into her 2020 campaign.
Some day we will see an openweight showdown between the aforementioned Yorgan De Castro and Dhiego Lima for the nicest guy in MMA title. And it may end up as a draw. But all kidding aside, it’s always cool to see someone enjoying their life, smiling all the time, and choosing to embrace everything they can about fighting in the UFC. Lima is that guy, and he’s got even more reason to smile after a win over Luke Jumeau for his third straight win. This is a fighter who was once 1-5 in the UFC. Now he’s 3-0 in the last 12 months, and 2020 looks bright for him.