UFC 197 was a huge success, providing fight fans with some extremely entertaining fights and great moments to look back on. From the knockout that sent Dana White’s latest Looking For A Fight prospect down, to Jon Jones complete and utter domination of No. 6-ranked light heavyweight Ovince St Preux, UFC 197 gave fans insight into multiple hot topics going around in the fight world. Let’s take a look at the five Biggest takeaways from UFC 197.
5.“The Cookie Monster” Is Back
Carla Esparza, the inaugural women’s strawweight champion, made her return to the cage after dropping her title over a year ago to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Esparza looked in magnificent form, taking down her opponent Juliana Lima almost at will and initiating some devastating ground and pound. Esparza would use her exceptional wrestling skills to cruise her way to a unanimous decision win.
The victory was definitely a much-needed one after the matter to which she lost her title to Jedrzejczyk, eating a flurry of strikes that would send her down in the second round.
If Esparza can muster up a nice win streak, she should be back in the title picture before years end.
4. Yair Rodriguez Is The Real Deal
Rodriguez looked absolutely phenomenal Saturday night, knocking out Andre Fili with a jumping switch kick that tore the roof off the arena. If Rodriguez can continue to improve under the Jackson-Wink camp, there’s no telling what he can do.
The former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Latin America Winner and Taekwondo black belt now rides a five-fight win streak, and is looking for a huge step up in competition following his win. “El Pantera” has all the tools to be a serious contender in the featherweight division and maybe even one day a champion.
3. Robert Whittaker Continues His Climb In The Middleweight Division
Whittaker’s striking against veteran Rafael Natal was impressive, as the New Zealander was able to connect with a couple of explosive combinations to really damage the Brazilian. Whittaker is now on a five-fight win streak, with his last victories coming over some very tough competition.
Whittaker was able to overcome the powerhouse that is Uriah Hall at UFC 193 by out-striking the Jamaica native to a unanimous decision win. Rafael Natal was expected by many to give Whittaker problems on the ground, and was even picked by many to win the fight. As the fight rolled on, however, Whittaker was reluctant to get the fight to the ground and imposed his will on the Brazilian in the stand-up game.
Whittaker is currently ranked the No. 7 middleweight in the world, and with his recent win over Natal, you can expect him to be truly tested in his next bout with a huge step up in competition.
2. Is There Such A Thing As A Mouse Trap?
Is there anyone who can beat this man at 125 pounds? Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson made quick work of No. 2-ranked flyweight and Olympian Henry Cejudo. Johnson connected with a devastating knee to Cejudo’s head and it was all over from there.
Johnson is now on a ten-fight win streak and has not lost since 2011 when he fought Dominick Cruz at bantamweight. Johnson has relatively cleaned out the division and now puts the flyweight division in a bit of predicament. “Mighty Mouse” has certainly earned the title of pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, but what’s next for the surging flyweight champion?
1. Jon Jones Is Back
Jon Jones made his long-awaited return after a lengthy layoff due to some legal troubles, and defeated Ovince St-Preux for the UFC interim light heavyweight title. Jones controlled the fight, imposing his will on OSP on the ground and negating the majority of his adversary’s attacks.
Jones is ready to continue on and regain the title he never lost from his rival Daniel Cormier. Cormier sat cageside to help call Jones’ main event bout, and on the way out of the cage, Jones gave Cormier the one-finger salute. Jones and Cormier’s rivalry could possible come to an explosive height at UFC 200 in July.
UFC President Dana White has said that if Jones is healthy and Cormier passes an MRI on Monday that the two men will headline the UFC’s powerhouse event. A champion vs. champion bout between two bitter rivals, and two of the greatest ligt heavyweights of all time would certainly be a huge main event for July’s highly-anticipated event.