Ortega seemed like a distinct fighter

On paper, Brian Ortega had three issues going towards him heading into Saturday evening:

1. He was coming off the worst lack of his profession, a fourth-round TKO (physician’s stoppage) to Max Holloway.

2. He had not fought in 22 months.

3. He modified nearly all of his nook because the final time he competed.

Normally, that concoction results in hassle.

However, ultimately, these three query marks equaled great outcomes for “T-Metropolis.”

What a win for Ortega. What a efficiency. What a struggle.

I will be trustworthy. I did not count on this. These three causes above, plus his shocking resolution to shave his patented locks on Friday, which normally means a troublesome weight lower, gave me critical pause heading into this struggle. I assumed it was Chan Sung Jung‘s to lose.

Boy, was I unsuitable. Ortega seemed like a totally completely different fighter. Affected person, managed, on level. Reality be advised, this was not the fighter who misplaced to then-featherweight champion Max Holloway nearly two years in the past in Toronto.

Heck, should you did not know higher, you’d suppose Ortega’s background is definitely in putting, when in actuality his bread and butter is his floor recreation. On this evening, although, he did not want any floor expertise. He beat Jung at his personal recreation and by no means wavered. He legitimately outclassed Jung. Colour me extraordinarily impressed.

How good did he look? Ortega landed 127 vital strikes towards Jung, essentially the most in a struggle in his UFC profession. His earlier excessive was 110 vital strikes landed in his loss to Holloway. As well as, Ortega landed a personal-best 59 % of his vital strikes (127 of 212). Heading into this struggle, Ortega had a mean vital strikes accuracy of 33 %. These two stats inform the story: he was dominant and on level.

I mentioned earlier this week on “Ariel & The Dangerous Man” that I did not suppose a win for Ortega ought to equal a title shot, though UFC president Dana White mentioned that is what awaited the winner. It appeared bizarre that he would get a crack on the belt after being away for nearly two years and never successful since March 2018. That simply did not make sense to me.

I am going to take that again now. Signal me up for Ortega 2.0 vs. Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title. When you think about his vastly improved putting and his floor recreation, that ought to make for a really attention-grabbing struggle. And, for the document, it is not simply the W that makes me really feel like Ortega deserves the title shot, it is that he appears so a lot better than he did towards Holloway. That, plus the truth that he totally dominated the man who I assumed ought to be subsequent for the belt, makes me suppose that is the fitting name in spite of everything.

Y’all should’ve forgot? Nah, we realized one thing new from Ortega on this evening. We realized that he might adapt, evolve and overcome. Bravo.

As for Jung, he will not fall too far down the rankings. He is too common and an excessive amount of enjoyable. I do know Edson Barboza is new to the division, however I might like to see that struggle. The timing would work as a result of Barboza simply fought. If not, Holloway, who’s searching for massive fights after going 0-2 towards the champion, would definitely be an intriguing possibility.

— Ariel Helwani

May Jessica Andrade be the flyweight to shock the world?

So, let’s come proper out and say it: The UFC’s ladies’s flyweight division just isn’t its deepest weight class. It is huge open. I do not say that to disparage any of the ladies presently preventing there, however there is a motive why Cynthia Calvillo was in a position to transfer up from strawweight earlier this yr, win one struggle, and is already No. 3 within the UFC’s official flyweight rankings.

The champion, Valentina Shevchenko, has not been lower than a 6-to-1 betting favourite by way of 4 title defenses. Nobody expects Shevchenko to lose this belt any time quickly. Nevertheless, I can not consider anybody higher suited to drag it off than Andrade.

Take into account what makes Shevchenko so good — method. She’s near-perfect in every single place. Nobody goes to out-fight Shevchenko at 125 kilos. However possibly, somebody can go in there on one specific evening and knock her unconscious. That is the good equalizer on this sport, in spite of everything.

And have a look at what Andrade brings to the desk. She’s the kind of bullish fighter who walks by way of feints, is keen to take dangers, and has this other-worldly energy to ship an upset. If/when Andrade fights Shevchenko for the belt, she will likely be an underdog, and I’ll almost certainly decide Shevchenko to win. However truthfully, I believe Andrade is likely to be the solely flyweight on the earth who even has an opportunity at knocking off Shevchenko.

— Brett Okamoto

Jimmy Crute impressed in a number of methods

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Jimmy Crute drops Modestas Bukauskas with an enormous proper hook and a follow-up uppercut at UFC Struggle Evening.

Jimmy Crute is a younger man in a rush. He joined the UFC lower than two years in the past, and on Saturday he received his fourth end contained in the Octagon, which ties him with three others for essentially the most within the mild heavyweight division throughout that point.

A little bit over a yr in the past, it appeared that possibly Crute was in an excessive amount of of a rush. At age 23, he was booked towards veteran mild heavyweight Misha Cirkunov and ended up getting submitted for his first profession defeat. Regardless of that, an ESPN panel quickly afterward ranked Crute because the No. 7 MMA fighter under age 25.

Then, in February, Crute received again on observe with a first-round submission victory over a fellow prospect, Michal Oleksiejczuk. And on Saturday, the Australian, who will not flip 25 till March, took one other step towards being a contender. Crute seemed absolutely in management throughout each second of his first-round knockout of Modestas Bukauskas, who got here in having gained seven fights in a row.

Essentially the most spectacular factor I noticed within the bout: Despite the fact that Crute received the job executed in only two minutes, he didn’t look like in a rush this time. He seemed relaxed and poised, countering each Bukauskas assault however not forcing something. The end got here on a wind-up proper hook counter-punch and a follow-up left. It was a factor of magnificence.

And so was Crute’s work proper afterward. He instantly put his arm round his fallen opponent, then jumped the cage to thank UFC president Dana White for holding the fights going in the course of the pandemic, then issued a respectful problem of Nikita Krylov as a result of “I reckon that’d be a banger.”

Properly executed.

— Jeff Wagenheim





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