The Sunday Aftermath – UFC 184, Bellator 134 and Invicta 11

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It’s was another action packed weekend for MMA aficionados as some of the biggest names in three of the world’s premier fight leagues were on show. The UFC, Bellator and Invicta all had titles on the line but there was no doubting who the main attraction was.

RAPID RONDA ROUSEY

It’s not often we get undefeated top stars taking each other on inside the Octagon and it’s even less normal when a belt is on the line. That, though, is exactly what we had in UFC 184’s main event as Cat Zingano fought Ronda Rousey for the chance to become the second ever women’s bantamweight champion. Her chance, though, went almost as quick as it came.

Zingano promised to go straight for Ronda during pre-fight interviews and that’s exactly what she did. From the bell, Zingano sprinted across the Octagon and threw a huge flying knee right off the bat. Rousey was ready, though, and was able to duck out of the way to avoid the attack. As Zingano came down to terra firma, the pair tied upper bodies and fell to the ground before a mad scramble ensued. As she does so often, Rousey landed on top and latched onto an arm like only she can. As Rousey pressured the arm and shoulder from top position, Zingano was clearly in pain and barely hanging on before either woman had broken sweat. After just 14 seconds, with Zingano unable to escape, the inevitable tap came – giving Rousey the quickest championship win in UFC history. Again, Ronda Rousey proved she is by far and away the best female MMA fighter on earth with no-one, as of yet, being even close.

Her superiority was made even more obvious as, in the co-main event, a possible number one contender bout saw former professional boxing world champion Holly Holm take on gritty slugger Raquel Pennington. Unfortunately, it was a fairly uninspiring display from both women as Holm kicked off her UFC career. Although she looked nervous walking to the cage, Holm settled quickly and landed a high output of strikes in the first after stopping the early takedown attempts of Pennington. The second round was a lot closer as “Rocky” was able to land a handful of significant strikes as Holm continuously pitter patted with a large number of strikes. In the third, Pennington took the fight to Holm, knocking down and hurting her twice as the team Jackson stand out showed her chin to hang on for the final bell. It was a real battle of output vs. power and, this time, the judges favoured Holm as she took the split decision. For years, Holm was pin pointed as a possible UFC champion but, after this display, she will likely need a few more wins before she even gets a chance.

FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS

Then, on Friday night, both Bellator and Invicta bad very interesting shows. For Bellator it was the novel idea of a British Invasion as some of the best from America and the UK threw down in the round cage. Arguably the most well known fighter on the card, Paul Daley, returned to a major organization after a prolonged period in MMA no man’s land. And it was about as impressive a comeback as you could have expected as Daley was dominant from minute one against Andre Santos. “Semtex” had the Brazilian hurt on multiple occasions throughout the bout but just couldn’t put away the gritty South American. Then, in the co-main event, English trained Frenchman Cheick Kongo welcomed King Mo Lawal up to heavyweight. It really wasn’t one to remember. Lawal, a highly skilled wrestler, acknowledged his advantage early and took the hard hitting Kongo down with ease. Although Kongo tried hard, he couldn’t escape and ended in the exact position in all three rounds without too much strike output from either man. Amazingly, the decision came in split but, correctly, favoured Lawal. It wouldn’t be the last we heard of those judges.

In the main event, England’s Liam McGeary challenged American Emmanuel Newton for his Bellator light heavyweight strap in what turned out to be a fascinating scrap. The first round was a real one to remember as McGeary attacked with triangles and armbars on the ground, and looked like he might finish the fight, but Newton survived. The second was more of the same but every additional attempt looked less and less likely while the third round ended with Newton in a mounted triangle after he looked like he had the round won on the feet. With the bout in the balance, Newton clearly won the final two rounds and made the judges job that extra bit more difficult. Their decision was always going to be controversial no matter who got it but, in the end, McGeary got the nod, after spending most of the fight on the bottom, to become the first English champion in Bellator history.

After that it was, again, the ladies chance to shine as Invicta FC put on their 11th card. There were very impressive wins for prospects Irene Alanda and Alexa Grasso on the undercard, who may not be too far away from a UFC call, but it was all about the main event on the night. That fight, for the Invicta FC featherweight title, saw veteran Cris “Cyborg” Justino take on Charmaine Tweet. All in all, it just took 46 seconds. Cyborg, as she normally does, threw her hands with bad intentions early. Her first blow, to the jaw of Tweet, badly jarred her opponent. Her second dropped Tweet, broke her nose and put an end to the fight. With UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta sitting cageside, Cyborg may very well be next for Ronda Rousey after she promised to make the cut to bantamweight in the post fight interview. If she can make that weight and she can make an agreement with the UFC, we might just be looking at the biggest female bout in the history of combat sports.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma