Pressing Pause on the Upset Era

ufc-197There is no doubt that the big story of the night was the return of the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC.

Jon Jones was finally set to make his return to the octagon after a rough year where his decisions cost him a UFC title.

At UFC 197 he was set to get a chance to earn the title back before his long-time rival, Daniel Cormier pulled out with a knee injury suffered during training.

The return turned into a chance for Jones to get back into the title picture with the interim title up for grabs against Ovince St. Preux.

The change in opponents brought about a different situation at the event though and although Jones was still the focus a UFC fan’s mind might be caught wandering.

After all, the past year and a half have seen some of the biggest upsets in the history of the promotion with fighters like Renan Barão, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Jose Aldo all losing.

None of those fighters were ever expected to lose a fight and yet in the last year and a half, all of them took their first losses in the UFC.

Now with UFC 197 approaching the top two pound for pound fighters were getting set to fight and hoping to avoid the upsets that would surely shock the UFC.

Although most of the talk surrounded Jones entering the fight many have another fighter at the top of the pound for pound rankings.

That fighter is Demetrious Johnson who has been the one and only UFC Flyweight champion and has essentially cleaned out the division.

He came into the fight as the clear favourite over his challenger but that was likely because they didn’t know his opponent that well.

Henry Cejudo got his shot at the flyweight title after compiling a 10-0-0 record in MMA and winning four straight in the UFC.

He came into his chance to shock everyone as the most accomplished athlete that Johnson had ever faced.

Cejudo had won an Olympic and Pan American gold medal for wrestling while also taking championships in Bronze Gloves boxing.

There is nobody in the UFC as accomplished as Cejudo and if there was someone with the pedigree to be a champion in the UFC it was certainly Cejudo.

Johnson came out utilising what makes him so great as he continued to moving in an out while throwing a few punches and scoring.

Cejudo countered by trying to walk the champion down and turn the fight into an expression of power and wrestling.

Aside from one takedown, Cejudo couldn’t do much against the champion as Johnson continued to move and then showed everyone how good his clinch can be with both fighters tying up.

Johnson unleashed some great knees from the clinch and eventually they took their toll on the challenger dropping him and letting Johnson finish the fight.

Cejudo was the most decorated fighter that Johnson had ever faced but the champion proved that not how many titles you may carry an MMA champion is a different beast.

Johnson took yet another title defence and began moving up towards the greatest champions of all-time while Cejudo simply wasn’t up to the task of creating a massive upset.

After Johnson easily dispatched the notion of an upset, the fighter that everyone was talking about was finally ready.mma-sidebar.fw

Jones was getting his second chance in the octagon but he was not the fighter with the biggest chance in the main event.

That was St. Preux who went from being a potential contender, given a few more wins, in the light heavyweight division to fighting for the interim belt.

It was the best chance that St. Preux had ever had as he was a top 10 fighter but had never been able to find his way to title contention.

Now he was set to face the fighter that most considered to be the best in the world with the chance to take the interim belt.

Both fighters came out somewhat tentative but understandably as St. Preux was stepping up in competition on three weeks’ notice while Jones was in the octagon for the first time in a year.

Neither got much done and as the fight went on it seemed to be much of the same as the lack of a camp really affected St. Preux and the rust affected Jones.

Throughout the first few rounds St. Preux landed some great shots but Jones landed more as he racked up points.

St. Preux held his own against one of the best fighters in the UFC but he clearly wasn’t good, or prepared, enough to get the action he needed.

After five rounds Jones took the fight but it was far from his best performance in the octagon and he knew it as soon as the fight was over.

Jones is a better fighter and he might have lost had St. Preux been more active but in the end he avoided the upset and shook off the rust.

With the interim belt, Jones gets a date with Daniel Cormier, likely at UFC 200 or the first fight in New York, where the light heavyweight belts get unified.

It was a night that seemed prime for massive upsets and it wasn’t unrealistic to think in the era of upsets that either one of the main events could have ended differently.

Neither fighter took advantage though and although St. Preux likely won’t see many downfalls from the loss he still lost the biggest chance of his life in a night where surprises were not in store.

Meanwhile, both fighters laid their claim to the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC and when all was said and done a few more fans might lean toward the smaller man on the night.

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