UFC 252: Recap and Grade
UFC 252 took place last night at the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On June 6th, 2020, UFC president Dana White confirmed on ESPN’s “First Take” that UFC Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will defend his belt in a trilogy against the number 1 ranked Heavyweight Daniel “DC” Cormier. The bout could be Cormier’s last one, but could also settle the debate of who is the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time.
The fight card consisted of some intriguing fights, such as a co-main event showdown in the Bantamweight division between the number 14 ranked contender, “Suga” Sean O’Malley and Marlon “Chito” Vera. As well as a few featured bouts such as number 5 ranked Heavyweight, and future Hall of Famer Junior Dos Santos vs. number 6 ranked Heavyweight Jairzinho Rozenstruik; and a Featherweight bout between Herbert Burns and Daniel Pineda.
A Bantamweight fight between number 12 ranked Bantamweight John Dodson and the number 15 ranked Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili was also featured on the main card.
So now, the question is how did the Heavyweight trilogy end, and how did UFC 252 turn out?
Let’s take a look:
#12 John Dodson vs. #15 Merab Dvalishvili
Result: Dvalishvili by Unanimous Decision
To kick off the UFC 252 main card, we have a Bantamweight bout between #12 John Dodson and #15 Merab Dvalishvili going head to head in a match that may be for better positioning in the rankings.
In the first round, Dvalishvili started with a spinning back fist that just missed Dodson. Both men scouted each other early, waiting to see who would strike first. Dodson would then try to land a few punches but miss. Dvalishvili then shot for a takedown and got Dodson on the ground, but not for long as Dodson got back up. However, Dvalishvili kept landing knees from behind while grappling and kicking the calves of Dodson.
Dvalishvili continued to go after Dodson’s legs while getting him against the cage. The knees from Dvalishvili continued to punish Dodson, but Dodson would finally get free from Dvalishvili. Dodson then ended the round with a little flurry of punches, but a good start nonetheless for Dvalishvili. A round I thought Dvalishvili had control of Dodson in the clinch for the most part.
As the second round got underway, Dvalishvili tried to shoot for another takedown, but Dodson once again defended the takedown successfully and landed a beautiful inside leg kick. Dvalishvili then used his power and slammed Dodson down, but Dodson would once again get right back up. It seemed like even when Dvalishvili took down Dodson, Dodson wouldn’t stay down and kept getting back up. Dodson however, has not shown much offense. Dvalishvili would then land a beautiful spinning back fist and followed up with a right hook. Then he shot for another takedown. Dvalishvili then landed a few strikes and got Dodson on the ground, but once again Dodson got back up. Dodson then landed an inside kick, but Dvalishvili connected with the left hand. At the end of the round Dodson landed a few punches and Dvalishvili shot for a takedown, but it didn’t get Dodson fully down. However, I thought this was another round Dvalishvili kept pressing and showed more signs of offense than Dodson.
The last round would start with Dvalishvili awkwardly yelling at Dodson as if he was ready to go. Dodson landed a decent shot, but it didn’t seem like it did much to Dvalishvili as he landed a right-hand moments later. Dvalishvili again landed a right hand and then took Dodson down, but Dodson again slithered his way out like a snake. Dodson landed a big left hand. The left hand that he’s been looking for all fight, but Dvalishvili answered back with a little flurry of punches and a leg kick. Dvalishvili kept on pressing towards Dodson, but Dvalishvili got hurt by a nice strike by Dodson. Dvalishvili then shot for a takedown again, but Dodson just proved why he’s tough to take down and hold down. However, the round ended with Dvalishvili landing a few strikes in the clinch with Dodson against the cage and both guys swinging after escaping the clinch. A round that I thought was maybe closer, but I still believe that Dvalishvili won this fight and this round.
A solid performance by Dvalishvili as he earned a Unanimous Decision victory over Dodson.
Where will Dvalishvili go from here after an impressive win like this and who will he fight next?
Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda
Result: Pineda by TKO in Round 2
Our next fight on the main card is a Featherweight showdown between Hebert Burns and Daniel Pineda.
The fight began with Pineda landing a big right hand and a leg kick. Pineda then landed another strike. Burns then took down Pineda, but Pineda got back up and landed an elbow. Pineda then started to have a cut due to a knee that connected for Burns. Pineda then took down Burns and kept landing from the ground. Pineda kept landing as he shifted to half guard and landed a right hand from the top. Pineda kept landing as he tried to look for the ground and pound as he kept landing big shots from up top. Pineda unloaded as he kept Burns on the ground, controlling his position. Pineda landed a nasty uppercut, but Burns attempted to get Pineda in a triangle choke, which wouldn’t happen as Pineda escaped and kept landing even more big shots from the top. Pineda ended the round with a big elbow. A round that Pineda dominated.
As we moved into the second round, Burns landed with a leg kick, a right hand, and a takedown. A much better start for Burns. Burns tried to land from the top, but Pineda got back up. However, Burns took the back of Pineda and got him on the ground with Pineda landing elbows to Burns’ leg. Burns then switched his position to try and secure a submission, but Pineda wouldn’t quit and landed strikes off his back. Pineda got up, but Burns took his back. Again Pineda would reverse and take the top as he started to land more strikes from half guard. Pineda then managed to get Burns in a nasty Crucifix position. As Pineda kept landing nasty elbows, Burns looked like he was tired and could not find a way out. Pineda kept landing elbows until referee Dan Miragliotta would stop the fight resulting in a second-round TKO win for Pineda.
An impressive performance from the underdog himself heading into this fight. Beautiful grappling and ground and pound from Pineda that Burns couldn’t escape from. Burns would have no answer from the elbows Pineda kept landing from the ground, which led to the stoppage.
Who will Pineda fight next and will he be in the top 15 rankings in the Featherweight division?
#5 Junior Dos Santos vs. #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Result: Rozenstruik by TKO in Round 2
We now head into an important matchup between #5 ranked Heavyweight Junior Dos Santos and the #6 ranked Heavyweight Jairzinho Rozenstruik. A very crucial matchup for both fighters as Dos Santos looks to dive into the top 3 and get his name in the title conversation, whereas Rozenstruik looks to bounce back after viciously getting Knocked Out at the beginning of his fight at UFC 249 by #2 ranked Heavyweight Francis Ngannou and move into the top 5.
To kick off this bout, Dos Santos would land a leg kick, but Rozenstruik would answer back with a leg kick of his own as both fights would start to trade off a couple of shots. Dos Santos landed a roundhouse kick up top, but Rozenstruik would answer with a nice shot, but Dos Santos would land a nice left hook right after along with a leg kick. Rozenstruik would catch Dos Santos’ kick and would land a few strikes. Dos Santos would then land a nice strike, but Rozenstruik would counter with a strike of his own. The round would be put to a pause as Rozenstruik would catch Dos Santos below the belt. The fight would resume late before the first round would come to a close. A round that I thought could have possibly gone either way, but I would say Dos Santos won.
The second round would kick off with a few leg kicks from Rozenstruik. Dos Santos would land a decent right hand along with a jab. Moments later Dos Santos would land a clean lead punch, Rozenstruik would answer back with a clean right hand and would then follow up with another nasty right hand that would stun Dos Santos. As Dos Santos would try to get back up, Rozenstruik would keep punching until he would drop Dos Santos again. This time Dos Santos wouldn’t get back up as Rozenstruik would keep punishing Dos Santos which would lead to the bout being stopped.
A big bounce-back victory for Rozenstruik as he will now climb into the top 5 and possibly the title conversation in the Heavyweight division.
Will Rozenstruik keep up this performance and will Dos Santos hang up the gloves?
#14 “Suga” Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon “Chito” Vera
Result: Vera by TKO in Round 1
On we go to the Co-main event of UFC 252, a bantamweight showdown between the number 14 ranked Bantamweight “Sugar” Sean O’Malley and Marlon “Chito” Vera. While O’Malley looks too keep his undefeated record alive and build on his stardom, while Vera looks to bounce back from a unanimous decision loss against #13 ranked Bantamweight Song Yadong at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Harris.
The first round started with both fighters trading leg kicks with O’Malley, who kept on landing more heavy leg and body kicks. Vera would fake a low kick then go high. O’Malley would then roll would look like his knee or ankle which Vera would land a solid leg kick. Vera would then get O’Malley on the ground and land some nasty elbows. The fight would be stopped. However, it was a questionable stoppage. It felt like the fight was stopped mainly due to O’Malley’s messed up ankle, but a stoppage nonetheless.
A weird way to win a fight such as this one, but a big win for Vera as he puts the Suga show to a halt. An outcome I didn’t expect, nor did anyone. Especially the way that it happened.
I wish this fight didn’t end the way it did, especially having an injury like that happen to O’Malley. It has to be the worst way to lose, especially in the opening round, your leg gets injured, and then it messes up your movement. I thought it took a lot out of the fight, but hopefully, O’Malley comes back strong and gets his rematch with Vera.
Who will Vera face next and will he be in the top 15?
Will O’Malley recover and bounce back from an injury and loss like this?
(c) Stipe Miocic vs. #1 Daniel “DC” Cormier
Result: Miocic by Unanimous Decision
FINALLY, THE MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING (Bruce Buffer voice). The most anticipated fight of the summer. It is for the UFC Heavyweight championship between the current champion Stipe Miocic vs the #1 ranked Heavyweight, Daniel “DC” Cormier. Two legends and two of the greatest heavyweights the UFC has ever seen going at it for the third time. The winner will not only be the champion, but also the greatest UFC Heavyweight of all time. While Miocic looks to retain his belt and become the greatest UFC Heavyweight of all time, Cormier looks to bounce back from the last meeting between the two and possibly retire as the champion.
At the beginning of Round 1, Stipe would land with a light leg kick with a jab. The Champ would land another leg kick and a nice left hook, but Cormier would take him down and as Miocic got up, Cormier would land a knee, but Miocic would get out of the clinch. Miocic would connect with a 1-2 combo and a right body punch, but Cormier would answer with a leg kick. Miocic would land a shot from over the top, but Cormier would respond with a solid strike. Referee Marc Goddard would then stop the contest for a brief second due to an eye poke from Cormier. The action would resume with both fighters landing leg kicks. Miocic would later land a right hand up top followed up by another combination and a leg kick. Cormier would then answer with a flurry of punches. Miocic would land a leg kick, but Cormier would land a blow that would stun Miocic to close out the round along with a leg kick.
Onto the second round we go, Stipe would land with a beautiful left hand. Cormier would then land a combination of punches along with a jab and leg kick moments later. Miocic would answer with a solid backhand, but Cormier would land another jab. Miocic would close out the round with the right hook and a flurry of punches which stunned Cormier.
As the Fight moved into the third round, Miocic would start to land punch after punch as it looked more and more like Cormier was hurt. Miocic would then land a spinning back fist to the body and escape the clinch as he had Cormier against the cage. Miocic would continue to fall more punches that would hurt Cormier. Both fighters would then get in the clinch, as the fighters break the clinch, Miocic would land a right hook. The round ended with Miocic getting Cormier against the cage along with a few punches and an eye poke from Cormier in which referee Marc Goddard missed.
As we moved into round 4, Cormier would land a flurry of punches, but Stipe would connect with the right hand, get Cormier on the cage and land an uppercut to the body. As Cormier would land another strike, Miocic would keep answering. Miocic would then land a few punches and get Cormier on the face again. Miocic and Cormier would keep landing shot after shot at each other as Miocic would again get Cormier against the cage. Miocic would then land a clean left hook out of the clinch, but the fighters would then again get back into the clinch. Cormier would land two right hands to close out the round.
The Fifth and final round began with Miocic landing a nice shot to the body. Both fighters would keep landing strike after strike, giving it their all and showing why they are the two best heavyweights. Miocic would catch Cormier with a solid jab before both fighters soon ended up in the clinch again with Cormier against the cage. Both fighters would break up the clinch. Cormier would land a combination that would stun Miocic, but Miocic would answer back. Cormier would land a right hand, but the fighters would end up in the clinch with Miocic pinning Cormier against the cage again. Miocic would break up the clinch with a decent flurry of punches and two big overhand punches. Cormier would then land the right-hand moments later, but Miocic and Cormier would end up in the clinch again. The fight would then end with Cormier landing a few more punches before getting in the clinch. It was a close round and a close battle, but as this round, I thought that Miocic did enough to win and retain the UFC heavyweight championship.
After five rounds, the judges scored the contest 49-46 in favor of Miocic. A big win for Miocic as he not only retains the UFC heavyweight championship but has cemented himself as the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time.
In a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Cormier announced that he is done fighting in the octagon and will be retiring. Although he lost, Cormier is still one of the greatest fighters to ever step foot in the octagon. He has nothing to be ashamed of despite losing a big match like this. A fantastic run in the UFC and put up a solid performance. It’s just that Miocic was better than he was.
An amazing trilogy and a very solid fight overall. Just what we wanted to see and expect from great fighters such as these two.
With Cormier out of the way, who will challenge Miocic next for the belt?
Only time will tell.
So now that UFC 252 is all wrapped up let’s see what I have to say about the Main Card.
Although I think that a couple of fights had more back and forth action and not bad luck such as the Dvalishvili-Dodson and the O’Malley-Vera fight, UFC 252 was pretty solid and better than UFC 251. I liked the knockout finished in the Rozenstruik fight and the Pineda fight, but I wish there was a bit more back and forth. The trilogy was good for the most part. I mean, I wish it was a bit better, but I can’t complain really. I thought the main event was excellent and entreating to watch. If the injury to O’Malley didn’t happen, nonetheless that early in the fight, then I would’ve graded UFC 252 and probably even that fight better. If O’Malley didn’t get hurt, I think he would win or at least put up more of a fight, but it is what it is. After watching UFC 252 from the beginning to the end, I would have to give it a B. I thought UFC 252 did well, but now we are on to UFC 253. It has been a big year for the UFC and I can’t wait for the fights that the UFC has planned for the next few months.