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UFC 256 capped off the pay per view schedule for the promotion in 2020. The card was one of the most stacked of the year and did not disappoint. So, let’s dive in on this week’s edition of Aftermath!
Also, don’t forget to check out our Aftermath sister preview section on Rokfin called Beforemath. The column is released every week on Wednesday and this week we will dive into UFC Vegas 17: Wonderboy versus Neil.
Chase Hooper Needs Work
Chase Hooper is one of everyone’s favorite personalities in the UFC. He is funny and awkward and a really good grappler. That said, Hooper had a bad look at UFC 256. Pete Barrett is a very good fighter and I don’t want to take anything away from him. But his bravado and willingness to engage on the ground in the third round was his undoing. His reluctance to get up is what cost him a victory. Hooper has a lot of trouble in the stand up department and it showed once again against Barrett. But Hooper did show his perseverance and got the win at the end of the day.
Hooper said post fight that he spent some of his time training Ryan Hall. My question is why? I understand Hooper needs to learn how to transition from grappling to MMA, but that can be done later on. What Chase Hooper really needs to do is go find a striking coach and work on that for a year. Think Brian Ortega at UFC Vegas 6. Ortega, a grappling specialist, looked like a boxer against Korean Zombie. Instead of working with Ryan Hall, Chase Hooper really should consider going to Ortega for help.
Rafael Fiziev’s Win at UFC 256 Is Better Than People Think
Next opponent for Rafael Fiziev: Al Iaquinta, Gregor Gillespie
At UFC 256, Rafael Fiziev put down Renato Moicano in emphatic fashion. Moicano was able to hit Fiziev, but as we talked about in our interview with Fiziev, Muay Thai and MMA striking are completely different things.
The biggest challenge was to get my wrestling and grappling skills to a higher level. Also grappling is not the only difference between MMA and Muay Thai or kickboxing. There’s different dynamics of the fight and distance, so I had to adjust my striking too.Rafael Fiziev to The Fight Library ahead of UFC 256
Fiziev put Moicano away with a beautiful combination that went left hook to the body, a right hook over the top that hurt Moicano, and then another left hook that finished off Renato Moicano. The win over Moicano for Rafael Fiziev is a lot better than looks on paper. For some reason, Moicano is taking it slow up the lightweight rankings when he was a number one contender at featherweight before losing to Jose Aldo. Beating someone so experienced is a great sign for Fiziev that he’s ready for a ranked fight.
Al Iaquinta is one of my favorite matchups for Fiziev after UFC 256. Iaquinta is tough and has great boxing. Fiziev has the ability to make it a very tough night for Iaquinta, but on the other hand, Iaquinta won’t be an easy out. A win over tenth ranked Iaquinta vaults Fiziev to the rankings, which is much deserved.
If we’re looking for stylistic matchups to test Fiziev, Gregor Gillespie is the guy. Gillespie is a NCAA DI Champion. He has the potential to be a nightmare for the stand up specialist in Fiziev. On the other hand, after the flash knockout from Kevin Lee in Gillespie’s last fight needs to be addressed. This will provide a proving ground for both fighters to see who has worked on their game the best.
Cyril Gane is a Problem for Heavyweights
Next opponent for Cyril Gane: Jairzinho Rozenstruick, Marchin Tybura if victorious
Cyril Gane made a huge statement at UFC 256. His knockout of former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos announced his arrival to the heavyweights. Gane, a former kickboxer, showed his prowess by submitting his first two opponents in Raphael Pessoa and Don’Tale Mayes struck fear in the heavyweight division raising questions to how can this guy be beat. My solution, he won’t for a long time. Dos Santos is an experienced fighter and has great stand up, even at his old age. Gane controlled the fight the entire time and put away JDS with relative ease.
Number one option for Gane post JDS is Jairzinho Rozenstruick. At 11-1 and a former kickboxer himself, Rozenstruick provides the ranking spot wanted by Gane. At number three, a win over Bigi Boy would be another quick statement for Gane and catapult him to the top of the division quickly.
But, Rozenstruick doesn’t test the wrestling of Gane, something that’s still of question for the Frenchman. Unfortunately the top of the division is dominated by strikers sans Curtis Blaydes. But, Blaydes is going to likely be rebooked against Derrick Lewis. But, should Marchin Tybura defeat Greg Hardy this weekend, he could be a good test for Gane.
Kevin Holland is Mean
Kevin Holland knocked Jacare out sitting down. He’s now 5-0 in 2020 with wins over Jacare, Charlie Ontiveros, Darren Stewart, Joaquin Buckley, and Anthony Hernandez. That’s it, that’s the section.
Mackenzie Dern And Continuous Improvement
Next opponent for Mackenzie Dern: Michelle Waterson, Tecia Torres
At UFC Vegas 11, I mentioned Mackenzie Dern looked new on the feet but skinnier, which bodes well for her weight cuts. At UFC 256, Dern looked to have added aggressiveness against Virna Jandiroba. I’m not talking on the ground, either. Dern was aggressive on the feet all night. She threw bombs and really had Jandiroba out of her comfort zone. I will say that Dern is much better looking on the feet, even though Jandiroba is a grappler and not a striker.
Dern’s one loss to Amanda Ribas doesn’t look bad in hindsight knowing how good Ribas really is. Now, it’s time to pair Dern up against another striker and see how she fares and how she’s improved. Michelle Waterson is my favorite matchup for Dern. While Waterson is a great wrestler, she also does a good job keeping fighters out of the pocket with jabs and oblique kicks, even if they don’t land. Waterson would be a good test to see how Dern handles that type of frustration and gets on the inside where she can work.
Second option is Tecia Torres, who also won on UFC 256. Torres pushes a crazy pace on the feet and won’t be scared to exchange with Dern standing up. While it is a different type of frustration, Torres can push Dern nonetheless.
Justin Gaethje Broke Tony Ferguson, Charles Oliveira Brought Him Out To The Pasture
Tony Ferguson is washed. The fight with Justin Gaethje broke Ferguson at UFC 249. The fight with Oliveira was a rough watch for Ferguson fans. Early on, Ferguson looked like his old self, throwing strikes from weird angles. Then Oliveira took over and grappled him to death. Khabib was correct and Ferguson is done.
Next opponent for Charles Oliveira: Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje
Regardless of being done, Charles Oliveira looked phenomenal at UFC 256. He out grappled Ferguson and had him almost put away with an arm bar, which is a major accomplishment on it’s own. Ferguson’s Jiu Jitsu is next level and Oliveira was not scared. The grappling of Oliveira is scary and going the distance with Ferguson proved that do Bronx is fine in the gas tank department and can manage well.
Oliveira is now in the best spot of his career. He is one win away from a berth at a title shot. His stand up is much improved and his grappling is one of the best in the division. While Conor McGregor is fighting Dustin Poirier next month, win or lose, he should take on Oliveira. McGregor is obviously a great standup fighter and if Oliveira can imitate the wrestling, the fight will be a great test for the two.
But, Conor McGregor is a pipe dream for most fighters and booking a fight with him is difficult. Second bet is Justin Gaethje. Oliveira has ten Performance of the Night awards, three Submission of the Night awards, three Fight of the Nights, one Submission of the Year award. Gaethje has five Fight of the Night awards, four Performance of the Night awards, and a Fight of the Year award. Need I say anything more?
Run it Back Figgy and Moreno
Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno: run it back
Brandon Moreno didn’t have much of a path to victory according to many people ahead of UFC 256, myself included. But after seeing him roll with the power of Figueiredo and boxed well all night. Moreno was fortunate enough, if there is such a thing, to get hit in the groin and have Figueiredo lose a point. That one point cost Figueiredo a win and saved Moreno a loss.
Deiveson Figueiredo and his gas tank have been a question of mine. At UFC 256, I had some of those questions answered. While he did throw power all night and slowed down a good bit, his pace was still somewhat there and was taxing on Moreno.
There is only one real option for Moreno and Figueiredo after a majority draw: run it back. This needs to be settled and put to rest who is better. What are you guys doing in 21 days?