UFC Struggle Island takeaways — Brian Ortega’s title shot is deserved; Jessica Andrade a contender at 125

Ortega regarded like a distinct fighter

On paper, Brian Ortega had three issues going in opposition to him heading into Saturday night time:

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 for the reason that final time he competed.

Normally, that concoction results in hassle.

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

What a win for Ortega. What a efficiency. What a combat.

I will be trustworthy. I did not anticipate this. These three causes above, plus his shocking choice to shave his patented locks on Friday, which often means a troublesome weight reduce, gave me severe pause heading into this combat. I believed it was Chan Sung Jung‘s to lose.

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

Heck, in the event you did not know higher, you’d assume Ortega’s background is definitely in hanging, when in actuality his bread and butter is his floor sport. On this night time, although, he did not want any floor abilities. He beat Jung at his personal sport and by no means wavered. He legitimately outclassed Jung. Shade me extraordinarily impressed.

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

I mentioned earlier this week on “Ariel & The Unhealthy Man” that I did not assume 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 will 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 hanging and his floor sport, that ought to make for a really attention-grabbing combat. And, for the file, it is not simply the W that makes me really feel like Ortega deserves the title shot, it is that he seems to be so a lot better than he did in opposition to Holloway. That, plus the truth that he completely dominated the man who I believed needs to be subsequent for the belt, makes me assume that is the best name in any case.

Y’all should’ve forgot? Nah, we realized one thing new from Ortega on this night time. 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 fashionable and an excessive amount of enjoyable. I do know Edson Barboza is new to the division, however I might like to see that combat. The timing would work as a result of Barboza simply fought. If not, Holloway, who’s searching for massive fights after going 0-2 in opposition to the champion, will surely be an intriguing choice.

— Ariel Helwani

Might 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 is just not its deepest weight class. It is vast open. I do not say that to disparage any of the ladies presently preventing there, however there is a purpose why Cynthia Calvillo was in a position to transfer up from strawweight earlier this yr, win one combat, 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 4 title defenses. Nobody expects Shevchenko to lose this belt any time quickly. Nevertheless, I can not consider anybody higher suited to tug it off than Andrade.

Take into account what makes Shevchenko so good — approach. She’s near-perfect all over the place. Nobody goes to out-fight Shevchenko at 125 kilos. However possibly, somebody can go in there on one explicit night time and knock her unconscious. That is the good equalizer on this sport, in any case.

And have a look at what Andrade brings to the desk. She’s the kind of bullish fighter who walks by feints, is prepared to take dangers, and has this other-worldly energy to ship an upset. If/when Andrade fights Shevchenko for the belt, she might be an underdog, and I’ll most certainly decide Shevchenko to win. However truthfully, I feel Andrade could be the solely flyweight on the planet 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 bought his fourth end contained in the Octagon, which ties him with three others for essentially the most within the gentle heavyweight division throughout that point.

Just a little 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 in opposition to veteran gentle 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 bought again on monitor 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 regarded totally in management throughout each second of his first-round knockout of Modestas Bukauskas, who got here in having received seven fights in a row.

Probably the most spectacular factor I noticed within the bout: Though Crute bought the job accomplished in only two minutes, he didn’t look like in a rush this time. He regarded 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 maintaining the fights going through the pandemic, then issued a respectful problem of Nikita Krylov as a result of “I reckon that’d be a banger.”

Properly accomplished.

— Jeff Wagenheim

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