Welcome to the monthly March wrap up! Here is where we breakdown some of the biggest headlines from the month and provide some insight and opinion on it. I would love to hear what you all think so please leave a comment down below.
1. UFC 248 – Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk:
The only pay per view event for the month of March featured a double header of title fights. The first was for the UFC Women’s Strawweight title between champion Zhang Weili (21-1) vs former champion Joanna Jedrezjcyk (16-4). They did not disappoint as they had a cracker jack of a fight and what can only be deemed as the best women’s fight of all time, and one of the greatest fights in general of all time.
Zhang walked away the winner from a very close split decision. Although Joanna put up a great effort and some thought she even won the fight, she looked battered and her face was tremendously swollen. They exchanged strikes from beginning to end for a total of 196 strikes to 170 in favour of Joanna. They combined for 356 significant strikes which is the third most in UFC history.
I had thought Joanna had done enough to win the match but it was by no means a robbery of a decision. Both put on a fantastic performance, and they should be proud of their accomplishments. I do not believe either of them are thinking of fighting again for a long time. After a war like that they are bound for a lengthy layoff for recovery.
2. UFC 248 – Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero:
In In the main event, we saw the superstar from New Zealand, Israel Adesanya (19-0) beat out the Cuban missile crisis Yoel Romero (13-5) for the middleweight title. The performance was the complete opposite from the co-main event and was mostly forgettable. They totaled 48 strikes in favour of Israel against 40 for Yoel.
This was a bizarre match that saw Israel win by unanimous decision. Admittedly there was a feeling of tenseness throughout the entire match while watching. Yoel has a tendency to slow his offence and lull opponents into a slow paced fight. From there he explodes with vicious strikes that catches opponents by surprise. The opportunity did not come this time around. Israel attacked from the outside not giving Yoel a chance to find an opening. Both berated and blamed each other for the lack luster affair but ultimately Israel did deserve the win.
3. UFC Fight Night – Lee vs. Oliveira:
This fight took place right as the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic took off. The week before at UFC 248 life was still fairly normal but leading into this event, governments everywhere started implementing strict rules to avoid large gatherings to help reduce the spread of the virus. The Brazilian government mandated that this event take place behind closed doors and the fans were not allowed to attend.
Despite the absence of fans, Brazilian fighters has a lot of success this night. We saw Charles Oliveira submit Kevin Lee by guillotine choke. Bizarrely, Lee continued to fight after he had tapped out as if he did not realize the fight was finished. Charles is now on quite the hot streak winning 7 in a row all by finishes. He is surely owed another highly ranked opponent to get him closer to a title shot.
Gilbert Burns took out the fan favourite in Demian Maia by knockout, and Renato Moicano had a successful debut to the lightweight division submitting Damir Hadzovic by rear naked choke. Johnny Walker who was long stamped as a future superstar of the light heavyweight division was once again on the losing end of things for the second time in a row against Nikita Kyrlov who deployed a very wrestling heavy game plan.
As a viewer, this was odd to watch high profile fights without a crowd cheering. Brazilian fans are known to be rowdier than the average crowd which is what make this feel more odd. It gave it a feel similar to watching the Ultimate Fighter reality series.
4. Event Cancellations:
At first the media and fans alike were under the impression that the UFC will be able to manage “show must go on” mentality despite the world being under a pandemic. They assured us multiple times that the next few events will take place. UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs Edwards would take place without fans similarly to the event in Brazil. Both UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs Rozenstruik and UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Harris which took place in Columbus, Ohio and Portland, Oregon respectively would pack ship and take place in the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Only a few days after UFC in Brazil those plans were completely squashed. Travel bans were beginning to be implemented by the United Kingdom so many fighters were no longer able to make the trip. In the end, the event was “postponed”, but I think it was just out-rightly cancelled. Luckily for some of the athletes, Cage Warriors which is a United Kingdom based MMA promotion had an event on the same weekend. Some of the UFC fighters fought at their event instead, and it did take place behind closed doors without fans.
As for the other two which were scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Athletic Commission banned all combat sports from taking place. They were no longer able to take place at the UFC Apex as they could not get approval from the commission to take place.
Bellator was Proactive in cancelling their event in March: Bellator 241 the day before it happened, and all of its future events in May: Bellator 242, Bellator London, and Bellator 243. Both the UFC and Bellator paid their fighters despite the fact that the events are no longer taking place.
5. Jon Jones gets arrested for DWI:
UFC Light Heavyweight champion and one of the biggest stars in the sport finds himself on the wrong side of the law once again when he is caught drinking while intoxicated and firearm charge. Jon Jones ended up pleading guilty in court and avoids jail time. He is to serve one year of supervised probation, 90 days of outpatient treatment, and community service. The ironic part of this was that only days prior he tweeted about how with the Covid-19 pandemic that all people need to do to play their part is to stay indoors. It is a shame he could not take his own advice.
I truly feel bad Jones, he is such a wonderous talent and can be considered the greatest of all time, but he is constantly getting himself into trouble. The bodycam footage of the arrest was troubling as well. He was mentioning his severe case of anxiety and made a comment about his memory loss because of fighting. He made a public statement afterwards apologising and commented on his unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Hopefully this is the last straw for him, and we can see him live his life without getting in any sort of trouble.
These were some of the biggest headlines in for the March wrap up! Is there something that I missed? Also leave your opinion in the comments down below!