What mattered most at UFC Fight Night 195 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …
1. Cornering controversy
The primary narrative coming out of the main event was not how Norma Dumont probably secured a title shot in the women’s featherweight division with her unanimous decision win (and good for her doing so), but rather the scenes and sounds coming from Aspen Ladd’s corner between rounds as she tried to make something happen in the fight.
We don’t need to sugarcoat anything: That was not great stuff. Ladd (9-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) could not get out of first gear from the opening bell, and it was evident she was falling behind on the scorecards as each round passed.
Not many people would disagree that, in this scenario, the onus is on the corner to encourage the athlete to turn things around. We’ve seen countless methods of coaching in that scenario, but the way Ladd’s boyfriend and head coach, Jim West, talked to his fighter seemed to startle a lot of the viewing audience.
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This by no means is a “sensitive” media take. There were more than a few fighters who thought West was out of line for how he spoke to Ladd, and did not view it as a constructive way to encourage her. That seems to be a fair criticism. If it wasn’t, West wouldn’t have released a statement apologizing for his ways. Personally, I think West could’ve approached the moment differently, but who am I to say?
We know the fighter-coach relationship is a unique one. West obviously knows Ladd infinitely better than anyone, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick up on tone. And given Ladd wasn’t able to turn the fight around, it didn’t seem to be all that effective.
I don’t know if I would go as far as to echo Miesha Tate’s comments and call West’s cornering “abusive,” but it was far from perfect. It should serve as a teachable moment for all involved, and hopefully West will be better in his role after this experience.
2. Andrei Arlovski is timeless
I honestly don’t even care how Andrei Arlovski wins at this point. Brutal knockout, boring decision, undeserved split decision – whatever. The fact that this man is around and kicking is a marvelous story.
Arlovski (32-20 MMA, 21-14 UFC), a former UFC heavyweight champion who made his octagon debut in 2000, recorded his 21st UFC victory (most in divisional history and fourth-most all time) when he edged Carlos Felipe by unanimous decision. He’s now 4-1 in his past five fights, and he’s 42 years old.
At this stage of his career, Arlovski is an absolute gift for the promotion. He’s willing to take any fight offered, and he separates the contenders from the pretenders. It remains to be seen how long Arlovski can keep pushing this longevity streak, but I’m here for it.
3. Jim F’ing Miller!
Wow. Even if someone predicted Jim Miller to top promotional newcomer Erick Gonzalez, there aren’t many who saw him scoring an absolutely savage one-punch finish right at the beginning of the second round of their lightweight fight.
Despite having 38 UFC fights and Gonzalez having zero for the biggest single-fight experience margin in history, it seemed it might not help Miller (33-16 MMA, 22-15 UFC) early on. He gave up compromising positions and got hurt with punches, but then he pulled himself together.
Miller showed why he’s a legend of the sport and arguably a future UFC Hall of Famer when he decked Gonzalez off a sloppy kick attempt for his 22nd octagon victory. He tied Demian Maia for the second most wins in UFC history and now only trails Donald Cerrone.
Although he’s a fighter who never competed for UFC gold and never reached that truly elite level, Miller has carved out a real legacy for himself. If he can continue to compete occasionally over the next few years and actually get a fight on that UFC 300 card – whenever it happens – he would put himself in unmatchable territory.
4. Slow the roll on Manon Fiorot
Manon Fiorot’s victory over Mayra Bueno Silva showed we probably need to slow down the hype a touch on the women’s flyweight from France.
Fiorot (8-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) was able to put her first two UFC opponents away inside the distance, and although she tried mightily to duplicate that against Bueno Silva, it appeared to be a tad forced. Fiorot was tenacious with her striking and output, but recklessness may have cost her in the big picture.
Bueno Silva’s toughness and attention to defense kept Fiorot from securing the finish, and that’s going to be a lesson. In the end, it was a pretty dominant win for Fiorot, and this is purely nitpicking, but it’s all to her benefit in the long run.
Fiorot was being put into the conversation as a title challenger for dominant 125-pound queen Valentina Shevchenko all too soon, and this fight showed it’s time to back off that for the time being. Fiorot has plenty of room for growth, and ideally she’d be fully developed if and when she challenges for gold.
5. Loopy Godinez gets credit in defeat
Even though it didn’t go her way, Loopy Godinez deserves a round of applause for getting in the octagon twice in the span of seven days, a record for the non-tournament era of the UFC.
Although she certainly would’ve liked the result to be a win to break Khamzat Chimaev’s record for the fastest gap between UFC wins in modern company history, Godinez (6-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) still put herself in the history books simply by showing up.
It’s particularly unfortunate, too, because Godinez lost by the slimmest of margins. Luana Carolina (8-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) had a solid effort in her unanimous decision win, but it’s clear the judges didn’t give Godinez’s aggression in the grappling department much credit. There’s a reason to see that as fair, but also a strong argument for Godinez to win.
Ultimately it didn’t go Godinez’s way on the scorecards, but she has lots of reasons to feel happy coming out of this. She got two paychecks off of one training camp and raised her profile significantly compared to where it would’ve been if she passed on the opportunity.