Monday 5 December 2016

Aisling Daly hoping to bounce back after defeat while Jon Jones back in trouble

This week’s MMA column reviews UFC 186 that went down in Montreal last weekend.

Published 27/04/2015 | 14:53

Jon Jones screams for the fans during weigh-ins for a UFC 182 bout against Daniel Cormier, in january.
Jon Jones screams for the fans during weigh-ins for a UFC 182 bout against Daniel Cormier, in january.

Despite losing some big name fighters and bouts to injury the card served up some superb MMA action, while Jon Jones continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

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Further strife for Jon Jones

No sooner had the MMA media finished dissecting UFC 186 on Sunday than news broke that light-heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones was in trouble again and may be forced out of his title defence at UFC 187.

The UFC released a statement and it’s expected that Jones will appear in court in the next four weeks.

Read more: UFC champion wanted for questioning in a hit-and-run case involving pregnant woman

Jones is wanted by the Albuquerque Police Department for questioning after fleeing the scene of a hit and run car accident involving another car with a pregnant female driver in her twenties. The unnamed driver was taken to hospital for examination of minor injuries.

This latest brush with authority comes after Jones tested positive for cocaine in an out of competition random drug test performed last December. While he issued an apology to his fans, checked himself into a drug rehabilitation facility and assured everyone he is "taking this treatment program very seriously”,  his mother revealed his stay only lasted one night.

Jones was also arrested for driving while intoxicated three years ago after crashing his new Bentley.

So far the UFC has stood by their errant superstar after each incident. Surely, this is a step too far?

The UFC is doing Jones no favours if they don’t make him accountable and responsible for his behaviour. While no changes have appeared to the UFC 187 card as yet, watch this space.

Better late than never… or maybe not

Demetrious Johnson retained his flyweight title but still can't get any love from the UFC fans. ‘Mighty Mouse’ is one of the most dominant champions and a legitimate ‘pound for pound’ great but was roundly booed by a section of the fans towards the end of his five rounder with Kyoji Horiguchi.

Part of the image problem for Johnson is that despite being so much better than his opponents he only finshed two from his previous six title fights. Though he got his third finish on Saturday, leaving it until the last second of the twenty five minute title fight won't have endeared him further to the public.

Joe Rogan tried to whip up some favourable PR in the immediate aftermath. The UFC’s colour commentator was adamant that no-one will be able to finish an oppponent later in a fight, like that was a good thing.

UFC president Dana White voiced his disappointment at fans leaving during the UFC 186 main event. Whether it's because of the weight class or Johnson’s personality, the fact is he remains an unpopular champion. His achievements will perhaps be viewed more favourably by MMA hisotorians in the future.

Aisling Daly came close but Markos prevailed

Ireland’s Aisling Daly was one half of the event’s opening scrap that set the tone of an excellent event with 15 minutes of non-stop action.

Unfortunately, the SBG fighter came up just short against a gritty Randa Markos. Fighting in her backyard Markos started fast and got the better of the early striking exchanges. She also shaded the Dubliner in the first round grappling exchanges.

Round two saw Daly take the upper hand with the better grappling. Of all the strikes thrown in the fight, Daly’s elbows from a top Markos were the most significant. At the end of round two the fight was all square but the Canadian had been lumped up and cut over her left eye.

Both fighters knew what they had to do going into the third.

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Daly went about recreating the second round but Markos knew what to expect and adapted her tactics on the fly. The Canadian had some success in the first round, hip tossing Daly in the clinch as the Irish fighter looked to work towards the back.

In third and Daly looked for the takedown Markos secured a headlock throw that wouldn’t have been out of place in the school yard, Markos managed to take the Dubliner down and remain on top.

After getting back to her feet Daly knew the urgency of the situation. In an attempt to drag Markos south with a trip takedown, a moment’s hesitation allowed Markos shift her weight and wind up on top of Daly in full mount.

Daly now needed a finish and tried as she might, Markos was too good on the night.

Markos was one of the lower ranked fighters going into The Ultimate Fighter series but announced to the world that all she needed was a chance to prove her ability.

Saturday night proved that in addition to undoubted athletic ability she has applied herself to learning Mixed Martial Arts and is now very much a contender in the UFC’s straw-weight division.

Since their time away from each other in TUF 20 house, Markos has undoubtedly progressed more than Daly. She has a more mature MMA career that needs refining rather than real development.

The UFC ladies straw-weight division is in flux at the moment and lacking an obvious challenger. Markos has shown her top ten ranking is deserved and has the ability to match opponents at their strengths while taking opportunities to put herself in the driving seat. Randa could be one fight away from a title shot.

Read more: Ireland's Aisling Daly suffers first ever defeat at UFC 186

Daly will probably fall out of the top 10. To put herself back in the mix she’ll need to rack up a few fast wins. With three European UFC events coming up in 2015 Daly should look to fight on the Berlin or Glasgow cards during the summer and Dublin in October.

With potentially two wins, taking her UFC record to 3-1 and time on her side (Aisling is only 27) she can be back in the title hunt in 2016.

Rampage returns

After leaving Bellator in a blaze of glory Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson had his UFC return temporarily delayed by a court injunction. After the injunction was overturned Jackson did indeed fight at UFC 186 last weekend.

He will breath badly needed life in the the UFC’s light-heavyweight division.

A win over Maldonado proves he can still stand and bang. Who knows, he may even challenge for the title down the track.

Bispings proves he belongs in the title hunt

Michael Bisping has been telling anyone that will listen that he’s not done as a fighter. On Saturday he proved it with a hard fought decision win over CB Dolloway.

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Despite being dropped in the first round Bisping battled hard for his victory. He kept the pace high and his output was far superior to Dolloway. Between his movememnt and his ever changing combination of strikes, Bisping never allowedd Dolloway to settle into a rhythm. His takedown defence is such that he can keep the fight on the feet even when pitched against much better wrestlers, like Dolloway.

Bisping deserves to fight big names and will headline more UFC cards around the world if he keeps winning. Whether he’s good enough for a title shot will depend as much on what happens elsewhere in the division.

With the light-heavyweight division in utter chaos, what are the odds of a return to his former weight category?

Elsewhere on the UFC 186 card

Valerie Letourneau announced herself as a new threat in the ladies straw-weight division. The Canadian stalked her opponent with a cold stare, mixing her strikes well to outpoint Jessica Rackozy. Both ladies were making their straw-weight debuts having previously fought up at bantamweight.

Patrick Cote and Joe Riggs wound back the clock and put on a thoroughly entertaining three rounder that saw Cote get the nod on the judges scorecards.

Both men debuted for the UFC in 2004. Both have spent time away from the promotion but both men acquitted themselves well in a fight that wouldn’t have been out of place on a UFC 51 card many moons ago.

Thomas Almeida and John Makdessi kicked off the main card portion of the event with two impressive TKO finishes. Almeida netted himself a $50,000 bonus for his efforts while Makdessi should be disappointed he didn’t. The UFC opted to give Demetrious Johnson a bonus for his late, late stoppage even though he would have been one of the highest paid fighters on the card anyway.

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