UFC 194’s Biggest Takeaways: Conor McGregor’s Record-Setting Win & More

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UFC 194 had a lot to live up to. As I said in my preview, it was, on paper, the greatest main card in UFC history, and that was a consensus opinion. That says a lot, too, being that we’re only five months removed from UFC 189 (the previous Conor McGregor card) being the greatest main card in UFC history. It’s arguably whether or not it ended up being the actual best of all time, but there’s no doubt that it didn’t disappoint. We got great fights of several different flavors, including two title changes in the form of the best middleweight title fight in UFC history and the fastest knockout (or finish in general) in UFC title fight history. But what did we learn?

Conor McGregor is officially for real. If you weren’t convinced in July.

Yes, Jose Aldo came out faster and more aggressive than usual, but Conor McGregor induced him to act that way and predicted the exact counter he won with a few days earlier. He’s absolutely an elite fighter and hits terrifyingly hard to boot, which he showed by taking out the best fighter in the world with his first punch. He’s now the undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion and has only one challenger (Frankie Edgar) on the horizon that isn’t a rematch. But…we still don’t know how much of his lackluster wrestling and grappling vs. Chad Mendes had to do with his knee injury. If he could do THAT to Jose Aldo, though? Maybe it doesn’t matter.

McGregor is also the world’s calmest man.

Aldo looked considerably more nervous and tight than usual. McGregor was as ready and loose as ever. Nothing gets to him, and that’s always going to be a gigantic advantage.

Don’t throw spinning kicks if you’re not good at spinning kicks.

It’s sad that a fighter as great as Chris Weidman is going to be defined by one ill-thought out moment. Luke Rockhold’s body kicks were helping him take over anyway. But what the hell was that? After all of Rockhold’s criticism that Weidman was slow and sluggish, he proves his challenger right with the world’s most labored spin kick, setting up him getting finished. It’s not quite Chael Sonnen’s spinning backfist against Anderson Silva, but it’s up there. Title fights are not for that kind of experimentation outside of your comfort zone.

Herb Dean needs to have a consistent criteria for when he’s going to stop a fight.

Herb Dean is one of the best referees in the sport…until he isn’t, and it’s why he’ll never be THE best. He let Chris Weidman get mauled for well over 30 seconds at the end of round three while he wasn’t putting up any kind of workable defense, seemingly for reason other than that he was the champion and there was less than a minute left. Referees aren’t supposed to factor that in. If Weidman was screaming “I’M FINE!” then Dean deserves some slack, but otherwise? Some people thought that the actuak stoppage in round four was too early in a vacuum, but Weidman wasn’t blocking anything.

It’s also not good that this came on the heels of Dean criticizing Mario Yamasaki several weeks ago. Yamasaki called off the Vitor Belfort/Dan Henderson fight when Hendo went limp, which is absolutely the right call, but Dean went off on how he deserved more of a chance. After obviously going completely out?

The Irish Fans Are The Best

A Las Vegas crowd that was actually into a high level ground fight (Demian Maia vs. Gunnar Nelson) and wanted it to stay there? Can they fly to every UFC card now? Pretty please?

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