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UFC 290 Ends The Golden Era of Mid Fights

To date, this card is twelve fights with something to entertain everyone. It’s got Good Fights. This card has got “Good Fights.” It’s got good fights? And it’s got gooooood fights. Without further ado, let’s crack into this hot rack of ribs.

The Good Good

My taste in fights has evolved over the years. I’ve gone from casual, to elitist snob, to understanding enjoyer. Lately, I just want everyone to enjoy themselves. Through every phase I have always loved it when two elite, well rounded pugilists face off in a chess match with ever increasing stakes. This is what is known as a “Good Fight.” In this category, you will see your main and co-main events. This is going to be your Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez and your Brandon Moreno vs Alexandre Pantoja. You could also slip Sean Brady vs Jack Della Maddalena. These are going to be hot pastrami bangers and I don’t know who is going to win any of those. 

Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez

When Yair put a school-yard beat down on Josh Emmett to take the featherweight interim belt, I thought that he might have just punched a ticket to a ride through a meat grinder. Volkanovski has been stomping down contenders as fast as they pop up. It’s rare that  a champion can defend his belt against a number one contender three times, and still make time to try for a belt one weight division up. This is all while staying busy against other up and comers. Volk’s list of accomplishments and absolute domination made me think he would just run through Yair like a hot spoon through ice cream, but Yair’s style is just inimitable enough that Volk might get caught off guard. His mix of weird strikes from everywhere and wild Jiu Jitsu is going to make this fight wild. 

Yair Rodriguez, image – Tapology

Brandon Moreno vs Alexandre Pantoja

I tend to hate immediate rematches and trilogies and quadrilogies, and other such marketing ploys. The exception being Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo. The only downside from watching those men fight time and time again for the flyweight belt is that Pantoja has been waiting for his shot. Pantoja boasts a decision win over Moreno in 2018, and has been submitting the top of this division while waiting for Deiveson and Moreno to figure their whole thing out. Pantoja has also lost to Figueiredo, so MMA math is dumb and this fight is going to rule. 

Alexander Pantoja, image – MMA Junkie

Sean Brady vs Jack Della Maddalena

This is my sleeper pick for Fight of the Night. Brady has clean, fundamental submission grappling and Della Maddalena mixes clean striking with a “come forward and whip leather” style of kickboxing. Brady is coming off of a couple of high profile losses, the first two in his career, and Della Maddalena is stepping up in competition with flashier and more dramatic knockouts. If Brady has been able to add a little snap to the end of his punches, he might be able to close distance more effectively and avoid Della Maddalena’s brutal overhands and straight shots. Either way, this fight is going to entertain. 

Sean Brady, image – Cage-side Press

The Bad Good

This category is reserved for the “gas station hot dogs.” The fights that don’t strive for technical perfection as much as they aim for entertainment. This is your old guys trying to end each other’s careers, your two new contenders fighting for a number next to their names, and your “big man hit hard” types of fights. Fights in this category can also include one sided beat downs. These are some of my favorites. 

Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield

Jimmy Crute is 12-3-1 and Alonzo Menifield is 13-3-1. The one’s on their records come from the last time they tried this fight. Their last outing ended in a draw. We have another striker vs grappler matchup, one that is guaranteed to be violent. This is one of two Light Heavyweight fights. It will also be surprisingly technical. I’m excited for the first round of this fight.

Alfonso Menifield, image – MMA Odds-breaker

Bo Nickel vs Tresean Gore

I’ve been watching Bo Nickel compete since the 2018 NCAA championships. He won that year with the stupidest haircut imaginable. He also is the most elite of the elite when it comes to freestyle wrestling. If he chose, I believe he could go out and win a gold medal in the Olympics. Instead, he’s going to try to avoid Tresean Gore’s power shots. If he can keep Gore from knocking him into the shadow realm, Bo will drag him to hell. 

Bo Nickel, image – Yahoo Sports

Robbie Lawler vs Nico Price

This is the old school main event, right here. Robbie Lawler has been fighting in the UFC since May of 2002. He made his debut in UFC 37. Nico Price has eleven years as a pro fighter under his belt. Both are known for coming forward and punching people really hard in the head. The Just Bleed gods abide by this fight. 

Robbie Lawler, image – Bleacher Report

The Beat Downs

Like a toddler eating spaghetti, these are the fights I’m excited for because they’re going to be absolute messes. 

Robert Whittaker vs Dricus Du Plessis

There’s a reason why I waited this long to write about Robert Whittaker. Not only is he one of my favorite fighters, he’s an all around great dude. Not only did he fight peak Yoel Romero two times in a row, he has never been anything but both affable and vicious. He’s self-deprecating, charming, and an incredibly well rounded fighter. If Israel Adesanya weighed ten pounds more or less, I’m positive he would still be the champ of the Middleweight division. 

Dricus Du Plessis, on the other hand, has been spouting some misconstrued lines of thought in the press. While plenty of people understand where he’s coming from, his mode of thinking is easily taken out of context, which is a big no-no in today’s sensitive times. He is also a very dangerous striker. Ultimately, though, Whittaker is going to fuck this dude up and a whole arena full of people are going to cheer really really hard. 

Robert Whittaker, image – MMA Junkie

Jalin Turner vs Dan Hooker

This is another sleeper favorite of mine. Again, I don’t know who is going to win this fight. Both fighters are long for the division, but Jalin Turner is an absurd 6’3″ as a lightweight. Dan Hooker is looking to extend his win streak to two after returning to 155. I’ve always been a huge fan of Dan Hooker, so a win here would make me very happy. Both of these guys have proved to be entertaining time and time again, and Hooker’s fight against Paul Felder is still one of my top ten favorite fights of all time. 

Dan Hooker, image – NZ Herald


UFC 290 is a turbo charged 1971 Barracuda with chrome detailing in a world full of Chevy Volts. 

UFC 290 is an oasis in the desert of 2023’s dumpster fire fight cards.

Looking through the lineup gives me hope that the Season of the Mid is coming to an end. I’ll happily get gouged the $80 to watch this card from front to back.

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