The UFC’s largest champion co-headlined UFC 211 with the smallest, as heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic was set to make his record-tying second defense of the heavyweight title (Jesus, what a meat-grinder that division is by the way), and women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (pronounced “Yun-jay-chick”) defended her belt for the fifth time.
Before the two championship bouts, questions swirled around both fighters “greatness.” Just where did they rank all-time? Afterwards, answers were provided in abundance:
Stipe Miocic v. Junior Dos Santos – Still active Cleveland firefighter Miocic staked his claim for greatness with arguably the best performance of his career against former champ Dos Santos. After losing a bruising three-round decision to JDS back in December of 2014, a fight Miocic called the toughest of his career, he absolutely steamrolled him in the re-match for an emphatic knockout.
As he so often is, Miocic was aggressive early, coming out throwing rarely seen leg kicks. Junior landed several whipping leg kicks of his own that had Miocic’s shin visibly swollen almost instantly. Still, Miocic pressed forward, almost recklessly, chasing Junior around the octagon and pushing his back against the fence.
As his last two bouts with Cain Velasquez showed, Junior is most vulnerable when you get his back to the cage. His defense becomes dangerously sloppy. Such was the case here, as Miocic pursued him to the fence over and over and unloaded with hard punches until Junior was forced to move. Finally after circling against the fence to his left, JDS suddenly switched directions and tried to float right. Miocic anticipated it and launched a booming right hand that landed flush on the hinge of the jaw and dropped Junior into the turtle position. A series of hard left hands on the ground were academic, and a few more landed than was necessary before the ref jumped in to stop the fight.
Wow. Miocic just completely blew Junior away. Miocic chased him down and pummeled him like he had no fear of Junior’s stand-up—some of the deadliest in the history of the heavyweight division—whatsoever. That was a total annihilation. I wonder if JDS got rocked early and never quite got his bearings, because that was by far the most one-sided slaughter he’s ever taken in his career. With Cain Velasquez’ early retirement looming, Miocic is currently head and shoulders above everyone else in the heavyweight division.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk v. Jessica Andrade – Polish-born Joanna “Champion” was in peak form sweeping a five round decision over a game-as-hell Jessica Andrade. The story of this fight was told in the opening minute: Joanna would play the matador, Andrade the bull. And Joanna looked like “Manolete” in there.
Joanna came out circling and popping quick jabs, as Andrade trudged inexorably forward. Early in the round a wild left-hook-right hook combo from Andrade raised a lump on Joanna’s forehead. Andrade pushed Joanna to the fence and scored a takedown that Joanna immediately sprung up from and landed a hard elbow. The champion landed a double jab-head kick combination, and from that point on, Andrade’s offense mainly consisted of occasional free-swinging charges, which Joanna would float out of reach from. In between those charges however is where the real damage was done.
Round-after-round Joanna pot-shotted Andrade with accurate jabs, stinging rights, and a variety hard leg kicks, body kicks, and head kicks. There were no uppercuts attempted on her smaller opponent, and nary a hook was thrown by the champion, just laser guided one-two’s and slashing kicks to all points of the anatomy. For her part, Andrade’s takedowns weren’t much more effective than her striking, as the few she scored were instantly negated by Joanna’s remarkable ability to pop back up. Joanna landed an inside leg kick-front kick to the face combination to end the first that drew “Oooh’s” from the crowd.
The second round was a striking clinic by Joanna, who had really started to find her range. Near the end of the round Joanna landed left jab-left head kick combination and then a right knee to the head of a desperately lunging Andrade. The third was more of the same as Andrade was getting increasingly desperate and sloppy in her efforts to land punches, but remained doggedly determined despite the merciless pounding she was taking. The fourth was the most brutally one-sided yet for Andrade, as Joanna had yet to slow down at all despite her relentless pace, and basically hit Andrade with everything but her stool. A head kick drew “Oooh’s”. A head kick-body kick followed by a vicious one-two had Andrade fading badly. Later in the round Joanna buckled Andrade’s leg with a thudding kick. Near the end of the round, a left head kick directly off the left jab was the most devastating shot Andrade had taken all night, among many possible candidates.
With the fight clearly in the bag, Joanna basically got on her bicycle for the fifth, still looking as fresh as she did in round one. Near the end of the round Andrade managed to briefly dirty box Joanna and land three hard right hooks/uppercuts on the inside—the first shots I remember her landing in several rounds. This insult seemed to re-energize Joanna, who spent the remainder of the round battering Andrade with an assortment of brutal strikes. At the horn the fighters embraced. Andrade showed an unbelievable chin, and boundless heart, determination, and endurance, but she was simply outclassed. The three blind mice could have scored this fight.
The cards read 50-45, 50-44, and 50-55, all five rounds to none, the second judge finding a 10-8 round somewhere based on one-sided punishment I assume. Probably the fourth.
Even more impressive than those numbers were these: Joanna broke the records for the highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (+142), the highest significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship fight (+225), and the most leg kicks landed in a fight in UFC history (+75). The records she broke were all hers too, by the way.
Mulligan Card (aka the only one that matters): 50-45, or five rounds to nil for Joanna. Didn’t see enough one-way damage to warrant any 10-8 rounds.
So what’s next for two of the UFC’s most dominant champions? Whispers about Miocic possibly becoming the greatest heavyweight of all-time—if he isn’t already—abound, while Joanna’s aiming at even loftier all-time status as the greatest female fighter in MMA history. Plenty of the sport’s experts think she already is, including the guy who’s Spew you’re currently enthralled by.
With another successful title defense from either fighter before the end of the year, which would tie the female record of six defenses for Joanna, and set a new heavyweight record of three defenses for Miocic, there won’t be any questions left about where they rank*:
The muthafuckin tippity-top.
*Although I still say Fedor Emelianenko is the best heavyweight of all-time for his era