Mainstream fight fans have no Conor McGregor.
Actual fight fans have no incentive to pay attention to CM Punk getting dominated for three rounds.
There finally was (and still is, but not as much) something to look forward to in this tumultuous world of Mixed Martial Arts.
From the exclusive Fight Pass prelims all the way up to the main event, UFC 226 was easily the best pay-per-view card the promotion put together in 2018.
That was, until featherweight champion Max Holloway had to pull out of his scheduled featherweight title defense against undefeated prodigy Brian Ortega due to “concussion-like symptoms.”
If everyone remembers correctly, Holloway agreed to fill in for Tony Ferguson three months ago for a lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.
Just like 223, Holloway made it past open workouts to pull out just a few days before fight day.
To the mainstream fight fan, it may appear that Holloway pulled out of his last two fights in fear of losing or to augment his title reign.
But that simply is not the case.
Holloway was responsible for cutting a massive amount of weight for a bout he was not healthy enough to participate in at UFC 223.
Fast forward three months, even with a solid grace period to cut weight, Holloway had to cut to 145 pounds, ten pounds lighter than the goal for UFC 223.
Now, our fearless featherweight champion is having issues with his health and UFC President Dana White claims he will need some significant time off.
Prayers go up for the UFC to figure out the healthiest weight cut path for fighters, and blessings go up for UFC featherweight champion “Blessed” Max Holloway.
Get well soon Max.
Let’s talk about people punching each other.
The prime time slot on the Fox Sports One preliminary card righteously sees Uriah “Prime Time” Hall (14-8) face off against “The Eraser” Paulo Costa (11-0).
Besides having the perfect ratio of intimidation and beauty, Costa also sports a perfect record of 11-0 and has finished every opponent that has faced him so far.
Hall has been on a 10 month layoff and lost three of his last four fights.
However, Hall did win his last fight by way of knockout in an impressive comeback against number 14 ranked middleweight Krzysztof Jotko.
A victory over the surging Costa would give him a two fight winning streak and a good argument for a fight with a top five middleweight contender.
Another potential opponent for the victor of this upcoming bout could be surging newcomer Israel Adesanya (14-0).
In his third fight with the UFC, Adesanya headlined his first card and handily defeated short-notice fill-in and #8 middleweight contender Brad Tavares (17-5).
To sweeten the tea, Adesanya also suggested his next fight should be the winner of Hall-Costa.
Either way the fight plays out, the fight world would be happy.
Do not miss this middleweight bout.
As we look to the main card, we see an intriguing welterweight matchup between “Platinum” Mike Perry (11-3) and Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (15-3).
Perry is currently riding a two fight losing streak both of which he lost decisively via decision. Perry’s ex-girlfriend Danielle Nickerson, who is a professional tennis player with zero professional fights under her belt, cornered him in both losses.
It will be interesting to see how Greg Jackson measures up as his cornerman, as Nickerson has given him one tough act to follow.
That was blatant sarcasm.
Perry’s opponent Felder, the number 14 ranked lightweight, is enjoying a three fight knockout streak as he approaches his welterweight debut.
It remains to be seen whether Felder will add another knockout to his already impressive streak. Yet, Perry would carry a similar incentive as all 11 of his victories have come by way of knockout.
Up next on the card, a heavyweight bout turned grudge match between Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (11-2) and “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (19-5).
These two have been jawing at each other as early as May 2017 when Lewis responded to Ngannou’s claim that Lewis is “too slow” in the octagon.
“F*ck that guy,” Lewis said on episode 383 of the MMA Hour.
A simple yet telling quote from “The Black Beast”.
Despite the jabs thrown from Lewis, “The Predator” still believes he holds every advantage over ”The Black Beast”, as reported by Jed Meshew.
Even if we removed the bad blood between the two, this bout would still make for an exceptional outcome.
But, after the scuffle they had at the weigh-ins Friday, it appears that all is not forgotten.
Before losing his title shot against Stipe Miocic by decision in January 2018, Ngannou finished every opponent in his last ten fights and remains the number one contender in the heavyweight division.
Lewis, on the other hand, won seven of his last eight with all but one of those seven victories coming via knockout.
The outcome of this bout could also set up a title eliminator or even a title shot in the best case scenario.
In the main event, the biggest superfight of the year takes place as the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (18-2) defends his title for the fourth time against the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel “DC” Cormier (20-1).
Miocic’s current win streak and subsequent title run boasts victories over heavyweight legends Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos and Mark Hunt. Although all the opponents named are staples of the division, Cormier could very well be his toughest challenge to date.
“DC” is coming off a successful title defense after a knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220.
On that same card in Boston, Stipe Miocic successfully defended his heavyweight title against the aforementioned Ngannou.
This fight is going to be a spectacle.
Cormier will try to become the second fighter ever to hold two UFC titles concurrently (Conor McGregor, lightweight & featherweight).
Cormier’s key to victory this evening is wrestling.
Miocic is a pure boxer and the only time we’ve seen him resort to wrestling was the slow motion dance party that main evented UFC 220 against Ngannou.
But he’s not facing Ngannou on July 7.
Daniel Cormier is a decorated amateur wrestler who beautifully transported his amateur prowess to the octagon that the two will be standing in.
It is Miocic’s responsibility to defend the takedown and keep the fight on foot.
Miocic’s best bet to win is by knockout, and that is not an opinion-driven statement.
Five of Stone Cold Stipe’s last six wins have all come from knockout.
Four of those five knockouts came in the first round.
Stipe’s key to victory is simple, knock Cormier out as soon as possible.
It has been erased from history, but those who watched UFC 214 saw Daniel Cormier get knocked out.
It is possible, but then again, Cormier is undefeated at heavyweight.
It is evident the worth of the pay per view purchase has plummeted drastically after Holloway pulled out of the co-main event.
Regardless, this is the fight world we live in.
Enjoy UFC 226, and get well soon Max Holloway.