UFC 301: A Twisted Tribute to Legends

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Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

While Alexandre Pantoja retaining his flyweight belt took center stage, the subplot to UFC 301 honored legends in alternative ways.

Also Read: Canelo Alvarez Results: Reigning Champion Handles Business On Cinco De Mayo

Shogun’s Revenge at the Heart of the UFC 301 Main Card

As the promo video started running, it was clear that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was the next inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame. There’s no need to expand much on why.

Just take a look at his record which includes wins over some of the greatest fighters in history, a remarkably violent highlight reel, and multiple world titles. Perhaps it would be a touching high point for an event card that was destined to fall short of its pay-per-view predecessor.

Related: Shogun Rua Announced For UFC Hall Of Fame Class Of 2024

Yes, we expected to have a drop off in marquee value this time around after UFC 300 was bursting at the seams with bankable names. But we didn’t expect the promotion to take the opportunity to send off one of its most beloved veterans with a plate of some good old-fashioned revenge, served cold of course.

Instead of just giving the crowd in Brazil the typical bout sheet of matchups intended to send them into a deafening fervor, it gave Shogun a front-row seat to watch his three men who had finished him meet similar fates at the hands of his countrymen. 

Paul Craig, who authored the first of the three defeats that sent Shogun into retirement, was paired in a way custom-made to expose the single-mindedness of his game. His bold dedication to chaotic guard pulls and reckless submission attempts were flagrantly shut down by Caio Borralho’s fists when “The Natural” decided simply falling to the floor was not strategically sound.

Ihor Potieria, Shogun’s final opponent, was shown zero mercy as well. Against Michel Pereira, the Ukrainian was rendered ineffective in every way before losing consciousness just after tapping to a quickly applied standing guillotine choke. Not even the blatant illegal shin to the head of a downed opponent that preceded the choke would get in the way of destiny. 

In another example of how profoundly unserious MMA can be, a group of officials congregated after the fight was stopped and then agreed to do absolutely nothing about it, awarding the win to the offender. Karma for Potieria’s post-fight celebration over a freshly knocked-out Rua at UFC 283 was more important than the unified rules.

If it were not for a colossal error in judgment by Vitor Petrino that led to his first-round submission loss, maybe the hat trick would have been completed with Anthony Smith.

While most in the MMA world are playing checkers, the UFC matchmakers are playing chess.  

Rules Don’t Apply to Jose Aldo

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Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Fighter retirements are typically taken with a grain of salt for good reason. They rarely stick. Seeing a “retired” fighter make the walk one more time is far too commonplace and usually doesn’t end well. 

Related: Jose Aldo Wants To ‘Become The Champion’ Again, But Is That Right Move?

However, if you’re Jose Aldo those rules just don’t apply. If you’re Jose Aldo most rules don’t apply. After struggling with tough weight cuts to make 145 pounds, you shouldn’t be able to dominate your competition for years as a champion. After that legendary stint as champion ends, you shouldn’t drop more weight to fight in a lighter division. 

And if you do that, you shouldn’t succeed and come within arms reach of the bantamweight belt. And when you decide to hang it up and pursue other ventures, you shouldn’t come back two years later at 37 years old to face a young rising contender and win so decisively. 

Now with a recent relevant win and a clear display of how dangerous he still is, Aldo has options that most fighters could only dream of. A return to the UFC means he could chase gold again or chase legacy fights. Walking away from the Octagon again means taking the highest bidder and cashing out.  

Also Read: Conor McGregor next fight: ‘Notorious’ set to make long-awaited return in June

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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