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LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 07: (R-L) Eddie Alvarez punches Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil in their lightweight championship bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 7, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

International Fight Week Day 1: WHAT?!

The Killing of Frankenberry and Anderson Fucking Silva

There’s nothing like three fight cards in a row to remind us that prizefighting is an insane, chaotic, fickle monster. Yesterday was the perfect encapsulation of what makes MMA both the most joyous sport to follow and the most maddening. Jon Jones failed drug test, and the cancellation of his fight with Dan Cormier is a gut wrenching, sad turn of events. UFC 200 will be the most star laden card ever I’ve ever had the privilege to see, but losing DC/Jones seemed like an unreasonable disappointment. It cast a weird pall of the day, and what would have been debates over the fight turned into a kind of lamenting of Jones career. I watched a video on twitter of workers taking down the Jones banners hanging outside the arena where 200 will take place, and it just feels so final. Jon Jones will likely be out for two years, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see him fight to his potential ever again.

Jon Jones kind of consumed us for the early part of the day. We flew, and got checked in with only minor setbacks. It seemed for a while we would miss our connection, but everything worked out. As we started to make our way to the arena, the news broke that they were looking to keep DC on the card, and a replacement was being sourced. Gegard Mousasi seemed like the best choice to me: he was already on the card, he’s been a title holder at 205, and he’s a criminally underrated fighter. That had to be the fight. Bisbing, Gus, and Glover were all reasonable names that got tossed around, but Anderson Silva was the rumor with the most intrigue. That’s a silly, pointless, amazing one-in-a-million super fight, and there’s no way they can pull it off in a day.

I lost track of all the Jones bullshit once we got to the arena for UFN 90. The card was amazing! It started off with five straight submissions, the most beautiful of which was Pedro Munhoz’ fake-back-take-to-flying-guillotine that demanded we stand and cheer. The fights progressed quickly with poor Mike Pile being put out to pasture with an stunning flying knee and Irish Joe Duffy absolutely running through Mitch Clarke in like 20 seconds. Jouban vs Muhammad was the most fun fight of the night, with the two trading 10-8 rounds in the first and third, and Roy Nelson Derrick Lewis was odd and bad and fun. The moment of the evening, and perhaps the weekend was Eddie Alvarez knocking out Rafael Dos Anjos. RDA was fought excellently for the first few minutes. He was pressuring Eddie, landing nice, clean counters, and moving him around the ring with ease. He came forward with Alvarez near the fence, and Eddie fired off a hard left hook (I think) that staggered RDA into the center of the cage. The next 90 seconds were all Eddie laying it on thick, and he eventually got the stoppage. The crowd was raucous, and very pro-Alvarez. It was shocking and wonderful, and I feel great for Eddie Alvarez, who has worked his whole life for that. The conversation earlier in the day was regarding RDA’s place among the best lightweights of all time, and how quickly things change. Lightweight is a meat grinder, and Eddie Alvarez is the one turning the crank, for now.

The whole night was a bit surreal. Our seats were floor level, and the nearest bathroom/beer dispensary turned out to be next to the media/fighter entrance. A bunch of fighters were just strolling on through and it’s always fun to rubberneck . I was standing there, and all the sudden, Michael Bisbing is behind me in line to get a beer. I guess we can cross him off the fighting DC list. Bisbing and Max Holloway were extremely generous with their time. Talking to fans and taking tons of pictures, which is nice to see. After the fights they announced Anderson Silva would fight Dan Cormier in a non-title bout on Saturday. This is completely fucking bonkers, and I’m terribly excited. More on that later. For now I’m just going to enjoy Alvarez’ triumph and get ready to see the best two female fighters in the world for the 115lb title.

-Larry

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