By Adam Martin
There was a lot of criticism directed towards the UFC for hosting a "weak" UFC 206 card going into last Saturday's PPV event in Toronto, but after an amazing night of fights, the critics have been silenced. UFC 206 turned out to be one of the best cards of the year, a night filled with numerous memorable moments, tons of upsets, and incredible performances from many fighters on the card. With so much going on, some of the storyline's from the event were lost in the shuffle.
Here's a recap of some of the storylines that emerged from UFC 206:
"Where's Waldo?" Holloway Wins Title, Challenges Aldo
With 10 straight wins, Max Holloway is now the UFC Interim Featherweight Champion following a vicious TKO finish over Anthony Pettis. Holloway has looked absolutely amazing the last few years, and after becoming the first man to knock Pettis out, it's clear Holloway is more dangerous than ever. After the fight, Holloway called out Jose Aldo, but said he wasn't sure if Aldo would show up to the fight, calling him "Jose Waldo" in reference to the "Where's Waldo?" children's books. Holloway vs. Aldo is a dream matchup, and hopefully it happens in 2017 (though with Aldo's track record of pulling out of fights, that's no sure thing).
Pettis Loses Again; What's Next For Former Lightweight Champ?
On the flipside, Pettis lost yet again, dropping to 1-4 overall in his last five fights and looking like a shell of his former self. The former UFC Lightweight Champion missed weight for this fight with Holloway and afterwards said the weight cut is too hard on his body, so he will be going back up to 155 for his next fight. At this point, the UFC would be better off giving him a step down in competition, because it's clear he can no longer compete with the elite fighters in the top five. It would probably be wise to give Pettis someone in the middle of the pack like Diego Sanchez in his next fight.
Following a highlight-reel head kick KO of Matt Brown, Donald Cerrone is a top contender at welterweight. Cowboy is 4-0 with four finishes at 170 lbs and after the fight he said he would like to fight Demian Maia for a title shot. That's an amazing fight, and if Tyron Woodley fights Stephen Thompson next in a rematch, then Cowboy vs. Maia sounds like the perfect fight to make, one that should headline a Fight Night or Fox card.
Swanson, Choi Compete In Fight Of The Year Contender
It was a Fight of the Year contender, as Cub Swanson was able to win a unanimous decision in a three-round war over Doo Ho Choi. Both men threw caution to the wind for 15 minutes and it was amazing that no one was knocked out, as both men took an unreal amount of punishment in the fight. Swanson has now won three in a row and should be fighting a top featherweight contender next. As for Choi, even despite the loss he became an overnight star, and at 24, he has all the time in the world to move back up the ladder. What a fight.
After knocking out Tim Kennedy in brutal fashion, one has to wonder why Kelvin Gastelum just doesn't stay at 185. It's clear he cannot make 170, and in his middleweight career he's undefeated, with wins over the likes of Kennedy, Uriah Hall, and Nate Marquardt. Gastelum is only 25 and he keeps getting better every time we see him. He has fantastic boxing and his grappling is solid, plus his cardio looks amazing at 185, and after beating a top-10 fighter in Kennedy, Gastelum should stay at middleweight, which is a healthier weight class for him.
Cirkunov Calls Out Shogun, Emerges As Canadian Star
Entering the fight as an underdog, Toronto's own Misha Cirkunov was able to take Nikita Krylov out via first-round submission for the biggest win of his career as he improved to 4-0 in the UFC. After the fight, Cirkunov called out Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, and that's a fight the light heavyweight division needs. Canada needs a star, and Cirkunov is a good-looking, well-spoken fighter who is really, really good at MMA. He could be the guy who headlines cards in Canada, and who knows, in a year he might be fighting for the light heavyweight title. At 29, youth is on his side.
Vannata Shows Ferguson Fight Was No Fluke With Stunning KO Of Makdessi
In his UFC debut over the summer, Landon Vannata took it to Tony Ferguson in a "Fight of the Year" contender, ultimately succumbing to a submission loss after two back-and-forth rounds. No one was quite sure what to expect from Vannata in his next fight, but after knocking out John Makdessi in stunning fashion with a spinning hook kick, the sky seems like the limit for the 24 year old. It will be interesting to see who the UFC gives Vannata next, but he should likely fight someone ranked in the Top 15.
Tough Night For Canadians
It was a tough night for Canada's UFC fighters, as they went a combined 2-5 in their fights. Cirkunov and Olivier Aubin-Mercier picked up stoppage wins, but Jordan Mein, Makdessi, Valerie Letourneau, Mitch Gagnon, and Jason Saggo all lost. The good thing is, there is a UFC card in Halifax, Nova Scotia in February, so the Canadian fighters will have the opportunity to bounce back into the win column very soon.