“Grading the card” is an article written by Mike James after every major UFC and Bellator event. Every main card fight and the fight card itself is briefly discussed and given a letter grade. This article covers UFC 195, which took place Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit put on a fight of the year candidate only two days into the year. Both fighters had their moments in the fight, which was a grueling, back and forth affair. Condit opened strong by dropping Lawler early and throwing a lot of volume. Lawler, being the ferocious champion that he is, stormed back in the second round and badly hurt Condit. While he was unable to finish Condit, Lawler made a big statement in the round. The third round ended up being the round that decided the fight, as Condit took round four and Lawler took round five. Condit outstruck Lawler by a significant margin in the third round, but Lawler landed the harder shots. Two out of the three judges ultimately scored the third round for Lawler. That resulted in Lawler earning a close and somewhat controversial split decision. Most observers, including Dana White, scored the fight for Condit. That may lead to an immediate rematch between the two, though Condit said after the fight that he is considering retirement. It should be noted that the fifth round of the fight is an early candidate for round of the year. Fight Grade: A+ Stipe Miocic vs Andrei Arlovski Miocic came into this fight with the intention of making a big statement that would result in him getting a shot at the winner of next month’s UFC Heavyweight Championship fight between current title holder Fabricio Werdum and former champion Cain Velasquez. He did just that by flooring Arlovski with a big right hand behind the ear that rocked Arlovski. Miocic instantly went in for the kill and ultimately earned the stoppage less than a minute into the first round. The 33 year old is now 8-2 in his UFC career and he looks to be the next title challenger in the heavyweight division. Miocic Performance Grade: A+ Albert Tumenov vs Lorenz Larkin Heavy-handed strikers Albert Tumenov and Lorenz Larkin faced off in one of UFC 195’s most anticipated fights. Tumenov entered the contest on a very impressive four fight win streak, while Larkin had won two in a row since dropping to the welterweight division in early 2015. The fight came down to Tumenov’s boxing versus Larkin’s kicking game, particularly his leg kicks. Tumenov was able to consistently land hard punches to Larkin’s head and body, while Larkin’s leg kicks did considerable damage to Tumenov’s lead leg. Tumenov edged out the first two rounds before Larkin’s leg kicks began to really take their toll in the third round. Now on a five fight winning streak, Tumenov will likely face a top 15 opponent in his next contest. Fight Grade: B+ Brian Ortega vs Diego Brandao Another fight that hardcore fans eagerly anticipated was Brian Ortega versus Diego Brandao. The 24 year old Ortega entered the contest as one of the most talked about prospects in the featherweight division. Brandao, meanwhile, came into the fight on an impressive two fight winning streak, including a brutal first round knockout victory over Katsunori Kikuno in September. Ortega’s strategy was to drag Brandao into the second and third rounds, where he has historically tired. That strategy ended up paying dividends, as Ortega ended up locking in a triangle early in the third round that forced Brandao to tap. Ortega’s incredible jiu jitsu was on full display, particularly his ability to transition from one submission to another. The undefeated Ortega improves to 2-0 (1 no-contest) in the UFC with the win, while Brandao falls to 6-4. Fight Grade: B- Abel Trujillo vs Tony Sims Abel Trujillo and Tony Sims, two mid-tier lightweights, were tasked with kicking off UFC 195’s main card. Both fighters were looking to get back into the win column after disappointing losses in their most recent fights. Sims started the fight by getting the better of the exchanges, as his length and superior boxing gave Trujillo a lot of problems. Trujillo did not seem to have an answer for the puzzle Sims presented, at least until Sims abandoned his game plan and shot in for a double-leg with his neck exposed. Trujillo capitalized on Sims’ mistake by locking in a modified guillotine that forced Sims to tap. It was a huge error by Sims and Trujillo deserves credit for taking advantage of it. Trujillo improves his UFC record to 4-3 (1 NC) with the win, while Sims falls to 1-2. Trujillo Performance Grade: B Thoughts: UFC 195’s main card featured a fight of the year candidate, a big knockout that resulted in a new title challenger, two crafty submissions, and a highly technical, back-and-forth slugfest. The card ultimately lived up to the lofty expectations that many fans set. Lawler versus Condit may go down as one of the best fights in UFC history, it was that good. There are certain fights that you will remember forever, and this was likely one of them. The controversial nature of the fight calls for an immediate rematch, but that may depend on whether or not Condit chooses to keep fighting. Once a fighter starts talking about retiring they are likely not long for the sport. Mixed martial arts is a rough sport that requires the fighter to give all they have every time out. If Condit does not have the passion anymore, he should retire. However, if he thinks he can find the drive and motivation to continue, he should definitely return. Fans would love to see these two warriors throw down again, there is no question about it. Final UFC 195 Grade: A-
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