UFC 273 Aftermath: Celebrating ‘The Masters’ of Jacksonville


UFC 273 went down at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday night. Alexander Volkanovski won his featherweight title fight against Chan Sung Jung. Aljamain Sterling, in co-main, finally put his doubters to rest and retained his bantamweight championship in a rematch. Khamzat Chimaev, a tiny guy from Kazakhstan, continued his quest for the inevitable welterweight title.

But as big as UFC 273 was, it wasn’t the biggest sporting event of the weekend — The Masters took place in Augusta, Ga. So, as with UFC 271 and Whitney Houston, I’m mashing these two events together to show my appreciation for the biggest event in golf and some of the biggest fights this year.

The Green Jacket

To Aljamain Silver, who consumed a lot of crap over the course of a year before finally s***ing the entire damn world.

Sterling entered UFC 273 with by far the most to lose. After winning the title in “controversial” fashion one year prior against Yan, Sterling had spent the past 13 months on the receiving end of trash talk and criticism from fans and fellow fighters alike. Although Sterling objectively did nothing wrong, Yan was somehow painted as the hero in this story, and so Sterling did the only thing he could do: He steered into the skid.

On fight week, Sterling talked a country mile of s***, convinced he was going to make the whole world eat crow. He would not have succeeded if he did. Sterling could have confirmed all of the negative things about him over the last year and would have needed to remove his social media accounts. He also had to move to a cabin deep in the woods to avoid the backlash. Instead, Sterling did what he had to do. He won.

Sterling straight up outworked Yan over the first three rounds, out-landing him in the opening stanza before playing the role of human backpack in the next two (for what it’s worth, the second round was an obvious 10-8 round by both the actual rules and by any rational sense of how fight scoring should work). Yan eventually adjusted as he does every time, but the damage was done. This time, there was no excuse — he simply got beaten. Sterling now has the right to win his victory lap, and it is a privilege that no one else deserves.

Tiger Wood’s win in 1997

To Alexander Volkanovski for his outstanding performance.

In 1997, Tiger Woods put on one of the greatest displays in golf history, obliterating the field at the Masters to win by 12 strokes (still a record) at the age of 21. Although Volkanovski may not be as young now as Woods, the performance was just as remarkable. In every stage of the match, the featherweight champion outclassed Korean Zombie. Volkanovski was everywhere and nowhere all at once, hitting Zombie where he least expected it, but never being there for the return fire. In the end, he out-landed Zombie by a total of 138 to 48 significant strikes — and honestly, the 48 seems high. Zombie was looking confused by the conclusion of round 2. Things spiralled quickly as Volkanovski began to put mustard on his shots during the third. Volkanovski could have earned more than the first green jacket if there had been two.

“IN YOUR LIFE, have you seen anything like that? !”

For the iconic call from Verne Lundquist at the 2005 Masters, when Tiger Woods took a shot that the commentators were all but writing off and then turned it into a piece of magic, the nod goes to Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev, one of the best fights you are ever going to see.

This bout was the most anticipated fight of the weekend, but despite the fervor around it, the outcome was largely thought to be a foregone conclusion. Khamzat Chimiaev has been called the “Next Big Thing” in MMA. Given his quick rise and his imposing physical advantage, as well as the fact that Burns was always underrated, it was assumed that he would keep his rumble toward the welterweight title. No one told Burns that, though, and for 15 minutes, he brought an absolute dogfight to the bigger, stronger Chimaev. In the end, Chimaev edged out a victory, but both men saw their stocks rise.

Come December, they both might take home “Fight of the Year “honors.

Rae’s Creek

Rae’s Creek is an innocuous little tributary that has derailed the title aspirations of many a golfer (just ask Jordan Spieth), and so we award this to Aspen Ladd’s decision making, because at this point, she needs to regroup entirely.

Ladd entered the UFC in 2017 with a good amount of hype behind her as a future champion. But on Saturday night, she lost to Raquel Pennington, her second loss in a row and her third in her last four fights. While it’s not a shame to lose to Pennington, her manner of doing so is concerning. Ladd’s strength is in her grappling game, but for the first two rounds, she only shot one takedown attempt, a half-hearted effort in the first round. Instead, she spent the better part of 10 minutes getting tuned up on the feet.

Only in the third round, when her corner implored her to do more, did Ladd finally go to her wrestling. And when she did, it worked! The third round was won by Ladd, who showed her that if she had played to her strengths at the beginning she might have been able to win the first. Ladd, however, has put in two straight and is now reeling.

Sergio Garcia puts five shots into the water on No. 15

Speaking of bad decision-making. Back in 2018, Sergio Garcia was in outside contention to win a second green jacket when he shot a 13 on No. 15 after repeatedly attempting to fly some water and failing. He attempted to fly five water balls, failing each time.

Oleinik is 45 years old and known, almost exclusively, for his grappling ability, particularly his Ezekiel and scarf chokes. And so on Saturday, when Jared Vanderaa was beating him up only to then willingly pursue Oleinik to the ground for a bit of grappling, well, the end result was never in question.

Amen Corner

Ray Longo is the cornerman of MMA and the most famous stretch on the most famous golf course.

On Saturday, Longo coached Sterling to a no-doubt-about-it world title, with all his trademark vigor during the breaks. It is impressive that he has coached UFC underdog fighters to world titles. He simply cannot get enough of his love.

The Pimento Cheese Sandwich

The Pimento Cheese Sandwich, a Masters staple is often overrated. It is also likely to be bad for your overall health. However, it can sometimes be a great sandwich. We now turn our attention to Herb Dean who, while a UFC classic that’s often harmful to fighters’ health, was a great referee in Saturday’s main event.

Volkanovski had been absolutely beating The Korean Zombie by the end of round 3. He was very close to stopping the fight but the bell saved Zombie. Despite their fighter being clearly done, Zombie’s corner sent their fighter back out for the fourth round, but before the round started, Dean called the ringside physician in to check on Zombie, ostensibly to give his corner time to reconsider. When they did not, Dean restarted the round, as was his job, and the first big punch Zombie ate, he jumped in. Dean delivered a flawless performance that is worthy of praise.