Despite the return of a former champion from a long retirement, this was a much overlooked event as there was not much else to note on the map. Fortunately for those who chose to watch, there were 8 finishes out of the 10 games, dominated by Islam Makhachev who put in a dominant performance against Thiago Moises. Of course, it was planned the same way the sun rises in the east, so it didn’t really make waves. Either way, insignificant as it is, every event pushes the tale forward and it was one hell of a watch. Oh… The successful return of Miesha Tate is considered the most significant account of the event. She looked damn good when she got back too. As for the rest of the card, this is largely explained by my unofficial rewards… ..
Biggest jump in stock: I’m going with Billy Quarantillo. Part of this was said to be due to Quarantillo having just had the worst performance of his career against Gavin Tucker, which would leave him even more room for growth in his stock. Regardless, Quarantillo took extra time off after his last fight in addition to having corrective eye surgery and has never looked better than against Gabriel Benitez. The relentless pressure from Quarantillo was too much for Benitez to overcome, preventing the precision striker from pulling his iconic kicks.
Biggest drop in stock: Most of the fights on the map went largely as planned or were hard fights to pick in the first place, making it easy to settle. Francisco Figueiredo in this slot. The brother of former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, Francisco fights in a fighting style similar to his brother’s. He probably should try something else as he doesn’t have the power, explosion, or killer instinct like his brother, proving unable to tidy up a Malcolm Gordon chinny. Expectations weren’t that high for Francisco initially, but the loss completely shattered them.
Start entering a CV: There’s no one I can confidently say he’ll be on the chopping block, but there are a few I wouldn’t be surprised to see given a pink slip. Alain Baudot started strong against Rodrigo Nascimento, only to fall prone when he gassed himself with a brisk pace early on and fell prey to a comeback from Nascimento. After two straight losses, Baudot will likely have another chance given his connections – he is a training partner of Francis Ngannou – but he will skate on thin ice.
Khalid Taha unlucky enough to be in the division teeming with all manner of young bantamweight talent. With no shortage of prospects at 135, the UFC is unlikely to give him a long leash like they did Khadis Ibragimov at light heavyweight. Taha has power, but he’s wooden and has a hard time adjusting when an opponent comes to him with a diverse attack, as Sergey Morozov demonstrated. If he drops out of a third contest in a row, he will surely be gone, but two in a row might be enough to put him on the skates.
Given he’s winless in his last six appearances, some can expect Jeremy stephens be outside in no time. However, Stephens only faced high level competition, putting generally competitive rejects outside of this loss to Mateusz Gamrot. However, more than anything, Stephens is one of Uncle Dana’s boys. Rather than punishing Stephens in any way for his weigh-in with Drakkar Klose, Stephens was booked for another fight while Klose is still on the sidelines. Stephens is not going anywhere.
Registered their work (s): After two first-round losses to open his UFC career, there was a bit of a surprise to be seen Malcolm Gordon get a third attempt to win a UFC victory. Luckily for the Canadian, he not only survived the first round, but he won a unanimous decision over Francisco Figueiredo. While it was certainly a close competition, most would agree that he deserved the victory. Hoping that he can build on the momentum of this victory.
Best / worst referee moment: After Amanda Lemos knocked out Montserrat Ruiz – stupid enough, the referee stepped in to separate the fighters – Ruiz appeared in her fighting stance and moved through the cage in anticipation of the fight continuing. This happened despite the referee clearly pushing Lemos out of Ruiz and Lemos dancing to celebrate the save. I initially disagreed with stopping as Ruiz was clearly moving and ready to go… but if she was so beside himself that she didn’t realize the fight was over despite the actions of the referee, not only can I not complain about the save, I have to say it was the best call of the evening.
Never seen this before: Aside from the fact that the referee stepped in when he did it against Lemos and Ruiz, I have to admit that I didn’t see a fighter appear like Ruiz did with the belief that the fight was going on despite all visual evidence to the contrary. To be fair, I can’t say exactly what Ruiz saw given she was just knocked out, but you’d think she noticed the ref shooting Lemos in one form or another and also saw the celebration of Lemos. Ruiz must have really been shaken up….
Biggest WOW Moment: While the fight between Quarantillo and Benitez was largely one-sided, Benitez’s overthrow of Quarantillo immediately made everyone sit to attention. Of course, Quarantillo ultimately secured the victory that seemed inevitable before the overthrow, but given that Benitez seemed to be on the ropes, the counter on the left that brought Quarantillo down reminded everyone that the suddenness in which a fight can be finishing is one of the factors that makes MMA such an enjoyable competition. In basketball, you’re not going to instantly make a 40-point deficit go away. A comparable situation in MMA can see this happen.
Best Legend: I know everyone loves high profile captions, but the main props for Rodrigo Nascimento to make a legend that has a LOT of meaning. Asking for Chase Sherman, he asked for a fighter who represents a reasonable step forward from where he was fighting, giving him a winnable fight that allows him to gain reasonable cage experience as well. Exactly the type of call a fighter should make. Of course, Makhachev called out Rafael dos Anjos and Quarantillo called out Charles Rosa, but these two fighters are arguably from a lower stock than those who called them. So the legend of Nascimento was the best legend.
Still as scary as hell: I feel like a lot of fight fans have been introduced to Wallid Ishmael for the first time after Lemos got his quick win. A notorious wild man back in the childhood of the sport of MMA, he still has that glint in his eye that makes you hesitate to shake his hand if given the chance as he served as the translator of Lemos in his post-fight interview. No doubt he took liberties with what his pupil devised, but I’m not going to say that Wallid’s enthusiasm and theatricality weren’t effective. He made me want to go dig into the crates for some of his old fights….
Ready for the big time: There are two names on the map that were fighting the opposition they were to dominate in Makhachev and Lemos. Makhachev claimed that no one wanted to fight him and it’s safe to assume that many in the women’s strawweight division feel the same about Lemos. Given that it’s been a while since nobody pushed Makhachev in the slightest bit, it seems pointless to give him someone who isn’t in the title talks, or at the very least, who has been in these discussions very recently. As for Lemos, it was a clear setback for Lemos to face Ruiz after knocking out Livinha Souza in her previous contest. It seems unnecessary to give him another opponent outside of the top ten. If these contests had been held due to an injury replacement, there wouldn’t have been a problem, but it wasn’t.
Dumbest take: While I strongly disagree with Michael Bisping’s opinion that Rodolfo Vieira should not bring in a sports psychologist, I also don’t want commentators of color to make any blanket statements with which everyone is in complete agreement. They are color commentators after all; they are supposed to add color to the comment. That said, just because Bisping was able to overcome his potential mental blocks during his fighting career by doing cardio, doesn’t mean everyone can do it. Everyone works differently and several top fighters have used sports psychologists in the past, including a notable champion who beat him for his middleweight title at Georges St-Pierre. If everyone worked the same, there wouldn’t be different fighting styles. Bisping is by no means a stupid person, but he was completely on the right track when he said Vieira didn’t need a sports psychologist. After all, Vieira finished the winner of its competition….
Paid per second: The obvious choice for this award is Lemos given that his contest only lasted 35 seconds, but his dominance was expected. So I go with Gamrot given that most expected him to have a competitive contest with Stephens. Instead, Gamrot took out the seasoned veteran and submitted him in a span of 65 seconds with a submission less and less seen these days, the kimura. Gamrot intended to make a statement and he did. Expect him to take a huge step forward in the competition, and rightly so.