UFC 160 was the type of card that looked like it’d be entertaining going in, and it absolutely delivered. Half of the fights went to a decision, but none of them lacked entertainment with the possible exception of Stephen Thompson vs. Nah-Shon Burrell. The top of the card featured heavyweights cementing their elite status and new contenders emerging at 205 and 155 pounds. The other half of the card featured some controversial decisions and a bevy of takedowns. All in all, it was a good night of fights. With all that in mind, let’s get onto the winners and losers.
Cain Velasquez – Cain wasn’t in the greatest spot – he had already beat Silva once, and the fight before the main event featured a crazy knockout. But Velasquez got right down to business and finished Bigfoot even faster than he did the first time. There was some controversy over illegal punches and an early stoppage, but the bottom line is that we’re going to see Cain/JDS three. Who knows, there could be a four and five too. And I’m okay with that.
Junior dos Santos – How about that knockout? Just when you think JDS can’t get any better, he goes all Belfort and crushes the granite chin of Hunt with a crazy spinning kick. He proved that he can stand up with any heavyweight in the world and give them a beating. He also mixed in a takedown and used a more diverse array of strikes in the win, which was great. About the only thing he didn’t get was the knockout of the night bonus, because of Mike Tyson of all people.
T.J. Grant – While JDS missed out, Grant was the benefactor of Tyson’s insistence. On most other cards he would have won the KOTN check without much of a challenge, but this wasn’t your usual card. Nonetheless, Grant looked fabulous against Maynard. He took hard shots from Maynard and gave them right back, busting Gray up and staying on him until he stunned and finished him. I can’t remember a fighter offhand that had such a middling UFC career in one weight class, then turned into a killer after dropping a few pounds. Grant definitely poses a threat to UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson, and that is something I’m looking forward to.
Mike Pyle – For once, judges got things right. After a rough first round where he was almost finished by Rick Story, Quicksand got taken down early in the second and things didn’t look good. But Story did absolutely nothing on top for the whole round and Pyle did a lot from underneath. He was the more active striker, he threatened with an inverted armbar, and he absolutely deserved to take the round on the cards even though he was on the bottom. The third was all Kyle, so it came down to the judges – and, huzzah! They gave Kyle the credit he deserved for the second round. He now has four wins in a row and should get a top-10 fighter next. And he earned it the hard way.
Khabib Nurmagomedov – The win might be tainted a bit by Nurmy not being able to make the contracted weight, but that was a commanding performance. When you can set a record for most takedowns in a UFC fight (an incredible 21 in 27 attempts), you’re doing something right. He broke Abel Trujillo and he made it look easy. Sure, maybe he could have tried a little harder to finish the fight over the final two rounds. But if what you’re doing works, I don’t see any harm in continuing it. He’s now 4-0 in the UFC and 20-0 overall. This matchmaking didn’t make a lot of sense, so hopefully they give him a tough test next time out.
Antonio Silva – Many fans scoffed at the idea of Silva fighting a champion that had handily defeated him in a non-title fight already. He went out there with the intention of proving everyone wrong, and all he did was prove everyone right. Was the fight ending sequence full of illegal strikes as he alleges? I personally don’t think so. Bigfoot was respectful with his allegations at least, but it really doesn’t matter. He lost, and it’s going to be very hard to get back into title contention anytime soon.
Mark Hunt – To his fans, Hunt was almost invincible. And over his long combat sports career, he certainly proved that he has an iron chin. Getting knocked out by Dos Santos is nothing to be ashamed of, but Hunt’s legacy might have taken a hit after getting finished like that. There’s no doubt that people still want to see him fight and I hope that he still has the desire to continue on after that. Sadly though, the 39-year-old warrior’s Cinderella story has been derailed and any title hopes are all but gone.
Gray Maynard – After almost a year out of the cage, there’s nothing wrong with being a little rusty. But Maynard just got beaten up by Grant, and he didn’t look like the same guy that sat near the top of the division for a long time. He has said that he has contemplated retirement before, and it might be something he considers again after that. On a good day he could still take out most of the lightweights in the world, but it remains to be seen if he wants fight his way back up to the top after being so close a couple of times already.
Brian Bowles – I’m guessing that wasn’t the way that Bowles wanted to re-introduce himself in the UFC. He got off to a good start and almost finished George Roop early, but he looked pretty exhausted by the end of the first round. Roop took over after that and it was nighty night for the former WEC champ. There was rumblings that he broke his hand again, which is very bad for a guy that has dealt with multiple hand injuries throughout his career. It really too bad, because Bowles would have been an immediate contender in a thin division if he could have won.
Max Holloway – Holloway’s not on this list for anything he did wrong – he’s here because a couple of judges overvalued a late takedown in a round. Holloway did a lot of good things in his bout with Dennis Bermudez and looked very good over the first two rounds. The second round was closer than Joe Rogan thought it was, but the late takedown for Bermudez should not have been enough to negate the work Holloway did for a large portion of the stanza. Even though Bermudez claimed the third, everyone and his dog still had Max taking a 29-28 decision. Except it didn’t go that way. And Holloway’s winning streak is over.
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