For the first time this year, the UFC hosted a daytime event on U.S. soil, which brought with it a decent fight card that flew under the radar over the past few weeks. Though limited in exciting finishes, the UFC Fight Night 63 event was a much needed break from the traditional Saturday night shows, as it allowed European viewers to watch the fights at a respectable hour in the evening, while simultaneously allowing North American viewers to enjoy the show over a bowl of cereal.
In the end, several fighters earned notable wins that advanced their careers in the Octagon, while others looked as though they many be long for the UFC.
Chad Mendes once again did exactly what he does against opponents not named Jose Aldo: knock them out. His latest foes was fourth ranked Lamas, who looked sharp until he was tagged repeatedly by Mendes’ devastating shots, which signaled the beginning of the inevitable end. Mendes continued to hunt down Lamas as he stumbled across the Octagon before finally signaling to the referee to show some mercy. The former two-time title challenger is clearly one of the best fighters in the featherweight division, which means he is running out of opponents to face. It will be interesting to see who is matched up against in the near future.
Al Iaquinta and Jorge Masvidal both took part in a great co-main event in front of the Fairfax crowd but were dealt a split decision that had the crowd in uproar. While Masvidal landed at a greater volume, many thought that Iaquinta was the flashier and more effective striker. It was quite clear that a split decision was brewing, and while Masvidal appeared confident that he would win the fight, the victory was awarded to ‘raging’ Al. He would go on to live up to his nickname and get himself censored on television after apparently cursing at the crowd as they booed him. In the end, the TUF veteran is now on a four-fight win streak and will continue to get more challenging opponents in the lightweight division.
Michael Chiesa believed he needed a dominant victory to recover from his most recent “fluke” loss to Joe Lauzon last year, and he certainly achieved that with his unanimous decision win against Mitch Clarke. According to the UFC fight statistics, Chiesa landed 102 head strikes to Clarke’s 28. He displayed a varied arsenal – flying knees, elbows, and slick judo throws that entertained the Virginia crowd and proved that the TUF winner is serious about climbing the ranks in the lightweight division.
Julianna Pena returned from a devastating knee injury to make an emphatic comeback on Saturday afternoon against Milana Dudieva. Following a spell on the sidelines that dated back to November 2013, Pena appeared composed and confident in her ability to finish the Ossetian in the opening round of their fight. Her devastating finish was reminiscent of her vicious run through The Ultimate Fighter show and this should set her on the path up the women’s bantamweight ranks.
Dustin Poirier needed an emphatic victory in his return to the lightweight division and he certainly accomplished that on Saturday afternoon when he knocked Diego Ferreira out in the opening round of their main card fight. “The Diamond” looked sharp and was willing to take a few shots in order to secure his victory moments later. Given the vicious knockout against an opponent who has never been finished in the past, Poirier will hit the ground running in the lightweight division.
Gray Maynard fought a decent fight against Alexander Yakovlev, where he relied more on his wrestling, but it was simply not enough to mask his noticeable flaws. Several years ago, Maynard would have had little trouble against a fighter like Yakovlev, who was unable to use his size advantage to maintain the distance between them. However, even though this was still a winnable fight for the former title challenger, he was rocked repeatedly in the second and third round, and was even dropped once. Given that Yakovlev is far from a seasoned striker, it was immediately evident that Gray’s chin was no longer capable of tolerating repeated blows. If that is not a clear sign that Maynard should promptly step away from the sport, then I cannot imagine what it would take for Maynard to believe that the end has already come and gone.
Ricardo Lamas had an opportunity to bring himself closer to title contention again in the featherweight division but was unable to withstand the ferocious shots from Chad Mendes, and eventually fell short in the opening round. He remains a talent in the 145-pound division but he will need several emphatic victories to prove that he deserves consideration for title contention in the future.
Shamil Abulrahimov did not quite look as terrible as fellow Russian heavyweight Konstantin Erokhin in his UFC debut, but he still managed to lose his fight in the opening round after a lackluster showing early on. He was eventually taken down, mounted and stopped moments afterwards in a performance that was far from reminiscent of the average Dagestani fighter. That is the second consecutive disappointing showing from a Russian heavyweight making his debut, which does not bode well for that region’s big men.
About the author