Make no mistake – this card did exactly what FS1 cards are supposed to do these days, and that’s make the hideous sausage that is building contenders and most importantly, moving divisions along. This is how people get ranked and records get padded or shot. Sometimes it makes for great matches, other times it makes for lackluster events. Then you get events like this, were some nice showcase bouts and some decent niche fights actually delivered highlight-reel performances for the participants. It was somewhere in the middle, but overall had some really good moments.
So let’s see who moves up and who stumbled.
Donald Cerrone gave a well-deserved show of respect to Alex Oliveira for stepping up on short notice and we got another classic Cerrone performance. Oliveira seemed to have been giving him some fits early as Cerrone is a notoriously slow starter, and after a not-very-smooth but effective takedown was able to positionally dominate on the ground to get the mounted triangle choke setup. It was gold, and Oliveira didn’t even have his arm across Cerrone’s body. Excellent fight to rebound from a tough loss to champion Rafael dos Anjos in December, and gives him a nice welterweight debut.
Derek Brunson was relentless against Roan Carneiro and demonstrated even more maturity as a fighter in this outing. He’s been improving steadily and is now sitting on a nice four-fight win streak in the already very strange middleweight division.
Cody Garbrandt made a statement by taking out BJJ ace Augusto Mendes in a bout that had a bit of a premature stoppage, but gives him a case for being in the pecking order of his division. He remains undefeated as a professional and should be getting another step up in competition very soon, with a very possible chance to take on John Lineker as originally scheduled.
Chris Camozzi made short work of Joe Riggs, who continues to have the strangest UFC run in recent memory. Camozzi still has the capacity to have impressive performances, and is almost guaranteed to at least try to make things as exciting as he can. Just please, pretty please with sugar on top, keep him away from Jacaré.
Lauren Murphy showed the sort of grit, determination and toughness that she had yet to fully display in her UFC run after getting the call up from the Invicta ranks. Taking on another short notice replacement, Murphy had some rough spots but persevered and just absolutely bludgeoned Kelly Faszholz – who will not be in the loser’s column. To come into the UFC (replacing Sarah Moras) in a division that the brass clearly hasn’t made any effort to grow and take on a seasoned veteran while having mostly a BJJ base is a tall order. Big ups to both of them for leaving it all out there, because even with a loss Faszholz’s stock gets a nice bump. Both are winners here.
Oluwale Bamgbose (I see you, Phil Mackenzie…) had a great performance in which the head kick wasn’t even the best part. The fakeout that set up the kick was perfect and the followup shots had some serious English on them. He’s clearly made the case for being one of the more exciting additions to the UFC roster.
Nathan Coy got a nice scrappy decision win over a strong talent in Jonavin Webb, who should be able to rebound from this loss later on. Anthony Smith really started styling on Leonardo Guimarāes, but seems like he gassed out near the end. After decimating Josh Neer at Victory Fighting Championships just weeks ago, it’s an impressive back-to-back set of wins, especially considering the fact that he was replacing Sam Alvey. Much respect to James Krause for at least wanting to do better in his fight against Shane Campbell. It was a fine win, but it’s always good to see a fighter want to improve on his/herself like that. Sean Strickland was calculated and even outwrestled a guy that’s been wrestling for most of his life in some of those exchanges, and really has put together a rather complete arsenal thus far. Expecting big things from the young talent. Shamil Abdurahimov looked pretty good in a tough bout against sturdy wrestler Anthony Hamilton
Joe Riggs takes the biggest L on this one, and it seems that he’s just getting injured at a rate that is rather concerning at this point. We should really be worried about his health overall at this point, as he keeps ending up in very odd circumstances in his fights.
Daniel Sarafian may have just been served his walking papers, as this loss drops him to 2-4 in his UFC run. Perhaps it was his loss to Kiichi Kunimoto that did it, but he’s been making me uneasy in terms of what his long-term viability as a prospect or just a guy that was going to really do well in the big leagues would be. He’s now 9-6 overall and is just another reminder that signing fighters from the Brazilian regional scene is always a roll of the dice.
Ashlee Evans-Smith won on paper, but she ends up here. Judging shenanigans led to her getting an undeserved nod, and she will most likely not be facing higher-ranked opponents just yet, whereas Reneau might as this is customary for Zuffa when things like this happen. It really is a shame, because Evans-Smith is a very good athlete that’s coming along as a fighter but may need to expand her training regimen to fully reach her potential.
Roan Carneiro had a nice little run sort of fall apart, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of when you lose to a talent like Derek Brunson that’s reaching more and more consistency with each outing.
Tetsuya Kawajiri lost, but I doubt he loses much in terms of value to the organization. He’s been fighting one tough guy after another in this UFC run, and his better days may be behind him, but he always makes a fight out of his outings. Anthony Hamilton doesn’t step back too far here, nor do Leonardo Guimarāes or Augusto Mendes. The biggest “meh” has to go to Shane Campbell, who acquitted himself very, very well against a game James Krause, showing some serious moxie on the ground as well. He’s improving steadily and won’t lose any luster after this.
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