I like to be optimistic about fight cards. After all, I’d take the worst fight card in history over the best episode of Real Housewives each and every single time. But this turned out to be a bad card. Much of that can be attributed to the main event of UFC Vegas 40 between Norma Dumont and Aspen Ladd coming up stale, as the main event carries more weight than any other fight on the card. It’s the same deal in every sport. The headline will read that Tom Brady had a terrible night as opposed to Alex Cappa having the greatest game of his career. I know it isn’t an exact comparison, but you should get the picture. So while I acknowledge there were several notable performances on the card — and I will touch on them – the final note of the evening left things in such a foul mood that it’s hard to walk away from the event optimistic.
Biggest Jump in Stock: I’m not about to start singing praises about the level of his competition, but after three first round KO’s in a row, it’s time to start giving Danaa Batgerel some praise, capping the run with a win over Brandon Davis. Some will point out this win came over a Davis with a 2-6 UFC record, but Davis had also never been KO’d in his career up to his fight with Batgerel. When it’s noted that Davis had been in the cage with the likes of Zabit Magomedsharipov and Giga Chikadze, it makes Batgerel’s accomplishment even more impressive. I’ll admit I still see a ceiling on Batgerel, but it’s far higher than where I originally had it.
Some may point to Manon Fiorot given she dominated Mayra Bueno Silva, but many expected her to do that. Thus, while Fiorot’s stock certainly went up, it went up as expected as opposed to taking an unexpected leap.
Biggest Fall in Stock: There are all sorts of reasons Ladd could give for her flat performance. Cage rust. Perhaps her knee didn’t feel right. Maybe she was feeling the ill effects of cutting weight twice in two weeks. Regardless, she didn’t perform when the spotlight was on her, killing any enthusiasm that may have remained after her constant weight cutting issues. Even if any of the potential excuses were true, it’s an extreme rarity when a fighter enters a contest feeling 100%.
Start Typing a Resume: There doesn’t appear to be anyone whom I’d expect will be cut loose, but if I were to guess, it would probably be Ramazan Emeev, despite his 5-2 UFC record. The Russian doesn’t produce an entertaining style and the UFC has a history of giving a pink slip to boring grinders. Again, I don’t expect anyone to be cut, but that would be my best guess.
Saved Their Job(s): Nate Landwehr had an inkling he’d be gone based on his reaction in his post-fight interview. I’d guess he was right. While his lone UFC victory prior to his win over L’udovit Klein was entertaining as hell, it was also razor thin and he was blown out in his other two UFC appearances. The version of Landwehr we saw against Klein was the version everyone was expecting when he was signed.
Best Newcomer: I understand that both newcomers lost their debuts, but both showed reasons to believe they were good additions to the roster. Regardless, I’ll go with Istela Nunes. The Muay Thai practitioner was fighting for the first time in three years and the rust was pretty obvious. Nonetheless, so was her talent. It would be wise to expect the UFC to give her a step down from Ariane Carnelossi and it’s hard for me to think of anyone whom I’d consider to be beneath Carnelossi’s level that I wouldn’t pick Nunes to beat.
Biggest WOW Moment: There were plenty of other fighters I would have picked to produce the moment that had me take notice other than Jim Miller. Klein. Bruno Silva. Manon Fiorot. Silva and Fiorot had moments where it looked like they could deliver that moment, but it was ultimately Miller who delivered a one-hitter, quitter with a counter left that dropped Erick Gonzalez like a sack of potatoes. The quality of Gonzalez as an opponent in comparison to those Miller has faced on his resume aside, who would have guessed the most jaw-dropping moment of Miller’s career would come 38 fights into his UFC career at the age of 38?
Default #1 Contender: I don’t want to crap on Dumont. She did what she needed to do to win and took the minimal amount of damage in the process. Traditionally, that’s an ideal victory for a fighter. But her five round decision over Ladd was so lackluster, nobody is pining to see her return to the cage anytime soon. However, while we know we’re going to see Dumont in a contest of high-profile of sorts in her next bout, it could even be a title fight given she appears to be the only full-time women’s featherweight on the roster. Thus, if Dumont is fighting for Amanda Nunes’ featherweight title in her next contest, it’s more because there is no one else to do so as opposed to Dumont impressing in her efforts. In other words, the UFC should scrap the division given they never made a serious effort to build it up in the first place.
Leading a Tidal Wave: There’s no reason for Valentina Shevchenko to be worried about losing her title anytime soon, but give it about a year-and-a-half or two and it’s hard to believe there won’t be a plethora of options who could seriously give her a run for her money by that point. The prospect who appears to be getting the most attention at this stage is Fiorot and she did nothing to dissuade anyone who believed she’s the one to dethrone the current champion down the road as she overwhelmed and frustrated Silva to no end. Fiorot not only dominated her on the feet, she landed several takedowns. I understand she landed takedowns in her previous UFC contests, but doing so against someone the caliber of Silva – and avoiding any serious trouble on the mat with her – makes it a notable accomplishment. Fiorot is in a race with the likes of Erin Blanchfield, Casey O’Neill, Tracy Cortez, and Miranda Maverick to face Shevchenko for the title. It’s a fair assessment to say she’s in the lead.
Size Matters: I’ve always hated the phrase “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to that phrase, but size does matter. Why the hell else would there be weight divisions? The contest between Lupita Godinez and Luana Carolina proves my point even further. I don’t know anyone that thinks Carolina is a more skilled MMA fighter to Godinez. And yet, here we are in a world where Carolina owns a fair and square win over the undersized strawweight. Hell, the contest didn’t even take place at strawweight, Godinez taking a short notice opportunity to fight at flyweight, coming in more than three pounds under the limit. Heavyweights prove that size matters less and less as the combatants get larger themselves, but it makes a huge difference when we’re talking about the lighter weight classes.
When People Tell You Who They Are…. Carlos Felipe entered the contest with new ink on his face. Underneath his right eye, it now says “brawler,” which I have to admit is a very good description of the type of fighter that he is. The problem I have with that designation is that it feels like he’s content to limit himself. Who was the last real brawler to win a major title? Some would say Robbie Lawler, but I’d argue he didn’t win the title until he learned when to selectively brawl. Regardless, Felipe’s brawling nature wasn’t enough to push him past a 42-year old Andrei Arlovski. Maybe he’ll want to consider expanding beyond being a brawler….
Comeback King: While his debut against Wellington Turman wasn’t as dramatic of a comeback, Bruno Silva did fall behind the young Brazilian grappler before pounding him out. This time around, most would say he was down two rounds before taking advantage of a fast-fading Andrew Sanchez, unleashing a swarm of punches that eventually did in the former NAIA wrestling champ. It appeared Silva was going to gas himself out in the process at one point, but he held things together long enough to force Sanchez to wilt. Silva is fast establishing himself as a reliable action fighter, the type of thing Uncle Dana loves.
Politically Incorrect: There has been much buzz about how the corner of Ladd addressed her in between rounds. To say there was strong language being bandied about would be an understatement as much of what was said was censored by the networks. Some of the viewers deemed what was said to be inappropriate. Given I have no idea what the relationship is between Ladd and her corner – in other words, how they typically talk amongst one another – I don’t believe I can offer a fair and educated opinion. It certainly isn’t how I would have talked to Ladd, but I’ve also never met her and don’t have the slightest inkling on how to push her buttons in order to get her to perform at her best. Jim West, the lead cornerman, did come out and offer a public apology towards Ladd, so hopefully we can move on from this episode.
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