UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs Topuria – Winners & Losers

Get the lowdown on the real winners and losers of UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs. Topuria.

By: Dayne Fox | 3 months ago

Another UFC Fight Night come and gone, more bodies left in the wake. Well… perhaps that isn’t the best way to put it, but there was certainly some carnage left in the cage of UFC on ABC 5. In the main event, Ilia Topuria punched his ticket into the upper echelon of the division by laying waste to power punching Josh Emmett. He didn’t get the finish, but he did lay down one of the most epic beatings in recent memory, rivaling that which Jared Cannonier put on Marvin Vettori just a week earlier. 

But who were the real winners and losers of the event? Sure, 12 fighters officially had their hand raised in victory, but that doesn’t always mean they are the true winners of the night. Same with those who didn’t get their hand raised. Just like not all wins are created equal, not all losses are either. I’ll give you the lowdown on who the biggest winners and losers of the event were. I’ll limit it to three in each category, doing my best to avoid having the same combatants of a contest in both categories. Let’s dig in! 


Maycee Barber 

There was no doubt this time around. After securing controversial wins over Miranda Maverick and Andrea Lee, Barber’s haters had been very vocal about her being a fraud. They can’t make that claim this time around. Barber put away Amanda Ribas in the second round after first bloodying her up in the first. Ribas couldn’t deal with the physicality of Barber when they engaged in close quarters. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort from Ribas either; Barber broke her with her sheer will… along with her punches of course. 

The disrespect for Barber should stop at this point, though I have my doubts it ever will. She rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in the early days of her UFC run and people are often slow to forgive. The strength of her finish over Ribas will win over a few, but hopefully she knows she’ll never win over everyone. Regardless, Barber should be getting a notable step up in competition, someone like Katlyn Chookagian or Manon Fiorot. In other words, she may just be one win away from a title shot. I don’t think too many of us thought that would be the case at the beginning of the year. 

Brendan Allen 

It may have featured a bit more drama than what a good coach would like to see, but Allen managed to make a statement when he submitted the always tough Bruno Silva within the first round. Then again, given his reputation as being chinny, perhaps it was good for Allen to prove to the UFC brass he can withstand heavy leather to the chin. In the process, it made the contest that much more fun to take in as Allen landed more than his share of striking offense too. In other words, whether some fans like it or not, putting on an entertaining scrap is often just as important as winning in terms of ascending the ladder. 

Allen’s haters will point out he was supposed to beat Silva anyway. That’s true, but he did it in a manner that screams he’s ready for bigger things. It could have been argued he was merely in a favorable matchup when he defeated Andre Muniz. That argument loses a lot of steam as Silva and Muniz are very different fighters. In other words, Allen isn’t a flavor of the month. He’s the real deal and he’s ready for some tougher contests at 185. 

Mateusz Rebecki 

No one on the card did more to change the perception about their ceiling more than Rebecki. Sure, Barber and Allen reached higher heights, but everyone knew they could get to where they are at if they were able to put everything together. For Rebecki, the perception has been he’s too short with a limited gas tank, meaning he’d be lucky to hit the mid-tier of the division and stay there for a while. Given the way he chewed up the legs of Loik Radzhabov, he opened the eyes of a bunch of us that he could very well do more than that. 

Before my critics get too uppity, I’m hardly declaring him a future contender. But could he fill an action fighting role flittering in and out of the official rankings ala Drew Dober? I could see that now. I couldn’t before the event. Rebecki isn’t oblivious to his restrictions. Given some of his contests on the regional scene and his UFC debut, I wasn’t sure about that prior to his contest with Radzhabov. Against Radzhobov, Rebecki put together a flawless strategy, showing a fight IQ that I wasn’t sure was there. Combine that with his power and Rebecki looks like he could be around for more than just a cup of coffee. 


Josh Emmett 

The question was whether Emmett was a bigger loser than Ilia Topuria was a winner. I ended up deciding Emmett was a bigger loser for a couple of reasons. First, Emmett endured a hell of a beating, rivaling that which Marvin Vettori took a week earlier. Secondly, at 38, he’s likely to be out of the title picture permanently with the loss. Plus, while there’s no doubt Topuria was a big winner, there’s no guarantee he gets a title shot out of this win. I’d throw him in the winner column ahead of Emmett being in the loser column if I knew he’d be fighting for gold next, but we don’t know that. 

If Emmett plays his cards right, he still has a couple of wins in himself, despite his age. He proved he’s still got a freakish amount of durability. He also proved he hasn’t lost his power, hurting Topuria on several occasions. However, he was also a step slower than Topuria and it’s hard to believe he’ll remain as durable as ever after that level of beating. Chins have a shelf life; ask Dan Henderson or Chuck Liddell about that. Emmett’s chin didn’t break in this contest, but he did shorten its shelf life. 

Zhalgas Zhumagulov 

Zhumagulov is probably going to be cut following another loss. What’s bad about that is most would agree he’s better than a good chunk of the flyweights who are on the roster. Unfortunately, he’s consistently been dealt a tough hand in terms of his matchups. Even this loss to Joshua Van falls into that category. Everyone who watched the film of Van prior to this contest would acknowledge Van was the better athlete by a wide margin. The thought was Zhumagulov’s experience would prove to be too much for the 21-year-old Van. Instead, Van fought beyond his years and overwhelmed Zhumagulov down the stretch. 

If there’s any consolation, Zhumagulov is probably going to go down as the best UFC fighter to ever sport a 1-6 record in the organization, but it’s not like that’s high praise. Plus, at 34, it isn’t like he’s expected to improve at this point in his career. Even with the loss to Van, it’s more than Van exceeded expectations than Zhumagulov performing poorly. Thus — and I can’t believe I’m saying this – I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Zhumagulov fight in the UFC again, though I’m not expecting it. After all, it may not tell the whole story, but you are what your record says you are.

Jamall Emmers 

It seems inevitable at least one person per card is going to get the short end of the stick from the judges. As anyone who has followed the sport for any significant period of time has heard, I’m aware of the mantra “Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges,” but you’d like to think it’s a viable alternative when you’re fighting the toughest competitors on the planet refuse to go down. I’m not saying I definitively know how to solve the issue of judging, but I would think some form of experimentation would be acceptable to see if we can at least achieve better results. 

For the record, I don’t think Emmers’ loss was a robbery by definition. The first two rounds were close enough that they could have gone either way. However, the third round was unquestionably Emmers’ round, a lot of wrestling control used by Emmers to hold Jenkins down. By the letter of the law, I understand Jenkins taking the first two rounds; thus he scores the win. But when two rounds could go either way, you’d think it would make more sense that the guy who one at least one round hands down would be the victor. Again, I know it doesn’t work that way, but at least admit you understand where I’m coming from? 

Share this story

About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories