Another UFC Fight Night has come and gone and for the second consecutive week, the end result of the main event was disappointing. At least this time it wasn’t due to human error. Mateusz Gamrot walked away with a victory when Rafael Fiziev’s knee buckled on a kick attempt. It was clear Fiziev couldn’t continue, leaving a disappointing result for a UFC fight that felt like it could ignite into a barnburner at any moment. Instead, it ended with a fizzle.
Neither Gamrot nor Fiziev can be blamed for the end result. Injuries happen. That said, it’s a terrible result for both. There’s the obvious questions regarding the injury for Fiziev. How long will he be on the shelf? Will he be the same when he comes back? For Gamrot, while the victory isn’t technically illegitimate, it has an illegitimate feel to it. Thus, the win does little, if anything, to improve his stock. Thus, It’s impossible to call Gamrot one of the bigger winners of the evening.
But who were the real winners and losers of the event? Sure, 11 UFC 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!
UFC Fight Night: Winners
Coming off consecutive losses at the age of 36, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell Rodriguez would be able to push her name back into title talks. After all, she doesn’t have a personality that is particularly marketable, nor are her UFC fights considered to be must-see-TV. I seem to be continually reminded that chances in hell aren’t as rare as I tend to think. Rodriguez looked like a destroyer of worlds, brutalizing Michelle Waterson-Gomez to a bloody pulp, literally sending the respected veteran into tears after the referee called the fight.
To be fair, Rodriguez’s name isn’t back into title talks, at least not yet. However, for the first time, Rodriguez showed she had a plan for after the UFC fight too. In addition to showing more personality than she had previously, Rodriguez called out Tatiana Suarez. While I wouldn’t favor Rodriguez in that fight, nothing would launch her into title talks faster than a win over the unbeaten Suarez. The other alternative for Rodriguez would probably be to attempt to win at least two other UFC fights as Father Time continues to loom in the background.
There was a strong sentiment that Means’ fight with Andre Fialho would prove to be his last UFC fight. After all, Means entered the event on a three-fight losing streak at the age of 39, the UFC fight with Fialho proving to be the 50th fight of his career. That’s a lot of miles. Perhaps having that sense himself, Means fought like a man with nothing to lose. Means delivered what might have been the most entertaining scrap of his UFC career that extends back over a decade, delivering an incredible amount of damage on Fialho before the end finally came in the third round.
Given his reputation and some of the UFC fighters he has squared off against, it’s hard to believe this was the first time Means secured himself a FOTN bonus. Beyond that, he only had two other official bonuses, both coming back in 2015. One of the more respected members of the roster, it’s good to see the longtime veteran pull out what may have been the best performance of his career when it meant the most. With the win, it should ensure we see Means for at least a couple more contests. Concerns about his wheels coming off don’t appear to be as prominent anymore either.
I’m still not sold on Usman becoming a big player in the UFC, but he is on a three-fight winning streak, something many of us would never have predicted when he made it to the TUF finals last year. I remember picking against him to emerge the winner and I was hardly the only one picking against him. While he’ll probably always be the younger brother of Kamaru Usman, at least he’s carving out a deserving spot on the roster as opposed to washing out in a hurry.
I understand many are going to crap on the level of competition Usman has faced – they have a combined UFC record of 3-8 in the heavyweight division – but he’s getting the W and often overcoming adversity to do so. For instance, Jake Collier put him on wobbly legs in the opening round. Usman maintained his composure and slowly managed to reverse the momentum and get the win. Composure can be quite elusive. For all his faults, Usman appears to have that to a degree I never would have predicted.
UFC Fight Night: Losers
It really sucks to have Fiziev here. He arguably won the opening round and was having a competitive round with Gamrot before the injury occurred. Given there was still buzz around his UFC fight with Justin Gaethje, it wouldn’t have seen like too much of a stretch to way he only needed one more win to fight for the title if he were able to get past Gamrot. Now, without knowing the severity of the injury at this point, it’s fair to question if we’ve seen Fiziev peak. The timing of this injury happens to be at a time when fighters in the neighborhood of Fiziev’s size tend to be in their prime.
I suppose there’s plenty of caveats to throw out there. For instance, we’re fortunate enough to live in an era when injuries rarely end careers. We’re also in a time where athletes are rarely severely affected upon their return once they shake off the rust. Plus, fighters always tend to have nagging injuries. Perhaps this will allow Fiziev to potentially heal up the rest of his body… if it needs it. Still, it’s obviously a bad situation when I’m attempting to speak positively of medical advances as opposed to who Fiziev should fight next.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Ramos was one of the up-and-comers of the featherweight division. He had outgrown the bantamweight division by the age of 24, but it was expected the move would be beneficial as he wouldn’t be depleting himself to great lengths any longer. That was the impression we all got when he plowed over Eduardo Garagorri in 2019. Since that point, Ramos has gone 2-3. Perhaps that doesn’t sound too terrible, but he’s been the favorite more often than he hasn’t in that stretch. That doesn’t count when he blew weight terribly in March, cancelling his contest with Austin Lingo.
Ramos is still young enough to turn things around. 28 is hardly ancient. But he’s also been a professional for over 11 years. That’s a lot of mileage and experience already under his belt. It’s fair to question if he has already peaked given the lack of progress he has made in the last few years. That he lost to Charles Jourdain via submission only makes the situation look worse. After all, the mat is where Ramos was supposed to be the superior fighter. If he loses his next UFC fight, it’s very likely Ramos will find himself on the outside of the organization.
While I do feel for Malkoun to a degree, it was a blatant disregard for the rules that resulted in his DQ loss to Cody Brundage. It’s not like it was an obscure rule; everyone knows strikes to the back of the head are illegal and Malkoun blasted Brundage with a blatant elbow anyway. It feels very similar to when Petr Yan lost his bantamweight title to Aljamain Sterling. It’s easy to get mad at Brundage given he opted not to continue, but none of us know what his physical condition was after the strike to the back of his head.
Malkoun was huffing and puffing after the decision was read, but I get the feeling he’s more mad at himself. Malkoun isn’t a stupid fighter. With his subpar physical skills – by UFC standards — he can’t afford to be. But he also knows that puts him on a two-fight losing streak. Given his grinding style, he also can’t afford to be giving up losses like this as he’s going to have a shorter leash with his aesthetics being less than optimal. He should be back on the winning track. Instead, after a bonehead moment, he’s likely fighting for his job in his next UFC fight.
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