Another UFC Fight Night has come and gone and the UFC couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the main event. Sure, the older fighter whom no one believes has a chance in hell at climbing into title contention emerged victorious over the younger, emerging challenger. But when the old vet is a fan favorite Bobby Green and the emerging challenger is grinder Grant Dawson, the organization has to be ecstatic with the ultimate outcome.
Lasting a total of 33 seconds, Green caught Dawson with an unorthodox straight left, dropping him even before Dawson could land a strike of his own or shoot for a takedown. Green emerged unscathed from the fight, setting him up perfectly to fight in December as he requested in his post-fight interview. It’s doubtful the win will launch Green into contention, but it may prove to be the highlight of an already notable career.
But who were the real winners and losers of the event? Sure, 10 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
Following his all-time KO of Impa Kasanganay, the UFC has been making every effort to allow Buckley to become a star. There have been flashes of brilliance, but a complete performance has been missing. There had been notable adjustments seen from Buckley in that time, indicating it could be a matter of time before it all came together. Against Alex Morono, it all came together. By the end of the contest Buckley was the one who looked like the savvy veteran teaching a lesson to undisciplined upstart.
One thing this performance made blatantly clear: welterweight is Buckley’s proper home. Buckley was the bully in the cage and there was no sign of him slowing down either. He was mature in his pursuit of a finish too. Buckley hurt Morono on several occasions, but never got overenthusiastic in pursuit of a finish. A finish would have been nice, but a win was more important. Given the cagey Morono had already threatened with submissions, I’d say Buckley made the right move in this UFC fight.
Long known for his iron chin, there was concern Dober was nearing the end of the road after suffering his first KO/TKO loss in over a decade. While it’s fair to question if Dober’s chin is weaker – he is 40 fights into his professional career – his UFC fight against Ricky Glenn indicates he’s still capable of cracking his opponent before they can do so to him. Disposing of Glenn in just over half a round, Dober ended up moving into sole possession for the most KO victories in the UFC’s lightweight division with nine. Who did he surpass? Only Dustin Poirier.
Dober isn’t going to go down in UFC history as an all-time great. However, he is carving out a reputation as someone who, down the road, fans will only have warm memories of when his name is brought up in conversation. For instance, I can’t think of anyone who has negative memories of Genki Sudo. Dober is carving out a similar legacy. Even when he has lost, Dober has never left anything less than all he has in the cage. Fortunately for us, it looks like he still has a good amount of tread left on his tires.
It was less than two years ago many were wondering what Kowalkiewicz was still doing on the UFC roster. Owner of a five-fight losing streak and looking like the confines of a UFC cage was the last place in the world she wanted to be, the consensus was the former title challenger was completely shot. A change in camps and outlook has made all the difference in the world. Despite being a week away from her 38th birthday, Kowalkiewicz now finds herself the proud owner of a four-fight win streak.
While Kowalkiewicz’s detractors will point to the level of competition she has been facing, it was also clear she should have been fighting the likes of the murderer’s row that put her on the losing streak. It isn’t like Diana Belbita didn’t put up a hell of a fight either; two of the rounds were very close. Plus, Kowalkiewicz overcame the deaths of multiple family members during her fight camp. Kowalkiewicz had all the reason she needed to pull out of this UFC fight. She didn’t and finds herself as one of the better UFC stories in recent years.
UFC Fight Night Losers
For as big of a winner Green is emerging from this event, there’s no doubt their UFC fight hurt Dawson more than it helps Green. Dawson does have a few impressive finishes on his ledger, but it hasn’t been enough to change the narrative that he’s a boring UFC fighter. What Dawson had working in his favor was his long unbeaten streak. It isn’t impossible for the UFC to ignore long winning streaks, but it isn’t easy. Now that’s gone and while Dawson isn’t back to square one, it’s a significant setback for someone whom fans aren’t clamoring to see in a prime position.
There are a few things Dawson can fall back on as he goes to lick his wounds. At 29, youth is still on his side. In the official UFC rankings, only Arman Tsarukyan and Jalin Turner are younger than he is for the division… and Turner may not be long for the division. More importantly, the UFC fight has a bit of a flukey feel to it. It doesn’t change the fact it’s a loss on Dawson’s ledger, but I don’t feel any worse about his abilities. He got caught. Unfortunately for him, this is going to cost him greatly in his quest for championship gold.
Nothing is worse in any sport than a poor IQ. In combat sports, it’s particularly painful… literally. Even though it has long been taboo to commit to leglocks, Mendonca refused to let go of the legs of Nate Maness. Even after Maness delivered several hard shots to Mendonca’s face, he still held on. It wasn’t until Mendonca was dazed and confused that he released the legs of Maness. It was too late by then and Mendonca had sentenced himself to having an unsuccessful flyweight debut.
Mendonca is still young enough to turn things around. Sure, he’s dropped his first two UFC fights without being particularly competitive in either contest, but he’s still just 24. Plus, he’s not lacking for talent. But it’s all dependent upon Mendonca realizing he can’t truck over his opposition at this level. He was outpointed by Javid Basharat in his UFC debut. Maybe getting pummeled by Maness will be the wake up call the youngster needs to get his career on track.
It’s never a good look for a UFC fighter when they’re getting called out by the commentary team, but that’s exactly what happened to Lins. Typically, it isn’t wise for an organization to be crapping on their athletes under contract, but it’s obvious the crew received the green light to do so. Whether one agrees with what Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder were saying about Lins, it’s already a sign Lins is in the doghouse. Given I don’t know the circumstances of his decision to pull out of his UFC fight with Ion Cutelaba on fight day, I’m going to withhold judgement on Lins.
Even if Lins had a legit illness, the fight cancellation hurts him more than Cutelaba. For one, Cutelaba has established himself a favorite of the UFC brass. They’ve had enough reason to cut Cutelaba and haven’t due to his willingness to throwdown. For Lins, he just turned 38. If he’s going to make a move, the time grows increasingly short to do so. Getting on the bad side of the UFC establishment isn’t going to help his case in getting a prominent fight either. There’s a good chance Lins’ UFC career has peaked.
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