Another UFC Fight Night has come and gone and it looks like the middleweight division has a new legit contender. It wasn’t just that Brendan Allen beat Paul Craig. It’s that he beat Craig at his own game. Last year, when Volkan Oezdemir beat Craig, he did so by avoiding the mat with the submission specialist. Allen not only went to the mat with Craig, he was the one taking the fight to the ground. He bullied the bigger man, bloodying him up before making him tap to an RNC for his fourth consecutive submission victory.
Overall, it marked the sixth consecutive win for Allen and an emphatic end to a solid night of UFC action. There weren’t any all-time barnburners — which explains why there wasn’t a FOTN bonus — but there weren’t any major stinkers either. Perhaps most importantly, while there was a UFC fight that suffered a premature stoppage, it wasn’t the main event as it was last week. Thus, instead of ending the card on a down note, it ended with Allen’s exclamation point.
But who were the real winners and losers of the event? Sure, 13 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
In Allen’s UFC losses, part of the issue for him was his hubris. His cockiness has only expanded during this current win streak, leading me to believe Allen would get entangled in the clutches of Craig. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There is a thin line between confidence and cockiness and Allen couldn’t be walking that line better than he presently is. That confidence is making him imminently more marketable too, which may be the biggest issue for him if he hopes to be fighting for the title as soon as possible. It isn’t out of the question that he’ll only need to win one more UFC fight for that to happen, but I’d count on at least two, perhaps three.
The reason for that is there are names that carry more weight up near the top of the division. Paulo Costa only has one win over the last four years — compared to 11 for Allen since Costa’s win over Yoel Romero — but Costa has the name value. That’s not counting the likes of recent title challengers Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori, nor Khamzat Chimaev or former champions Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. Allen has done everything he can except take down a premium name. It won’t be hard to see him getting an opportunity to do that next. It won’t be hard to see him succeeding either.
This may seem like a bit of an odd choice for some, but there’s been a strong consensus in the MMA community that Hooper wasn’t deserving of his UFC roster spot since his signing. To be fair to Hooper, he might have said the same thing. Regardless, he didn’t come across as a particularly bright prospect either, his youth when he was signed really being the only thing that made him special. Four years later at the age of 24, Hooper needed to start proving he belonged by beating opponents weren’t being spoon fed to him by the UFC brass. It looks like he’s finally at that point.
I’m not declaring Jordan Leavitt is a world beater by any means. In fact, many would say he’s been a disappointment. Regardless, he has a winning UFC record and a highly regarded ground game. Hooper didn’t care about that, besting the vaunted grappler on the mat, winning with an RNC. It isn’t just that Hooper beat the mat fighter on the mat; he did so with supreme confidence. There was nothing flukish about the win. There’s no doubt now that Hooper deserves his spot on the UFC roster at this juncture.
I wasn’t a fan of Ribas’ move up to flyweight, though I will admit she held her own in that division better than expected. Regardless, I believe her performance against Luana Pinheiro proved why I felt Ribas always belonged at strawweight. After being bullied and beaten down by Maycee Barber, Ribas weathered an early storm from Pinheiro… largely because Pinheiro didn’t have the size to comfortably smother Ribas without expending large amounts of energy. Ribas had the deeper gas tank and delivered her first UFC fight stoppage due to strikes.
I wouldn’t say the win immediately puts Ribas into contention, but a top five opponent isn’t outside of the realm of possibility for her going forward. One of the biggest things Ribas has in her favor is her infectious personality, something that shouldn’t be difficult for the UFC to market if Ribas can continue to climb upward. Plus, had Ribas lost, how many would have written her off? Having lost two consecutive UFC fights, including one upon her return to the weight class? Yeah, there’s no doubt Ribas ended up being one of the bigger winners on the night.
UFC Fight Night Losers
Pearce was in firm control of the UFC fight. Not only was he in firm control, he was comfortable enough to be talking trash to Joanderson Brito. Given Pearce was smothering Brito from the top position and had been doing so for the majority of the second round, I didn’t think too much of it. However, less than a minute after mouthing off to Brito, the Brazilian managed to climb back to his feet and snap on a ninja choke that Pearce was unable to escape from. From trash talking to taking an L in roughly a minute. Ouch.
It isn’t just the sudden loss that hurts Pearce; it’s his fighting style. Pearce had won five consecutive UFC fights entering this contest and still wasn’t opposite an opponent with a number next to their name. That’s because Pearce’s style isn’t an aesthetically pleasing style, meaning he’d need a win streak of Tony Ferguson like proportions. I don’t there was anyone outside of his immediate family who believed he was going to get there, but having that bubble burst hurts like hell, especially given it occurred before he was able to put a number next to his own name. I’d expect the UFC has him permanently pegged as a mid-tier gatekeeper.
There aren’t any real gimme’s in the UFC. It’s a credit to the job the matchmakers do, as well as the talent level of those who have made it that far. That said, Alexander had as much of a gimme as the UFC is going to give him against Jeka Saragih. Stylistically, Saragih played right into what Alexander does well. Throw in that Alexander was bigger and more technical – all of which was on display for the approximate minute and a half the UFC fight lasted before the finishing sequence – and he couldn’t have had a win more gift wrapped for him in the organization. Then, he got caught…
Alexander hit the mat due to a bout of overaggression. To his credit Alexander was quick to get back to his feet, but that’s where Saragih caught him. That was all the Indonisian native needed. Even worse for Alexander, he missed weight, which could motivate the brass to cut him loose. Granted, I do believe he’ll get a bone thrown his way as he took the UFC fight on short notice, but he’s still in a bad spot. He’s 1-2 in the UFC and almost guaranteed to be cut if he takes another loss… provided he isn’t cut after this UFC fight. Had he won, it would be a completely different story for someone still early in his career.
Nevada State Athletic Commission
The easy choice for this spot is Mike Beltran. A familiar face who is easily recognizable to UFC fans thanks to his long and braided mustache, Beltran stopped the contest between Trey Ogden and Nikolas Motta early. Ogden had Motta in an arm-triangle choke, pretty deep too. Motta was defending, but had slowed his breathing and movement to conserve as much energy as possible. Beltran asked Motta several times to show signs of life, but Motta wasn’t in a position to do so. Beltran stopped the UFC fight without a tap from Motta, only for Motta to immediately pop up and reveal he wasn’t unconscious.
Where the blame goes to the NSAC on the whole is how they handled the stoppage. There was less than two minutes left in the third round, meaning it had eclipsed the halfway point of the third round. Given the timing of the premature stoppage, it seemed more appropriate for the UFC fight to go to a technical decision rather than a no contest. MMA is a sport where the improbable happens more than in other sports, but Motta scoring a stoppage in those final two minutes was as close to impossible as things get in this sport. In the process, the NSAC cost Ogden a well-deserved victory. Hopefully, the UFC still gives him his win bonus.
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