We lost a truly high-caliber fight with the main event being cancelled, but got a great event in its place. The already much-anticpated co-main got elevated and fans got a real treat with a fight that almost gave a little bit of everything. We get a new interim champion and a lot more much needed clarity in a middleweight division.
Not only that, but we got a clear contender at heavyweight, a fantastic sleeper bantamweight bout, a great lightweight fight with the return of Anthony Pettis to the division, and a UFC debut that was better than anticipated.
Let’s do this.
Robert Whittaker – The kid just keeps on upping the ante and coming out on top, and he’s been a marvel to watch. Outworking Romero is a tall order for anyone, and Whittaker once again fought in a remarkably smart manner to attack the legs and body with front kicks as well as set up steps to close the distance and throw punches. His wrestling defense was outstanding, and his command of space while standing made for another excellent performance. With Bisping’s injury making his return likely for later in the year, it lines up nicely with this fight to happen by the time the year is over, and there’s no way that fight won’t be amazing. Take a bow, Bobby. You took on a man most men would rather avoid and came up smelling like roses.
Alistair Overeem – I mean… he won, right? I might personally disagree with the decision, but now Overeem gets a chance to redeem his loss at the hands of Stipe Miocic, and that’s pretty much it. This fight wasn’t that convincing to everyone, but it doesn’t really matter now. Not much else to say until he gets that fight against Miocic.
Anthony Pettis – After losing the interim featherweight title fight, Pettis returns to lightweight and comes in with his signature movement and agility. He used an intelligent approach and even hung tough on the ground in the brief time the fight was there with his use of the open guard. Miller wasn’t able to consistently close the distance, which allowed Pettis to operate at his preferred range. Even in the few exchanges up close, Pettis found ways to fluster Miller and showed he still has a chin. Not sure where he goes from here, but it shows his performances at featherweight weren’t the best representation of what he can do.
Rob Font – It’s kind of sad that the TV audience and undecided casuals didn’t get to see this fight, but it was a treat. Font improves to 4-1 in the UFC, and should be moving up from #15 after this fight, even if only slightly due to the fact that it was against an unranked opponent.
Chad Laprise – That funky movement and picking spots to throw volume punches paid off, as Laprise was able to frustrate Brian Camozzi to the point of near-inactivity. That liver shot was beautiful and leads me to believe that somewhere in the world, Bas Rutten’s ears tingled a bit.
Oleksiy Oliynyk – The recovery ability of some fighters is just amazing to me. Oliynyk pushed through the punishment and took down his opponent after a few tries, and he sealed the deal in the second round with his ungodly squeeze. The choke might not have been in, but that jaw was getting crushed something fierce. Second straight win for Oliynyk, and the shout out to his wife was odd due to his limited English, but endearing nonetheless.
Trevin Giles – Once he found his footing, Giles was able to just maul James Bochnovic and put him out cold on the ground. He remains undefeated as a professional and makes an immediate statement in his UFC debut. Giles has the tools to give a lot of guys trouble in the light heavyweight division. Also, considering the state of disarray that division is outside of the top three, it’s yet another shot in the arm from the RFA/Legacy/LFA talent pool.
Thiago Santos brutalized Geraled Meerschaert en route to his second straight win, showcasing his outstanding athleticism, strength, and kickboxing technique. Belal Muhammad was able to stifle Jordan Mein for three rounds and improve his UFC record to 3-2 with two consecutive wins. Curtis Blaydes had a fight that wasn’t very eventful, but improves to 2-1 with one no contest under the UFC banner. Finally, Cody Stamann had a pretty exciting performance against a game opponent to add another name in the featherweight bucket. His ability to blend his wrestling and his striking is already looking good, and I’m looking forward to see how he evolves from here.
Honorable mention: Michael Bisping – The guy knows he needs big buyrates to get paid, and his post-fight antics and promo make for a great little bit of footage to make for a very Michael Bisping build up. Classic.
Travis Browne – Maybe Dana White is right, and perhaps Travis should just retire. He started the fight well, dominating the first half of the first round with kicks and punches down the middle. Browne kept his distance and promptly seemed to tire himself out. Once that happened, he didn’t recover at all. He ended up getting dropped by a fighter that isn’t known for dropping guys or knocking them out. After that he seemed absolutely clueless on the ground – even worse than in previous fights. That didn’t look like a fighter trained by Neil Melanson and Josh Barnett. If we’re being totally frank, he’s regressed even more despite working less with Edmond Tarverdyan. He was inexplicably ranked #9 despite being on a three-fight losing streak, and now drops to four consecutive losses, all finishes. The worst thing is that this was clearly a matchup aimed at making things more favorable for him to win, and he couldn’t pull that off. He might end up getting cut, even with the current state of heavyweight. Nobody lost worst than Travis Browne here, and he’s got some serious questions to ask himself about his fighting future.
Yoel Romero – Romero’s undoing in this fight wasn’t even things he was doing wrong, but the things that Whittaker did right. His cardio might not have been a major problem had Whittaker not attacked the body as consistently as he did, and in the end Romero had no answers. The question used to be what to do when Romero would inevitably take you down. Now, it’s a matter of whether or not other fighters have him figured out after Whittaker and his crew solved the riddle to stop this middleweight juggernaut. At age 40, it’s a legitimate concern since time is running out. He doesn’t go to the end of the line, but it sets him back a bit with Mousasi’s recent performances.
Brian Camozzi – Not only was Camozzi unable to follow the pace that Laprise set, he was gunshy and not looking ready for a fighter of that caliber. Shame, because this puts him at 0-2 and could lead to him getting bounced from the UFC. All of his wins are finishes, and it’s unfortunate we’re not able to see his full potential in his current run.
Jordan Mein – Three straight losses, with his last win being in 2014 against Mike Pyle. Couple that with the fact that he also appeared to lag behind and had stretches of sticking on the defensive end and not implementing effective offense. Rough spot for Mein, and he also might be getting his walking papers.
Gerald Meerschaert – Despite this being his first UFC loss (putting him at 2-1), it seemed like a step back that may not have him quite ready for a step up against bigger opposition. I felt it was unfortunate that the UFC took so long to give him a shot and still think he’s capable of amazing things in the cage, but the way he lost here is a pretty big stumbling block. He’ll be back, though. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but he wasn’t quite ready for this kind of fight yet.
Daniel Omielanczuk – Omielanczuk had a very intelligent approach of defending the takedown by getting his back to the cage and working off of there. He nailed Blaydes with some really good shots, but not enough to get the judges’ nod. His performance wasn’t bad, but the fight wasn’t much to write home about and didn’t tell us much about the improvement of either fighter. Then again, it was a bad stylistic matchup either way and leads Omielanczuk to his third consecutive loss. It may get him cut.
Jim Miller – Sure, it’s his second straight loss. I’m not holding it against him considering the performance he had. His stock doesn’t drop here, and his status as a certified badass is actually moved further ahead with this fight.
Fabricio Werdum – Did he really lose that fight? Sure, he was closer to finishing that fight in the third round than Overeem was at any point. I’m not sure this affects him much either way, but there’s a lot of movement and shuffling in the rankings soon with a handful of the top ten guys fighting each other in the near future. Looking at the way he lost, management won’t be too punitive.
Douglas Andrade – I was leaning towards putting him in the “Loser“ category, but dropping to 2-2 in a UFC stint? Can’t be too hard on that. This puts him pretty much at a standstill for now.
James Bochnovic – Rough way to go out, but if the UFC isn’t going to be harsh on a fighter for losing their debut, nether should we. He’ll get another shot and we’ll see where he stands then.
Terrion Ware – Samesies. He put on a great fight, but lost in his debut against a very talented fighter. Don’t be surprised if they face off again at some point, because they both have serious talent and can rack up some wins in the featherweight division.