UFC 175 was certainly a mixed bag. There were some standout performances, an unfortunate cancellation, an insane post-fight question, some "blah" fights, and then an unreal war between Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida in the main event that ended with Weidman winning an enthralling decision in his toughest fight to date.
Patrick Wyman is away for a couple of weeks as he ties the knot with his fiancee and then travels the world, so I'm in charge of this feature for a few events. Let's scan last night's event and parse out who really won and lost in Las Vegas:
Chris Weidman. His wins over Anderson Silva have been described as "fluky", "lucky", and other things that ultimately discredit him as the champion. Tonight, he showed that he is at such a high level of the sport that it's reasonable to project him as one of the sport's eventual all-time greats. At times, he dominated Machida, and even when Machida started to turn the tide a little bit, he remain composed and showed a tremendous chin even as Lyoto was clocking him with hard shots. Weidman had Machida in uncomfortable positions throughout the fight, his footwork was beautiful, his striking (at least in my view) is fundamentally superior to that of Jon Jones, and the fact that he was able to get Machida down 5 times is an accomplishment in itself. By no means is he invincible, but if you didn't come away from that fight incredibly impressed with Weidman, I don't know what it will take.
Ronda Rousey. She's so much better than the rest of the division, which admittedly isn't the strongest, but that shouldn't take away from how good she is right now and how much better she can get. We've known her as the judoka who grabs arms and mangles them, but she's picked up back-to-back finishes with strikes against fighters who were supposed to really put her skills on the mat to the test. I don't see anyone in the UFC right now who can come within a country mile of beating Rousey.
Alex Caceres. Why am I putting Caceres in the winner's column and not including Faber at all? Because Faber was supposed to win and he did, keeping himself relevant in a shallow division. However, Caceres performed quite well against a top 3 bantamweight, and while he's yet to record a signature win against a high caliber opponent, losing a competitive fight against a perennial contender is the next best thing. As I said before, 135 lbs is a shallow division, and Caceres at just 26 years old has the potential to become a title challenger if he continues his steady improvement.
Rob Font. Dropping to bantamweight to make your UFC debut and you come up with that? Great KO win against a solid veteran in Roop. He exhibited good technique and some wicked power and didn't really seem to frazzled trying to solve the reach of Roop en route to the win. Another good edition to a weight class desperate for good prospects.
Kenny Robertson. Having started out 1-3, which included a release after losing his debut, Robertson had been a bit underwhelming in the UFC, but this was by far his most convincing win to date against a tough opponent in Ildemar Alcantara. Great wrestling, grappling, dominant top control, and hard ground-and-pound that forced Alcantara to cover up on multiple occasions. I think he's earned a bit of an extended run with the promotion, even if he doesn't project to be a dangerous contender-type fighter in the crowded welterweight division.
Kevin Casey. Put things in perspective - Casey went 1-3 in TUF 17 related fights. He was cut after losing to Josh Samman and needed a good showing tonight to prove the decision to bring him back was justified, and he needed only 61 seconds to validate (for now) the UFC bosses by starching Bubba Bush.
Lyoto Machida. Eeeeeesh. I hate to do this to him after such an extraordinary fight. Unfortunately, he still lost a clear decision and may not get another chance at the belt. He's 36, he took a heavy beating in this fight, and there are enough contenders (Rockhold, Jacare, Kennedy, etc.) that unless Machida knocks at least one or two of them off, it's hard to see him getting one last shot. I'm hoping he fights Weidman again down the road -- not too far down that it's clear Machida is well past it -- but I'm not holding my breath that it does happen.
Alexis Davis. She was so out of it that she was well on her way to losing her fight to Yves Lavigne right after Rousey knocked her out. That was basically the women's version of Swanson vs. Aldo. There is absolutely no chance of her fighting for the title for as long as Rousey is champion, and that doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.
George Roop. Almost didn't want to put him in this column but he was 3-1 in his last 4, and he was a decent favorite to beat Font, but instead he was knocked out for the 3rd time in as many years. Bantamweight isn't a deep division and he theoretically could've made a little run into the top 12-15, but it's just not happening. He's 32 and not getting any better, and this was a bad loss.
Chris Camozzi. That's 3 losses in a row and he basically gave away a highly winnable fight against a fairly limited fighter. I wouldn't be against cutting him, but even if he stays on board it's basically only a matter of time before he's on his way out.
Marcos Rosales. Scoring Marcus Brimage/Russell Doane for Doane isn't the worst thing in the world, but 30-27 is downright absurd and he's been in the sport far too long to make a call like that.
Mystery Production Truck Man. Asking Joe Rogan to ask Rousey if she was willing to fight at UFC 176 (which is still without a main event) was totally out of order. Dana White obviously wasn't pleased and judging by Rogan's insistence even at the end of the broadcast, the bulk of the incoming anger is going to be directed towards Truck Man.
-- Congrats on the win, but I have zero desire to watch Bruno Santos in the UFC ever again.
-- Luke Zachrich showed off solid striking as he easily beat Guilherme Vasconcelos, who isn't long for this promotion if he has performances like that.
-- Russell Doane and Marcus Brimage both showed off some good skills in a reasonably entertaining fight. Doane is a prospect worth following and Brimage, while a bit unlucky not to get the win, is clearly suited for 135. Brimage needs to really work on throwing combinations, though. It may have cost him in the end.
-- Uriah Hall soldiered on despite a mangled toe, defeating Thiago Santos by decision. The fight could've been stopped in the 1st round if not for his cornermen convincing the doctor that it was like that before the fight even started. Hall didn't run away with it (and a few believe Santos deserved the 29-28 nod), but he did what he needed to do to avoid the restart of figuring out whether his UFC job was on the line.
-- Last but not least, it is relieving to hear that Stefan Struve is okay after he blacked out in the locker room just prior to his scheduled fight with Matt Mitrione. He was only just recently cleared to fight after a diagnosed heart condition jeopardized his career, and when the news initially broke there was grave concern for the health of Struve. I'm not going to use this piece as a platform to discuss whether or not he should fight again based on this incident, but to just wish Struve the best after Saturday night's unsettling moment.
Check back on Monday morning for the TUF 19 Finale edition of Winners and Losers.