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UFC Fight Night - Bader vs. St. Preux Results: Winners and Losers

Patrick Wyman takes a look at the real winners and losers from last night's Bader-St. Preux Fight Night in Bangor, giving you the most detailed recap and analysis you'll find on the interwebs.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

As it appeared on paper, so it turned out in practice. This card profiled as a steady, workmanlike effort from the UFC: it lacked any particularly anticipated matchups, but included a number of solid fighters who, naturally enough, put on solid if not outstanding fights. It wasn't a terrible way to spend a Saturday night, but it probably won't create many new fans of the sport, either.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the real winners and losers from last night's card.


Jussier Formiga: After getting blown out of the water by John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez, Formiga desperately needed a win against an elite opponent to keep his name in the conversation with the elite of the flyweight division. He remains the slickest grappler at 125 by a substantial margin, but with the speed, movement, and athleticism at the top of the division, that remains a hard skill set to impose. Makovsky was willing to engage him in that phase, and Formiga made the most of it. He also showed off improved striking and a nice takedown. This was a great performance, and while Formiga is still a bit limited, he'll stick around the top at 125 for the foreseeable future.

Thiago Tavares: It looks like featherweight suits the Brazilian congressional candidate (he's running on the Communist Party ticket), and Tavares wasted no time in pushing Peralta to the fence, slamming him to the mat, and immediately transitioning to the back. His power grappling game is much better suited to a division where he can actually compete in terms of size and strength, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him rise to the fringes of the top 10.

Alan Jouban: Engaging in a super-fun striking battle and capping it off with a huge knockout isn't a bad way to introduce yourself to the UFC. Jouban isn't on the level of other RFA products like Pedro Munhoz or Brian Ortega as a prospect, but he's still talented, and a great bet to become a longtime action fighter in the welterweight division if he can continue to shore up his wrestling and grappling games.

Tim Boetsch: No fighter on the card needed a win more than Tim Boetsch, who hadn't clearly won a fight since knocking out Yushin Okami in February of 2012. Since then, he officially beat Hector Lombard and C.B. Dolloway while losing to Costa Philippou, Mark Munoz, and Luke Rockhold, and the Dolloway decision was a complete and total robbery. Boetsch was fighting for his job, and he gave little reason to think he'd be sticking around after a first round in which Tavares landed sharp elbows, knees, and punches. Until...Boetsch did what Boetsch does, and landed a huge punch to floor Tavares. When the Hawaiian managed to regain his feet, and it looked like he might recover, Boetsch did it again. It's clear that Boetsch isn't a contender at middleweight, and when the book on his career is written, it will be easy to focus on the win-loss record at the expense of the amazing, improbable moments he's given fans over the years.

Ross Pearson: The decline of Maynard's chin aside, there's no question that Ross Pearson has rebuilt himself from from a pillow-fisted but effective volume striker into a power puncher with bricks for hands. He's now scored knockdowns in four of his last five fights after recording zero in his first eight outings in the UFC, and simultaneously he's maintained the outstanding takedown defense that allows him to implement his preferred game. This knockout should wash the taste of the awful, unforgivable decision "loss" to Diego Sanchez out of Pearson's mouth, and this sets him up for a variety of exciting matchups with the upper end of the lightweight division. A clash with Jorge Masvidal or the prodigal son, Nate Diaz, would be a fantastic test.

Ryan Bader: There was nothing specific that stood out about Bader's performance, but the whole was much, much greater than the sum of its parts. He managed to avoid the most damaging of St. Preux's strikes, controlled the range, blended his strikes with his wrestling, and landed beautiful reactive takedowns when his opponent overreached. His control on the ground was less stifling than it's been in the past, but St. Preux's familiarity with wrestling control positions and ability to scramble largely explains that. In short, Bader demonstrated that whatever shortcomings he might have against the light heavyweight elite, he remains a brick wall of a gatekeeper to the top 8 of the division.


Zach Makovsky: While he had a strong third round against Formiga, his lack of finishing ability doomed him after giving away the first two rounds. The Brazilian's back-take in the first was lightning-quick, and no real fault of Makovsky's, but losing the second round was the result of a horrible decision to chain a hip toss (and thereby expose his back) after a single-leg attempt. That's a common enough sequence, and usually an effective one, but what's unforgivable is trying it three times against one of the best back-takers in MMA. With Makovsky's style, he has very little margin for error, and three substantial mistakes against a fighter as talented as Formiga was two too many.

Robbie Peralta: There were no positives to take from that performance, from the schoolyard headlock he tried to use to defend the takedown to the utter lack of anything resembling defensive grappling on the ground. Unless he gets himself to a better camp and generally re-focuses his game, it's hard to think that Peralta has much of a future in the UFC outside the very lowest echelons of the featherweight division.

Seth Baczynski: This has less to do with Baczynski's performance, which was undeniably exciting and would normally merit a return engagement, than the fact that the loss dropped him to 1-4 in his last five and 5-5 in the UFC overall. He's basically a journeyman, and in a stacked division like welterweight, there are a lot of guys who can fill that role. Still, I hope he gets another shot.

Brad Tavares: The Hawaiian came out blasting against Boetsch, and was clearly looking for his first finish since knocking out Phil Baroni several years ago. Tavares looked great in the first round, opening up Boetsch with a slicing elbow and landing a huge barrage of knees against the fence, but a moment of sloppiness in the second round got him dropped and then finished. Getting caught by Boetsch is hardly the end of Tavares' UFC career - he's only 26, and 7-3 in the UFC - but it is a huge setback for a guy who was staking a claim to a spot on the fringes of the top 10.

Gray Maynard: He's probably the biggest loser on the card, and not because he came out and looked bad. In fact, it's the opposite: his striking looked better, with vicious body-head combinations and excellent timing, and he did a fantastic job of using the threat of his takedowns to set up his strikes and wear down Pearson. His team did an excellent job of preparing him, and the game plan was working. The problem is that despite all of that, Maynard got knocked out for the third fight in a row. His chin clearly can't take the kind of shots he used to, and it's getting to the point where it's unsafe for him to keep getting back in the cage. I sincerely hope he retires.

Ovince St. Preux: St. Preux is an object lesson in how fighters benefit from the environment offered by a major camp and well-known coaches. It's not that he's a bad fighter at all - he can wrestle, strike, and has a few submissions in his arsenal - but that he's never taken the next step in matching any of his skills to his eye-popping physical tools. There are fundamental flaws in everything he does that have been compounded over his eight years as a professional by the fact that his coaches at Knoxville MMA aren't going to be confused with Henri Hooft, Firas Zahabi, or Greg Jackson anytime soon. St. Preux clearly has the athleticism and even the mentality to be a top fighter, but he lacks the coaching and the skills to implement them.

Quick Hits

-Frankie Saenz put a comprehensive beating on Nolan Ticman in the opening bout of the evening, brutalizing the Californian with a barrage of elbows, knees, and opportunistic wrestling against the fence. Both fighters will likely drop to flyweight, and Saenz in particular will be a valuable addition to the low-middle tier of the division.

-Tom Watson took two lackluster rounds from Sam Alvey and survived a vicious flurry in the third round to win a unanimous decision, which saved the Brit's job after a series of uninspired performances. Alvey needs to show much, much more to stick around.

-Sara McMann was content to grind out a split decision over Lauren Murphy with a combination of slick chain-wrestling and stifling top control. There was some disagreement as to whether Murphy had done enough from the bottom to warrant a victory, but she never threatened with sweeps or submissions, just elbows and punches, and I didn't think it was particularly egregious.

-I really can't top Ben Fowlkes' description of the ridiculous, sloppy, and super-fun slobberknocker between Shawn Jordan and Jack May, so I'm not going to try:

We'll see you back here next week - same time, same place - for the doubleheader of Bisping-Le (dumpster fire) and dos Anjos-Henderson (not a dumpster fire).

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