I don't know about you, but the I found the main card of the UFC's most recent showing of fights to be everything it was hyped up to be. I will admit that I was hoping to see a bit more action out of the main event as Carlos Condit qualifies as a true connoisseur of violence, but watching Demian Maia do what he does best wasn't a disappointing endeavor to behold either.
As always after every event, the tectonic plates shift, anticipated courses are altered, and we can only guess what the powers that be will do with the results of the contests. I'll follow the format established by Zane Simon of starting with the expectations heading into the fight with the results, then discussing the participants with the winner being dissected before the loser. Let's take a deep dive:
- Expectations/Results: Ricci was a late notice replacement for Josh Emmett which is why most were favoring Kennedy. I thought Ricci would be better prepared to deal with the spotlight. I was wrong. The fight wasn't very good as it was spent exclusively in the clinch with Kennedy looking for takedowns. He finally got them after Ricci started to tire to seal the deal in what had previously been a close contest.
- Kennedy: He stuck to his game plan which he deserves credit for, but I wasn't at all impressed by this performance. He has a good gas tank, but nobody enjoys a clinch war against the cage without any major damage being delivered. He talked about 155ers being too big in his post-fight interview and mentioned Artem Lobov's name later, so expect him to go back down to 145.
- Ricci: The rep on Ricci heading into the contest is that he backed himself into the cage quite often. He did just that and though he delivered some good knees, his gas tank betrayed him. At 34, he'll probably be used to get a prospect an expected win which is pretty much what he was here. Don't expect Ricci's UFC stay to be very long.
- Expectations/Results: Laprise was a heavy favorite going into this one as Gouti hadn't shown the ability to win in the UFC yet. Laprise was getting the better of the striking exchanges before landing a HARD counter to a charging Gouti. It didn't put the Frenchman out cold, but Laprise's follow up strikes prevented him from getting back to his feet as Gouti tried to scramble up before the ref stepped in.
- Laprise: That was a textbook backstep counter. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better one. The win is a bit tainted as Laprise came in three pounds heavy, but he was in dire need of a victory as he entered the fight on two consecutive losses. He indicated after the fight that he will be moving up to welterweight which sounds iffy. He was hardly a big lightweight, so I fear that he won't find too much success fighting much bigger fighters. We'll have to see.
- Gouti: I'll admit that he landed some good shots, but he completely forgot about defense and ate the hard counter as a result. It was tweeted by Mike Bohn that he negotiated another fight after Laprise missed weight, so we may end up seeing Gouti again after not being able to pick up a win so far in three attempts. Smart dude, but I think he's only delaying the inevitable.
- Expectations/Results: Most were expecting Campbell's experience to give him the edge. It didn't matter at all as Silva turned up the aggression once he pushed Campbell against the cage, landing a series of hard punches that sent the Canadian to the ground clutching his gut. Impressive debut from a guy we still know very little about.
- Silva: It was clear that Silva had studied Campbell as he didn't give him any room whatsoever to get off his strikes. He immediately went to the clinch, pressured Campbell to the fence, and you know how it goes from there. At 32, I can't see him becoming anything more than an action fighter. That isn't an insult. Think of Alan Jouban. I look forward to seeing what else he can do going forward.
- Campbell: The loss dropped the Canadian to 1-4 in his UFC stint which ensures that he won't be back. Kind of a shame as I've always found him to be fun to watch. If he picks up a few wins on the regional scene, he could be back as the UFC has a history of bringing back Canadian veterans to maintain a quota for their Canadian shows. I know that doesn't sound fair to US fighters, but it is truthful.
- Expectations/Results: I couldn't recall seeing a single prediction in favor of McLellan heading into the fight. Maybe McLellan was reading the same things as he put on his best performance to date and made it a very close fight. Both were exhausted by the end of this slop fest, marching forward and swinging punches that usually connected thanks to neither being able to avoid any potential damage coming their way. I'm sure there are some that disagree, but I felt the right man won. I admit that it was close enough that I wouldn't have complained had McLellan got the decision.
- Di Chirico: I was actually disappointed in his performance. I don't feel he was as sharp as he was in his debut against Bojan Velickovic. Maybe I'm being too rough on him based on McLellan's improvements, but I really expected a breakthrough performance. I guess not. I still feel that he can continue to improve and become a fixture in the UFC for quite a while, but he will need to deepen his gas tank improve his takedown defense.
- McLellan: The loss drops the South African native to 1-3 in the UFC which is reason enough to cut him. I can't say definitively that will happen as fellow South African Ruan Potts got three chances without a win before the UFC cut ties. McLellan at least has the one victory over Bubba Bush. I believe the UFC is trying to keep at least one representative from the country on the roster at all times. If I'm right in my assessment, we'll see him in the cage again... and I won't be so sure to pick against him again if he continues to improve.
- Expectations/Results: While I felt this was a toss up, I was surprised at how many people were on the Bochniak bandwagon in comparison to Barzola. When the action concluded I felt justified as it felt like a pretty clear decision for Barzola as he landed at a higher clip and was getting the better of the grappling exchanges. The judges disagreed and we had our first robbery of the night.
- Bochniak: I'll give Bochniak credit that he performed better in this contest than he did in his UFC debut against Charles Rosa, showing more aggression and throwing a high volume of leg kicks. But he was also taken down multiple times by Barzola while Barzola also did a better job of avoiding return fire. Based on his reaction to the decision being read, I don't think Bochniak believed he won before the announcement. I'm not so hot on Bochniak's future in the UFC. Obviously it depends on matchups, but I wouldn't be surprised if he loses his next two contests and is gone.
- Barzola: I anticipated he would look much improved from what he showed coming up through TUF and he did just that. His striking was much sharper and he did an excellent job of catching Bochniak's kicks. How much more he'll improve I can't say, but I think he still has a bit more room to grow. The UFC does have more invested in its TUF Latin America winners, so look for them to give Barzola a favorable matchup, in part to make up for the robbery he experienced here.
- Expectations/Results: It was expected by most that Alvey would win, probably with a KO. But there was also the possibility that Alvey wouldn't throw enough leather and would essentially give away a decision to Casey. It looked that way early on before Alvey found his range in the second, knocking Casey down twice and getting the stoppage with ground punches not to long before the time limit expired for the round.
- Alvey: Alvey is on a two-fight win streak after opening the summer on the verge of being let go. Quite the turnaround for the Smilin' one. He ate some solid shots from Casey to show his chin hasn't eroded, a worry I had after he was finished by Derek Brunson. He wants to fight again in October on UFC 204, though I don't know if that will happen. He's becoming the new Neil Magny in his fight frequency so even if he doesn't get on that card, look for him to be fighting again soon. Personally, I'd like to see him fight Tim Boetsch and I was happy to see Zane agree with me.
- Casey: Casey was smart early in the fight, picking his spots and landing just enough to stay ahead of the scorecards. The problem was that it was only a matter of time before he gassed and Alvey would put leather to his chin. Thus, it seems the long strange UFC trip for Casey has come to an end. This stint consisted of six fights with only a single victory as two no contests and a draw were racked up in that time as well. Can't recall anyone with a similar record coming through the UFC before.
- Expectations/Results: Both fighters had shown signs of decline since their first epic contest, but Miller had appeared to be the more shopworn of the two. Thus, Lauzon was a pretty heavy favorite. It ended up being nearly as good as their epic first encounter with Miller owning the edge on the feet while Lauzon took him down every round and controlled him for long periods of time. Though Miller definitively took the first round, most believed that Lauzon took the second and third rounds with a combination of control and his own return strikes. Thus the decision was controversial, but no one can deny that it was a close contest.
- Miller: While I will admit that this was the best Miller had looked in a long time, I also felt that he didn't deserve the nod. Now riding a two-fight win streak, I fear he may end up being thrown back into the deeper end of the talent pool where he was unable to swim as he had lost four of five before this mini-streak. Hopefully the UFC is smart and doesn't pit him against ranked opponents again. James Krause would be my favorite choice to match him with, but he has consistently faced much higher competition. We'll have to see.
- Lauzon: What is it going to take for Lauzon to get consecutive wins!? He has never done well when matched up with southpaws like Miller and I felt he had finally exercised that demon. Too bad the judges didn't agree, though calling it a robbery might be taking it too far. He did break the habit of following up a strong performance with a not-so-good one, so I guess there is that. But what now? This was his second fight in less than two months, so I expect that he'll be on a break for a while. If I were the UFC, I'd be looking at opponents who I think would be able to bring the most entertainment value out of Lauzon... like they did when they matched him here with Miller. Somehow after all these years, he has never faced Ross Pearson. I'd like to see that.
- Expectations/Results: There are some who felt VanZant was exposed by Rose Namajunas in her previous contest and expected Rawlings to march all over her. However, most felt Namajunas was simply a nightmare matchup for VanZant stylistically and believed she would rebound here. It appeared like VanZant was going to piss it away when she abandoned her usual strategy of pressure, pressure, pressure as she settled for leg kicks on the outside which allowed Rawlings to easily take the first round. VanZant opened the second round with a beautiful jumping switch roundhouse kick out of nowhere and finished the job with punches on the ground.
- VanZant: There are still rumblings that she won't be around the sport too long with her opportunities for a glitzier life, but she still has a bright future in MMA if she wants to do that long term. She didn't look comfortable using the leg kick strategy, but credit to her for trying something new and being able to come out on top at the end. The common belief is that she may be better served going to a different camp to expand her skill set, but I don't see that happening any time soon. She seems to enjoy the frat environment that Team Alpha Male brings. I believe it will prevent her from reaching her potential, but hey, what do I know? Maryna Moroz and Courtney Casey have been the names most commonly attached to her as her next potential opponent, but I wouldn't rule out the UFC pitting her with Michelle Waterson.
- Rawlings: This was Rawlings' best chance to emerge as a player in the division and she fell short. What's worse is she was fighting more of a technical game that was working beautifully in the first round. I don't think the loss relegates her to gatekeeper status permanently as she is relatively youthful at 27-years old and has shown improvement her last few appearances - including this one -- but it will be hard for her to break that label. I know I'm not the only one who likes the idea of pitting her against Randa Markos next, but don't be surprised to see her against Claudia Gadelha as the UFC doesn't want Gadelha knocking off potential contenders.
- Expectations/Results: Nobody was completely sure what to expect from Pettis. Many felt he would blast Oliveira right out of the gate, others felt based on his recent performances that Oliveira would find a way to submit him. Both assessments were almost right. Pettis had Oliveira on the ropes in the first round, but couldn't finish him. Oliveira stormed back in the second round, getting the back of Pettis at one point to threaten a RNC. Oliveira looked to be more depleted in the third, sticking his neck out there on a takedown for Pettis to snag a guillotine. Simply put, this was a great fight.
- Pettis: I don't know why there are so many that were upset with Pettis' performance. He did submit a submission specialist after all. And while it wasn't flawless, that's kind of what made it even more impressive. He overcame adversity from Oliveira not just in the form of the submission threat, but also in Oliveira's improved striking as the Brazilian got the better of the exchanges in the second round. I expected he'd have a rough go in his featherweight debut as he adjusted to the weight cut and I feel that is pretty much what happened as he faded after a strong opening round. He isn't in title contention yet, but he isn't far away from it either. With Pettis new to the division, there is no shortage of options for him. Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, and Dennis Bermudez are my favorites.
- Oliveira: Even though he came out on the short end of the stick, I'm more impressed with Oliveira walking out of this than I was walking in. He had picked up a reputation as a quitter and he had every opportunity to do so in the first round. He didn't and nearly snatched victory away from the former lightweight champion. I still don't think he'll ever be a true title contender, but I won't slam the door on that either, especially if he continues to improve his striking. I haven't seen anyone else mention this, but if Chan Sung Jung is returning soon, how can you not love the possible fireworks between him and Oliveira?
Demian Maia defeated Carlos Condit via submission at 1:52 of RD1
- Expectations/Results: The general rule was it depended on the format of this fight for who the favorite was. A three-round fight would favor Maia as he would assuredly take Condit down early and often. But a five-round fight favored Condit as Maia tends to fade in long contests and Condit has serious killer instinct. It didn't matter. Maia got the early takedown as expected and finished the Natural Born Killer with a RNC in under two minutes.
- Maia: The UFC can't dance around it anymore: Maia deserves a title shot. He is on a six-fight win streak in which he has grown more dominant as the competition has increased, nabbing RNC's in three of his last four contests. The names of those he finished: Neil Magny, Matt Brown, and now Condit. In the lone non-finish in that stretch, he utterly dominated another notable grappler in Gunnar Nelson. The amount of damage he has taken in those four contests: 13 significant strikes. That is almost a rate of one significant strike absorbed every three minutes. What more can the man do!? Fortunately, it appears the UFC is going to relent and will give him his shot after Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson take care of business. Hopefully it won't be too long as Maia turns 39 in November.
- Condit: We should have seen this coming. Condit's takedown defense has always been poor, but he has always been pretty quick to get back to his feet. That's exactly what he was in the midst of doing when Maia took his back. In other words, he didn't look physically diminished nor did he fight uncharacteristically. Many will point out that he has lost five of his last seven, but the losses were all against top competition with three former champions, the current champion, and now Maia on the list of those who beat him. More damning than any of those losses are his comments before the fight about retirement and when he questioned if he belonged in the cage after the fight. I hate to say it since I'd still love to see him fight Matt Brown someday, but retirement is probably the best option for him. You can't be fighting if you aren't 100% committed and he doesn't seem to be anymore. If this is the case, many thank yous for the memories Carlos.
Those are my collective thoughts. The UFC takes us to Germany this weekend with former champions from another era meeting in Josh Barnett and Andrei Arlovski. We'll discuss the seismic shifts from that event next week. Until then!