In the age of MMA on “free” television, sometimes beggars can’t be choosers. We clearly understand that the organizations and broadcast partners have to generate revenue somewhere, and in the case of non-PPV events it’s obviously the commercial breaks that an event will live and die.
And boy howdy, did it ever feel like this event needed to die. That’s not to disrespect any of the talents on the card, but it’s difficult to get excited for anything or have any momentum built when so much of a long broadcast is spent with excruciatingly long breaks. When it’s past midnight on the East Coast and there’s still two fights left (for an event that begun before 8pm, no less), something has gone dreadfully wrong. After years in this broadcast partnership with Fox, the UFC has made it clear that they don’t have any concern for the viewer’s time.
Sure, they’re a business out to make money, but it really ends up being a drag on the product. It’s a gripe that even I have maintained in the past as being a useless complaint, but this event suffered more than most.
We still got some great action, and that’s what these cards are for. Well, that and moving divisions to put into the PPV pipeline. So at least we have that.
Brian Ortega - Big ups to Ortega for notching the biggest win of his career so far against a hardened veteran in Cub Swanson. He wasn’t flustered at all in the standup department, and went for two devastating submissions. He remains undefeated in the UFC at 5-0 (with a no contest after the submission win over Mike de la Torre) and undefeated overall at 13-0 in his professional career. He says he’s willing to step aside and let Frankie Edgar get his shot at the belt first, but that’s not up to any of them, or any of us. Max Holloway just fought, so the UFC might not have an qualms when it comes to asking Edgar to step aside. All of this is speculative, of course. The only thing we know for sure is that Ortega is either up next for a crack at the belt or just one win away from it.
Marlon Moraes - If you’d never seen him fight in World Series of Fighting, you’d be forgiven for seeing Moraes in his first two UFC performances and wondering what the big deal was. You know now. That’s the guy. That’s the guy that fans have been clamoring to see in the UFC for a long time, even if he had a tendency to hang back in some fights after doing serious damage. Coming in at #7 and obliterating the #8 guy doesn’t move him up too far in the bantamweight rankings, especially as it’s a pretty crowded bunch right now. It definitely puts him on fans’ radar, though. Putting away a very tough fighter in Sterling raises his stock significantly.
Andre Soukhamthath - Another battle-tested fighter out of the very harsh New England scene, and another fighter that came into the UFC and hit a rough skid right away. After dropping two straight split decisions, he blew Luke Sanders’ eyebrows off and made a major statement. Much like Moraes, Andre is another fighter that let loose and showed what he can do. Most of his wins are finishes, and he guarantees he sticks around for at least a little longer in the UFC while giving the fans a big moment.
Alex Perez - Perez didn’t really give De Tomas much of a break once he got his timing down. Sealing the deal with a submission like that is great for a fighter that’s only in his mid-twenties. Perez now has five straight wins, including a win on Dana White’s Contender Series as well as his UFC debut.
Trevin Giles - Brutal way to end that fight. His boxing really made a difference at the end, and it really was a matter of settling down and getting comfortable with his pace. That damage seemed to have added up over time but really accumulated the most closer to the end. Great finishing instinct from Giles who wins his second UFC fight and remains undefeated overall at 11-0 as a professional. I’ll put it this way if you haven’t figured it out yet: in a division that is practically up for grabs and starved for young contenders, Giles is going to be a problem. This guy is capable of amazing things if brought up right.
Benito Lopez - After winning on Dana White’s Contender Series, Lopez seemed to have no pressure coming in and actually thriving in moments of sheer chaos. At only 23 years of age, it’s hard to tell what his limitations will be. Bantamweight’s old guard is moving along, but this is another great addition that can only get better.
Gabriel Benitez put on a true workmanlike performance, avoided the submission trappings and outworked Jason Knight on the feet for a good win. Davi Ramos snagged a good submission win against a very tough and gritty wrestler in Chris Gruetzemacher, evening out his UFC record at 1-1 after his UFC debut loss against Sergio Moraes. Alejandro Perez got a quality win over a seasoned veteran in Iuri Alcantara to keep his UFC run at 5-1 with a draw. Alexis Davis had some great submission attempts, but had to settle for the decision to kick off her run in the recently launched flyweight division. Frankie Saenz comes off a three-fight losing skid to defeat Merab Dvalishvili. He weathered the storm and did more damage, earning the nod and keeping himself afloat. Scott Holtzman bumps up to 3-2 in the UFC, putting forth a very meat-and-potatoes performance against a very game Darrell Horcher. That’s his second consecutive win after defeating Michael McBride this past April. Eryk Anders turned in another powerful performance for his second UFC win, and looks like another future rising talent in the middleweight division.
Also Honorable mention to Frank Trigg for stepping in the way he did during the Giles/Neto fight. He saw the first shot that really wobbled Antonio and followed in nicely to stop the action at just the right time. It’s a tough job, and it should be commended when we see a ref get it that right when it counts to ensure fighter safety. Props to him on that.
Cub Swanson - Swanson’s stock takes a hit, but not by that much. Another win or two and he can be right back where he was coming into this bout. He lost to the biggest submission threat in the division, and was looking good in the standup prior to that. The only problem I see is the rest of the moving pieces at featherweight now that the top of the division has finally and mercifully been sorted out. Maybe some wins for fighters ranked lower in the division could hurt Cub’s standing, but I doubt it.
Jason Knight - Let’s get the big one out of the way - that bite really could have been an accident. Whatever the case may be, he got a point deduction that could have made the difference between a loss and a draw. That’s two straight losses after the Ricardo Lamas fight in late July.
Iuri Alcantara - Now suffering back to back losses for the first time in his career, I wonder how much longer he’s going to be in the game. He looked more passive than calculating, and didn’t have many options for his younger opponent. Perhaps he’s been figured out, I don’t know. But he looked like the game is passing him by at this point.
Antonio Braga Neto - First fight back since June of 2014, and he started off fine until he wasn’t. That finish is going to stick with him for a bit. Not sure how he recovers from that, but he’s now 1-2 in the UFC.
Luke Sanders - After submitting Maximo Blanco in his UFC debut, Sanders lost to Iuri Alcantara by submission and now gets starched in this bout. He drops to 1-2 under the UFC banner, but should get another shot.
Albert Morales - This is a curious case, because Morales might get his walking papers here. His UFC debut was a draw, his second fight was a finish via strikes at the hands of Thomas Almeida, then a split decision over Andre Soukhamthath, and two straight losses. That’s 1-3-1, and it doesn’t add up nicely.
Chris Gruetzemacher - After winning his UFC debut against Abner Lloveras, Gruetzemacher has dropped two straight, both of them being submissions. He might just be getting his walking papers as well.
I figured Darrell Horcher would be the one leading the fight with takedown attempts and pushing the pace, but Holtzman had other plans. this puts Horcher at 1-2 in his UFC run. Liz Carmouche lost a close one, and that’s all there really is to say about that one other than the fact that her guard work looked much better in the second round. Carls John de Tomas is probably getting cut after going 0-2 in the UFC, and not performing at his best while there.
Markus Perez - You guys know what it is. Losing your UFC debut lands you here until further notice. Perez tried some tricks, but his style and build didn’t lend themselves well to Anders’ size, strength and skillset. That’s also his first and only professional loss. At least he gets another shot.
Merab Dvalishvili - Landed some good takedowns, didn’t do much damage with them. Oh, well. He’ll be back, and this loss shouldn’t hurt him at all. Especially considering how good he’s looked on his record.