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UFC on FOX 27: Jacare vs. Brunson 2 - Winners and Losers

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Aside from Jacare Souza’s deadly head kick finish making him the big winner of the evening, who else joined the Brazilian in the winner’s circle?

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, Graphic by Chad Stanhope

Would weird be the appropriate way to describe UFC on FOX 27? At the very least, something was in the water as much of the judging left many people scratching their heads. The in-cage action produced some duds – such as Randa Markos and Juliana Lima -- but there were also some very quality performances. Jacare Souza reestablished himself as a top middleweight. Drew Dober and Frank Camacho solidified themselves as action fighters. There was a lot of good to pull from the card.

However, the judges saw fit to leave many scratching their heads at their decisions. Did those judges see an alternate dimension of these fights or something? It produced at least one candidate for “Worst Decision of the Year,” though it’s likely there were two. Whatever went on in their heads, it certainly made for an interesting event.

Winners

Jacare Souza: Though it’s clear this win won’t get Souza a title shot, it does get him back into title talks. Prior to the contest, many were voicing concerns about Souza being on the decline. He may not be in his athletic prime anymore, but Souza proved he can still hang with the top athletes of the division as Souza beat Brunson where Brunson was supposed to be stronger. I probably wouldn’t pick Jacare in a rematch against Robert Whittaker, but it’s clear he still has a viable road to victory against the Aussie.

Andre Fili: There are many who don’t believe Fili deserved the win over Dennis Bermudez. However, Fili did get the win and it could be argued that he looked better than ever. Even if Fili had fallen short against Bermudez, it could have been argued he deserved to be in the winner’s column. Fili is hitting his stride after being seen an underachieving prospect. He’s unlikely to become a title contender, but could I see him as a top ten mainstay for a few years? You better believe it.

Gregor Gillespie: Four up, four down. That’s how it’s been for Gillespie. His toughest match thus far in the UFC was his debut against Glaico Franca. Since then, he’s bowled over Andrew Holbrook, Jason Gonzalez, and now Jordan Rinaldi. Gillespie has looked awesome… but can we please give him some tough opposition? He runs over another opponent the caliber of Rinaldi and fans are going to lose interest.

Drew Dober: After his first few UFC contests, I would have predicted Dober would have washed out by now. Instead, he changed camps to Team Elevation and has continued to improve to the point he has won four of his last five. No, he’ll never be good enough to contend for the title, but he’s turned himself into a tough out given his durability and endless gas tank. Plus, he’s fun to watch.

Frank Camacho: Wins and losses don’t mean as much to fighters like Camacho. His job is to entertain fans and he has accomplished that with all three of his UFC contests thus far. He can probably lose four fights in a row and still have a job in the UFC as he consistently brings it. If he loses too much, it’ll start to be a problem. But for now, Camacho is developing a reputation as one of the best action fighters in the sport.

Bobby Green: Easily the most complete performance of his career since 2014, Green could be experiencing a career resurgence. Sure, his first win in almost four years doesn’t constitute a resurgence, but he has looked good in his last three performances after a stretch where he fought once in a 28 months. Given he could still be in his physical prime at 31, it’s plausible we have yet to see the best version of Green yet.

Mirsad Bektic: What a way to come back from a long absence. Facing a Godofredo Pepey that looked to be the best version of Pepey we’ve ever seen, Bektic made short work of Pepey by delivering a brutal body shot that dropped Pepey into the fetal position. Given Bektic is best known for his wrestling and ground-and-pound, that’s a good indication Bektic is coming along as a standup fighter.

Niko Price: The young ATT representative showed much more patience in this outing without completely abandoning his aggressive approach. He picked his spots to attack well while capitalizing on the opening left by Sullivan when he gave his back. Price continues to be a welterweight worth keeping an eye on.

Cory Sandhagen: Two wins the course of eight days isn’t bad at all. Getting the call from the UFC after dispatching of his opponent in 67 seconds at LFA 31, Sandhagen made the most of the short notice call to put a beating on Austin Arnett. His work with Duane Ludwig was apparent as he worked over the body and was the more active fighter overall. I don’t think anyone would have guessed he’d been sitting where he’s at a month ago.

Losers

Derek Brunson: Losing to Jacare the first time was understandable. Brunson was young in his career and Jacare was in his prime. Now, Brunson ended up being destroyed in less than a round in a fight that was contested mostly on the feet… where Brunson was expected to have the advantage. Older than most would believe, the 34-year old Brunson has a very long climb to get back to where he was prior to the Whittaker loss. He can do it, even if it isn’t going to be easy.

Jordan Rinaldi: While Rinaldi was expected to lose, you’d hope he could have shown a modicum of being competitive. Nope. Even worse for Rinaldi, the loss occurred in his hometown. It’s one thing to lose in front of your family and friends. It’s another to lose in a humiliating manner.

Erik Koch: What really hurts about this loss is Koch looked sharp in the first round. His punches were harder and he even scored a takedown. Then he looked gassed in the second round, allowing Green to pressure him against the cage with minimal effort. The loss drops Koch to 2-5 since his title shot with Jose Aldo was canceled. His roster spot is likely in danger.

Godofredo Pepey: To be fair, Pepey’s takedown defense looked better than it ever has. But you can’t be anything other than a loser when you eat a body punch the way he did against Bektic. The loss means Pepey has now dropped three of his last four. He could be on his last legs.

Katlyn Chookagian: Chookagian may have won, but this was the worst performance of her UFC career. Her strikes continually fell short and never landed a strike that seemed to hurt or rock Mara Romero Borello. Just a little bit more commitment in her strikes and this would have been a much different story. Instead, it felt like the judges were deceived by her attempts. Given her past performances, Chookagian should rebound well enough, but given she could have been launched into title talks with an impressive performance, this hurts a lot.

Randa Markos: Let it be stated that Markos deserved her win. She was far more active than Juliana Lima, securing numerous takedowns and scoring with ground-and-pound. She did that with a knee injury too. However, it wasn’t the type of win that’s going to garner any attention from the brass or fans. I would consider putting her in the neither category, but given Markos is usually one of the more entertaining fighters in her division, I have to harsh on her.

Juliana Lima: Inactivity has long been an issue for Lima and it cost her again against Markos. When Lima did have the top position on the ground, she did nothing with it. She has now lost three of her last four. Given her less than entertaining style, she could be on her way out the door in a hurry. Then again, I suppose the question is when her contract runs out as the UFC doesn’t seem to cut anyone these days….

Joaquim Silva: Did Silva forget you have to attack to win a fight? He did wake up in the final round, but the judges believed it was too little, too late. The youngster still has time to improve and make good on his potential, but he needs to let his hands loose.

George Sullivan: The longtime vet needed this win in the worst way. Coming off not one, but two USADA suspensions, Sullivan looked good at times, including exercising control through most of the second round. He left his back open to be taken though and it was all she wrote. There is a strong probability Sullivan’s UFC career is over.

Austin Arnett: I really regret picking the Sikjitsu representative in the staff picks, largely because he is a Sikjitsu fighter. Sandhagen recognized they don’t block body shots and Arnett collapsed to the mat when Sandhagen go rolling. Anyone remember the last meaningful win a Sikjitsu fighter racked up? Me neither.

Neither

Dennis Bermudez: Given the loss was his third in a row, Bermudez was the biggest loser on the night in some way. However, the overwhelming majority of the MMA media believed Bermudez did enough to win. Given he’s never in a boring fight and he turned in a quality performance, I don’t see the UFC brass coming down hard on the featherweight mainstay. Look for him to get a step down in competition in his next contest only to be thrust back into the fray with a higher quality opponent once he picks up a win.

Mara Romero Borella: Perhaps it seems odd for me to put Chookagian in the loser’s column and Borella here. When you realize Borella outlanded Chookagian in significant strikes and probably deserved to win, you walk away feeling a little bit different about Borella’s performance. In fact, given the fight was spent almost entirely on the feet – Chookagian’s supposed strength – Borella comes out looking better than she did going in. If only she could have picked up the deserved W….

Justine Kish: When you’re Kish, you can’t be considered a loser when you’re able to make it through a fight without crapping your pants. Seriously though, Kish didn’t deserve to lose to Ji Yeon Kim. She outlanded her in every round and pushed the pace for the majority of the contest. Like every other person who watched that fight, Kish knows she didn’t lose.

Ji Yeon Kim: I wanted to put Kim in the loser’s column, but unlike Chookagian, Kim fought admirably and it isn’t her fault if the judges in North Carolina are blind. Thus, she walked out with her first UFC victory. It’s hard to label her a loser when she picked up something she didn’t deserve. Regardless, I’m not disappointed as I’m intrigued by Kim’s potential and don’t mind seeing her get more time to develop.

Vinc Pichel: I was in the minority who believed Pichel deserved the win, but I wasn’t going to put him in the winner’s category even if I was in the majority. Pichel edged out the first two rounds on volume thanks to his low kicks. Not the way to get the attention of a fighter such as Al Iaquinta, whom he called out after in his post-fight interview. It isn’t happening Vinc.