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UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee post-fight results and analysis

Mookie Alexander recaps and analyzes the action that took place at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Lee spent 95% of the UFC Atlantic City main event demolishing Edson Barboza and turning his face into hamburger, but that 5%? You would’ve been looking at one of the more insane comebacks in UFC history. Barboza still throws at full speed and full power even when getting torn to shreds, and his wheel kick had Lee tap dancing like Gregory Hines early in the third round. Lee took Barboza down despite almost getting knocked out, and the rest of the fight was similar to the first two rounds, with Barboza getting pummeled on the ground. “The Motown Phenom” damaged Barboza’s right eye so badly that the doctor called the fight off midway through the final round, much to the disappointment of the crowd.

Barboza has taken consecutive beatings against two of the top wrestlers and ground-and-pound specialists in the sport, but wow is he tough. As for Lee, his striking looked better than ever, and he hurt Barboza on the feet multiple times. Is it Khabib Nurmagomedov time for Lee next? I don’t think so, and the weight miss plus prior loss to Tony Ferguson doesn’t help, but he’s still an outstanding fighter who isn’t too far away from a title shot. Barboza is a dangerous opponent and Lee schooled him most of the way, plus survived that wheel kick at a critical juncture of the fight.

More thoughts on tonight’s card:

Main Card

  • The New Jersey crowd booed Lee’s decision to wrestle Barboza in the 4th round, breaking out in a “stand them up!” chant, and they kept booing Lee in the post-fight interview. I get that Barboza trains and lives in New Jersey, but come on. That was ridiculous.
  • Frankie Edgar’s quick turnaround after the Brian Ortega KO loss ended in a shutout win over Cub Swanson on the scorecards. Edgar dominated Swanson on the ground in the first fight, and in the rematch he won on the feet. Swanson rarely threatened Edgar apart from two or three exchanges the whole night, but he did stuff all of the takedowns. It wasn’t entertaining to watch, but Edgar did what he needed to do, and he was fighting with a heavy heart with the recent deaths of his father and grandfather. Good to see Frankie back on track, especially with the hometown crowd behind him, but a disappointing outing from Swanson.
  • Justin Willis blasted Chase Sherman in the opening round, nearly getting the KO, but Willis punched himself out, and the last two rounds were uh... well it’s unranked heavyweight MMA. Willis got the unanimous decision over Sherman, who possesses some of the worst striking defense I’ve ever seen at a UFC level.
  • How many of you picked David Branch to defeat Thiago Santos by knockout? Branch crushed Santos with a right hand, then sealed the deal with hammerfists, halting Santos’ four-fight winning streak. Wow. I’m still stunned that happened, and it’s a terrific win for Branch to keep his place in the middleweight top-10.
  • Aljamain Sterling bounced back nicely from the KO loss to Marlon Moraes by outclassing Brett Johns, handing the Welshman his first professional defeat. Sterling then called out former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Ambitious, but I don’t know if the UFC books that next. The callout aside, Sterling looked confident on the feet and was just better in the wrestling and grappling department.
  • Daniel Hooker became only the second man to knock Jim Miller out, as he blasted the 29-fight Octagon veteran with a massive knee, then a punch that really wasn’t necessary after the knockdown. Hooker has won three straight, and that’s his second knee KO in his last three fights. He called for a fight with Paul Felder right in his face, and I’d sign up for that.
  • At four straight losses, I don’t know if we see Miller in the Octagon again, and as a longtime fan, this outcome was admittedly a bummer.

Preliminary Card

  • Ryan LaFlare shut out Alex Garcia on the scorecards in what I feel is easily the worst fight in the UFC this year. Just a miserable slog that should never be replayed.
  • Merab Dvalishvili lost a split decision in his first UFC fight, and his second appearance ended in a TKO loss literally with no time left in his bout vs. Ricky Simon. Seriously. Simon jumped on a guillotine in the final minute of round 3, and it looked as if Dvalishvili was out, but the ref didn’t deem him to be out. Dvalishvili was still on the ground after the horn sounded, the referee then ruled it a TKO because apparently Dvalishvili was out cold when the fight ended, but that determination was made during the commercial break. I am so confused and I have no idea what to think other than it’s one of the craziest and most bizarre finishes in UFC history.
  • Siyar Bahadurzada hurt Luan Chagas with a body kick, then belted him with an uppercut just for good measure. What a finish from Siyar “The Great” to extend his winning streak to three. Chagas basically fell in slow motion.
  • Corey Anderson busted up Patrick Cummins — I mean, a lot of people do this, so that’s not new — and took Cummins down repeatedly for a dominant unanimous decision win. Anderson ends his two-fight losing streak and remains in the LHW title picture, seeing as he’s ranked #10.
  • Now competing a welterweight, Tony Martin got the card started with a comfortable unanimous decision win over Keita Nakamura, using patient and accurate striking to dominate most of the fight.