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UFC Vancouver: Cerrone vs. Gaethje - Winners and Losers

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UFC Vancouver was... weird at times, but ended with an as advertised finish when Justin Gaethje stopped Donald Cerrone in the main event.

The UFC Vancouver card had quite a few bizarre moments, including an unusually high volume of flips, both front and back alike. Only five of the twelve bouts ended early, and one of those was a no contest due to an eye poke. The four actual finishes were excellent and all occurred within the first round. As for the card’s decisions, some were actually a lot of fun, while the rest were underwhelming and downright ordinary. Getting a mixed bag of outcomes like this surely gets smoothed over when we get a main event that delivers as it’s expected to. Justin Gaethje vs. Donald Cerrone went down exactly as advertised, with Gaethje punching through “Cowboy” in the opening round.

Winners

Justin Gaethje: It’s not a big shocker that Gaethje did what Gaethje does. Pressure, leg kicks, and bolos are what we were all expecting— and exactly what we got. Gaethje knocked out Donald Cerrone in the first round, which puts him in an excellent spot for a major matchup in his next outing. He dismissed the possibility of a Conor McGregor matchup in his post-fight interview, but this is prize fighting where the true purpose is to make as much money as one can, while one can. McGregor is a gigantic payday and a real possibility for Gaethje while the lightweight title is being sorted out between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. Or, Gaethje could sit back and wait for the winner of a potential Khabib/Ferguson matchup, which would also come with a massive pot at the end of the rainbow. All Gaethje did at UFC Vancouver was win, more than anyone else. Oh, and he received a performance bonus as a big fat cherry on top.

Glover Teixeira: The age of 39 is looking real good on Teixeira. As someone who has looked a bit fragile in previous fights, he appeared quite rigid against Nikita Krylov. He did better on the feet than most people had expected. He was able to absorb strikes without issue, while dishing out more damage than his opponent did. Teixeira may not have come up with the submission like he had hoped for, and even bet a bottle of whiskey on, but he came away with a dub nonetheless. He is now riding a three-fight winning streak, proving to be one tough gatekeeper to the elite at 205-pounds.

Tristan Connelly: Okay, Connelly had to deal with some extremely wonky maneuvers in his matchup with Michel Pereira. An excess of back flips and flying knees had to be endured before he could get to work with his practical fighting style. He did just that, and on five-days notice no less. Connelly made good on his UFC debut, in front of a home crowd, and walked away with Fight of the Night honors. Since his opponent missed weight, he was awarded both sides of the bonus, which totaled $100,000. Talk about best case scenario.

Uriah Hall: Pulling the trigger isn’t something that Hall has always been able to do with ease, but he did against Antonio Carlos Junior. Right out of the gate he shattered the nose of Shoeface. He worked off his jab and even dropped his foe with a clean cross in the second round. Hall had to do his fair share of anti-grappling, but made the most of his moments in open space. This is the first time Hall has won back-to-back fights since 2015. Win!

Misha Cirkunov: Just when it appeared as if Cirkunov was going to get ground and pounded by Jimmy Crute, he miraculously hit a gorgeous sweep— and then snagged up a wicked Peruvian Necktie to secure the tap. Talk about muscle memory. For Cirkunov to be able to hit such a technical sweep and then a technical sub while rocked is downright impressive. He also walked away with a performance bonus for his troubles.

Augusto Sakai: It seems like just yesterday that Sakai was drawing even with Dan Charles in the Bellator promotion. Now, he’s 3-0 in the UFC and just stormed the castle of Marcin Tybura in under one minute. Sakai showcased some quick hands, sinister dirty boxing, and a savage killer instinct. He’s only 28-years old, which is an infant in terms of heavyweight-years. After a sensational win like this, it’s time to start asking if Sakai is for real.

Miles Johns: Although his matchup with Cole Smith wasn’t exactly a thriller, Johns still made good on his UFC. He also kept his perfect record intact and moved to 10-0. He was far from dominant, and showed some holes in his grappling, but hey, a win’s a win.

Hunter Azure: Making good on your UFC debut is always a win. Azure showed off solid power in his hands and stellar takedown defense. He still looks pretty raw as a whole, and will have his hands full closing that gap in a bantamweight division full of well-rounded killers— but he remained undefeated in his biggest test to date.

Chas Skelly: One of the most entertaining decisions on the card was put on by Skelly and his opponent Jordan Griffin. The grapple-heavy match was full of back-and-forth scrambles, back takes, and choke attempts. He may have been robbed of Fight of the Night honors, but getting back into the win column for the first time in two years is huge for Skelly.

Louis Smolka: Who knew that Smolka could punch? He showed up for his fight with Ryan MacDonald with hands. He attacked the body early, which set up the opportunity for two massive haymakers to connect and secure him the first-round finish. Showcasing power in his hands was a big fat win for the former flyweight in Smolka, who is 2-1 since returning to the UFC.

Austin Hubbard: After getting off to a rocky start against Kyle Prepolec, Hubbard made some mid-fight adjustments to gain control of the match and take the win. Being able to switch things up on the fly is crucial asset for any fighter. He took the fight to the floor and flourished. Hubbard showed off a lot of smarts to pick up his first UFC win.

Losers

Donald Cerrone: Poor Donald. After posting up three stellar performances, he fell short yet again when he ran into the lightweight elite. First it was Tony Ferguson, and now Justin Gaethje. Cerrone was unable to avoid the serious heat that Gaethje is known to throw, and was taken out in the first round. Cowboy claims to still want the belt, but at this point it appears as if that ship has sailed.

Nikita Krylov: Not getting submitted by Glover Teixeira was a huge win for Krylov, but not enough to get him into the winners section. He was on the receiving end of the better strikes, and even turned his back and ran away on a few occasions. That sort of strategy belongs in the loser’s lounge.

Michel Pereira: Doing round offs and backflips during a UFC fight is fun to see, and definitely cool, but if you don’t get the win then you end up looking like a clown. Gassing out doing somersaults spliced with low percentage strikes is not a good look. Sure, it’s a spectacle and entertaining, but when a basic fundamental game is beating you— something’s got to give. The UFC is supposed to be the pinnacle for the sport of MMA, not gymnastics.

Antonio Carlos Junior: Getting his nose busted by Uriah Hall in the opening sequence of their fight put Shoeface behind the 8-ball. He did his best to get his grapple on, but Hall was too savvy to get submitted. Whenever the fight was taking place in open space, Hall was pumping his jab and doing damage. Shoeface was even dropped in the second round. He has now gone from a five-fight winning streak, including four RNC’s, to his grappling not being enough and dropping two-straight.

Jimmy Crute: He had Misha Cirkunov dead to rights. Crute hurt his opponent with a knee and then followed him to the ground where he started to smash with ground and pound. Just when it looked like he was going to get the finish, Crute was swept and subsequently choked out with a Peruvian Necktie. Being so close to victory just to have it snatched away must sting, especially being his first career loss.

Marcin Tybura: Toughness is king at heavyweight. Period. Augusto Sakai went right at Tybura, blasting him with punches and dirty boxing until he was slumped over against the fence. All of that happened in less than a minute. Having lost four of his last five, Tybura is now known for getting melted.

Cole Smith: Submission hunting is great and all, but when you’re not throwing blows along the way, and the sub doesn’t manifest— don’t be surprised when your opponent does land strikes and wins the decision. This was the case for Smith. He had all of the control with none of the damage. This isn’t a grappling match, it’s MMA where damage is the most critical criteria.

Brad Katona: After getting out-wrestled in his last outing, Katona showed up with an offensive wrestling strategy. The problem was he was up against an accomplished wrestler in Hunter Azure. Katona was unable to get the fight to the floor, and just couldn’t match the firepower that Azure brought to the table. Tough break for the TUF 27 winner.

Ryan MacDonald: The elite level of MMA has not been good to MacDonald. First he dropped his UFC debut to Chris Gutierrez. Then, he was out-boxed and knocked out by former flyweight Louis Smolka. That’s not a good sign. It’s not like Smolka is known to be heavy handed, or that great of a puncher. Perhaps MacDonald isn’t quite ready for the UFC?

Kyle Prepolec: Well, Prepolec had a strong opening round against Austin Hubbard. He got his striking going and seemed to be in control of the fight at the end of the opening round. Then, Hubbard made all the right adjustments and turned the bout into a grapple-heavy affair. Prepolec struggled with the control and ate a bunch of strikes on the floor. He is still searching for his first UFC win.

Neither

Jordan Griffin: His match with Chas Skelly should have earned Fight of the Night honors. It was a highly entertaining scramble-fest with both men hitting front flips trying to escape back takes. Griffin may have lost the fight, but he showed off tremendous skill while fighting Skelly in his own wheelhouse. His stock definitely didn’t take a hit as a result of his maximum-effort performance.

Todd Duffee: Welp, it’s the same ol’ Todd Duffee. He brawls and hurts his opponent while also getting rocked in the process. He really gives his fights a 50/50 feel. Just when his matchup with Jeff Hughes was heating up, an accidental eye poke brought an anticlimactic end to the fight. No contests just don’t give us proper closure.

Jeff Hughes: Todd Duffee dropped Hughes a few times in the opening round. Hughes recovered and threw back with some shots of his own, catching Duffee clean on a few occasions. Then came the eye poke that ruined the barnburner. We need closure.