Main Card (Tim)
Junior dos Santos entered a fight as a big underdog against Curtis Blaydes. That seemed a bit off, but it turned out to be a good line. Blaydes couldn’t work his vaunted wrestling game, but he landed some big shots on Dos Santos in the first and took the round. Early in the second, he cracked JDS with a big shot that stunned him a bit. That was all he needed, as he flurried with knees and hard rights to earn a TKO win.
To his credit, Dos Santos stayed on his feet the whole time, and the referee waved it off with him still upright. But this is quite a crossroads for the former UFC heavyweight champion. He previously had only lost to the biggest of heavyweight names. No disrespect to Blaydes, as he’s been a world beater in the UFC thus far against anyone but Francis Ngannou, but that is probably the end of any hopes for another title shot for JDS. As for Blaydes, he might very well be next in line after Daniel Cormer and Stipe Miocic settle their differences for a third time. Whenever that actually goes down.
- Michael Chiesa has changed a lot of things, and the most obvious one is how much bigger he is. He didn’t look huge at lightweight, but at welterweight he’s a monster. He took it to Rafael dos Anjos from the start, working his wrestling game and threatening the BJJ black belt with chokes. RDA had his moments on the feet, particularly with hard leg kicks, but it wasn’t enough to secure two rounds. Chiesa gets the biggest win of his career, and called out Colby Covington in a short but sweet post-fight interview.
- Alex Perez is a beast. All it took was getting to half guard before he was able to secure an arm triangle. Most people can’t finish from there, but his squeeze put Jordan Espinosa clean out without even having to pop out to side. Very impressive.
- Angela Hill looked very impressive against Hannah Cifers. She worked from range well, and even threatened with submission attempts on the ground. In the end she got mount, dropped a bunch of elbows, and earned her second straight TKO finish.
- Jamahal Hill looked green but good in his UFC debut. His hands are crisp and he listened to his corner when they asked him to work the body. He is hittable, and Darko Stosic did expose his wrestling later in the fight to a degree, but Hill got the W. He’s got a bright future, especially with only seven pro fights under his belt.
Preliminary Card (by Mookie)
- Middleweight Bevon Lewis battled through a knee injury to get a comfortable decision win over Dequan Townsend, who really doesn’t look like he’ll be in the UFC much longer based on his two showings.
- English featherweight Arnold Allen improved his UFC record to 7-0 with a decision win over Nik Lentz, who started well but got rocked in round two and was just edged out on the feet in the final round. Lentz was offensively outgunned but it was far from a blowout, so Allen certainly had to work hard to get the victory here.
- Justine Kish swept the scorecards 30-27 against Lucie Pudilova in what can best be described as a lot of dancing, a lot of missing, and not a lot of good striking. This was painful to watch.
- Montel Jackson crushed Felipe Colares and did everything except knock him out. He landed about a billion headshots to end rounds one and two, but Colares is evidently the Brazilian Zombie. Credit to Colares for his insane toughness but Jackson owned this fight and got the W on the scorecards. Jackson also walked out to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” so he was destined to kick ass.
- Sara McMann had been out of the Octagon for more than two years, with injuries and the birth of her son keeping her away from fighting. She didn’t miss a beat against Lina Lansberg, who was helpless against McMann’s wrestling and grappling. McMann’s lopsided shutout decision marks her first victory since 2017, and it’s arguably one of her most complete performances of her UFC career.
- Welsh bantamweight Brett Johns was pushed by newcomer Tony Gravely, but this compelling, grappling and wrestling heavy contest went the way of Johns by third-round rear-naked choke. Johns nearly subbed Gravely towards the end of round one, Gravely came back and arguably took round two, but Brett was too much for Tony at the end.
- Herbert Burns was looking to choke out Nate Landwehr early, but ended up knocking him out instead. A vicious knee wiped Landwehr out not too long after he abandoned a d’arce choke. The brother of Gilbert Burns kicked off the card (and his UFC career) in style.