The UFC badly wanted a new contender to come out of UFC Fight Island 4 for Amanda Nunes at bantamweight. Fans don’t want to see an opponent Nunes has already turned away with minimal issue get another shot at the belt. So, the UFC took a couple of Nunes’ former challengers and paired them against a pair of up-and-comers, hoping at least one of the up-and-comers would walk out with a win and have the necessary accolades to fight for the belt. It didn’t turn out the way the UFC hoped.
The main event saw Holly Holm put on a masterful performance, dominating Irene Aldana for five rounds straight. Aldana chased Holm for the entirety, only to see Holm land a plethora of kicks and short boxing combinations on the advancing fighter. For good measure, Holm even landed the occasional takedown. Given Holm has lost four title fights in a row, she’s a tough sell to put back in the title picture, even with this being her best performance since her upset of Ronda Rousey rocked the foundations of the MMA world. She’ll need at least one more win before she can get another title shot.
As for the rest of the action....
- A much maligned choice for the co-main event, Carlos Felipe and Yorgan De Castro was actually fun… for two rounds. The third round grinded to a boring halt, the fight remaining in an uneventful clinch basically until the final bell. The round was bad enough to largely eliminate the good will built up in the first two-thirds of the fight. Felipe was the more active fighter in the first two rounds, taking the decision.
- Germaine de Randamie hasn’t been a favorite of the UFC brass.... perhaps why they didn’t put her in the co-main event slot. She didn’t do herself any favors by taking out Juliana Pena with a guillotine choke in the third round as the grappler attempted to get the former champion to the ground. Not bad for a kickboxer. Much to the UFC’s chagrin, the status quo remains and Pena doesn’t emerge as a title contender.
- Because bantamweight doesn’t have enough prospects we need to keep an eye on, Kyler Phillips made a statement with a completely dominating performance on Cameron Else. Winning in every aspect, Phillips secured the finish early with some GnP.
- Dusko Todorovic looked eminently more impressive in his official UFC debut than he did in his DWCS showing that earned him a contract. He bullied Dequan Townsend for a round and a half before getting a GnP stoppage. The unbeaten middleweight prospect looks promising.
- Fight fans couldn’t help but smile after seeing legend of violence Carlos Condit get his hand raised for the first time in over five years. Court McGee jumped out to the early lead, but the momentum swung literally at the bell of the opening round when Condit broke his nose with a punch. Condit seemed to settle in from there and cruise to a comfortable decision.
- It may not have been an upset by definition, but Josh Culibao fighting Charles Jourdain to a split draw was a surprising outcome. The scorecards were all over the place – I have no idea how anyone gave Jourdain a 30-27 – but a draw works for this contest that was up in the air. Disappointing night for the heavily favored Jourdain.
- The downer of the night was between debutants Jordan Williams and Nassourdine Imavov. Williams jumped out to the early lead, but it was Imavov who had the deeper tank as both faded down the stretch. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and blame it on the short notice.
- One of the more anticipated contests on the card, Loma Lookboonmee lived up to expectations. After scaring away Jinh Yu Frey from entering the clinch with flurries of elbows in the first two rounds, she cruised to an easy victory the rest of the way.
- In the beatdown of the night, Casey Kenney put a shellacking on Alateng Heili for the entirety of the 15 minutes they were in the cage. A finish may not have come, but that’s only because Heili is made of some sort of durable substance not found elsewhere on this planet.
- Luigi Vendramini started the card out right, wobbling Jessin Ayari with a counter left hook and finishing him off shortly after with a head kick. It’s been a long road back for Vendramini after suffering a knee injury in his UFC debut two years ago, but that finish had to be totally worth it.