Fight fans were reminded of one thing at UFC 250 and that was that Amanda Nunes is the best woman fighter in the history of the UFC. With her win over Felicia Spencer in the main event, Nunes stretched her winning streak to 11 and became the first UFC fighter to hold and defend titles in two weight divisions at the same time.
One thing that might not be so clearly defined is how the bantamweight division will sort itself out. With Aljamain Sterling submitting Cory Sandhagen and former champion Cody Garbrandt starching Raphael Assuncao things could get a little dicey at 135. Yes, UFC president Dana White said Sterling will face the winner of Jose Aldo and Petr Yan, but we all know that White can change his mind on a whim.
Another bantamweight that shined was Sean O’Malley, who starched Eddie Wineland in the opening fight of the pay-per-view card.
As a whole, UFC 250 was a solid card. It might not have had a lot of name recognition for the casual fan, but for hardcore supporters, it was an entertaining fight card with plenty of action and highlights.
Amanda Nunes: What can you say about Nunes at this point? Is she the greatest women’s fighter in UFC history? Yes, she established that in her last fight when she defeated Germaine de Randamie. With that victory she earned wins over every woman who ever held the UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight titles. Does she have an opponent who can give her a tough fight at 135 or 145 pounds? That’s doubtful. The only fight that might be a struggle for her is against flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko, who Nunes has defeated twice via decision.
Nunes dominated Felicia Spencer for 25 minutes in the main event of UFC 250. After the fight Nunes said she wanted to go 25 minutes just to prove to her doubters that she could go the five-round distance. Everyone who doubted Nunes’ ability to go the championship fight distance owe an apology to Felicia Spencer.
Cody Garbrandt: The knock on Cody Garbrandt heading into UFC 250 was that he fought too emotionally. It was hard to argue against the thinking since Garbrandt had lost three straight fights by knockout after he got involved in slugfests. He kept his cool against Raphael Assuncao and stayed focus. When he saw an opening at the end of the second round, Garbrandt loaded up a right hook that landed perfectly on Assuncao’s chin and turned out the lights moments before the horn sounded to end the second stanza. Garbrandt couldn’t have scripted a better comeback win.
Aljamain Sterling: There was no reason to book Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight title. There is even less of a reason for that fight to take place after UFC 250. Sterling dominated Cory Sandhagen, earning a rear-naked choke submission 88 seconds into the first round. The win was Sterling’s fifth straight victory and the fastest stoppage of his UFC career. Sterling ended Sandhagen’s seven-fight winning streak.
Neil Magny: Magny scored his 16th win as a UFC welterweight at UFC 250 when he scored a unanimous decision victory. Only one other UFC welterweight has more wins and that man is Georges St-Pierre. Things were close in the first two rounds of Magny’s bout against Anthony Rocco Martin, but Magny kicked things up a notch or two in the third stanza and pulled ahead for the win.
Sean O’Malley: O’Malley was confident heading into his UFC 250 matchup against veteran competitor Eddie Wineland. After he scored a nasty one-punch knockout that confidence is going to skyrocket. O’Malley said he believes he has the best striking in MMA. I don’t think that’s true, but that belief in himself allows him to step into the octagon with few concerns. O’Malley said he is going to sit down and talk to the UFC about a new contract. That could be an interesting conversation since Wineland was his first “name” opponent.
Ian Heinisch: Heinisch came out fast and blasted Gerald Meerschaert with leg kicks that didn’t seem to sit well with Meerschaert. The beginning of the end came when Heinisch fooled Meerschaert into thinking he was going for a takedown and instead through am overhead right that dropped Meerschaert to the mat. Once the fight was on the ground, Heinisch teed off with ground strikes that brought the fight to an end 74 seconds into the bout. The win put an end to Heinisch’s two-fight losing skid.
Cody Stamann: Stamann was a winner even before his fight against Brian Kelleher began. Stamann’s 18-year-old brother died on May 27, yet Stamann never considered dropping out of his fight with Brian Kelleher. Stamann did a nice job on offense and defense throughout the contest. Yes, he faded a bit late in the contest, but he earned a unanimous decision victory under some terrible circumstances. After his win, Stamann, in an emotional interview with Joe Rogan, said he spent a lot of Saturday fighting off tears.
Maki Pitolo: If Pitolo can keep his fights on the feet he can do some damage. After a ho-hum first round, Pitolo showcased his striking early in the second stanza. He put Charles Byrd against the fence and just unloaded body shots and elbows to the head that led to a trip and a finish via strikes on the ground. Pitolo did not show the best awareness when the fight went to the ground. He will need to work on his skills on the mat if he wants to move up the rankings.
Alex Perez: Expect Perez to move up the flyweight rankings next week thanks to his TKO via leg kicks over the veteran Jussier Formiga. Perez was very aggressive in the early going. He used a focused attack to the lead leg of Formiga and quickly took control of the fight. Perez used those kicks to drop Formiga twice. The second knockdown brought referee Keith Peterson in to wave things off at the 4:06 mark of the first round. Perez is now on a three-fight winning streak and he should get himself a high-profile matchup the next time he sets foot inside the octagon.
Devin Clark: Clark was in deep trouble early in his fight against Alonzo Menifield after he caught a huge uppercut to the left eye. It took Clark a while, but he got things sorted and came back strong as the fight wore on. He was active with his striking and takedown attempts throughout the 15-minute contest. What stood out about Clark was his pluckiness. He put on a gutsy performance in earning the unanimous decision win.
Herbert Burns: Burns won his UFC debut by knockout when he stopped Nate Landwehr via knockout in January. That win was his first career stoppage via strikes. At UFC 250, Burns, the younger brother of UFC welterweight title hopeful Gilbert, opened the card with a submission win over Evan Dunham. Burns made things look easy. He used a slick trip to get Dunham to the mat and his quickly secure the body lock and not long after that he wrapped up a rear-naked choke for the finish. Don’t expect Burns to open another UFC card.
Felicia Spencer and her corner: Spencer lasted 25 minutes with Amanda Nunes, but she paid the price for her toughness. She was bloody and bruised by the end of the contest. She was never in the fight. Nunes dominated the contest in every way possible.
Spencer’s corner should have stopped the fight at the end of the third round. There was no path to victory for Spencer at that point of the fight, but her corner sent her back out there to take more damage. That was not a wise decision.
Raphael Assuncao: Assuncao is a counter fighter. He never really found his range and timing against Cody Garbrandt. With his knockout loss, Assuncao has now lost three fights in a row. With the talent in the bantamweight division it’s going to be very difficult for the 37-year-old to get back in the mix for a title shot.
Cory Sandhagen: Sandhagen’s seven-fight winning streak came to an abrupt end 88 seconds into his matchup against Aljamain Sterling. Sterling took Sandhagen’s back early in the contest and pursued the submission from that point. Sandhagen fought the first attempt off, but he went to sleep shortly after tapping to Sterling’s second and final rear-naked choke attempt.
Anthony Rocco Martin: Martin was on the last fight of his UFC contract heading into UFC 250. He failed to get the win against Neil Magny. Not only that, Martin faded badly in the third round. It was far from Martin’s best performance. With a 1-2 record in his past three outings, Martin does not have much negotiating power when it comes to a new UFC deal.
Eddie Wineland: Wineland had a short night at UFC 250 and odds are good that he won’t remember a good amount of it. Sean O’Malley knocked Wineland out cold early in their bantamweight contest. The loss dropped Wineland’s record to 6-8 under the UFC banner. Wineland has been with the promotion since 2011.
Chase Hooper: Hooper was outmatched on the feet against Alex Caceres and since that’s where the majority of the fight between them took place, Hooper never found his groove. At 20, Hooper is still developing. He needs to work on his striking and disguising his takedowns. Hooper has plenty of time to grow into a complete fighter, but the UFC needs to hold off on matching him against veterans like Caceres until he adds more skills to his arsenal.
Gerald Meerschaert: It took all of one leg kick from Ian Heinisch to find out that Meerschaert was in trouble in this middleweight matchup. Heinisch never gave Meerschaert an opportunity to put together any offense during the short time these two spent inside the cage.
Charles Byrd: It took Charles Byrd two shots on the Dana White Contender Series to earn a UFC contract. With three straight TKO losses in four official UFC bouts, Byrd retired following his loss to Maki Pitolo at UFC 250. Byrd didn’t have much fight left in him after he absorbed a litany of heavy strikes to the body and head early in the second round of the middleweight scrap.
Jussier Formiga: The 35-year-old Formiga might have transitioned from top-five ranked flyweight to gatekeeper at UFC 250. Formiga never really got things going against the rising Alex Perez. For some reason, Formiga avoided checking the kicks of Perez until it was too late. By the time he checked a kick, Formiga’s lead leg was useless. This was not a good showing from Formiga, who might go down as the best UFC flyweight to never get the chance to fight for UFC gold.
Alonzo Menifield: Menifield learned a lesson in Las Vegas. Menifield entered his matchup against Devin Clark with a 9-0 record and zero trips to the third round. He left that light heavyweight scrap with the first loss of his career after 15 minutes. Menifield found out that his power might have been enough early in his career, but he needs more than that now that he’s in the UFC. It will be interesting to see what Menifield takes away from his first loss and how he comes back from the defeat.
Alex Caceres: Caceres’ experience carried him to a victory over the young Chase Hooper at UFC 250. Caceres had the clear advantage in the striking department and he used his jab to great effect throughout the fight. There’s no doubt that Caceres loves his job and at times that hurts him. There was no reason for him to tangle with Hooper on the mat, but he seemed to do so willingly and that could have turned out badly for Caceres. Caceres won the bout by unanimous decision giving him his first winning streak since 2016.
Brian Kelleher: Competing for the second time in less than a month, Kelleher delivered a solid performance against Cody Stamann, but he couldn’t overcome the defensive skills and offensive pressure of his opponent. Kelleher never gave up on himself and looked for the finish up until the final horn. The loss shouldn’t hurt Kelleher all that much.
Evan Dunham: Dunham came out of retirement to face Herbert Burns in the opening fight of UFC 250. In Dunham’s first fight since Francisco Trinaldo knocked him out in September 2018. Burns dominated this fight, ending it early in the first round via his slick submission skills. It’s hard to tell where the 38-year-old Dunham is when his offense was all of four total strikes in a bout that lasted 80 seconds.