The UFC closed the door on 2021 on Saturday with UFC Vegas 45, an event that saw Derrick Lewis hit pause on Chris Daukaus’ climb up the UFC heavyweight rankings with his record 13th UFC knockout win. In the co-main event, Belal Muhammad continued his ascent up the welterweight rankings with a dominant win over former two-time title challenger Stephen Thompson.
Read on for a handful of unanswered questions from the event, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streamed in ESPN+.
Will UFC and/or NSAC force Sijara Eubanks to move to bantamweight?
If you recall, Sijara Eubanks, not Roxanne Modafferi, was supposed to face Nicco Montano for the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title. That didn’t happen because Eubanks, who struggled to hit the flyweight mark during filming of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26, ended up in the hospital trying to hit the 125-pound championship limit for that December 1, 2017 fight.
Eubanks made the flyweight limit for her official debut with the promotion in June 2018, but she failed to hit the mark for her next bout, checking in at 127.2 pounds. A stretch of six fights at 135 pounds followed that weight miss.
In July 2021, Eubanks gave flyweight another go. She made weight for that fight. Then on Friday, Eubanks came in at 127.5 pounds for her scheduled flyweight scrap with Melissa Gatto.
Eubanks has established a pattern here. She cannot consistently make 125 pounds. The UFC and Nevada State Athletic Commission need to follow the California State Athletic Commission’s lead and place Eubanks on suspension at 125 pounds until she can prove she can make 125 pounds safely and consistently. Or, if the UFC and NSAC want to go one step further than that, force her to move to 135 pounds. One thing that shouldn’t be done is to allow her to try to make 125 pounds again without oversight.
Will Charles Jourdain be another cautionary tale?
Charles Jourdain made a business decision ahead of UFC Vegas 45. That decision was to fight out his UFC contract rather than negotiate with the promotion coming off his submission loss to Julian Erosa in September.
On the surface, it seems as if the gamble paid off. Jourdain scored a unanimous decision over Andre Ewell on Saturday. Now, the pesky part of business has to take place, and that is to hammer out a new deal.
The UFC seems to like to avoid having its fighters fight out their deals. Jourdain’s contract status is something to keep an eye on. Will the UFC let things drag out as long as it can in order to send a message to the other fighters or will the promotion come to the table eager to get the young Canadian fighter signed and booked?
What was Jason Herzog doing there?
With 1:42 left in the second round of the Mateusz Gamrot vs. Diego Ferreira bout, Gamrot blasted Ferreira’s body with a knee. Two seconds later, Ferreira winced, reached for his ribs and then waved his hand, seeming to signal to referee Jason Herzog that he was done fighting. Gamrot then threw another knee, which landed on Ferreira’s leg. After that blow landed, Herzog leaned in and seemed to have a verbal exchange with Ferreira. With 1:35 left, Herzog reached in to wave off the fight.
Herzog has established himself as one of the best referees working in MMA over the past few years, so it was shocking to witness his delay in waving off the fight.
The way I see it, the moment Ferreira signaled he was done was the moment the fight should have been halted.
Did the UFC investigate the racism?
Following his dominant win over Stephen Thompson, Belal Muhammad mentioned a “weirdo” in the crowd who “called me some Arabic bad names” and then wondered “how that dude got in here,” before thanking whoever it was for the motivation in the fight.
The UFC Apex is not a big venue, which leaves one to wonder if the UFC allowed whoever that “fan” was to remain in the building.
Buying a ticket to an event does not provide one with free rein to be a despicable person. Hopefully the UFC investigated the incident and escorted the person from the Apex and banned them from the venue.