For a PPV, there was a severe lack of depth to UFC 260. Sure, the main event was a highly anticipated rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou that saw the challenger avenge his first UFC loss in his typical brutal fashion, but beyond that? Hard to point to a fight someone who casually follows the sport would be aware of. That doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of undercurrents on the card – lots of movement beneath the surface of the casual viewer – and I’ll give you the basic ins and outs of the card with my Unofficial Awards:
Biggest Jump in Stock: Nobody really made a huge jump in stock. Ngannou became champion, but it wasn’t much of a surprise that he won. Vicente Luque and Sean O’Malley’s wins were expected as well. I would have to go with Jamie Mullarkey securing his first UFC win off a KO over Khama Worthy. The Aussie may very well have saved his employment in the process, having dropped his first two UFC contests. However, what made the win more impressive is Mullarkey isn’t known for his striking.
Biggest Fall in Stock: Much like some would immediately say Ngannou’s stock jumped, some might say Miocic’s fell. I disagree, though I would say there isn’t an obvious answer. I’ll go with Shane Young. Known as an action fighter who pushes an insane pace, Young put on a tedious performance against Omar Morales. No one ever thought Young was going to climb very high up the ladder, but if he losses the reputation of being an action fighter, his spot on the roster is very tedious.
Best Newcomer: The only newcomer was Fabio Cherant, who fell to Alonzo Menifield in 71 seconds. The finish had a bit of a flukish feel to it and happened so quickly that it’s hard to get a feel for Cherant moving forward. Being finished in the manner he was certainly was a disappointment, but there’s still reason to believe Cherant could have a solid UFC run.
Start Typing a Resume: Lots of potential combatants that may be filing for unemployment. Some believe Tyron Woodley will be let go given his four-fight losing streak. To Woodley’s credit, he looked solid through the first half of the round against Vicente Luque and has only been losing to top talent. However, he also just finished out his contract and enters free agency. He’s been prickly to deal with in the past, meaning he hasn’t exactly endeared himself to Uncle Dana. There may still be some value to Woodley’s name, but I don’t think the UFC will think it’s worth the cost as Woodley turns 39 next month.
After beginning his career 21-0, Thomas Almeida has since gone 1-5, including his current four-fight losing streak. Things didn’t look good for the former hot prospect when he was paired against Sean O’Malley in the first place, looking to be a rebound for the rainbow haired combatant. He served his purpose and doesn’t appear to have any juice left to squeeze out of him.
Khama Worthy, Jared Gooden, Modestas Bukauskas, and Young all suffered their second losses in a row, meaning they may have some reason for concern. I’d imagine Bukausakas is safest of those four given he offered the most competitive contest and appears to have the highest upside, but all four at least warrant an honorable mention.
Saved Their Job(s): Given all the people that may be out of work following this event, you’d think there wouldn’t be many who managed to avoid the cutting room floor. Nope. This card was about trimming the fat. I already mentioned Mullarkey, but there were several others who managed to stave off the dreaded pink slip. Marc-Andre Barriault picked up what appears to be his first official UFC win – we’ve said that before – in his fifth attempt, almost assuredly saving his job. Michal Oleksiejczuk avoided his third loss in a row, which probably would have been enough for his being cut loose. Menifield was another who was on consecutive losses who picked up a win.
Biggest WOW Moment: How can it not be Ngannou folding up Miocic on himself? Watching Miocic fall as awkwardly as he did brought back memories of Mirko Cro Cop falling on his leg after being blasted by Gabriel Gonzaga back in the day as Miocic’s leg appeared to get caught in a similar manner. Given Ngannou has made a regular habit of mowing down his opposition every time he steps into the cage, it’s beginning to feel commonplace coming from him. No one should be taking his incredible power for granted. A fighter like Ngannou is once in a generation.
Cure For Insomnia: I’ve already kind of crapped on Young, but his contest with Morales was easily the hardest to watch. Young did most of the pressuring, but turned that pressure into lots of clinching and unsuccessful takedown attempts. Once Morales had Young’s strategy figured out, he did the smart thing and was prepared to stuff the takedowns with the occasional jab or low kick to supplement the volume. It wasn’t a fun fight in the least.
Never Seen That Before: Fighters are always told to protect themselves at all times. Good advice given their opponent is purposely trying to hurt them as they try to do the same to their opposition. I’ve seen mouthpieces fall out many times over the years too. I’ve never seen a fighter engaged in fisticuffs immediately stop and attempt to pick up their mouthpiece as their opponent is still engaged in swinging at them. One would think it’s self-explanatory why. Abu Azaitar did so anyway and effectively killed any chance he had at winning by doing so. Barriault wasn’t instructed to stop by the referee at that time and continued to attack as he was supposed to. Given how poorly that sequence went for Azaitar, it’s hard to believe we’d see something like that again.
Best Callout: Best callout came from someone who wasn’t even on the card. Jon Jones immediately piped up following Ngannou’s win, calling for the UFC to send him the money. Of course, Uncle Dana offered some pushback, claiming Derrick Lewis is in place for a title shot – he does have a win over Ngannou after all – but that seems more like a ploy to get Jones to back off his claims for money. As much as everyone loves Lewis, it’s Jones everyone wants to see fight the newly crowned champion. Besides, it’s not like Jones vacated his light heavyweight title just to sit on the sidelines forever.
Shout out to Luque for asking for Nate Diaz. Luque has to realize that isn’t happening. Diaz is a money name, but he only accepts opponents with similarly money names that match up favorably with him. Luque isn’t a money name and is a poor stylistic opponent for Diaz. I maintain any name is better than no name, but why not call for Leon Edwards in that spot? Even if it was a longshot, at least that felt like a realistic possibility….
Best/Worst Referee Moment: Some may point to the debacle with Azaitar and his mouthpiece, but I disagree with that upon rewatching it. It was certainly jacked up, but not really Valel’s fault Azaitar stopped midfight to pick up his mouthpiece. Others may point to Mark Smith not stopping the O’Malley-Almeida fight after O’Malley downed Almeida in the first, but it was O’Malley’s fault for not following up on the knockdown. I think I’ll circle back to Valel for not stopping the Barriault and Azaitar earlier. Barriault maintained top control for almost four minutes, almost all of it featuring him raining down strikes, a good chunk of that from the mount. Azaitar was moving, but not defending himself in an intelligible manner. It should have been stopped much sooner.
Isn’t That Ironic: I’ve already established Menifield needed a win in the worst way, coming off two consecutive losses. What I didn’t mention was who he lost to most recently: Ovince Saint Preux. Perhaps I’m stretching a bit, but I found it humorous at the very least he breaks his losing streak with a Von Flue choke… a move that OSP has utilized enough in the UFC – four times – that many refer to it as the Von Preux at this point. Did OSP share some secrets after their fight? I doubt it, but it’s fun to speculate.