It’ll be a shock if Cody Garbrandt doesn’t have nightmares about the jab of Rob Font for months. For 25 minutes, in the main event of UFC Vegas 27, Garbrandt couldn’t escape from Font’s pressure, the latter leading his attack with his jab for almost every exchange. It isn’t like Font didn’t land his fair share of power shots either. Garbrandt’s notoriously suspect chin held up, though it does appear Font was comfortable letting the finish come to him rather than pursuing it with aggression. Though the finish didn’t come, it was the best performance of Font’s career, securing a dominant win over the former bantamweight champion.
Where Font goes from here is difficult to determine. His resume is strong enough to lobby for him getting a title shot, but he’s not alone in that category. Petr Yan is sure to get a rematch with Aljamain Sterling and many would argue the case for Cory Sandhagen is even stronger should he defeat TJ Dillashaw in their upcoming contest. Font did state he’d happily take the winner of Sandhagen and Dillashaw and I can’t say I wouldn’t like to see that.
Garbrandt remains at a career crossroads. It wasn’t his chin that betrayed him this time, but his gas tank. Much was made of his severe case of COVID-19 and it’s hard to believe it didn’t play a part in his reluctance to throw offense as Font nearly tripled up on the amount of strikes thrown. He’s still on the right side of 30, but it’s hard to believe Garbrandt’s career hasn’t already peaked. He’ll need a major turnaround for that to not be the case.
As for the rest of the card....
- There weren’t a lot of people excited about the prospect of Carla Esparza getting a title shot, but she made as big of a statement as she could have. Yan Xiaonan scored zero significant offense as Esparza took her down early in rounds one and two and pounded away on her until Keith Peterson stopped the literal bloodbath. The dominant performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the former champion. She’ll be seeing Rose Namajunas soon.
- Despite bleeding everywhere, Jared Vanderaa found a way to fight through the crimson mask to continue to put a whooping on Justin Tafa. The smaller Tafa struggled with Vanderaa’s reach, struggling to find the KO blow he’s so reliant on. Mature performance from Vanderaa.
- Hard to say what was wrong with Felicia Spencer, but she had an off-night. Norma Dumont capitalized and let her hands fly, piecing up a hesitant Spencer over the first two rounds. Spencer upped the aggression in the final round, but it was too little, too late by then as the former title challenger couldn’t find the finish.
- The contest between Bill Algeo and Ricardo Ramos could have gone either way, depending on what the judges valued. In this case, they favored Ramos seven takedowns – seven! – over Algeo’s decided advantage in the striking department. The fight didn’t go as expected stylistically, but it was still a fun scrap.
- A composed Edmen Shahbazyan caught everyone off-guard in the opening round, but no one more than Jack Hermansson. The Swedish veteran adjusted and utilized takedowns and GnP in the final two rounds to put a hurting on the young Ronda Rousey protégé. Shahbazyan showed progress, but there’s no doubt Hermansson was the better man in the end.
- All indications pointed to Ben Rothwell and Chris Barnett providing some ridiculous heavyweight fun and the big boys delivered. Both threw heavy leather for as long as they had the energy to do so. Right as it appeared neither had anything left in the tank, Rothwell found a front choke to secure a stoppage. Rothwell got the win, but Barnett proved he’s a worthy addition to the roster.
- Perhaps it was having his back against the wall – a loss surely would have seen him cut – but Court McGee looked better than he has in years, perhaps ever. Capitalizing on Claudio Silva’s forward movement, McGee timed several takedowns perfectly along with his technical boxing to take a clear decision.
- His UFC career may have gotten off to a rough start, but Bruno Silva has found his footing. After rocking Victor Rodriguez with a punch and a knee, Silva landed a brutal straight right that sprawled Rodriguez out on the mat, giving the Brazilian a finish in a minute flat. Awesome performance.
- Shayilan Nuerdanbieke expended a LOT of energy early looking for takedowns. It made it easy for Josh Culibao to pick apart the Chinese debutant for the last two rounds as Nuerdanbieke didn’t have the pep in his step to match Culibao’s volume, giving the Aussie his first UFC win.
- Credit to Juancamilo Ronderos for taking the fight on 24 hours notice, but no one was surprised when the youngster was finished within a round by the sturdy vet, David Dvorak. I suppose it was a way to get into the promotion, but Dvorak slapped on an RNC with just under half way to go through the opening round.
- Despite taking a clear decision win over Rafael Alves, it was somewhat of a disappointing showing from Damir Ismagulov. Alves had never lost by decision prior to this contest – he had nine career losses coming in — and took the last round despite a reputation for fading. If Ismagulov couldn’t finish Alves, it seems his methodical style will hit a hard ceiling sooner than his skills would warrant.