MMA’s shiny new thing left the octagon in Singapore with a significant amount of damage, a passing grade and some questions. That of course is Jiri Prochazka, who also walked out of the cage on Saturday night with the UFC light heavyweight title.
UFC fighters (past and present) had a lot of things to say about the main event of UFC 275, calling it “insane,” “inspirational,” “instant classic,” “one of the greatest title fights of all time,” and an “emotional rollercoaster.” The most even-keeled adjective I saw offered was from UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who simply called it a “tremendous fight.” It was all of those things — and more, so much more.
Glover Teixeira’s reign as UFC light heavyweight champion didn’t last long — spanning a little over seven months — but it began and ended in memorable fashion. And at 42, the now former champ should look back on his time as champ with pride and a sense of accomplishment for what he achieved over a long — and presumably still active — career.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko got the biggest test of her run as the UFC flyweight champion.
Meanwhile, in the rematch of 2020’s “Fight of the Year,” Zhang Weili dominated Joanna Jedrzejczyk and sent her into retirement while earning herself a shot at UFC strawweight champ Carla Esparza.
Read on for the winners and losers of UFC 275, which took place at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore on Saturday, June 11. The main card streamed on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka: In what was a rollercoaster of a fight, where both the champion and the challenger looked like they were going to finish or be finished at multiple points during the absurd action, it was the challenger who ultimately prevailed. That Prochazka, who is known for his striking, submitted Teixeira, who is one of the finest grapplers at light heavyweight, was just another zany aspect of what was a bonkers 24:32 of action inside the octagon.
Both Teixeira and Prochazka were aggressive and made mistakes in this contest. Both fighters seemed to be running on fumes by the time Teixeira tapped — for the first time in his 20-year career — and both fighters deserve all the praise they will have heaped on them today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
Taila Santos: Taila Santos matched Valentina Shevchenko in strength and that seemed to surprise the champion and also nearly earned Santos the victory.
One thing that hurt Santos was that she was not particularly aggressive on the mat. She did search for submissions on the ground (logging three official submission attempts), but her patience on the mat could have worked against her on the scorecards.
Another thing that hurt Santos was the clash of heads that limited her vision in the final two rounds of the fight.
Overall, Santos gave Shevchenko the biggest test of her UFC title reign.
Zhang Weili: Zhang Weili punched her ticket to a fight opposite UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza in a most frightening manner. Zhang landed a spinning backfist that turned out Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s lights and left Jedrzejczyk facedown on a UFC logo on the canvas.
Zhang’s counters were on point throughout the fight, which ended at the 2:28 mark of the second stanza. Zhang was stronger than Jedrzejczyk in the clinch and on the mat and her strikes were more powerful as well.
If Zhang needed a confidence boost after losing back-to-back fights to Rose Namajunas she got that on Saturday night
Jake Matthews: After Jake Matthews defeated Diego Sanchez at UFC 253, I wrote that Matthews seemed more interested in fighting for a win than in fighting for a finish. That was 100 percent not the case on Saturday when Matthews absolutely overwhelmed the surging Andre Fialho. Matthews’ boxing looked incredible in scoring the second-round finish. The knockout was Matthews’ first TKO win since 2015.
Matthews said he was going to be more aggressive in this fight. He was. At 27, Matthews still has a lot of time to work his way up the welterweight rankings. If he is going to be a different fighter going forward, UFC 275 could be a card we look back on as the event where Matthews turned things around.
Jack Della Maddalena: Jack Della Maddalena put himself on the “Fighter to watch” list ahead of his UFC debut at UFC 270. On Saturday, the 25-year-old Aussie became the first UFC fighter to score a stoppage win over Ramazan Emeev.
Della Maddalena worked through some tough spots in the early going of this fight. He did a nice job of wrestling with Emeev, but he still ended up in a tight choke. Della Maddalena did not panic when he was in that precarious position. Instead, he worked free and got the fight back to the feet where he hurt Emeev badly with body strikes that led to the finish.
Seung Woo Choi vs. Joshua Culibao: Seung Woo Choi and Joshua Culibao put on a remarkably entertaining scrap to close out the UFC 275 prelims. The bout saw Culibao use his power, speed and ability to fight effectively from orthodox or southpaw to earn the win over Choi, who showcased an impressive chin to go along with some outstanding tenacity.
Hayisaer Maheshate: The 22-year-old Hayisaer Maheshate made quite an impression in his UFC debut, taking advantage of the lax defense of Steve Garcia and scoring a nasty first-round knockout win with a brutal counter.
Brendan Allen: Props go to Brendan Allen for listening to his corner and delivering an aggressive third round in his fight against Jacob Malkoun.
Kang Kyung-ho: Kang Kyung-ho put on a nice technical striking display on his way to a win over Danaa Batgerel, but his fight IQ still needs some work. There were a couple times during the contest where he seemed to hurt his opponent and instead of pursuing a finish with a flurry, he went with a low percentage attack, throwing a spinning elbow once and a jumping knee another time. Both strikes failed to connect and allowed Batgerel to stay in the fight.
Kang is a fighter to watch and if he can get his finishing attacks dialed in, he could make some noise at 135 pounds.
Silvana Gómez Juárez: Silvana Gómez Juárez scored her first UFC win — and stoppage — with her seventh career knockout win and it was a clean knockout. Juárez entered UFC 275 with two consecutive first-round submission losses on her record, so it’s likely she saved her UFC career with her impressive and powerful KO.
The Singapore fans: Unlike many U.S. based fight cards, the fans showed up early for UFC 275 and they were vocal from the opening of the first fight of the card, even though the event started at 7 a.m. on Sunday in Singapore.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Joanna Jedrzejczyk bet on herself ahead of UFC 275. She sat out for over two years and kept repeating the “big fights” only refrain. Jedrzejczyk’s gambit landed her the rematch with Zhang Weili, but the gamble did not pay off in any other way as Zhang knocked her out in devastating fashion.
Andre Fialho: Andre Fialho scored back-to-back knockout wins in March and April. He looked to make it three in a row at UFC 275. Instead, Fialho was on the wrong end of a TKO, losing to Jake Matthews in the second round.
Fialho offered little in the way of defense in this fight and he seemed lost as Matthews scored with his speed, power and precision. Matthews brought whatever momentum Fialho had on his side to a screeching halt on Saturday night.
Micheal Bisping: While Seung Woo Choi and Josh Culibao were tangling on the mat during the third round of their fight, UFC commentator Michael Bisping offered the following, “No need to explain what’s going on here.” Which leads me to ask, well, what is he sitting cageside for then?
Referee Thomas Fan: I don’t know how, but referee Thomas Fan missed a blatant illegal knee during the bout between Kang Kyung-ho and Danaa Batgerel. Fan didn’t pause the action to check on the fighter nor did he warn the fighter that landed the illegal blow.
Referee Steve Perceval: I’m not going to go so far as to say that the cage grab Silvana Gómez Juárez used to prevent Liang Na from taking her down in the early moments of their fight led directly to her knockout win, but I won’t say that it didn’t. Referees need to be more aware of fence grabs that could be perceived as stopping takedowns and perhaps award the position to the fighter that was on the wrong end of the foul.
UFC: There was no reason for Daniel Cormier to interview Joanna Jedrzejczyk after Zhang Weili knocked her out. The promotion should have sent her to the back to get checked by a physician and then — if she was cleared — she could have been interviewed in a more controlled and less chaotic environment backstage.
The cageside physician: With Taila Santos’ eye swelling shut after a clash of heads with Valentina Shevchenko, referee Jason Herzog called the physician in to take a look at the damage. The extent of the doctor’s examination seemed to be to ask Santos if she could see. From all appearances on the broadcast, the doctor didn’t even pretend to do the “cover the good eye and ask how many fingers” test. I’m not saying Santos couldn’t see. I am saying the doctor didn’t bother to check if she couldn’t see and that’s a failure.
Valentina Shevchenko: Valentina Shevchenko usually has a strength advantage in her flyweight fights. She did not have that against Taila Santos and that fact never really seemed to sink in for the 125-pound champion. She continually tried to tangle with Santos in close, even though doing so allowed Santos to accumulate a good amount of control time over the first three stanzas.
It’ll be interesting to see where Shevchenko goes after this fight. With seven title defenses to her name, she has been the champion every other flyweight has been training for over that past few years. The Santos fight might have marked the moment when the division catches up to the champion.
Yes, Shevchenko retained her title, but I don’t know if I would consider this fight a win for the champ so much as I would call it a continuation.
Jacob Malkoun: Jacob Malkoun only has eight pro fights to his name and he is learning on the job in the UFC, which is not ideal, but he is learning. A good wrestler with the ability to control fighters on the ground, Malkoun displayed a nice jab against Brendan Allen, but he ended up on the wrong end of a decision in this win. If Malkoun adds a few more offensive tools to his arsenal, he could be a frustrating opponent.
Joselyne Edwards: Joselyne Edwards won her fight against Ramona Pascual, but her reliance on kicks to the legs and body hurt her in the early going of the fight. Edwards put out a lot of volume, but she did not do a great deal of damage in the first 10 minutes of the fight.
Ramona Pascual: Ramona Pascual’s striking was not good in her UFC debut, a loss to Josiane Nunes. Pascual, who has been working with John Wood and the crew at Syndicate MMA still has work to to do in her striking, but she showed improvement in that department against Joselyne Edwards. What she did not show was confidence in that striking, as she too often fell back into her wrestling even when it was not working.