If there is a single word that would describe UFC Vegas 60, it would have to be cutting. Even though there was a large degree of shock that the doctor allowed the main event to go on as long as it did—Yadong Song fought for two-and-a-half rounds with the cut in his eyebrow bleeding straight into his eye—the bout eventually had to be stopped. The win for Cory Sandhagen snapped a two-fight losing streak, keeping him near the top of the division while delaying Song’s ascent for a bit longer.
The main event wasn’t the only reason to describe the night as cutting, though. To find out what I mean, keep reading. And get a recap of all the happenings, minor stories, and notable moments from Saturday’s event that may not have receive quite as much attention as the major headlines.
BIGGEST JUMP IN STOCK
It comes down to two of the three middleweight main card victors. While Gregory Rodrigues’ win was more spectacular, and came over a higher level of opposition, Anthony Hernandez’s victory was more dominant and surprising. Not surprising in that he won; he was roughly a 2-to-1 favorite after all. It was surprising in that his win was as methodical as it was, wearing down Marc-Andre Barriault to the point he cracked in the final round. Hernandez looked like a world class wrestler, literally dumping Barriault on his head. Prior to this event, ‘Fluffy’ seemed like a guy who would serve as a middling member of the division; who would always be on the outside of the rankings. After this win? It would be a shock if he doesn’t end up breaking into the rankings by some point in the next year.
BIGGEST FALL IN STOCK
This award has a bit of an asterisk with it, since no one really had a performance that saw them falling off a cliff. The main card favorites who came up short—Chidi Njokuani and Tanner Boser—at the very least made a fight of things. In fact, Njokuani might have gotten the win if a different doctor were looking at Rodrigues’ cut. But it’s hard to overlook what a bad night is was for Pat Sabatini, who got blown out in just over a minute by a very emotional Damon Jackson. It could be argued Sabatini just ‘got caught,’ with Jackson connecting on a wicked front kick to the face almost immediately. From there, Jackson never gave Sabatini a chance to recover—and that was all she wrote. Given there wasn’t an entire contest in which to say Sabatini looked poor before that point, I’m reluctant to drop his stock much in my eyes. But, I wouldn’t be too surprised if others in more important positions are see this a bit more definitively.
Only one of the three debuting talents was able to put it all together for a win, but what a win it was. Before I give too much praise to Joe Pyfer, the UFC did appear to be setting him up for success by pitting him against Alen Amedovski (arguably the worst middleweight on the roster). That said, Pyfer did what was expected of him, marching down the smaller Amedovski and blasting him away. It was a hell of a way for Pyfer to celebrate his birthday, but I would also recommend tempering the hype based on the level of his competition.
SAVED THEIR JOB(S)
Given the level of competition he tends to face, it might surprise some to find out Andre Fili would potentially be on the cut list. However, he had also gone three fights without picking up a win, including a loss where he was put away in less than a minute. At the same time, given his reputation as one of the most inconsistent members of the roster, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Fortunately for the Alpha Male fighter, Fili did put together one of his best performances against Bill Algeo, taking a clear(ish) decision to solidify his stance on the roster. He may never fulfill the potential many saw in him early in his career, but he’s good enough to hang around for a while yet.
One of the most frustrating talents on the entirety of the roster, Trevin Giles didn’t do anything to assuage anyone’s worries, even in victory. This win came in one of the worst fights of the year. But, Giles was essentially awarded a gift by an inactive Louis Cosce. The former middleweight avoided a third consecutive loss in the process and probably kept his job as a result, but his stock may be at the lowest it has ever been.
The list of those picking Trey Ogden to upset Daniel Zellhuber was short. After all, Ogden is on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of lightweight athletes and Zellhuber has shown flashes of becoming something special. Instead, Zellhuber appeared to suffer from jitters. The 23-year-old allowed Ogden to steal away a decision, inch by inch, through a sheer refusal to let his hands fly.
Had Gillian Robertson fallen, it would have been her fourth loss in five contests. She came dangerously close to having that happen, as Mariya Agapova rained down punches early in the first round with Robertson clinging to a single leg. Fortunately, she fought her way through the strikes, working her grappling magic to wrap Agapova in an RNC that Agapova refused to tap to. It didn’t matter. Agapova went to sleep, allowing Robertson to successfully keep her roster spot.
All due respect to Jim Miller—he’s a legend in his own right, after all—but many were concerned about the future of Nikolas Motta when the Brazilian had his lights turned out by the vet in his debut. Fortunately Motta rebounded by returning the favor to Cameron VanCamp, continually testing the chin of VanCamp until he found the light switch. Motta doesn’t look like he’s going to necessarily be a major player at 155, but he looks like he could be a fun, low-level gatekeeper.
START TYPING A RESUME
There isn’t a lot of consistency in the UFC’s thought process in who keeps their jobs. Even though Gabriel Benitez dropped four of five, including missing weight twice (one of which cancelled a scheduled bout) he got to keep his job. Mason Jones may have only won one of his four UFC contests, but he was on his way to a victory before an eye injury turned one bout into a no contest and he put on an absolute barn-burner against Mike Davis in his debut. Still, he gets a pink slip. A situation made even more confusing, since Benitez seems to have his best days behind him while Jones appears to have brighter days ahead. Suffice to say, figuring out who the UFC is going to cut loose is hardly an exact science.
All of that said, I have zero doubt we’ve seen the last of Alen Amedovski. The UFC’s lone representative out of Macedonia has dropped all four of his Octagon appearances, losing in the first round in the last three. If he can somehow find a way to remain on the roster while the aforementioned Jones sits on the outside looking in, there is something seriously wrong with the promotion’s talent retention process.
I wasn’t sure if Louis Cosce would make it on my cut list after a loss. The UFC loved the story of him and his brother when they first appeared on DWCS. They both delivered impressive wins, only to disappoint in their UFC debuts. At least Louis picked up a FOTN bonus against Palatnikov, so it was expected he’d turn in an entertaining performance against Giles. Instead, the younger Cosce brother showed up physically and that was about it. He did next to nothing, perhaps punching his ticket out of the UFC.
Uncle Dana loves a fighter that goes out on their shield. That alone might be enough to for Mariya Agapova to keep her roster spot. While she succumbed to a RNC from Robertson, Agapova fought the choke for a long time, appearing to bite her tongue as Robertson tried to squeeze the air out of her. Agapova also has youth on her side; the 25-year-old shouldn’t be anywhere near her ceiling. Then again, it’s possible the brass believes they’ve seen enough after five fights, which is why she’s on my list. I’d probably be willing to give her one more chance—her talent is that abundant—but I also admit I don’t know all the behind the scenes details and Agapova has had some issues in that department.
If I were to compare Cameron VanCamp to another recent UFC fighter, it would be Brandon Jenkins. A journeyman of the regional scene with his fair share of losses and a very limited ceiling who made the roster as a late-notice signing. Jenkins was two and out after losing twice in spectacular fashion. I get the feeling VanCamp will be in the same boat.
BIGGEST WOW MOMENT
While it is hard to point out to a strike or submission that was truly jaw-dropping, there’s no doubt there were some cuts that absolutely astonished. The cut between the eyebrows of Gregory Rodrigues looked bad enough on television, but was truly amplified by a posting from Dana White’s IG. I said wow when I saw the cut live in between rounds, but I really said WOW when I saw that picture. The fact he was able to come back from that cut and secure the win will be talked about every time he steps into the cage moving forward. That said, Song’s cut also drew an audible response from me. While nobody enjoys seeing a fight stopped early, it can’t be denied the doctor gave Song every chance to secure the win. Many believe the fight could have reasonably been stopped at the end of the second round. Instead, Song got an additional two rounds to work. I’d have trouble believing anyone who took a good look at either man’s wounds and didn’t let out an audible cringe.
I don’t want to try to compare the level of heartbreak between Damon Jackson and Andre Fili. Not my place, nor do I believe it is anyone else’s place to do so. Both dealt with terrible circumstances in the time leading up to their fights, dealing with loss. Jackson lost his older brother in the week leading up to his fight and Fili lost a child due to a miscarriage. No disrespect intended towards their opposition, but it was a heartwarming experience to see them find success amidst the tragedy in their lives. Prayers and wishes to both men and their families.
CURE FOR INSOMNIA
I’ve already touched on it, but the fight between Trevin Giles and Louis Cosce was terrible. It wasn’t just bad, it was also an exhibition of poor fight IQ. Over the course of the fight, Cosce threw—not landed—just 38 significant strikes. That’s just about two-and-a-half a minute. That’s a low amount to have land, let alone throw. Expect to see it show up on MMA Depressed-us.
Some may argue I should put Javid Basharat and Tony Gravely here for their competitive scrap. But given Basharat’s brother, Farid, earned a contract this week on DWCS, I wouldn’t say it was overlooked. Not that it was a bad fight, but it had a spotlight on it. On the other hand, little was mentioned of Loma Lookboonmee and Denise Gomes at all during fight week. All the pair of strawweights did was manage to secure several compromising positions that looked like they could result in a finish, turning in what may have been the most back-and-forth contest of the night in terms of the amount of momentum swings. They even had a few fun highlights. No, the swings weren’t as big as what we saw from Rodrigues and Njokuani, but it was a damn good fight that also served as a solid reminder to never turn your back to your opponent.
Njokuani maintained his perfect record for Performance Bonuses, picking up his third in as many UFC appearances. In my limited time to research who else had matched that, Justin Gaethje was the only one I could find, though I admit that doesn’t mean he’s the only other one. Plus, Gaethje picked up four in his first three UFC appearances. It also proved to be the third Performance Bonus in five fights for Rodrigues, the second in nine appearance for Jackson, and Pyfer snagging one in his debut.
For those with the longest drought, Gillian Robertson extends her streak to 13 appearances without having secured a Bonus. Given there isn’t a woman in the UFC’s history who has more submissions to their name than Robertson, that’s a bit of a shock. You’d think at some point the brass would throw her a bone given she is consistently one of the busiest fighters on the roster, but the Canadian can’t seem to get any love. On the men’s side, Barriault’s nine appearances without a bonus are the high for this card.