Fight Week in Review- Winners and Losers
It has been a whirlwind affair known as the UFC’s International Fight Week. It got started with UFC 189 which I have already recapped, and continued with the Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale, UFC Fight Night 71, and finally UFC Fight Night 72. There was a lot that went down in a short period of time and we still have the UFC on FOX 16 card to finish out July. Frank Mir and Michael Bisping are on winning streaks, Tony Ferguson is making noise in the Lightweight division, and Scotland loves the UFC. Let’s take a look at the biggest Winners and Losers from the last 3 events.
At 32, ‘Wonder Boy’ is a little too old to be considered a prospect and his time is now to make a run, which appears to be what he is doing. He has now won 5 in row, 3 by knockout, and beating Jake Ellenberger in such impressive fashion is huge. Had he lost this bout it would have been a massive setback, most likely precluding him from moving into the top 15. Now he is ranked #9 and has some potentially huge fights ahead of him as he tries to crack the upper echelon of the division.
Easily the biggest winner on this list. Mir was written off against Bigfoot Silva by most and picked up a career saving win. Nonetheless, he was considered nothing more than fodder for the dangerous Todd Duffee’s heavy hands. Once again he prevailed to run his winning streak to two and currently sits #10 in the division. He probably needs 2-3 more wins before a title shot could be considered, but the Andrei Arlovski’s resurgence should give hope to the former champion.
Facing the most accomplished opponent of his career, Ferguson rose to the occasion and put a beating on former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson. The vet showed a tonne of heart enduring until the final bell, despite the damage he took. ‘El Cucuy’ has a 6 fight winning streak and has excelled with every escalation in competition. He jumped a spot to #11 and many care calling for a fight with the #4 ranked former Bellator Champion Eddie Alvarez. I think that is a winnable matchup for Tony and would love to see that fight happen.
The UFC headed to Scotland and features a trio of locals on the UFN 72 card. The first to hit the cage was Robert Whiteford, who earned a first round knockout of Paul Redmond. Stevie Ray followed that performance with another opening frame knockout, beating Leonardo Mafra. Finally, it was Joanne Calderwood’s turn and it looked a little dicey early on. The #2 ranked fighter in Strawweight tournament was coming in off a submission loss to a heavy underdog, and was clearly hurt by an early combination from her late notice injury replacement. Cortney Casey-Sanchez put up a valiant effort, but Calderwood made the appropriate adjustments and broke the newcomer down for a decision win. Calderwood won’t earn a title shot off this win, but a loss would have been devastating.
It was a tight contest, with both guys having their moments. When it came down to it, Thales Leites probably had the bigger moments, but Bisping had more. The Brazilian used a minimalistic ground attack, abandoning his grappling in favour of power striking. When he was able to back ‘the Count’ up and put him on the fence he had success landing big shots, but the Brit stayed busier. This is a massive win for perennial contender, who has now won 2 in a row and ended Leites 5 fight winning streak. It would be a step back for Bisping based on the rankings, but a rematch with Dan Henderson might give him the opportunity to exercise some ghosts and extend his winning streak in a high profile fight.
He snatched a little momentum back with his win over Josh Koscheck, but it is clear that his time at the top or anywhere near it, is over. He dropped three spots to #13 and has lost to 5 fighters in the top 15 with zero wins against the same group. Ellenberger shares a lot of similarities with Jim Miller. Miller had similar success at Lightweight, but was unable to get that much needed win to earn a shot at the title and has now slipped out of the rankings entirely. Jake will most likely get another fight or 2 in the UFC, but he will need to turn it around just to save his job.
Like a couple other fighters on this list, Duffee was facing an opportunity to add a significant name to his resume. He did not. Both guys opened up throwing leather, which should have favoured Duffee considering Frank Mir’s history of getting knocked out. Both guys landed and both guys were rocked, but the young lion got the worst of it in the end. A sloppy hook (?) left Duffee exposed and Frank capitalized. Duffee has now lost 3 times by knockout and despite his athletic abilities and ferocious power his chin will be a massive point of vulnerability going forward. There is still plenty of room for recovery for Duffee considering he is only 29 in a very old division, but he needs to tighten up some of his fundamentals.
Despite winning her fight to remain undefeated and putting together a better performance than in her debut, Holm is potentially further away from a title shot- if this was almost any other division in the UFC. It is clear that Holm is talented, but many pegged her as the next major challenger for Ronda Rousey. Right now, that does not appear to be the case. She hurt Reneau and badly outclassed her, but it is yet to be seen how she would fair against top flight competition. A bout with a striking based opponent like Sarah Kaufman would be a logical next step as she tries to build herself into the contender she was expected to be.
Riding a pretty weak 4 fight winning streak, Magalhaes fell via first round submission with a frantic double hand tap in response to Josh Samman’s crushing RNC. Losing the fight doesn’t land him on the list, but how he reacted after the fight was over makes him a loser. With the outcome in the books, the victor moved in for the post fight niceties and the Brazil responded by spitting blood in his direction. Eventually cooler heads prevailed, but it was a pretty ugly moment for Magalhaes.
The Ultimate Fighter
The decision to change the Ultimate Fighter format just did not work for me. The lack of a linear purpose created by a tournament leading to a championship bout took away from the ‘final’ fight on the finale. There were exciting fights, there were some that were not so great, and the typical TUF drama, but an already tired format simply lost its way for me. I would like to see a return to the style of tournament we saw with the Women’s Strawweight title on the line. Bring in a series of fighters, rank them, and have a preset bracket moving forward. I would also love to see an International tournament. Bring in 8 countries with 2 fighters per country with a UFC rostered fighter from that country to coach them. Just a couple ideas, but to me this change was for the worse. Let’s see what Conor can bring to the table.
This was really a fun week full of a tonne of exciting and meaningful fights. From a prediction standpoint it has been a solid run, with a combined 40-13 record over the last 4 events. I have struggled tremendously with morning cards for some reason, but at 8-4 and a couple solid wins to finish the event I’m alright with my UFN 72 performance. The bet packs yielded some decent numbers, but a few key changes would have made them massive producers. Click on the links below to check out the 3 different packs. UFC on Fox and Dillashaw vs Barao 2 is a week away; let’s get it turned back up again!