Coming out of this past Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night show from London, here are 5 key takeaways from the event:
1Another heavyweight prospect has arrived
In the night’s opening fight, Dmitry Sosnovskiy introduced himself with a 2nd round submission of Mark Godbeer. The result was overshadowed by the numerous finishes that followed, but make no mistake, you’ll be hearing more about Sosnovskiy soon. He’ll need to make significant improvements to his boxing and footwork in order to compete with the division’s elite, but the 28-year-old’s excellent grappling ability and strength should take him a long way.
On the contrary, Sosnovskiy’s lack of experience was evident on many occasions. He wasn’t quite as dominant as I expected him to be. To be fair, Saturday’s fight marked his first fight in nearly three years. Perhaps the most concerning thing about Sosnovskiy’s performance was his poor conditioning. It was very clear by the end of the 1st round that Sosnovskiy’s cardio is not up too par. Regardless, it’s always exciting to see a young and athletic heavyweight fighter join the ranks.
2The better fighter doesn’t always win
The night’s most memorable moment occurred when Paul Craig pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in UFC history. Facing an undefeated and highly-touted prospect in Magomed Ankalaev, Craig entered the contest as the biggest underdog on the card. The oddsmakers had it right, as Ankalaev controlled the fight and was on his way to picking up a victory on the judges’ scorecards. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous.
After being outstruck and outgrappled for the better part of three rounds, Craig appeared to have accepted defeat as Ankalaev held a dominant half-guard position in the final 10 seconds of the contest. In a split second, Ankalaev became completely powerless, caught in a triangle choke which Craig maneuvered out of thin air. It’s hard to blame the newcomer for tapping to such a tight chokehold, but the timing was very unfortunate (4:59, rd. 3). On the bright side, the 25-year-old Dagestani fighter has all the tools to be a serious contender in the 205-lb. division. He appears to be on the right path. Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson from this costly mistake.
On the other hand, Craig may have gained a lot of fans over the weekend, but his time in the UFC is limited. He had never lost a fight before joining the UFC, but recent losses to Khalil Rountree and Tyson Pedro exposed Craig’s shortcomings as a striker. It will be interesting to see if the submission-artist is offered a new contract after his astonishing victory in London.
3Terrion Ware has proven that he belongs in the UFC
On Saturday, Terrion Ware’s UFC record fell to 0-3. In similar fashion to his first two octagon appearances, Ware dropped a narrow, unanimous decision to Tom Duquesnoy. The 31-year-old journeyman fighter has now faced Duquesnoy, Sean O’Malley, and Cody Stamann — 3 of the bantamweight division’s best young fighters. He’s taken each fighter to a decision and has been competitive in each fight. He’s proven himself to be a well-trained and tough competitor. Despite being winless in the UFC, I’d like to see Ware stick around.
4Just go ahead and book the rubber match, would ya?!
In a rematch against Jimi Manuwa, 35-year-old Jan Blachowicz executed a near flawless game plan to secure the biggest victory of his career. Fighting behind a stiff jab, Blachowicz managed to neutralize Manuwa — one of the division’s most feared strikers — for much of the fight’s 3-round duration. Aside from a shin to the head, Blachowicz avoided significant damage and picked up a unanimous decision on the scorecards.
After a 2-4 start to his UFC career, the 35-year-old seems to be hitting his stride, as he’s now won three in a row. It’s important to note that Blachowicz was not finished in any of his four UFC losses. With the 205-lb. division in limbo and the Blachowicz-Manuwa series now tied up, it makes sense to book an instant rubber match between the two veterans. The winner of the trilogy fight should find themselves positioned nicely in the division’s title picture.
5End of an era
For the first time since the UFC introduced official fighter rankings in 2013, Fabricio Werdum will not be listed among the heavyweight division’s top-3 fighters. After a back-and-forth affair with Alexander Volkov, Werdum finally gave out in the 4th round. Volkov dropped him with a short right hand and shut the lights out with a couple of hard ground strikes. As always, Werdum looked good on the ground, but watching him on the feet; it’s very evident that age has caught up with him. Now 40, It’s unlikely that Werdum sniffs another title-shot, but there are quite a few intriguing matchups for him in the top-15. If Werdum decides to fight again, Stefan Struve would make for a good opponent. Rematches with either Mark Hunt or Cain Velasquez would be interesting as well.
With a 6-fight winning streak in tow, some may say that Volkov deserves a shot at the belt, but i’d like to see him face another top-5 opponent beforehand. Either way, we can expect to see him featured at the UFC’s upcoming event in Russia, later this year.