One of the best prelims of all time, a brilliant Bantamweight display in the main event, and one of the craziest knockouts you’ll ever see all occurred on Saturday night. And as ‘Fight Island’ continues to impress, I continue to list the week’s biggest winners and losers.
Winners- Cory Sandhagen
In sports, we often hear about ‘coming out’ moments. In MMA it is usually linked with the fight that makes you stand out against the world’s best. And it’s safe to safe Cory Sandhagen stood out in his main event win against the always dangerous Marlon Moraes.
Whether or not this is his ‘coming out’ moment is debatable. What isn’t debatable is that Snadhagen solidified himself as one of the division’s elite. To come off the back of a disappointing first-round loss to Aljamain Sterling in this fashion was truly a sight to see.
Sandhagen demonstrated some slick striking in the first round before finishing Moraes in the second round with a beautiful spinning wheel kick. Sandhagen then called out Frankie Edgar and TJ Dillashaw, adding even more potentially brilliant fights to the stacked 135-pound weight class.
What a knockout. I can’t even begin to describe it. A move that will be on montages and highlight reels for decades to come. Joaquin Buckley’s knockout of Impa Kasanganay ended any possible discussion of “the knockout of the year”. The only question is if it was the best finish in UFC and MMA history.
This is how you respond to losing your UFC debut, and Dana White’s reaction afterward basically summed up how everyone feels about Buckley’s win. You can see the KO down below just in case you were living under a rock and missed it, or if you want to rewatch it for the millionth time like me.
Tom Aspinall may not have been too pleased with his first-round win over Alan Baudot, but I was. And two early knockouts in two UFC fights is as good as it gets.
Aspinall is one of the promotion’s best Heavyweight prospects but is adamant that he should take his time in the sport and perfect his skills. His post-fight interview with fellow Englishman Dan Hardy was a joy to listen to, and I can’t wait for him to fight again.
Losers- Marlon Moraes
Marlon Moraes didn’t perform badly on Saturday night. His opponent just turned out to be too good for him on the night. However, Moraes has now lost two of his last three, and some people would argue he should’ve lost to Jose Aldo by decision as well.
And when you’re trying to win a belt in a stacked division, losing and then complaining about an early stoppage isn’t the way to go. ‘Magic’ will be back and is still one of the world’s best. But, this loss has undoubtedly impacted his place in the rankings and has essentially taken the Brazilian out of the title picture for now.
I don’t want to be too harsh on Impa Kasanganay. He got hit with a shot you simply couldn’t prepare for, and his overall performance wasn’t bad. But, he entered the fight as an undefeated prospect and left as the victim of an incredible knockout, that has resulted in him being a meme.
Kasanganay’s response to the loss on Twitter was great to see, and it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s got a great amount of potential. However, I simply had to put him in the losers bracket this week.
Yes, Dricus Du Plessis entered the fight as a hot prospect and showed off his power with a first-round knockout win. But to me, this fight was about Markus Perez allowing a nervous debutant to grow into the fight and eventually stop him.
Perez has now lost 4 of his 6 fights in the UFC, since joining the company in 2017. And got stopped for the first time in his professional career on Saturday night. Perez should probably be more serious and stop clowning around if he wants to remain a UFC fighter. And yes those were Joker puns.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s winners and losers and do let me know who you thought should’ve made the list.