The UFC delivering a night of good fights at ‘Fight Island’ may be the only constant in what has been a very frustrating and unpredictable year. Last Saturday was no different as Brian Ortega returned to the Octagon in impressive fashion in the main event of a fun night of fights. So let’s take a look at the card’s biggest winners and losers.
Winners: Brian Ortega
All eyes were on Brian Ortega during the card’s main event. Ortega’s last UFC appearance was almost two years ago, a one-sided loss to Max Holloway in a featherweight title fight. Ortega broke the record for the most significant strikes absorbed in a UFC fight and proceeded to fall off the face of the Earth.
‘T-City’ needed some time away to both heal and learn. Ortega changed his entire coaching team (except for his jiu-jitsu coach Rener Gracie) and entered Saturday night with a point to prove against the dangerous Chan Sung Jung.
‘The Korean Zombie’ may have kept coming, but it didn’t bother Ortega one bit as he showed off his improved striking game en route to a lopsided decision victory. Ortega’s defence and patience was a joy to watch, and so was his ability to be creative offensively while seemingly giving nothing away defensively.
There were no signs of the infamous ‘Octagon rust’. If anything, the break has seemed to help ‘T-City’ develop as an all-around elite-level martial artist and the featherweight champion of the world seemed to agree. Sign me up for Volkanovski vs Ortega in 2021.
Jessica Andrade has just added some much-needed blood into a flyweight division that is crying out for anyone that can challenge Valentina Shevchenko. The former Strawweight Champ dominated the number 1 ranked Katlyn Chookagian and stopped her late in the first round.
Andrade closed the distance against her taller opponent before slamming Chookagian off the canvas in a great display of strength. Andrade then showed her brilliant boxing and finished the fight with a barrage of body shots.
Do I see Andrade becoming a champ at 125-pounds? Not yet. But, she probably has a better chance than anyone else in that’s currently in the flyweight division.
The Australian 24-year old contender earned a ‘performance of the night’ bonus for his vicious knockout of Lithuanian Modestas Bukauskas. Crute is one of my favourite contenders in the sport and he could soon join the hectic title picture at 205-pounds.
‘The Brute’ is 4-1 since joining the UFC in 2018 and has proven he is comfortable on the feet and in the grappling department. He hopes he can continue to get this reaction out of Dana White and millions of fans around the world.
Mateusz Gamrot and Guram Kutateladze
Yes, I’m allowed to select two fighters from the same fight. It’s rare that the stock of two debutants goes up equally regardless of the result, but this was the case on Saturday night. Gamrot entered the fight as an undefeated two-division KSW champion and Kutateladze had the backing of Khamzat Chimaev in his corner.
The pair put on a prelim classic in a close three-round war that had everything you’d hope to see in a fight. Kutateladze got a decision he himself was unhappy with, but both men left the cage with increased reputations.
Losers: Chan Sung Yung
When you lose a fight that determines the next challenger for the belt in such one-sided fashion you’re going to be placed on the losers side of the list. ‘The Korean Zombie’ didn’t perform badly per se, but he struggled to close distance and land anything powerful. Which is usually what he’s so good at.
It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here, but it will most certainly be a downgrade of where he’d be going had he won.
Chookagian, a former Flyweight title contender entered her fight with Jessica Andrade on a high after beating Antonina Shevchenko in her last outing. But, she failed to use her size advantage and lost in every facet of the fight before getting finished in the first round.
A poor night for ‘The Blonde Fighter’ who never really got going and a performance that takes her out of the title picture for the foreseeable future.
Thomas Almeida was once an unbeaten contender, who many believed would be world champion. Then he fought Cody Garbrandt in 2016. Since that KO loss, he has won once in four fights. Saturday night’s loss to Jonathan Martinez was another example of how Almeida is no longer the same guy he once was.
Yes, Martinez is a skilled prospect, but Almeida just didn’t look to have the aggression and fire that made him so damn likeable and dangerous five or so years ago. Almeida didn’t look bad, he just looked a step behind at every turn. And at this stage of his career, it’s hard to see a resurrection.