Once again, after putting together a killer card, Dana White and the UFC have the night fall apart beneath them. First, heavyweight Junior Dos Santos, pulls out of what is essentially a title eliminator with Francis N’Gannou, the UFC’s up and coming star in the division. Then, days before the fight, Ray Borg pulls out of the main event with Demetrious Johnson, who was attempting to break Anderson Silva’s title defense record, making his case as the perennial GOAT of the UFC.
But, the show must go on and the night has come and went. Here’s how everything went down on this episode of Aftermath.
Gavin Tucker’s hype train derailed
After a phenomenal UFC debut against Sam Sicilia back in February, Gavin Tucker was looking to continue his rise to the top of the UFC’s featherweight division. Rick Glenn was having none of that. Glenn dismantled Gavin Tucker, adding the first loss to his 10–0 record at the time. Tucker showed his promise in the first round, blowing his wad quickly, and allowing Glenn’s experience to win him the fight. Towards the end, Tucker was only defending himself and not fighting back. Many people, Dana White included, think the ref should have stopped the fight before the final bell rung, saving a lot of unnecessary damage for the future star.
While Gavin Tucker has suffered a loss pretty early on, it was a lesson learned, one would hope. Cardio will need to be a big part of his next training camp. Even though he took this loss, Gavin Tucker will learn from the experience of Rick Glenn, and rebound in his next bout and continue his rise and gain experience needed to become a contender in the featherweight’s stacked division.
Sara McMann continues to struggle
Next opponent for Sara McMann: Liz Carmouche, Bethe Correia
The UFC wants Sara McMann to be a superstar so badly. Being a silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics for wrestling bodes well for your stocks in the UFC. After a three fight win streak, McMann was back on track to tear up the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira was in her way tonight. Vieira is the undefeated up and comer who would snap that streak. McMann dominated the first round but ultimately gave up fell to Vieira in the second round via an arm triangle choke. McMann falls, but will continue to raise her stocks. She looked very quick and in shape for this fight. Her one mistake cost her the fight, as is with the level of the competition in the UFC. McMann will look to avoid another back to back loss for her next bout.
Gilbert Milendez needs a new leg
Next opponent for Gilbert Melendez: Anthony Pettis, Al Iaquinta
Edson Barboza beat down Gilbert Melendez in July 2016 and it was a sign to make a move from lightweight. In his featherweight debut against Jeremy Stephens (who da fook is dat guy?), it was more of the same. Melendez’s body isn’t what it used to be and Jeremy Stephens showed he can break down fighters like the elites. Very similar to how Barboza obliterated Melendez leg in his last fight, Stephens did much of the same, except this time, Melendez had trouble standing on it. He kept falling to the mat off the leg kicks thrown by Stephens and appeared to suffer a lot of damage, possibly suffering a fractured leg. During the fight the ref warned him he couldn’t keep falling to the mat, although I don’t think it was his choice. Melendez went the distance and lost via unanimous decision to Stephens. He’ll need to strengthen his leg up to avoid being put in a wheel chair for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see enough of Melendez talent because of the damage taken early on. But, Melendez is not done at lightweight. He will be back and stronger than before.
Who da fook is dat guy? THAT is Jeremy Stephens
Next opponent for Jeremy Stephens: Yair Rodriguez, Doo Ho Choi
Jeremy Stephens, on the other hand, put on a clinic versus veteran Gilbert Melendez. With a near perfect fight plan, Stephens did the damage needed on the front leg to slow down, and ultimately incapacitate, Melendez. He showed off his great striking all night, as well as his speed. Stephens is a very experienced fighter who still has a bright future in the featherweight divison. His striking is incredibly fun to watch and he’ll get some more showtime fights on a main card as he continues to rise in the division.
Ilir Latifi dominates Tyson Pedro
Next opponent for Ilir Latifi: Ovince Saint Preaux, Jimi Manuwa
Next opponent for Tyson Pedro: Patrick Cummins, Rogerio Nogueria
Tyson Pedro is exciting and has plenty of potential to make a quick rise in a shallow light heavyweight divsion that is dominated by the three boogey men (Jones, Cormier, and Gustafsson). Ilir Latifi showed he can make that statement too. Being hyped up plenty before the fight because of his incredible striking, Pedro could get nothing rolling against the strength of Latifi. Reminding me of Daniel Cormier all night, he came in with his strikes against the stronger and longer Pedro. Pinning Pedro against the fence and wearing him down shows he can tilt a fight his way. Pedro looks to regroup and Latifi looks to ride the momentum and continue his rise in the light heavyweight division.
Even Mighty Mouse thought Henry Cejudo looked phenomenal
Next opponent for Henry Cejudo: Ray Borg (if Borg loses), Tim Elliot
Next opponent for Wilson Reis: Ben Nguyen, Sergio Pettis
Boy, oh boy did Henry Cejudo look like a whole new fighter. Taking a new stance, wider and more karate inspired, similar to how Conor McGregor fights, Cejudo put on a clinic against Wilson Reis. Bouncing in and out, taking a smart approach on all of his strikes, Cejudo looked like a whole new creature. Reis barely got out of the first round, and only lasted 26 seconds in the second before he fell to Cejudo’s barrage of strikes. We know Cejudo can wrestle out of this world. The fact that his striking looked this good is a scary thought. He’s suffered back to back losses to Mighty Mouse and Joseph Benavidez, but I think he’ll be back in consideration for a title shot very, very soon. He’ll need one more win before he takes on the winner of Mighty Mouse and Ray Borg. Look for that to happen quickly with the limited damage he took in this fight.
Rafael dos Anjos is an absolute animal
Next opponent for Rafael Dos Anjos: Donald Cerrone, Robbie Lawler
Next opponent for Neil Magny: Dong Hyun Kim, Colby Covington
We knew Rafael dos Anjos was a championship caliber talent. He took the belt in the lightweight division. But, ever since USADA cracked down, he’s had trouble making 155 weight. Enter, Rafael dos Anjos, the welterweight fighter. Dos Anjos is a terrifying and aggressive striker. Pair that with his black belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and you have a contender on your hands. RDA did not let Neil Magny get started at all on this night. He quickly tripped the taller fighter, getting him on the ground where height didn’t matter. Dos Anjos then unleashed a barrage of blows and ultimately choked out Magny in the first round. Rafael looked great. Composed and he didn’t kill himself getting to the fight. 170 is his new home. He was the backup plan for Maia and Woodley if Maia fell though. He’ll get a title shot soon. Winning that will set up the biggest fight the UFC has ever seen (more on that in another post, coming soon).
Amanda Nunes and Valentina Schevchenko shows what level women’s striking is on now. Hint: it’s really high level
Next opponent for Amanda Nunes: Nunes potential next opponent: Cris Cyborg (long shot, but the money fight), Holly Holm
Next opponent for Valentina Shevchenko: Germaine de Randamie, Ronda Rousey (ha, LONG shot)
Valentina Schevchenko has already given Amanda Nunes one of her hardest fights to date. Tonight was no different. Being a perfect counter striker, Shchevchenko forced Nunes to rethink her fight plan and forced her to adjust out of her comfort zone. All night, it went back and forth between the two, with Valentina not letting Nunes unload as she’s done on previous women. They both fought a technical fight that was a chess match all night. Counter strikes from Schevchenko got her the upper hand in total strikes landed, with her combos being swift and punishing. But, in the end, a couple of takedowns from Nunes in the fifth round secured her the split decision. Valentina Schevchenko wasn’t happy with the decision, but backing up all fight and not being the aggressor is not how you win a fight, especially when you’re fighting the champ. Both fighters look to move on and continue to change women’s MMA to a new level of competition.