Some big winners, bigger winners and some definite losers were on display last night in Mexico City.
A somewhat boring night was saved with a great battle in the main event between #3 Tony Ferguson and #2 Rafael dos Anjos. The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Champion was crowned, and some Mexican fighters impressed their home crowd.
Diego Sanchez – If you don’t love Diego Sanchez you don’t love NBA basketball…I think that’s how that works. But ‘The Nightmare’ showed off why he is a 10+ year vet of the UFC with a solid performance where he simply outworked Polish fighter Marcin Held for a classic, Diego Sanchez unanimous decision victory. Not only that but Diego passed BJ Penn to become fourth all-time in total UFC fight time, now behind just GSP, Bisping and Frankie Edgar.
Beneil Dariush – Continuing to avenge his loss against Michael Chiesa, Dariush easily handled Magomedov coasting to a unanimous victory improving his record to 14-2. It is hard to say whether or not a win over the #15 ranked fighter is enough to push him higher than #9 where he is, but it keeps him in the talk for sure.
Alexa Grasso – The young Mexican Grasso certainly made a name for herself with her unanimous decision win, even though it was closer in my eyes against Heather Jo Clark than the judges saw it. Grasso is young (23), unbeaten (9-0) and easy on the eyes, she will be on the rankings very soon.
Martin Bravo – In front of a home crowd Bravo defeated Claudio “El Nino” Puelles via TKO in the second round to become the third TUF Latin America winner, this in the lightweight division. ‘El Nino’ was taken out by Bravo who looked more like a (whatever defeats a tropical storm?) with visibly heavier punches. Bravo took his camp to Mexico City (he’s from Tijuana) to prepare; smart move due to altitude and to adjust to that sweet (disgusting) Mexico City smog.
Tony Ferguson – In a win I predicted, Ferguson simply had more to give in this fight than Dos Anjos, winning an entertaining, five-round unanimous decision, 28-27. I think dos Anjos is still great, but past his peak and now he and Ferguson should switch spots in the rankings. Give the winner of Conor/Alvarez to Khabib, and the loser to Tony Ferguson.
It seems so harsh when you actually type it out. Disappointing us last night was #8 flyweight Charles Oliveira getting guillotined by #4 Ricardo Lamas. It seemed a little easy, making me question who Oliveira should fight next. I think Yair Rodriguez is a good fit, or if we’re brave, see if he can avoid a KO from Doo Ho Choi.
Marco Beltran – Getting heal-hooked is going to get you on this list every single time, and that’s exactly what happened to Beltran against Joe Soto in the first round, just 1:37 in.
This coming before we saw Diego Sanchez flexibly deal with Marcin Held going for knee bar after knee bar, heel hook after heel hook for nearly two full rounds, it really shows you difference experience makes. However, for a guy on a three-fight streak in the UFC, getting sub’d that quickly from a guy who is now 2-3 in the promotion is a little weak sauce for this guy.
Chris Avila gets on this list because of how much hype he has received from Nate Diaz and Team Gracie.
He lost the junior version of McGregor/Diaz when he fell to Artem Lobov at UFC 202 and lost again last night to Peruvian Enrique Barzola. Both came in on a loss, and that is 0-2 for Avila in the UFC, so we will have to see if the historical rule of ‘two losses in a row and you’re out’ for a young fighter in the UFC remains true in this case.