The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fell in its first round of events on “Fight Island” – which is technically Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – as UFC on ESPN 14 took place last night (Saturday July 25, 2020) in Flash Forum. The headlining act saw Robert Whittaker overtake Darren Till in a middleweight fight (highlights). In the act of co-headlining, Mauricio Rua went up 3-0 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, escaping with a split decision victory (recap).
Biggest winner: Fabricio Werdum
Werdum had a lot going on in his fight against Alexander Gustafsson as he claimed ahead of the fight that he was not going to re-sign with the UFC after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) debacle. And while his name alone would have earned him a nice offer from Bellator MMA or some other promotion that wants his services, a win would give him good leverage to ask for more money. And that’s exactly what he won after forcing “The Mauler” to punch halfway through the first round. It is an impressive victory to say the least since Gustafsson is not left out. Now, not only has Werdum avoided a three-fight slippage, gave his managers good talking points when they start trading with promotions, but he’s also getting an extra $ 50,000 bonus check. And who knows, he might even have earned a nice offer from the UFC. While Fabricio is adamant he will no longer fight inside the Octagon, the promotion could still make him an offer he cannot refuse in order to stay put. Personally, I hope “Vai Cavalo” will eventually find a way to stay where he is since he still has a lot to offer the fighting game and is still a threat to any great man standing in front of him. And with Cain Velasquez long gone and Daniel Cormier set to retire this year, the UFC’s 265-pound weight class needs all the big names it can get.
Finaliste: Robert Whittaker
Whittaker earned a well-deserved victory after doing enough to win a unanimous decision over Darren Till in his first fight after losing his 185-pound bracelet to Israel Adesanya last October. And whatever problems “The Reaper” had to overcome after delaying his return, he seems to have put them far behind him since he looked like “The Reaper” of old. No he didn’t finish and no it wasn’t a complete and total domination performance, but Till is far from being outdone, so winning against him is a good cut on the Aussie belt anyway. Before the fight I strongly believed that the winner would have to beat Jack Hermansson to have the right to fight for the title, but Dana White has other plans as he has stated that Jared Cannonier or the winner of this fight will face the winner of this fight. ‘Israel. Adesanya and Paulo Costa, who is slated to step down to UFC 253 on September 19, 2020. While White may change his mind in the blink of an eye, for now “The Reaper” is just happy to be back on the winners podium. . Most importantly, he’s happy again.
Mention honorable: Khamzat Chimaev
As if the welterweight division weren’t already stacked as it is, Khamzat Chimaev is already making noise… and he’s only been fighting for the UFC for 10 days. The 26-year-old made his Octagon debut last week at UFC Fight Island 2, dominating John Phillips before scoring a late-fight submission in the second round. Shortly after his victory, he expressed his desire to fight on that card, which the UFC forced. All he did was grab an even more dominant victory over Rhys McKee, stopping him in the first round via strikes (see), while not allowing McKee to land a single strike. For his efforts, he won a $ 50,000 post-fight bonus and perhaps more importantly, praise from UFC President Dana White, who called the Swedish scrapper “special.” And we all know that if you can be on Uncle Dana’s safe side, the UFC PR machine will follow suit, just like the big opportunities. Additionally, Chimaev went on to say that he wanted to compete on an upcoming card in Las Vegas on August 15, to which White and Co. quickly replied “yes.” A star was born in Chimaev, it now remains to be seen if he can continue to live up to all the praise from his boss and colleagues after literally stepping out of nowhere.
Biggest loser: Alexander Gustafsson
Things didn’t turn out the way “The Mauler” would have liked upon his return to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), as he was forced to tap into a devastating armband from heavyweight jiu-jitsu wizard Fabricio Werdum, in the very first round. After losing his last two at Light Heavyweight, Gustafsson chose to retire from the fighting game just over a year ago. Hoping for a fresh start at 265 pounds, “The Mauler” was happy to draw “Vai Cavalo,” a former world champion he has trained with in the past. And although Alexander claims to have gotten the best out of Werdum during the fight, the Submission Ace turned out to be the best man when he counted. No one knows where Gustafsson is going from there, although he will now have to work really hard if he is to qualify for the heavyweight title. And frankly, the same goes if he decides to drop back down to 205 pounds.
For full UFC results and coverage on ESPN 14, click here.