Top 3 Surprises from UFC Fight Night 53 & 54



This past weekend the UFC spoiled fans once again by delivering another double-header, two events on one day.  UFC Fight Night 53 took place in Stockholm, Sweden in the early morning of Saturday and UFC Fight Night 54 took place in Halifax, Canada later that day, at a regular evening time.  Both events were successful in their own ways, but neither were rather stacked on paper.  The earlier event was headlined by Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story, and the second event was headlined by Canadian Rory MacDonald vs. Tarec Saffiedine.  Story pulled off the upset, and MacDonald pulled off a third straight win, likely lining him up for a title shot.

Always at UFC events, or even other MMA events, there are a few surprises that catch you off guard or you just aren’t expecting.  Here are the top 3 surprises from the two free ‘Fight Night’ cards from this past weekend.

1. Rick Story pulls off upset against Gunnar Nelson, serves Nelson first career loss

Probably the most surprising thing out of both of the events, was the fact that Story ended up winning in the main event against favourite Gunnar Nelson.  The Icelandic welterweight was believed to be the largest prospect at 170 pounds, but the elder stopped the hype train.  Nelson still has a ton of potential, but this one-sided decision loss took him in the wrong direction, at least for now.  Story was dominant in all areas, and even stopped a few of Nelson’s takedowns, even though Nelson is known for his ground game.  At first Story didn’t look too good at the beginning of the fight, but he stepped it up throughout the fight, enough to pull of the ‘W’.  He pressured Nelson a lot, which worked very well for him.  Nelson was a relatively large favourite, but you can’t always trust the odds.

2. Rory MacDonald gets finish for first time in two years

Although it was no surprise that the young and talented Canadian fighter Rory MacDonald got the win at the end over Saffiedine, it was a surprise to most people that he got the TKO finish.  Since 2012, he has just beat guys by decision, which seems to be a trait of the French-Canadian TriStar gym in Montreal, where former champion Georges St-Pierre and Francis Carmont train, as well as some other fighers.  Although it really didn’t surprise me, as I predicted he would get the TKO finish, I am still writing this because the majority of the MMA community mostly predicted that he’d get another lopsided decision win.  MacDonald had to perform well this past weekend, to show he was ready for his long deserved title shot, and he definitely made a difficult case.  It’s hard to deny he doesn’t deserve the winner of Hendricks vs. Lawler 2, but no matter what he probably will get the winner of that championship rematch.

3. Niklas Backstrom

The undefeated Niklas Backstrom was put up against Mike Wilkinson, expected to keep his undefeated streak alive and pickup his second victory under the UFC banner.  He was heavily favoured to beat Wilkinson, and no one exactly gave Wilkinson a deserved chance to get the win.  Not only did Backstrom lose, but he got knocked out, and quickly.  In the first round, Backstrom wobbled Wilkinson but milliseconds after the hard punch landed, Wilkinson returned the favour with a huge punch, that landed perfectly, and Backstrom fell flat to the floor.  Not only was I surprised Backstrom lost, but he also got knocked out.  Also, it was a huge surprise when he wobbled Wilkinson and then got hit himself, but instead, he got hit harder.

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Nick Baldwin is a 17-year-old mixed martial arts writer. He has covered mixed martial arts since January 2014. The Winnipeg, Man., native is also a co-host of The MMA Circus. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaldwinMMA.

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