UFC 206/Fight Night 102: The Rundown

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UFC Fight Night 102 featured a rather lackluster stable of fighters. Yet, it was still a decent event and certainly a good advertiser for UFC 206, which was one of the best events of the year.

So lets get right into what happened.

The Headlines:

Max Holloway TKO’s Anthony Pettis: Holloway extended his win streak to 10 in a row with a sensational performance against former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Holloway TKO’d Pettis in the third round, becoming the first to ever KO “Showtime.”

Max has come such a long way since losing to Conor McGregor in 2013. A lot of fans and experts thought he’d be a good fighter, but nobody saw Holloway having this much success so soon. He has really evolved and morphed into something special.

With this win over Pettis, and gaining the UFC interim featherweight championship, he’ll be next in line for Jose Aldo. One could argue that he is the favorite in that fight as well.

Pettis Missing Weight: After Pettis debuted at 145 against Charles Oliveira, there was a growing sentiment that Pettis just didn’t belong in the division. While he had a good performance beating a very good Oliveira, he just seemed off. It appeared as if the weight cut really hurt his conditioning for the fight. With that said, it was no surprise that Pettis missed weight for UFC 206’s main event against Holloway.

Sometimes fighters going on losing streaks and they think moving down a weight class is the answer. Most of the time the weight cuts are just too strenuous and we see these experiments fail. Pettis shouldn’t be at 145, he needs to stay in the Lightweight division and he said it himself in the post-fight interview.

Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi in Fight of the Year contender: No fighter had greater hype than Doo Ho Choi heading into UFC 206, and while he lost to a very game Cub Swanson, fans aren’t jumping off the train.

In an incredible back-and-fourth fight, Swanson put on a hell of a performance taking the unanimous decision. Both fighters stood and traded hands throughout and landed at an insanely high rate.

For Swanson, it was a massive victory. His back was really against the wall heading into this fight and he arguably resurrected his career. Even though he is ranked #5 in the division, the sentiment seemed to be that his career was sort of on the down-spiral. He was 2-2 heading into the fight with Choi and a loss would have been disastrous. It was huge to not only come in there and put on a great show, but pick up a victory against a guy who had a lot of hype.

Choi shouldn’t hang his head low, he is a young fighter with a lot of time to make the proper adjustments and come back stronger.

Cowboy’s Success At 170 Continues: When Donald Cerrone announced he was heading up to the Welterweight division, there was a bit of pessimism. While he’s a great fighter, it was hard to imagine him having a ton of success moving up.

Rarely in MMA do you see guys (especially below 170) move up in weight and have success. Cerrone has proven that logic to be a fallacy. Since moving up, he’s done nothing but put on incredible performances, and Saturday night he put on a clinic against Matt Brown.

In a tremendous fight, Cerrone nailed Brown with a perfectly timed headkick.

While Cerrone is unsurprisingly campaigning to fight in his native Denver, Colorado in a couple weeks, there’s one fight out there that would be real interesting to see. That fight would see Cerrone facing Nick Diaz. Lets start that campaign people, get on it #CowboyvsNickDiaz!

Derrick Lewis’s Disappointing Performance: Derrick Lewis was given the big responsibility of headlining a show, and he arguably failed to live up to expectations. Lewis proved once again he’s just not good enough to be a legitimate Heavyweight contender.

While he’s an exciting fighter with a great personality, he’s just not ready for the big stage, and he never may be.

People had ridiculous expectations that Lewis vs Shamil Adurakhimov was a squash match for Lewis. That’s just bad thinking. Adurakhimov is a decent fighter who’s been around a long time. He wasn’t just going to fold in there, and frankly Lewis isn’t that great of a fighter to have squash matches. He has the unfortunate attribute of fighting down to his competition.

Hopefully shake off that moniker in his next fight.

Who’s Stocks Rose the Most?

Francis Nigannou: UFC Fight Night 102 was the Derrick Lewis show, but fans left talking about Francis Ngannou. Ngannou has flown way under the radar and is quietly 4-0 with some 4 finishes. On Friday night he arguably had his most impressive finish, submitting Anthony Hamilton in the first round with a nasty kimura.

In a Heavyweight division desperate for new contenders, Ngannou is right on the cusp, and he could be something special. The UFC has to match him up with a top 7 Heavyweight in his next fight. He is clearly too good to be fighting fringe UFC level opposition at this point.

A matchup with Alistair Overreem or Ben Rothwell would be perfect to gauge how good he really is. He is ready for a step up in competition, and a big step up.

Misha Cirkunov: A wise man once said UFC 206 was Nikita Krylov’s coming out party (wonder what idiot said that!?) Just like Ngannou, Misha Cirkunov’s stock rose greatly when he submitted Krylov in the first round with a guillotine. It was a brilliant performance.

Like Ngannou, Cirkunov proved he’s ready for a major step up in completion. He’s also now 4-0 with four finishes and ready to face off with the upper echelon of the 205 division. Although he called out Shogun Rua (who is #6 in the rankings,) that’s just not a good fight for Rua. A much better matchup would be to see him face a guy like Jimi Manuwa or Ovince St Preux.

We need to see Cirkunov face a legit top-5 Light Heavyweight next time out.

Kelvin Gestelum: Weight issues aside, Gestelum looked fantastic against Tim Kennedy. He totally outclassed him from start-to-finish. To beat a guy like Kennedy in that manner, regardless of his time away from the sport is incredible.

Gestelum is in an odd position as he more than certainly belongs at 170, but due to failed weight cuts is fighting at middleweight. He’s in the rare position where he’s arguably top-five in two different weight divisions.

If he can’t make the weight what choice does he have? Unless he can find some discipline it appears as if 185 will be his division from here onward.

If he’s unable to get in the UFC brasses good graces and is staying at 185, it’d be awesome to see him tested against the middleweight elite.  Gegard Mousasi, Jacare Souza, or Robert Whittaker would all be excellent opponents.

Top Prospects:

Nikita Krylov Falters: Kylov really disappointed against a tough Cirkunov. Even with the loss, he looked very good. He just got rocked with a perfectly timed straight right that set Cirkunov up for the transition to the guillotine. Cirkunov noted in his post-fight interview that a coach had said he’s susceptible to the straight right when he throws his patented headkick.

Mark Diakiese Disappoints in Win: After Diakiese’s excellent debut in the UFC earlier this year, many expected a big performance from him against Frankie Perez. Unfortunately the fight was rather lackluster and Diakiese didn’t live up to the expectations.

Randy Brown Cruises: Brown has a lot of pressure after being one of Dana White’s handpicked singings off his reality show Lookin’ for a Fight. Because of this, he has a lot hype that is a bit undeserved for a guy fairly new to the sport. This is why it’s so great to see a performance like he put on against Brian Camozzi.

With so much pressure this early in his career wins like this are so important.

Lando Vanata’s KO of the Year: The Vanata hype train keeps on rolling after a spectacular spinning headkick KO of John Makdessi, This one is an all-timer.

After a strong debut against Tony Ferguson, for Vanata to go out there and knock out a veteran like Makdessi is insane. This guy has huge potential, it’ll be exciting to watch this guy grow.

The Cut Line:

John Makdessi: Loser of three of his last four fights, two by headkick KO.
Joe Gigliotti: Young fighter who just might not be ready for the big show

Other Notes:
Emil Weber Meek debuted with a strong victory over Jordan Mein. This guy could be a huge star for European MMA
Olivier Aubin-Mercier put on another great performance against Drew Dober, possibly his best in the UFC
Rustam Khabilov won easy against Jason Saggo, calls out Kevin Lee. This would be a great fight
Matthew Lopez beat a very game Mitch Gagnon, and rather easily
Dustin Ortiz picked up a big win over Zach Mackovsky
Gian Villante had a really disappointing performance against Saparbek Safarov. He should have won easy
Gerald Meerschaert is a massive middleweight. Tremendous grappler and one to watch out for.

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