UFC 221 took place this past weekend as Yoel Romero took on Luke Rockhold for the (half) interim belt. (In case you missed it, Romero missed weight, making him ineligible for the belt). In the co-main event, Curtis Blaydes proved himself against the legendary Mark Hunt. The card itself didn’t look very intriguing, or at least not worth the $65 charged for a pay per view. But once the time came, the whole card exceeded most people’s expectations. Each fight was entertaining in its own ways and some performances really stood out. Here are the five standout performances from this past weekends card in Australia. These are the UFC 221 standout performances.
#1: Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (Punches) at 3:37 of Round 2
Rob Wilkinson was undefeated coming into the UFC, but since entering he hasn’t looked good. He’s lost both his fights in the octagon by TKO in the second round. His most recent outing came against the UFC’s new hyped up prospect, Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya.
Adesanya came into the fight undefeated at 11-0, finishing all his fights by knockout or TKO. That streak didn’t change on Saturday as he stepped into the octagon for the first time. He controlled the whole fight, stuffing close to twenty takedown attempts by Wilkinson. In the second round he began to light up Wilkinson with his accurate and powerful striking. He eventually landed a hard punch to the body of Wilkinson that caused him to crumble and the fight was stopped by TKO. After his victory, everyone in the MMA world has been talking about him and wonder if he may be the next big thing at 185.
#2: Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via Technical Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:43 of Round 3
It seems as though Brazil’s Jussier Formiga has been among the top flyweights for quite sometime. The only difference between him and the rest of the top four is he hasn’t gotten a title shot yet. His win at UFC 221 could earn him the next crack at the title, assuming the fight between Demtrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw never materializes.
His fight against Ben Nguyen opened up the FS1 prelims and the fight was close during the first two rounds. In the third round, Formiga landed a beautiful spinning back fist that dropped Nguyen. Once Nguyen had dropped to the canvas, Formiga rained down some ground and pound, but then eventually got Nguyen’s back. After getting the back, he locked in a tight rear naked choke that put his opponent out in seconds.
#3: Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via Knockout (Punch) at 1:38 of Round 3
Going into Saturday’s main event, only one half of the fight was eligible to win the interim title. The night before fight day, Yoel Romero weighed in a couple pounds over the middleweight limit. This caused Romero to have to give up thirty percent of his fight purse to Rockhold. It also deemed him ineligible to win the interim title if he were to win the fight. But that didn’t slow down “The Soldier of God”.
Going into round 3, it looked as if it would be tied 1-1 with Rockhold winning round one and Romero winning the second. In the third round, Romero landed a hard shot that dropped Rockhold. Once Rockhold was down, Romero landed a perfect shot right to the jaw of the former champion that ended the fight, very similar to Holly Holm’s knockout over Bethe Correia, minus the head kick. Although Romero didn’t win the interim title, the win should still be enough to earn him a rematch against the champion, Robert Whittaker.
#4: Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via Submission (Kimura) at 3:34 of Round 1
Tyson Pedro kicked off the main card in style, defeating Saparbek Safarov early in the first. Plus, he delivered a perfect interview after his victory:
"I'm a simple man, so I'm going to go home, make love to my wife, go real fast on my motor bike, drink a generous amount of beer, get that title, get a million followers, and get on the Joe Rogan Podcast." – Tyson Pedro #UFCPerth #UFC221
— MMA mania (@mmamania) February 11, 2018
But let’s get back to his performance. Back in September, he went against the tough Ilir Latifi at UFC 215. He lost that fight by unanimous decision, and needed a rebound fight.
He was thrown Saparbek Safarov, and in addition to getting the bad taste of the Latifi fight out of his mouth, he put on a show for his home crowd. Early in the fight, he took control of Safarov’s arm and locked it into a tight kimura. Luckily, Safarov tapped, because if he didn’t his arm would have snapped. The victory should have earned Tyson Pedro another crack at top 15 competition, but nobody too high just yet.
#5: Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (Punches) at 2:18 of Round 1
Tai Tuivasa made his UFC debut in November at UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Tybura and quickly made a name for himself. He defeated Rashad Coulter with a brutal flying knee that shut the lights out.
Coming off that impressive win, he was given Cyril Asker at UFC 221 this past Saturday. Tuivasa came out early and started landing hard shots on Asker. He landed multiple elbows that stunned Asker. But at one point in the first round, he landed a hard elbow that sent Asker face-planting into the canvas, causing the ref to stop the fight. He had put on an exciting performance for his home of Australia and afterwards, outside of the cage, added to what was already a great performance:
Tai Tuivasa chugging beer out of a shoe? Tai Tuivasa chugging beer out of a shoe. pic.twitter.com/PvQJcpCXuk
— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) February 11, 2018
With the conclusion of UFC 221, we looked back at the five performances that really stood out. Join me next week at we reflect on UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Medeiros and select the five performances that stood out the most.
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