The UFC arrived in Orlando, Florida with a heavy-hitting main event between Josh Emmett and Jeremy Stephens. Plus, in the co-main event, top strawweights Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres fought for a potential title shot. In the first two fights of the main card, we saw Ovince Saint Preux take on Ilir Latifi and Mike Perry take on Max Griffin. Plenty of fights delivered with great performances and standout finishes. With that being said, here are the five performances that stood out among the rest.
#1: Alan Jouban def. Ben Saunders via KO (Punch) at 2:38 of Round 2
Alan Jouban and Ben Saunders opened up the Fox Prelims and they put on a show. The two 10th Planet training partners produced what looked like the fight of the night. Both fighters connected with hard shots that could have stopped the fight. Towards the end of the first round, Jouban began landing more. He landed multiple low leg kicks that wobbled Saunders and finished off the first round with hard shots. But they’d see a second round.
The second round saw the same action that the end of the first saw. Jouban was connecting with leg kicks and hard shots. A little more than midway through the first, Jouban threw a leg kick, then connected with a hard left hand that knocked out Saunders. This was Jouban’s first win after losing two straight prior to tonight.
#2: Ilir Latifi def. Ovince Saint Preux via Technical Submission (Guillotine) at 3:48 of Round 1
This fight was originally supposed to happen a few weeks ago at UFC on Fox 27 on January 27. However, Latifi was forced to withdraw due to an injury, and they were finally scheduled to fight in Orlando.
While many people probably saw the fight going OSP’s way, some took Latifi. But those people who picked Latifi probably didn’t see it going down the way it actually happened. Latifi dropped OSP in the first with a left hand. He followed up with some more shots until locking in a standing guillotine. His hold was very tight and OSP was forced to tap, but the ref didn’t see it and OSP went unconscious. Latifi took no time in calling out Daniel Cormier after the fight and even added he’d do it at light heavyweight or heavyweight if DC beats Stipe Miocic. If he doesn’t get a title shot, he still deserves a big fight and should get one.
#3: Jeremy Stephens def. Josh Emmett via KO (Punches) at 1:35 of Round 2
The main event was expected to be exciting, and it definitely delivered. The first round saw some action, including Josh Emmett dropping Jeremy Stephens with about 2:00 to go. When they entered the second round, Stephens had seemed like he recovered. Early in the second round, Stephens connected with a left hand that dropped Emmett. While Emmett was grounded, Stephens landed hard elbows that eventually ended the fight. But, there could be a little bit of controversy with the finish. Stephens landed some elbows to the back of the head, but also threw an illegal knee as well. Regardless of the controversy, Stephens still looked great. He called for a title shot after the fight, but will probably need one more big win to get there.
#4: Marion Reneau def. Sara McMann via Submission (Triangle Choke) at 3:40 of Round 2
In the first round of this fight, Sara McMann completely handled Marion Reneau. Multiple times, McMann put Reneau in the crucifix position and unloaded with ground and pound. Late in the round, she looked like she could have finished the fight, but the horn sounded.
The second round started and Reneau looked good. She was connecting and eventually connected with a shot that made McMann stumble. She took her down and locked in a triangle choke. Eventually it became too tight and McMann was forced to tap. After the fight, Reneau stated that her name wasn’t mentioned enough in the media and thought she should be respected a bit more. She definitely deserved it and should get a big name in her next fight.
#5: Rani Yahya def. Russell Doane via Submission (Arm Triangle) at 2:32 of Round 3
Rani Yahya was scheduled to fight Aljamain Sterling in at UFC Fight Night 123 on December 9. He couldn’t make it to fight night after suffering an injury. Instead, he was matched up against Russell Doane in Orlando.
He controlled the whole entire fight. The first and second round saw him dominate the ground game, easily winning those first two rounds. In the third round, he looked just as dominant as the first two. About halfway through the final round, Yahya locked up an arm triangle and Doane was forced to tap, awarding the win to Yahya. After the fight he revealed that his mother had died 11 days prior to the fight, but said he never thought to pull out because that is what she would’ve wanted him to do.
The fights in Orlando delivered with great performances. Next week, join me as the UFC returns to PPV as Cris Cyborg puts her belt on the line against Yana Kunitskaya. Plus, Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega fight for the next shot at Max Holloway. So, join me next week as we look back on UFC 222 and determine the five standout performances.
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