UFC Fight Night 128 Standout Performances

The UFC returned to Atlantic City, New Jersey and the main event featured a lightweight headliner for the third time in a row. The main event featured interim title challenger, Kevin Lee, and exciting striker, Edson Barboza. Plus, in the co-main event, former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, took on Cub Swanson in a rematch of their 2014 bout.

Throughout the night, there were many great performances by winners and losers. However, only five can make it onto the list for MMASucka‘s Standout Performances. So, here are the five performances that stood out among the others last night at UFC Fight Night 128.

#1: Kevin Lee def. Edson Barboza via TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 2:18 of Round 5

In this high stakes bout, many were unsure who would have the edge. It soon became evident. The first two rounds were blowouts, either one could have been scored a 10-8 for Lee. In the first, Lee powered through a takedown and controlled Barboza for the entire round. He landed heavy ground and pound that quickly caused Barboza’s face to swell up.

In the second, it seemed like Barboza was completely gassed and didn’t quite know where he was, as he initiated a takedown attempt fifteen seconds into the round. This round was more of the same. Lee dragged Barboza down and controlled him there until the bell sounded. Once again, Lee landed hard shots. It was clearly 2-0 Lee.

Both men came out striking in the third. Barboza utilized his best weapons, as he landed kicks to Lee’s legs and body. A little over a minute into the third round, Barboza grazed the top of Lee’s head with his signature wheel kick.

The kick had Lee on wobbly legs, as he struggled to regain his footing. Showing off his endurance, Lee recovered and was able to enter in on a takedown. Barboza defended the double leg, but stayed on top, allowing Lee to recover. Lee eventually reversed Barboza and retained top control for a brief period. The round ended on the feet, you could feel Barboza’s confidence rising.

In the fourth round, Lee once again decided to strike and both men were landing. But once again, Lee ran through another takedown and got back to work with his punishing ground and pound. He was relentless well into the fifth round, cutting up Barboza’s right eyebrow. Eventually, the referee called a timeout to look at the cut of Barboza. The facial damage was clearly impeding Barboza’s vision. The doctors came in and determined that it was too bad to continue, awarding Lee the TKO victory.

#2: David Branch def. Thiago Santos via KO (Punches) at 2:30 of Round 1

Thiago Santos came into this fight winning four straight, all by knockout. Entering the fight he was the betting favorite against the former World Series of Fighting two-division champion, David Branch. In the first round, it seemed like the beginning of a tightly contested fight. Both men were able to have success, with Santos landing many hard leg kicks. Branch continued to push forward and eventually, he came within range to do some damage.

Halfway through the first round, Branch threw an overhand right on a retreating Santos. Caught mid-swing, Santos went down. Branch immediately began to land hard hammer fists until the ref stopped the fight.

#3: Daniel Hooker def. Jim Miller via KO (Knee) at 3:00 of Round 1

Since moving up to the lightweight division, New Zealand’s Dan Hooker has looked phenomenal. He entered the bout following finishes of Ross Pearson and Marc Diakiese. This time he was facing off against UFC veteran, Jim Miller. This was Miller’s 29th UFC fight which tied the record with former middleweight champion, Michael Bisping.

A feeling out process inspired some confidence in the aging Miller early on. A couple minutes in, Miller was able to get a takedown but could not hold Hooker down for long. As the pace of striking picked up, Miller ducked his head down and Hooker timed a perfect knee that dropped Miller. Once Miller hit the floor, Hooker landed one more shot right to the chin of Miller before the ref stepped in to stop the fight.

#4: Siyar Bahadurzada def. Luan Chagas via KO (Punch) at 2:40 of Round 2

In the first round of this fight, Luan Chagas was able to reverse and control Siyar Bahadurzada with solid work from the back. He attacked submissions multiple times while also landing decent ground and pound. Chagas clearly had the advantage going into round 2.

In the second, Bahadurzada was able to pick up some momentum by landing some good, hard shots on Chagas. Halfway through the round, Bahadurzada landed a front kick right to the chest of Chagas that sent him crumbling to the canvas in pain. While Chagas was falling to the canvas, Bahadurzada landed a perfect uppercut that knocked Chagas out cold, forcing the ref to stop the fight.

#5: Ricky Simon def. Merab Dvalishvili via TKO at 5:00 of Round 3

This bout was a showcase for both fighters. Merab Dvalishvili was coming off a close split decision loss in his debut and had a lot to prove. He came out quickly, landing all sorts of shots on Ricky Simon. Dvalishvili’s wrestling and pace appeared to overwhelm Simon.

Simon caught a second win, and the bout was competitive through two rounds. Both had their moments, but a strong Dvalishvili uppercut appeared to rock Simon in the most significant moment of the bout.

In the third round, both fighters slowed down a little bit. Dvalishvili was still able to land and secure takedowns, but Simon was game. Late in the round, Dvalishvili shot for a potentially fight-winning takedown, but Simon countered with a tight mounted guillotine.

Dvalishvili tried all he could, kicking his feet relentlessly to defend the submission. Although his face was purple, it seemed as though Merab was saved by the bell and would go on to win a decision. When Simon stood up, Dvalishvili was still down and it looked as if he could’ve been unconscious. Although the referee had not initially called off the fight before the final horn, he felt Simon had finished the fight in hindsight. The New Jersey Athletic Commission awarded the bout to Simon via TKO. It was a controversial end to an action packed Fight of the Night performance.

Next Week

After three straight events, the UFC will be taking yet another three week break. The UFC will return on May 12 for UFC 224 as Amanda Nunes looks to defend her bantamweight title for the third time against Raquel Pennington. Plus, in the co-main event, UFC veteran, Jacare Souza, takes on surging middleweight, Kelvin Gastelum. So, join me next week as we breakdown the five standout performances at UFC 224 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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