UFC 244 is now in the books. There’s a new contender for Jon Jones’ belt, another top middleweight on the rise, and many more fascinating storylines. Join us as we break down the entire preliminary card, fight-by-fight!
Corey Anderson vs Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker had looked undeniably impressive in his UFC career. Many felt he would run right through Corey Anderson as he had done against his last three opponents. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, that isn’t even close to what happened. Fortunately for Corey Anderson, Walker was the one being walked through this time. Anderson showed patience in picking his strikes, and fearlessness in swarming Johnny Walker when the time was right. He landed a thudding right hand on Walker’s temple, and that marked the beginning of the end. As Walker appeared to be losing his balance, Anderson continued to pick his shots perfectly. This continued until the referee stepped in to wave off the fight. Corey Anderson officially defeated Johnny Walker via TKO in the very first round. He is now riding an impressive four-fight winning streak. His four victories have been over Patrick Cummins, Glover Teixeira, Ilir Latifi, and now Johnny Walker. Dominick Reyes and Corey Anderson are now the two front runners to face Jon Jones next. Who do you think has the stronger case?
Shane Burgos vs Makwan Amirkhani
Makwan Amirkhani left a nasty cut over Shane Burgos’ eye to start the fight. Amirkhani followed up by taking Burgos down in the first round. Burgos is known for his strength, but he was surprisingly overpowered in the early going. In getting the takedown, Amirkhani exerted a great deal of energy. This caused ‘Mr. Finland’ to slow down in the second round. Shane Burgos capitalized on his opponents’ fatigue and started to put significant pressure on Amirkhani. Burgos looked to be comfortably taking over by the end of the second round. This trend continued and only got worse for Amirkhani in the third stanza. In fact, he ended up collapsing amidst the one-sided beating he was enduring at the hands of Burgos. Whether he collapsed due to damage or exhaustion is anyone’s guess. But one thing was clear. Shane Burgos was winning the fight. The referee waved off the contest and Shane Burgos was declared the victor via TKO.
Brad Tavares vs Edmen Shahbazyan
Brad Tavares hadn’t fought since he lost a unanimous decision to eventual middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya over a year ago. Before that loss, Tavares was riding a four-fight winning streak. Ranked number 11 in the middleweight division, he was said to be the toughest test so far for Edmen Shahbazyan. In terms of experience and ranking, this was undeniably true. But incredibly, Shahbazyan made quick work of Tavares at UFC 244. In fact, the fight really didn’t look all that different from his previous lesser-ranked opponents. Shahbazyan dropped Tavares with a straight right early into the first round, but Tavares popped right back up. Impressive as this was, Shabazyan landed a head kick that knocked Tavares unconscious shortly thereafter. Edmen Shahbazyan defeated Brad Tavares via head-kick knockout at 2:24 of the very first round. We have a new top middleweight in a division of killers. That division is looking more and more stacked all the time.
Andrei Arlovski vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
The undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruick made quick work of the 20-year MMA veteran, Andrei Arlovski. As Arlovski pushed forward, Rozenstruik perfectly landed a fade away left. And that was all it took. Improving to 9-0, it took Rozenstruik all of 29 seconds to KO the Belarussian bruiser at UFC 244. Eight of Rozenstruik’s victories have come via knockout. He’s also 3-0 in the UFC; with his last two fights both ending in less than 30 seconds. This man will undoubtedly be a heavyweight to keep a close eye on. Coming into this fight, Arlovski was coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory over Ben Rothwell. He had a very high striking output in the bout and appeared to have reinvented his fighting style once again. But after UFC 244, he is 1-4-1NC in his last six fights.
Jennifer Maia vs Kaitlyn Chookagian
Jennifer Maia missed the flyweight limit by 1.2 pounds. Fined 25% of her fight purse, her fight against Kaitlyn Chookagian would remain intact. Chookagian perhaps felt she may earn a title shot with a win over the former Invict FC flyweight champion. After all, she was already ranked number one in the division. Whether she’ll get a fight against reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko remains to be seen. But she outpointed the number-five-ranked Jennifer Maia en route to a unanimous decision victory. Since returning to flyweight, Chookagian has gone 4-1. Her lone loss was a split decision defeat against Jessica Eye. Maia’s loss snaps her two-fight winning streak.
Chance Rencountre vs Lyman Good
Lyman Good put his powerful punches to the ultimate test against the extremely durable Chance Rencountre. Amid landing heavy shots and leg kicks on Rencountre, viewers had to wonder if this strategy would be enough to finish him. Rencountre had 17 fights under his belt, and he had never been finished. Impressively, Lyman Good changed that with his relentless attack. Rencountre showed he had a great chin as he absorbed many powerful blows to the head. This went on well into the third round. But everyone has their limits and Rencountre eventually succumbed to the concussive assault. Lyman Good defeated Chance Rencountre via TKO at 2:03 of the third round. Chance Rencountre falls to 2-2 in his UFC career. Lyman Good improves to 3-2 with each of his UFC victories coming via KO/TKO. Win or lose, Lyman Good comes to fight.
Julio Arce vs Hakeem Dawudo
Many of the hardcore fans were excited to watch Julio Arce face Hakeem Dawudo. In fact, this fight being an opener for UFC 244 showed just how stacked this event truly was. Dawudo appeared to take the first round. He utilized various kicks to keep Arce guessing. Arce’s coach acknowledged as much and told him to focus on his boxing in the second round. Arce did significantly better in the second, but it looked close enough to go either way. Arce briefly took Dawudo’s back in the second, but he wasn’t able to do much with it. At the end of the fight, Dawudo looked disappointed. Despite having his hand raised for a split-decision victory, he made it clear he didn’t care much for his performance. Hakeem Dawudo has come long way from his days in juvenile detention centers. He’s now riding a four-fight winning streak in the UFC.