UFC 248 is in the books as both champions successfully defended their titles. The main event featured a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. Adesanya entered the contest attempting to defend the belt he had just taken from Robert Whittaker for the first time. Meanwhile, Romero entered the fight coming off a loss to Paulo Costa who will no doubt be next for Adesanya. Adesanya and Romero fought to a decision in what turned out to be a lackluster fight. When the winner was announced, Adesanya would remain champion and set up his next defense against Costa.
In the co-main event, UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk put on a show for the ages. In what will go down as possibly the greatest women’s title fight ever, both girls fought a war until the final horn. When it was all said and done, Zhang would remain champion, defeating Jedrzejczyk by split decision.
The card was full of close, entertaining decisions, along with some amazing finishes. Now it is time to look back and determine which performances take home the standout performance title. In order for a fighter to make this list, their performance must stand out among their peers. This could be quick finishes, flashy knockouts, great submissions, dismantling an opponent, or providing an all-around exciting fight. Along with every performance will be a look at what could potentially come next for each fighter.
UFC 248 Standout Performances
#1 Beneil Dariush
Beneil Dariush def. Drakkar Klose via Knockout (Punch) at 1:00 of Round Two
UFC veteran Beneil Dariush has looked amazing as of late in his career. Entering his fight at UFC 248, he was on a three fight win streak. That win streak included a decision win over Thiago Moises and submission wins over Drew Dober and Frank Camacho. He would be facing a tough test in Drakkar Klose, who entered the contest with a three fight win streak of his own.
Prior to his fight against Dariush, Klose had put together three straight wins over Lando Vannatta, Bobby Green and Christos Giagos. His most recent win came against Giagos, at UFC 241 when he defeated him by unanimous decision. The win over Giagos earned Klose a fight against Dariush over the summer at UFC Fight Night 155. However, Dariush was forced to pull out with an injury, making things a bit more personal for Klose when they finally met.
The first round began with Klose coming out very aggressive. However Dariush was able to put more pressure on Klose and eventually began to search for a takedown. He would get one takedown, but Klose would easily get back to his feet. With about three and a half minutes to go in the first round, Dariush climbed up on Klose’s back. He quickly locked up the body triangle and began to search for the choke. Dariush came close to finishing the fight but Klose did a very good job at defending the choke. Dariush would spend the remainder of the round on top of Klose’s back.
The second round started and Joe Rogan pointed out that Dariush could be having a problem with one of his legs as he was not moving normally. In the first twenty seconds of the round, Dariush landed a low blow, but Klose insisted they keep fighting. He started pressuring forward with heavy shots. Dariush returned the favor but as he was moving in, Klose stunned him. Klose began moving forward looking for the finish, but Dariush gathered himself quickly and wobbled Klose with a hard right hand. Dariush backed Klose up to the fence where he landed the fight ending left hand, nearly knocking Klose’s mouthpiece fully out of his mouth.
At 30 years old, Beneil Dariush has put together an impressive streak of wins. Hoping to climb back into the top eight, which he got to in 2015, Dariush deserves a ranked opponent. With three finishes in his last four wins, he deserves a chance to crack the top fifteen or top ten if he is not already ranked as a result of his UFC 248 win. With many of the bottom half of the top fifteen being booked or unavailable for other reasons, Al Iaquinta sticks out.
Iaquinta is sitting at the ninth spot at 155. He is currently coming off two straight losses, but those came to two top lightweights in Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker. He has also challenged against current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov when the two fought for the vacant belt at UFC 223. A fight between Dariush and Iaquinta gives Iaquinta the chance to bounce back from his losing streak while it gives Dariush a chance to break the top fifteen once again.
#2 Neil Magny
def. Li Jingliang via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Coming into UFC 248, Neil Magny had been out of competition since 2018 due to a failed USADA test. His last fight took place in November 2018 when he faced Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event of UFC Fight Night 140. He would lose to Ponzinibbio that night by knockout in the fourth round. In his return to the octagon, he would be matched up with a tough up and comer, Li Jingliang.
Entering Saturday night, Jingliang had won his last three straight. Two of those wins were TKO victories as he finished David Zawada at UFC Fight Night 141 and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC Fight Night 157 both in round three. He would be facing off against his biggest opponent yet in Magny and a win would surely place him in the top fifteen at 170. Meanwhile, Magny looked to climb back into the top ten spot he once held in 2016.
After almost a year and a half since his last outing, Magny looked better than ever against Jingliang. Early on, Magny was the one pressuring as he backed Jingliang up to the fence for the majority of the first round. Both fighters spent a good amount of time in the clinch, where Magny found a lot of success with knees to the body. The first round saw Jingliang get the fight to the mat twice, but not being able to hold Magny there for long. The first takedown saw Magny up quickly, while the second, Magny was able to create separation and kick Jingliang off him. The round ended with Magny backing Jingliang up to the fence with hard punches and knees.
Round two opened up with Magny quickly backing Jingliang up to the cage landing hard shots, partially landing a flying knee. The pair clinch before Magny reverses the position and circles around to Jingliang’s back. He lands hard punches in this position before eventually dragging Jingliang to the canvas. Magny is unable to keep Jingliang down for long as they stand again before the end of the round. As the round came to a close, Magny began to pour on shots as Jingliang backed up to the fence, trying to bob and weave. During the last ten seconds, Magny was able to quickly change levels and get Jingliang down again where he took full mount before the horn sounded.
Knowing he was down on the scorecards and needed a finish, Jingliang came out in round three pressuring and backing Magny up with combinations. But Magny was able to continue finding success with his jab began walking down Jingliang once again. Both men would clinch and look for a takedown before breaking apart, where Jingliang would barely miss a headkick as Magny separated. With about a minute left, Magny got Jingliang to the ground once again. He quickly began looking to take the back, but was caught between back mount and full mount. While on top, Magny landed some hard ground and pound. Towards the end of the round, Magny stood up and began unloading shots to Jingliang’s body as he still sat on the ground. The two eventually circled back to the middle of the cage before the horn sounded, ending a dominant performance by Magny.
Although he is only 1-1 in his last two, Magny clearly proved after over a year off, he deserves a shot towards the top again. Putting on such an impressive performance over a good fighter like Jingliang should earn Magny a top fifteen or lower top ten opponent. One fighter that comes to mind could add a lot of name power to Magny’s résumé. That fighter is former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler. Lawler has lost his last three straight, but he should never be looked past as he has proven he can still be very threatening. His last three losses have come to very notable opponents, including former UFC lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos and former interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington. He also holds a loss to former ONE Championship and Bellator champion, Ben Aksren in what was a bit of a controversial finish.
#3 Sean O’Malley
def. Jose Quinonez via TKO (Punches) at 2:02 of Round One
Out of contention for two years due to USADA complications, Sean O’Malley finally returned to the cage at UFC 248. Prior to Saturday night, O’Malley had put together an undefeated record of 10-0. His last fight, in March 2018 was against Andre Soukhamthath, where O’Malley won by unanimous decision. After a two year layoff, he would make his return to the cage against Jose Quinonez.
Quinonez entered the fight 3-1 in his last four, losing to former Cage Warriors champion Nathaniel Wood. His most recent outing had happened at UFC Fight Night 159 where he took on Carlos Huachin. After three rounds, it was announced that Quinonez had won by unanimous decision. Picking up a win over O’Malley would be the biggest win of his career as he looked to climb into the 135-pound rankings.
During the fight, O’Malley quickly found success with his kicks. He landed a hard front kick to the body early that knocked Quinonez down. Along with the body kicks, he was also landing a lot of hard leg kicks to the lead leg of Quinonez. About two minutes into the round, O’Malley landed a hard overhand right that threw Quinonez down to the mat. Quinonez quickly climbed back to his feet, where O’Malley went high with the kick after going low all fight. The kick landed and knocked Quinonez down, resulting in O’Malley raining down hard hammer fists before Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight.
After an impressive performance coming off a two year layoff, Sean O’Malley keeps his undefeated record in tact. With three straight wins in the UFC now, O’Malley is getting close to earning a shot at the top fifteen of the division if he has not already gotten there. Last summer at UFC 239, O’Malley had been scheduled to face off against Marlon Vera. He was pulled from the contest due to a failed drug test.
Now would be the perfect time to re-book that fight as both men have looked very impressive during their UFC runs. Vera currently owns a five fight win streak, holding notable wins over Frankie Saenz, Guido Cannetti and Wuliji Buren. His most recent fight came at UFC Fight Night 161 when he faced off against Andre Ewell. He won the fight in the third round, finishing Ewell by TKO, earning a performance of the night bonus.
#4 Danaa Batgerel
def. Guido Cannetti via Knockout (Punches) at 3:01 of Round One
Entering UFC 248, Danaa Batgerel was coming off an unsuccessful UFC debut. That fight came at UFC Fight Night 157 when he faced Heili Alateng. Alateng would defeat Batgerel, winning the fight by unanimous decision. Batgerel would look to rebound from the loss as he entered his UFC 248 bout against UFC veteran Guido Cannetti.
Cannetti had not seen action since November 2018 when he fought at UFC Fight Night 140. That fight came against Marlon Vera, who he would end up losing to by submission due to a rear naked choke. Cannetti looked to bounce back from the loss by picking up a win over Batgerel at UFC 248.
During the fight, Batgerel was the one moving forward and putting the pressure on Cannetti. But Cannetti was able to connect with some hard leg kicks, a few of which knocked Batgerel off his feet. Both fighters would find their own success with their striking as it did not seem like either had a clear advantage. As Batgerel continued pressuring forward, he landed a hard combination that wobbled Cannetti. Batgerel kept the pressure on and eventually landed a hard left hook that dropped Cannetti. Just a few shots of ground and pound was all it took before the referee stepped in.
After losing his UFC debut, Batgerel put together a solid sophomore outing to earn a knockout win over veteran Cannetti. In a bantamweight division full of names, a possible opponent for Batgerel’s next outing would be Andre Ewell. Owner of seven career wins by knockout, Ewell is 2-2 in his last four. He holds wins over Anderson dos Santos and most recently Jonathan Martinez who he defeated at UFC 247 by split decision.
#5 Rodolfo Vieira
def. Saparbeg Safarov via Submission (Arm Triangle) at 2:58 of Round One
Coming into UFC 248, Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Rodolfo Vieira had put together an undefeated record of 6-0. He was coming off a successful UFC debut against Oskar Piechota at UFC Fight Night 156. He defeated Piechota that night, submitting him in the second round with an arm triangle. Looking to improve his record to 7-0, his next outing would come against Saparbek Safarov.
Safarov entered the contest with a UFC record of 2-1, making his UFC debut in 2016 at light heavyweight. He dropped his first two UFC appearances to Gian Villante and Tyson Pedro. He would pick up his first UFC win at UFC Fight Night 147 when he defeated Nicolae Negumereanu by unanimous decision. His fight at UFC 248 against Vieira would mark his first time dropping to middleweight.
Safarov opened up the fight pressuring, moving forward and landing solid shots. Vieira quickly answered back and fired off a double leg that he nearly completed. Safarov was able to defend the takedown and stay on his feet, but Vieira would eventually get him down anyway. Once Vieira got Safarov to the mat, he quickly took his back and began landing heavy shots before getting into top mount. Very soon after entering top mount, Vieira already had the arm triangle locked up, forcing Safarov to tap.
Improving his record to 7-0 and his UFC record to 2-0, Vieira has now finished all seven of his career wins. With impressive wins like he has shown, he deserves to continue climbing the ladder at middleweight. That being said, he should get someone around the top 20-25. A name that comes to mind due to his skill on the ground is the young UFC newcomer, Brendan Allen. Allen made his debut coming off the Contender Series last October as he took on Kevin Holland at UFC on ESPN 6. He would upset Holland that night, submitting him with a rear naked choke in the second round. His next outing would come four months later as he took on Tom Breese at UFC Fight Night 169. He defeated Breese that night in the first round, finishing him by TKO.
With UFC 248 in the books, we take a look at what is to come next week. Live from Brasilia, Brazil, UFC Fight Night 170 goes down. In the main event, former interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee returns for the first time since his brutal knockout win over Gregor Gillespie. He will be taking on a tough challenge in Charles Oliveira. Oliveira has won his last six, all coming by way of a finish with four submissions and two KO/TKOs. He holds notable submission wins over Clay Guida and Jim Miller while holding KO/TKO wins over Nik Lentz and Jared Gordon. So tune in next week to find out who takes home standout performance honors after UFC Fight Night 170.
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