After two years, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and former champion Daniel Cormier settled the score in their trilogy at UFC 252. Back in 2018 at UFC 226, Cormier held the light heavyweight title as he moved up to heavyweight to face Miocic. In their first meeting, Cormier shocked the world as he knocked Miocic out in the first round. In their second meeting, about a year later at UFC 241, Miocic would get his revenge. Going into round four of their rematch, Miocic was down on every score card. But it was in round four that he made a crucial adjustment and started attacking Cormier’s body. He would eventually finish Cormier in that round by TKO.
In their third meeting this past Saturday at UFC 252, they went the distance for the first time. This time around, heading into round four, Miocic was ahead on all three scorecards. Miocic would go on to do enough in the championship rounds to retain his title by unanimous decision.
In the co-main event, Sean O’Malley faced off against his toughest test to date in the division. Expecting to keep his undefeated record alive, he faced off against Marlon Vera at UFC 252. Vera brought along with him a five fight win streak at bantamweight. However, his last outing, which was at featherweight, he lost a controversial decision to Song Yadong. As Vera returned to bantamweight he looked to keep winning and silence the hype that came along with O’Malley.
UFC 252 Standout Performances
Along with the finish in O’Malley and Vera’s fight, four more finishes stood out from the other performances. With that being said, it is time to find out which of those takes the number one spot and what falls behind it. It is time to take a look at UFC 252’s Standout Performances. 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.
#1 Jairzinho Rozenstruik
def. Junior dos Santos via TKO (Strikes) at 3:47 of Round 2
After losing a UFC title shot to Stipe Miocic at UFC 211 in 2017, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos won three straight. Among those wins he finished two of them by TKO with wins over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa. The third win came against Blagoy Ivanov by unanimous decision. After the three straight wins, dos Santos’ win streak was snapped against Francis Ngannou at UFC on ESPN 3. Ngannou finished dos Santos in the first round by TKO. In his next outing, dos Santos faced off against Curtis Blaydes at UFC Fight Night 166. He dropped his second straight loss against Blaydes, losing in round two by TKO. Heading into UFC 252, dos Santos looked to snap his losing streak.
Facing off against JDS at UFC 252 was quick rising heavyweight prospect Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Rozenstruik made his UFC debut in February 2019 and quickly put together two straight finishes to earn a fight against former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. He finished Arlovksi in thirty seconds, knocking him out for his fourth straight win by KO/TKO. The win over Arlovski earned Rozenstruik his first main event as he took on Alistair Overeem at UFC on ESPN 7. Going into round five, Rozenstruik was down on all the scorecards until he finished Overeem by KO in the last ten seconds. In his next outing, Rozenstruik’s perfect record was ruined when he faced Ngannou at UFC 249. Ngannou won the fight in just twenty seconds, finishing Rozenstruik by knockout.
Both fighters had their moments in round one as dos Santos landed some hard right hands. Rozenstruik was landing a lot of leg kicks as well early on in the fight. He had his best moment of the round with about a minute left after catching a kick and landing a flurry of punches as dos Santos backed up to the fence. As the round came to a close, dos Santos landed a spinning kick just before the horn sounded.
Round two started as Rozenstruik came forward with a combination of punches forcing JDS back. This round then began to be very similar to the first as they circled the center, picking their shots. About a minute and a half in, dos Santos landed one of his hardest punches as he landed a clean right hook followed by a couple jabs. Just a minute later, dos Santos landed another hard right hand, but Rozenstruik continued to walk forward. With about a minute and a half left, Rozenstruik backed dos Santos up to the fence where he landed a combination that dropped dos Santos. He followed up with ground and pound until the ref was forced to stop the fight.
After his first pro loss, Rozenstruik rebounded in a big way, picking up a second round TKO win over a former champion. When looking at who is ahead of Rozenstruik in the rankings, every fighter is taken up. Miocic and Ngannou are likely to be matched up next, Cormier is retiring and Curtis Blaydes was just matched up with Derrick Lewis. The next best option for Rozenstruik’s next opponent would be the winner of UFC Fight Night 176 main event between Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai.
Rozenstruik has fought Overeem and beat him, but he was down on every scorecard before getting the quick stoppage win in the final ten seconds of the fight. In his first fight since losing to Rozenstruik, Overeem faced Walt Harris at UFC on ESPN 8. He picked up a win in that fight as Overeem defeated Harris by second round TKO.
As for Sakai, he is currently undefeated in his UFC career since making his debut in 2018 on Dana White’s Contender Series. In his first fight coming off the Contender Series, Sakai faced off against Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 137. He picked up a win in his UFC debut as he finished Sherman in the third round by TKO. In his next outing, he faced off against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. Sakai won his second UFC outing as he defeated the former champion by split decision. After the win over Arlovski, Sakai faced Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 158, winning by first round knockout. In his most recent outing, Sakai defeated Blagoy Ivanov by split decision at UFC on ESPN 9.
#2 Chris Daukaus
def. Parker Porter via TKO (Strikes) at 4:28 of Round 1
Making his UFC debut, Chris Daukaus entered the octagon with a record of 6-1 in his last seven outings. Among those wins, five of six of them were finished by KO/TKO. Prior to earning his UFC contract, Daukaus picked up a win in his most recent outing. Taking place at CFFC 77, Daukaus took on Danny Holmes. In just a minute and a half, Daukaus had finished the fight by TKO. The win earned him a shot in the UFC as he made his debut against another newcomer at UFC 252.
In his last seven, Parker Porter had put together a record of 4-3 outside the octagon. All four of those wins were finished by either TKO or submission. Before making his first octagon appearance, Porter put together a two fight win streak. The first of those wins happened at CES MMA 56 as he took on Kevin Ray Sears. He submitted Sears in the second round, finishing him with a kimura. In his next and most recent outing, Porter faced Dirlei Broenstrup at CES MMA 58. That fight was finished in the third round as Porter won by TKO. He entered his UFC debut at UFC 252 looking to extend his win streak to three in a row.
During the first minute, each guy landed some good punches. Just under a minute in, they closed the distance and landed some hard punches as they clinched with each other. As they were in the clinch, Daukaus landed several good right hands over the top. After those punches landed, Porter tried to put Daukaus’ back on the cage but Daukaus easily reversed the position. Daukaus landed some good punches to the body from there before he broke the clinch and landed an elbow followed by a clean right hand.
Moments later, Porter pushed forward with a combo of his own only for Daukaus to return fire with some hard shots. Minutes later with just over a minute to go, Daukaus landed a clean combination that dropped Porter. Instead of looking for the finish, Daukaus decided to let Porter get back to his feet and see how rocked he was. Porter quickly began moving forward, throwing combinations and spinning back fists, looking like he had recovered. With just over thirty seconds left in the round, Daukaus pushed forward and landed multiple right hands. Once Porter was back on the fence, he was already falling over as he ate a knee that quickly put an end to the fight.
After an impressive showing in his debut, it is time to look at what could be next for Chris Daukaus. One possible match up in his next outing could be against Justin Tafa. Tafa has two UFC appearances on his record as he made his debut last year at UFC 243. Tafa lost in his debut as Yorgan de Castro defeated him by first round knockout. In Tafa’s most recent outing, he picked up his first win in the octagon. The fight took place earlier this year as he faced Juan Adams at UFC 247. He finished Adams in the first round, defeating him by TKO. A fight between these two strikers in Daukaus and Tafa would surely cause some fireworks.
#3 Daniel Pineda
def. Herbert Burns via TKO (Ground Strikes) at 4:37 of Round 2
Brother of UFC welterweight contender Gilbert Burns, Herbert Burns earned his UFC contract off Dana White’s Contender Series. He appeared on the show last summer as he faced Darrick Minner in episode seven of season three. Burns won the fight in the first round, submitting Minner with a triangle armbar. He made his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 166 as he took on Nate Landwehr. Burns would win in his debut, extending his win streak to four as he finished Landwehr by knockout in round one. Burns’ most recent fight took place earlier this summer at UFC 250 when he took on Evan Dunham. He picked up his fifth straight win and fifth straight submission that night. In round one, Burns locked up a rear naked choke to defeat Dunham. Burns looked to win his sixth straight as he faced Daniel Pineda at UFC 252.
UFC 252 was the start of Pineda’s second stint in the UFC as he was with the promotion from 2012-2014. During that time he had put together a record of 3-4 before he was released. Following his release, Pineda went 8-2 (2NC) outside of the octagon with wins in Bellator and LFA. His two most recent outings took place at PFL 8 as he faced Movlid Khaibulaev and Jeremy Kennedy. Originally, Pineda finished them both, defeating Khaibulaev by TKO and Kennedy by submission. However, Pineda tested positive for a banned substance following the contest resulting in his two no contests. Making his return to the UFC, he looked to get back on the right track and pick up a big win.
The fight began as Pineda ducked under a combination from Burns and returned fire with a hard right hand. Just thirty seconds into the fight, Burns got the first takedown of the fight. Pineda was able to quickly get back to his feet but Burns easily took his back. Moments later Pineda was able to escape from the position and get back to his feet, where he quickly got a takedown of his own. Pineda spent the rest of the round on top landing ground and pound as he rained down hard punches, elbows and even some shoulder strikes. Pineda landed a total of 87 strikes in the first round as he likely went into round two ahead 10-8 on the scorecards.
Burns started round two off by landing a solid right hand and then immediately landing a takedown. Burns landed some good punches while on top of Pineda but it did not take long for Pineda to get back to his feet. As he was getting back to his feet, Burns was able to take Pineda’s back and drag him back down. As they moved closer to the fence, Burns moved away from the back and was back on top. Not long after, Burns was able to pass into full mount.
Pineda was soon able to escape from the position and get back to his feet, but Burns once again was able to take his back. But Pineda reversed it once again as he was able to turn around and get on top of Burns. Once Pineda got out of Burns’ guard, he was quickly able to pin Burns’ arm down and get him in a crucifix position. For the next minute, Pineda rained down elbows and punches until the ref stepped in.
The big TKO win in Pineda’s return now makes him unbeaten in his last seven fights. He has not lost since a 2017 Bellator loss to Georgi Karakhanyan. With that being said, Pineda could have earned a tough opponent for his next outing. One possible opponent could be Jared Gordon.
Gordon spent a couple of years at lightweight in the UFC before returning to featherweight in his most recent fight. During that stint at lightweight, he put together a record of 2-3. The wins he picked up were unanimous decision wins over Hacran Dias and Dan Moret. The three losses he suffered all came by KO/TKO as he was defeated by Carlos Diego Ferreira, Joaquim Silva and Charles Oliveira. His most recent fight took place at UFC on ESPN 13 as he took on Chris Fishgold at 145 pounds. He picked up a win that night as he defeated Fishgold, who missed weight at 149.5 pounds, by unanimous decision.
#4 Virna Jandiroba
def. Felice Herrigvia Submission (Armbar) at 1:44 of Round 1
From 2016-2017, Felice Herrig had won four straight fights over Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish and Cortney Casey. After the win against Casey, Herrig took on former strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 223. Kowalkiewicz put an end to Herrig’s win streak that night as Herrig would lose by split decision. In her next outing at UFC 229, Herrig took on Michelle Waterson. Herrig lost her second straight fight that night as Waterson defeated her by unanimous decision. Herrig was scheduled to return to the octagon at UFC 238 last summer against Xiaonan Yan. Unfortunately, she was forced out of the contest after tearing her ACL and would not return to competition until UFC 252.
Herrig made her return to the cage after almost two years to face Virna Jandiroba. The former Invicta FC strawweight champion made her UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 150 last year. In her debut, she took on former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza. Esparza defeated her that night, handing Jandiroba her first professional loss as Esparza won by unanimous decision. In her most recent outing, Jandiroba took on Mallory Martin at UFC on ESPN 7. She picked up her first UFC win that night, finishing Martin in the second round by submission. Jandiroba looked to win her second straight and start climbing the ladder at 115 pounds.
After a quick leg kick from Herrig, Jandiroba rushed in and quickly landed a takedown. Herrig was able to create separation moments later, but Jandiroba immediately got back on top. As Herrig tried to scramble and get back to her feet, Jandiroba was able to start the process of taking her back. As Herrig recognized it and tried to turn out of danger, Jandiroba was able to pass into top mount. Herrig tried to stop the punches coming down on her and create distance by pushing her arm out towards Jandiroba’s face. Jandiroba took the opportunity to quickly wrap up an armbar and force Herrig to tap.
The big win over Herrig now puts Jandiroba at two straight wins in the octagon. It is also her first win over a top fifteen ranked opponent. Now, the former Invicta strawweight champion could have earned herself a higher ranked opponent next time out. One possibility could be a match up with Tecia Torres.
Torres is a UFC veteran as she made her debut in 2014 coming off of season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. She defeated Angela Magana in her debut by unanimous decision and has gone 6-5 since then. In her last five fights, she has gone 1-4 as she dropped four straight losses from 2018-2019.
During that time, she lost to Jessica Andrade, who would go on to win the title, by unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 28. Her next loss came against former champion and one of the greatest female mixed martial artists ever Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Torres lost her third straight fight to another girl that would go on to win the title as she lost another unanimous decision to current champion Weili Zhang. Her fourth and final loss came by UD against Marina Rodriguez. In her most recent fight, Torres snapped the losing streak and defeated Brianna Van Buren by unanimous decision. A fight against Torres would be a big test for Jandiroba and it would also allow Torres to further prove she still has it.
#5 Marlon Vera
def. Sean O’Malley via TKO (Strikes) at 4:40 of Round 1
After a big knockout win on just the second episode of the Contender Series, Sean O’Malley quickly made a name for himself in the UFC. He made his UFC debut at the TUF 26 Finale as he faced off against Terrion Ware. O’Malley won the fight, remaining undefeated as he defeated Ware by unanimous decision. His next appearance took place at UFC 222 when he defeated Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision. He picked up his first finish in the octagon in his next outing, defeating Jose Quinonez by TKO at UFC 248. In O’Malley’s most recent outing, he took on his toughest test yet as he faced UFC veteran Eddie Wineland. O’Malley finished the fight in the first round, landing a walk-off knockout in under two minutes. He looked to keep the momentum going as he got ready to start facing much tougher competition.
Standing across from O’Malley would be Marlon Vera. Vera entered the fight coming off five straight wins in the bantamweight division. All five of those wins were finished by either submission or TKO. During that time, Vera defeated Wuliji Buren, Frankie Saenz and Andre Ewell by TKO. As for the submission wins, he submitted Guido Cannetti and Nohelin Hernandez by rear naked choke. In his most recent outing, Vera moved up a weight class to featherweight. In his first featherweight fight since 2016, Vera faced off against Song Yadong at UFC on ESPN 8. Vera ended up losing that night as the unanimous decision win was controversially awarded to Yadong. Vera looked to rebound from the loss and make it six batamweight wins in a row as he faced O’Malley at UFC 252.
There was not much action during the first couple minutes of the first round. Each fighter started the round utilizing their kicks whether to the leg or body. At about the 2:54 mark of the first round, Vera landed a hard leg kick that landed perfectly. After that point, O’Malley began having trouble planting with his right foot. With just over thirty seconds left in the round, O’Malley fell over as he backed away from Vera. Now with O’Malley on his back, Vera jumped on top to look for the finish. Vera landed some hard elbows and punches and with O’Malley’s injury on top of it all, the ref was quick to call the fight.
The win now puts Vera at six straight in the bantamweight division as he is now sitting at number fourteen. With as good as he has looked at bantamweight, Vera could have earned himself a tough, top ten opponent in his next outing. With that being said there are a couple options the UFC could go with.
Option one would be a match up with ninth ranked contender Rob Font. Since losing a unanimous decision to Raphael Assuncao, Font has won his last two straight. After the loss, he faced off against Sergio Pettis at UFC on Fox 31, winning by unanimous decision. In his most recent outing, Font faced Ricky Simon at UFC on ESPN 7, winning once again by unanimous decision. The problem with Font, however, is that he has only fought twice in the last two years. Therefore, a potentially better option for Vera’s next opponent would be Jimmie Rivera.
Rivera has gone 2-3 in has last five fights, one of those losses being a knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in 2018. The other two losses both came by unanimous decision as he lost to Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. After his loss to Moraes, and before the other two losses, Rivera picked up a win at UFC 228. He defeated former flyweight title challenger John Dodson that night by unanimous decision. The second win came in his most recent outing as he took on Cody Stamann at UFC on ESPN 13.
Next week, former UFC lightweight champion and former UFC featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar makes his bantamweight debut. Edgar will be facing off against fifth ranked bantamweight Pedro Munhoz in the main event of UFC on ESPN 15. Munhoz enters the fight with a 3-1 record in his last four outings. Those three wins were over Brett Johns, Bryan Caraway and former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. In his most recent outing, Munhoz faced off against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 238. His win streak was snapped that night as Sterling defeated him by unanimous decision.
As for Edgar, he makes his bantamweight debut coming off two straight losses at featherweight. The first of those losses happened at UFC 240 when he lost to featherweight champion Max Holloway by unanimous decision. In his most recent outing, Edgar took on Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night 165. He lost his second straight as Jung finished him in the first round by TKO. Edgar looks for a fresh start in a new division as he tries to pick up a big win over Munhoz.
In the co-main event, Ovince Saint Preux returns from a loss at heavyweight to Ben Rothwell. In his return, he will be facing off against Contender Series alum Alonzo Menifield. Menifield enters the fight coming off a unanimous decision loss to Devin Clark at UFC 250. So do not forget to check back here next week for UFC on ESPN 15’s Standout Performances.
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