The blood stains on the canvas are still damp from a long night of battle at Saturday’s UFC 288.
Aljamain Sterling eeked out a split decision victory against a seemingly-now-retired Henry Cejudo to retain his bantamweight belt and Belal Muhammad earned a title fight after easily outclassing an injured Gilbert Burns.
That’s all fine and dandy, but here are the biggest takeaways from an eventful evening in New Jersey.
Parker Porter looks better than ever
Heavyweight Parker Porter dropped more than 35 pounds in seven weeks leading up to Saturday’s clash against heavy-handed Braxton Smith. Who would have thought listening to his wife—a nutritionist who drew up the shedding blueprint—would all pay off? Porter looked significantly more athletic, quicker and lighter while easily disposing of Smith in the first round. Porter was beaming with pride throughout his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. That feeling will last, and that’s all the motivation he needs. Keep an eye out for this new-look, reinvented Porter.
Rolando Bedoya all smiles in losing effort
It’s likely a fighter could be seen cracking a smile the same night they’re making their UFC debut, but it’s less likely to see that fighter cheesing from ear to ear WHILE getting punched in the face. Welterweight Rolando Bedoya must really like fighting. Even when Khaos Williams was landing heavy strikes to Bedoya’s dome, the Peruvian couldn’t help but grin. What a way to make a living. That’s the kind of psychopath the UFC needs. Keep an eye on this youngster.
The end is here for Kron Gracie
Whether it was an embarrassing performance or a master class, one thing is clear: Kron Gracie does not belong in the UFC. Charles Jourdain looked like a world beater throughout his soiree with Gracie while Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier called it a “battle of generations.” Mixed martial arts has evolved. Gone are the days of specialists. Fighters have to be well-rounded to survive in the UFC. Gracie—of the proud, legendary fighting family—is not that.
Diego Lopes is here to stay
Diego Lopes stepped in to face undefeated, Top 10-contender Movsar Evloev on five day’s notice and impressed beyond the expectations of anyone on earth…except for his friends and relatives. While the up-and-coming Brazilian lost by unanimous decision, he landed some powerful shots and threatened with multiple near-submissions through three hard-fought rounds against a proven and battle-tested Evloev. Let’s see what Lopes can do with a full fight camp.
Put some respect on Yan Xiaonan’s name
A huge underdog, Yan Xiaonan made a huge statement by knocking out former Strawweight champion Jessica Andrade at 2:20 of Round 1 of their short-lived bout. Winner of back-to-back fights (after losing to former champion Carla Esparza and a talented Marina Rodriguez), the Chinese scrapper showed why fight fans MUST put some respect on Xiaonan’s name. With a knockout of a brawler in Andrade after besting a legit contender in Mackenzie Dern back in October, Xiaonan is on a collision course for a colossal title clash against countrywoman Zhang Weili.