Anthony Smith | November 3rd, 2019
You may be used to seeing my name on NFL articles, but I might actually be a bigger UFC fan, believe it or not! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write a little bit about what a stacked card UFC 244 was. Without further adieu, let’s look at some winners and losers from Madison Square Garden’s massive card Saturday night.
Andrei Arlovski is a legend in the MMA world, but most of the UFC fans I know cringed when his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik was announced. In his last six fights, the former heavyweight king has one win, one no contest, and four losses. This time around, he lost in 29 seconds to a beautifully timed left hook. His chin is simply not what it once was, and at 40 years old, his time appears to be very close to over.
Aaaaand the hype train has been derailed. Walker had taken the light heavyweight division by storm with his flashy knockouts and hilarious post-fight celebrations, but his fight against Corey Anderson showed some flaws that many casual fans just hadn’t seen before. Walker likely anticipated Anderson relying on his wrestling, which left him vulnerable to a clean right hand and a TKO loss. It’ll be interesting to see how he rebounds.
A 244 winner in the loser column? Let’s explain why. First of all, I love Derrick Lewis. The dude is hilarious and he’s a very exciting fighter. I have him in this category because I need to see more. In 15 minutes of fighting I saw a ton of right hands thrown, and approximately zero combinations. His cardio looked to be improved, but against the best heavyweights in the world, I think Lewis needs to learn to rely on more than just his monstrous right hand.
After partaking in one of the best fights I’ve ever seen against new middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, Gastelum took a bit of a step back here against division newcomer Darren Till. Gastelum struggled to find the range against the larger Till, and was unable to overpower him with his wrestling. Still just 28 years old, Gastelum isn’t going anywhere, but his underwhelming performance as the betting favorite will have him heading back to the drawing board.
Who saw this performance coming from Anderson? I’ve been a big fan of his since his The Ultimate Fighter days, but I never imagined he would handle the surging Johnny Walker in such fashion. Anderson’s main strengths are his unrelenting pace and his wrestling, but if he truly has added striking to his repertoire we could potentially see him match up as well as anybody in recent memory against the 205 king Jon Jones.
Look out 185’ers, Edmen Shahbazyan is here. The undefeated fighter out of Glendale, California starched longtime veteran Brad Tavares with a filthy head kick to win his 11th pro fight and fourth in the UFC. With 9 wins already by knockout the 21-year-old thus far has shown real stopping power, and I would love to see him face another tough test next in a fighter like Jack Hermansson or Derek Brunson.
I’m so, so happy for Kevin Lee. The Motown Phenom is one of many talented fighters to come to the UFC with all of the requisite skills for a title run, only to suffer some disappointing losses and go back to square one. After a change in training camps, Lee came out and shut down the hype that was building for Gregor Gillespie. If he can build on this performance, he should quickly be back in the title mix at lightweight.
What a performance by Stephen Thompson after a rough knockout at the hands of Anthony Pettis in March. Widely known as one of the most skilled strikers on the entire roster, Thompson used a beautiful barrage of combinations and his patented kicks to keep a dangerous Vicente Luque at bay all night. This was a statement win of sorts, considering Wonderboy had lost three of his last four fights. Thompson isn’t going away just yet.
Nate Diaz & Jorge Masvidal
With the exception of a flying knee from Masvidal or flying triangle from Diaz within the first ten seconds of the fight, there was no way either of these guys could come out of this fight a loser. The #3 (Masvidal) and #7 (Diaz) welterweights went to war with Masvidal winning due to a doctor’s stoppage. These men put on a show to close out what was an incredible night of fights and both proved that they were worthy of the BMF title.
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