As the old saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Or in the case of the UFC, the early bird puts on what could be one of the best fight cards of the year, and 2016 just started.
UFC 195 featured several exciting finishes and many exciting, competitive fights. The main event between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit for the welterweight title is also the early frontrunner for 2016’s “Fight of the Year.” So what will be some repercussions from the first fight card of the year? Let’s find out.
Abel Trujillo def. Tony Sims by submission
Trujillo rebounded from back-to-back submission losses with a submission victory of his own. He caught Sims early in a deep guillotine choke, which left Sims no option but to tap. Trujillo has already faced some of the best and toughest fighters at lightweight, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Gleison Tibau. A fight between him and another fighter on the rebound, Evan Dunham, would be an exciting option.
Sims has lost his last two fights, including his defeat against Trujillo. It’s likely he will need a victory in his next fight to avoid a pink slip.
Brian Ortega def. Diego Brandao by submission
Ortega lived up to his “Triangle City (T-City)” nickname by submitting Brandao with what else? A triangle choke. Ortega is undefeated in his mixed martial arts career and is 2-0-1 in his time with the UFC. He is definitely someone to watch in the featherweight division, and seems to be a perfect candidate to test himself against resident featherweight gatekeeper Clay Guida. Passing “The Carpenter’s” test would all but assure that Ortega is ready to take on the elite in his division.
But speaking of gatekeepers, that’s a territory Brandao finds himself approaching. This was his first loss after back-to-back wins, but Brandao has already come up short against top-level fighters like Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. A still-crowded featherweight division probably means Brandao will see himself on the outside looking in unless he rebounds from this performance.
Albert Tumenov def. Lorenz Larkin by split decision
Both of these fighters vowed not to turn in a boring fight on UFC 195, and they didn’t disappoint. These two put on a striking clinic, particularly Larkin as he turned Tumenov’s legs into mincemeat. But that didn’t deter Tumenov from bombarding Larkin with strikes of his own to secure the victory.
Tumenov has won five consecutive fights after losing his UFC debut and should be ready to enter the welterweight top 15. Seeing him square off with someone like Rick Story or Gunnar Nelson would be a nice way to welcome to the welterweight rankings.
For Larkin, he sports an average 4-5 record in the UFC after seemingly looking like a fighter on the rise in Strikeforce. He fights an exciting style, which works in his favor, but his chance to be in the mix at welterweight may have fallen by the wayside.
Stipe Miocic def. Andrei Arlovski by TKO
Miocic needed all of 54 seconds to knock Arlovski and all but assure him a UFC heavyweight title shot. Arlovski had been on a 6-fight win streak and looked to be in line for a title shot had he defeated Miocic, but Miocic derailed those plans in rather spectacular fashion.
It’s hard to ignore Alistair Overeem’s knockout of former champion Junior Dos Santos last month when considering who should get the next heavyweight title shot. But Miocic was emphatic after defeating Arlovski that he deserves the next shot. There’s another old saying: A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.
For Arlovski, the heavyweight division is crowded and pretty top-heavy (no pun intended). Losing to Miocic knocks him from title contention for now, but he has an opportunity for a quick rebound. A fight between him and Mark Hunt or Josh Barnett would guarantee to entertain.
Robbie Lawler def. Carlos Condit by split decision
I don’t believe it’s hyperbole to say this fight was an instant classic. It promised violence, and it was the right that delivered exactly what it promised. Lawler and Condit went the distance and left it all in the Octagon in an extremely close fight. Some believe Condit was robbed of the title, while others (including me) believe the score was about as accurate a reflection of how the fight turned out as possible.
To me, there’s nothing else to be next for these except a rematch. The razor-thin decision was proof positive of that. Lawler and Condit gave it everything they had, and there’s no reason to believe a rematch wouldn’t deliver similar results.
However, there are reports that Condit is contemplating retirement. Hopefully that’s just a knee-jerk reaction to coming up short for the title, as “The Natural Born Killer” has plenty left to offer the sport of MMA.