Top Ten Takeaways from UFC 228

  1. Jimmie Rivera gets back on track

After suffering a devastating first-round knockout loss to Bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes earlier this summer in June, Rivera was feeling the pressure after recieving a stern test in former Flyweight championship contender John Dodson in his first bout back. Prior to the loss, Rivera had gone on a 20-fight winning streak, which included a five-fight streak inside the octagon. Many fighter’s deal with losses in so many different ways, especially if one such a fighter like Rivera who hadn’t lost in so long then finally has to overcome the pressure of a following bout such as this. But Rivera showed up in fine form and took command of all three rounds with a dangerous striker in Dodson, with the majority of the contest being contested on the feet. Rivera has a handful of potential opponents that he can now face next as he continues on with his rise up the Bantamweight ladder, one that may even be included later on in this list.

 

  1. Is Abdul Razak Alhassan the most violent fighter in the UFC today?

The man known as “Judo Thunder” has taken the UFC’s highlight reel box by storm as of late after turning in yet another astounding knockout. Hailing from Ghana, Alhassan has brought a wave of violence to the octagon that few others can match after Alhassan laid out Niko Price in the first round. Abdul is now 10-1 with 10 first round knockouts. An impressive and terrifying record matched by very few. It begs the question who Alhassan will face next and can he continue to lay waste to those who stand across from him in the cage. Along with this win, Alhassan is now 4-1 inside the octagon, with his lone loss coming against Omari Akmedov, the only fight to have made it past the second round in Alhassan’s career.

 

  1. Aljamain Sterling is ready for another test against the top ranked in his division

After suffering a brutal loss to Marlon Moraes late last year, Aljamain Sterling quickly got back on the horse and turned away two fellow up and coming talents in both Brett Johns and now most recently, Cody Stamann. His latest submission victory against the rising American talent Stamann shows how legitimate Sterling’s status in the division really is. In his post fight interview, a fired up Sterling called out the top dogs in his division, most notably eyeing the former Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. With two superb wins backing him and having won four of his last five, Sterling has earned another shot at a top tier Bantamweight and it will be intriguing to see if the New York native has improved enough to compete with those that can earn him his shot at Bantamweight gold.

 

  1. Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller turn back the clock

One of the most heartfelt stories from 228 was the stunning upsets pulled by both longtime UFC veterans Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller. Both men faced young up-and-coming talents in Alex White and Craig White (no known relation). Miller, who came into the bout on a four-fight losing streak, shocked naysayers when he submitted Alex in less than two minutes inside the first round. Miller emotionally stated that he knew he still had some to give inside the octagon but also acknowledged that his time as a professional may soon be reaching its end. Miller may ponder whether or not he wishes to retire following this successful victory. Quickly following that bout, Ultimate Fighter Season one tournament winner and 13-year UFC vet Diego Sanchez took on 28 year old Craig White and displayed a vintage mauling reminiscent of a fighter that terrified both the Welterweight and Lightweight scene a decade ago. Sanchez dominated all three rounds with his relentless aggression and superior wrestling enroute to a decision victory, snapping a two-fight losing streak. Both men have provided fans with many memorable moments over the years, and while their time in the sport may be waning, to see them garner these much needed victories was quite satisfying to witness.

 

  1. Geoff Neal with one of the best KO’s of the year.

While Frank Camacho is already well-known as one of the toughest men in the UFC at the moment, toughness can only take you so far. After dominating the bout with his superior striking over the course of a round and a half, Geoff Neal was stunned to see that despite the large amount of punishment he had dulled out, Camacho was still coming forward. Neal decided that it was time to close the show in style however and set up one of the most devastating head kick knockouts in 2018 that absolutely decimated the Guam native. It was by and large one of the more memorable finishes of the night and will certainly propel Neal into the fray of up-and-comers to look out for in the Welterweight division.

 

  1. Zabit Magomedsharipov’s star continues to rise.

Despite being robbed of the chance to finally display his talents against a highly regarded opponent in Yair Rodriguez, rising Russian star Zabit Magomedsharipov was still able to put on a show for the Dallas crowd after stunning viewers with one of the more unique kneebar submissions ever seen in UFC history. Zabit continues to propel himself up the rankings and popularity ladder, having now garnered four wins inside the octagon, three by way of submission. He continued to make waves post-fight, calling out former contender Chad “Money” Mendes who recently returned from a two year suspension with an impressive round 1 TKO finish earlier in the summer. That matchup would get fans excited, but considering how Zabit has performed as of late, any fight featuring him is going to sell well with the UFC audience.

 

  1. UFC’s Strawweight division has never been more exciting.

Multiple divisions in the UFC are swelling with talent. Though few are more so than the UFC’s Strawweight division after two dominant victories were turned in by Brazil’s Jessica Andrade and Ultimate Fighter winner Tatiana Suarez. Suarez put on one of the most dominant grappling displays arguably ever seen in a women’s mma bout. And against one of the best wrestlers in women’s mma today and former champion Carla Esparza. Suarez stifled the fellow California native in every aspect of the fight, though none more vicious or violently than her ferocious ground and pound flurry that garnered Suarez the late TKO finish. In the co-main event of the night, number two ranked contender Jessica Andrade submitte one of the most violent knockouts in women’s mma history. Not since Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey has a women’s bout produced such a violent result. Andrade has answered the call as the next potential contender in line to face current champion Rose Namajunas. The Strawweight division continues to impress and excite, what with a slew of new possible contenders and matchups facing her in the near future, the UFC can expect more compelling and fascinating bouts in the near future.

 

  1. Nicco Montano leaves a hole in the UFC’s Flyweight division

As unfortunate as it was, Montano was rendered unfit to compete following complications with her weight cut. This caused a cancellation of her bout with former UFC Bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko. Montano was also subsequently stripped of her UFC Flyweight championship after inactivity spanning from December of last year when she won the title. Suffice to say that the women’s Flyweight division has not kicked off the way the UFC had anticipated. It is in this frustration that may explain the UFC’s reasoning for wanting to strip Montano of her title in the hopes that a mystery new challenger will challenge Shevchenko in an upcoming bout, allowing for the division to finally take it’s steps forward.

 

  1. UFC 229 one of the year’s best fight cards?

With a card that accomplished one of the highest finishing rates of any other card this year, many fans came away talking about the surprising amount of excitement generated by this card as it was happening. Let’s list off what this card produced. Three of the more violent knockouts of 2018, two of which could be considered Knockout of the Year. A slew of impressive and crafty submissions submitted in by rising contenders in Zabit Magomedsharipov and Aljamain Sterling. Two veterans returned in vintage fashion. And a title fight that delivered on excitement, intensity and produced an exciting finish itself. This card had everything a fight fan could hope for. For any new fan that comes into this sport, this card would make for a perfect introduction and should also get Event of the Year nods, depending of course on how the rest of the year plays out.0

 

  1. Tyron Woodley emerges as one of the UFC’s most dominant champions

There is no doubting him now, Tyron Woodley is one of the most dominant champions in the UFC currently. After defeating one of the most talented strikers in mma history in Stephen Thompson as well as one of the best submission grapplers in Demian Maia, Woodley faced heavy criticism for the lack of excitement produced across the three bouts with both men. Regardless, Woodley defeated both men with strategies that showed that the reigning title holder possesses one of the most intelligent minds in the game today. This was further evidenced by Woodley’s methodically and radically changing pace in the first round which saw Woodley tactfully push Till to move though he garnered no reaction from the challenger as he forced tension that stifled Till which lead to multiple tie ups in the clinch and against the cage. Altogether, Woodley’s resume continues to speak for itself. Now undefeated in eight straight bouts with four title defenses behind him, Woodley is fast approaching a title reign that the history books will talk about.  

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Nick Peralta

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