UFC’s latest visit to Denver delivered with a main card loaded with “Performance of the Night” finishes.
Rather than hand out a “Fight of the Night” award, UFC opted to give four performance bonuses to each of the winners of the four main card bouts.
The main card opened with Jason Knight taking on Alex Caceres. The two featherweights fought a close first round that saw Knight score a late takedown to secure the round, but without much damage being done to either fighter. The second frame saw Knight take his opponent down again, and was able to work between delivering punches and elbows while waiting for an opportunity to slip in a rear naked choke for the victory and an additional $50k on his paycheck.
Francis N’Gannou impressed yet again, making short work of veteran heavyweight Andrei Arlovski. It only took 92 seconds for the surging N’Gannou to knock Arlovski to his knees with a big punch and take the fight.
Jorge Masvidal has been flying under the radar a bit, but certainly made an impression last night with what could be considered two knockouts of Donald Cerrone. The final moments of the first round saw Masvidal drop Cerrone with a right hand and followed up on the ground. Referee Herb Dean appeared to be waving off the fight, but said that the horn had sounded and that the fight would be going to a second round. Masvidal was sure to finish what he started and TKO’d a clearly stunned Cerrone with a right hand that sent him reeling towards the cage and followed up with some punches to the body.
The main event appeared on paper to be a very even match up between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena. Shevchenko only needed two of the scheduled five rounds to submit her opponent and secure a shot at Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. The two had words in the cage and Nunes reminded Shevchenko and everyone watching at home that she knows how to beat her. Nunes holds a decision win over Shevchenko from 2016.
With four fights and four finishes in the two hour broadcast window, last night’s UFC on Fox has to be considered a success and these four winners should certainly be happy with their performances and their $50,000 bonuses.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This is the kind of show they should want when they go on broadcast TV. They are in front of one of their biggest audiences all year, and also a general demographic that may not normally be buying pay-per-views and watching on FS1. To have four finishes in exciting fights is great exposure and should help each of them move up the ladder a little more quickly. Shevchenko appears to be a lock for the next shot at Amanda Nunes, which is a good matchup.
Francis N’Gannou is rapidly moving up the ranks and may be one win or even one timely injury away from getting a title shot. It only takes a couple big wins at heavyweight to get to the top of the heap, and he’s there right now. It will be very interesting to see him against a top guy like Alistair Overeem or possibly a returning Cain Velasquez, who should be ready to fight again soon.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
–Conor McGregor said at a speaking engagement this weekend that he is considering taking a fight with Floyd Mayweather without the cooperation of the UFC and says that the Ali Act makes him free to do so.
–Dana White responded to this saying that if would be an “epic fall” if Conor chose to do business without the UFC.
-McGregor also said that he is in talks to appear at WWE’s WrestleMania in April.
-Last night’s UFC on Fox show did 2.02 million viewers in the overnight ratings. Last year’s January Fox show did 2.43 million viewers in the overnight ratings, so this is somewhat of a disappointment for a show aired during football season and considering the success women’s fights have seen in the ratings recently.
-Ian McCall has had yet another fight fall through. His opponent for UFC 208, Neil Seery, was forced to pull out after a death in the family. This is the fourth consecutive fight that has been called off for McCall in the last few months.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Patrick Cummins vs. Jan Blachowicz, Katlyn Chookagian vs. Irene Aldana, and Shane Burgos vs. Charles Rosa, all for UFC 210 on April 8 from Buffalo, N.Y.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SATURDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/28: Pena believes Nunes has more work to do before moving Featherweight (w/Cervantes Analysis)
(Jonathan Cervantes has been an avid fan of MMA since 2009 when he saw GSP vs. B.J. Penn 2. He has practiced tae kwon do, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling in the past and is currently a student majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco. He writes the MMATorch News Digest on Fridays and Saturdays. Michael Hiscoe writes MMATorch News Digests Sunday through Thursday each week.)