The dust may only just be settling following UFC Fight Night 130: Thompson vs Till in Liverpool and whilst many in the MMA world will be discussing the evenings main event, a win for hometown favourite Darren Till, two performers stood out more than any on the night for me and those were the returning Tom Breese and Claudio Silva.
Tom Breese returned to the octagon following a lay off of 722 days to defeat veteran Australian Dan Kelly via TKO in the first round. Breese last competed at UFC 199 losing a razor close decision to Sean Strickland before being scheduled to compete at UFC Fight Night 107: Manuwa vs Anderson in March 2017. He was pulled from that fight on the day of the action and subsequently suffered a serious knee injury the following month which has kept him out of action until now.
Making his debut in the middleweight division, Breese showed no signs of ring rust establishing his crisp jab early on before catching Kelly with a huge uppercut that caught the Aussie across the eye forcing him to back up to the cage covering the affected area. Breese marched him down, connecting with another two stinging shots that floored Kelly and a few shots later the ref was waving the fight off. Following the fight Breese stated that despite being nervous, training soon kicked in and it was like he had never been away. Looking to fight twice more before the year is out, Breese will definitely have put the rest of the middleweight division on notice with his performance of the night bonus-winning performance.
The other performance that really stood out was that of welterweight Claudio Silva who defeated Nordine Taleb via rear naked choke, again in the 1st round of the encounter. The win was made even more impressive by the fact that Silva last competed way back in 2014 when he welcomed now contender Leon Edwards to the UFC welterweight division. Suffering a number of lingering injuries that have resulted in the near 4 year hiatus, Silva quickly showed why he is undefeated since 2007.
After a feeling out process on the feet early in the 1st round, the fight hit the mat and the Brazilian looked in his natural comfort zone as he transitioned to the back before locking in a tight rear naked choke forcing Taleb to tap. Silva, who earlier in the week described himself as a “Britzilian”, was understandably jubilant following the fight, utilising the mic time with Dan Hardy to express his delight at being back in action, before thanking the Liverpool crowd as well as his fans back home in Brazil. Silva will now be hoping that his injury woes are behind him and he can now string a run of regular octagon appearances together to see him challenge the upper echelons of the division.
Following the show Dana White declared that Breese, Silva, Darren Stewart and Arnold Allen had all been awarded performance of the night bonuses following their respective finishes, each earning an additional $50,000.