My main takeaways from UFC 291

The UFC delivered on another action-packed PPV card in Salt Lake City, Utah this past Saturday night. The card featured eleven fights, nine of which ended by stoppage and the other two going to the judge’s scorecards. The card featured a nice blend of veterans and prospects and also featured some good fights and shocking outcomes. I’m gonna do my best to unpack some of the key talking points and list my top takeaways from another great weekend in the sport of MMA.

Derrick Lewis sits alone as king of the KO

As a fan of Derrick Lewis, I’m sure it wasn’t only me that was a little worried for him heading into UFC 291, he had been on a 3 fight-losing skid coming into the event and needed a win on what turned out to be the last fight on his UFC contract. He couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome, all things considered, not only was it a spectacular KO set up by a flying switch knee, that also puts him back on top of the all-time UFC knockout list alone, but also a much-needed victory to get him back in the win column. The finish was sensational, what followed that finish was arguably even better. He completely blew the roof off the arena with his sprawled-out celebration on the mat, followed by taking his pants off and delivering an epic post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. The UFC best sign this man as soon as possible.

Welterweight has a new contender & his name is Gabriel Bonfim

Gabriel Bonfim did nothing but add to his hype in a pretty significant way with his slick submission victory over Trevin Giles only 73 seconds into the featured preliminary bout. That win takes the Brazilian to an impressive 15-0 as a mixed martial artist, perhaps more impressive he’s managed to finish all 15 opponents inside the distance and has looked incredibly impressive whilst doing so. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this man, he made the ballsy call-out of Neil Magny’s post-fight and I for one think that’s a realistic matchup that makes perfect sense.

Tony Ferguson suffers sixth straight loss

The biggest win in Bobby Greens’ career turned out to be quite a sad watch in all honesty, with Tony’s age again becoming apparent as the fight hit the latter stages. Tony with another relatively good first round as has been the case in previous bouts, then began to slow down and Bobby began to land some big shots. Ultimately securing a submission with under ten seconds left in the fight, Bobby picked up his first submission victory since his UFC debut in 2013. It’s hard to be anything other than sad for Tony. The man never got to fight for the undisputed Lightweight championship when you could argue there have been few men more deserving in the division’s history. He now as previously mentioned has suffered six straight losses but doesn’t seem interested in the idea of retiring yet. I worry that the losses are only gonna be tougher to watch from here on out but am also aware of how big a star he is and the fact that the UFC are contractually obligated to offer him fights if they don’t release him, which I don’t see happening with his star power. In a dream world, he’d have a send-off similar to Robbie Lawler recently, not sure I can envision that at the moment, unfortunately.

Poatan not phased by the legendary Polish power

Alex Pereira began his Light Heavyweight career inside the octagon with a split-decision victory against former champion Jan Blachowicz in a closely contested bout. Not the most exciting co-main event you’ll ever see but it answered some questions that we had about Pereira’s ground game. His takedown defence generally held up and that was the main reason he managed to pick up this victory. A close fight that depends on how you scored that third round, I personally scored it for Poatan but would’ve had no problem with Jan picking up the victory, just one of them fights that was highly competitive. Whilst looking at how the division has shaped up it makes sense that Pereira’s next bout will be for a title against the returning former champ Jiri Prochazka. That’s a fight that I can’t wait to see take place, I’d guess Jiri would be a sizeable favourite, but to act like Pereira isn’t capable of proving us all wrong again would be a mistake. Excited to see how this one plays out and to see if we ever get Pereira against Izzy again.

Justin Gaethje the back flipping BMF

Saturday night was a lot to take in, although I called a second-round TKO for Justin I hadn’t anticipated the stoppage coming in such incredible fashion, in what was only the fifth head-kick KO in the main event of a PPV ever. It was an incredibly nuts and violent ending to the event, typical of both participants which leaves them 1-1 against each other in the octagon. I suppose the question is whether Justin can take it one step further and finally realise his dream of becoming the undisputed Lightweight champion, he’s come up short on his two previous attempts and it feels like he’s positioned himself to get a third and what you’d assume would be a final attempt at world championship glory. He will in all likely hood face the winner of the Islam Makhachev against Charles Olivera rematch. Either way, that’s gonna be a tough challenge for Gaethje where he will be an underdog again, as we were reminded this Saturday night anything is possible in this crazy sport and you can never count Justin Gaethje out.

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