Saturday’s UFC on FOX card delivered with action from top to bottom and a shockingly decisive title main event. Read on for our selection of the five best moments of the night, and then let us know yours.
Nate Diaz fighting
MMA has had far too little Diaz brothers in recent years. Not only have Nick and Nate been among the best in the world for more than a decade, they also bring entertainment value like few others can.
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Nate Diaz had all of that on display, Saturday, from his excellent MMA boxing to his trash-talking and taunting, to his post-fight comments ranging from rants against Conor McGregor to more calm explanations of where his mind was at at this point in his career.
Few others could talk, brawl and taunt as much as Nate and Nick Diaz and still elicit such warm feelings and support from fans. But Nate and his brother almost always seem to be coming from sincere places, and so their anti-hero statuses are earned, and authentic.
Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another year to see Nate or Nick in more big fights.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Valentina Shevchenko both signed on to fight top-10 fighters on a big stage, Saturday, on short notice. Despite the challenge, both women managed to impress and win.
They showed no evidence of Octagon jitters in their debuts, and looked poised, confident and skilled. As we know, traveling abroad to fight brings its own special set of extra difficulties, but both these women gave no indication that they’ll ever have them negatively impact their fighting.
Eastern Europe may end up proving the new hotbed for female MMA talent, what with prospects like these, in addition to the likes of strawweight queen Joanna "Champion." If there are any more women as mentally strong and physically skilled as these over there, keep them coming.
Dos Anjos solidifying his place
Anytime someone so completely dominates in upset fashion as Rafael dos Santos did in March to beat Anthony Pettis and become UFC lightweight champion, it takes time to really appreciate what had happened. What happened was that the Brazilian had slowly become the best lightweight in the world.
If there were doubts after March’s fight, there shouldn’t be any after Saturday’s. In 2013, Dos Anjos fought Donald Cerrone well and beat him via decision.
In their rematch, he did as he predicted he would, and finished him. And, quickly.
Cerrone is one of the most durable and tough fighters in the history of MMA. As a rule, he is impossible to get out of there, quick.
Yet, that’s exactly what dos Anjos was able to do. There are many more challenges out there for the champion, including Conor McGregor, and only time will tell how he handles them all.
For now, however, dos Anjos has given us exactly zero reasons to bet against him.
Tamdan McCrory and Vincente Luque’s submission games
Aside from just being great to see McCrory back where he belongs, in the UFC, once more, it was especially exciting to see him so much improved and sharp. The big middleweight’s ground game is what ended up getting him the win against the very good Josh Samman, and their mat transitions were things of beauty.
Eventually, McCrory’s ability to finish and adjust off of his back won him the day. Similarly, Vincente Luque was able to show some impressive finishing ability off his back, on the ground, with a front arm and head choke win over Hayder Hassan.
It takes confidence rooted in skill to go for the moves these two did, Saturday, and it’s always good to see those working in conjunction in fights.
Nick Lentz looking healthier and fighting well
Because of how hard they went at it, Nick Lentz and Danny Castillo soon both looked pretty tired in their lightweight bout, Saturday. However, both men fought on for all three rounds, looking hard for finishes in admirable efforts.
Lentz was most impressive, however, and that was in large part due to how well conditioned he was. Sure, he didn’t move at lightning speed out there, but he kept a consistent, pressuring pace the entire fight.
If you can move just as well in the third as you did in the first, chances are you’ll find your opponent moving a bit slower than you, by the end. No longer forcing an unhealthy cut down to featherweight, where he became a top-10 fighter, Lentz looked at ease and light on his feet when he needed to be, for 15 minutes.
He pressed Castillo for most of the bout, out-slicked him on the feet and fluidly defended takedowns and got back to his feet, over and again. Lentz said afterwards that his body still has some healing to do after the damage he caused it by cutting to 145 pounds in the past.
If he manages to heal up and get even more comfortable in his lightweight skin, The Carney, may very well end up being a force to contend with near the top of the 155 pound division.