Making the Grade: Passes/Fails from UFC Fight Night Atlantic City
Donald Cerrone won his fourth straight by knocking out Dan Miller, Edson Barboza beat Evan Dunham with a ferocious body kick and Rick Story dominated Leonardo Mafra.
You already know who won and who lost at UFC Fight Night on Wednesday in Atlantic City. At Haymaker, we’re more concerned with looking beyond the results. Here’s what we took away from the fights at Revel:
Bump in the night
Very rarely do we see a hematoma the size of what Joe Proctor was sporting on his dome Wednesday night in Atlantic City. It’s even more rare to see someone win despite one. Proctor looked like he was hiding an apple from the media room near his temple. The visual was slightly horrific and somewhat hilarious.
The Boston native gets serious credit for persevering. His cornermen, including Joe Lauzon, lied to him about the severity of the injury. They told him the hematoma wasn’t that bad. It most certainly was. But the vote of confidence let Proctor come out in the second round and beat Justin Salas by TKO. It wasn’t until later when he looked in a mirror that he realized he was smuggling a billiards ball in his skull. We would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when he peeped it for the first time.
Weigh better than the usual
We have a confession to make. Weigh-in day is our least favorite of fight week. Hear us out for a second. Unless there’s a highly anticipated main event and you can’t wait to see the two fighters face off, weigh-ins are mostly dry. No one really speaks or does anything of note. They just strip down to their skivvies and step onto a scale. Maybe some people are into that sort of thing, but we don’t really get it.
That is why we give extra credit to fighters who go the extra mile to entertain the fans who came to the arena and the ones watching at home. Aljamain Sterling and Hugo Viana did that very nicely Tuesday in Atlantic City. Sterling, borrowing Yves Edwards’ gimmick, walked to the stage while eating from a bag of M&M’s. Peanut ones, too. So extra points there. Viana, whose nickname is "Wolverine," pulled fake claws out of a bag for his square off with Sterling. I
t’s the little things that can make people remember your name and maybe earn you a fan or two. The weigh-ins are a good time to show off some of your personality, provided you aren’t completely starving and dehydrated.
Revel in it
The UFC might have held a show at Revel for the final time Wednesday night. It’s not because the venue isn’t a good one — it’s a nice, small arena without a single bad seat. Revel’s Ovation Hall is a pretty cool place to watch fights and the 4,115 fans in attendance were treated with eight finishes in 11 fights. It would really be a shame if the UFC wasn’t able to return.
Revel, the casino resort itself, is reportedly on the verge of closing up shop. It recently filed for bankruptcy for a second time and reports are saying that it needs a buyer to stay alive. What’s sad is that Revel is only two years old and is a beautiful property. It has its flaws, like some odd design choices, including Ovation Hall being extremely hard to find. But Atlantic City in general is struggling and when it opened Revel focused more on being an upscale option with nightclubs and restaurants — a la Las Vegas — and less on its casino.
That has changed somewhat, but the $2.4 billion spent to build it has not been made back. Instead, Revel is bleeding money and in danger of shutting its doors, leaving thousands of workers jobless. Three other Atlantic City casinos announced recently they would be closing. All of it is really a shame. AC is one of the best fight cities in the United States and the UFC’s history there is deep. Let’s hope things get better.
Double the KO for ‘Cowboy’
Dan Miragliotta is lucky Donald Cerrone is just a straight-up bad ass. Cerrone crumpled Miller with a front kick to the gut in the second round Wednesday night. The only problem is that Miragliotta thought it was a low blow and allowed Miller to continue on. Even Miller, who had removed his mouthpiece, thought the fight was over. The replay showed that it was clearly a legal blow and Miller was hurt to the body.
Cerrone, the man that he is, was not fazed a single bit. He came back, ate some hard punches from Miller and then finished the fight — for real — with a head kick a few minutes later. Can you imagine if Miller had come back to win that fight? Oh man. That would have earned more controversy than the horrendous Ross Pearson-Diego Sanchez decision. Miragliotta is a solid ref, but he blew that one. Cerrone bailed him out big time. Big Dan owes "Cowboy" a Budweiser. Or three.
Mafra of none
Get whipped into a frenzy at weigh-ins. Come in almost five pounds lighter than the welterweight limit. Get in your opponent’s face. Leonardo Mafra did all kinds of things to get us pretty excited for his fight with Rick Story on Wednesday night. He almost looked like a man possessed, someone who was bursting at the seams for his second opportunity in the UFC.
Then, the Brazilian went out and laid a gigantic egg. After all those histrionics, Mafra allowed Story to take him down with ease in the first and second rounds and then all but gave up in the second. Story won via arm triangle when Mafra just looked like he wanted to go home. That isn’t a good way to prove you belong in the UFC after being cut once already.
No decision on the fly
John Lineker is probably as deserving as any other flyweight contender for a title shot against Demetrious Johnson, especially after his third-round knockout of Alptekin Ozkilic on Wednesday night. Lineker has absolutely earned it more than Chris Cariaso, who will challenge Johnson in the co-main event of UFC 177 on Aug. 30 in Sacramento. Not only has Lineker won four of his last five fights, they have all come by KO. He’s the most exciting guy in the division.
There’s just one really significant problem with the Brazilian. Will he be able to make 125 pounds to fight Johnson for the title? Lineker has missed weight in three of his seven flyweight fights and when he does make weight, he gets to 126 or 125.5, like he did Tuesday. In title bouts, you need to make the exact weight and Lineker getting down to 126 alone seems like a big-time struggle. He’ll probably need to prove he can make it consistently before the UFC trusts him in a title situation. If they gave Lineker a title shot and he missed weight, having the bout changed to a catchweight, non-title situation would be an absolute embarrassment.
The Ultimate Fighter 20, featuring the birth in earnest of the UFC’s women’s strawweight division, airs beginning Sept. 10 on FOX Sports 1. It’s highly anticipated and will be one of the most fascinating TUFs ever, if only because it features 16 of the best fighters in a division for the first time and the winner will be crowned champion. Add in the fact that the reality series is filled with attractive, charismatic women and FOX Sports 1 should have a ratings hit on its hands.
So, you would think that the first-ever women’s strawweight bout in UFC history, which took place Wednesday night in Atlantic City, would also air on FOX Sports 1. Six main-card fights and four prelim fights were broadcast on the network. One bout was put on the UFC Fight Pass digital network. Guess which — Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki, the women’s strawweight clash. That didn’t really make sense. It was a wasted opportunity to promo TUF 20 on FOX Sports 1.