UFC Fight Night 26 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC Fight Night 27
UFC Fight Night 26 is over and done with. Here are the results:
James Vick def. Ramsey Nijem at 0:58 of Round 1 by submission via guillotine choke.
Ovince St. Preux def. Cody Donovan at 2:07 of Round 1 by KO via punches.
Manny Gamburyan def. Cole Miller via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Diego Brandao def. Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Steven Siler def. Mike Brown at 0:50 of Round 1 by KO via punches.
Conor McGregor def. Max Holloway via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Michael McDonald def. Brad Pickett at 3:43 of Round 2 by submission via triangle choke.
Michael Johnson def. Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25).
John Howard def. Uriah Hall via Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Matt Brown def. Mike Pyle at 0:29 of Round 1 by KO via punches.
Urijah Faber def. Iuri Alcantara via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
Travis Browne def. Alistair Overeem at 4:08 of Round 1 by KO via front kick and punches.
Chael Sonnen def. Mauricio Rua at 4:47 of Round 1 by submission via guillotine choke.
Now we can turn our focus to the next event, UFC Fight Night 27. Featuring a Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit main event and some solid featherweight and welterweight bouts afterward, the UFC is looking to start establishing itself as a weekday event.
Fight Night 27 will take place Wednesday, August 28. That is going to be a big departure for the UFC, who has traditionally kept to Saturday nights outside occasional forays to draw eyes to new seasons of TUF.
Here are some of the big questions heading into this event.
Will Fans Be Cool with a Wednesday Card?
The UFC has dominated Saturday nights for a long, long time now. Bellator has largely held events on weekdays since hooking up with Viacom, and even with a new home on Spike, where they featured their most recognizable fighters, they couldn't consistently draw ratings on Fridays and Thursdays.
Fuel TV, meanwhile, has never provided particularly strong numbers in comparison to other UFC events. The most watched event ever put forward on Fuel was the Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann card in March, which averaged under 500,000 viewers. The next highest event was the TUF: Brazil 2 finale, which averaged a humble 313,000 viewers.
Combine the unreliable time slot with the less-than-awesome numbers pulled on Fox's infant networks and we could be looking at seriously ugly figures.
Now, don't get me wrong. Fox is going to be happy to have any six-figure number of people scrambling to figure out what channel Fox Sports 1 is on, especially on a Wednesday night. Depending on the contractual nitty-gritty, though, things may not be ideal for the UFC.
What the Hell Happened to Sara McMann?
Sara McMann is the on-paper greatest threat to Ronda Rousey in the UFC. As one of the greatest wrestlers in the sport and one of the few truly dynamic athletes in women's MMA, her fight with former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman was supposed to be her coming-out party. Here, she would definitively prove that she is one of the best female fighters in the sport, with but a humble seven pro bouts.
Then she pulled out of the fight.
Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
The most likely explanation is that she's injured. Still, as we all know, an injury could be a timely setup for a much-desired title fight, or it could be a career-shattering catastrophe. Or it could be a contract issue, personal problem or alien abduction.
We don't know, and that on its own raises eyebrows.
Just How Good Is Hatsu Hioki?
It wasn't very long ago that Hatsu Hioki was the featherweight division's top contender, but a convincing loss to Ricardo Lamas followed by a squeaker against Clay Guida has knocked (possibly) one of Japan's top fighters far away from the title picture.
With those losses in mind, it's unclear where the 11-year vet stacks up in the new featherweight division.
His victories over Marlon Sandro, Mark Hominick and Jeff Curran suggest that he is better than the old guard of the 145-pound division. His wins over Bart Palaszewski and George Roop indicate that he is better than some of the successful, established featherweights of today. One could reasonably extrapolate from his performance against Clay Guida that maybe, just maybe, he is still a top-10 featherweight.
His fight with Darren Elkins will do a lot to help us figure out where he truly ranks in a cluttered division.
Just How Good Is Darren Elkins?
Hatsu Hioki isn't the only guy looking to carve out his spot at 145 pounds.
After racking up a five-fight winning streak capped by a first-round knockout of Antonio Carvalho, Darren Elkins became a dark-horse title contender. Then, like so many others, he rushed into the meat grinder that is Chad Mendes. Against the world's No. 2-ranked featherweight, Elkins was knocked out cold in just over a minute.
Five wins in a row is no small feat in any division. That said, the list of folks on his resume isn't especially impressive (the most recognizable fighter he has beaten in his UFC career is Diego Brandao).
Was his initial success an anomaly? Or is he actually a factor near the top of the division?
We'll find out soon.
Which TUF Veterans Will Shine?
Starting in September, Fox Sports 1's UFC Fight Night events will function as a lead-in for The Ultimate Fighter. You wouldn't know it, though, looking at Fight Night 27's lineup.
Among the TUF alumni are Zak Cummings, Dylan Andrews, Bubba McDaniel, Kelvin Gastelum (TUF 17), Ben Alloway, Robert Whittaker (TUF: The Smashes), Justin Edwards (TUF 13), Court McGee and Brad Tavares (both of TUF 11). That's a lot of fighters who, with the exception of Whittaker (more on him later), have yet to make much of a splash in the UFC.
Some are coming off wins. Some are coming off losses.
All of them, though, are getting an opportunity to make a splash to prove they are better than what most are giving them credit for. We'll have to see which of them end up making the most of it.
Will Kelvin Gastelum Step out of Uriah Hall's Shadow?
Uriah Hall is probably the most famous TUF product since Kimbo Slice. That says a lot, considering he didn't actually win the season. The guy who holds that distinction is Kelvin Gastelum, and few know him as anything other than "that guy who wrestled at Uriah Hall."
In his first fight since the season ended, and after being put on the backburner in favor of Hall for the sure-to-be-more-popular Fight Night 26, Gastelum will have the chance to start building his own legacy. And with Hall's ugly loss to an unknown John Howard, he could become the guy everyone remembers from TUF 17.
His first fight as a true part of the UFC's roster will also be his welterweight debut. That on its own comes with some concerns (there have been many fighters who have struggled with that particular cut). He will face Strikeforce import Brian Melancon, who owns a respectable 7-2 record (2-1 in Zuffa) and most recently scored a buzzer-beating knockout of Seth Baczynski.
That's no easy win for Gastelum, but a start is a start. It's going to be interesting to see if and when he can start making a name for himself.
Can Robert Whittaker Knock Out Another TUF Winner?
Robert Whittaker is basically the Australian Uriah Hall. In his first two fights on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, Whittaker scored two scary knockouts to set himself apart from the rest of the pack (which you can see here and here). Unlike Hall, he went on to win, beating a favored Brad Scott.
He followed that up by demolishing TUF 16 winner Colton Smith where he roughed him up and finished him with a third-round TKO. He finds himself against another TUF winner, TUF 11's Court McGee.
If the Aussie can score another big win, he will vault up the UFC's welterweight rankings and could begin making a case for being the top TUF product since Roy Nelson. McGee is no slouch, so that's a big if, but Whittaker's hands can floor almost anyone at 170 pounds.
Who Is the Real Rafael dos Anjos?
Donald Cerrone doesn't make an appearance on this list, because we basically know everything about him at this point. He has good hands and a strong ground game, but has struggled against every top fighter he has run up against. On paper, he is the ultimate gatekeeper.
Rafael dos Anjos, meanwhile, is an unknown commodity. Many, including myself, considered him to be a top-10 fighter. Then he fought veteran grappler Evan Dunham.
While he would get the win over Dunham, the fight was far closer than anyone would've liked. Certainly closer than it should've been if Dunham was the top lightweight pundits painted him as. Now, though, he'll get his chance to prove himself.
A win will vault him into title contention. A loss will relegate him to the middle of the pack.
This is do-or-die situation for dos Anjos.
Will Perez vs. Mizugaki Yield a Bantamweight Contender?
When you sit back and think about it, the battle between Erik Perez and Takeya Mizugaki is the most important fight on this card when it comes to title implications. Make no mistake, Mizugaki and Perez aren't even close to being the best fighters throwing down, but with the incredible shallowness of the bantamweight division right now, there is no way a pair of marketable commodities like these two can be dismissed.
The UFC really, really wants Perez (better known as that guy who wore a luchadore mask that one time) to succeed. Desperately trying to build a foundation in Mexico, Perez is a valuable commodity as one of the few noteworthy mixed martial artists from the "Land of Shaking Earth". Add to that the fact that, if he beats Mizugaki, he would be one of just two beltless UFC bantamweights with four straight wins, and you end up with a viable opponent for Renan Barao (or Dominick Cruz).
Mizugaki is less marketable, but as the UFC continues to try and build itself up in Japan, it struggles to find any consistent winner from the original Mecca of MMA not named Yushin Okami. Where Eiji Mitsuoka, Kazuki Tokudome, Norifumi Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Mizuto Hirota have failed, Mizugaki has found a small amount of success. While he lacks a strong resume, the only currency that matters when it comes to UFC bantamweight title fights is wins, and beating Perez would give him enough to realistically find himself within reach of a shot.
Again, these aren't the best fighters on this card, and they aren't even top-10 bantamweights in the UFC. That said, we've seen fighters with less marketability and less impressive winning streaks get title fights.
What Will Happen in Condit vs. Kampmann 2?
The main event features two of the best welterweights in the world.
Carlos Condit may have lost two in a row, but he looks as good as ever. He still owns some fearsome striking and one of the more active guards you'll find. He is a threat with the ability to beat anybody in the division.
Kampmann beat Condit back in 2009, but he has actually struggled a bit lately. He pulled out crazy victories over both Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger who roughed him up mightily before getting finished. His loss to Johny Hendricks ended that streak, but he is still a top-10 welterweight who has consistently found UFC success since 2006.
The fight lacks commercial appeal, but it's something hardcore fans can be excited for. It'll be very interesting to see how this one shakes out.