Getting the uber-hyped UFC 168 started in the deep, dark hole that is the opening slot of the Facebook prelims was a featherweight bout between Robbie Peralta and Estevan Payan. The two scrappy customers were looking to make a name for themselves and move up the card.
Peralta came out on top via a third-round knockout in a fight that showed two experienced but obviously still developing fighters.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
Peralta's KO finish. He looked to be firmly on his way to a decision loss after 10 minutes, but it took him only 12 seconds to turn that around and wipe Payan's early success from the collective memory of those watching.
What We Learned About Estevan Payan
That he's not at the UFC level. At 31 years old and 0-2 in the promotion, Payan can't cut it at the highest level. A decision loss against Jeremy Stephens is nothing to be ashamed of, but losing so violently to someone that much further down the ladder isn't acceptable.
It's not that he'll never be UFC ready, but with roster spots so hard to come by, he isn't ready at the end of 2013.
What We Learned About Robbie Peralta
He's a game competitor with a lot of distance to go technically. He labored at times to make adjustments in the ground game, and his stand-up was flailing and sloppy for much of the fight.
That said, when things worked for him—particularly on the feet—they worked in a big way. His third-round explosion was great to behold; it was the picture of how to hit an opponent and make him disappear.
It's a solid win and back to the gym for more improvement for Peralta, but there are certainly worse deals than that in the UFC.
What's Next for Payan
Likely a pink slip. Even with a solid record overall, 0-2 in the UFC with nothing notable in either fight isn't the way to endear himself to promotional officials. He'll have to head back to the regional circuit, get some wins and hope to jump in as a late replacement sometime in 2014 or 2015.
What's Next for Peralta
A date with Rani Yahya might make sense. Yahya has been up and down in his UFC run but is a good test for a kid like Peralta. Worst-case scenario, it forces Peralta to get technically better or suffer substantial consequences.