UFC 171 Saturday night in Dallas featured a huge eight-fight preliminary card. While it was filled top to bottom with "rising talent," nearly every bout was entertaining.
There is a lot to talk about with many different fighters...so what did we learn?
Justin Scoggins Is Legit
Will Campuzano is a solid fighter. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he still has lots of physical tools for a flyweight and some skills to go along with them.
That makes Justin Scoggins' utter demolition of him even more impressive. In every single area of the cage, at every stage of the fight and on every level, Scoggins dominated Campuzano. This was one of those performances that set you apart from the pack, and one of the ones that wake fans.
Scoggins probably has some big things in his future.
Dennis Bermudez Is a Beast
I've been on the Dennis Bermudez hype train since The Ultimate Fighter, and man, he made me look smart Saturday night. Bermudez fought a solid but obviously overmatched Jimy Hettes and laid one of 2014's most lopsided beatdowns on him.
For the first two rounds, he literally tossed him around. Literally! He picked him up and dropped him on numerous occasions. By the third round, he was bored and decided to just knock Hettes out, clubbing him repeatedly with savage left hands and knees until he was nothing but a puddle.
Bermudez has as much skill as anybody in the division and looked absolutely unstoppable against Hettes. Here's hoping his next opponent is somebody ranked deep in the top 10.
Jessica Andrade Is Not a Legitimate Title Contender
In a bout against what was supposed to be a totally out-of-her-league Raquel Pennington, Jessica Andrade got an utterly unemphatic win.
Don't get me wrong—it was a fun fight. Fight of the Night at this point. That said, Andrade was poised to jump into title contention with a decisive win over Pennington, and this wasn't that.
Andrade was on the bad end of most of the exchanges, swinging wild as the rangy Pennington landed jabs on jabs. She would make up for that with takedowns and controlling the center of the cage, but it's hard to imagine the undersized Andrade, who doesn't have great striking and certainly doesn't have great grappling, has a legitimate shot to beat any of the better ladies in the UFC right now.
Kelvin Gastelum May Be a Star in the Making
Don't look now, but Kelvin Gastelum seems to be putting it all together. The TUF 17 winner went from a sloppy wrestler to an effective grinder during the season, but against Rick Story, he debuted a suddenly impressive striking game, showing off a stiff jab and solid footwork to complement his strong top game and massive frame.
Gastelum is not a complete mixed martial artist quite yet. Story, a wily veteran, gave him a very tough fight and nearly finished him in the second round.
However, Gastelum just beat a very formidable opponent in only his eighth professional fight. That's a big deal, and it could lead to big things.