UFC 171 Results: Ranking the 5 Most Impressive Performances

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

UFC 171 Results: Ranking the 5 Most Impressive Performances

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    UFC 171 promised much and arguably exceeded all of our expectations. From top to bottom, the card delivered like few do.

    We are still in the first quarter of 2014, but it would be a surprise if Saturday night's event from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, failed to make the shortlist for card of the year.

    There is no shortage of outstanding displays to choose from, but who stood out the most?

    Read on for a rundown of the five most impressive performances from UFC 171.

5. Kelvin Gastelum

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    Quite frankly, I expected Kelvin Gastelum’s gruelling weight cut to severely handicap him against Ricky Story.

    Imagine my surprise when The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner put in arguably the performance of his career.

    Sure, he got clipped by Story in the second round, and the fight ended up being closer than it had any right to be, but Gastelum’s entire game looked outstanding.

    His movement, his striking and his wrestling were all on point. Up until he got a little careless, it looked like a mismatch.

    I can only imagine how good Gastelum will be in a few years, particularly if he can figure out how to get down to 170 pounds sensibly.

4. Justin Scoggins

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    There was a lot of hype behind Justin Scoggins going into UFC 171, and his performance against Will Campuzano justified every compliment paid to the 21-year-old.

    Campuzano, a UFC veteran, wore a look of bamboozlement for most of the fight as Scoggins lit him up with a wonderful assortment of kicks and punches while mixing in the occasional takedown.

    It was a mature performance that had viewers salivating over a potential fight between Scoggins and 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson in the future.

3. Dennis Bermudez

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    The Ultimate Fighter has, quite rightly, been criticised for not producing enough championship-level talent in recent years.

    Dennis Bermudez may be the most promising prospect to emerge from the show in some time, however.

    In hindsight, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I thought Jimy Hettes went into UFC 171 as the favourite to beat Bermudez.

    So much for that prediction.

    “The Menace” dominated in every area of the fight, including the grappling. What’s more, the TUF veteran demonstrated his killer instinct when he saw that his opponent was hurt, swarming Hettes and giving him no time to recover.

    It’s time for Bermudez to be promoted to the main card.

2. Robbie Lawler

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    Robbie Lawler may have lost the decision to Johny Hendricks at UFC 171, but it’s hard to say he emerged from the bout a loser.

    If anything, the 31-year-old’s stock has only risen further after a terrifically competitive brawl with “Big Rigg.”

    Indeed, in Rounds 3 and 4 he looked to be on the verge of claiming the UFC 170-pound title.

    One year ago, no one would have expected Lawler to be where he is today. Having put together a 3-5 record in Strikeforce, his resurgence since moving over to the UFC has been nothing short of astonishing.

    One can only hope Lawler continues this run of form for the foreseeable future.

1. Johny Hendricks

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    Johny Hendricks’ title-winning effort over Robbie Lawler may have been closer than many anticipated, but that should take nothing away from what was an extraordinary exhibition of grit and technique.

    In the middle of Round 3, after the 11th or 12th Lawler left cross had strafed Hendricks’ chin, one could have been forgiven for thinking the end was near for the de facto champion.

    However, Hendricks somehow stood up to the onslaught, displaying a metaphorical beard every bit as impressive as the real one.

    That he managed to rally in the final round to earn the decision and the title capped off a memorable performance and an incredible night of fights.