UFC Fight Night 40 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
The UFC made its return to Cincinnati on Saturday night, putting on Fight Night 40 for MMA fans who've been clamoring for a live show since 2007.
While hometown hero Rich Franklin was nowhere to be found on the marquee, the promotion still offered up Ohio's own Matt Brown in a headliner for the ages and plenty of other Midwest talent to support him along the way.
Overall it was a solid night of action with a memorable main event, and there was plenty of gradable fun to be had. And seeing as that's why we're here...
Cariaso was a man possessed at UFN 40, dictating every relevant component of his bout with Louis Smolka on the way to a pretty convincing win. He repeatedly put the gigantic young flyweight in trouble with submission attempts and crafty striking, proving that he might be a quiet contender in the thin 125-pound class.
Though he faded a little in the third, he'd racked up such a lead early that the outcome was never really in doubt. It was a truly inspired performance for one of the UFC's unsung little guys.
Well it's probably safe to admit we were all a little ahead of ourselves on the Smolka hype. In terms of not living up to the billing, he really set the pace against Chris Cariaso.
From the outset he did almost nothing of consequence offensively, being outstruck and outmanaged by a much smaller opponent. In terms of dictating range and pace, Smolka did basically everything the wrong way against a man he should have better controlled both physically and tactically.
It's not like he's an old man, though, so you'll see him again and he'll undeniably be improved. This was probably an ambitious test for him, truthfully.
There's not really much to say for Potts in his UFC debut.
He showed up and fought, and it went horribly. He was scrambly on the ground, and the second he was mounted he got KO'd with one punch.
A straight-up disaster for the South African.
Palelei lived up to his namesake on Saturday night, The Hulk smashing his way to a violent stoppage win.
It took him almost no time at all to wrestle Ruan Potts to the ground, where he shut down the limited offense he dealt with before jumping to mount. When he did, he needed only one shot to end the fight, a testament to his bewildering power in mount.
It probably took you longer to read this than it did for him to dismember a professional mixed martial arts heavyweight, so that should give you an idea of how it went for The Hulk.
Magny is an intriguing talent at welterweight, an obviously skilled athlete with the physical tools and potential for growth that might signify good things in the future.
Against Tim Means, the early stages of those good things may have been on display, as a clear evolution in his stand-up and comfort level was evident from the outset. By the end of the second round he'd all but locked up the W, and by the end of the third it was made official.
Continued growth could make him into something one day, particularly if he works on attacking with a little more force and approaching the fight with more killer instinct.
Means did well in his short-notice return to the UFC, though he largely struggled with the movement and reach of Neil Magny. Still, it was a spirited showing from the Oklahoman, and his willingness to step up will surely land him another bout in the promotion.
There wasn't much memorable about it, be that positive or negative, but there have certainly been worse showings in the Octagon.
Koch's reinvention at 155 pounds was put on hold, at least temporarily, by a lethal Daron Cruickshank combination on Saturday night. A flurry of crossing punches and kicks put him on his heels before the last kick caught him behind the ear and put him down, and strikes on the ground finished the fight.
Koch has long been a guy to watch, and his high-impact style and willingness to engage will keep him as such for a while. This one was a tough defeat, but not one that will derail him to any great degree.
Cruickshank was nasty at UFN 40, showcasing the type of unorthodox taekwondo combination almost never seen in the UFC. In firing it off he was able to plant his foot firmly on the dome of Erik Koch and quickly secure his biggest UFC win to date.
The Detroit Superstar is a fun guy to watch, one who's guaranteed to offer up something exciting basically every time he hits the cage. It's hard to know what he is, or what he's going to be in the long run, but he'll surely keep climbing up the ladder after a showing like this.
The way Philippou was throwing leather from the outset, there was little doubt his match was going to end the way it did: via a violent KO. Who was on which side of that KO was simply a matter of who landed first, and the Cyprus native happened to be that guy.
In a frenzied brawl that saw both he and opponent Lorenz Larkin land big shots and eat big shots, it was Philippou who eventually hit the home run to finish the fight and get back in the win column.
He's got enough time left to get back into the mix at middleweight; it's up to him to build on this win to make that happen.
Larkin was game at UFN 40, quite willing to stand and trade with opponent Costas Philippou in the night's co-main event. Unfortunately for him, it didn't work out so well, and he ended up face down on the canvas after a series of wild exchanges and thunderous shots landed.
Larkin is now just 1-3 since joining the UFC from Strikeforce, and with roster spots at a greater premium than ever, there's a real chance he might be out of a job despite his electric loss—the type of loss that holds far less currency with Dana White and Joe Silva than it once did.
Silva was absolutely on fire in the early going, but once it went off the rails for him it went off in style. As he faded, opponent Matt Brown picked up his own pace, and what ensued was one of the best fights the promotion has had in some time.
The two went toe-to-toe for the better part of three rounds, exchanging all varieties of ill-intentioned strikes and grappling positions, each nearly finishing the other on numerous occasions. In the end it was Silva who took the loss, but his show of heart and repeated displays of violence were things to behold.
He's a loser, but in name only.
Brown started slowly, an issue he linked to some main-event jitters in his post-fight interview, but when he woke up he did so in a way that has become his signature.
Snapping into form after being hurt by a few body strikes, Brown began to pour it on Erick Silva in an almost startling manner, throwing every variety of strike and submission attempt imaginable at him until he broke.
It was an astonishing showing, one that completely legitimized the previously dubious claims he may have had to title contention and continued his improbable romp to the top of the 170-pound class in epic fashion.