The Real Winners and Losers From UFC Fight Night 214
Every now and then, you've got to give it to the matchmakers.
That's the surely case with the UFC's ESPN card this week.
Though not dotted with names that ensure metrics-busting clicks and page views, the five-fight main card—not to mention many of the six fights beneath it on the prelims—was packed with matches between fighters surely worthy of something past casual attention.
Each of the four athletes in the main and co-main events arrived with a ranking number, and the other three bouts on a primetime broadcast that commenced at 7 p.m. ET from the Apex in Las Vegas included another ranked fighter and an unbeaten former Olympic medalist.
Fan-friendly heavyweights Chase Sherman and Josh Parisian were set for a place on the main card, too, but an illness prompted Parisian's exit and created a spot for featherweights Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke to be promoted from the prelims.
It all made for an entertaining evening and the B/R combat sports team was in its weekly spot, eschewing both the World Series and games involving multiple top-10 college football teams, to take it all in and compile the definitive list of the show's winners and losers.
Click through to see what we came up with and drop a thought of your own in the comments.
Winner: Violent Patience
It wasn't anyone's Fight of the Year candidate.
In fact, the first two rounds between ranked strawweights Amanda Lemos and Marina Rodriguez were more likely to be quickly forgotten than fondly recollected.
But Lemos, ranked four slots beneath her No. 3 foe, knew her moment would arrive.
And when it did, she'd take full advantage.
"We'd studied her. We watched the way she moved her back hand," Lemos said. "We knew she was going to come pressing forward and when she did we'd meet her."
That encounter finally occurred early in the third round when Lemos' looping right hand connected with Rodriguez's head, rendering her stiff-legged as she wobbled back toward the cage and a sitting duck for a follow-up flurry that ended things after 54 seconds.
Seven more unreturned punched prompted Jason Herzog's stoppage as Rodriquez was pinned against the fence, but still standing and immediately protesting the wave-off.
Lemos, though, insisted it was over the moment the first shot landed.
"Her head started wobbling a little bit and I knew the fight would be over right away," she said. "It couldn't have gone any better for me."
The win was her seventh in nine outings since arriving to the UFC five years ago and will presumably move her into the top five behind champion Carla Esparza, who defends her title next weekend at UFC 281 in New York.
In fact, Lemos punctuated her post-fight remarks by suggesting she'll be at Madison Square Garden to take it in and encouraging the company to make her the first alternate in case one principal isn't able to go.
"Hey Dana, I'm here already," she said. "Put me in as a backup."
Winner: Making History
Neil Magny was in some trouble.
He'd been handled pretty well by Daniel Rodriguez in the second round of their welterweight co-main event and was heading back to a corner that wasn't shy about telling him.
But rather than wilting under both opposition and training team pressure, the 35-year-old chose instead to step on the competitive gas pedal.
"I trust my corner guys who tell me what to do," he said, "and it's up to me to just go out and do it."
The "Haitian Sensation" was wobbled by a Rodriguez left hand soon after rejoining the battle, but continued to charge forward anyway and scored a critical takedown that he ultimately turned into a decisive scenario and a D'Arce choke submission win at 3:33 of the third.
It was the 20th welterweight win of Magny's 28-fight UFC career, breaking a divisional record he'd shared with George St-Pierre and boosting his overall mark to 27-10.
The 14th-ranked Rodriguez had lobbed a verbal grenade before the fight, labeling the 13th-ranked Magny as a mere gatekeeper in the weight class.
"It feels amazing," he said. "All the hard work has definitely paid off, but I feel like I'm just getting started. At this point, I still know where my goal is, a world championship."
Magny started well and got the fight to the floor in the first round, but was on the short end of standup exchanges in the second as Rodriguez plodded forward and scored well with straight punches, as opposed to the hooks he'd tried early on against a taller foe.
"That was what you call digging deep and setting the record," ESPN analyst Daniel Cormier said. "You cant say he didn't earn that one. He had to go through the fire and he went out and got it done."
Winner: Calling Your Shots
Tagir Ulanbekov knew exactly what he wanted.
Within seconds of prompting a first-round surrender by opponent Nate Maness thanks to a standing guillotine, the 31-year-old Russian flyweight sprang to the fence, looked down at the ESPN broadcast table and made his interview intentions clear.
"DC," he said, pointing down at Cormier. "Come."
The former two-division champ answered when summoned and gave Ulanbekov a platform for post-fight afterglow following the shortest outing of a 16-fight career.
It came five months after his training partner, Umar Nurmagomedov, beat Maness by a wide unanimous decision on a Fight Night show.
"To be honest, I have to thank Umar because he showed me the road map and showed me everything I needed to stop this guy quickly in the first round," Ulanbekov said. "I'm very happy about this victory after last time when I lost, I had to train hard."
Ulanbekov hadn't fought since dropping a decision to Tim Elliott at UFC 272 in March, but he got to work quickly with a takedown of Maness, got his right arm around his foe's neck while in a kneeling position, then stood up and cinched in the hold to officially end it at 2:11.
But perhaps his most telling strike came as Cormier ended the interview and began turning away, before Ulanbekov instead seized the microphone and, in broken English, said "Hey Dana, give me my 50 thousand."
Loser: Olympian's Dream
Mark O. Madsen had a moment.
The Olympic bronze medalist was aiming to keep both his UFC and professional MMA records pristine since transitioning from an amateur career as a Greco-Roman wrestler.
And when he dropped late sub Grant Dawson with a right hand in the first minute of their main-card matchup on Saturday, it looked as if those goals were attainable.
But it didn't last long.
Instead of handling his 28-year-old foe in his comfort zone once the fight went to the mat, Madsen instead found himself on the wrong end of a grappling master class in each round until he eventually submitted to the jiu-jitsu brown belt via rear-naked choke.
The official end came at 2:05 of the third and dropped Madsen to 12-1 as a pro and 4-1 in the UFC, while boosting Dawson to 7-0-1 in the Octagon and providing the Florida-based lightweight with a chance for a post-fight selfie with his hero, Cormier.
"I'm not supposed to be able to do this," Dawson said. "Hard work makes this pay off. I just outwrestled the Olympian. I think this was one of my best performances."
Indeed, Dawson took control after the quick knockdown and had Madsen's locked in with a body triangle by the first round's 90-second mark. He scored another takedown and dominated the second round following a single-leg attack in the first minute, then chopped Madsen down with a hard kick to his left leg to set up the decisive choke sequence.
It was Dawson's 19th win in 21 pro fights and his 13th submission.
In the aftermath, he called out longtime UFC star Tony Ferguson, who's ranked 14th by the promotion at 170 pounds.
"If that fight doesn't happen," Dawson said, "you'll know it's because he turned it down."
Winner: Rebounding Maverick
Not too long ago, Miranda Maverick was "the (wo)man."
She reached the UFC a few months past turning 23, scored an early TKO in her first appearance and picked up a second win on a pay-per-view undercard five months later.
But the momentum's been a bit harder to come by lately.
The Virginia-based jiu-jitsu brown belt lost was beaten on the scorecards by fellow prospect Maycee Barber on a Fight Night show in July 2021 and suddenly found herself at 2-2 when another youngster, Erin Blachfield, 23, beat her on points a UFC 269 last December.
Since then, it's been all about improvement.
Maverick got back on the ledger's winning side with a submission win in March and made it two straight Saturday night with a one-sided grinder over Shanna Young in the prelim finale.
It was a 30-26 rout on all three scorecards and rarely felt that close thanks to Maverick's huge edges in significant strikes (52-24), total strikes (158-25), takedowns (5-0) and control time (8:23-0:00), justifying her standing as the card's biggest betting favorite.
"I could see the difference in level," said Maverick, who called out 15th-ranked flyweight Molly McCann. "I was hearing her say that I haven't improved but I feel like I have.
"And I feel like I could've done better. I tried a lot of new tools today, which is me showing that learning process."
Full Card Results
Amanda Lemos def. Marina Rodriguez by KO (punches), 0:57, Round 3
Neil Magny def. Daniel Rodriguez by submission (D'Arce choke), 3:33, Round 3
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke def. Darrick Minner by KO (elbows), 1:07, Round 1
Tagir Ulanbekov def. Nate Maness by submission (guillotine choke), 2:11, Round 1
Grant Dawson def. Mark O. Madsen by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:05, Round 3
Miranda Maverick def. Shanna Young by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Mario Bautista def. Benito Lopez by submission (armbar), 4:54, Round 1
Polyana Viana def. Jinh Yu Frey by KO (punches), 0:47, Round 1
Johnny Munoz def. Liudvik Sholinian by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Jake Hadley def. Carlos Candelario by submission (triangle choke), 2:39, Round 2
Tamires Vidal def. Ramona Pascual by KO (flying knee), 3:06, Round 1