UFC on Fox 28 Results: The Real Winners and Losers

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2018

UFC on Fox 28 Results: The Real Winners and Losers

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    Orlando's Amway Center played host to UFC on Fox 28. Overall, the card was a success for fight fans.

    The latest edition of UFC action gave fans a mix of high-level entertainment, knockouts and submissions. It was a complete card, but that's not to say it will be remembered throughout the year. Heading into Saturday, there was little buzz surrounding an event that Josh Emmett and Jeremy Stephens headlined.

    Speaking of that main event, Stephens, with perhaps an assist to illegal strikes, plastered Emmett in the second round. Lil' Heathen is now in position for a title shot.

    In the co-main event, Jessica Andrade moved past Tecia Torres by unanimous decision. The three-round affair showcased both women's skills and got the crowd into the action.

    Earlier on, the light heavyweight division got a new title contender, bantamweights threw down and welterweights did not disappoint. So who were the winners and losers beyond what gets written down in the record books?

    Let's examine the real winners and losers coming out of UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando.

    Full results are listed at the end.

Winner: Rani Yahya

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    Rani Yahya was fighting with a heavy heart Saturday. The talented grappler lost his mother during his training camp in the lead-up to the bout.

    He was fighting for her, and she would have been proud of his showing.

    Yahya dominated throughout, putting Russell Doane on his back multiple times and looking for submissions. Doane was able to survive the first two rounds, and it appeared he would last the third early. That was not the case.

    The Brazilian was able to secure an arm-triangle choke and get the tap. Perhaps even more impressive is that this was Yahya's 10th victory in the UFC. He is largely unheralded, but the jiu-jitsu specialist is one of the most successful grapplers in the game.

Winner: Alan Jouban

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    Versace model and knockout artist. Not the typical combination.

    Alan Jouban wasted little time in touching up Ben Saunders in the Amway Center. Jouban was on point with his strikes, landing heavy leg kicks, hard punches and sharp elbows. It was a fun scrap, with Saunders getting in some licks of his own, but Jouban clearly led the charge.

    In the second round, the 36-year-old finished the job.

    With a left hand, Jouban sent Saunders to the canvas in an unconscious heap. Jouban got on the mic after the fight to tell his wife they will celebrate their anniversary at Disney World. Perhaps Jouban is celebrating the happiest weekend on earth.

Winner: Marion Reneau

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    The first round did not go Marion Reneau's way. Sara McMann scored a takedown and pummeled her from side control. There was nothing about the first five minutes that would make anyone think Reneau would pull out a victory.

    But she did.

    The 40-year-old wonder clocked her opponent on the feet early in the second. McMann began searching for a takedown right away. Suddenly, after some brief grappling, McMann was fighting a triangle attempt from Reneau off her back.

    McMann snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and Reneau scored one of the better comeback victories of 2018. The school teacher put herself in the hunt for a title shot and may only be another win away.

Loser: Renan Barao

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    Renan Barao, former UFC bantamweight champion, is no longer one of the best fighters in the world. He's never been the same since the beatings T.J. Dillashaw gave him in their two title fights.

    Brian Kelleher is far from being a scrub, but it is clear to anyone who watched Barao at his height this is not the same fighter. There are only so many miles an athlete's body can take, and Barao's mileage has broken the odometer.

    Kelleher picked up a clear-cut decision win that should have been a TKO stoppage near the final horn. He plastered Barao, who was out on his feet. The referee chose to allow the horn to do his work for him.

    Barao is done as an elite fighter, but he will likely soldier on for the foreseeable future. This is a sad story we have seen far too many times. Don't expect a career revival.

Loser: Orlando

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    Sorry, Orlando. You didn't deserve this fight card.

    Originally, Yoel Romero vs. David Branch was the main event. Romero got pulled from the card in order to fight Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, and Orlando got Emmett vs. Stephens instead. A fine fight, but it didn't inspire many in Orlando to make a concerted effort to get to the Amway Center for the event.

    This was yet another lackluster fight card put on by the UFC. Were Orlando's fight fans supposed to be excited because it aired on Fox and not Fox Sports 1 or UFC Fight Pass? There was little effort to give the fans an event they could get excited about going to on a Saturday evening.

    In terms of quality, it was a fun event. But if no one cares enough to go out to the show or tune in to the broadcast, quality does not make that much of a difference. There was little about the card heading into Saturday to draw in much interest outside of the MMA bubble.

    Orlando got the fuzzy end of the lollipop with this card.

Loser: Mike Perry

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    Perhaps this should read that the UFC is the loser. But it's a joint entry, truth be told.

    Mike Perry burst on to the scene with two big knockout performances before a brief setback. Then he ousted Jake Ellenberger and Alex Reyes violently. The UFC saw a star on its hands and put him on the fast track with a contender's showdown against Santiago Ponzinibbio.

    He lost.

    At UFC on Fox 28, the UFC put him in a matchup against another striker on a big card. He led off the Fox main card.

    He lost again.

    Max Griffin showed superior striking and better tactics in the first two rounds. It was enough to earn the decision. Perry, to his credit, showed heart and better cardio. Still, it does not appear he has the top-end skills to make it to title contention. He's just a heavy-handed brawler in a deep division.

    That's not what stars are made of.

Winner: Ilir Latifi

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    Ilir Latifi is known for the picture of him riding a horse on a beach and being ridiculously strong. It's made him a fan favorite.

    How strong is the man? Ask Ovince Saint Preux.

    Latifi is not the archetype for a light heavyweight. He's short, stocky and not the quickest man in the division. OSP is the exact opposite. Latifi still got inside and landed a left hand on OSP's jaw. The former contender buckled immediately.

    Latifi chased down OSP and hurt him even more. The referee stood and watched. Latifi then grabbed his opponent's head with a standing guillotine, nearly pulling it off. OSP went to sleep, and Latifi put him to bed as he got his second straight victory.

    Now 5-1 in his past six fights, Latifi sits poised as a contender to the light heavyweight throne.

Winner: Elite Strawweights

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    We have marveled at Joanna Jedrzejczyk. We were astonished by Rose Namajunas. In Orlando, we were treated to Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres.

    The talent level of strawweight has always been fairly high, but it hasn't been widely noticed. Andrade and Torres put on a spectacle to show off the depth of that talent among elite contenders in the division. It was high-level action with thoughtful game-planning.

    Torres needed to stick and move against the always oncoming Andrade. She was successful early. Andrade needed to close the distance and impose her strength. She was successful late. The Brazilian's pressure proved too much over the course of 15 minutes and earned her a second straight top-five victory.

    Andrade is the unquestioned top challenger after knocking off Claudia Gadelha and Torres, but Saturday's performance was about the division as a whole.

    These two highly skilled women put on a show that highlighted how fun this division not only can be but is. Toughness, grit, a consistent high tempo and top-tier skill. Strawweight action is not to be missed.

Winner: Jeremy Stephens

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    Lil' Heathen went ahead and collected his title shot on network television.

    Jeremy Stephens was dropped in the first round, but he rebounded by shutting off Josh Emmett's lights. There may have been an illegal knee in the process, but it wasn't called. It may have missed entirely. Replays were not conclusive but did show illegal elbows landed. The referee missed it all.

    Controversy aside, Stephens has put together his skills and ascended to the top at 145 pounds.

    The KO sealed his third consecutive win. Finishing the No. 4-ranked contender in emphatic fashion should all but assure Stephens will get his title shot in 2018. There is a logjam of contenders, which complicates matters a touch. But Stephens knows how close he is, as he got down on his knees after the fight to beg for a shot.

    Coming through with a big KO performance on Fox makes him a clear winner. Perhaps Saturday's was his biggest victory to date.

UFC on Fox 28 Full Card Results

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    Main Card

    • Jeremy Stephens def. Josh Emmett by KO at 1:35 of the second round.
    • Jessica Andrade def. Tecia Torres by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28).
    • Ilir Latifi def. Ovince Saint Preux via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 3:48 of the first round.
    • Max Griffin def. Mike Perry by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-27).


    Preliminary Card

    • Brian Kelleher def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
    • Marion Reneau def. Sara McMann via submission (triangle choke) at 3:40 of the second round.
    • Angela Hill def. Maryna Moroz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
    • Alan Jouban def. Ben Saunders by KO at 2:38 of the second round.
    • Sam Alvey def. Marcin Prachnio by KO at 4:23 of the first round.
    • Rani Yahya def. Russell Doane via submission (arm-triangle) at 2:32 of the third round.
    • Alex Perez def. Eric Shelton by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
    • Manny Bermudez def. Albert Morales via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:33 of the second round.