Junior dos Santos proved to be a rough welcoming committee for Blagoy Ivanov, winning a unanimous-decision victory to close out UFC Fight Night 133 in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday. Dos Santos utilized his strong boxing skills to outclass Ivanov through five rounds.
The two sluggers spent most of the first round in an extended feeling-out process. Dos Santos played the role of aggressor, backing Ivanov down while the Bulgarian looked for opportunities to counter. JDS' distance management and ability to dictate pace turned out to be early themes.
Those themes would continue as Cigano frustrated the UFC debutant. Unlike many fights where dos Santos got himself into trouble by fighting against the cage, he continued to bring the fight to his opponent.
By the end of the round, he was stringing meaningful combinations together:
Ivanov wasn't going away quietly, though. The former Bellator and World Series of Fighting veteran showed signs of life in the third round with a clubbing left hand that whipped dos Santos' head back:
As heavyweight fights are wont to do, the bout soon devolved into a slow-motion slugfest. A more desperate Ivanov threw dangerous strikes, but JDS was able to evade and continue to pile up points on the scorecard to set up a fifth round in which he only needed to coast to earn the nod from the judges.
The only ding on a strong performance from dos Santos was the fact that he was warned multiple times about eye pokes, leading many to wonder why a point wasn't deducted:
Overall, it was a clinic for dos Santos and an impressive performance in his first appearance in the Octagon since his May 2017 loss to Stipe Miocic. Dos Santos has alternated wins and losses in his last eight fights while fighting some of the best fighters the division has to offer.
After the bout, he called for a third fight with now former heavyweight champion Miocic.
The heavyweight collision was the main event, but it was a card chock-full of recognizable names. A few high-profile fighters found redemption after layoffs or losing streaks, and a few prospects picked up big-time wins that showcased their potential.
Here's a look at all the results and a closer look at each main card bout:
Main Card (Fox Sports 1)
- Junior dos Santos vs. Blagoy Ivanov via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- Sage Northcutt def. Zak Ottow via KO (punches) at 3:13 of R2
- Rick Glenn def. Dennis Bermudez via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- Niko Price def. Randy Brown via KO (hammerfists) at 1:09 of R2
- Chad Mendes def. Myles Jury via TKO (punches) at 2:52 of R1
- Cat Zingano def. Marion Reneau via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
- Alejandro Perez def. Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Alexander Volkanovski def. Darren Elkins via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Said Nurmagomedov def. Justin Scoggins via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Raoni Barcelos def. Kurt Holobaugh via TKO (punches) at 1:29 of R3
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Liz Carmouche def. Jennifer Maia via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Mark De La Rosa def. Elias Garcia via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:00 of R2
- Jessica Aguilar def. Jodie Esquibel via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Zak Ottow vs. Sage Northcutt
Sage Northcutt may have finally made a successful transition to welterweight. The 22-year-old picked up his first win in the division with a second-round KO win over Zak Ottow in the co-main event for the evening.
It wasn't an easy win for the young prospect. Ottow rocked him early in the fight and decisively won the first round.
Northcutt didn't allow the rough start to decide the fight, though. By the end of the first round, he worked his way back to the feet and was aggressive. The approach would pay off in the second round as a well-timed jab stymied Ottow and led to a finish when Northcutt took him down to the ground and ended the fight with strikes.
It's a huge win for the often scrutinized Northcutt. Thanks to his combination of youth, looks and striking, he's been pushed early and often in his career, but a win like this shows that he is truly making progress.
A successful appearance in welterweight could be a harbinger of things to come as he comes into his own as a fighter and shows the ability to overcome adversity.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Rick Glenn
Dennis Bermudez simply cannot convince more than one judge that he's won a fight recently. The 31-year-old lost a third consecutive fight via split decision, with Rick Glenn winning their bout on two judges' scorecards.
As the decision indicated, it was a hard bout to score. Bermudez was able to land takedowns at will but wasn't able to do much with them. Glenn was able to win most of the striking exchanges but never landed the kind of impact strikes that would give him a convincing lead.
As Mike Bohn of MMAjunkie noted, it's rare for a fighter to drop as many split decisions as Bermudez has:
The loss means that Bermudez—who was once one of the best featherweights in the promotion—now has four straight losses on his resume. A knockout loss to Chan Sung Jung is the last time he didn't lose by split decision.
Glenn didn't dominate by any means, but the win does get him back on track after a unanimous-decision loss to Myles Jury the last time out.
It'll take a lot more than a win over Bermudez for him to really make a name for himself in a loaded division, but this was a step in the right direction.
Randy Brown vs. Niko Price
It isn't often that a fighter is able to finish a fight from the bottom, but Niko Price found a way to do just that to defeat Randy Brown.
Scrambling to gain an advantageous position, Price used his foot to hold Brown's head and teed off with left hammerfists until the referee was forced to call an end to the fight in the second round:
Price moved to 4-1, with a fifth win overturned for a positive marijuana test in the UFC, and turned some heads in doing so. There was no shortage of reactions to his unique knockout:
Price does have a submission loss to his name, but that's not unusual for a prospect to get caught at least once. The creativity and pure power he showcased in this one are prime examples of why he's someone to keep an eye on in the welterweight division.
As he pointed out after the bout, that was with his left hand. Imagine the kind of damage he could have done with his right.
Chad Mendes vs. Myles Jury
Chad "Money" Mendes wasted no time in welcoming himself back to the ranks of the featherweight division.
After serving a two-year suspension for a USADA doping violation, the Team Alpha Male product returned with a first-round finish of Jury.
It was a quick left hook from the 33-year-old that precipitated the ending. Jury was caught flush on the chin and left scrambling to defend himself:
From there, Mendes showcased his exceptional finishing instincts, maintaining dominant position and raining down strikes until he drew the stoppage from the referee.
It was a prime performance for one of the division's mainstays. Mendes showed no signs of being slowed from his hiatus from the sport and showcased why he could still be a factor in the title picture of the division.
Cat Zingano vs. Marion Reneau
Cat Zingano has still got it.
"It" being the sheer strength and physicality that made her a title contender in 2015. Alpha Cat scored her first victory since defeating Amanda Nunes in 2014 with a unanimous-decision win over Marion Reneau to open up the main card in Boise.
Reneau came into this fight on a roll with a 3-0-1 record in her last four fights, but her striking was neutralized by a barrage of takedowns from Zingano, who dominated from top position. The UFC posted some of Zingano's handiwork that took Reneau to the mat:
The win snaps a three-fight losing streak for Zingano. She had not won a fight since losing a title fight to Ronda Rousey in 2015, so this was a return to form. As Michael Carroll of FightMetric noted, her takedown performance was nearly unequaled in the women's bantamweight division:
Despite the lack of recent success, Zingano came into this bout ranked No. 6 in the division and is the only woman to beat the current champion Nunes in the UFC. That's a recipe for a quick rise to the top based on this performance.