UFC Fight Night 146 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
There was a proper heavyweight rumble Saturday in Wichita, Kansas.
UFC Fight Night 146 was headlined by former champion Junior Dos Santos and Derrick Lewis, who's coming off a title challenge. Both are strikers, with 32 knockouts between them.
And both men could have used a victory. If Dos Santos could win his third straight, he'd be a contender again after years of mixed results and a substantial performance-enhancing drug investigation. Lewis surely wanted to put his last fight—a lopsided loss to champion Daniel Cormier—behind him.
So what went down? And how about the co-main event between two welterweights—Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos and Curtis Millender—looking for a well-earned breakout moment?
As always, the final stat lines do not reveal all. These are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 146.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Junior Dos Santos
Before the fight, Lewis was ranked No. 3 in the UFC's official heavyweight rankings, while Dos Santos was No. 8. It wouldn't be a stretch to suggest those numbers might flip-flop.
JDS damaged Lewis in the first round with a nasty spinning back kick to the midsection. He landed a big right hand in the second frame that led to the end. It was a wild fight, as one might expect, and it ended with a big TKO from Dos Santos.
"I want fights, UFC," Dos Santos told broadcaster Jon Anik in the cage after the bout. "They put me back [down] on the rankings, and that's fine. But I want to fight again and regain my belt."
Lewis landed plenty of offense, and it's always scary when that happens, but Dos Santos weathered it. The former champ's kick caused Lewis to double over in pain, but as Dos Santos swarmed, Lewis lashed out and nearly finished the fight with a massive right-hand shot. That led to an extended stalemate to end the first frame—with Lewis too hurt to move and Dos Santos too wary to move in.
Dos Santos' punches in the second ended the show, but that big body kick took a lot of the starch out of Lewis.
A title shot may not make sense for Dos Santos just yet, but bigger fights than Saturday's do. How about a rubber match with another former champ in Stipe Miocic? That could be a big part of any pay-per-view card.
Dos Santos is a talented, eminently lovable fighter. After the bout, he treated viewers to a highly off-key happy birthday sing-along for his baby son. Who doesn't love stuff like that? The UFC needs people like Dos Santos. After this third consecutive win, the promotion has him back again for sure.
Winner: Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos
The co-main event was a fabulous matchup, because the winner unequivocally arrived in the welterweight division. That's a cool thing to witness.
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos answered the bell in a big way with an easy first-round submission of Curtis Millender.
The big question was whether Millender had shored up his shaky defensive wrestling—his career takedown D stood at a paltry 57 percent before the fight, per UFC statistics—enough to keep the bout standing and ply his slick muay thai striking.
The answer, as it turned out, was no. Dos Santos quickly got the fight to the mat. Millender tried to counter with a guillotine choke, but Dos Santos easily defended it. The Brazilian soon transitioned to Millender's back, reached an arm under Millender's neck, arched his back and forced the tap.
He has seven straight wins—four by stoppage. He can finish with knockouts or submissions. This is an impressive fighter who's going places.
"Give me a Top Five opponent," he told Anik through a translator after the fight. "Show me some respect. If I don't deserve it, who does?"
The Top Five may be a shade ambitious, but there's no question he just established himself in a whole new circle.
Winner: Niko Price
The UFC minted a certified must-see action fighter Saturday when Niko Price knocked out Tim Means in the closing seconds of the first round.
Hardcore fans expected these two welterweights to deliver violence, and they did. Means was the bigger name and the favorite heading into the contest, but Price is a creative, dangerous striker, too. No one who saw him knock out Randy Brown with hammerfists—from the bottom position—could ever deny that.
Price got the better of Means early, forcing Means to shoot for a momentum-stopping takedown. But Means landed plenty of hard stuff, too. It tested Price's chin, but his chin passed with flying colors.
The end came shortly after Means rocked Price and rushed forward to press his advantage. Price fired a jab and then turned over a huge right hook that sent Means down for good. A few academic hammerfists finished the job.
That's three wins in his last four for Price, but perhaps even more important is his new status as a bona fide knockout artist. That's what really sets MMA fighters apart.
Loser: Blagoy Ivanov
Ben Rothwell is everything that is good and bad about the heavyweight division. Hard-hitting with the cardio of a boiled ham, a Rothwell fight is pure, lovable dreck. Add the extended promos, and you've got a gem.
Fans had missed the big lug for the past two years and 10 months, when Rothwell sat idle thanks in part to a controversial PED suspension. This was his return bout, and it came against Bulgarian Blagoy Ivanov.
It was, uh, not a good fight. Rothwell was more woozy than rusty, but he appeared to land enough, especially down the stretch, to get the advantage. The judges didn't see it that way, though, handing a unanimous decision to Ivanov as the crowd voiced its disapproval.
It's probably a stretch to call the decision a robbery, as it was a close, sloppy contest without many signature moments. Still, the fight probably should have gone to Rothwell. Either way, it spoiled the welcome-back party of a real fan favorite.
Winner: Anthony Rocco Martin
A year-and-a-half ago, he was Tony Martin, undistinguished 12-4 lightweight.
Now, he is Anthony Rocco Martin, a welterweight on a four-fight win streak.
Did the name change do this? I like to think so. But against a tough opponent in Sergio Moraes, Martin also used a quick jab, consistently sharp leg kicks and nifty footwork to stay clear of the Brazilian's aggressive attack.
It was an impressive, cerebral effort. Both in the cage and on the marquee, Martin is a rebranded fighter, and he's knocking on the door of the Top 15.
Loser: Yana Kunitskaya
Give Yana Kunitskaya credit. She is a tough customer. A little over one year after she absorbed a beating at the hands of Cris Cyborg, the Russian faced Marion Reneau on Saturday in search of her second straight win as a bantamweight.
She got it. But it came at a stiff cost, and that's why we're giving her an L.
For two rounds, Kunitskaya controlled the action with a jab and rangy kicks. It wasn't the most scintillating thing to watch, but it got the job done.
But, oh, then the third round. Reneau, sensing she was behind on the scorecards, began to charge forward. She touched Kunitskaya with straight punches, and down the stretch Kunitskaya's nose began to bleed. Then it broke. Then it got more broken. Reneau viciously hammered at it as the blood poured, and Kunitskaya began to resemble a zombie movie extra.
Again, Kunitskaya stayed tough, continuing to stay in front of Reneau and engage. But as the final horn sounded, it was clear who had absorbed more damage.
Her nose clearly out of place, Kunitskaya stood impassively as the decision was announced in her favor. Reneau reacted in disbelief.
Hey, that's the scoring system we have. Kunitskaya won two close rounds, and that was enough. But anyone with two eyes could see who had just caught the business end of a cage fight.
UFC Fight Night 146 Full Card Results
Junior Dos Santos def. Derrick Lewis by TKO, 1:58, Rd. 2
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos def. Curtis Millender by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:35, Rd. 1
Niko Price def. Tim Means by KO, 4:50, Rd. 1
Blagoy Ivanov def. Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Beneil Dariush def. Drew Dober by submission (armbar), 4:41, Rd. 2
Omari Akhmedov def. Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Anthony Rocco Martin def. Sergio Moraes by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Yana Kunitskaya def. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Grant Dawson def. Julian Erosa by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
Maurice Green def. Jeff Hughes by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Matt Schnell def. Louis Smolka by submission (triangle choke), 3:18, Rd. 1
Alex Morono def. Zak Ottow by submission (strikes), 3:34, Rd. 1
Alex White def. Dan Moret by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report and CNN.com.