The Real Winners and Losers from UFC 238

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC 238

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    UFC 238 hit the United Center in Chicago on Saturday with a stacked event.

    Henry Cejudo became a two-weight world champion by defeating Marlon Moraes in the main event to claim the vacant UFC bantamweight title. After a hot start, Moraes quickly faded. Cejudo took control of the fight and battered his opponent en route to the win.

    The co-main event delivered a Knockout of the Year contender.

    Champion Valentina Shevchenko served notice to the remainder of the flyweight division by obliterating Jessica Eye with a head kick in the opening minute of the second round.

    The other marquee fight was a possible title eliminator in the lightweight division. Tony Ferguson won after the doctor called a stop to the fight between the second and third rounds. Donald Cerrone blew his busted nose, which caused his eye to swell shut. Since he could not see, he could not continue.

    Those are simply the results of the three most hyped bouts, but who are the real winners and losers coming out of Chicago?

    Let's take a look at the full event and examine who walks out of the Windy City in better, or worse, shape than they entered with the real winners of losers of UFC 238.

Losers: The Main Event

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    What a strange main event.

    Henry Cejudo defeated Marlon Moraes to become a double champ, but it was a strange fight.

    Cejudo was a loser heading into the fight. He showed up to the pre-fight press conference wearing a crown and cape, and his antics only got more ridiculous from there in what was clearly an attempt to market himself. Cejudo was one of the more likable fighters in the UFC not too long ago, but this persona he has created isn't doing him any favors.

    As for the fight, Moraes began fast and looked incredible. Without suffering major damage, he slowed and looked tired in the second, which allowed Cejudo to gain momentum and land strikes of his own. He landed brutal knees in the clinch to quicken Moraes' demise.

    Cejudo finished him off with ground-and-pound in the third round.

    This could have been a much better matchup but whatever happened to Moraes cheapened it. Maybe Cejudo still wins, but at least Moraes would have put up a better fight and looked like a true challenger. At least it would have gone into the championship rounds if he hadn't gassed out.

    But on Saturday, the main event faltered seemingly out of nowhere. Cejudo took advantage like a champion should, but fans cannot be happy with how things played out.

Losers: Flyweight Women

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    How do you go about beating Valentina Shevchenko?

    She's nearly the equal of Amanda Nunes. In fact, Nunes is the only one she's lost against in the UFC. Shevchenko lost two close decisions to the UFC's bantamweight and featherweight champion, and she's a flyweight. If you are a 125-pound fighter, how do you go about defeating her? What's your plan?

    The champion is the best striker in the division, and she is one of the best grapplers as well. She doesn't have holes that other fighters have. No matter where the fight goes, she is likely better than you, and that's without mentioning her physical strength and power.

    Jessica Eye needed to make this fight dirty, but all that did was give Shevchenko more holes to exploit. Eye couldn't stand at range or grapple with her because those were sure ways to get beat. Eye had to throw caution to the wind and try to create something that was never going to be there. After big body kicks, Shevchenko went high and iced her in a brutal, heart-stopping knockout.

    Shevchenko is so far ahead of the rest of the flyweights in the world it is almost comical. She'll be the champion for a long time unless she decides to once again try for the bantamweight title. She has no equals at 125 pounds.

    Flyweights around the world: She is your queen. Bow down.

Winner: The Lightweight Division

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    The fight may not have had the ending we all wanted, but for two rounds, Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone delivered in spades.

    Even with the abrupt finish due to Cerrone's swollen eye, the lightweight division won because the UFC has a full slate of options.

    Could Ferguson receive the title shot that was thought to be on the line? Sure. Could he take a fight against Conor McGregor instead if McGregor returns and wants it? Absolutely. But the potential McGregor vs. Cowboy fight is still available too, because Cerrone did not look bad in defeat.

    Also, the UFC lightweight belt isn't on the line until September. The UFC has time to run this matchup back should both fighters want it.

    All options are available to the UFC matchmakers, and fans benefit from whatever direction they choose to go. It's simply impossible to make a bad choice with the talent available. So, while the fight had an ending many weren't satisfied with, it left the UFC with suitable options for the immediate future.

    We were treated to a wild battle for 10 minutes. Now the UFC can treat us all to a variety of amazing lightweight bouts featuring the best fighters in the world. Mix and match however they please, and we'll get elite-level scraps entertaining us through the end of the year.

Winners: Ivanov and Tuivasa’s Next Opponents

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    What a heavyweight scrap fans were treated to at UFC 238.

    Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov exchanged heavy punches for 15 minutes, each landing and hurting the other at various points. In the end, Ivanov took the unanimous decision.

    While the fight may have proved that both men are leather-tough, their next opponents, whoever they may be, benefitted from this fight. It was the kind of battle some fighters never recover from. The damage sustained will not go away overnight, if at all, which would be unfortunate after such an entertaining bout.

    They survived 15 minutes against one another, but can they sustain that kind of damage going forward? Probably not.

    These types of scraps are exciting to watch, but they take a physical toll on the fighters. Sometimes that gets lost on fans, but it won't be lost on whoever comes next for both Ivanov and Tuivasa. Expect those opponents to test their mettle early when the Octagon door closes. We'll see what the lasting effects of this absolute war are when they get chin-checked next time out, but don't be surprised if their opponents enter as the betting favorites.

Winner: Tatiana Suarez

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    Tatiana Suarez was supposed to win this fight. She is highly regarded, and many see her as the future champion. It is not just that she could be champion, but that she will be.

    With each performance, she compounds those expectations because she doesn't show many avenues to defeat her. While Nina Ansaroff came on strong in the third round, it was far too late for it to matter.

    Suarez's power wrestling, excellent jiu-jitsu and growing striking make her a terrifying fighter to face. She mauled Carla Esparza previously and followed that up with another strong performance against Ansaroff in Chicago.

    We have seen many heralded fighters come through the UFC and falter along the way, especially when the spotlight is on them and they are seen as the next big thing. Suarez didn't stumble. She didn't trip up. She rose to those expectations and moved past Ansaroff.

    A title shot is next. There is no other recourse for the UFC.

    MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas used a GIF of Thanos when talking about Suarez. It was an apt comparison, because she is inevitable.

Loser: Karolina Kowalkiewicz

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    Off the top, let's give credit where it's due. Alexa Grasso finally showed why she was one of the top prospects coming out of Invicta FC. She looked fantastic.

    Now, why is Karolina Kowalkiewicz a loser? In short, the loss effectively ended her time as an elite strawweight.

    Kowalkiewicz entered the UFC with a three-fight win streak that included Randa Markos and Rose Namajunas, which earned her a title shot against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. While she came up short, she rocked Jedrzejczyk and showed she was a legit contender.

    But since 2017, Kowalkiewicz is 2-4 and has dropped three straight fights.

    She is 33 years old, meaning she has likely peaked athletically, which will not allow her the chance to grow as quickly as she needs to. Is she still talented and a game fighter? Absolutely. But the division is passing her by with younger talent like Grasso.

    Kowalkiewicz is an easy fighter to cheer for, but Father Time looks to be claiming another victim, and the loss at UFC 238 was a big indicator that her spell as a serious threat is over.

Winner: Calvin Kattar

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    Calvin Kattar picked up his fourth win inside the Octagon and made it back-to-back victories with his knockout over Ricardo Lamas.

    Kattar entered as the No. 15-ranked contender, with his only loss coming at the hands of Renato Moicano. His Saturday night victory—and the way in which it came, a first-round knockout—should help him finally earn respect as one of the division's best. That makes him a huge winner in the featherweight division.

    It is an incredibly deep division, and making noise against an opponent like Lamas cuts through the riff-raff to put Kattar in prime position for big bouts. The win moved him from a fringe contender right into the hunt.

    And even more importantly, Kattar is a class act.

    In the post-fight interview in the cage, Kattar briefly addressed the recent death of his childhood best friend and then used his time to implore those who are struggling with substance addiction to reach out and seek the help they need to overcome it.

    Mr. Kattar, well done.

Winner: Chinese MMA

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    China has always seemed like a market the MMA world could expand into, but early attempts fell flat in making an immediate impact. This includes the UFC's 2013-14 run of The Ultimate Fighter. Now, five years later, we are starting to see some of those efforts come to fruition.

    Weili Zhang had one of the biggest wins for a Chinese MMA fighter on March 2 over Tecia Torres, and later that month, it was eclipsed when Xiong Jingnan defeated Angela Lee at ONE Championship: A New Era. On Saturday, Xiaonan Yan kept it rolling with a unanimous-decision victory over Angela Hill.

    These are three key victories for the nation's top talent over credible opposition. The continual progression will help grow the sport's influence in the country and see more fighters come through the ranks to enter the sport's largest promotions.

    Xiaonan's victory at UFC 238 doesn't claim the spot for most important win in Chinese MMA history, but it is another example of how the sport has grown over the years. Fighters are not just entering the sport; now, they are becoming contenders and champions.

UFC 238 Full Card Results

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    UFC 238 Main Card

    • Henry Cejudo def. Marlon Moraes by TKO at 4:51 of the third round
    • Valentina Shevchenko (c) def. Jessica Eye by KO at 0:26 of the second round
    • Tony Ferguson def. Donald Cerrone by TKO (doctor stoppage) at the end of the second round
    • Petr Yan def. Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Blagoy Ivanov def. Tai Tuivasa by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) 3 5:00


    ESPN Preliminary Card

    • Tatiana Suarez def. Nina Ansaroff by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Aljamain Sterling def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Alexa Grasso def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Calvin Kattar def. Ricardo Lamas by KO at 4:06 of the first round


    UFC Fight Pass Preliminary Card

    • Xiaonan Yan def. Angela Hill by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Darren Stewart def. Bevon Lewis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Eddie Wineland def. Grigory Popov by TKO at 4:47 of the second round
    • Katlyn Chookagian def. Joanne Calderwood by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)