The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 154

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2019

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 154

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    The UFC took its latest offering to Greenville, South Carolina, and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena played host to UFC Fight Night 154 on Saturday.

    In the headlining slot was a featherweight showdown between two top contenders: Renato Moicano and Chan Sung Jung.

    The main event took less than one minute. "The Korean Zombie" Jung pelted Moicano with a picture-perfect right hand and finished on the mat. It was a signature victory that puts Jung back in the conversation of elite featherweights.

    In the co-main event, Randy Brown cashed in as an underdog with a TKO win over Bryan Barberena.

    All in all, 11 bouts were contested in Greenville that gave us 11 winners and 11 losers. But not everyone was a real winner or real loser. Some came out with a more clear picture of their path up the ranks, while others will have to go back to the drawing board.

    And this is your invitation to that conversation. Here are the real winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 154.

Winner: The Korean Zombie

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    The Korean Zombie is back in a big way!

    As MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas tweeted, the casual fan forgot about Chan Sung Jung somewhere along the way. He was a burgeoning star before he left for military service, and upon his return, he suffered a knee injury. Well, it's time for those casual fans to remember the name.

    With a perfect right hand, The Korean Zombie put Renato Moicano down. He followed up with some ground-and-pound until the referee pulled him off.

    The win will put Jung back into the hunt at featherweight. It is a massive result.

    But it is the reintroduction of The Korean Zombie that is his big win Saturday. He put on a Fight of the Year contender last year in a losing effort but returned with a sub-minute thrashing of Moicano. It is a reminder of why we all loved him in the first place and of his elite skills.

    The Korean Zombie is ready for another run. Not just at a title, but as a UFC superstar.

Loser: Renato Moicano

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    Renato Moicano is not a loser because he lost to The Korean Zombie. Although he did.

    Moicano is not a loser because he was demolished inside of one minute. Although he was.

    Moicano is a loser because the 58-second loss was extremely damaging to his hopes of becoming a featherweight title contender in the immediate or near future. It is a setback of more than a year at a minimum.

    The talented Brazilian worked his way up into the ranks before losing to Brian Ortega. But he showed well in the effort and got back in the win column with back-to-back wins over Calvin Kattar and Cub Swanson. Then it was a possible title eliminator against Jose Aldo.

    A TKO loss.

    But it was a loss to the greatest featherweight of all time. Understandable and a small setback.

    While the loss to The Korean Zombie is also understandable, it is not a small setback. Back-to-back TKO losses will damage anyone's hopes. For Moicano, it is substantial. How does he work his way back in the coming year? It won't be two or even three wins to get back into the title talk. It will be four, five or six.

    This was a crushing, damning loss for Moicano.

Winner: Action Fighters

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    We may have lost the John Lineker fight, but action fighters still come through with action.

    "Violent Bob Ross" Luis Pena took a win with a third-round TKO. Dan Ige won a decision against Kevin Aguilar. Andre Ewell defeated Anderson dos Santos. Randy Brown looked better than ever in a third-round TKO victory over Bryan Barberena.

    We also saw some technical progression from young fighters like Ashley Yoder.

    While there was a lack of finishing during a significant stretch of the card, the fighters who were put on the card to generate action did just that. Ige, for instance, put together some stellar combinations that hurt Aguilar repeatedly. Aguilar was almost too tough for his own good.

    Barberena vs. Brown was anointed as the co-main event after Lineker was pulled, but it delivered. Brown finished with a nice sequence that focused on body work.

    Action doesn't simply mean big finishes. There can be great action in grappling sequences and back-and-forth stand-up attrition. Greenville got a little of both. Was it the UFC's best effort for a full card? No. But it was a quality Fight Night event that came through with some fun bouts and fun action fighters.

    Ige, Brown and others will earn their way onto bigger cards, and fans will be excited to see them on the docket.

Loser: John Lineker and His Fans

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    John Lineker vs. Rob Font was a sure-fire rock 'em, sock 'em fight. It was ripped from the card a day before the event.

    Lineker is all-action, but fans have routinely had their hearts broken with missed weigh-ins, illnesses and injuries.

    Per ESPN.com's Ariel Helwani, Lineker suffered a cut above his eye the night before while cutting weight. No specific details were given about how the cut occurred. Lineker tried to keep the date but eventually pulled out.

    Lineker lost more than just a co-main event slot. This could have sealed a title fight for him. While he is coming off a loss, the division is in flux. He has a credible record with name value while also offering up a fun style for any opponent. A convincing win over Font and the UFC would have to look at Lineker as an option.

    A potential meeting with Henry Cejudo carries intrigue, as Lineker is a former flyweight himself.

    Even without a potential title or interim title bid on the line, Lineker missed an opportunity to get back in the win column in an exciting fashion.

    Lineker had a lot on the line, but a cut ruined it. By the time he can get back in the cage, those big opportunities may have passed him by.

Loser: Women's Flyweight

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    There were two 125-pound fights on the card with Molly McCann vs. Ariane Lipski and Andrea Lee vs. Montana De La Rosa. Neither inspired the confidence of a legitimate threat to Valentina Shevchenko.

    As for the first bout mentioned, we'll touch on that a little later. Needless to say, the highly touted prospect, Lipski, failed to shine. But the main card's bout between De La Rose and Lee was a battle between ranked foes.

    Lee entered as the No. 10-ranked contender, and De La Rosa was the No. 11-ranked contender. It was not a fun fight.

    There were a lot of basic techniques being used without a lot of success. Lee would end up with the victory because of her takedown defense. She was able to keep the fight standing for the majority of the bout and do enough damage to warrant the win.

    De La Rosa got a few takedowns, but there was still much to be desired with her technique.

    Both fighters showed they have a long way to go before being thought of as elite in the division. There are numerous holes, both standing and on the ground, for each to fix. Sadly, this is what the majority of the division looks like for now.

    Shevchenko doesn't have an equal.

    Over time, the division will develop and grow. That's the silver lining. But in 2019, it is bad.

Winner: Violent Bob Ross

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    Luis Pena, or perhaps better known now as Violent Bob Ross, put on a show against the returning Matt Wiman.

    Pena has caught the eye of fans with his distinctive style and in-cage brutality. He's also caught the attention of the UFC brass. He dropped a fight last November but came back in March with a decision victory. Stopping Wiman shows that his progression is on an upward trajectory.

    Is he an upper-echelon lightweight? Maybe. It's far too early to tell. But Pena continues to show he is developing his skills. He is in a very deep division, and the UFC would be wise to use the depth of its ranks to slowly bring him along.

    The excitement Pena brings into the cage will allow the UFC to market his fights. Fans will be excited to see him on a fight card. And as long as he continues to back it up, Pena will be a longtime member of the UFC roster.

Loser: Ariane Lipski

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    Ariane Lipski went on a nine-fight win streak, including becoming the KSW flyweight champion, to earn her way into the UFC.

    Performances against the likes of Juliana Werner and Sheila Gaff put her on the map. Stand-up skills and a growing ground game made her one of the top prospects to watch. It was exciting to see her come into the UFC. But sometimes the hype just isn't real.

    She dropped her UFC debut to Joanne Calderwood. That loss did not do much to dim her shine. A debut against a credible vet was a hard way to start her UFC run. It was just a reminder that she is a young fighter needing to grow against lesser competition.

    The UFC did, or seemingly did, take note. Molly McCann was 1-1 in the UFC. It was a test for Lipski, but one a top-end prospect would surely pass.

    Lipski failed.

    McCann took a unanimous-decision victory. All credit to her, and now she can take the win and build upon it in a shallow division. Lipski, however, suffered a major defeat. If her candidacy to become an elite flyweight was stock, the floor would be filled with sellers. She moves to 0-2 in the UFC without looking like the prospect we all thought she was.

    At 25, she still has a high ceiling. Just don't expect anyone to buy back into her until she goes on a run in the division. The goodwill she had, she lost in Greenville.

UFC Fight Night 154 Full Card Results

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    ESPN+ Main Card

    • Chan Sung Jung def. Renato Moicano by TKO at 0:58 of the first round
    • Randy Brown def. Bryan Barberena by TKO at 2:54 of the third round
    • Andre Ewell def. Anderson dos Santos by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
    • Andrea Lee def. Montana De La Rosa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
    • Kevin Holland def. Alessio Di Chirico by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    ESPN Preliminary Card

    • Dan Ige def. Kevin Aguilar by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
    • Ashley Yoder def. Syuri Kondo by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-24)
    • Luis Pena def. Matt Wiman by TKO at 1:14 of the third round
    • Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Allen Crowder by KO at 0:09 of the first round
    • Molly McCann def. Ariane Lipski by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Deron Winn def. Eric Spicely by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)