The Real Winners and Losers from UFC on ESPN 4

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2019

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC on ESPN 4

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    You were always told to remember the Alamo, but the UFC wants you to remember Leon Edwards after his main event victory in San Antonio at UFC on ESPN 4.

    The Octagon was front and center in the AT&T Center as Edwards fought Rafael dos Anjos in the main event. Edwards proved he is among the welterweight elite with a dominant showing through five rounds. He stifled Dos Anjos at every turn and picked up the unanimous-decision victory.

    In the co-main event, "The Big Ticket" Walt Harris punched his way into contention in the heavyweight division with a 12-second KO over Aleksei Oleinik.

    The ever-controversial Greg Hardy also had a quick night with another sub-minute knockout of Juan Adams.

    It was a long, full night of action, with 10 of the 13 scheduled bouts going the distance. But who walked out of San Antonio as the real winners and losers? We go back into the full card to pull out those fighters who left the AT&T Center with wins or losses following UFC on ESPN 4.

Loser: Finishes

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    UFC on ESPN 4 broke a record that nobody was hoping would be broken. The event began with nine straight decisions, per ESPN's Ariel Helwani.

    Not all decisions are created equal. Sometimes you can get a closely contested, exciting three- or five-round fight that puts you on the edge of your seat. That is not what we got in San Antonio. While there were flashes of excitement, it was largely a plodding card without much top-flight action.

    There wasn't an objectionable fight in those opening nine bouts, but there was also nothing memorable. That's worse than stinking up the joint.

    Then three straight finishes livened up the card before Leon Edwards bested Rafael dos Anjos in the five-round main event. The 10th decision tied the record for most decisions on a single card.

    Sadly, what was missing was the back-and-forth nail-biter that captivated fans from bell-to-bell. We got some solid individual performances, such as Edwards', but nothing that helped to build stars or sell future fights.

Winner: Leon Edwards

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    Leon Edwards can now be welcomed into the welterweight elite, but more importantly, he kept his potential fight with Jorge Masvidal alive.

    After Masvidal's five-second KO of Ben Askren, Masvidal became a star in this sport. He will likely be in line for a title shot. But for Edwards, there is history that makes an Edwards-Masvidal fight compelling and an easy sell for the UFC. Should the Kamaru Usman title fight not present itself to Masvidal, a title eliminator with Edwards would surely be the next biggest thing in the division.

    That fight has heat.

    Edwards and Masvidal got into it backstage earlier in 2019 after Masvidal knocked out Darren Till. That backstage scuffle ignited some interest in that budding rivalry.

    A loss in San Antonio would have all but wiped that potential fight off the table. Instead, it is one of the few fights fans can point to wanting to see at 170 pounds. Edwards will be waiting for Masvidal regardless of how the schedule pans out—and so will the fans.

    Keeping alive the Masvidal fight, and continuing to call him out in the post-fight interview with Jon Anik, is a huge win for Edwards. It is a future main event that can be penciled in.

Winner: Walt Harris

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    Oh my.

    Walt Harris obliterated Aleksei Oleinik in 12 seconds.

    Oleinik was the target of a switch knee. It didn't land flush, but the defensive positioning from Oleinik allowed him to be open to Harris' follow-up right. Oleinik crumpled to the mat, falling awkwardly on his right knee, and he was an open target for Harris' final shots.

    Harris is unbeaten since 2017, and he looks the part of a contender. That is why he is a winner in San Antonio.

    Few heavyweights are as athletic as Harris. He moves gracefully and explodes with remarkable power. Harris also has a decent wrestling base should he need it. As he continues to develop, Harris will be a problem for any fighter in the division.

    The Big Ticket is nearing serious title contention.

Loser: Juan Adams

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    Understandably, Juan Adams was not a fan of Greg Hardy. He was outspoken about his dislike in the buildup to the fight. Adams' principled stance made him an easy guy to like.

    Not only did he lose to Hardy, but he also lost quickly without showing much.

    That's a big loss.

    Adams grabbed a single leg, Hardy sprawled and landed repeated punches to the side of his head. Adams didn't move much, if at all. The referee was forced to step in to save him. Adams argued the stoppage, but it was just. A fighter can not be hanging on while eating repeated blows without moving and expect the fight to continue. Especially at heavyweight.

    If you want to talk trash to gain some fans, you also have to back it up in the cage. And that is not to say he had to win. He simply needed to show some offense. Adams did none of that. Hardy got the quick stoppage, and the train rolls on.

Winner: Dan Hooker

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    Thank you, Dan Hooker.

    After nine consecutive decisions, someone finally got a finish. Hooker caught James Vick with his guard down and landed a left hook to sit him down. He followed up with accurate ground-and-pound to remove the consciousness from Vick's body.

    More importantly, for Hooker, he regained some of the momentum he had in 2018.

    Hooker went on a fun four-fight win streak before getting stopped by Edson Barboza. He got to the upper echelon and failed. After the first-round KO of Vick, Hooker will once again ascend into the mix of the lightweight elite.

    The New Zealander is an exciting fighter to watch. Being the man to finally inject some excitement into the UFC on ESPN 4 card while re-establishing himself in the 155-pound division was a big win for Hooker.

Winner: Ray Borg

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    Ray Borg has gone through a tough time with injuries in recent years. That includes getting glass in his eye thanks to Conor McGregor's infamous dolly attack before UFC 223.

    He then left for his toughest fight. Borg's son was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, fluid buildup in the brain, which saw him undergo a dozen surgeries. Per MMAJunkie.com's Steven Marrocco and Mike Bohn, Borg's son is showing normal signs of development for a newborn.

    Borg made his way back into the Octagon earlier in the year, but he suffered a loss to Casey Kenney. On Saturday, finally able to be an active member of the UFC roster and compete regularly, Borg won a three-round decision to get back in the win column.

    Just as special was his emotional post-fight interview in the cage with Jon Anik. The trials it has taken to get to this point, and to do it for his son, weighed heavy on his shoulders. Borg is a true winner both in and out of the cage, and he has the tools to make noise.

    It's great to see him back performing up to his potential after all he and his family have gone through.

UFC on ESPN 4 Full Card Results

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    UFC on ESPN 4 Main Card

    • Leon Edwards def. Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46).
    • Walt Harris def. Aleksei Oleinik by KO at 0:12 of the first round.
    • Greg Hardy def. Juan Adams by TKO at 0:45 of the first round.
    • Dan Hooker def. James Vick by KO at 2:33 of the first round.
    • Alexander Hernandez def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
    • Andrei Arlovski def. Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

                   

    UFC on ESPN 4 Preliminary Card

    • Alex Caceres def. Steven Peterson by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
    • Raquel Pennington def. Irene Aldana by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
    • Klidson Abreu def. Sam Alvey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
    • Jennifer Maia def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
    • Ray Borg def. Gabriel Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
    • Mario Bautista def. Jin Soo Son by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
    • Felipe Colares def. Domingo Pilarte by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).