UFC on ESPN 6 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
It was far from the only sports TV option.
In fact, the Friday night UFC card on ESPN2 was up against a number of heavy broadcast hitters, including Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, the third installment of the WWE's new Smackdown contract and 24/7 coverage of significant NFL injuries in Kansas City and New Orleans.
Still, the TD Garden wasn't exactly bereft of compelling activity.
And by the time it was over just before midnight ET—title challenges had been declared, a mutual peace between rivals had been shared and sirens of controversy surrounding a former standout from another sport had blared.
Thirteen fights yield a lot of winners and losers, symbolic and otherwise, and we've compiled our list coming out of the Boston show.
Click through to see what happened, or to decide if your list jibes with ours.
Winner: Sudden Impact
When the fight preview lasts longer than the fight, it's noticeable.
So it's no surprise, then, that Dominick Reyes and his team left the TD Garden in a pretty good mood.
The unbeaten light heavyweight insisted that rising former middleweight champ Chris Weidman was biting off more than he could chew by rising to 205 pounds. But it wasn't until he landed a perfectly placed counter left hand—less than two minutes into the first round—that people couldn't help but agree.
"If you were looking for a result or an outcome to make people want to see (Reyes) fight Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, you can't do much better than that," ESPN2 analyst Daniel Cormier, a former Jones opponent, said. "It's a good matchup. It'll be a great fight between those two.
"This kid is the real deal, man. I am very, very impressed."
Reyes escaped an early Weidman takedown and got back to his feet, then dropped his foe with the aforementioned sudden left, which was followed by a series of hammer fists to draw an intervention from referee Herb Dean.
And an instant call for that Jones fight from the man himself.
"Hey Jon, I don't want any party favors, man," Reyes said. "I want that belt. Let's go."
Loser: Broadcaster Credulity
Call it InhalerGate. Call it PufferGate. Call it whatever you like.
But regardless of what it's called, the goings-on surrounding Greg Hardy's heavyweight appearance on Friday night's UFC card can certainly be deemed controversial.
And in the immediate aftermath of the former NFL'er being allowed to use an inhaler between rounds against Ben Sosoli, the sensibilities of the ESPN 2 broadcast team were being stretched to the limit.
Marc Ratner, a senior regulatory affairs executive with the UFC, said within range of the microphones that it was "certainly illegal."
Nevertheless, it was allowed by the local commission, which prompted Dominick Cruz, the UFC's former featherweight champion, to recall when he was ordered by the same commission to remove bandage tape from his feet prior to entering the cage for a title fight.
"It is what it is if the commission allowed it," he said, "but it just blows my mind.
"I've never seen anything like it."
Hardy, who played for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys before myriad legal and personal issues ended his football days, originally won a unanimous decision by a trio of 29-28 scores. But the result was overturned after the bout and the match result was changed to a no contest.
Hardy was much taller and longer than his foe and spent most of the 15 minutes of combat striking from a distance while running his professional MMA record to 6-1. Sosoli landed some punches from long range in the final 60 seconds but never had his man in any significant trouble.
Winner: Respect Between Rivals
The enmity was real.
And less than a month after an aborted five-round match in Mexico, featherweights Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens rolled into Boston looking primed for three rounds of co-main event violence.
They didn't disappoint. Before. During. Or after.
Rodriguez eeked out a narrow first round, nearly stopped his man in a brutal second and gutted his way through an all but gassed-out third to capture a narrow but unanimous decision—sweeping the cards by matching scores of 29-28.
Incidentally, that first round closed with Rodriguez sticking his tongue out and Stephens gesturing while grabbing his own genitals.
So perhaps the most surprising result of the night came at the final buzzer when the two men helped each other to their feet and shared a prolonged embrace, which was followed by cordial greetings for the respective corner teams and similar respect in post-fight interviews.
Rodriguez entered the fight ranked seventh in the division, while Stephens was right behind at No. 8.
Neither man's fortunes should suffer based on their Friday performances.
"I was kind of compromised (in the third round) but I never felt in danger," Rodriguez said. "I knew I was winning. All that was going through my head was 'just stay safe.'"
Loser: The Female Flyweight Top 10
The crowd was revved-up. The announcers were fired up.
And the opponent, Gillian Robertson, was busted up.
So it seems everyone at the TD Garden in Boston—minus Robertson, of course—was pretty excited about Maycee Barber's violent first-round stoppage win in a main-card women's bout.
Going forward, though, there's a particular segment of people who may not feel the love:
Namely, contenders in the UFC's women's flyweight division.
Barber, nicknamed "The Future," forcefully announced her competitive presence among the 125-pounders while running her career record to 8-0, initially hurting Robertson with a right elbow shot before following up with a fusillade of left and right hands that rendered her foe defenseless.
The sudden erasure drew the 21-year-old some rave reviews from the establishment set.
"She's so aggressive and she's so big (5'5" height, 65" reach) for this weight class. The moment she hurt Gillian Robertson, she got right after her," former two-division champ Daniel Cormier said, on the ESPN2 broadcast. "This young lady, you can see that she is going to be a future champion."
The winner didn't shy away from microphone aggression afterward, instantly expressing interest in meeting a particularly high-profile opponent, former reality TV star and current UFC flyweight Paige VanZant.
VanZant was ranked No. 13 at flyweight earlier this year but hasn't fought since January thanks to a right arm injury.
"Hey, the only thing I know is that Paige VanZant is waiting for a phone call," Barber said. "You gonna answer or not?"
Winner: Octagonal Newbies
The preliminary card on ESPN2 wasn't for the faint of heart.
It included seven fights across three hours, with four of them going a full 15 minutes and the remaining three combining for another 13 minutes and 39 seconds of combat.
But those with the fortitude to hang in all the way from 6 to 9 p.m. ET weren't without reward when it came to discovering potential main-card fodder for the future.
In fact, no fewer than five of the seven prelim winners picked up their first UFC victories, with four of them coming in their first octagonal outing.
Canadian big man Tanner Boser kicked things off with a unanimous decision over Daniel Spitz, while 23-year-old newcomer Brendan Allen followed with a rear-naked choke submission of middleweight rival Kevin Holland at 3:38 of the second round.
Allen grabbed post-fight headlines, and heartstrings, in the aftermath as well—pleading with UFC czar Dana White to award him a Performance of the Night bonus, so he could fund a stand-up wheelchair for his brother, a paralyzed U.S. military veteran.
Welterweight prospect Sean Brady earned his initial UFC win via a unanimous scorecard verdict over Court McGee, and featherweight Sean Woodson followed suit with another unanimous nod over Kyle Bochniak.
The maiden-breaking quintet was rounded out by bantamweight Randy Costa, who rebounded from a defeat in his UFC debut to blitz Boston Salmon by TKO after just 2 minutes, 15 seconds of action.
Don't be surprised if you see several of the winners, particularly Allen, in an imminent marquee topper.
UFC on ESPN 6 Full Card Results
Dominick Reyes def. Chris Weidman by TKO, 1:43, Rd. 1.
Yair Rodriguez def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Greg Hardy def. Ben Sosoli by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Joe Lauzon def. Jonathan Pearce by TKO, 1:33, Rd. 1.
Maycee Barber def. Gillian Robertson by TKO, 3:04, Rd. 1.
Darren Stewart def. Deron Winn by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Charles Rosa def. Manny Bermudez by submission (arm bar), 2:46, Rd. 1.
Molly McCann def. Diana Belbita by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26).
Sean Woodson def. Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
Randy Costa def. Boston Salmon by TKO, 2:15, Rd. 1.
Sean Brady def. Court McGee by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
Brendan Allen def. Kevin Holland by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:38, Rd. 2.
Tanner Boser def. Daniel Spitz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).