The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 166
The UFC's first appearance in Raleigh, North Carolina, meant different things to different people.
Former champions were out for redemption. Their opponents were out for name recognition. And the fighters who had not yet been spotlighted were looking to become stars.
Some got what they wanted, and some didn't.
The 12 fights yielded a lot of winners and losers, symbolic and otherwise, and we have compiled our list coming out of the inaugural show in North Carolina's capital city.
Click through to see what happened and to see whether your list jibes with ours.
Winner: Stylistic Surprise
Curtis Blaydes told anyone who would listen that he would beat Junior dos Santos.
But he didn't exactly promise how he would get it done.
"Curtis called an audible," said ESPN+ analyst Daniel Cormier. "This was as good as it could have gotten for him. He did exactly what he needed tonight."
Known primarily as a takedown-hunting wrestler, the burly Illinois native instead stunned the former UFC heavyweight champ with his fists—bludgeoning the veteran into oblivion just 66 seconds into the second round of their scheduled five-round main event.
"I feel great," Blaydes said. "[Junior is] a legit legend. I couldn't ask for nothing better. I knew I was a little faster. I knew my overhand would land before the uppercut."
Blades was stuffed on all four of his takedown attempts in the initial round before shifting his attack in the second. Dos Santos began winding up for a right uppercut as the two stood face to face early in Round 2, but Blaydes was first with a pinpoint overhand right that landed on the side of dos Santos' face and sent him reeling back to the fence.
Razor leaped forward with three high knees and followed with six straight right hands that left dos Santos doubled over, prompting the intervention of referee Dan Miragliotta at 1:06.
"To go out there and beat a guy like Junior dos Santos on the feet [is] very impressive," ESPN+ analyst Michael Bisping said.
Blaydes entered the fight ranked third at heavyweight to dos Santos' fourth and then immediately called for a championship bout in the aftermath.
"I don't what else I gotta do," he said. "I want a title shot. That's what I want."
Loser: Prolonged Post-Fight Interviews
It was the clearly biggest win of Michael Chiesa's welterweight career.
But the Maverick was apparently in no mood to bask in the afterglow of a defeat of Rafael dos Anjos.
After accepting congrats from Cormier for a grueling three-round decision win, Chiesa grabbed the mic from the former two-division champion and went straight for the call-out.
"It feels good," Chiesa said. "But I'd like to cut this interview short. "Colby Covington, I'll see you in July."
The former interim welterweight champ wasn't available for a return comment, leaving Chiesa's performance as the night's most effective statement.
The 32-year-old walked to the ring to the strains of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" and soon got down to business, smothering dos Anjos, a former UFC lightweight champion. He took him down within two minutes and set the stage for a fight's worth of top control and positional dominance.
Dos Anjos rallied with a series of stinging kicks to Chiesa's right leg in the second round, but form returned in the final five minutes, as Chiesa ran his totals to six takedowns and more than seven minutes of top control.
Chiesa earned scores of 29-28 on two scorecards and a 30-27 edge on the third.
Winner: Contender Series Alumni
Dana White's Contender Series was created as a means for the UFC to discover unsigned talent.
On Saturday night, several fighters who had made the leap to contracted status proved their worth.
Light heavyweight Jamahal Hill highlighted the rising stars, progressing from fan-friendly ring-walker to dynamic offensive machine in a three-round unanimous decision over Darko Stosic to open the show's five-bout main card.
"It's just a belief I have in myself, my team and the people that rock with me," said Hill, who boosted his overall career mark to 7-0. "I expected to have a huge advantage. I expected him to break. He ate way more than I thought he would."
Hill controlled the first two rounds with punches, knees and high kicks on the way to a 75-24 advantage in significant strikes across the 15 minutes. The sturdy but one-dimensional Stosic rallied in the final round with four takedowns, but he was unable to translate the grounding into a decisive sequence.
All three judges saw Hill a 29-27 winner. Bleacher Report saw it 29-28.
"I'm ready to show y'all what happens when they let a lion into the doghouse," Hill said.
Five of the seven Contender alumni wound up as winners in Raleigh, including Herbert Burns, Montel Jackson, Bevon Lewis and Alex Perez.
Loser: Home-Cage Advantage
Sometimes, it's better to take your show on the road.
That would have been an easier scenario for North Carolina-based strawweight Hannah Cifers, who heard her home crowd turn on her on the way to a brutal second-round TKO loss to Angela Hill.
A resident of nearby Wake Forest, she arrived to the cage amid thunderous applause but was roundly booed not 10 minutes later as referee Kevin MacDonald pulled away Hill from a bloodied, battered loser.
The local hero never got going offensively in the first round against a frenetic Hill, who pressed the advantage in the second and took Cifers to the ground with a leg sweep.
Nearly three full minutes of punches and elbows followed before MacDonald intervened.
Hill strutted around the cage, taunting the crowd with a shushing finger up to her mouth. Then she danced and swung a towel around her head after Bruce Buffer's official announcement. Cormier admonished the crowd, saying, "North Carolina, stop booing and give it up for Angela Hill."
Cifers fell to 10-4 as a pro.
"I need to finish fights," said Hill, who scored her second straight TKO win. "That's the only way I can guarantee I'm going to take that win bonus home."
Winner: British Birthday Invasion
All Arnold Allen wanted for his birthday was a seventh straight UFC victory.
The British featherweight turned 26 on Wednesday and unwrapped his competitive present three nights later in the form of a unanimous decision over veteran Nik Lentz.
Now 16-1 across eight years as a pro, Allen marked up his foe with precise striking in the opening round and boosted the margin in the second five minutes with movement that befuddled his more aggressive foe.
Lentz stayed competitive across the third and final session but was unable to significantly close the gap, coming out on the short end of 29-28 verdicts on two scorecards and a 30-27 score on the third.
The Brit, a pro since 2005, is now 30-11-2 with a pair of no-contests.
UFC Fight Night 166 Full Card Results
Curtis Blaydes def. Junior dos Santos by TKO, 1:06, Rd. 2.
Michael Chiesa def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Alex Perez def. Jordan Espinosa by submission (arm triangle), 2:33, Rd. 1.
Angela Hill def. Hannah Cifers by TKO, 4:26, Rd. 2.
Jamahal Hill def. Darko Stosic by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27).
Bevon Lewis def. Dequan Townsend by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Arnold Allen def. Nik Lentz by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Justine Kish def. Lucie Pudilova by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Montel Jackson def. Felipe Colares by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25).
Sara McMann def. Lisa Lansberg by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25).
Brett Johns def. Tony Gravely by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:53, Rd. 3.
Herbert Burns def. Nate Landwehr by KO, 2:43, Rd. 1.