The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 170
The UFC was in Brazil's capital city Saturday night, but it was hardly a routine engagement.
The seats at Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia were empty as a result of an order from the Brazilian government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, which left ESPN+ broadcasters Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping in uncharted territory when it came to the 12-fight show.
And whaddya know, the goings-on in the cage didn't follow a typical script either.
The first nine bouts went their full three-round distances before the final three ended in stoppages, and no less than six of the card's 11 winners—minus one bout that ended in a majority draw—were underdogs, according to pre-fight odds on UFC.com. In fact, betting $100 on each of those 11 underdogs would have yielded a profit of $230 for the night.
Bets on the 11 favorites would have meant a loss of $390.
The UFC Fight Night 170 card was eventful for a lot of other reasons, too, and we encourage you to read through to see what else happened or to simply decide how your list of memorable moments balances with ours.
Winner: Calling Your Shot
Charles Oliveira has never been shy about suggesting he belongs.
The Brazilian lightweight called out none other than Conor McGregor following a win late last year and suggested this week that he ought to be in line for the winner of the imminent pay-per-view showdown between 155-pound stalwarts Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Reality suggests that a main event shot against that caliber of superstar may be a bit much, but the No. 13-ranked contender nevertheless staked a clear claim to bigger opportunities with a third-round submission win over eighth-ranked Kevin Lee in their Saturday night card-topper.
"He needs a big fight. He's one of the most exciting fighters and one of the most technical fighters we have on the roster," said Bisping, a former world champion and recent Hall of Fame inductee. "He's not gonna get the winner of Khabib and Tony Ferguson, but reach for the stars. I like his style. He's got to be on a pay-per-view."
Oliveira competed evenly with the rugged and powerful Lee over the first two rounds and then bent his foe over with a strong kick from the left side early in the third. Lee's posture allowed Oliveira to take control of his neck and cinch in a guillotine choke as the two men went to the floor, and Lee clearly surrendered with five taps of his right hand on Oliveira's left shoulder to end the fight.
Lee clung to Oliveira as the winner pulled away and protested, suggesting he hadn't submitted, but he relented after watching a replay. The win was Oliveira's seventh straight, all inside the distance, which ties him with Chuck Liddell for the second-longest stoppage streak in UFC history behind Anderson Silva's eight.
He's also 6-0 in Brazil in UFC fights.
"Tony Ferguson and Khabib. When they fight, I'll be sitting there in the front row," Oliveira said. "They're the two biggest names, but the belt will be coming here. I'm always gonna come out for my people, and it's always gonna be a great fight."
Loser: Delaying the Inevitable
Demian Maia has long conceded that retirement is near.
It was widely reported in 2019 that he'd end his career after 2020, and he said as recently as this week that those plans would only change if a win over Gilbert Burns got him back in the title mix at welterweight.
It took less than three minutes to make the point moot.
Burns made the 42-year-old's future all but academic with a single left-hand counter shot, laying the Brazilian flat on his back before following up for the stoppage in their scheduled three-round co-main event.
The official time was two minutes, 34 seconds.
"I've been following him through his whole career. I think he'll be a future Hall of Famer," Burns said of Maia, who briefly protested the stoppage but embraced his foe after the official announcement. "I hope Demian still can get a big fight."
It was Burns, though, who looked ready for the big fight, as the 12th-ranked 170-pounder stepped forward after slipping a right jab and contorted the fifth-ranked Maia's face with a whip crack of a left.
"My coach told me he was gonna throw that and to be ready for it. He said, 'don't throw power, just speed,'" Burns said. "That's what I did, and, boom, he didn't even see it."
Maia crumbled backward to the mat and looked up as Burns raised his arms aloft and then covered up in vain as the Brazilian jumped in with another dozen or so chopping shots before referee Osiris Maia stopped it.
"It was hard for me to finish it because I have so much respect for him," Burns said, "but I had to do it."
Winner: Embracing Ambiance
It had to be a strange feeling for Joe Martinez, among others.
That said, had you not known Saturday's pandemic backstory—or had you simply closed your eyes when he grabbed the microphone—you'd probably not have realized the veteran ring announcer was playing to an essentially empty room when he introduced the 12 sets of fighters and referees.
Same goes for Fitzgerald and Bisping.
Beyond not hearing the ebbs and flows of the crowd based on action in the cage, their calls sounded pretty much the same as every other weekend card on the premium cable streaming service.
And Bisping said the fighters themselves were probably less impacted than viewers and others more used to having thousands of onlookers.
"The people of Brazil love mixed martial arts. This is the country where it all originated," he said. "It's great to be in front of a sold-out crowd, but at the end of the day when you step into the Octagon, it's just you, your opponent and the referee. Fortunately, we have all that."
Brazilian Francisco Trinaldo, who defeated John Makdessi in the first fight of the main card, agreed.
"It's amazing to fight here, even though I don't have anyone here cheering for me," he said. "It's still wonderful to know that the people are at home watching and they're happy."
Loser: Promising Mayhem
The records made it seem inevitable.
Nikita Krylov, after all, had scored more than 20 professional MMA wins, and none had gone the distance. Meanwhile, none of Johnny Walker's four fights within the UFC had gone beyond 127 seconds.
And Fitzgerald didn't dissuade.
When the network went to commercial prior to their light heavyweight bout, Fitzgerald promised viewers a spectacle that would almost certainly provide the highlight of the night.
Let's just say we're all still waiting.
"I jinxed it," Fitzgerald said. "I did."
Though there were intermittent moments of intense combat between the 205-pounders, the majority of the fight was spent in grappling position on the mat—allowing the shorter, more compact and 12th-ranked Ukrainian to grind out a unanimous decision over the No. 10 Walker.
The scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
"Is it the most exciting thing in the world," Bisping asked. "Maybe not. But it's still very impressive against the guy who's the caliber of Johnny Walker."
Winner: The Assassin Baby
In a nearly empty arena, Brandon Moreno's screams rattled like dice in a cup.
Still, if you think the lack of an audience tempered his enthusiasm, think again.
Upon hearing he'd been awarded a unanimous decision over flyweight opponent Jussier Formiga, the 26-year-old fell to his knees, clenched his hands into celebratory fists and wailed without apology over the biggest victory of his nine-year professional career.
The Mexican known as The Assassin Baby got two scores of 29-28 and another of 30-27 from the judges, and he now figures to leap from his No. 5 position in the 125-pound class after topping Formiga, who'd entered as the division's No. 3 contender.
The championship has been vacant since titleholder Henry Cejudo moved up to bantamweight.
Moreno improved to 17-5-1 and instantly lobbied for a title match when approached in the cage by Bisping.
"Watch the fight again," he said, "and tell me why I don't deserve to fight for the title next."
Loser: Rooster-Haired Strawweights
If you're judging solely on appearances, Canadian Randa Markos was best in show Saturday.
The veteran strawweight, a winner in 10 of 19 career bouts, entered the cage with an electric red hairstyle more than a little similar to that typically worn by a strutting red rooster.
But once the fight began, her strutting came to a quick end.
Markos went to the mat on a slip and found herself in a defensive position against Amanda Ribas, who wound up controlling the entire session with clear superiority in both grappling and ground-and-pound offense.
Markos competed more evenly in the second but was back on the short end in the final five minutes while fighting off submission attempts and another heavy striking barrage that left her a bloody, wobbling mess at the final horn—ultimately needing help to her stool as medical personnel rushed in to steady her. The Brazilian was a definitive 30–26, 30–25, 30–25 winner.
"I don't like long fights," Ribas said. "But she was tough, so I had to keep punishing her."
UFC Fight Night 170 Full Card Results
Charles Oliveira def. Kevin Lee by submission (guillotine), 0:23, Rd. 3.
Gilbert Burns def. Demian Maia by TKO, 2:34, Rd. 1.
Renato Moicano def. Damir Hadzovic by submission (rear-naked choke), 0:44, Rd. 1.
Nikita Krylov def. Johnny Walker by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Francisco Trinaldo def. John Makdessi by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Brandon Moreno def. Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Amanda Ribas def. Randa Markos by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25).
Elizeu dos Santos def. Aleksei Kunchenko by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Rani Yahya drew with Enrique Barzola by majority decision (29-28, 28-28, 28-28).
Maryna Moroz def. Mayra Bueno Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
David Dvorak def. Bruno Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Bea Malecki def. Veronica Macedo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).