There are pay-per-view shows that ought to be on regular television, and there are routine weekend shows with the star power and matchups that could have warranted Dana White's typical $64.99 price tag.
Saturday night's card from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas was the latter.
At least three of the six fights on the main portion of the 14-fight marathon would have topped any Fight Night broadcast on ESPN+, and the main event and the co-main bouts included three fighters who have each headlined—albeit in a losing effort—a PPV extravaganza within the past 18 months.
So this one wasn't typical in any way, shape or form.
The warm-up to September 27's UFC 253 blowout on Fight Island included a grudge match between bitter welterweight rivals Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley, a fracas matching 170-pound highlight reels Donald Cerrone and Niko Price and a middleweight encounter in which the promotion's most intriguing new face tested his mettle against a respected veteran in Gerald Meerschaert.
Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz and Paul Felder shared microphone duties at the socially distanced broadcast table, and Megan Olivi was working the rest of the building for breaking news items and pre-fight features.
As for Bleacher Report, we were manning our recurring Saturday post to chronicle the show's events and compile a list of its most prodigious winners and losers. Take a look at what we came up with, and let us know how our calls jibed with your own.
Winner: Calming the Chaos
It wasn't chaos. It was effective.
Colby Covington spent weeks saying his main event with former friend and training partner Tyron Woodley would be a bloodbath of aggression, but he was just fine with more than 20 minutes of monotonous grinding before Woodley suffered an apparent rib injury that ended his night.
As a result, referee Dan Miragliotta called it a night at 1:19 of Round 5.
"There can be little doubt that Colby Covington is one of the best welterweights on the planet," Anik said. "And you've got to think, one way or another, he's going to get a chance to fight for a title."
The brash Covington made each round look like the last, carrying the action to Woodley with a superior work rate with both punches and leg kicks. He was successful in pressing the former welterweight champion to the cage and grinding him in close.
The bout occasionally went to the ground too, and Covington was in charge when it did, landing a prolonged series of ground strikes in the fourth round that opened a cut over Woodley's eyes and left him a bloody mess.
Covington pressed for a takedown to begin the fifth as well and left Woodley to defend with a guillotine choke attempt. The fighters went to the floor with Woodley in a sitting position, but as he shifted his weight, he suddenly screamed out in pain and prompted Miragliotta to wave things off.
For Covington, it was a win in his first fight since dropping a title shot against Kamaru Usman in December. Woodley, meanwhile, has now lost two straight non-title fights since losing his belt to Usman in March 2019 and is winless since beating Darren Till in a championship defense six months earlier.
"Colby might talk all the trash in the world, but when he's in the Octagon, it's all business," Felder said. "He doesn't have a belt, but it was a championship performance."
Loser: Winning and Losing
This just in, Niko Price is not your typical UFC fighter.
The Southwest Floridian punches from weird angles, gets submissions from unlikely positions and pretty much does everything a little outside the established norms. So when the decision in the co-main event went for neither him nor opponent Donald Cerrone, it's probably no surprise that he greeted it with an unusual amount of glee.
Two of three official judges scored the bout 28-28, overruling the 29-27 nod to Cerrone by a third judge to make the official verdict a majority draw.
Bleacher Report agreed with the majority and called it 28-28 as well.
Price was a dynamo in the first 40 seconds and had his 37-year-old foe reeling early, but he was penalized by referee Jason Herzog soon after following a pair of inadvertent pokes to Cerrone's right and left eyes. The missing point left the first round even at 9-9 even though Price held a large edge in significant strikes.
Price controlled much of the second round with a superior work rate before Cerrone rallied in the third with multiple takedown attempts and good success with leg and body kicks.
Overall, Price wound up with a 128-109 edge in significant strikes.
"Price doesn't seem too upset about it," Felder said. "I guess a draw is better than a loss."
Winner: A Star Is Born
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new superstar.
Middleweight Khamzat Chimaev was already a novelty after winning a pair of fights in a 10-day period earlier this summer, but he graduated to genuine world-class badass on Saturday night with a one-punch, 17-second knockout of 45-fight veteran Gerald Meerschaert.
"You've got to be kidding me! You've got to be kidding me," Anik said. "He said he wanted to show off the striking. Show off the striking he did. He doesn't load it. He doesn't show it. He just shoots it."
Indeed, the unbeaten Chechen-born Swede strutted across the cage as referee Mark Logan waved the fighters together and then swung a leg kick, flicked a few jabs and stepped forward with a straight right hand that landed flush on the left side of Meerschaert's jaw and crumbled him to the floor.
Chimaev landed two quick ground shots as Logan jumped to Meerschaert's rescue, and the winner of nine straight fights immediately ran across the canvas and climbed to the top of the fence to revel in the adulation of his corner team.
The win was his third in a record 66 days, smashing the old mark of 105 days set by Johnny Walker.
"It doesn't get more perfect than that," Cruz said. "One and done. This kid is the future of whatever division he chooses to be in."
As for what division that will be, it remains to be seen.
"I don't know," Chimaev said. "Dana will know thatI'm ready for everybody."
Loser: Protracted Violence
The light heavyweight battle between Johnny Walker and Ryan Spann was advertised as a potential barn-burner, and it didn't disappoint. Unless you were hoping for a little more violence.
The two long, strong 205-pounders began slinging punches from the moment they were waved together, and Spann had the better of it in the initial moments, dumping Walker to his back with a left hook and dropping him again soon after with a looping right hand.
Walker clipped Spann with his own right hand in the same exchange, though, and Spann's consequent off-balance charge toward his wobbled foe turned disastrous when Walker landed an elbow that instantly reversed the tide. Two more elbows and a pair of hammer fists spelled the end, forcing Miragliotta to intervene after 2:43 of the first.
"What a crazy fight," Felder said.
The win was Walker's 18th in 23 pro fights and his fourth in six fights in the UFC, while Spann fell to 18-6, lost for the first time in his fifth UFC fight and saw an eight-fight win streak snuffed out.
Walker entered the fight ranked No. 11 at light heavyweight, one position ahead of Spann.
"He got me," Walker said. "I don't know what punch. But in this division, any punch can knock you out if it lands. I stayed safe, took my time, got up and started hitting him."
Winner: Putting on a Clinic
If you want to learn jiu-jitsu, watch Mackenzie Dern.
The Brazilian-American strawweight put on a first-round clinic against Canadian veteran Randa Markos, getting the fight on the ground within the initial 30 seconds and cinching in an armbar that forced a submission after just 3:44 of the session.
Already the world's 15th-ranked fighter at 115 pounds, Dern went to the floor accidentally after missing on a sweeping kick. Markos immediately pounced, but it soon seemed an ill-advised move, as Dern worked her into a body triangle and began seizing the left arm and going through a series of submission maneuvers.
She gained mount and landed several ground strikes about halfway through the round. Then she went back to stretching the arm into an inescapable position and prompted Markos' tap.
"How could you not be excited after that? She makes it look easy, the way she finishes people," Cruz said. "It looked like old Ronda Rousey back in the day."
The win was Dern's ninth in 10 pro fights and her fourth in five fights in the UFC. Her three submissions at strawweight are tied for the most in the division's history.
"I really wanted to show my hands a little more," she said. "I don't know why these girls want to stay on the ground with me. In my mind, I'm thinking about submissions that have never happened. I tried to go in all different directions. Her elbow was pretty well extended. Watch out for your limbs."
Loser: Sparing Sarah Alpar
As UFC debuts go, Sarah Alpar's was pretty eventful. And particularly painful.
The 29-year-old was on the short end of a striking match with Australian foe Jessica Rose-Clark through the early going of their scheduled three-rounder at bantamweight and was up against it in the second round when the fight went to the mat and became a ground-and-pound spectacle.
But it was only a mild appetizer for the troubles she encountered in Round 3.
Clark looked done for the night when she was sagging against the cage and took a hard knee to the head just before her rear end touched the canvas, which prompted referee Chris Tognoni to stop the fight, thinking it was an illegal blow against a grounded fighter. He consulted a replay at cage-side, saw the blow was legal and allowed the fight to continue—which goes against Nevada commission norms that suggest once a replay is called for in a fight-ending sequence, the fight is not restarted.
It wasn't much of a blessing for Alpar, who was instantly back on the business end of Rose-Clark's brutality while bleeding enough to turn a section of the canvas a ghastly red. She took another legal knee along the side of the cage in the final minute, this time warranting Tognoni's intervention with 39 seconds left.
Tognoni, incidentally, was the referee in a fight earlier in September that saw a legal blow against Ed Herman ruled illegal as the stricken fighter was given a five-minute break instead of a TKO loss.
Herman rallied for a submission win the following round.
"It's a tough job, and I'm glad I don't have it," Cruz said. "To be able to see all these things in real time isn't as easy as you might think, and sometimes you miss things."
UFC Fight Night 178 Full Card Results
Colby Covington def. Tyron Woodley by TKO (injury), 1:19, Round 5.
Niko Price drew with Donald Cerrone (28-28, 28-28, 27-29).
Khamzat Chimaev def. Gerald Meerschaert by KO (punch), 0:17, Round 1.
Johnny Walker def. Ryan Spann by KO (elbows), 2:43, Round 1.
Mackenzie Dern def. Randa Markos by submission (armbar), 3:44, Round 1.
Kevin Holland def. Darren Stewart by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
Randy Costa def. Journey Newson by TKO (kick), 0:41, Round 1.
Andre Ewell def. Irwin Rivera by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
Tyson Nam def. Jerome Rivera by TKO (punches), 0:34, Round 2.
Performances of the Night
Khamzat Chimaev, Mackenzie Dern, Randy Costa, Damon Jackson