The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 186

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IFebruary 28, 2021

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 186

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    Saturday's UFC Fight Night 186 card, which emanated from the promotion's Apex facility in Las Vegas, will be remembered as a bit of a disappointment.

    Not only was the lineup hammered by last-minute cancelations, but the vast majority of the fights that survived ended up going the distance.

    Simply put, it was the kind of night that left fans feeling a bit cheated.

    That being said, there were some fun moments and some impressive victories from a number of important fighters, such as unbeaten heavyweight Ciryl Gane, who defeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event.

    When all was said and done, who benefitted the most, and who took the toughest Ls? Keep reading for our take.

Loser: Scheduling Fights in 2021

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    UFC Fight Night 186 was supposed to feature 14 fights. After a series of shuffles and shakeups because of positive COVID-19 tests, injuries and other health issues, it ended up with just nine. One fight, a strawweight rematch between Angela Hill and Ashley Yoder, even fell through on the day of the event.

    While this procession of cancelations made for a more bite-sized Fight Night, it also left many fans feeling unsatisfied. It just wasn't the meal they were promised.

    To make matter worse, Fight Night 186 was the second UFC card in a row to be rocked by last-minute cancelations, with Fight Night 185 card reduced from an originally planned 15 fights to just 12.

    It's an unfortunate truth that scheduling fights during a pandemic is a crapshoot. You just never know which ones will stick and which ones will fall apart.

    Time will tell how March 6's stacked UFC 259 card holds up.

Winner: New Blood in 2 Divisions That Need It

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    The heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions have always been among the most popular in MMA. People just love watching big boys fight.

    Unfortunately, these divisions have always been relatively shallow in terms of top talent, as there simply aren't that many hyper-athletic big boys out there and fewer still who choose MMA over more lucrative sports like football.

    The good news is that the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions have arguably never been better. Not only are both divisions home to an exciting crop of established contenders, but both are also benefiting from a torrent of new blood.

    Some of that new blood was in action Saturday.

    In the card's main event, French heavyweight Ciryl Gane picked up the biggest win of his career to date, defeating No. 4 heavyweight contender Jairzinho Rozenstruik via decision. With the win, Gane is more than likely to rocket into the heavyweight top five and be within arm's reach of a title shot.

    In the co-headliner, meanwhile, Russian light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev picked up his first win over a top-10 foe, defeating No. 8-ranked contender Nikita Krylov by decision. Like Gane, he's also closing in on a title shot.

    While it remains to be seen if either man earns a UFC belt, both established themselves as title contenders in divisions that are always hurting for exactly that.

Loser: Officiating Consistency

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    Midway through the first round of a flyweight fight between Montana De La Rosa and Mayra Bueno Silva, which ended in a draw, referee Jerin Valel docked the latter a point for an illegal fence-grab.

    While fouls are unfortunate by nature, it was great to see this one handled so well by the referee. As he noted when he told Silva that he would be taking a point, the fence-grab prevented De La Rosa from completing a takedown and therefore had a direct effect on the course of the fight. Based on that fact, the point deduction was warranted.

    Regrettably, there were several other fouls throughout the night that went unpunished—a handful of groin strikes, a few eye pokes and another fence-grab—all of which could have had significant bearing on the fights they featured in.

    It's always nice to see referees take decisive action when a foul is committed. Unfortunately, there's little consistency in terms of when they do and don't.

    That was as true as ever at UFC Fight Night 186.

Winner: The Calf Kick

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    While the calf kick has long been present in muay thai and kickboxing, it's only recently been incorporated into the MMA arsenal, and it has quickly become one of the most effective attacks in the sport.

    Weeks after Dustin Poirier used the calf kick to confound Conor McGregor at UFC 257, Brazilian bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz used it with great success in Saturday's main card rematch with New Jersey's Jimmie Rivera.

    Munhoz began attacking Rivera's calf early, and that strategy paid dividends. Not only did the Brazilian's repeated lands to his foe's lower leg give the cage-side judges plenty to consider, but it also greatly compromised the American's mobility, making him a slower, more hittable target.

    By the time the fight concluded, Rivera was moving around the Octagon like a newborn fawn, and Munhoz had more than earned a unanimous-decision win.

    It was a reminder that, even decades after its inception, MMA is still a relatively new sport with plenty of evolution to come.

Winner: Resilient Veterans

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    Had things unfolded just a little bit differently, Alexis Davis and Alex Caceres might not be fighting for the UFC in 2021. Both veterans have endured multi-fight losing streaks in the promotion, and on the heels of those skids, they could have been relieved of their duties without much argument from fans.

    However, the UFC decided to keep both fighters, and at Fight Night 186, both reaffirmed that contrary to their double-digit losses, they do belong on the sport's biggest stage.

    Davis, a former UFC bantamweight title challenger, was up first. She returned to action in the third bout of the undercard, cashing as a sizeable underdog with a clear-cut decision victory over once-beaten prospect Sabina Mazo. That win ended a three-fight skid.

    Caceres, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter, was up next. The featherweight stepped into the cage in the first bout of the UFC Fight Night 186 main card, and he picked up a decision victory over Kevin Croom to extend his winning streak to four.

    While it's unlikely that either Davis or Caceres will ever contend for UFC gold in the future, both continue to prove that despite their rough patches, they are deserving of contracts with the sport's biggest promotion.

Loser: Finishes

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    UFC Fight Night 186 was a decent card, but the event was decidedly lacking in terms of finishes. Of the nine fights on the bill, a staggering eight went to the judges' scorecards, with bantamweight prospect Ronnie Lawrence picking up the lone finish of the night with a third-round TKO of Vince Cachero.

    The dearth of finishes on the bill was particularly surprising given that the card was headlined by heavyweight knockout artists Gane and Rozenstruik and co-headlined by light heavyweight finishers Ankalaev and Krylov.

    The card had some saving graces—most notably a bantamweight war between Munhoz and Rivera and a fun flyweight fight between De La Rosa and Silva—but it left a lot to be desired in terms of highlight-reel material.