The Real Winners and Losers from UFC on ESPN 25

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2021

The Real Winners and Losers from UFC on ESPN 25

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    It was another in-between date for the UFC.

    Seven days after a dual-title pay-per-view in suburban Phoenix and three weeks out from Conor McGregor's return to center stage, the MMA conglomerate was back on home turf at its Apex facility in Las Vegas for a lower-profile 12-bout show vying for viewers with the NBA and NHL playoffs and a busy night of boxing.

    Featherweight veteran Chan Sung Jung, long billed as the Korean Zombie, was back for his 10th career appearance in the Octagon—and first in eight months—against streaking contender Dan Ige, who arrived with seven wins in his past eight fights since losing his UFC debut in 2018.

    It was the eighth main event opportunity for the fourth-ranked Jung, who reached the UFC in 2011 and unsuccessfully challenged for a world title in 2013. Ige, meanwhile, was beaten in his lone main event against Calvin Kattar on Fight Island in July but had since climbed to No. 8 at 145 pounds.

    The trio of Jon Anik, Michael Bisping and Dominick Cruz handled blow-by-blow and commentary duties for the ESPN broadcast, and the B/R combat sports team was walking its weekend beat too to provide the definitive list of winners and losers across a card that began shortly after 4 p.m. ET and wrapped at 10.

    Take a look to see what we came up with, and drop some views of your own in the comments.

Loser: Conquering a Zombie

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    Dan Ige had every reason to be confident.

    Though ranked four slots below his foe among the featherweights, the 29-year-old arrived to Saturday's main event having won seven of his past eight fights, including a 22-second KO in March.

    But it turns out the Korean Zombie had more to offer than a memorable nickname.

    The veteran was methodically effective in his approach across 25 minutes, landing powerful shots on the feet and controlling matters on the ground in securing a wide unanimous decision.

    The judges saw it 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 in his favor.

    B/R agreed, giving it to him by a 49-46 margin (or four rounds to one) as well.

    The victory was Jung's first since December 2019 after he had dropped a unanimous five-round nod to imminent title challenger Brian Ortega in October. He's fought eight consecutive fights in the headliner position, dating back to a submission defeat of Dustin Poirier in 2012.

    He lost his lone career UFC title fight 15 months later against Jose Aldo but is now 5-3 in main events. 

    "I wanted to show all my skills," Jung said. "I'm very pleased."

    Ige, meanwhile, has lost both of his five-round outings after a similarly unanimous verdict against Calvin Kattar in July.

    "The Zombie is an absolute legend," he said. "I've been watching him since I was in high school, and he's still one of the best in the world. I truly believe I can still be a champion. I just have some little small things to work on."

Winner: Flipping the Script

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Marlon Vera was determined to settle a score.

    Though rival Davey Grant was a unanimous-decision winner after their first fight five years ago, the Ecuadorian insisted he was the better fighter and would prove it in a rematch.

    Mission accomplished.

    The bantamweight rivals went the 15-minute distance once again on Saturday's main card, and Vera kept his promise, defeating Grant via unanimous decision in a grueling, bloody encounter.

    He swept the cards with scores of 29-27, 29-28 and 30-26.

    "Feeling great," said Vera, who entered the fight ranked 15th in the division. "I was pumping the jab, and I wasn't letting it go in the first round, but we got the job done."

    Indeed.

    Vera opened multiple cuts on Grant's forehead and around his eyes with clean elbow strikes and nearly secured a finish with a rear-naked choke in the final round.

    He landed 100 overall strikes to Grant's 94 and 92 significant strikes to his foe's 88 over the three rounds and had a three-plus minute advantage in ground control time as well.

    Asked by Bisping whom he would consider as a future opponent, Vera turned to the broadcast table.

    "I want to fight Dominick [Cruz]," he said. "Come on, man. Let's go."

Winner: Calling Your Shot

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    Bruno Silva was making his UFC debut, but he was no MMA newbie.

    In fact, the 31-year-old Brazilian middleweight arrived for a bout with Wellington Turman having won 15 of his past 16 fights, including a championship at an M-1 Challenge event in 2018.

    So while some might view the result against Turman—a first-round KO win—as a surprise, he did not.

    "I was already a champion," he said. "I came here to be a champion too."

    If future performances mirror Saturday's, it's not out of the question.

    The pair spent much of the fight engaged in close quarters, but Silva took control when he got Turman to the mat and established a controlling position. He mounted his foe from the top and pinned Turman's right arm to the side of his body while pelting his head with clear, heavy shots.

    The final two blows of an unimpeded five-shot combination left Turman, a fellow Brazilian, on the verge of unconsciousness and necessitated the intervention of referee Chris Tognoni at 4:45.

    Silva, meanwhile, improved to 21-6 as a pro and scored his 17th stoppage.

    "I'm a striker," he said. "I try to end the fight wherever it is."

Winner: Embracing Middle Age

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Matt Brown has been at this for a while.

    He turned pro in 2005, debuted in the UFC in 2008 and was appearing in the Octagon for the 28th time.

    But now he's reached middle age, don't expect a steep decline anytime soon.

    The 40-year-old knocked good friend and former training partner Dhiego Lima senseless with a single right hand in the second round, forcing a rescue from referee Herb Dean at 3:02.

    "How's that for 40, bi--h?" Brown sneered into a TV camera as Lima lay face-first on the mat, his left arm folded underneath him.

    The KO was the 12th of his UFC career, moving him into a three-way tie for the promotion's all-time lead, and also his 14th finish, which is third-most in Octagonal history.

    "I didn't want to do that to him," Brown said. "But that's the game we play."

    The friends battled evenly through a first round highlighted by powerful leg kicks in both directions.

    Brown looked more determined to exchange with his hands in the second and landed his decisive shot as the two came together and simultaneously launched blows. 

    Lima flicked a jab and was starting to deliver his own right when Brown's landed, ending matters.

    "I saw he drops his left a lot after a jab," Brown said. "I saw it through the whole camp. Not bad for a 40-year-old man from small-town Ohio."

Loser: Easing Back to Work

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Ricky Glenn hadn't seen the inside of any Octagon in 31 months, and he hadn't emerged from one as a winner in nearly three full years.

    So you might think he would have been tentative as he approached opponent Joaquim Silva.

    You would be wrong.

    The 32-year-old wasted precisely zero time in getting back to the winning side of the MMA career ledger, dropping an onrushing Silva with the first straight left hand he threw and following up aggressively enough to draw a stop from referee Mike Beltran after just 37 seconds.

    "I'm on cloud nine," he said. "It's the most amazing feeling in the world besides having my baby."

    Glenn hadn't seen action since dropping a three-round decision to featherweight Kevin Aguilar in November 2018, and he spent part of the hiatus recovering from hip surgery and training for a 10-pound move to the lightweight division. He and wife Jenny welcomed their first child, Jaxson, in February, which Glenn said has provided a different perspective as his career moves into its second stage.

    He debuted in 2006 and fought in multiple promotions before reaching the UFC in 2016. He split six bouts, including the Aguilar loss, before the prolonged break.

    The Silva fight was announced two months after his child was born. 

    "I wasn't forcing anything [against Silva]. I'm just seeing it and getting on it," he said. "I'm ready to go again right now. Whoever wants to get some, let's get it."

Winner: Youthful Perfection

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    She's a fresh-faced 23-year-old with Scottish and Australian roots.

    So no, Casey O'Neill doesn't exactly resemble a mixed martial arts terror.

    But that doesn't mean she can't fight.

    The 10th-youngest fighter on the UFC roster entered Saturday as the only unbeaten commodity on the card and left it the same way after a gritty third-round submission of opponent Lara Procopio.

    The end came via rear-naked choke at 2:54 of the third round and boosted O'Neill to 7-0 as a pro and 2-0 in her brief Octagonal career.

    "I want to remain undefeated," she said. "I want to beat everybody."

    It didn't look like such a cinch at the outset after Procopio took the first round with a superior work rate and more success when the two were in close, but O'Neill boosted her energy level in the middle round and carried it over into the third.

    The decisive sequence began when she got Procopio to the floor with a leg trip and established a controlling position. She eventually took her foe's back and, when Procopio attempted to get to her feet, locked her right arm under her chin. Procopio crumbled to the floor and appeared on the verge of unconsciousness when referee Chris Tognoni intervened to make it official.

    "I overestimated it in my head," O'Neill said. "Once I started getting into the fight a little more it got better. Once she gave me the back of her head, I was stoked to choke her out. My coach likes that.

    "But I've got to figure out this starting slow stuff."

UFC on ESPN 25 Full Card Results

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    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Main Card

    Chan Sung Jung def. Dan Ige by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46).

    Serghei Spivac def. Aleksei Oleinik by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

    Marlon Vera def. Davey Grant by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26).

    Seungwoo Choi def. Julian Erosa by TKO, 1:37, Round 1.

    Bruno Silva def. Wellington Turman by KO, 4:45, Round 1.

    Matt Brown def. Dhiego Lima by KO, 3:02, Round 2.

             

    Preliminary Card

    Nicolae Negumereanu def. Aleksa Camur by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

    Virna Jandiroba def. Kanako Murata by TKO, 5:00, Round 2.

    Khaos Williams def. Matthew Semelsberger by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

    Josh Parisian def. Roque Martinez by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

    Ricky Glenn def. Joaquim Silva by KO, 0:37, Round 1.

    Casey O'Neill def. Lara Procopio by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:54, Round 3.

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