The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 192
Into every crowded sports day, a little UFC must fall.
The mixed martial arts conglomerate waded into a full roster of stretch-drive baseball and early-season college football to produce its nearly weekly Saturday night show from the APEX in Las Vegas.
In fact, a full slate of 14 bouts was on the agenda in the Nevada desert, including an appearance from former light heavyweight title challenger—and current No. 6 contender—Anthony Smith.
The 33-year-old Texan was matched with No. 11 contender Ryan Spann in the main event.
And as is the norm, the final card didn't exactly resemble what was planned.
Lightweight veteran Jim Miller was set to fight for the 50th time in a pro career that stretches back to 2005, but he was nixed because of COVID-19 protocols and replaced by Cameron VanCamp against Nikolas Motta. But that fight never went off either after it was removed from the card because of injury, according to the UFC.
Another would-be lightweight duel between Dakota Bush and Rongzhu was ditched by COVID-19 protocols, leaving Bush to be replaced by Brandon Jenkins. The 29-year-old had finished 13 of his 15 victories, but he was on the receiving end of a third-round TKO this time around.
Brandon Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping worked the scaled-down broadcast table for ESPN, while teammate Heidi Androl covered the rest of the room for breaking news and features. Meanwhile, the B/R combat sports team was looking on as well to put together a definitive list of the show's real winners and losers.
Take a look at what we came up with and drop a comment or two of your own.
Winner: Instant Gratification
Smith was in an ornery mood.
The affable fan-favorite seemed annoyed at what he considered a lack of respect from Spann and his team, and his actions once the fight began did nothing to hide his mindset.
The man dubbed "Lionheart" strafed his foe with powerful punches from both hands, immediately gained a controlling position when the fight went to the floor and quickly cinched in the rear-naked choke that prompted a tap-out from Spann after just three minutes, 47 seconds of the opening round.
Then, as referee Herb Dean intervened to save the beaten fighter, Smith stood over him for several seconds while exchanging words with Spann's arriving corner team. Security personnel had to separate the sides, and Spann was held back for several seconds before finally embracing the winning fighter.
It was Smith's third straight win by finish and his seventh since the end of 2017, which is tops in the UFC.
"He was strong. He was going to the right places. He was making the right decisions. I was just a step ahead," Smith said. "He's got the skills. I just think I'm better."
It was Spann's second loss in seven fights since graduating from Dana White's Contender Series in 2018.
Much of Smith's post-fight interview with Bisping was bleeped-out for obscenities, but he did use the platform to call for a rematch with third-ranked light heavyweight Aleksandar Rakic, who beat him by unanimous decision in a Fight Night main event in August 2020.
Rakic immediately tweeted his acceptance of the challenge, with a bout possible perhaps by December.
"I want someone ahead of me, and I think I've earned that," Smith said. "Merry Christmas to me."
Rakic has won two straight and six of seven overall in the UFC since 2017.
"(Smith has) had some ups and downs. Clearly, he thought he was starting to feel overlooked," Bisping said. "He made Spann looked average. If that (fight with Rakic) happens, that has to be a No. 1 contender matchup."
Loser: Bullying Bullies
Ever wonder what it's like to fight a meat grinder?
Ask Devin Clark.
The angular 205-pounder came into a co-main against Ion Cutelaba with designs on beating a so-called bully at his own game, but he instead found himself on the bullied side of an achingly violent 15 minutes.
The unanimous decision went in Cutelaba's favor by scores of 30-26, 29-26 and 29-27.
"The 'Hulk' is back, and I'm ready to be fighting at the top," Cutelaba said. "I'm ready."
Though he'd lost twice and fought to a draw in three fights since last winning two years ago, the Moldovan indeed looked ready for prolonged activity across a first round in which he landed 47 significant strikes, scored three takedowns and knocked his opponent down with a long right hand.
Clark was able to avoid a stoppage from the punch, but he spent the last two minutes of the round with the Moldovan strafing him with ground strikes as he gave up his back to avoid straight-on shots.
Another grueling five minutes followed in the second as Cutelaba kept the fight in close quarters and again got Clark to the ground and within range for powerful elbows from the top mount position.
Clark was able to get back to his feet briefly, but he again gave up his back and spent the final moments trying to tie up Cutelaba's hands to avoid further punishment.
The 31-year-old consulted with a cage-side physician before the third about loose lower teeth, but he hung in long enough to finally reach his foe with strikes in the final 60 seconds and was chasing a finish in the final 10 seconds before the horn. Still, Cutelaba finished with 64 significant strikes, eight takedowns and nearly nine minutes of control time.
"If you step into an Octagon with Cutelaba," Fitzgerald said, "there's going to be real consequences."
Loser: Uppity Underdog
Christos Giagos did everything right.
The Florida-based lightweight went off as the longest betting shot on the main card, but he stood in with phenom Arman Tsarukyan and was handling himself well through the initial stages of Round 1.
He landed a right hand that left the Armenian on his backside early on, then was in the process of firing a left to the body later on that looked to be perfectly placed on his foe's rib cage.
Problem was, Tsarukyan was doing some work as well.
At nearly the same moment that Giagos' shot was landing, Tsarukyan dropped a decisive left of his own on to his opponent's chin—dumping him to the floor where a follow-up barrage left him defenseless and brought a wave-off from referee Dean after just 2:09 of the first.
It was the 24-year-old's fourth straight win since he dropped a decision to Islam Makhachev in April 2019. But the first three had all come on the scorecards as well, leaving Tsarukyan seeking a noteworthy finish to help power his rise up the 155-pound ladder.
He arrived as the 14th-ranked fighter in the division.
"(Matchmaker) Sean Shelby said, 'You have to get a finish if you want to go up,' so I wanted a knockout," Tsarukyan said. "I can fight the top-10 or top-five guys. Let's go. I'm ready."
Winner: Rugged Resilience
Nate Maness was as out as out could be.
Until he wasn't.
The rugged Kentucky bantamweight hit the deck for the first time in his career within seconds of the end of the first round of his bout with Tony Gravely after absorbing a hellacious right hand, then he spent the intervening minute trying to regain his senses and his legs.
"It wasn't a fun experience," he said. "It was different."
Somehow, the 30-year-old was able to emerge competitively to begin the second session, and his resilience paid off in the form of a powerfully decisive right of his own that yielded a finish.
His shot landed on the point of Gravely's chin and dropped him flat on his back end, allowing Maness to swoop in for an unfettered series of 10 punches and hammer fists until referee Keith Peterson waved it off at 2:10 of the second.
It was a third win in three UFC fights for the combatant known as "Mayhem," one each by decision, submission and (technical) knockout.
He's 14-1 with eight wins inside the distance.
"I went to the body, and I could feel that hurt him," he said, "so I came up to the head."
Winner: Persistent Power
He may never win a UFC title, but Joaquin Buckley has definitely got a thing for highlight-reel KOs.
Already the author of one of MMA's all-time best finishes—11 months ago against Impa Kasanganay—the burly middleweight added yet another stoppage to his resume with an abrupt third-round TKO of Brazilian foe Antonio Arroyo in the main card's first bout.
It was Buckley's third win in five UFC bouts, all of which have ended inside the distance.
This time around, it was courtesy of a pair of right hands, one of which cupped around the back of Arroyo's head and the second—an uppercut—that landed flush and immediately dropped its target to the floor. Buckley pounced for a series of follow-up hammer fists that drew a rescue from Mark Smith.
The official time was 2:26.
Buckley was the more active of the two fighters throughout, landing 27 significant strikes to his opponent's 16 through the first 10 minutes. It continued in the third, when Buckley continued to press the fight as Arroyo worked from a distance and looked to land a precise, fight-ending shot.
"I could barely see out of my eye," said Buckley, who had an angry-looking hematoma on the right side of his forehead. "I was just swinging. I was just throwing. I was able to keep going and keep pushing because of that conditioning."
UFC Fight Night 192 Full Card Results
Anthony Smith def. Ryan Spann by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:47, Round 1
Ion Cutelaba def. Devin Clark by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-26, 29-27)
Ariane Lipski def. Mandy Bohm by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Arman Tsarukyan def. Christos Giagos by TKO (punches), 2:09, Round 1
Nate Maness def. Tony Gravely by TKO (punches), 2:10, Round 2
Joaquin Buckley def. Antonio Arroyo by TKO (punches), 2:26, Round 3
Tafon Nchukwi def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Raquel Pennington def. Pannie Kianzad by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Rongzhu def. Brandon Jenkins by TKO (punches), 4:35, Round 3
Montel Jackson def. JP Buys by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Erin Blanchfield def. Sarah Alpar by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Carlston Harris def. Impa Kasanganay by TKO (punches), 2:38, Round 1
Gustavo Lopez drew with Alatengheili by unanimous decision (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Hannah Goldy def. Emily Whitmire by submission (armbar), 4:17, Round 1