The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 202
There was a little bit of everything for UFC fans Saturday night.
Though ESPN's Fight Night card from the Apex in Las Vegas was rivaled by a championship boxing match in Scotland and slates of games in the NBA and NHL in the same time slot, it had plenty to deliver to those who chose to tune in between the start of the preliminary card at 4 p.m. and the end of the main at 9:30.
You like decisions? There were three unanimous and two split.
You like submissions? There were three by chokes and another by an armbar.
You like bloody KOs? There was one that'll surely elicit some nightmares.
Fourth-ranked lightweight contender Islam Makhachev battled late-notice sub Bobby Green atop the eventful 11-bout card called from the broadcast table by the trio of Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping and Paul Felder while Megan Olivi worked the rest of the room for breaking news and feature pieces.
B/R's combat sports team was on point to create a definitive list of winners and losers, too, and we encourage you to click through and peruse before leaving a viewpoint of your own in the comments section.
Winner: Following Through
It was hardly surprising. Still, it was certainly impressive.
Streaking lightweight contender Makhachev made it 10 wins in a row, four stoppages in a row and 22 wins in a nearly pristine 23-fight pro career, getting late sub Green to the mat and smothering him with pressure before striking his way to a TKO at 3:23 of the first round.
"The man is one of the best, if not the best lightweight in the world," Felder said. "He's got to be next."
Makhachev consistently plodded forward against a quick-handed and fleet-footed Green, who'd fought and won on the main card at UFC 271 in Houston just two weeks ago.
The Russian-born 155-pounder forced his way into a clinch along the fence after a kick attempt by Green just 90 seconds into the round, got him to the floor with a double-leg takedown 30 seconds later and was in a full-mount position in another minute.
From there, he took Green's back, flattened out his torso and battered him with lefts and rights to the sides of the head—landing more than 20 without a reply—until referee Herb Dean stepped in.
It was Makhachev's 11th win in 12 UFC fights since he arrived in 2015.
"It was no surprise. We all expected that this was how this fight could work out," Bisping said. "It's just a crazy display of dominance. No disrespect to Bobby, but he made it look easy."
In the aftermath, Makhachev again campaigned for the title shot he's expected to get by the end of 2022.
"I just want a title fight. I'm tired of all these other things," he said. "I'm ready. I am here. Tell me when and where and that’s it."
Green, meanwhile, lost for the eighth time in 19 UFC bouts and is now 29-13-1 in a pro career that stretches back to 2008.
"I'm really disappointed, but this is what happens when you try to throw something together too fast," he said. "He did exactly what he said he was gonna do to me."
Winner: Reversing Roles
Wellington Turman is known as "The Prodigy."
But they might want to start calling him "The Miracle Worker."
The 25-year-old was battered, bloody and seemingly nearing an empty gas tank by the end of the first round with late middleweight sub Misha Cirkunov in the night's co-main event.
And when Cirkunov, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, tripped him to the mat early in the second, it seemed just a matter of time until the youngster would be saddled with his fourth loss in six UFC fights.
Until it wasn't.
Rather than accepting his foe's methodical punishment for a second straight round, Turman instantly seized the 35-year-old's right arm, turned his hips to hyperextend the elbow and rendered Cirkunov a grimacing mess as he quickly tapped out to draw a rescue from referee Mark Smith.
The end came at 1:29 of the second.
"That's incredible. What a performance, and he needed it," Felder said. "That's what he needed more than anything was a defining performance."
Turman was on the short end of a 30-15 margin in significant strikes, was taken to the mat with the fight's lone takedown and had 49 seconds less control time, too.
Nevertheless, he was able to score his first submission in the UFC and the eighth of his career in the first fight of his training partnership with light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira.
"I did use a lot of strength in the first round and I felt gassed a little bit, but I recovered," Turman said. "This is a day-to-day situation for us in the gym. It got me really prepared for this."
Loser: Squeamish Stomachs
Even hardened combat sports watchers grimaced.
From the moment Arman Tsarukyan's right elbow crashed down to the bridge of a prone Joel Alvarez's nose, their scheduled three-round bout at 155 pounds got a lot more difficult to watch.
The unfettered blow instantly opened a deep and jagged gash that unleashed a sickening flow of blood that covered his face, chest and shoulders while leaving smeared stains across the canvas, too.
It seemed like the wound would cause the fight to be stopped at the end of the first round, but an inconclusive discussion between referee Chris Tognoni and a cageside physician allowed the gore to continue.
Tsarukyan seized the advantage again at the start of the second, getting Alvarez to the mat once again and repeatedly punching him through the crimson mask until Tognoni finally stepped in at 1:57.
"Some of those cuts can really spew," Bisping said. "That was a horrifying display of blood."
Tsarukyan ended with 36 significant strikes, two takedowns and better than six minutes of control time.
"I like to surprise my opponents. I want to show how I've improved my striking and wrestling. I can do everything," he said, after winning for the 12th time by finish (seven KOs and five submissions). "I show different fights to different fighters. It was my game plan to make him tired. I did it and I'm happy."
Winner: The Nickname Game
Some like comic-book superheroes who are faster than speeding bullets.
Others prefer cyborg police officers who combat street crime.
UFC fans had their choice of muscular middleweights bearing character nicknames to open the main card, with Armen "Superman" Petrosyan battling Gregory "Robocop" Rodrigues over three violent rounds.
Both men were wobbled repeatedly across 15 minutes and each retreated to their corner wearing a bloody mask at fight's end, with Petrosyan gushing from a grotesquely damaged nose while Rodriguez leaked from a cut sustained on his right cheekbone.
It was a little easier for the Armenian-born Petrosyan to take, thanks to the split decision he was awarded to improve his pro record to 7-1 in his UFC debut.
Petrosyan won two card by scores of 29-28 and 30-27, while Rodrigues got a 29-28 nod on the other.
"I was confident I could finish him at any time, but he was a very tough opponent," said Petrosyan, who fared well with strikes but was in danger after Rodrigues seized his back and chased submission opportunities in the final round. "I'm never ready to surrender and I'm always gonna go to the end."
Winner: The Lightweight Division
It's just what the 155-pound ranks needed.
Another guy who can flat-out fight.
The lightweight division was already one of the hottest in the UFC thanks to the top-heavy presence of stars like champion Charles Oliveira and high-profile contenders Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor.
But Ignacio Bahamondes is looking to make a little noise, too.
The 24-year-old Chilean put on a "you must notice me" sort of performance in the final fight of the preliminary card, dominating pink-haired Chinese prospect Rong Zhu with strikes for two rounds before finishing him for a first career submission victory exactly 100 seconds into Round 3.
"That's an outstanding performance from beginning to end," Felder said. "He's as bright a prospect as we have on the roster."
It wasn't hyperbole from Felder given Bahamondes' seamless switching of stances and impressive variety of blows from the feet over 10 minutes, during which he landed 126 significant strikes to his foe's 48.
Then, with Zhu increasingly desperate to change momentum, Bahamondes fought off a takedown attempt and quickly turned it into a guillotine that prompted a tap at 1:40.
"I've been telling you guys I'm not just a striker. I didn't need to use it before," he said. "I can strike. I can wrestle. I can choke you, too. Don't play with me."
UFC Fight Night 203 Full Card Results
Islam Makhachev def. Bobby Green by TKO (punches), 3:23, Round 1
Wellington Turman def. Misha Cirkunov by submission (armbar), 1:29, Round 2
Priscila Cachoeira def. Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Arman Tsarukyan def. Joel Alvarez by TKO (punches), 1:57, Round 2
Armen Petrosyan def. Gregory Rodrigues by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Ignacio Bahamondes def. Rong Zhu by submission (guillotine choke), 1:40, Round 3
Josiane Nunes def. Ramona Pascual by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Terrance McKinney def. Fares Ziam by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:11, Round 1
Jonathan Martinez def. Alejandro Perez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Ramiz Brahimaj def. Micheal Gillmore by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:02, Round 1
Carlos Hernandez def. Victor Altamirano by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)