While last night’s (Sat., Jan. 27, 2018) UFC on FOX 27 from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, may not have had the name recognition or overall excitement of last week’s UFC 220 pay-per-view and its two title fights, it was a solid card thanks to the performances of a few select – and elite – fighters.
The victors were obvious winners while defeat is never a good thing in the rare company of the UFC, but for some fighters at UFC on FOX 27, it was much more than a matter of simply winning or losing. For them, the ramifications of their fights would have both immediate and lasting impacts on their MMA careers, making the event a critical moment even if it wasn’t highly anticipated by the sport’s viewing public.
Let’s look back at the true biggest winners and losers from UFC on FOX 27.
Winner: Jacare Souza
An obvious choice based on his impressive first-round finish over a dangerous opponent in Derek Brunson, Jacare’s win meant so much more than just another victory on his already decorated MMA record.
Most feel he should have already gotten a title shot during his five-fight UFC win streak from 2012-2015, but in the notoriously tough middleweight landscape, there is small roomer for error and Jacare lost two bouts to Yoel Romero and champion Robert Whittaker. The dominant Brazilian jiu-jitsu master needed a win perhaps more than ever in his fighting career following a lengthy absence after Whittaker knocked him out last April and a serious pectoral tear surgery, as the window to truly contend was growing smaller for the 38-year-old vet.
Souza answered all the doubts about his status Saturday night, and he did so by showing his all-around game. Perhaps more so than any man at 185 pounds, Brunson was known for throwing caution to the wind and seeking to knock his opponent out in the first round – often to his benefit and sometimes to his detriment.
But it was Souza who scored the first-round knockout in this match-up, a rematch of their 2012 fight in Strikeforce which Souza also won by first-round stoppage, and he did it without rushing in or risking defeat in a spot where he needed a win. Jacare stalked Brunson like the true alligator his namesake would suggest patiently waits for their prey to make a mistake and head into the water, methodically picking the right time to unleash a vicious head kick that dropped Brunson.
A huge uppercut and some big hooks dropped Brunson a few more times, and although he later complained about the stoppage, it was a merciful one, one that cemented Jacare at the top of the supremely confusing middleweight title picture.