Chris Weidman is back, ladies and gentlemen. Or at least he says he is. After an immensely disappointing three-fight losing streak which saw the former middleweight champion finished in all three defeats, Weidman righted the ship and submitted Kelvin Gastelum in the third round of their headlining bout on Long Island.
But that wasn’t the only highlight of the event, as the card featured some exciting slugfests in Lyman Good vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Jimmie Rivera vs. Thomas Almeida – even if Weidman’s submission was the biggest highlight by far.
In fact, the UFC’s first foray into the New York City suburbs featured several breakout performances and surprises, so let’s break it down and see what we’re left with after another strong UFC on FOX card.
5. Patrick Cummins Once Again Wins Despite Looking Like An Assault Victim
Every time Patrick Cummins wins, he looks like someone who was just mugged and assaulted. Saturday was no different, as Cummins bested Gian Villante by split decision despite the fact that his face was busted up beyond recognition.
But that’s how Cummins wins; he wins ugly. Regardless, a win is a win. Cummins has managed to work his way to a respectable 10-4 record, all with very limited striking experience and skill.
For the guy who once supposedly made Daniel Cormier cry, Cummins has etched out his own spot amongst the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
A fight with Marcel Fortuna or Misha Cirkunov make sense for Cummins.
As for Villante, his inconsistency coupled with Saturday’s defeat could point to his release from the UFC, but a prior working relationship with Scott Coker under the Strikeforce banner could lead to a contract with Bellator.
4. “Cowboy” Oliveira Becomes First Man To KO Ryan Laflare
What an incredible performance by the Brazilian “Cowboy”. Oliveira absolutely wrecked Laflare during the undercard portion of the event, something no other fighter has been able to do.
“Cowboy” has now rattled off four victories since losing to the other “Cowboy” (Cerrone) at lightweight, but has looked like a killer since moving up to 170 pounds.
Laflare was a very highly touted prospect who had only lost by decision to Demian Maia, making this victory even sweeter for Oliveira.
Expect big things from “Cowboy”, who is now primed to fight a top 10 welterweight. Fights with Jorge Masvidal or “Wonderboy” could satiate the “Just Bleed” fan in all of us.
3. Welcome To The UFC, Eryk Anders
Many fans were probably wondering who Eryk Anders was before his fight with “Sapo”. I don’t think that’s so much of an issue following the fight.
Anders knocked out Natal with one perfectly placed punch halfway through the first round. Middleweight is a division that always seems lacking in terms of fresh blood, so a breakout performance from Anders is always a welcomed scenario.
Anders is now a perfect 9-0 with a very successful UFC debut out of the way. Perhaps a fight with Tim Boestch could work, but whomever Anders faces next, he remains a fighter to watch.
2. Kelvin Gastelum Loses First Middleweight Fight
What’s to make of Kelvin Gastelum? The Ultimate Fighter winner forced himself out of welterweight after a series of weight cutting gaffs, but seemed right at home at middleweight.
Many fight fans and pundits alike were more then confident that Gastelum would get the job done against Weidman, who was on a three-fight losing streak prior to Saturday night.
But Weidman’s size and reach made Gastelum look every bit the welterweight he once was. The former champ muscled Gastelum with ease and landed nearly every takedown he attempted.
Where does Gastelum go from here? Certainly not back to welterweight, yet Saturday night demonstrated that he will need to make some adjustments in order to compete with top 10 middleweights.
1. Weidman Submits Gastelum
What a rollercoaster of a career it’s been for Chris Weidman. After knocking out Anderson Silva to capture the middleweight belt back in 2013, the sky seemed to be the limit for the Long Island native.
But after three losses, Weidman found himself in a do-or-die situation against Gastelum, who was undefeated at middleweight and seemed to be a wrecking ball for aging fighters. And boy did Gastelum make him work. He dropped the former champion towards the end of round one, leaving his hometown crowd silenced.
Then Weidman got back up, and for the next two rounds perfectly implemented his game plan before choking Gastelum out with an arm-triangle in the third round.
While he called for Bisping next, Weidman will need another win before he’s back in title contention.
How does a fight with Jacare sound?