Sunday’s UFC Hamburg event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Germany, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Barclaycard Arena.
1 – Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith had a heck of a lot of potential at 185 pounds. At 205, he’s a monster. You can say whatever you want about Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua not being in their prime when Smith fought them, but if they weren’t in championship form, Smith did what you do with fighters at that point in their career – he got them out of there. Clean, decisive finishes were what Smith delivered, and his Sunday win over Shogun was a star-making performance. More importantly, Smith has the confidence now that he can fight and beat anyone in the light heavyweight division, and I’d love to see him in with any of the division’s elite.
2 – Corey Anderson
Corey Anderson looked better than ever in his April win over Pat Cummins, and it was clear in that fight that he turned the corner in his promising career. But short notice against a power puncher like Glover Teixeira? That looked like a tough ask for “Overtime.” But when I spoke to him before the fight, he was excited to get to work, and if there’s anyone who loves the sport and the work involved, it’s Anderson, and that time in the trenches of South Jersey worked, as he topped the Cummins effort with an even more impressive victory over the top 205-pounders in the world. Corey Anderson has arrived.
3 – Manny Bermudez
There were a lot of people making a lot of noise about how good Manny Bermudez was even before the New Englander got signed to a UFC contract. And while his submission win over Albert Morales was impressive, he upped his level another notch against British veteran Davey Grant, using his hands to set up another submission victory, this one earned him a Performance of the Night bonus and setting up plenty of interesting matchups for him at 135 pounds.
4 – Nasrat Haqparast
It wasn’t too long ago that Marc Diakiese was everywhere, touted as a fighter with championship potential in the lightweight division. Then came losses to Drakkar Klose and Dan Hooker, but even those were explained away with Klose being primarily a wrestler and Hooker a slick finisher on the ground. So when Diakiese was matched up with German knockout artist Nasrat Haqparast, it was expected that Diakiese had the stylistic matchup that would allow him to shine again. But in his second UFC bout, it was Haqparast who put on the show, winning an impressive three-round decision that makes him an immediate player in a tough division.
5 – Aleksandar Rakic
Whenever the scores read 30-25, 30-24, 30-24 at the end of three rounds, there’s no other word to use for a win like that than “dominant,” and that’s just the kind of performance Aleksandar Rakic delivered against Justin Ledet. The unbeaten Ledet was making his move from heavyweight down to light heavyweight, and while there was always the possibility of him landing a punch to turn things around, Rakic basically took him out of the fight early and never let him back in. That makes it two straight in the UFC for Rakic, and it will be interesting to see what’s next for him.