Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in the Netherlands, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Ahoy Rotterdam.
1 - Alexander Volkov
Moscow’s Alexander Volkov was underwhelming in his first two UFC victories over Tim Johnson and Roy Nelson, but wins over that duo rightfully earned him a spot in the heavyweight top ten. With such a spot though, he had to now deliver, and when he was put in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night main event against Stefan Struve, he did. Struve started strong, and dealing with a nasty cut and two eyepokes didn’t help Volkov’s cause, but “Drago” kept marching forward, and as the punches added up, they took a toll on the “Skyscraper,” who was ultimately finished in the third round. The win earned Volkov a Fight of the Night bonus, but more importantly, it made him a fighter the fans want to see against the best of the division.
2 - Mairbek Taisumov
The good news when it comes to Mairbek Taisumov is that the Grozy native has won five consecutive fights in the lightweight division, with all five of those victories coming by knockout, three of them earning him Performance of the Night honors. The bad news is that it’s taken him nearly three years to get those wins. So as a fight fan, an early entry for the Christmas wish list is that Taisumov stays healthy, gets a top 10 opponent, and continues to deliver performances like he did against Felipe Silva in Rotterdam.
Renowned coach Mark Henry and his team in New Jersey have been talking about Zabit Magomedsharipov for a long time. Saturday, we saw why. In his debut UFC win over Mike Santiago, Magomedsharipov dazzled with a dynamic striking display that included plenty of spinning moves and even a jump off the cage Anthony Pettis would be proud of. Yet to top it off, Magomedsharipov ended the fight by submission, concluding an effort in which he showed a complete MMA game that should be scaring folks at 145 pounds right about now.
4 - Darren Till
To remain unbeaten as a pro after four UFC bouts is quite the feat, but as far as Darren Till is concerned, he’s just getting warmed up. And that’s a fun prospect for anyone watching the offense-minded Brit, who made it 3-0-1 in the Octagon with an exciting three-round decision over Bojan Velickovic. Till made a call for Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio after the fight, and I, for one, am all for such a matchup.
Back in action for the first time since March 2016, Siyar Bahadurzada made it two straight wins with a second-round TKO of Rob Wilkinson. Those are the basics. Behind the result is the welcome return of a fighter with the kind of finishing game that can keep fans entertained at either 185 or 170 pounds. Like Taisumov, the key for Bahadurzada is staying healthy, because when he’s not dealing with injuries, he gets people out of there like he did on Saturday.