Another exclusive FIGHT PASS card, and another absolute gem of an event packed with “you had to see it to understand” type moments. Somehow, the welterweight division got even more interesting, the women’s flyweight class continued to take shape, and the next generation of talent announced its arrival.
These are the Fight Night Singapore talking points.
Edwards keeps climbing
Well, there’s an Englishman gunning for the welterweight elite, and this time it’s not Darren Tiill.
Leon Edwards was Octagonside to witness the raucous homecoming his countryman received las month in Liverpool, and he began dreaming of a similar reception for himself should he convince the UFC to return to Birmingham.
To that end, he borrowed a key page from the Till playbook and used it to announce his arrival in the top ten: he beat Cowboy Cerrone.
It was a wild scrap featuring a vintage Cowboy performance, but Edwards fought a smart fight that highlighted his speed and erased any questions about his five-round cardio. His sixth straight win has him tied for the second longest active win streak in the promotion, and he’s about to crash an overbooked party in his division.
He called out Jorge Masvidal after the fight, making clear that he harbors no ill feelings towards him, but rather views him as another chance to move up like he did against Cerrone. Masvidal, for his part, seems interested, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Lest we forget, OSP is an assassin
There came a moment early the short fight between Ovince Saint Preux and Tyson Pedro that looked as if a torch was about to be passed. Rocked by a thunderous kick to the head from the Australian, OSP admitted he was worried.
But like the mild-mannered veteran he is, he somehow regained his composure and went to work on Pedro on the mat. There was no Von Preux choke this time out, but he executed a straight arm bar that looked equally as natural, and earned him a performance bonus. Even in defeat, Pedro looked up at his opponent in respect and awe.
At the post-fight presser, Saint Preux reminded everyone that he remains one of the most active and prolific fighters at 205 pounds, only half-joking that he would fight again in two weeks if he got the call. Unlike Edwards, OSP doesn’t give much thought to the fighters above him at light heavyweight.
“Rankings don’t mean anything to me. I don’t get paid because I’m ranked, I get paid because I fight.”
Eye Told You
A natural flyweight before entering the UFC, Jessica Eye had an uneven career at bantamweight when she entered the promotion, and was outspoken in her desire to move back to flyweight. With the creation of that division, she got her wish, and rarely has a fighter looked so natural in moving down ten pounds.
With two wins in two appearances at 125lbs, Eye looks like a fighter reborn. After besting Jessica-Rose Clark with some diverse striking on her way to the unanimous decision, Eye got emotional in her post-fight Octagon speech.
“I only fought at bantamweight because I wanted to be in the UFC, but it was never my weight, never where I wanted to be. It’s just so nice to have people finally see that and stop doubting me...I have no problem starting at the bottom and working myself all the way to the top.”
In a division that is perceived by some as up for grabs, Eye made her case as strongly as anyone thus far that she has the goods to go all the way.
Speaking of flyweights
It was the first fight of the night and it was a decision, so it’s not getting the run of other bouts, but the battle between Ji Yeon Kim and Melinda Fabian is one others at flyweight should pay attention to. Rarely has a split decision ever made so much sense; it was that close.
Most notable in the brawl was Kim’s Gaethje-esque chin. In an all standup battle, Fabian threw and landed punches that would starch opponents of any weight class, only to watch Kim keep coming forward and throwing her own cinder block strikes. If Kim can regularly take the heat that Fabian was dishing out, it’s hard to think of a striker she won’t be able to hang with in the future.
Around the card
Fight Night Singapore was a cornucopia of thrilling and interesting performances by dark horses and rising talents that deserve at least a mention:
Featherweight prospect Song Yadong took the air out of the room with a lethal elbow that crumpled Felipe Arantes on his way to a second-round TKO. That’s his second finish in his only two UFC appearances, and at only 20 years old, it’s thrilling to think of what his trajectory could be if he keeps dishing out these kind of endings.
Russian Petr Yan, one of the most interesting prospects in MMA, made the most of his UFC debut by rag-dolling Teruto Ishihara in a thrilling first round TKO.
On the subject of young welterweights making noise, don’t sleep on Jake Matthews. If you do, you could be put to sleep by the Celtic Kid, just like what happened to Shinsho Anzai in the first round. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three wins in three appearances at welterweight for Matthews, and he’s only 23 years-old.
Steve Latrell is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TheUFSteve