Saturday’s UFC Winnipeg event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Manitoba, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Bell MTS Place.
1 – Rafael Dos Anjos
"If he's having surgery, then I'll wait for him."
With the possibility of a world title shot looming, some fighters either don’t step up or they deliver a performance that doesn’t really get the fans behind them. Rafael Dos Anjos stepped up big on Saturday against Robbie Lawler in their clash of former world champions, and in the process jumped to the front of the line to face welterweight boss Tyron Woodley in 2018. And what may have been the most impressive aspect of the former lightweight champ’s third consecutive win at 170 pounds is that he didn’t shy away from staying in the trenches with the always dangerous Lawler, proving that he is not only more comfortable at welterweight, but more confident. Put it all together, and a Woodley-RDA match shapes up to be one of the most interesting showdowns of next year.
2 – Josh Emmett
"My goal is to be a world champion."
Yes, Josh Emmett missed weight for Saturday’s co-main event against Ricardo Lamas. That cost him 30% of his purse and a shot at a post-fight bonus, but the man apologized, and unless it becomes a habit, you can give him the benefit of the doubt as a one-fight aberration. Now on to the fight and a one-punch knockout that skyrocketed its way onto the top ten list of 2017. It was the perfect punch at the perfect time, and now Emmett has gone from unknown to contender, setting the stage for an interesting 2018 campaign for him.
3 – Glover Teixeira
"If DC keeps his title on Jan. 20, let's do it in May."
In a bout between two of the sport’s true gentlemen, you don’t want anyone to lose. But with the exception of an unsatisfying draw, someone has to, and if I’m looking big picture, Glover Teixeira needed Saturday’s win more than Misha Cirkunov. At 38, the Brazilian banger doesn’t have as much time on the clock as Cirkunov has, and while things looked a little shaky on the feet as the bout got underway, Teixeira settled in and showed off his ground attack, picking up a first-round TKO victory that put him right back in the light heavyweight title race heading into 2018.
4 – Julian Marquez
Who's got the better beard game? @JMarquezMMA challenges @TWooodley to a beard off! #UFCWinnipeg pic.twitter.com/iZRfdS9kDl
— UFC (@ufc) December 17, 2017
Whether it’s Julian Marquez’ finishing ability in the Octagon or his personality outside of it, “The Cuban Missile Crisis” has star written all over him after his UFC debut victory over Darren Stewart. Yes, I know it’s only one fight, but after his highlight reel win over Phil Hawes on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, I had the chance to speak to Marquez and it’s obvious that he has the charisma to take him far in this game. Add in the fact that he’s not afraid to scrap and that he ends fights in spectacular fashion and I believe we’ll be talking about him for a long time.
5 – Chad Laprise
Despite winning TUF Nations in 2014 and getting off to a solid start in his UFC career, Chad Laprise was on the verge of becoming just another guy in a crowded lightweight division after Francisco Trinaldo and Ross Pearson. But a move back to welterweight didn’t just give the Ontario product a much needed career jolt, it’s made him one of the most interesting prospects at 170 pounds. On Saturday, Laprise hit the deck hard early against Galore Bofando, only to calmly get back into the fight and end it later in that same first round. That’s three consecutive knockout wins, two at welterweight, and Laprise is likely looking at big things in 2018.