Saturday’s UFC 283 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Rio de Janeiro, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Jeunesse Arena.
1 – Jamahal Hill
I thought breaking down last Saturday’s main event was easy. If Jamahal Hill keeps it standing, he wins. If Glover Teixeira gets it to the mat, he wins. Then came the addendum that Glover can take a punch, so even if it stays standing, he’s still got a shot. But nothing in this sport is that cut and dried, is it? And after five rounds, we saw more than we ever have out of Hill, whose win over Teixeira displayed a complete MMA game, one that not only earned him a world title at 205 pounds, but set up what may be a dominant reign at the top. I know, recency bias and the reality that Jiri Prochazka, Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz are waiting in the wings, but jeez, Hill looked good, didn’t he?
2 – Brandon Moreno
Speaking of looking good on the biggest stage in the sport in the backyard of an opponent, Brandon Moreno ended his four-fight series with Deiveson Figueiredo with a 2-1-1 edge after halting the Brazilian in three rounds. Yes, some will say the ending was anticlimactic, but with the way Moreno was fighting in those first 15 minutes, things were only going to get worse for Figueiredo down the stretch. And while Mexico’s “Assassin Baby” has earned a break from Figueiredo, who is apparently moving to 135 pounds now, there is no shortage of contenders waiting for their shot at the 125-pound title, setting the stage for a big year in the division.
3 – Glover Teixeira / Shogun Rua
You know you’re getting old in life when the fighters you grew up on start retiring. Want to feel really old? Watch the second generation of fighters you followed hang up the gloves. That’s where I’m at with Glover Teixeira and Shogun Rua. Two of the classiest gents in the game, in and out of the Octagon, it truly was an honor not just watching these Brazilian kings fight, but getting the opportunity to cover their careers in the UFC. Yes, watching them lose wasn’t easy, but in any sport, the ones who leave on top are rare. And yes, I’ve used the quote before, so another time won’t hurt, but as Tom Cruise said in “Cocktail,” “It has to end badly, otherwise it would never end.” So yeah, Saturday night was a sad one, but on Monday, we can celebrate what Teixeira and Rua meant to this sport and have good memories.
4 – Gilbert Burns
It was a long wait to see Gilbert Burns back in the Octagon, but it was worth it after a spectacular win over Neil Magny in Rio. In control from start to finish, “Durinho” showed no signs of rust against an opponent who isn’t one that gets dominated in the Octagon. But Burns was on top of his game and now in search of an even bigger fight. The name Colby Covington was mentioned by the Brazilian, and yeah, I’m in for that, or maybe a fight with fellow Top 5 contender Belal Muhammad that earns the winner a shot at the Edwards-Usman III winner? Oh, the possibilities.
5 – Jessica Andrade
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. A hundred years from now, when the history of MMA is written, we’re going to remember Jessica Andrade as one of the best of her era. Yes, she’s in the history books as a world champion, but look at her resume and the fighters she’s beaten over three divisions: Raquel Pennington, Larissa Pacheco, Claudia Gadelha, Rose Namajunas, Katlyn Chookagian, and I’m just scratching the surface because we could be here all day. And now she beat Lauren Murphy in dominant fashion. Former world champ, a winner in three divisions, and an aggressive, offense-minded fighter. Yeah, “Bate Estaca” is a special one.