Saturday’s UFC Adelaide event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Australia, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
No one fights forever. It’s the way the fight game goes, and when an athlete hits the end of the road, it’s a sad day. So when Mauricio “Shogun” Rua staggered in the first round, his legs gone as Tyson Pedro went in for the finish, I felt like I was watching my MMA childhood fade away. Of course, replays showed that it was a clash of heads that caused Rua to lose his equilibrium, so that was a good sign. Then Shogun became Shogun again, ultimately halting Pedro in the third round. All of a sudden, the 37-year-old Brazilian star was 4-1 in his last five fights and still in the race for a shot at regaining his light heavyweight title. And if you think longtime MMA fans were happy, just look at Rua’s face after the fight. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Speaking of veteran fighters who were expected to be the foils for the next generation of Australian stars, many believed Junior Dos Santos was going to be on the wrong side of matters against unbeaten Tai Tuivasa, but “Cigano” handed out a reminder that at 34, he’s still got plenty left in the tank. Now it’s Dos Santos who has won three of his last four, and yeah, a rematch with Alistair Overeem would be a nice way for both heavyweight stalwarts to kick off 2019.
At 25 years old, Sodiq Yusuff still has a huge upside in the sport, but with an exciting decision win over Mike Davis on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and a first-round TKO of Suman Mokhtarian in his UFC debut this past weekend, it’s clear that “Super Sodiq” can start making an impact at 145 pounds right now. Add in a charismatic personality, and if you’re looking for a star to breakout in 2019, this might be the guy.
On Friday night, Joseph Benavidez made a case that the flyweight division is still as vibrant as it’s ever been. On Saturday, Kai Kara-France added his two cents to that conversation with an exciting decision victory over Elias Garcia that earned the pair a Fight of the Night bonus and let the world know that at 125 pounds, there is still plenty of compelling matchups to be made.
The welterweight formerly known as Tony Martin made his full debut with his full name of Anthony Rocco Martin, but whatever you call him, Martin is on his way to some big fights in 2019. Since moving to 170 pounds, Martin has won three straight over tough opposition, and after finishing Ryan LaFlare by knockout and Jake Matthews by submission in his last two, he’s hitting his stride at a perfect time.