Friday’s TUF 27 Finale event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Las Vegas, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at The Palms.
1 – Israel Adesanya
Ah, what to say about “The Last Stylebender” that he hasn’t already said? Yet the beautiful part of this sport is that you can talk all you want, but when the Octagon door shuts, you still have to back up your words. And Israel Adesanya backed up everything against tough veteran Brad Tavares. On paper, this seemed like it could be a “too much too soon” fight for the New Zealander. But in reality, he delivered the kind of dominant performance that has people already talking about fights against the elite at 185 pounds. That’s called walking the walk.
2 – Luis Pena
Luis Pena could have lost his bout against Richie Smullen and I still might have put him here simply to have another reason to type “Violent Bob Ross.” But epic nickname aside, Pena looks to not just have the talent to make some noise in the UFC, but the charisma to become a star as well. Whether at lightweight or featherweight, it’s going to be interesting to see how he progresses, but more importantly, I’ve got the feeling it’s going to be fun to watch as well.
3 – Brad Katona
Soft-spoken Brad Katona may not fit the stereotype many outside the MMA community have of prizefighters, but this kid can fight, as evidenced by his Friday win over Jay Cucciniello. Dominant on the feet and the mat, Katona earned his way onto the roster by winning The Ultimate Fighter 27, but if he continues to evolve and take a patient route up the UFC ladder, we may be seeing him challenge for world title honors sooner rather than later.
4 – Roxanne Modafferi
Everyone loves Roxanne Modafferi, so to see the WMMA pioneer get her first UFC win over Barb Honchak on Friday was one of the feel-good stories of the weekend. And while it’s nice to get a little sentimental every now and again, when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the fight game, Modafferi isn’t a veteran on her way out who scored a big win before retirement. Instead, the 35-year-old is showing the best form of her career, and this development may just lead her back to a 125-pound title fight next year.
5 – Gerald Meerschaert
Taking a fighter’s unbeaten record is always a big deal, but when it’s done the way Gerald Meerschaert did it against Oskar Piechota, it’s worth another look. On the wrong end of a rough first round, Meerschaert was a different fighter in the second stanza as he bounced back and finished the Poland native via submission with five seconds left in the round. The win moved “GM3” to a 4-1 record that should be getting more attention than it has, because Meerschaert has finished all four of those victories, making him one of the most exciting middleweights sitting just outside the top 15.