Saturday’s UFC 218 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Detroit, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Little Caesars Arena.
1 – Francis Ngannou
Count me in with that small group that was waiting to see if Francis Ngannou beat Alistair Overeem before I christened him the Next Big Thing. That was no knock on the Cameroon native, who did everything asked of him in his UFC career before Saturday night and did it in style. But going from 11 pro fights to “The Demolition Man” was a bit of a stretch in my eyes. Well, get me a new prescription because Ngannou couldn’t have been more impressive on Saturday in knocking Overeem out in the first round. It’s almost underselling it by just calling it a knockout because that was the kind of finish that makes you drop your laptop and hurt yourself banging into a table as you jump out of your seat. That was a scary finish by “The Predator” and I think I can speak for all of UFC Nation by saying I’m all-in for Miocic vs Ngannou ASAP.
2 – Max Holloway
My favorite part of Max Holloway’s win over Jose Aldo may have been in the post-fight interview when he gave a tip of the hat to one of boxing’s best, WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko. That showed me a couple things. One is that Holloway is still a student of the game. And two, if he’s studying Lomachenko, he’s going to be bringing us some next-level stuff in the Octagon in the coming years. As for now, beating an all-time great like Aldo once is impressive. Doing it twice, and in decisive fashion both times, shows that the “BlessedEra might be a long one.
3 – Eddie Alvarez
After Eddie Alvarez got knocked out by Conor McGregor and rattled by Dustin Poirier, some believed that the former lightweight champion wasn’t going to be able to withstand the barrage of power shots Justin Gaethje delivers on a consistent basis in his fights. But using a stellar game plan and his old school grit and determination, Alvarez not only took those shots but delivered more than his fair share en route to a third round knockout in a fight that lived up to all expectations. It was also a reminder that guys like Alvarez and Gaethje (and, as you’ll read below, Yancy Medeiros and Alex Oliveira) are cut from a different cloth than other athletes. They’ll go to those places most say they’ll go to, but won’t, and hopefully they know that it’s appreciated by the fans who cheer them on and those of us who write about their exploits.
4 – Yancy Medeiros
Fighters from Hawaii embrace the whole “Let’s scrap” philosophy, and no one is a better representative of the island and that motto than Yancy Medeiros. There have been so many fights where he got rocked and put in bad situations, but he simply refuses to go away. Saturday night against Alex Oliveira was another example, and while it was a thrilling bout that rightfully earned a Fight of the Night bonus, in the great scheme of things, Medeiros is now 3-0 with three finishes in his last trio of bouts, suddenly making him a player in the welterweight shark tank. And he earned it.
5 – Alex Oliveira