Saturday’s UFC 245 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 T-Mobile Arena.
While a lot of the talk about the UFC 245 main event is focusing on Colby Covington continuing to fight with a broken jaw in the second half of the bout, it’s important to point out that in successfully defending his UFC welterweight title for the first time, champion Kamaru Usman had to get past plenty of adversity in his own right against a challenger determined to take his crown. And it’s moments like those that make great champions. Usman got past the adversity, finished a fight that was up for grabs in the final round, and settled the score with a heated rival. That’s quite a night for “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. For Alexander Volkanovski, his moment was a pay-per-view main event against a dominant champion with the whole world watching, knowing that he had to fight a perfect fight to take the belt. And he did just that. He stuck to the game plan, didn’t get emotional or caught up in fighting Max Holloway’s fight. The Aussie stayed cool, fought HIS fight, and when it was over, he was a world champion. Not bad, Alexander “The Great,” not bad.
It wasn’t a blistering knockout win, the kind we’ve become accustomed to from Amanda Nunes, but when the scores were read after her fight with Germaine de Randamie, winning four of five rounds on each judge’s scorecard proves that the G.O.A.T. of women’s MMA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And, if anything, her dominance on the ground against “The Iron Lady” showed off an aspect of her game we haven’t seen much of since she started tearing through the 135 and 145-pound weight classes. If this was baseball, I’d say they can’t all be walkoff homers, but a couple doubles and triples ain’t anything to smirk about.
There may not be a more appropriate nickname for a fighter on the current UFC roster than Petr Yan’s “No Mercy,” and he showed none to UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber last Saturday. Calmly stalking from the start to the end at 43 seconds of the third round, the Russian wrecking machine punished, then finished, Faber with frightening efficiency. Say what you want about Faber being 40, but he was coming off a knockout of Ricky Simon, and seriously, no one has seen him beaten like that since Jose Aldo battered his legs for five rounds in 2010. Yan is going to be a problem for everyone at 135 pounds in 2020.
How stacked was UFC 245? So stacked that Irene Aldana, Matt Brown, Chase Hooper and Punahele Soriano could have gotten this fifth spot here, but how could one overlook Geoff Neal’s 90-second stoppage of Mike Perry. Leading up to the fight, Neal had to be the favorite, but he was also expected to get taken into some deep waters by “Platinum” Mike. Didn’t happen. And now the silent assassin from Texas takes another step forward at 170 pounds. Silent assassin at 170 pounds? Yes, that’s my not so subtle way of requesting Neal versus Vicente Luque in 2020.