Saturday’s UFC 257 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled on Fight Island, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Etihad Arena.
1 - Dustin Porier
After he evened the score with Conor McGregor in their UFC 257 rematch, you have to wonder just where Poirier would be in his career if he beat “The Notorious” one in their first bout in 2014. Seriously. Would “The Diamond” have stayed at 145 pounds, maybe squared off with Jose Aldo and been in a much different place than he is today? Long story short, maybe losing to McGregor was the best thing to happen to the Louisiana native, who is 11-2 with 1 NC since that night in Las Vegas. Along the way, here’s some of the Murderers Row he’s beaten: McGregor, Dan Hooker, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis and Justin Gaethje. That resume speaks for itself.
2 – Michael Chandler
Want to make an impression in your UFC debut? Knock out one of the best lightweights in the world in less than a round, and then summon some Ric Flair magic in your post-fight interview in the Octagon. That’s just what former Bellator champ Michael Chandler (pictured above in the cover image) did in his bout with Dan Hooker, and just like that, he’s a major player at 155 pounds. It was the kind of performance expected from Chandler by longtime fans, and while the division was exciting before he got here, now there are even more intriguing moving parts in play for what will be a very interesting 2021 campaign.
RELATED: Michael Chandler Post-Fight Presser
3 – Marina Rodriguez
It seemed like just a matter of time before Amanda Ribas scored a strawweight title shot, and nothing that happened in the first round of her UFC 257 bout with Marina Rodriguez discouraged that train of thought. But the resilient Rodriguez was far from done, and in the second stanza, it took her less than a minute to put a momentary halt to the rise of Ribas and put herself in the mix for a crack at 115-pound champion Zhang Weili. Take away a close split decision loss to former champ Carla Esparza and the Brazilian would be unbeaten. That’s impressive, given the level of competition she’s fought, and as UFC President Dana White says, “If you don’t know, now you know.”
4 – Julianna Pena
After beating Sara McMann at UFC 257, Julianna Pena was calling for a shot at the bantamweight title. Does she have a case? Sure. "The Venezuelan Vixen” may not be ranked number one at 135 pounds, but she’s coming off an impressive finish of McMann, she faced three former or future champs in a row before that, and with champion Amanda Nunes already beating three of the top six contenders above Pena and one coming off a loss, well, why not? At the very least, maybe a title eliminator against Aspen Ladd or Ketlen Vieira would be a good next step for Pena.
5 – Marcin Prachnio
In this week’s installment of a fighter with his back against the wall pulling off a much needed win, Marcin Prachnio snapped a three-fight losing streak with a close decision win over Khalil Rountree Jr. A fighter like Prachnio obviously had the goods to earn a call to the big show, but in his first three bouts in the Octagon, he just couldn’t put it together. That changed on Saturday night, and while he had some dicey moments against the hard-hitting Rountree, when he needed to step up, he did, and now it’s a fresh slate in a wide-open division for the Poland native.