Saturday’s UFC Copenhagen event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Denmark, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Royal Arena.
MMA is full of stories you have to see for yourself to believe. Jared Cannonier has one of those stories. A former heavyweight and light heavyweight, Cannonier is now a top ten and rising contender at 185 pounds, and he’s looking better than he ever has in the process. That’s just unheard of to drop two weight classes and then be putting on your best performances, and when I spoke to Cannonier before Saturday’s win over Jack Hermansson, he said (and I’m paraphrasing), we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I believe him. Three middleweight fights over tough opposition (Hermansson, David Branch, Anderson Silva) and three knockout wins? I can’t wait to turn the page and see what happens next in this story.
The hometown boys lit up Royal Arena on Saturday, and it was a reminder just how fun this sport can be to watch as Mark Madsen and Nicolas Dalby delivered wins for Denmark. What made it even better was seeing the vastly different paths both took to get to Royal Arena. Madsen was the national hero, unbeaten and untouched, and he stayed that way with his first-round win over Danilo Belluardo. Dalby was the comeback kid, looking to make good on his second run in the UFC, and he had to dig deep to get by Alex Oliveira. For those who live in Denmark, UFC Copenhagen was a perfect night.
As I hope I illustrated in my pre-fight feature, no one is more of a competitor than Gilbert Burns. For proof, after accepting his Saturday fight with Gunnar Nelson, he was actually hoping that he could have pulled off an appearance in the ADCC tournament in California as well. And he meant it. That’s having the love of the game in your heart, and after two short notice wins over legit welterweights, he’s jolted the 170-pound weight class and earned himself a crack at a top 15 foe (and with a full training camp).
I was already starting to wonder where Ovince Saint Preux’ career was heading after his third consecutive loss, but as soon as I began to put fingers to keyboard, OSP had finished Michal Oleksiejczuk with yet another Von Preux choke (see, I’ve already changed the name). It was proof positive that while youthful energy and aggression is nice, experience and resilience is just as good, if not better. Saint Preux may or may not get a world championship eventually, but he remains a tough and dangerous out for anyone at 205 pounds.
I admit that I’m a sucker for a good comeback story, and though he’s been quiet about it, Marc Diakiese certainly fits the bill. After three straight wins in 2016-17 to kick off his UFC career, the “Bonecrusher” hit rock bottom with three consecutive defeats. But in 2019, Diakiese has proved that all the early hype was justified, as he’s picked up back-to-back wins over Joseph Duffy and Lando Vannata that have shown a new maturity in his explosive fight style, making him a very dangerous man indeed.