Saturday’s UFC DC event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Capital One Arena.
Dana White’s Contender Series has graduated plenty of top level talent into the UFC over the last three seasons, yet getting a win in that first fight in the Octagon isn’t always a given, and even when these prospects get their hand raised, it isn’t always as impressive as it was when Billy Quarantillo and Joe Solecki did it last weekend. Solecki beat one of the most seasoned vets in the game in Matt Wiman and he did so by dominating all three rounds, and then it was Quarantillo looking like he was a 10-year UFC vet in beating Jacob Kilburn in two rounds. If these fights were any indication, these two prospects have a big year waiting for them in 2020.
Bryce Mitchell did pull off the second Twister submission in UFC history Saturday night, so that’s worth a spot here. But it’s more about the way Mitchell fights and carries himself that has him heading into 2020 as one of the top prospects in the sport. No nonsense to the core, Mitchell has a nasty ground game, a sense of humor and the potential to make a lot of noise in the 145-pound weight class next year.
Rob Font had a rough 2019 campaign. Left on the sidelines after a big fight with John Lineker was scrapped on weigh-in day, the New Englander was willing to fight anybody and everybody just to keep the wheels turning on his quest for a bantamweight title. Last weekend, Font got his chance and he made the most of it, winning Fight of the Night honors for his decision win over Ricky Simon. And maybe as important as getting back to work, earning a win and a bonus check is the hope that, next year, he can make a serious run at the top of the division.
No one, outside of champion Amanda Nunes, brings the fury in the women’s bantamweight division quite like Aspen Ladd. For a young lady who is as low-key as it gets in the lead-up to a fight, when the Octagon door shuts, she lets it all out and the result is often what we saw last Saturday when she stopped Yana Kunitskaya. Yeah, there was that loss to Germaine de Randamie in July, but if you chalk that up to her simply getting caught, another couple wins and she could be looking at a 2020 title shot, and whether it’s against Amanda Nunes or de Randamie, depending on what happens in this Saturday’s UFC 245 title bout, I’d be down to see either fight.
After Saturday night’s main event, a buddy of mine asked me if people will look at Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s fifth-round stoppage of Alistair Overeem as just another win or a warning sign that “Bigi Boy” isn’t ready for prime time yet considering that he was four seconds away from a decision loss to “The Demolition Man.” Well, a look around social media after the fight and seeing endless shots of Overeem’s busted lip, I think it’s safe to say that no one is holding the previous four rounds against Rozenstruik. Hey, sometimes it’s not your night, and from the other side of things, Overeem fought a skilled and tactical fight to build that lead. But the beauty of being a heavyweight is the reality that the only thing that matters is the end result. Rozenstruik ended that fight emphatically to finish his rookie year in the UFC at 4-0 with four knockouts. AND he wants Francis Ngannou next. Bring. It. On.