Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Jacksonville, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
“Not bad for an old guy.” The last time I heard that quote was when 43-year-old Randy Couture upset Tim Sylvia to win the UFC heavyweight title for a third time in 2007, and when 40-year-old Glover Teixeira brought it back last night in Jacksonville after his fifth-round stoppage of Anthony Smith, it was perfect timing for a fighter who has reinvented himself at a time when most fighters are walking off into the sunset. Using his veteran experience, technique and all the little things that only come with maturity, Teixeira made it four straight by beating Smith, and that puts him right back in the title picture at 205 pounds, something no one would have imagined during a 2016-18 stretch when he went 2-3. But by switching up his training and embracing all of MMA and not just striking, Teixeira returned to his spot as one of the best light heavyweights in the game. And it couldn’t have happened to a classier guy.
Forget the kind of performance Drew Dober delivered against Alexander Hernandez for a second and let’s look strictly at the numbers. Since 2017, Dober is 6-1 with four finishes, three post-fight performance bonuses and a three-fight winning and (finishing) streak. And all but one of those fights have come in arguably the toughest division in the UFC. In short, Dober’s time has come, and with him vanquishing a top 15 foe last night, he’s earned a crack at the top ten. More importantly, he should be in those rankings at 155 pounds come Monday afternoon. And like Teixeira, it’s nice to see a pro who went about his business with little fanfare getting the job done and getting recognized for it.
Speaking of old pros, well, not so old, Brian Kelleher has been making a habit of fighting graduates from Dana White’s Contender Series as of late, and while he lost the first matchup to Montel Jackson in 2018, this year he’s submitted Ode Osbourne and knocked out Hunter Azure, setting up a nice storyline if he gets his wish to face perhaps the most notable of the DWCS alumni, Sean O’Malley. And yeah, the story is good, but the matchup might be even better. So yes, I’m all-in for “Boom” versus “Sugar” later this year.
Ricky Simon is not one for keeping a low profile. But after a pair of losses to Urijah Faber and Rob Font, Simon went off the grid, cut off his mullet and made sure that all his ducks were in a row for last night’s bout with Ray Borg. And you know what? It worked. Simon’s striking and grappling were top-notch throughout the fast-paced 15-minute battle, and with that win out of the way, he can move forward at 135 pounds and maybe, just maybe, the mullet will return.
During his first stint in the UFC, Chase Sherman was seen as a brawler who was going to show up to fight but never get past a certain level in the Octagon. And after going 2-5 in the promotion, that assessment seemed spot on. But as Sherman put together a string of wins in the Island Fights promotion and even competed in Bare Knuckle Fighting, it was clear that his motivation had changed, so if he was going to get back to the UFC and make a serious run there, he had to bring patience to his game. And that’s just what he did in his return against Ike Villanueva. Taking his time, mixing up his attacks and then finally putting Villanueva away, Sherman looked better than ever, and in the process has us all eager to see what’s next from “The Vanilla Gorilla.”
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