Anthony Smith secures a rear choke submission against Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Avenir Centre on October 27, 2018 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)" align="center"" />Saturday’s UFC Moncton event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Canada, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Avenir Arena.
1 – Anthony Smith
One of the best stories of 2018 has been the light heavyweight emergence of Anthony Smith. Once an erratic talent seemingly destined to never find the consistency needed to make a title run, “Lionheart” is now 3-0 with three finishes at 205 pounds, and after defeating the No. 2-ranked Volkan Oezdemir on Saturday, the Nebraskan has to be on the short list of potential title challengers. And while seeing any veteran turn things around and start to reap the rewards from years of hard work is a good thing, seeing the classy Smith in that position makes it even better, as he’s remained ambitious, yet humble, in his approach to the sport. And yeah, this young man can fight.
2 – Misha Cirkunov
Speaking of gentlemen turning things around, Misha Cirkunov did just that on Saturday, as he submitted the ultra-tough Pat Cummins in less than three minutes to snap a two-fight losing streak. Maybe it’s the move to Las Vegas or maybe Cirkunov just had a couple bad nights against Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira. Whatever it is, Cirkunov’s performance proves that he’s still among the best 205-pounders in the game, a vicious finisher, and someone we will be talking about a lot in 2019.
3 – Don Madge
After Te Edwards’ blistering knockout win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, the buzz was deafening around his debut against Don Madge. Now Madge was making his Octagon debut as well, but there wasn’t as much talk about the South African. Well, we’re all talking this morning as the “Magic Man” showed off a well-rounded and exciting attack in finishing Edwards with a head kick just seconds into the second round. It was the kind of introduction every fighter wants when they enter the big show, and there’s no question that Madge will be receiving a lot more attention when he makes the walk for his second UFC fight.
4 – Calvin Kattar
I’m putting together my wish list for 2019, and I hope we get to see a meeting between Calvin Kattar and Zabit Magomedsharipov, if only to see which featherweight is cooler under pressure when the Octagon door shuts. Like Magomedsharipov, Kattar looks like he’s in a light sparring session on fight night until he sees his opening and it’s time to strike. Then all bets are off and the fight usually ends moments later. That was the case on Saturday, when Kattar calmly fought off the aggressive charges of Chris Fishgold, then smoothly found the shot that hurt his opponent and then ended the bout. Kattar is a dangerous man at 145 pounds, and calm, cool and collected faceoffs aside, yeah, I wouldn’t mind Kattar vs Magomedsharipov in 2019.
"I’ve had three fights now in the #UFC, I feel good. I don’t want to fly too high too quickly, I’m only 23 years old, but by next year I want to be fighting top 15 guys for sure." - @Nasrat_MMA on what's next after his win at #UFCMoncton. pic.twitter.com/SW4QxRysbj
— UFC News (@UFCNews) October 28, 2018
5 – Nasrat Haqparast
Take away Nasrat Haqparast’s short notice loss to Marcin Held last October, and look at the Germany native’s last two bouts, a win over highly-touted Marc Diakiese in July and Saturday’s Fight of the Night victory over Thibault Gouti and you’ll see one of the top prospects in the 155-pound weight class. That’s saying something, and while he’s been touted as a knockout artist, he showed a remarkable amount of poise in sticking to the game plan when Gouti just wouldn’t go away. That’s usually the curse of the finisher – what happens when you can’t finish somebody. Well, against Gouti and Diakiese, Haqparast has proven to have a Plan B and Plan C when Plan A doesn’t work. That will serve him well in this division.