Saturday’s UFC Nashville event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Music City, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Bridgestone Arena.
1 – Anthony Pettis
Before Anthony Pettis’ main event bout with Stephen Thompson, I wrote that the second chapter of the Milwaukee native’s story may end up being better than the first. Well, the intro to that chapter was some start, as he scored a highlight reel knockout of “Wonderboy.” That win, which came at welterweight, now opens up options for “Showtime” at both 155 and 170 pounds, and it’s a situation no one would have predicted back in 2015-16 when he went through a 1-4 skid. And though some would say it’s a reinvention of sorts for Pettis, more accurately, he went back and realized why he started doing this in the first place. And that attitude alone has done wonders.
2 – Curtis Blaydes
Think about this for a second. Take away Curtis Blaydes’ two losses to Francis Ngannou, and he’s 6-0 with 1 NC in the UFC. That’s not an easy feat, and of course the critics will focus on those defeats to “The Predator,” but you can’t ignore that “Razor” Blaydes is an elite heavyweight contender. Justin Willis was on an eight-fight winning streak heading into Saturday’s bout in Nashville, and Blaydes made it look easy in shutting out the Californian. That’s a big deal, and Blaydes is going to continue to be the type of fighter no one is lining up to face in the Octagon.
3 – Randa Markos
It hasn’t been an easy UFC run for Randa Markos. From big wins to crushing losses and everything in between, the Canadian strawweight still marched forward, hoping to find the consistency needed to make a title run. Well, if her Saturday win over Angela Hill was any indication, Markos’ fortunes may be changing, because she looked sharp from start to finish against a dangerous foe in Hill. Strawweight is a shark tank, and Markos has been in with a lot of those sharks, but she’s still standing, and this “Quiet Storm” may be building intensity.
4 – Bryce Mitchell
Bryce Mitchell certainly has the personality and story to become a star in the UFC featherweight division, but the most important part of this puzzle is the fact that the kid can fight. Is he a finished product yet? No. Did he have some rough moments against Bobby Moffett on Saturday? Yes. But he dug deep, kept his cool and got the win and a Fight of the Night bonus. And along the way, these featherweights proved once again that when done right, a bout waged mainly on the mat can be as good as a standup slugfest.
5 – Maycee Barber
There were questions about Maycee Barber before Saturday’s bout with JJ Aldrich. She was making her first start at 125 pounds and was doing it against a very dangerous foe. Well, the first round was rough for “The Future,” but by round two, Barber settled in, made the proper adjustments and then took over, halting Aldrich at 3:01 of the frame. Whether at flyweight or back at strawweight, Barber is one to watch, and yeah, if she stays on track, she’s a serious threat to shatter Jon Jones’ record as the youngest champion in UFC history.