The Ultimate Fighter
Saturday’s UFC Newark event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in New Jersey it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Prudential Center.
1 – Colby Covington
Take away Colby Covington’s polarizing pre and post-fight antics, and even the harshest critic will have to admit that he delivered a master class in his UFC Newark main event against Robbie Lawler. Showcasing a swarming volume striking attack to go along with his suffocating ground game, Covington dominated the former champion for five rounds that not many saw coming. Covington’s victory – and the way he won – heightened anticipation for a championship showdown with Kamaru Usman, and while there will be plenty of trash talk in the time before the fight is made and up until the Octagon door shuts, this really is a fight that doesn’t need to be sold. The matchup sells itself.
2 – Jim Miller
Jim Miller. Or as UFC Hall of Fame matchmaker Joe Silva used to call him, Jim “F**king” Miller. Having covered his career since his UFC debut in 2008, I’ve always had a soft spot for a tri-state area guy who simply puts on his hard hat and goes to work every time out. There’s no nonsense, no bells and whistles, just a true fighter and a true professional. And that was the case again on Saturday when Miller submitted fellow lightweight veteran Clay Guida in less than a minute. Make a mistake, and Miller will make any 155-pounder pay. And with wins in three of his last four, the next one to pay may very well be a top 10 contender.
3 – Matt Schnell
Matt Schnell has a four-fight winning streak. Yes, Matt Schnell from MTV’s “Caged” back in 2012, Matt Schnell from TUF, and Matt Schnell who started his UFC career with two knockout losses. The Louisiana native has long showed star potential, but now his fighting is catching up to his charisma, and as the flyweight division heats up again, “Danger” is the kind of fighter who can keep it on the map moving forward.
4 – Nasrat Haqparast
You had to have a feeling that Nasrat Haqparast was going to catch Joaquim Silva in between one of the Brazilian’s wild swings last weekend, and when he did, it was lights out for Silva and three consecutive wins for Germany’s Haqparast, who is one of the most intriguing prospects at 155 pounds in the UFC. And with victories like that, “prospect” may turn into “contender” by the end of the year.
5 – Antonina Shevchenko
Life in the spotlight is such that Antonina Shevchenko will always be in the same sentence as her younger sister Valentina, and while neither seem to mind, it’s unfortunate, because with more wins like the one Antonina scored over Lucie Pudilova in New Jersey, she should be given her own space to shine in the UFC’s flyweight division. Showing off her Muay Thai attack and the resilience to get through a nasty cut over her eye before ending the fight with her submission game, Shevchenko’s performance was a complete one worthy of praise all on its own.