Saturday’s UFC Uruguay event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Montevideo, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Antel Arena.
You might think that when a fighter goes the distance for the first time since a loss in 2017 that it would be a disappointing affair for both the fighter and the fans. Not when the fighter is Vicente Luque. Only “The Silent Assassin” can go 15 minutes in a winning effort and have fans as excited about that fight as they are about his knockout and submission victories. That’s a testament to the Brazilian’s fighting philosophy and his talent. And in a co-main event slot on Saturday, he had the opportunity to show both off on one of his biggest stages to date. And now there’s nothing silent about what Luque delivers when the Octagon door shuts. Luque vs Wonderboy? I’m all-in.
Mike Perry’s 6-5 UFC record doesn’t have him in the welterweight top 15, but if you go back and watch his Fight of the Night loss to Vicente Luque, you know he will always have a job in the Octagon. For all the fighters who talk about their love of the game, you can see that love every time Perry puts on the gloves (and even before the gloves are on). Sure, he’s got finishing power, an exciting style and he talks a good game, too, but it’s that look on his face in the heat of the battle that keeps fans coming back. Every time his name is called, he shows up and he means it. You have to respect that.
They can’t all be highlight reel knockouts. Yet that’s why Valentina Shevchenko is the flyweight champion of the world. On a night where styles made for a less than thrilling five-round bout with challenger Liz Carmouche, Shevchenko not only found a way to win, but dominated for 25 minutes against a talented, veteran foe. When it was over, Shevchenko retained her title and continued to build her case as a champion who may not be losing anytime soon.
Now that was the Volkan Oezdemir who earned a light heavyweight title fight in just three fights. In dismantling fellow contender Ilir Latifi, Oezdemir sent a message to his peers that he is not to be written off after losing three in a row after that 3-0 start to his UFC career. Power, accuracy and punishing efficiency – we saw it all from Oezdemir in Uruguay, and he will continue to be a problem for the elite at 205 pounds.
A 6-foot-4 unbeaten heavyweight who is a teammate of Francis Ngannou? Well, that pretty much sells Ciryl Gane from the start, and he didn’t disappoint with a first-round submission of Raphael Pessoa on Saturday night. Of course the big red flag with the Frenchman is the fact that he’s just four fights into his pro MMA career, but he didn’t look like a deer in the headlights in his first appearance in the big show. Instead, he looked as cool as could be on the big stage. Needless to say, we’ll be watching.