Despite the slow start, UFC 160 turned out to be a rather entertaining event, with only one fight on the main card requiring the services of the judges. Two fighters earned title shots in their respective divisions with their performances, while others slid down the rankings.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from UFC 160:
1. Junior dos Santos
JDS suffered a humiliating defeat when he faced Cain Velasquez last December, but he redeemed himself with his third – round knockout victory against Mark Hunt at UFC 160. Junior could have played it safe and relied on his superior grappling to get past Hunt, but he elected to stand and trade with the “Super Samoan” for the majority of their bout (dos Santos took Hunt down during the final minute of the second round).
Dos Santos also proved he can take punches from the hardest hitters in the heavyweight division, absorbing several big shots from Hunt and enduring to win the fight in impressive fashion.
Junior’s gutsy performance earned him “Fight of the Night” honors, an extra $50,000, and a chance to avenge his UFC 155 loss to Velasquez.
2. T.J. Grant
Grant was able to keep his undefeated streak in the lightweight division alive, stopping perennial top contender Gray Maynard a few minutes into their UFC 160 encounter. His performance earned him the “Knockout of the Night” award, the No. 1 contender spot in the UFC’s lightweight division, and the attention of casual MMA fans.
The Canadian is set to take on UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson his next time out.
3. Robert Whittaker
“The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes” winner looked awesome — and extremely relaxed — in his U.S. debut, showcasing his top-notch boxing skills against TUF 16 winner Colton Smith. Whittaker landed his jab almost at will, and he was consistently able to land fluid combos before putting Smith away during the final round.
The most impressive part of Whittaker’s performance was his takedown defense, as he stuffed Smith’s attempts with ease. Smith’s elite-level wrestling usually grinds opponents down, but he was only able to take down Whittaker once, and Whittaker didn’t have any problems getting right back to his feet afterwards.
At only 22 years old, Whittaker’s future in the UFC looks bright, and he very well may be the future of the welterweight division.
4. Glover Teixeira:
The Brazilian has a habit of delivering thrilling first-round wins and his performance at UFC 160 didn’t disappoint. Teixeira racked up his 19th consecutive win (fourth straight since joining the UFC in May 2012) with a guillotine choke submission victory over James Te Huna at the 2:38 mark of the first. Even better, the 33 year old got to celebrate his win in the Octagon with his hero, Mike Tyson, who was a guest of Dana White’s.
His boss still thinks he needs a win over an elite-level fighter to earn a light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones, but Teixeira is well on his way to being a star in the UFC.
Notable mentions: Cain Velasquez, Stephen Thompson, Donald Cerrone, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
1. Gray Maynard
Maynard was a win away from his third title shot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but it’s now back to the drawing board for “The Bully.” Like he’s done in the past, Maynard went headhunting at UFC 160, and his opponent, T.J Grant, made him pay for it, countering with a straight right to the jaw that sent the Ultimate Fighter alumni to the canvas.
Maynard will now have to fight his way back up the UFC’s lightweight rankings, which has recently been infused with new blood from Strikeforce.
2. Rick Story
Story came close to finishing Mike Pyle during the first round of their UFC 160 encounter, but he wasn’t able to get the job done. To make things worse, Rick exhausted himself while looking for the knockout and Pyle took advantage of the situation during the latter rounds, almost forcing the tap with a kimura in the second round, and then picking him apart with strikes during the final round.
It was enough to earn Pyle the split-decision victory, while Story has now lost four of his last six fights. That can’t be good for his job security.