UFC Fight Night 35 took place at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. on Jan. 15, and it turned out to be a decent event thanks to a few memorable finishes. Some fighters used the opportunity to further their causes, while others struggled under the bright lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Octagon.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from UFC Fight Night 35:
1. Luke Rockhold
Things didn’t exactly go as planned for Rockhold during his UFC debut against Vitor Belfort. The last Strikeforce middleweight champion was viciously finished during the first round of their tilt, removing him from title contention.
However, Luke redeemed himself with his performance against Constantinos Philippou on Wednesday, controlling the action throughout, putting his opponent away with a vicious kick to the body at 2:31 of round one. The brutal knockout earned Rockhold “Knockout of the Night” honors, an extra $50,000, and the attention of all other middleweights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
2. T.J. Dillashaw
T.J. put on one of the most impressive performances of his MMA career against Mike Easton at UFC Fight Night 35, dominating the standup exchanges with his ever improving muay thai, landing hard combinations at will. All three Octagon-side judges scored the bout 30-27 in Dillashaw’s favor, and “The Ultimate Fighter” alumni continues his ascent up the bantamweight ladder.
3. Louis Smolka and Beneil Dariush
These two made strong statements during their UFC debuts, keeping their undefeated records intact. Dariush made quick work out of Charlie Brenneman to kick off the event, forcing the tap via rear-naked choke at 1:45 of the first round.
Smolka survived a rough opening round against his opponent, Alptekin Ozkilic, but he turned things around during the latter rounds, displaying solid striking skills on his way to a unanimous decision.
Notable mentions: Cole Miller, Yoel Romero, and Dustin Ortiz.
1. Constantinos Philippou
After going on a five-fight win streak against respectable opposition, Philippou ran into problems when he faced Francis Carmont last September, losing a one-sided decision. Things didn’t go any better when he faced Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 35 as a liver kick brought his night to an early end. With his second consecutive loss, Philippou will likely have to give up the tenth spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight rankings, and a third consecutive loss will likely bring his stint with the promotion to an end.
2. Charlie Brenneman
After getting cut from the UFC’s roster late 2012, Brenneman racked up four consecutive wins fighting for smaller promotions. Unfortunately for him, his luck ran out during his first fight back with the Ultimate Fighting Championship against Dariush — who sent him to the canvas with a hard overhand left early in the encounter, finishing “The Spaniard” with a rear-naked choke shortly after.
3. Lorenz Larkin
Larkin was the favorite heading into his UFC Fight Night 35 encounter against Brad Tavares, but he wasn’t able to get much going until the final round. By then, it was too little too late. Tavares was awarded with a unanimous decision, dropping Larkin’s UFC record to 1-2.