The two UFC Fight Night shows that took place on October 4th revealed a lot about the Welterweight standings.
In Stockholm, Sweden, Gunnar Nelson, an icon of Mediterranean MMA, fell to Rick Story, a strong, physical contender with a prized victory over the current champion, Johnny Hendricks.
Story controlled the fight on the feet, asserting his dominance in every round but the first, a pick-and-choose in it’s respect. Nelson failed to initiate takedowns and was just a step behind the heavy-hitting American in the striking category.
Shockingly, one judge conjured a 48-47 total for Nelson, luckily, he was overruled by two more keen-eyed observers, who had it 50-44 and 49-46 for Story, respectively.
Another interesting tidbit: Swedish fighters went 2-4 on this event, with none winning on the main card.
The crowd were also predominantly Nelson supporters. Let’s just say there will be better days for the local fanbase, although they were treated to a good night of fights, and some heroic finishes by foreign competitors Max Holloway, Jan Blachowicz, and Mike Wilkinson, all in the first round.
…even if all three of those finishes were at expense of Swedes. Sorry, Swedes.
Onto Halifax, Nova Scotia.
It’s chilly in Nova Scotia, and, well, Rory MacDonald sent a chill through the Welterweight division with a commanding third-round knockout over Tarec Saffiedine.
MacDonald used his range to outbox Saffedine in a fight mostly contested on the feet. The Canadian avoided Tarec’s fabled leg kicks and technical striking, sending him off the mark and unleashing counter shots in return
One of those counters, a quick, short, left hand ended it in the third round, planting Saffedine on the canvas face-first.
A similar punch could subdue just about anyone at 170lbs. Give this man a title shot.
Speaking of title shots, many are in the running for one in the UFC Bantamweight division.
Last week, Dominick Cruz stated his case in a big way, wrecking Takeya Mizugaki with a flurry of punches in round one.
Renan Barao, well, he remains there, but probably needs an interim fight after a failed weight cut and last minute fight cancellation against TJ Dillashaw a month back.
Then, there is Raphael Assuncao, who is as ready as ever.
Assuncao defeated Dillashaw around this time last year, winning a tight split decision at home, in Brazil, before Dillashaw was offered his shot at Barao, which erased those memories in a matter of moments.
Including the win over Dillashaw, Assuncao is 7-0 in the same number of bouts. His latest win came under MacDonald-Saffiedine, where his manpower guided him to a shutout victory against Bryan Caraway, who fought hard but couldn’t earn the respect of Assuncao in a clear defeat.
I want to see Assuncao get his title shot. I really do. But how can you resist the allure of Dillashaw-Cruz? This could all be decided on a coin flip, however, any fight between Assuncao, Dillashaw, Cruz, or Barao will suffice for this bloodthirsty MMA fan.
Throw them in a tag-team wrestling style 2 vs. 2, just keep the action coming at Bantamweight — and Welterweight, too. Some interesting fights are bound to take shape after this weekend of MMA.