After having had time to reflect on last night’s UFC Fight Night 25 event in Lousiana we take a look at who the biggest winners and losers were on the card.
1. Jake Ellenberger
No question about the star of last night’s show. Jake Ellenberger’s 53 second destruction of former Strikeforce middleweight champion and former UFC welterweight No.1 contender Jake Shields, who had only been stopped once in his 33 fight career, was impressive stuff.
It wasn’t a particularly shocking result, I predicted Shields would lose by TKO due to his sub-par stand-up, but I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. I also didn’t expect Ellenberger to be able to manhandle Shields the way that he did, simply tossing aside his opponent twice when he shot in for takedowns.
Going into this fight Ellenberger already had four wins under his belt, but a big win in a main event fight like this was what he needed to really get himself noticed.
With his blend of strong wrestling and heavy hands he’ll continue to pose anyone a problem at 170lbs, and while I still think he needs at least another high profile win under his belt before challenging for the title, he’s certainly now placed himself in the picture.
2. Alan Belcher
It was great to see Belcher getting a win under his belt after spending much of the past 16 months wondering whether he would ever be able to fight again following a career-threatening eye injury.
Over and above that I was impressed that he actually picked up where he had left off previously, looking like a fighter who can make an impact in the upper reaches of the middleweight division.
I thought it was significant that Belcher won this fight on the ground. We all know he’s a very good striker, but his performance last night against a solid grappler like Jason MacDonald was a reminder that he’s a well-rounded fighter who can play a significant role at 185lbs in the coming year.
3. Lance Benoist
Benoist was the stand-out fighter on the prelminary card for me. Making his Octagon debut he was suprisingly composed and had an impressive bag of tricks for a 22 year-old. Prior to this fight Benoist had a perfect 5-0 record, but that was in the regional promotions and facing Matt Riddle was a definite step up in quality, yet he took it in his stride.
He looked good on his feet, but it was also pleasing to see that he was also very comfortable on the ground, with his first round use of a kimura attempt from the bottom to sweep straight into mount being particularly notable.
A broken nose later in the fight meant that he had to go into survival mode in the third, but he still showed good composure and made effective use of the rubber guard to contain Riddle and ensure he made it to the final bell.
It’s exciting to see the next generation of fighters starting to filter through in the UFC over the past 18 months or so, and Benoist has certainly worked his way into my ‘one’s to watch’ list.
1. Jake Shields
I feel bad for Shields given that his father passed away just weeks ago, and he really did look crestfallen in the Octagon as he tried to come to terms with his latest defeat.
That being said there’s no question the manner of this defeat is going to send the former Strikeforce champion’s stock sliding.
The truth is that in his 1-2 stint in the UFC so far Shields has not impressed at all. Even his solitary victory against Martin Kampmann was dubious, and with his below average stand-up and weak takedowns he just doesn’t feel like a major threat in the 170lb division at this moment in time.
Having said that it wouldn’t be right to completely dimiss him given that his 15 fight winning streak prior to entering the UFC included win over the likes of Dan Henderson, Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Carlos Condit and Yushin Okami. Those victories are in the past though and he now desperately needs to get back in the win column as he’s not a big enough name in the UFC to guarantee he’ll stick around if he falls to a third straight loss.
2. Jonathan Brookins
It’s fair to say that this was not a great way for Brookins to mark his first fight in the Octagon since winning the TUF 12 show.
It was understandable that he didn’t want to take on Koch on the feet given that he was at a disadvantage in that regard, but it seemed that his only other option was to just stall the fight against the cage.
In his determination to keep his opponent permanently pinned against the cage while fishing for a takedown that never looked like happening Brookins appeared to entirely forget to actually try to damage his opponent and he paid the price when the judges gave Koch the nod despite his long periods of Octagon control.
Brookins came across as a likeable character on TUF, but some of that goodwill towards him will have eroded after such a lackluster display, and now that being a TUF winner doesn’t hold the same cache it once did he needs to bounce back strongly from this or he won’t have a future in the promotion long-term.
3. Mike Lullo
Prior to last night’s fight Lullo was best known for being the victim of a three round barrage of brutal leg kicks from Edson Barboza in his last Octagon appearance.
Every fight is supposed to be a learning experience so you would have expected Lullo to have worked on checking some leg kicks for his UFC return, but yet Robert Peralta quickly exposed the same weakness over and over again.
That was bad enough, but over and above that it was hard to spot anything in Lullo’s game over fifteen minutes of fighting that would justify keeping him in the promotion.