UFC 253 is slated for Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates next weekend. Dana White and Co. had a tremendous amount of success holding previous events at that location.
This doesn’t mean that Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas headlined by the Colby Covington-Tyron Woodley bout was chopped liver. In fact, the co-main event consisting of Donald Cerrone going up against Niko Price was equally as noteworthy. Sadly, nothing was decided on that front.
Lesser cards also took on some added significance. Khamzat Chimaev’s knockout of Gerald Meerschaert 17 seconds into Round 1 kept him undefeated and had the UFC world talking. Meanwhile, Mirsad Bektić laid an egg against an opponent who had just three days to prepare for the bout.
As the UFC heads to international waters next Saturday, these were among the biggest winners and losers from Vegas Saturday evening.
Winner: Colby Covington reenters title conversation
In his first bout since losing to current champ Kamaru Usman in UFC 245 last December, Covington had a real opportunity to show that he’s still in the elite class. Ranked No. 2 in the welterweight division, he was looking to hopefully set up a rematch with Usman at some point in the near future. Pretty much from the get, this is exactly what we saw at the Apex. Covington dominated Tyron Woodley throughout the bout, making it look like the latter did not belong in the same Octagon with him. In fact, an argument can be made that Woodley quit in Round 5. Time will tell on that front. But Covington was on a completely different level than his counterpart Saturday evening.
Loser: Donald Cerrone-Niko Price bout ends in a draw
The legendary Cowboy riding a four-bout losing streak and seemingly on his last legs. Cerrone taking on a fighter in Niko Price coming off a difficult loss to Vicente Luque in UFC 249 this past May. Something had to give here, right? Sadly the answer to that question was a no. After an all-out effort by the two welterweight contenders, the bout ended in a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28). It’s never great when things are not settled in the Octagon. Given how well each fighter performed, that’s magnified evern further.
Winner: Randy Costa cruises in dominating fashion
Journey Newson had no chance from the get in his bantamweight bout against Mr. Costa Saturday afternoon at the Apex. A total of 41 seconds into round 1, Costa delivered a wicked blow to Newson’s face, knocking his counterpart out in the process. It really was something to behold. By virtue of this thrilling win, “The Zohan” moves to 6-1 in his professional career and 2-1 in the UFC. One now has to wonder if Costa will soon find himself within the top-15 of the bantamweight rankings.
Loser: Mirsad Bektić drops fight as major favorite
Once considered a potentially dominating figure in the featherweight division, Bektić entered Saturday’s bout against Damon Jackson as a major favorite. In fact, Jackson took to the Octagon on just three days notice after Eduardo Garagorri tested positive for COVID-19. In what has to be seen as a continuation of his struggles, Bektić dropped the affair via a guillotine choke submission in Round 3. This represented Bektić’s fourth loss in his last six bouts after the Nebraska native opened his UFC career with four consecutive wins. Ouch!
Winner: Kevin Holland with third consecutive victory, could end up in top 15
Holland, 27, entered Saturday night’s bout against Darren Stewart having won two consecutive bouts, each within the past four months or so. That included a knockout of Joaquin Buckley back in August. For his part, Stewart had won five of his past seven fights. This one was always going to be close. When all was said and done, Holland won via decision after landing 17 more significant strikes. That was the major difference as the Texas native moved to a tremendous 6-2 in his UFC career. He could now be looking at a top-15 ranking within the middleweight division.
Loser: Tyron Woodley goes down with a whimper and an injury
It was actually hard watching the former welterweight champ labor through Saturday’s bout against what was obviously a better Colby Covington. For some reason, Woodley just didn’t have it throughout the bout. He was looking for the perfect strike opportunity as Covington was acting more the part of the aggressor. When all was said and done, Woodley dropped his third consecutive bout in convincing fashion with Covington landing 26 more significant strikes. Though, it was the situation at the end of the fight that had the UFC world talking. Covington had Woodley in a guillotine before something weird happened. Woodley ultimately ended up tapping out with Covington earning the TKO. Strange times in Vegas.
Winner: Tyson Nam with brutal knockout of Jerome Rivera
A little bit old to be attempting to make his name in the UFC ranks, the 36-year-old Nam was absolutely brilliant en route to earning his second straight win after losing two consecutive at this level. Nam completely destroyed Jerome Rivera, knocking out his bantamweight competitor early in Round 2. Talk about dude running directly into a brick wall. As a -210 favorite in this one, Nam took care of business in a big way.
Loser: Mara Romero Borella drops fourth consecutive bout
This is not great news for the 34-year-old Italian. Borella entered Saturday’s bout against Mayra Bueno Silva having dropped three consecutive bouts. She was also a major underdog heading in. Unfortunately, things did not work out swimmingly for “Maravilla.” She dropped the fight via arm bar submission at the 2:29 mark in Round 1. Any hope of increasing her profile in the Octagon can be thrown out the window. Borella is now 2-5 in seven UFC bouts. That’s just ugly.
Winner: Johnny Walker’s losing streak comes to an end
Having dropped consecutive fights to Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov, the 28-year-old Walker was in major need of a win Saturday evening against the better known Ryan Spann. As for Spann, he entered this bout a winner of eight consecutive since a loss during Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2017. Walker more than answered the call, winning via a Round 1 knockout. Walker also landed 26 significant strikes compared to only seven for Spann, proving he was in a class of his own in the Octagon Saturdy evening.
Loser: Randa Markos with another defeat
This veteran strawweight contender found herself as a major underdog heading into Saturday night’s bout at the Apex. In fact, she was +175 when all was said and done after losing to Amanda Ribas back in March. She dropped yet another fight. This time, to Mackenzie Dern via an arm bar submission in Round 1. Markos landed just seven strikes throughout the short fight, coming up small in the process. The Canadian has now lost three of her past four since a win over Angela Hill back in March of 2019. That’s not great.
Winner: Khamzat Chimaev remains undefeated
At this point, there’s no reason to beleive “Borz” won’t find himself ranked in the welterweight division moving forward. Chimaev, 26, was the biggest favorite of the night in Las Vegas over a more experienced Gerald Meerschaert. Said experience did not matter one iota. Boasting a perfect 8-0 professional record heading in, Chimaev grounded his opponent with a knockout 17 seconds into Round 1. It was among the most astonishing moments we’ve witnessed in the Octagon in some time. Just a brutal punch, and a likely ranking moving forward. Chimaev is the real deal.