UFC 252 at the Apex in Las Vegas had everyone on the edge of their seats. It started with some tremendous bouts on the prelim card before the likes of Sean O’Malley, Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic took center stage.
Championship contenders, current title holders and those looking to ascend the rankings made for a great night of mixed martial arts.
When all was said and done, Miocic took out Cormier via decision to retain the heavyweight title. Meanwhile, a lower-body injury to O’Malley pretty much led to his first ever professional defeat.
These are among the biggest winners and losers from UFC 252 in Las Vegas Saturday evening
Winner: Virna Jandiroba with major statement against ranked fighter
This Brazilian was a heavy favorite taking on the 15th-ranked fighter in the women’s strawweight division Saturday evening. Jandiroba also looked very much the part. He landed 12 total strikes compared to three from Felice Herrig in the less than two minutes that this fight lasted.
With Herrig reeling midway through that initial round, Jandiroba saw a chance to pounce. The end result was a filthy armbar submission of her opponent and an early night in Vegas. Jandiroba is now 16-1 in her career and has won two consecutive UFC bouts. Look for the 32-year-old to see a bigger stage moving forward, potentially against a top-10 opponent.
Loser: T.J. Brown remains winless in UFC
Fresh off a loss to Jordan Griffin during UFC Fight Night 169 this past February, the 30-year-old Brown needed to make a statement in his prelim bout Saturday night. Pretty much from the get go, that was not the case. Brown ended up losing to Danny Chavez via decision.
The outcome of the bout was pretty much decided in Round 2 following a violent sequence that saw Chavez connect on multiple right hooks before grounding-and-pounding Brown. At this point, it’s not yet known where Brown goes from here. He’s now 0-2 in the UFC.
Winner: Jairzinho Rozenstruik rebounds in a big way
This heavyweight contender needed to make a statement against Junior Dos Santos during their UFC 252 bout Saturday night in Las Vegas. Ranked No. 6 in the division, Rozenstruik was coming off a knockout loss to the No. 2-ranked Francis Ngannou back in May.
Boy, did Rozenstruik make that statement against Junior Dos Santos. That included a violent knockout of his counterpart in Round 2. It started with a combo of left and right jabs before Rozenstruik put Dos Santos on the mat to end the fight. We have absolutely no idea what the future might hold for this contender, but a rematch against Ngannou could very well be in the cards.
Loser: Sean O’Malley gets injured, loses first bout
At 12-0 in his career heading into Saturday night’s fight against Marlon Vera, O’Malley was a major favorite to come out on top and ascend the bantamweight rankings. In no way did this come to fruition.
“Sugar” lost via a Round 1 knockout after he suffered an apparent serious lower-body injury. Vera would not let up in any way, leading to O’Malley’s first ever defeat. After the knockout, those around the UFC world were calling for a rematch. Let’s hope that happens.
Winner: Merab Dvalishvili is here to stay
A winner of four consecutive entering Saturday’s bout against John Dodson, this Republic of Georgia native took to the biggest stage of his career. A win here, and Dvalishvili would likely find himself within the top 10 of the bantamweight division.
The bout went the full three rounds with Dvalishvili coming out on top via decision. He pretty much controlled the fight throughout, landing double the amount of significant strikes as his opponent. This was a huge statement win for the 29-year-old Dvalishvili.
Loser: Junior Dos Santos defeated for third consecutive time
On the other end of the spectrum, the future looks bleak for this former heavyweight champion. Almost a decade after taking out Cain Velasquez for his initial taste at the title, Dos Santos’ career appears to be on the ropes. He was dominated throughout Saturday night’s lopsided bout against Rozenstruik, seeing his counterpart land 18 more significant strikes.
Once Dos Santos fell victim to a knockout in Round 2, it became clear that his days of championship contention are long in the past. He’s now lost three consecutive fights and has not earned a win in 17-plus months. That should about do it.
Winner: Stipe Miocic retains heavyweight title
Now, that was one heck of a championship bout. For the third time in just over two years, Miocic took on Daniel Cormier with the heavyweight title on the line. After losing to his rival back in July 2018, Miocic rebounded by defeating Cormier during UFC 241 last August.
Nearly one year to the day after that win, the Ohio native retained his title via decision. It was a darn close bout with Miocic landing 88 significant strikes compared to 86 for his counterpart. Each fighter landed north of 63% of their total strikes, too. The talk now will be whether Miocic takes on Francis Ngannou for the title moving forward.
Loser: Daniel Cormier with narrow loss
It wasn’t for the lack of effort. Cormier went tit-for-tat with Miocic throughout Saturday’s championship bout. He simply did not land enough strikes and couldn’t really get Miocic on to the mat. Remember, Cormier’s last win against Derrick Lewis during UFC 230 included a rear-naked choke submission. It was not to be against Miocic.
Now, nearly two years to the day after taking out Miocic for the heavyweight title, it remains to be seen where Cormier goes from here. This was the rubber match. There’s not going to be a title bout between the two any time soon. Perhaps, Cormier tries his luck against Curtis Blaydes next.