One of the less impressive cards on paper in recent times turned into an entertaining one at the UFC Apex thanks to six finishes on the night.
Derrick Lewis won the main event with an explosive start to the second round after struggling in the first with Alexei Oleinik’s grappling skills, while Chris Weidman got back in the win column for the first time since July 2017 with a hard fought decision win over Omari Akhmedov.
Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart shocked everyone when he submitted Maki Pitolo in the first round via guillotine choke and Beneil Dariush continued his win streak in a foul-littered first round when he knocked out Scott Holtzman with a stunning spinning back-fist.
Further down the card, Andrew Sanchez stopped up and coming prospect Wellington Turman via knockout in the first round with a huge right hand. Returning fighter Gavin Tucker had to weather the storm against Justin Jaynes after being knocked down, but it seemed to wake him up and he went up a gear to get the finish in the second round.
While the card and results won’t do much for any future bouts in reality, it does throw up a few fun scenarios. Derrick Lewis said he won’t be taking any fights until the end of the year because he wants to lose 15-20lbs, but was then immediately called out on Twitter by #3 ranked heavyweight Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes.
Blaydes is coming off a win over Alexander Volkov back in June, when he dominated for the majority of the fight before his cardio seemed to drain away and Volkov looked to make a comeback. Dana White said after that fight that he wasn’t impressed by Blaydes’ performance and the 29 year old knows he’s behind Francis Ngannou in the pecking order for a title shot.
At middleweight, Chris Weidman got his first win in over three years and declared that he’s back. The ‘All-American’ showed his wrestling skills as usual with a strong display in the first and third rounds, despite his energy being completely drained by midway in the second. It’s only his second win since he lost his 185lbs title to Luke Rockhold back in 2015 and there are now calls for a rematch to take place between two fighters who’s careers have only gone downwards since winning the belt.
Rockhold has lost 3 of his 4 fights since he beat Weidman, being knocked out on every occasion. Both fighters tried their luck in the light heavyweight division but were knocked out and now that Weidman has come back down and won, it’s possible that Rockhold could do the same.
If not, there is a chance that Weidman takes on Anderson Silva for a third time although that’s slim. Akhmedov was ranked at #11 going into this fight so it can be expected that Weidman will take that spot. He spoke prior to this fight about how potential bouts with Edmen Shahbazyan, Jack Hermansson and Yoel Romero never quite came to fruition. With Shahbazyan losing to Brunson in his last fight and being ranked ahead of Weidman, that’s a logical fight to revisit and book for later this year.
All eyes are now on the future of the middleweight and heavyweight divisions but with titles fights in both scheduled for the next two pay-per-view cards, the cogs in the machine are all moving.