The real winners and losers from Saturday’s Fight Night form Norfolk.
From the very beginning, UFC Norfolk looked like was going to be one of the better cards to air on FS1 this year. Though there were a few hiccups – five straight decisions on the prelims – it largely lived up to expectations. Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis put on one of the bloodiest shows seen in a long time. Sure, the finish was weird, but it doesn’t take away from everything else the two warriors did prior to that.
Anyway, let’s get to the winners and losers:
Dustin Poirier – Poirier has had a reputation of someone who can’t win the big one, though there was some truth to that. Any time he had been in the main or co-main event of a UFC card, he had come up short. He finally turned the page on that narrative, even though there were plenty of opportunities for him to give away the fight. Pettis had the triangle choke in tight at the end of the second round and Poirier allowed the former champion an opportunity to score some early offense on the feet in the first. Poirier not only survived, he thrived in the violent atmosphere and came out of it looking better than ever.
Matt Brown – If that was Brown’s last fight, he couldn’t have gone out on a better note. A single elbow put Sanchez to sleep only to be met in the cage by his young sons following his post-fight speech. Brown has been in a lot of wars over the years and isn’t as durable as he once was. Considering very few get the chance to go out in better circumstances, Brown would be wise to stay away for good.
Raphael Assuncao – Assuncao had won nine of ten coming into this contest with a win over current champion TJ Dillashaw. Despite that, no one was talking about him as a title contender. Part of that is because of his one loss being to DIllashaw, but Assuncao’s play-it-safe style does nothing to excite fans. Assuncao didn’t have to step out of his comfort zone to secure a devastating finish of Lopez, catching the youngster clean with a punch and score his first finish in four-and-a-half years. Maybe he isn’t so boring after all….
Marlon Moraes – Regardless of whether you believe Moraes walked out the victor over Dodson, Moraes looked improved from his UFC debut. But the win isn’t the biggest reason why Moraes is a winner. No, no, no, it’s because of his post-fight interview. He called out Jimmie Rivera, setting up an opportunity for him to get a title shot should he beat Rivera. Keep in mind Moraes lost to Assuncao in June. Moraes knows damn well what he’s doing.
Clay Guida – It feels like ages since Guida was relevant. Now, for the first time since 2011, Guida owns consecutive victories. He did so against type too, knocking Lauzon to the ground about 30 seconds and finishing him off to score his first TKO win since 2008. None of us saw that coming. Guida then wisely got the fans behind him when he let it be known his UFC contract was up. Given how cheap the UFC has been as of late, it’s still no guarantee he’ll be back, but he did give himself at least a tiny bit more leverage at the bargaining table.
Tatiana Suarez – While I admit I would love to see more of Suarez’s striking one of these days, her wrestling was dominating enough that the entire division needs to be put on alert. Pereira landed almost no significant offense and she’s no pushover. Suarez is looking like something special.
Sage Northcutt – I know, I know. Beating Quinones isn’t anything special. But it shouldn’t be scoffed at either. Northcutt’s footwork and management of distance showed the youngster has been learning something in his time away from the Octagon. He may never be the star the UFC believes he’ll be, but Northcutt did show signs of becoming a legit fighter who deserves his roster spot.
Andrei Arlovski – The Pitbull hasn’t been receiving a lot of love from MMA fans as of late. Then again, he had lost five in a row coming into this contest. This wasn’t vintage Arlovski who left Justin Eilers with two broken hands, a broken nose, and a blown out knee back in 2005. But he stayed busier and even ate a few hard shots from Albini. Arlovski still has something to offer, even if he can’t be a threat to the title anymore.
Nina Ansaroff – I’m sure Ansaroff was pissed the Poirier-Pettis fight went down the way it did as she was probably going to get $50K otherwise. Nonetheless, Ansaroff looked great, outstriking the former kickboxer Hill in one of the more competitive and entertaining contests of the evening. Now with consecutive wins in the UFC for the first time, Ansaroff proved she is more than just the girlfriend of Amanda Nunes.
Karl Roberson – Raise your hand if you saw Roberson winning by submission. Alright, put your hands down you liars. The former kickboxer showed he had some submission chops when he got the back of Stewart and sinking in the sub. At 27 with only six fights under his belt, Roberson could have a very bright future ahead of him.
Jake Collier – Fighting in the shallowest men’s division in the UFC, Collier is probably one victory away from being in the official UFC rankings. Unfortunately, Collier appears mired in a win-loss-win-loss pattern. Nonetheless, it was a good victory for former middleweight.
Anthony Pettis – He may not be the biggest loser of the night as he put on a spirited performance, but nobody is hurt more by their loss than Pettis. He was looking to start over when he returned to lightweight and he was in the process following his win over Jim Miller. This loss, even if he showed a lot of grit in it, short circuits his fresh start and kills the idea of Pettis returning to contention. Plus, it looked as though Pettis suffered a rib injury in the process. I’m no doctor, but I understand those are tricky injuries to deal with. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious.
Diego Sanchez – Have you ever notice that when those with iron jaws finally get their jaws cracked, that it really goes? Chuck Liddell. Dan Henderson. Junior dos Santos. Sanchez no longer has a chin. I know he doesn’t show any signs of brain damage, but when you see someone who endured as much damage over the years as Sanchez has getting his lights shut off with ease, it’s hard not to worry. I don’t know anyone who wants to see him continue fighting.
Junior Albini – If you’re going to make your ring attire look like you’re wearing a diaper, you damn well better win. Albini didn’t. Now he not only looked ridiculous, he lost to a guy who lost five in a row coming into the contest. Horrible night for the young Brazilian.
Michel Quinones – Nobody wants to be known as the guy who lost to Sage Northcutt. Everyone knows the UFC purposely tries to match Northcutt up with underwhelming competition. Quinones is now that guy. That sucks.
John Dodson – I considered putting Dodson in the neither category as a strong case could be made that he deserved to win, but I had to put him in the losers after the brutal groin shot he ate from Moraes. The eye poke didn’t help things either. Dodson’s standing may not have taken a hit with this loss, but you know he is smarting nonetheless.
Matthew Lopez – How much of the fight do you think he remembers? Probably not much. The loss isn’t too bad given Lopez was facing an opponent most didn’t believe he was ready for anyway. But Lopez’s offense was limited and the KO he ate was brutal.
Joe Lauzon – It’s plausible Lauzon is the biggest loser of the night. He’s now lost three of his last four and a strong argument could be made it should be four losses in a row given the nature of his win over Marcin Held. Even worse, he was finished by Clay Guida. Losing to Guida is one thing… but being finished by him? It sucks to admit this, but Lauzon looks like he is very close to the end of the line if he isn’t already there.
Viviane Pereira – Hard to take anything positive out of her contest with Suarez. Suarez had top control for almost 12 minutes. Need I say more?
Marcel Fortuna – Given Collier’s questionable chin and propensity to lose position on the ground, Fortuna had a fantastic opportunity to pick up a win. He couldn’t do it. The good thing for him is that he fights at light heavyweight and the UFC isn’t cutting anyone. He’ll be back, but nobody trusts Fortuna at this juncture.
Darren Stewart – Is it just me, or is Stewart getting successively worse with each UFC appearance? Maybe Roberson is a legit submission grappler. Maybe he isn’t. What I do know is you never want to be the guy that was submitted by a former kickboxer.
Cezar Ferreira – Ferreira had some good moments in his fight with Marquardt, but he also looked bad at times. I probably would have put him in the winners column, but he decided to call out Paulo Costa after the fight. You don’t want to do that Mutante. Not with your chin.
Nate Marquardt – Given Marquardt’s chin is also fragile, I almost figure you can’t put him in the loser’s column anytime he avoids being KO’d. Not only that, a solid argument could be made that Marquardt deserved the W. However, he’s now 3-9 in his last 12. If he gets cut, he’s in the losers column.
Angela Hill – There was nothing to be ashamed of in Hill’s performance despite the loss. Though I agreed with the decision to make Ansaroff the winner, I wouldn’t have argued if it had gone the way of Hill. Not only did she keep her reputation as one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster, she may have enhanced it.
Sean Strickland – So Strickland may have walked out the winner, he didn’t make me feel like he won the fight. I’m not arguing with the decision. I’m saying Strickland’s performance left me wanting more out of him. He’s young enough he could still find that extra gear that would make him a contender, but I don’t get the feeling we’re ever going to see it.
Court McGee – McGee looked better than he has since he was forced to take off two years due to surgeries. I could even see an argument for McGee being the winner. Nonetheless, I agreed with the decision which gives McGee consecutive losses for the first time since he dropped to welterweight. Ouch.