PIERCE: UFC Fight Night harbors a historic finish and main event upset
Handout Photo- USA Today Sports
On Saturday night, the UFC hosted a Fight Night in Las Vegas, NV for the first time since March. This time however, the Octagon was housed in an empty Apex facility owned by the UFC.
Here is my breakdown of the top performances and letdowns of UFC Fight Night!
Performances of the Night
In the main event of the night, former division champion Tyron Woodley took on up-and-coming fighter Gilbert Burns in a welterweight matchup. Woodley, Ranked No. 1 and second only to division champ Kamaru Usman, hit the octagon for the first time since losing the belt in March of 2019.
Burns, No. 6 ranked prospect, came out with an energy that Woodley could not match. Although Woodley put up a good fight, it was clear that Burns was in control. This led to an easy unanimous decision in his favor.
“He looked incredible,” UFC President Dana White said in the post-fight press conference. “That kid can do anything. He is aggressive. He breaks into the top five [welterweights].”
Burns, a former lightweight, is now 5-0 and weighs in at 170 pounds. After defeating one of the best welterweights in UFC history, a title fight for Burns is definitely up for debate, with Burns himself weighing in on it as well.
“I love the champ [Kamaru Usman] but I think I am next,” Burns told Daniel Cormier, commentator and former UFC two-division champ, in the post-fight interview. “I want to fight for the title. I can fight in July. Come on, I want to fight for that title.”
It’s up to the UFC President Dana White and Matchmaker’s about whether Burns will fight one more bout first, but he truly looks in championship form.
Another top performance of the night came from women’s Strawweight fighter, Mackenzie Dern. Dern made history on Saturday by becoming the first woman in the UFC to win by a leg lock submission.
“I am so happy to get the submission,” Dern said in the post-fight interview. “If I am not injured, get me in [the Octagon]. Let me get in and let me fight. I am ready.”
This also happened to be Dern’s first fight back after the birth of her first child. With this first-round victory, Dern improves to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the UFC.
Flop of the Night
On Saturday, the only heavyweight matchup of the main card left fans frustrated and underwhelmed. Blagoy Ivanov took on Augusto Sakai in a fight that went all three rounds.
Although ultimately winning by split decision, Sakai engaged in a controversial fence grab that potentially changed the momentum of the fight. Referee Jason Herzog issued a warning but did not take away a point from Sakai.
Cormier disagreed with the referee’s ruling. Cormier argued that Sakai should have at least lost a point, and that Sakai stopping a takedown by grabbing the fence was too big to ignore.
This move arguably shifted the momentum away from Ivanov by allowing Sakai to regain his footing and avoid a grapple. While there’s no way to know how the fight may have ended otherwise, The advantage gained by Sakai as a result of the fence grab was undeniable.
Sakai was ultimately declared the winner, although Cormier continued to argue that the fence grab should have led the fight to end in a draw. The fight was ultimately a disappointment to both fans and competitors alike, and opinions were split on whether Sakai deserved to bag the win in the end.
UFC 250 will host Amanda Nunes as she will look to defend her featherweight belt against Felicia Spencer on Saturday, June 6 through ESPN Plus Pay-Per-View.