Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to United Kingdom for the 14th time on Saturday (Oct. 26, 2013), delivering an action-packed night of fights at UFC Fight Night 30 from Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England.
In the night's main event, Lyoto Machida wasted no time in his Middleweight debut, knocking out his friend Mark Munoz (watch full fight video highlights here) in the very first round via head kick. Machida looked faster, lighter on the feet, and even more crisp with his punches, proving this new home could have been the right one all along for "The Dragon."
Unfortunately, in a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows. Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory.
Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on UFC Fight Night 30, including submission experts and familiar faces securing big wins. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in England.
Drum roll please ...
Biggest Winner - Lyoto Machida
Like Jon Anik said on the broadcast, "Welcome to the Middleweight division, Lyoto Machida."
It did not take long for "The Dragon" to finish Munoz, earning the fastest stoppage of his career and unleashing a devastating left leg head kick that knocked out his former training partner in round one. Machida did not follow up with punches, and they were not necessary anyway because Munoz was clearly out.
This is a 185-pound debut even more successful than anyone would have anticipated, as Machida looked a class above Munoz and was not troubled -- nor hit badly -- in any point of the match.
It will be interesting to see whom the brass decides is next for Machida. He is always a fighter who revolves around title contention. And even though an immediate Middleweight title shot seems is premature, if he can do the same to his next opponent, the discussion will be inevitable.
Runner Up -- Jimi Manuwa
In front of his English crowd, Manuwa did not win the way he may have wanted to, with Ryan Jimmo bowing out of the fight because of an injury. However, Manuwa looked pretty good for a guy who started training for the sport in 2008 and the crowd ate up his every move.
What is ironic is that out of Manuwa's three UFC fights, his opponent either could not continue because of injury or doctor stoppage.
Still undefeated, Manuwa should now anticipate a notch up in challenges, and maybe it is too soon for a Top 10 opponent, although that type of competitor is not far and looms in the distance waiting for him. Still undefeated (14-0), Manuwa proved that his hype is legit after beating a seasoned veteran like Jimmo.
Biggest Loser -- Mark Munoz
It is difficult to see Munoz in this category because he is such a nice and respectful dude. And there is no shame in losing to Machida. The reason he takes the cake on this one is because he lost in the first round by knockout and was unable to trouble his opponent even once during the course of that round.
Munoz will come back, and presumably stronger, but it proves that he is somewhat a long way from being considered as a legitimate title threat. And depending on which platform you visit, his Top 10 status is most likely in jeopardy.
"Filipino Wrecking Machine" is no slouch, with wins against Tim Boetsch, Chris Leben and Demian Maia in his last three appearances; however, it is the important fight that will propel him to the top that he has lost with Chris Weidman, Yushin Okami and now Machida taking those chances away from him.
He is still 5-2 in his last seven, which are all the fights that followed his loss to Okami more than three years ago; therefore, losing only three fights out of a possible eight in three years is quite good. Although, he needed this win to prove he was one of the top middleweights in the world and now that passes him by.
Runner Up -- Alessio Sakara
"Legionarius" has been with the company since 2005, making his debut at UFC 55, but after suffering his fourth-consecutive defeat by way of submission at the hands of Nicholas Musoke, that may be all she wrote for his UFC career for the time being.
Sakara looked good in the opening minute of his fight with promotional newcomer Nicholas Musoke, besides being tagged by his opponent, too. Sakara was dishing out the punches, not afraid to engage in a war, though once the fight hit the ground, his night was cut short.
He lost by first-round armbar (watch full video highlights here), and that is his second loss via stoppage in his last four bouts. He was disqualified at UFC 154 against Patrick Cote for punches to the back of the head and Chris Weidman schooled him for three rounds at UFC on Versus 3 more than two years ago. His last win was a stoppage over James Irvin in 2010 more than three years ago.
Sakara is now 15-11-(1), with a promotional record of 6-8-(1). With the recent and surprising roster cuts, and the fact that there are more to come, the promotion could cut ties with the Italian striker.
For complete UFC Fight Night 30: "Machida vs. Munoz" results click here.