It was a long weekend, but we survived it ... again.
UFC Fight Night 44: "Swanson vs. Stephens" was the second part of Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) doubleheader this past weekend (Sat., June 28, 2014), taking place at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
In the main event, Cub Swanson earned his sixth consecutive victory by toppling Jeremy Stephens, getting stronger throughout the fight to win via unanimous decision.The five-round match up was definitely the best scrap of the entire weekend, alongside Charles Oliveira vs. Hatsu Hioki in New Zealand.
It will be interesting to see if the featherweight did enough to warrant a shot at the belt after Jose Aldo dukes it out against Chad Mendes at UFC 176.
Kelvin Gastelum also continued his win streak last night, defeating Nicholas Musoke over the course of three rounds, keeping his perfect mixed martial arts (MMA) record (9-0) intact in the process.
With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser (and their runner ups) from the event in Texas.
Biggest Winner -- Cub Swanson
The eagle has landed ... well, he was pretty much roaming around anyway.
If you follow about seven MMA journalists on Twitter, you would have noticed their scores were divided for last night's main event.
It was a pretty close fight, regardless how the scorecards looked, and Swanson has turned his career around in a fashion some fighters can only dream of doing.
Since he's on a six-fight win streak, you have to admire his stance on not begging for a title shot. That said, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter deserves the opportunity, since pitting him against another featherweight in the middle of the pack would be a little excessive at this point.
Who would have thought the same guy who got completely obliterated by Jose Aldo five years ago could potentially face him by the end of the year?
Runner Up -- Kelvin Gastelum
He didn't look like a Welterweight champion in the making, yet Gastelum really proved he could get the job done under immense pressure.
Indeed, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 winner has impressed with his undefeated record, but he doesn't have a win over a Top 10-ranked opponent yet. In addition, he came in overweight on Friday for the second time, forfeiting 20 percent of his purse to Musoke.
And had he lost last night, he would have been buried on the "Prelims" somewhere down the road.
Finally, he had a difficult first round in the co-main event, hinting that the weight wasn't going to get any lighter on his shoulders. Nonetheless, the youngster turned it around in the second and third rounds, getting the better of "Nico" with his strikes.
We don't have to write home about his performance; however, we should acknowledge it as a highly positive one, and hopefully, he gets a big name next ... and does it on weight.
Biggest Loser -- Johnny Bedford
Expectations are hard to meet at times for this column because there are so many factors that come into play when assessing who belongs on the loser list.
That said, Bedford technically has a technical knockout loss on his record. He didn't appear to be out -- even though his eyes rolled in the back of his head, according to his opponent -- and we've seen fighters take a serious amount of damage in several other instances before the official steps in to save his life.
Bedford is winless (0-3) in his last three outings, including two losses by way of finish and that "No Contest" against Rani Yahya at UFC Fight Night 39.
It hasn't been easy.
The promotion certainly won't cut him after last night's results, but like "Brutal" said in his post-fight interview with Heidi Androl, he's got kids to feed.
Runner Up -- Jeremy Stephens
"Lil' Heathen" really didn't lose all that much from his performance last night ... except for a potential title shot.
Stephens was apparently told to expect a crack at the featherweight gold had he outclassed Swanson, but he was unable to get the job done.
We must congratulate the gritty combatant for putting on a show last night, fighting through the five-round war with a hand that could have been broken. You could make the argument that Stephens was up two rounds to none after the first 10 minutes, although it just wasn't meant to be for the Iowa-born slugger.
He's a longtime veteran who's fought a lot for his age, so acquiring another chance at a title is going to be pretty difficult for him.
Better luck next time.
For extensive coverage of UFC Fight Night 44: "Swanson vs. Stephens," including video highlights, post-fight recaps and more, click here.