It was a great night of fights from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, full of New York locals battling it out with heart. If you’ve come here for UFC on FOX 25’s main event analysis without having watched the rest of the card, I’d suggest you go check the rest of the event out because there wasn’t a bad fight to be seen.
The Real Middleweight Champ?
Congratulations to Chris Weidman for getting back into the win column after a three-fight skid! We'll forgive him for getting a bit over-excited in his post-fight victory speech, saying the world knows he's the real Middleweight champion. All that title talk? Useless for someone in Weidman's position, unless they have a Hendo-style highlight victory over Bisping that's still keeping the champ up at night. This fight is Weidman's first win since 2015, and it came over Kelvin Gastelum, who has been eating Middleweight contenders for breakfast. Along with a bunch of other stuff for lunch and dinner, too, hence his inability to make welterweight.
It's been a miracle that Gastelum's size hasn't cost him a fight up until now. The guy managed to manhandle Tim Kennedy no sweat, and Tim is one of those mythical gym beasts with a lead core. But, against Weidman, Gastelum looked like a chubby adolescent. Every time “All American” got him down he was able to pin him to the mat and work with few problems, almost getting a kimura in the first (what is this, 2007?) and then cinching up that head and arm choke in the third.
It's always going to be a massive uphill slog for Gastelum at 185 pounds. But, I can't blame him if he'd rather be the much smaller man going into pretty much every contender bout in the division than spend two miserable months and a nightmare fight week dedicated to making Welterweight. Still, I have a prediction for young Kelvin: a few more improbable wins in the Middleweight division, followed by a real bashing at the hands of a true Middleweight gorilla like Yoel Romero that makes dieting seem like not so terrible of an idea after all.
Edged By The Mustache
You have to give it up to Pat Cummins for coming out on top yet again in a fight that was designed to showcase his hometown opponent. Not to say matchmakers put Cummins in there thinking he had no chance. Pat's whole modus operandi is beating “better” fighters through relentless hard work ... and that's exactly what he did against Gian Villante in Long Island last night. The mush of his face told us all one thing, but the stats another. Villante was obviously connecting and damaging Cummins, but I don't think the guy winced once. He also never stopped coming forward, edging Villante on all the metrics.
More punches, more kicks, more takedowns. More control, notably in the third where he put Villante up on the fence for nearly two minutes. I'm not sure if that was Gian being stuck or Gian taking the break because he felt he had this fight in the bag, what with the horror show that was Cummins' face. Whatever the case, that moment was probably the deciding factor in Pat edging that fight, and it's a repeat of other moments where Villante takes his foot off the gas at the wrong time and lets his opponents steal rounds and fights from him. The guy has all the talent in the world, but his record is checkered like Mirko Cro Cop's fight shorts. The guy's gotta work on his fight IQ or he's going to keep dropping these kinds of decisions to guys like Cummins willing to take their lumps and out-heart him.
If you've taken to skipping a lot of UFC “Prelims” undercard bouts (recap here), I don't blame you. Six to eight hours of mixed martial arts (MMA every) weekend can be draining, especially with the way UFC does it on FOX Sports 1, with each fight slotted for 30 minutes. Exciting first round knockout? Prepare yourself for 25 minutes of sports desk chatter and Motel 6 commercials. But, the whole undercard from the first UFC Fight Pass match at 4 p.m. ET to the last televised match that ended at 8 p.m. ET are worth watching. What the card lacks in name value it makes up for in gutsy violence.
I don't even know what Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira was doing on some random Fight Night prelims, but he proved himself the higher caliber fighter by absolutely crushing Ryan LaFlare with a perfect uppercut counter that left his opponent facedown on the canvas. Oliveira's only two losses in his UFC career were his debut and to Donald Cerrone. He keeps improving like this and he may get to avenge that loss and claim the title of No. 1 UFC Cowboy.
ROLL TIDE!— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 22, 2017
Eryk Anders, on short notice, just put himself on the map with a big KO over Rafael Natal! https://t.co/TkzFqCzgVf
And then how about this knockout from former Alabama Crimson Tide football player Eryk Anders, who took on the tough and durable Rafael Natal, absolutely flatlining him in the first round? Anders stepped up into UFC on a week's notice as a last minute injury replacement and proved his knockout ability still works in the majors. With his eventful past and cage skills, he could become a fan favorite in UFC.
For complete UFC on FOX 25 results, including play-by-play update, click here.