Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to action last night (Sat., Aug. 28 2021) with UFC Vegas 35 going down from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Giga Chikadze scored a spectacular knockout win over longtime veteran Edson Barboza (see it again here). In the co-main event, Bryan Battle submitted Gilbert Urbina to win the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
Biggest Winner: Giga Chikadze
Chikadze continued his winning ways by scoring his ninth straight victory after finishing Barboza in the third round of their five-round headlining bout. He is now 7-0 inside the Octagon with his last three victories coming by way of knockout. With performances like that Chikadze has quickly garnered the attention of the entire 145-pound division. The win will get him closer to a Top 5 ranking, though it likely won’t be enough to get the backup spot to Alexander Volkanovsi vs Brian Ortega that he asked for post-fight. And that’s okay, his time will come and another spectacular finish over a big name opponent could be just the trick.
Runner Up: Daniel Rodriguez
We can go with several options for the runner up spot including Bryan Battle for becoming the latest Ultimate Fighter, and Gerald Meerschaert for his come-from behind submission win over Makmud Muradov (see it), but I am going to give it to Rodriguez here after he defeated Kevin Lee via unanimous decision. Touted as one of the best rising contenders at Welterweight, Rodriguez has gone 6-1 in his short stint with UFC so far. He has picked up big wins over Tim Means and Mike Perry, but taking out a former title contender is huge for Rodriguez, who is an impressive 16-2 overall in his career. With his latest victory, “D-Rod” could have done enough to break into the Top 15, which isn’t easy to do in a stacked Welterweight division.
Biggest Loser: Kevin Lee
After once competing for the interim UFC Lightweight title against Tony Ferguson — which he lost — “The Motown Phenom” hasn’t been able to get his groove back. Since losing to “El Cucuy,” Lee has gone 2-4 and has lost four of his last five fights. After being out for 17 months, Lee didn’t quite get the comeback he was hoping for after running into Rodriguez, and his next road to redemption will get that much tougher because he will go into his next fight on a two-fight skid with the risk of losing his third in a row. If that happens, there is no telling what his next career move will be, so he is going into it with a ton of pressure on his back to perform well to pull out the much-needed win. Where it’s gone wrong for Lee is hard to pinpoint, but he needs to go back to the drawing board to get back to the winning ways that once got him to the big dance.
For complete UFC Vegas 35 results and coverage click here.