Last night (Sat., June 24, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled to the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., for UFC Jacksonville. Though there was a live crowd and the show aired a few hours earlier than usual, there wasn’t too much different going on from a usual night at the Apex. Fortunately, a guaranteed fire fight in the main event between Josh Emmett and Ilia Topuria livened up the night, and even after a disastrous weigh-ins, quality talent on the undercard like Neil Magny and Tabatha Ricci kept the show rolling in an admittedly decision-heavy affair.
Let’s take a look at UFC Jacksonville’s standout performances and techniques:
Topuria Secures His Title Shot
Ilia Topuria destroyed Josh Emmett’s face. It’s not the first face that he’s broken, but what’s so impressive is that the Georgian athlete did it while remaining defensively sound and avoiding his opponent’s biggest swings. Topuria showed a new level of composure and boxing defense, and because of that progress, he tore up a recent title challenger.
Topuria’s jab was so sharp throughout the entire fight. His calf kicks were a great new addition to his offense. Then, Topuria’s combinations forward and counters from his back foot were so dang fast and powerful. It all added up a tremendous performance, even if the finish didn’t materialize.
The 26 year old is now 14-0 with six-straight wins inside the Octagon. He’s ready for the best and should be next in line if Alexander Volkanovski retains his title against Yair Rodriguez.
‘The Future’ Arrives
Ribas started quickly, finding her range first and backing Barber towards the fence. The Brazilian opted to strike perhaps more than expected, landing long distance blows. Before long, however, Barber was landing some counter shots of her own. The first clinch of the fight resulted in a brief takedown for Ribas, but it also allowed Barber to shatter her foe’s nose with an elbow.
Given that she was controlled for just a few seconds, that’s an excellent trade for Barber! Later in the round, Ribas went for a fight-changing kneebar. Barber defended well, and at the first opportunity, she unleashed a gnarly flurry of ground strikes. A LOT of punches and elbows landed. Ribas’ nose was already flowing, but her face bore the brunt of the damage by the end of the round.
Ribas is game as hell. She walked into the second battered but kept attacking, smashing up Barber’s nose in return. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, Barber’s timing was dialed in. A lovely sequence involving two high kick connections and an overhand from both stances floored Ribas, and Barber landed another dozen elbows in the finishing flurry on the floor.
That’s an exceptionally violent way to break into the women’s Flyweight Top 10. Barber may not have become a champion at 21, but she seems poised now for a real run at the top.
Onama Weathers The Storm
David Onama is an absolute specimen. He’s gigantic at 145 pounds, which makes his powerful and rangy combinations really hard to avoid fully. More impressive still, he maintains his power late into fights and can keep a good pace.
Despite those attributes, the highly talented Gabriel Santos put it on him in the first. The Brazilian pushed a wild pace, marching forward behind a high guard. While advancing, Santos stuck his opponent with body shots, heavy counter rips, and wrestled actively, throwing up a half-dozen submission attempts in the first five minutes alone.
A lot of knockout artists would’ve been drained by the second, but Onama turned it around. With Santos slowing but still trying to push forward, Onama started timing him more often, and he gained top position too, forcing the Brazilian to expend more energy working back to his feet. Once they were both upright again, Santos walked into the pocket, boldly trying to keep his game plan going.
Onama lit him up!
Right hands and elbows softened his target, but a perfect uppercut to the jawline sent Santos to sleep. It’s unfortunate that Santos starts his UFC career 0-2 — there are tons of Featherweights on the roster that he finishes quickly — but Onama picked up his biggest win yet in the promise.
There’s a lot of upside on the 29-year-old Ugandan.
Allen Proves His Growth
Since his 2019 UFC debut, Brendan Allen has been a standout technical talent.
The former LFA champion is a strong chain wrestler with a jiu-jitsu black belt. On the feet, he’s been working with Henri Hooft for years, and it shows in his ability to build nasty combinations. He hurts people often, scoring knockdowns and ripping up calves pretty often.
Why has he yet to break the Top 10? Defense is the easy answer. Allen is a willing striker, but his aggression leads him into firefights and counters. Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis both lost a lot of moments opposite Allen, then they found his chin and finished him in an instant.
Bruno Silva represented a real threat to Allen, an unranked veteran with massive knockout power. He’s not easy to take down, and he’s comfortable getting hit and returning right back. He proved himself a trap fight midway through the first, stunning Allen with a wild swing. What impressed was how Allen kept himself collected and maintained a high guard afterward. As Silva flurried, Allen actually managed to hurt the brawler multiple times. Eventually, he dropped him, fully turning the tides and locking up a quick strangle.
He looks ready for the Top 10, and at 27 years of age, Allen is only getting better.
- Mateusz Rebecki defeats Loik Radzhabov via second round knockout: Inside low kicks always hurt, but it’s not common that they finish fights. They’re comparatively easy to check, do less damage to the knee, and can easily result in a broken foot if mistimed. Nobody told Rebecki any of that! Like his countryman Jan Blachowicz, Rebecki destroyed his opponent’s inner calf and thigh with a nasty zeal. Radzhabov’s takedown attempts lost their drive quickly, leaving him pretty helpless against his foe’s offense assault. Officially, a left hand stopped the contest, but that knockdown and the referee’s decision to call the contest were highly influenced by the destroyed lead leg.
For complete UFC Jacksonville: “Emmett vs. Topuria” results and play-by-play, click HERE.