Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., Sept. 8, 2018) as it staged UFC 228 from inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. And of course, after earning a low score on my preview prior to fight night, the event delivered with nine finishes, including four on the main card such as Tyron Woodley’s impressive submission victory over Darren Till (see it again here).
Biggest Winner: Tyron Woodley
It’s a no-brainer, as “The Chosen One” once again proved that despite constantly getting dubbed the underdog even as champion, it’s going to take a lot more than some bookies and a brash Brit to dethrone him from the Welterweight throne. Woodley was dominate, showing an all-around arsenal and putting on the much bigger Till, clocking him with a solid strike, then unleashing some hellacious ground-and-pound before sinking in an air-tight submission to retain his title. I mean, it truly was special.
His quest in becoming the greatest fighter to ever compete at welterweight is still alive and well, and though he’s not always the fan-favorite, he may have earned a few more followers after last night’s performance. And who knows, maybe he will start getting that much-desired respect from the promotion, who, according to many, wanted Till to become champion so bad.
Runner Up: Jessica Andrade
If there was any doubt as to who should be Rose Namajunas’ next challenger for her Strawweight title, Andrade erased them all with one punch after clocking Karolina Kowalkiewicz out cold with a clean right hook. I mean it was a thing of beauty.
That is now three straight wins for the Brazilian bomber, two over former title contenders. And spare me the “Joana Jedrzejczyk deserves another crack at Rose” talk. Not after one win. Enough of giving ex-champions one title shot after another straight away. We need some new blood, one that has a good streak going and truly deserves a ticket to the big dance. If you’re going to give “JJ” another title shot, fine, just don’t do it before Jessica gets her turn, first.
Biggest Loser: Carla Esparza
Once considered one of the best wrestlers in all of women’s MMA, Esparza simply got rag-dolled by Tatiana Suarez, also known as “The Female Khabib.” And she looked every bit of it, too, as she took it to the former champion by having her way with “Cookie Monster” before finishing her in the third and final round via strikes.
That is now two straight losses for Esparza, who has gone 3-3 since losing her title to Joanna at UFC 185 back in 2015, also in Dallas. She simply can’t get on a roll, so if she wants to get back to tracking down her championship dreams, perhaps a move up to the flyweight division for a fresh start is in order. But it won’t get any easier, as she will be undersized in most matchups.
For complete UFC 228 results and coverage click here.