One of the greatest things about this sport is that no matter who is on a UFC card, you will always be truly entertained. Last night’s UFC card in Phoenix was no exception as there were a number of absolutely awesome fights all the way down the card. So let’s not waste any more time and let’s get into the post-fight analysis for UFC Phoenix.
Fight of the night-Luque vs Barberena
Performances of the night- Kron Gracie & Luke Sanders.
Let’s start out by talking about the huge main event between the returning former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez vs one of the scariest heavyweights of the modern era Francis Ngannou. This fight only lasted 26 seconds with Francis Ngannou picking up an important victory on his way back into title contention. However, like many things in the UFC, this was not without its controversy with many fans online crediting Ngannou’s victory to Cain’s knee seemingly giving way during their exchange in the clinch. Cain himself, despite being very humble in his defeat, said in the post-fight interview that “None” of Ngannou’s punches phased him at all saying he thinks something popped in his knee which caused him to fall and evidently lose the fight. Ngannou on the other hand, argues that during their exchange, he landed an uppercut which made his knee’s give out. Personally, looking at the footage, it does look like Cain’s knee gives out on him evident by Cain screaming in pain as he goes to the ground and none of Ngannou’s punches landing cleanly. However, I don’t want to speculate too much with Ngannou having unmatched destructive power in his hands. Time will tell once Cain is seen by medical professionals as to what went wrong with his knee and all of us hear wish Cain all the best and a speedy recovery.
Moving forward, it only seems right to consider what is next for Ngannou as Cain’s condition at the time of writing is unknown. In the post-fight interview, Francis did specify he thinks he is deserving of a title shot and his next fight should be against Daniel Cormier. However, given the current landscape of the heavyweight division, this seems unlikely. Daniel Cormier has only a limited number of fights on his UFC contract and has already come out and said whom he wants them to be against. Further, in a post-fight interview, Dana White says he already has a fight lined up for Daniel Cormier but due to DC being injured at the moment, he doesn’t want to release who this mystery opponent is. Therefore, Ngannou may have to look elsewhere for his next fight and so long as Stipe Miocic is not this mystery opponent, I think a rematch between the two would be a very entertaining fight now Ngannou has had some time to improve his ground game and looks better than he ever has been.
Elsewhere on the card, we had a tremendous debut for Kron Gracie. The Son to the MMA hall of Famer Rickson Gracie and grandson to Hélio Gracie, one of the founders of BJJ, Kron Gracie submitted Alex Caceres in the 1st round by taking Caceres back and getting the victory via a rear-naked choke picking a performance of the night bonus and cementing his name in the featherweight division as a new contender. Despite only being 5-0 in MMA, he is only 30 years old and already a Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. As well as this, he is cornered by Nate Diaz and has the Gracie name so I am expecting big things from him moving forward.
I think a great fight for him moving forward would be against a low ranked striker to really test him on the feet but who can possibly challenge him on the ground. Based on that, I think there is no one better in the featherweight division right now than Darren Elkins who is a proven tough fight for any fighter but is also a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a name that many fight fans recognize.
And finally, I cannot talk about this card without mentioning the fight of the night between Luque vs Barberena. These two guys stole the show by going to war for 3 rounds and may have already given us a fight of the year candidate. This fight was a near complete mixed martial arts battle with submissions to stand up exchanges, elbows and knees to knockdowns and showmanship to humbleness. The fight seemed to be about to end with the decision victory most likely going to Barberena but Luque managed to pick up the very late TKO win with six seconds left.
I was very impressed with Barberena in this fight. His entrance music of baby shark should be changed to welcome to the jungle because this man is a warrior in that cage. He fights with the swagger of the Diaz Brothers and has an untold amount of toughness. But take nothing away from the victor of Vicente Luque who got the job done. I see both of these young fighters having bright futures ahead of them.
The rest of the card-
Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision.
Cynthia Calvillo def. Cortney Casey via unanimous decision.
Vicente Luque def. Bryan Barberena via 3rd round TKO.
Andre Fili def. Myles Jury via unanimous decision.
Aljamain Sterling def. Jimmie Rivera via unanimous decision.
Manny Bermudez def. Benito Lopez via round 1 submission.
Andrea Lee def. Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision.
Nik Lentz def. Scott Holtzman via unanimous decision.
Luke Sanders def. Renan Barao via 2nd round TKO.
Emily Whitmire def. Aleksandra Albu via 1st round submission.