From the opening round to the main event tap out, UFC 255 was full of non-stop action. Credit to the UFC and all the fighters as all the planned fights went on, and none of the flights were canceled. The event hosted 12 fights with 6 of those ending via stoppage. We saw a couple of future contenders emerge and learned a lot about both flyweight divisions moving forward. Performance bonuses were given out to Antonina Shevchenko and Joaquin Buckley for their second-round TKO finishes, and fight of the night was given to Louis Cosce and Sasha Palatnikov for their opening fight slugfest.
The card could not get off to a more wild start, Cosce caught Palatnikov early in the first and the fight looked like it was going to be stopped a couple of times. Palatnikov fought his way back to stand up and made a huge comeback in what could be a contender for round of the year. Both men just threw the kitchen sink at each other until Palitnikov landed a straight right that looked to rock Cosce halfway through the third. Cosce looked for an immediate takedown, but Palitnikov stuffed it and landed immediate strikes that Cosce could not recover from.
This was both fighters’ first fight for the promotion who both looked to make a statement, but Palatnikov came out victorious as he looked to be the fresher fighter after the first round. Palatnikov had 5 round experience while Cosce has never made it past the first round, which seemed to make the difference in the fight. Needless to say, both men deserved the 50k as they put on one hell of a fight.
I will be the first one to admit I was wrong about Antonina Shevchenko. I did not expect her to win this fight, despite being the favorite. In previous fights, she showed her biggest hole in her game was her grappling, which I thought Lipski would take advantage of. The total opposite happened and Antonina put the time in the gym to correct her weaknesses and implemented it into her gameplan.
She got Lipski to the ground in both rounds and used her grappling to move into the mount and use ground and pound. Having over 7:30 minutes of control time got Lipski to fatigue, and by the end of the second round, Antonina was landing some effective strikes, and she smelled blood and went in for the finish. A big bounce-back win for Antonina, who turned 36 on Friday and will look to get a top 5 opponent.
Joaquin Buckley had a lot of hype behind him going into this fight after his candidate knockout of the century a month ago against Impa Kasanganay. He promised a finish and he delivered. Jordan Wright possessed power finishing all his opponents in the first round beside one opponent that he TKO’D 48 seconds into the 2nd round. This fight was not expected to go to the distance as we waited to see who would deliver the deciding blow. Both fighters were throwing haymakers in the first round and each fighter was taking them until Buckley caught Wright at the end of the first round.
Buckley went in for the kill, but Wright did enough to hold him off and escape the end of the round. Credit to Buckley who did not tire himself out at the end of the first as he saw Wright still did not recover from the knockdown and landed a clean punch that dropped him 15 seconds into the round before Herb Dean stepped in. In his post-fight interview, he called out James Krause without saying his name as the two have beef and Buckley was pretty adamant he wants to demolish him in his next fight. He has a lot of momentum as he enters the new year, so expect Dana to schedule him as soon as he can.
Paul Craig and Shogun Rua opened up the main card as Craig got the better of the future Hall of Famer, making him tap to strikes. Craig came into the fight and did what he had to do. He showed he could handle Shogun’s power and then got him to the ground and controlled the majority of the fight. Father time showed to get the better of Shogun as he looked like he could not compete at the high level he once used to. Dana White commented he wishes Shogun would retire after this fight, so we will wait to see what Shogun decides.
The always entertaining Mike Perry made news before the fight beside the fact he was not going to use cornermen again because “nobody can tell him something he doesn’t already know.” Perry missed weight by an outstanding 4.5 pounds as he was stepping onto the scales he announced “Oh baby, we not even close,” and then proceeded to walk off like it was not a big deal. Missing weight is considered unprofessional, but missing it by that much is almost unheard of in the sport. He had to forfeit 30% of his purse to Tim Means, who after the fight, took it pretty well that Perry missed weight by that much.
Missing weight indicates fighters usually had a tough camp, and it often leads them to be fatigued more easily over the fight. When Perry had Means’ back during the first round, we could hear Perry start to breathe loudly. Perry arguably won the first round while Means was landing more strikes in the second and started dictating the fight. In the third round, both men wanted to win and were throwing bombs at each other, but Means cardio held up better as he landed more significant strikes to take home the decision. When asked in the past if fighters should be disciplined more for not cutting weight, Dana said it should be up to the commission.
He praised Perry for being a fun fighter and for giving it all in the third round to try and win it. He doesn’t know where Perry goes from here being .500 since joining the UFC, but it seems White favors him as his fights are always entertaining for viewers.
An anticipated fight for the women’s flyweight division took place with Katlyn Chookagian defeating Cynthia Calvillo by unanimous decision. Chookagian looked like the experienced vet, outpointing Calvillo every round despite the stats making it look closer than it was. She had a 4’’ reach advantage over Calvillo and found her timing and range early in the fight. Chookagian used both effectively, beating Calvillo to the punch. This was a good learning experience for Calvillo who might’ve had the title shot had she won, but she will be back.
In the women’s title fight, Valentina Shevchenko once again showed just how dominant she is. There is such a huge gap between her and everyone else in the division. Jennifer Maia showed up and gave her a much tougher fight than many expected. Maia won the second round and started giving Shevchenko some real problems.
Entering the third, we were starting to wonder if we were all for an upset, but Shevchenko came out and soon started dictating the fight as she always does. In the championship rounds, the champ was starting to land her straight left at will making Maia’s face bruise up and left her with a bloody nose. Shevchenko had the advantage on the feet, but she was starting to slam Maia to the ground and control her, showing how versatile her game is.
Surprisingly, Maia did not slow down while she took damage in the later rounds. Shevchenko is just on another level and in the post-fight conference when asked about the lack of contenders in the division for her, Dana quickly brought up that Jessica Andrade is in the division now and possesses a real threat to Shevchenko. Many fans were calling for a super-fight between her and Weili Zhang, but White seems to want to keep each champ in their own division. He was highly impressed over Andrade’s body shot KO over Chookagian last month.
Personally, I would rather the super-fight between the two champs and have Andrade fight one more top 5 contenders in the division, but Andrade’s is one of the heaviest hitters in women’s MMA, so if that is Shevchenko’s next fight it will still be as exciting.
Brandon Moreno put an exclamation point on why he is the next contender to face Figueiredo. Moreno deserved to be in the main event, but he still put on an impressive performance that cemented his title shot. He seemed to have more power than Royval when they were exchanging, and he was able to control Royval on the mat with his grappling. Royval has slick submission skills even off his back, but it was Moreno having the advantage in the grappling. Moreno was the one putting in submission attempts and had Royval in a deep choke that nearly ended the fight.
After Royval worked his way out of the choke, they were scrambling and he popped his shoulder out while Moreno was landing strikes on him. Moreno heard him screaming and just kept landing strikes before the fight was stopped with one second left in the round. Royval could have popped his shoulder back into place between rounds and kept fighting, but you still have to give Moreno credit as he did what he had to do to end the fight. This was a high-level flyweight fight, but Moreno was just a step ahead as we get to see how his skills will match up against the champ.
Deiveson Figueiredo continues to carry the torch of flyweight greats. From Demetrious Johnson to Henry Cejudo and now Deiveson Figueiredo, flyweights have had some of the most versatile champs. The current champ seems to be more vicious than the previous two as he looks to demolish anyone he steps into the ring with. Every strike he throws seems to be more powerful than anyone else in the division while he does it so naturally. Perez took him down to the ground and even got Figueiredo’s back for a second, but Figueiredo only needed a split second to turn around and put Perez into a guillotine choke. From the second he put in the submission, you could tell his squeeze was too much for Perez to work his way out of.
Perez had to tap seconds before he was about to go out, and that was another impressive performance by the champ. The champ has some of the best standup and ground game as he moved into third all-time in the flyweight division for wins. The UFC doesn’t want him and Moreno to go back home as they booked the two to fight on the next PPV event on December 12th. Moreno is a better matchup for Figueiredo than Perez, so we just have to wait less than a month to see who is the greatest flyweight at the moment.
Marc Rattner was also announced into the UFC Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He is one of the most respected men in the business. Rattner started his journey working in boxing but worked with the UFC when it was first starting. Boxing’s purest looked their nose down at UFC when it was looking to make its mark.
When most looked at the sport as barbaric cage fighting, Rattner saw the potential in the organization and helped make it grow. He helped to make states legalize the sport and sanction it. One of the most recent battles he helped was having New York sanction the sport, so the company could put on events at Madison Square Garden, home to many of the biggest fights. Without Rattner, the UFC wouldn’t be what it is today as he helped the UFC gain notoriety in the country and across the world. While there were no fans in the audience to congratulate him, many reached out to congratulate him and Dana White praised him after the fights. Marc Rattner is a pioneer for the UFC and deserves all the praise.