Three takeaways from UFC Fight Night Nashville, an underrated card that delivered fireworks throughout.
With a headliner that was dismissed as “bad matchmaking” by many and tucked between what could be argued as the promotion’s best Big Fox card ever and UFC 211, it would’ve been very easy to overlook UFC Nashville.
Anyone who did tune in on Saturday night got a treat from the “Music City.”
The preliminary card was highlighted by rising star Brandon Moreno, who submitted Dustin Ortiz via Rear Naked Choke and continued his meteoric rise through the Flyweight Division.
The six-fight main card began with the early favourite for “Knockout of the Year” when “Platinum” Mike Perry’s right elbow found the chin of veteran Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger lay motionless for several tense moments afterwards, while Perry questioned the crowd, “who’s life should I ruin next?”
Ovince Saint Preux pleased his hometown fans, tapping out De Lima by Von Flue choke in the second round. OSP is the first UFC fighter with multiple Von Flue choke victories. Al Iaquinta returned to the Octagon after almost two full years away and demolished Diego Sanchez with a big right hand early in round one.
The main event saw (+400) underdog Artem Lobov take Cub Swanson the distance. Swanson claimed the unanimous decision but Lobov had his moments and proved that he can contend with the best in the Featherweight Division. With the win, “Killer” Cub’s win streak is at 4.
Here are three takeaways from the event.
Diego Sanchez was debuting yet another nickname entering his co-main event showdown with Al Iaquinta. “Lionheart” as Sanchez is now known, didn’t even make it to the midway point of round one before Iaquinta dropped him with a huge right cross.
Sanchez has been brutally knocked out in two of his last three fights going back to UFC 200 where Joe Lauzon finished him with strikes in the first minute. It may be time for the TUF Season 1 alum to either consider hanging up the gloves or accept more realistically winnable bouts. No longer a contender in the 155-pound division after losing to a guy who hasn’t fought in two years, it’s time for Sanchez to move on.
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Sanchez has been in countless wars and will be remembered for bloodbaths like the one he had with Clay Guida but at some point enough is enough.
He was able to grind out a decision over Marcin Held between the brutal KO’s but the toll of being a brawler is clearly catching up to the fan favourite.
I would like to see Diego take a winnable fight and walk away victorious, but judging from Sanchez’s history, that doesn’t seem likely.
Cub Swanson asked the UFC for a title shot after his unanimous decision win over Lobov but despite his 4 fight win streak and being ranked No. 4 in the division I don’t believe that he is the next challenger.
Does Yair Rodriguez stay red-hot and get a signature win over Edgar at UFC 211? If so, I cannot picture a scenario where “el Pantera” doesn’t get the shot first. Does Holloway defeat Aldo, while Edgar snuffs out Rodriguez? In this situation, Edgar-Holloway is a new matchup that the UFC would be wise to promote.
Swanson’s best case scenario to be next in line would be a Jose Aldo victory at UFC 212 since the two haven’t faced each other in the UFC. Even then, does Dana White ignore what Aldo did to Swanson in the WEC? Not likely. A double flying knee to the face in the opening five seconds of the fight is a pretty definitive statement.
If I’m in Cub’s ear I’m advising him to call out “The Korean Zombie” in a title eliminator. Jung returned from his long layoff with an impressive finish of Dennis Bermudez on Super Bowl weekend and would make for a great matchup for Swanson. The winner of that fight would surely be in a position to challenge for the 145-pound strap.
Brandon Moreno may have come up short on Season 24 of TUF, but he is taking the Flyweight Division by storm the hard way. “The Assassin Baby” has now won three straight after submitting Dustin Ortiz via Rear Naked Choke.
Coming into the fight ranked #10 in the division, Moreno had already been knocking on the door. Saturday night he kicked the door down by landing a vicious head kick in the second round and finishing Ortiz off.
Moreno displayed outstanding cardio and insanely improved striking on his way to the biggest win of his career to date.
The Mexican has positioned himself for a huge fight going forward, and with Demetrious Johnson looking for fresh opponents, in my opinion, he is one win away from that matchup with “Mighty Mouse.”
If Benavidez wins his upcoming fight then it makes perfect sense for Moreno and Benavidez to square off in a top contender bout. If not Joe Jitsu, then Sergio Pettis is fighting Henry Cejudo in May and would also make sense in a title eliminator.
On a night that had plenty of story lines, Brandon Moreno was perhaps the biggest. He has the TUF fan base behind him as well as the Mexican market which means he will surely get the push from the UFC, the only question left is will he capitalise on it? I’m betting yes, this kid has star potential written all over him.