A controversial main event ending may be the hot topic from UFC Oklahoma City, but is it the only topic? There were some big winners earlier in the night that are worth talking about.
Oklahoma City played host to the UFC for the first time since 2009 on Sunday night. The event was less than impressive overall but, as with every event, there were winners and losers. While some winners didn’t really improve their stock with a win or were robbed of a definitive victory by a referee’s decision, there were a few that certainly stood out.
With five finishes in 13 fights, it would be a logical assumption that the biggest winners of the night would come from those five fights. However, only one of our biggest winners of the night actually finished his opponent.
There were actually three winners that stood out above the rest on the night. A fan favorite looked better than he has in a long time, a fighter came back from almost career ending injuries and a promotional newcomer made one hell of a statement in his debut.
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Since his debut in 2006, Clay Guida has been a fan favorite due to his relentless pace and willingness to engage in brutal wars. With six Fight of the Night bonuses to his name (as well as three Submission of the Night bonuses), Guida was once a top contender for the lightweight title.
After back-to-back losses to Benson Henderson and Gray Maynard, Guida dropped to featherweight in 2013. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have much success at a lower weight class either, going 2-4 in the division. Sunday’s fight against Eric Koch marked his return to the lightweight ranks.
In a stacked division, Guida was already facing an uphill battle to return to title contention, starting that run against a fighter like Koch certainly didn’t make things any easier. However, Guida had a gameplan and executed it perfectly.
In the past, Guida has shown a tendency to be impatient during fights, a tendency that has cost him. That was not the case against Koch. Guida scored a takedown in what was an otherwise uneventful round one. He knocked Koch down with a strike early in the second and proceeded to dominate the ground portion of the fight, gaining full mount and brutalizing him with ground and pound. The third round was more of the same as Guida landed his second takedown of the fight before continuing with the ground and pound until the horn sounded.
With almost ten minutes of control to Koch’s 27 seconds, two takedowns to Koch’s none and 133 strikes landed to Koch’s 17, Guida was absolutely dominant in his return to lightweight.
While he still has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to regain and even surpass his previous position in the division, Sunday night was a big step in the right direction.
Just over a year ago, following a devastating motorcycle accident, Darrell Horcher was told he’d never fight again. It appeared he was destined to finish his UFC career at 0-1. Horcher made his debut on short notice against Khabib Nurmagomedov in April of last year. That fight, according to his doctors, was his last.
That’s why seeing Darrell Horcher’s hand raised on Sunday night was such a huge moment.
Horcher’s performance won’t have him shooting into the top ten of the division, but it wasn’t bad by any means.
After eating some kicks early in the fight, Horcher began to catch the legs of Powell and land some powerful counterpunches. He then took Powell down and controlled him for the rest of the round. The second round saw Horcher stun Powell twice with strikes before getting another takedown and landing strikes until the horn. Powell outstruck Horcher in the final round of the fight but was hurt more badly by Horcher’s strikes. Horcher defended multiple submission attempts before finishing the round looking for an opening to get his striking going again.
The judges scored the fight as a split decision victory for Horcher. While he obviously would have preferred a finish or a unanimous decision, a win is a win.
An emotional Horcher thanked his wife and family for being there for him during his recovery. He spoke about how he had to learn how to do basic things like walking and jumping all over again during that year.
The fact that he was able to walk into the octagon on Sunday would have been victory enough for most people. Horcher not only did that, he took home his first UFC victory.
Twenty-three days prior to UFC Oklahoma City, Dominick Reyes burst onto the national MMA scene with a head kick knockout of Jordan Powell in LFA. The video went viral and the UFC certainly took notice, signing the light heavyweight to a contract not long after.
When Joachim Christensen’s original opponent was taken off the card earlier in the month, the UFC picked Reyes to step in.
So Reyes carried a 6-0 record, with five first round finishes including a viral sensation knockout and was fighting on the main card of the last event before international fight week.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a fighter making their UFC debut.
If Dominick Reyes felt that pressure, he didn’t show it.
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Twenty-nine seconds after the fight started, it was over, courtesy of a hard kick and devastating left hand from Reyes. It was the second fastest debut finish in light heavyweight history in the UFC.
With that kind of debut, and the fact that light heavyweight is one of the thinnest divisions in the UFC, Reyes may find himself on the fast track to the top of the 205 pound weight class.