International fight week 2018 is over with UFC 226 delivering an incredible end to this year’s celebration. History was made at the T-Mobile Arena following a fantastic night of fights.
We witnessed highs and lows throughout the card – below are my matches to make for the winners and losers of the main card action.
Daniel Cormier def. Stipe Miocic via first-round KO (4:33)Embed from Getty Images
Daniel Cormier defied all the odds in the main event of the evening, knocking out the most successful heavyweight champion, Stope Miocic, in the first-round. A vicious right hook at the end of the first-round was enough to send the champ to sleep. ‘DC’ becomes only the second man in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously and is arguably the greatest fighter of all-time after dethroning Miocic.
His next fight has already been set into motion, former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar entered the cage after his win, and Dana White confirmed the pair would meet in the future. Their altercation in the Octagon will make their fight even bigger.
Defeat brings to an end a glorious title reign for Miocic. He broke the record for title defences and will surely bounce back. A matchup against main card winner Derrick Lewis makes sense if ‘The Black Beast’ can iron out his reoccurring back issues. With Cormier nearing retirement, don’t be surprised to see the belt wrapped around Miocic’s waist again in the future.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Daniel Cormier vs Brock Lesnar | Stipe Miocic vs Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis def. Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)Embed from Getty Images
Billed as potentially one of the best heavyweight fights in history, Derrick Lewis’ unanimous decision win over Francis Ngannou will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Lewis was dealing with a back injury which clearly affected his performance while there can be no excuses for Ngannou who barely threw a punch.
Lewis got his hand raised based on being slightly more active; he won’t look back on this fight with fond memories. He has flirted with retirement in the past as a result of the back problems that plagued him yet again. If he can overcome his issues, a fight with former champion Miocic makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand, Ngannou stock will see a rapid decline following his lacklustre showing. ‘The Predator’ doesn’t look like the same fighter after losing at UFC 220, landing just 11 strikes in 15 minutes. The Cameroonian needs an excellent performance in his next bout to win back the fans. Junior Dos Santos meets Blagoy Ivanov in the next UFC event, Ngannou should face the winner.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Derrick Lewis vs Stipe Miocic | Francis Ngannou vs JDS/Ivanov winner
Mike Perry def. Paul Felder via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)Embed from Getty Images
‘Platinum’ Mike Perry ended his two-fight losing streak against Paul Felder who moved up from lightweight to take the short notice bout at 170. Perry split ‘The Irish Dragon’ wide open with a vicious left hook that left both men drenched in blood. It was a violent affair that ended with Perry getting the nod on a split decision.
Rejuvenated after switching his camp to Jackson-Wink MMA, Perry looked back to his former self, mixing power shots with takedown attempts and grappling. He remains one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster and didn’t fail to impress on the main card. Fans could be in for a treat if the UFC match him up against Yancy Medeiros. The Hawaiian was knocked out by Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone which snapped his three-fight win streak and cost him a place in the welterweight rankings. A bout with Perry would be a barnburner.
While Felder looked competent at welterweight, it’s likely he will return to the lightweight division to continue his rise up the rankings. He fought with a suspected broken arm highlighting his toughness and deserves the chance to compete with a ranked opponent back at 155. Francisco Trinaldo has not fought since losing a decision to James Vick in February 2018 and is currently ranked #15 at lightweight.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Mike Perry vs Yancy Medeiros | Paul Felder vs Francisco Trinaldo
Anthony Pettis def. Michael Chiesa via second-round submission (triangle armbar)Embed from Getty Images
Former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, looked back to his brilliant best when he submitted Michael Chiesa in the second round. ‘Showtime’ caught his opponent with an excellent right hand and transitioned beautifully from a triangle into an armbar to get the tap. It’s not too late for another title run at 155.
Pettis exclaimed in his post-fight interview that his camp focused on what he does best – kickboxing and jiu-jitsu and it showed in his performance. A submission win over a grappler like Chiesa is extremely impressive and will be a big boost to his confidence heading into his next fight. Kevin Lee is currently without an opponent, and both men are looking to put themselves back into the title picture.
After missing weight, Chiesa said enough was enough at lightweight. Standing at 6 ft 1in, the cut was always going to be tough, and ‘Maverick’ can still be a threat moving up to 170. If the UFC introduced a 165lb weight class, it would be perfect for the 30-year-old. Nevertheless, there is a plethora of opponents available at welterweight – a match up against Gunnar Nelson could be a grapplers dream.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Anthony Pettis vs Kevin Lee | Michael Chiesa vs Gunnar Nelson
Khalil Rountree def. Gokhan Saki via first-round KO (1:36)Embed from Getty Images
Kicking off the main card action, Khalil Rountree shocked the world by knocking out kickboxing legend, Gokhan Saki, in just 96 seconds. Rountree looked comfortable on the feet against the Turk and connected with a perfect shot to send his opponent to the mat. After some ground and pound hammer fists, the referee had seen enough.
Rountree now has six knockouts in eight victories and looks a threat in the light heavyweight division. Still young in his MMA career, the more he fights, the better he will get. Devin Clark last fought at UFC 223 and should be his next opponent.
It was a rude awakening for Saki whose transition from kickboxing into mixed-martial-arts has not been smooth. The veteran still has plenty to work on but remains one of the best strikers in the division. At 34-years-old, Saki still have time to make a splash at 205. His next opponent could be Paul Craig who defeated Magomed Ankalaev back at UFC London.
MATCHES TO MAKE: Khalil Rountree vs Devin Clark | Gokhan Saki vs Paul Craig
What fights would you like to see after UFC 226? Comment below!