The UFC visited Jacksonville, Florida last night for its latest Fight Night, and after a slow start, the show really amped up towards the end.
UFC Fight Night: Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria saw some fighters in particular pick up some monstrous victories, and they should be propelled towards the title picture of their weight class due to them.
Whether they can climb the ladder all the way to the top remains to be seen, but for now, they have plenty of momentum.
Here are the five biggest winners from UFC Fight Night: Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria.
#5 Neil Magny – defeated Phil Rowe in a UFC welterweight bout
If the UFC chose which fights to showcase on the main card via rankings, Neil Magny’s clash with Phil Rowe would’ve had far more spotlight last night. After all, ‘The Haitian Sensation’ is still ranked at No.11 in the welterweight division.
At any rate, Magny’s clash with Rowe sat at the top of the preliminary card last night. After losing to Gilbert Burns in a one-sided fashion in his last bout, he really needed to win to preserve his spot as the division’s premier gatekeeper.
Unsurprisingly, though, Magny put on a strong performance, largely shutting Rowe down throughout the bout after a bit of a slow start.
Sure, it wasn’t one of the veteran’s best showings, given that he didn’t come close to finishing his opponent. However, the fact that he never got into trouble against a fighter who’d knocked out his last three foes was impressive.
Overall, then, Magny remains the go-to opponent for prospects looking to climb into contention, and while he won’t be the most talked-about fighter coming out of last night’s card, he was still a big winner.
#4 David Onama – defeated Gabriel Santos in a UFC featherweight bout
The best celebration at last night’s event came from featherweight David Onama. After stopping opponent Gabriel Santos in the second round, he aped middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya by miming firing arrows into his fallen foe.
That was enough to send him viral briefly, but really, it was the finish he produced that made him one of last night’s big winners.
Early on, ‘The Silent Assassin’ appeared to be in big trouble with Brazil’s Santos. He just couldn’t get a hold of Santos’ striking style, eating a ton of shots through the first round, and he didn’t have any success on the ground either.
That changed in the second round. When Onama began to find his range, Santos got a little more desperate, and ended up walking into a counter uppercut.
Rather than back off, the Brazilian continued to come forward, and this time, he walked into a second uppercut that switched his lights off instantly, leaving Onama to follow up with a largely needless right hand.
Overall, then, this was an excellent finish that earned Onama a bonus of $50k, and it’s likely he’ll be given a main card showcase next time out. There’s no disputing that this was a great night for him.
#3 Brendan Allen – defeated Bruno Silva in a UFC middleweight bout
The middleweight division’s No.13 ranked fighter, Brendan Allen came into his fight with Bruno Silva last night on a genuine roll. He’d won his last four bouts, finishing three opponents, and had initially hoped to crack the top ten by beating Jack Hermansson.
In the end, though, ‘All In’ had to settle for a tough, but less rewarding fight with ‘Blindado’, and still managed to produce the goods.
In a wild main card opener, the two men hurt one another on multiple occasions before Allen really came through with a vicious flurry of punches that dropped the Brazilian.
From there, he pounced, slapped his hooks in and applied a picture-perfect rear naked choke to force Silva to submit shortly thereafter.
Surprisingly, ‘All In’ wasn’t rewarded with a $50k bonus for his efforts, but after such a good showing it’s highly likely he’ll be matched with a top-10 foe next time out. If he can win that, it’ll be hard not to view him as a contender for the 185lbs title.
In the end, then, this was basically the perfect night for him.
#2 Maycee Barber – defeated Amanda Ribas in a UFC flyweight bout
Despite winning her last four bouts in the UFC, it was a little hard to know what to expect from Maycee Barber last night.
After all, at least two of those wins had come via questionable decision, and more importantly, she was faced with her toughest foe in a long time in the form of Amanda Ribas.
Remarkably, though, ‘The Future’ came through with arguably the best showing of her UFC career, stopping Ribas in the second round in a violent fashion.
The fight was basically all Barber. Sure, she ate some heavy shots at times, but her power was giving Ribas trouble from the off, and the first round ended with the Brazilian covered in her own blood with ‘The Future’ almost finishing her with a flurry of punches.
That finish came in the next stanza, as Barber bounced back from being stunned to smash Ribas with a head kick before destroying her with a swarm of shots on the ground.
This win should be enough to propel ‘The Future’ into the top-10 at 125lbs, and based on this, she’s finally living up to her massive potential. If she can do that, then she’ll be a problem for any fighter in this weight class – making her a huge winner from last night.
#1 Ilia Topuria – defeated Josh Emmett in a UFC featherweight bout
While he didn’t quite seal his win with the finish he’d have wanted, Ilia Topuria was undoubtedly the biggest winner at last night’s UFC event.
He capitalised on the spotlight offered to him by his first headline bout by largely dominating Josh Emmett over five rounds, hurting the former title challenger badly in the fourth round in particular.
The difference was the quality of Topuria’s striking. Emmett constantly fired huge haymakers at him, but ‘El Matador’ showed poise, speed and tremendous skills to piece him up on the counter, consistently landing jabs and clean right hands.
Emmett was left bloody by the assault, and hit the ground in the second round, as well as multiple times in the fourth.
In reality, the veteran’s corner could have pulled their fighter out after the fourth round ended, as his face was a bloody mess and it was clear he stood no chance of winning.
Instead, they let him continue, and he ended up losing a lopsided decision, with one judge even scoring the fight 50-42 for Topuria.
Where does Topuria go from here? Given Emmett sat at No.5, a top-five ranking is almost a certainty. More than that, though, the Spanish-based fighter is still unbeaten, and maybe the best choice to fight the winner of the upcoming Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez title bout.
Only time will tell whether ‘El Matador’ is given his shot at UFC gold, but regardless, he was definitely the big winner last night.