UFC Vegas 25 was flying under the radar in terms of fan interest – hardly surprising given UFC 261 went down last weekend – but the top fights at least delivered.
UFC Vegas 25 saw a likely #1 contender crowned at 205lbs, as well as a number of high-level prospects and contenders continuing to climb the ladder.
So with that considered, here are the five biggest winners from UFC Vegas 25: Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka.
#1 Jiri Prochazka – defeated Dominick Reyes in UFC Vegas 25 main event
The biggest winner at UFC Vegas 25 was undoubtedly Jiri Prochazka.
The Czech light heavyweight debuted in the UFC last year with a knockout of former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.
Well, if Prochazka wasn’t considered the top contender at 205lbs before last night, he should be now. He destroyed Reyes in the first round with some heavy strikes, leaving the Devastator a bloody mess.
And despite Reyes mounting a comeback in the second, in the end, it was Prochazka who sealed the deal with an incredible spinning back elbow, sending the former title challenger to the ground face-first.
Given that Prochazka is only 28 years old, it’s hard not to imagine him holding the UFC light heavyweight title at some point in the near future.
This explosive striker is capable of finishing any opponent. Of his 28 wins, 27 have not reached the final buzzer. And based on this showing, there’s no reason to suspect he can’t do the same to Jan Blachowicz or Glover Teixeira.
We may have witnessed a star-making performance last night – making Jiri Prochazka the night’s biggest winner.
#2 Giga Chikadze – defeated Cub Swanson
The usual pattern for a rising prospect in the UFC is that their performances get less flashy as their opponents get harder – a pattern that’s pretty logical when you think about it.
Giga Chikadze, on the other hand, has thrown that pattern out of the window.
The Georgian striker struggled to finish his first four UFC opponents, going to decision with each before finally landing a KO over late notice foe Jamey Simmons last year.
But last night, he uncorked a brutal body kick to become the first man since Jose Aldo in 2009 to stop veteran Cub Swanson with strikes.
Not only did the win earn Chikadze an extra $50k, but it should vault him well up the UFC’s featherweight rankings this week – putting him in line for another big fight next time out.
After this, there’s no doubt that the Ninja is a title contender at 145lbs.
#3 Merab Dvalishvili – defeated Cody Stamann
Merab Dvalishvili’s fight with Cody Stamann was a wildly entertaining one, but the native of Georgia once again ended the night with his hand raised.
Sure, he didn’t finish the Spartan off, but he pushed a pace that was simply too hot for Stamann to handle, both outlanding him on the feet and largely outgrappling him, too.
The win was the sixth in a row for the Machine, who has rebounded brilliantly from taking two losses to begin his UFC tenure.
He’s now a definite contender at 135lbs, and the fact that the division is one of the UFC’s most loaded means there’s no shortage of future opponents for him.
#4 Sean Strickland – defeated Krzysztof Jotko
Sean Strickland has been in the UFC for a long time now – seven years to be exact – but it’s clear that Tarzan has never been better than during his current run.
Strickland picked up his fourth UFC win in a row last night, outpointing Krzysztof Jotko. And while the fight wasn’t massively entertaining, it was still impressive to see Strickland shut the tough Polish fighter down entirely.
It’s hard to imagine Strickland becoming a big star for the UFC any time soon. He’s too softly spoken for the most part and brutal finishes have been few and far between for him.
However, a fighter can only climb the ranks if they keep winning, and right now, there aren’t many UFC middleweights who are winning more than Tarzan.
That alone makes him one of UFC Vegas 25’s biggest winners – and if he can keep winning, the sky is the limit for him.
#5 TJ Brown – defeated Kai Kamaka III
Last night’s fifth main card bout – Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby – went to a split draw, meaning it’d be hard to call either man a winner.
And the preliminary card was so nondescript that none of the winners really stood out.
On the other hand, TJ Brown deserves a mention here for a bit of an odd reason. Essentially, he should’ve come away with a loss to his name after his fight with Kai Kamaka III.
It seemed pretty clear to most viewers and observers scoring online – that Kamaka deserved the win. The fight was close, but the Hawaiian appeared to be slightly ahead in all areas, from start to finish.
Essentially, Brown had a case for winning the third round, but that was about it.
Somehow, though, two of the judges scored the fight for Downtown, giving him an unlikely win.
And given that Brown had lost his last two UFC bouts and was probably on the chopping block had he lost here, that makes him one of the night’s big – if unlikeliest – winners.