#2 Best: Shevchenko continues to reach new levels of greatness
Okay, so I’d be lying if I said that Valentina Shevchenko’s win over Jennifer Maia was exciting. The UFC Flyweight champion actually lost a round this time, as Maia grounded her for the majority of the second stanza. But for the most part, she outclassed the Brazilian and retained her title comfortably.
However, while the fight was a slog to watch thanks to Shevchenko not being able to really hurt Maia, it was still impressive. Maia appeared to be the first opponent at 125lbs to be able to match The Bullet for physical strength, but she was still taken down on numerous occasions and easily outstruck on the feet.
Shevchenko is quickly reaching that spot occupied by previous dominant UFC champions like Georges St. Pierre and Demetrious Johnson. The big question nowadays isn’t whether she’ll beat her opponent - it’s exactly how she’ll do it.
It looks like Jessica Andrade will probably be next for The Bullet, and does anyone really think Bate Estaca can win? I certainly don’t. Shevchenko’s style might not be the flashiest at times, but whenever she steps into the Octagon, you can’t help but believe that you’re about to witness greatness in action.
#2 Worst: Former UFC champ Shogun is done
Mauricio Shogun Rua is a former PRIDE and UFC Light Heavyweight champ, and in his heyday – any time between 2005 and 2010 – he was one of the most feared fighters on the planet. Today though, at the age of 38, Shogun is a broken down shadow of his former self.
Various injuries, surgeries, and beatings in the Octagon have caught up with him, and last night’s fight with Paul Craig may have seen him hit a new low.
He simply couldn’t get any offense going, was taken down on multiple occasions by Scotland’s Craig, gassed out, and eventually had to tap out to strikes when Bearjew trapped him on the ground.
When you consider Craig’s somewhat wild, wide-open style, I don’t think it’s offensive to suggest that he would’ve been easy pickings for Shogun in, say, 2006. But 2006 is now 14 years ago.
Last month saw Anderson Silva retire from MMA, and in all honesty, his countryman should probably join him after this fight. Father Time is an impossible opponent for even the greatest UFC legend to defeat, and he’s almost certainly caught up with Shogun at this point.
#3 Best: Buckley shows he’s no one-hit-wonder
UFC Middleweight Joaquin Buckley quickly went viral last month when he knocked out Impa Kasanganay with one of the best spinning back kicks in UFC history. The big question surrounding New Mansa’going into last night’s show was whether he actually had the skills to follow such a crazy KO up.
Well, his win over Jordan Wright wasn’t flawless, but he definitely showed UFC fans that he’s no one-hit-wonder.
Buckley took some shots and was a bit too straight-forward in terms of his striking style. But he’s clearly got power, and he used it to spark Wright out at the end of the first round. The fight could’ve been stopped there, but ref Herb Dean allowed it to go into the second round.
It didn’t matter, though, as Buckley swarmed Wright from the off with a left hook and knocked him silly just 18 seconds into the stanza – picking up his second KO win in as many months.
How far Buckley can actually go in the UFC is a question mark, but the truth is that it doesn’t really matter. He’s winning fights in entertaining fashion, and what more can you ask for, really?