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The best and worst from UFC on ESPN: Eye vs. Calvillo

Cynthia Calvillo outpointed Jessica Eye in last night
Cynthia Calvillo outpointed Jessica Eye in last night's main event at UFC Fight Night 172
Scott Newman
Modified 14 Jun 2020

There wasn't much fanfare around UFC Fight Night 172: Eye vs. Calvillo, and in all honesty, it was easy to see why. The card was one of the weakest that the UFC has put on in recent memory, and expectations were hardly high. There have been occasions in the past when a weak-looking card on paper has turned out to be a thrilling show top-to-bottom. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of them. After a red-hot start, things settled down and we ended up with a run of acceptable, but in the end, forgettable fights.

Here are the best and worst moments from UFC Fight Night 172: Eye vs. Calvillo.

#1 Best: Vettori gets it done at UFC Fight Night 172

Italy's Marvin Vettori impressed in his win over Karl Roberson at UFC Fight Night 172

The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 172 between "Middleweights" Marvin Vettori and Karl Roberson was initially scheduled for one of last month's cards, but ended up being canceled when Roberson was hospitalized prior to the show due to a botched weight cut.

Evidently, Roberson didn't – or couldn't – learn from the error, as he came into the weigh-ins for this show 5.5lbs over the 185lbs limit for the Middleweight division. To be quite frank, 'Baby K' is clearly a 205lbs fighter and ought to be fighting in the Light-Heavyweight division, and his weight miss this weekend was a very poor show.

It evidently angered Vettori too, as 'The Italian Dream' was clearly raring to go once the two men entered the Octagon last night. Vettori wasted no time in taking the fight to Roberson, and after securing a takedown late in the first round, he beat up the former kickboxer before using a rear-naked choke to force a tapout.

The win was Vettori's third in a row, and his last loss – a split decision to current UFC Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya – hardly looks bad when you consider the swathe that Adesanya has cut through the division since. It's time for a step up for the Italian fighter – he's definitely earned it.

#1 Worst: The long-winded nature of the main card

The main card saw a lot of fights - like Charles Rosa vs. Kevin Aguilar - go the distance
The main card saw a lot of fights - like Charles Rosa vs. Kevin Aguilar - go the distance

When the UFC puts together a weaker card like last night's, the hope is always that we'll somehow get a bunch of exciting fights to make up for the lack of both name value and matches with high implications. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case at the UFC APEX this weekend.

The UFC Fight Night 172 main card, in particular, was a real slog. After an exciting opener that saw Mariya Agapova destroy Hannah Cifers, we got a run of three decisions that were honestly not that inspiring to watch.

All three fights went largely the same way. The winners – Jordan Espinosa, Andre Fili, and Charles Rosa – basically outclassed their opponents, and only Fili found himself in trouble during his fight, dropped by Charles Jourdain in the first round.

In the end though, while all three fights were perfectly acceptable background noise, they were simply too one-sided to be truly entertaining, but not one-sided enough to give us violent finishes. The best word to describe these fights would be forgettable – and that's no good for anyone.

#2 Best: The wild start to the night

Tyson Nam scored last night
Tyson Nam scored last night's most memorable knockout at UFC Fight Night 172

On the flip side of the long-winded UFC Fight Night 172 main card, the preliminary fights last night were fantastic from an entertainment point of view. The first three fights lasted a total of less than two minutes combined, and provided us with a trio of highlight-reel finishes.

The best of the lot was Tyson Nam's absolutely brutal knockout of newcomer Zarrukh Adashev, who took the fight on less than a week's notice. After what happened to him, he probably wishes he hadn't bothered.

Just 30 seconds into the first round, Nam caught him with a clean right hand counterpunch that dropped him, and then sealed the deal with a single right hand follow-up on the ground. Adashev was out for what seemed like an age after the fight, and in all honesty, it was the kind of knockout that some fighters never recover from.

From a viewing perspective though, it was fantastic – as were the aggressive performances from Christian Aguilera and Julia Avila, who both took out their opponents quickly too.

Basically, if the whole card had followed in a similar manner, it would've been an all-time great one, regardless of the lack of name value.

#2 Worst: The thin nature of the Women's Flyweight division

Cynthia Calvillo may have earned a title shot last night, but would she really stand a chance against Valentina Shevchenko?
Cynthia Calvillo may have earned a title shot last night, but would she really stand a chance against Valentina Shevchenko?

UFC Fight Night 172's Flyweight main event between former title challenger Jessica Eye and former Strawweight contender Cynthia Calvillo was hardly met with much enthusiasm, and after the fact, there won't be much more enthusiasm added.

Calvillo outpointed 'Evil' on all three judges' scorecards, largely dominating her in all areas of the fight. It probably didn't help Eye's cause when she failed to make weight and could barely stand up at the weigh-ins, but she simply couldn't put a lot of offense together and was outclassed.

Usually, when a fighter beats a former champion or title challenger, there's a lot of buzz around their future in the division. But while Calvillo is still a prospect to watch, the fact that she didn't come close to finishing Eye – and also gassed out in the later rounds – means that she probably isn't quite ready for a title shot just yet.

And that's where the UFC has a problem. Eye was actually ranked as the second-best fighter in this division – behind the dominant champion, Valentina Shevchenko. So logically, Calvillo should be in line for the next crack at the champ, even though the result would probably end up firmly in Shevchenko's favor.

The truth is that the UFC probably rushed the division into existence before it was quite ready. And while it's cool to see 'The Bullet' defend her title against overmatched opposition, eventually they're going to run out of even semi-decent challengers like Calvillo would be.

I don't like to wish doom on any weight class, but the future for this one looks bleak.

Published 14 Jun 2020, 17:26 IST
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