UFC on Fox 30: The Real Winners and Losers

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    The UFC sure did deliver with stellar fight card at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, on Saturday. UFC on Fox 30 lived up to the hype.

    A lightweight rematch between Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez was highly anticipated, and both fighters threw down once again. After the referee stood them up following a foul from Alvarez, Poirier took advantage and finished the fight with a beautiful sequence.

    In the co-main event, Jose Aldo ruined Jeremy Stephens’ body with a vicious punch that signaled a first-round technical-knockout victory.

    Those were just the two big official winners, but what about the remainder of the card? What about the real losers? The ramifications of the card will linger on, and it is time to examine how the results and happenings of UFC on Fox 30 affect its fighters.

    These are your real winners and losers coming out of Canada.

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    Dustin Poirier vs. Eddie Alvarez II was everything it was cracked up to be and more, and Poirier was the man who came out on top.

    Why is he a winner beyond getting his hand raised? Poirier now has a legitimate claim to being a title contender.

    Sure, Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor are nearing returns, but should anything happen, the UFC now has another option. Poirier puts himself in a position to grab a title shot on short notice or simply be the next choice. He’s active, exciting and just picked up this massive win.

    And even if that doesn’t occur, a title eliminator with someone like Ferguson should be next. This victory was everything for Poirier’s career. He is at the mailbox awaiting his invitation.

    Poirier is a fan-favorite and a fighter the UFC can push out in front of a marketing campaign for a big show. Having this performance, on network television, only helps his case to be that guy. His finishing sequence was gorgeous violence. It’s been a long road, paid in blood, and Poirier has earned everything he secured with the TKO win.

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    The first-round TKO loss to Jose Aldo is devastating to Jeremy Stephens, and he is a real loser because where the loss takes him.

    Before UFC on Fox 30, Stephens was in line to potentially fight Brian Ortega for an interim title. Ortega turned down that fight, according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN (h/t Sherdog.com’s Matt McNulty), but it showed that Stephens was next in line for a title shot. Not anymore, and perhaps never again.

    That is crushing to Stephens, who finally made it to the precipice of the division.

    The loss could end Stephens’ attempt to reach ultimate UFC glory. In a stacked division with more young talent coming up, Stephens may have to win another three or even four fights before getting to the position he entered Calgary with under his belt. He lost it all, or rather Aldo took it all.

    It is a cruel sport.

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    He’s not done yet.

    Many were ready to write off Aldo after his losses to Max Holloway. Hey, this writer was one of those many. He was battered against Holloway and had struggled to look like his old self. He turned back the clock on Saturday.

    Aldo ripped one of the nastiest body shots you will ever see, and Stephens’ body had no choice but to shut down.

    After falling out of a prior date in Calgary during his career, Aldo gave the city a show by standing, trading and finishing Stephens.

    He is a winner more so because he showed the tank is not on empty. It was his first first-round finish since 2012 against one of the top contenders. Aldo still didn’t look like his prime self because he is not in his prime anymore. But that doesn’t mean that veteran savvy and technical excellence can’t carry him to gold once more.

    That is what he showed on Saturday.

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    This was not Joanna Violence or Joanna Champion. But it was an important fight where she got through 15 minutes against a credible contender and swept the cards.

    Jedrzejczyk went through two tough fights, and two tough losses, to Rose Namajunas. We have seen numerous times in the past how those battles and lost fights can negatively affect a fighter. Jedrzejczyk proved that her time as an elite fighter is not yet over.

    Tecia Torres posed some interesting problems for Jedrzejczyk that did not allow the former champion to tee off and brutalize her as she has against others. Credit where credit is due. But Jedrzejczyk handled the pressure and fight well en route to out-landing Torres in every round.

    Jedrzejczyk will still be a fight or two out from another title bid.

    She’s in a tough spot after losing to the champion twice. Having the performance she did in Calgary goes a long way in showing that she is as dangerous as ever and ready to force the UFC’s hand in making a third fight against Namajunas in 2019.

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    I’m including myself in this group of losers. Anyone who watched from the very first fight lost.

    UFC events can drag, and unnecessarily so. The first fight was scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass with the televised prelims starting at 6 p.m. with the doldrums-inducing Fox pacing. From the first fight to the main card, fans were already invested with four hours of MMA.

    And these aren’t even the rough events to commit to all the way through. Some UFC events last longer.

    But it’s still a chore that the UFC has not figured out how to solve, and the upcoming ESPN deal doesn’t appear to have any stark changes in the product to help fans.

    The saddest part? The fights were not terrible. We saw some good back-and-forth action along with a couple of finishes. But on a cherished Saturday, no one should be watching these drawn-out events that see precious time tick away until the work week begins again on Monday.

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    Ion Cutelaba defeated Gadzhimurad Antigulov by first-round TKO, but that is not why he checks in as a winner.

    Cutelaba is a winner because of his walk-out choice.

    What is the best choice for a walk-out in Calgary? If you are a professional wrestling fan, then you know the answer.

    Cutelaba walked out to Bret “The Hitman” Hart’s theme music and even had the pink glasses on to boot. It was the absolute best choice to get him noticed and create a bit of buzz. It was fun. Some may lament that he didn’t give those glasses to a kid as Hart used to do, but that is to be a curmudgeon when something fun happens.

    Good on Cutelaba.

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    Want to jump into the title picture at flyweight? Do what Dustin Ortiz did to Matheus Nicolau.

    Ortiz entered with back-to-back victories and got another top-15-ranked opponent in Nicolau. He then ousted him in the first round with a brutal head kick. It was a statement-making showcase that will thrust Ortiz into a bigger fight.

    Ortiz is another fighter who suffered through inconsistent results but is beginning to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

    UFC champ Demetrious Johnson defends his title against Henry Cejudo on August 4. No matter who walks out of Los Angeles with the title, Ortiz is now sitting just on the outside of the title picture. It may be time for the championship elite to take notice of a new challenger.

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    It wasn’t a dominant, earth-shattering performance, but Nina Ansaroff clocks in as a winner because this is yet another showing of her ascent up the strawweight ranks.

    Ansaroff, ranked as the No. 13 contender, toppled No. 12-ranked Randa Markos by unanimous decision and may enter the top 10 after the victory.

    She started her UFC career 0-2 against Juliana Lima and Justine Kish. It would not have been hard to count her out or outright cut her from the roster, but the American Top Team strawweight got better and came back a year after her last loss as a revitalized fighter.

    Ansaroff has beaten three solid fighters in Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, Angela Hill and Markos. The three straight wins put her at the top of the division in terms of a streak. That’s nothing to sneeze at in a division where it is easy to jump the line.

    The victory may put her only one away from earning a shot at the championship. This was a significant step forward that should not be glossed over.

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    Main Card (Fox)

  • Dustin Poirier def. Eddie Alvarez by TKO at 4:05 of the second round
  • Jose Aldo def. Jeremy Stephens by TKO at 4:19 of the first round
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Tecia Torres by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alexander Hernandez def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Preliminary Card (Fox)

  • Jordan Mein def. Alex Morono by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Hakeem Dawodu def. Austin Arnett by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Islam Makhachev def. Kajan Johnson via submission (armbar) at 4:43 of the first round
  • Ion Cutelaba def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov TKO at 4:25 of the first round

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

  • John Makdessi def. Ross Pearson by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)
  • Katlyn Chookagian def. Alexis Davis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Dustin Ortiz def. Matheus Nicolau by KO at 3:49 of the first round
  • Nina Ansaroff def. Randa Markos unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Devin Powell def. Alvaro Herrera by TKO at 1:52 of the first round

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