MMATorch Daily Top Five 4/11: Top takeaways from Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 86 “Rothwell vs. Dos Santos” event

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Juniot dos Santos (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

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4/11/16: Top Takeaways From Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 86 Event

Following major UFC events, we’ll be discussing the five biggest highlights, moments, or takeaways from the weekend’s fights. Today’s top five focuses on Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 86 event from Zagreb, Croatia.

5. Grease accusations are still a thing in the UFC: Ian Entwistle had an entirely one-note gameplan against Alejandro Perez, and he refused – to his detriment – to stray from that gameplan even as he felt Perez was cheating. He complained almost immediately that Perez had greased his legs, an accusation the referee discarded following a cursory examination of Perez’s legs; Entwistle still believed that to be an issue, and complained further after he wound up submitting to strikes later in the round, but despite that feeling he continued trying to go after the legs. It’s the first outright greasing allegation I can remember since the infamous B.J. Penn-Georges St-Pierre rematch, and the first time I can recall a fighter being checked immediately by the referee. Still, regardless of whether or not Perez was greasing, Entwistle did himself no favors by not even attempting to change tactics when he felt Perez had given himself an edge there.

4. Zak Cummings is good: The 31-year-old Ultimate Fighter vet had a very good performance against the previously undefeated Nicolas Dalby, picking him apart with a much more accurate than remembered striking attack, stuffing takedowns, working well from the top, and start to finish showing himself to be the better fighter. It was impressive, and how he’s sitting with four wins in five UFC appearances. Sure, he’s got a loss to a top ten guy in Gunnar Nelson, but this was a strong showing, and he shouldn’t be short-changed by anyone the next time he’s booked.

3. Mairbek Taisumov deserves top 15 opponent: Speaking of somewhat short-changed, Taisumov continues to be a must-watch guy, as he scored his fourth straight (T)KO victory when he blew up Damir Hadzovic with an uppercut three and a half minutes into their fight. Visa issues kept him out of the U.S. when he was booked for a fight in Boston in January, and if that continues to be an issue it could hold him back, but he’s a 30-fight vet with wins in all but one of his UFC appearances. Give him a big step up.

2. Derrick Lewis is, indeed, a beast: At 31 Lewis isn’t exactly young blood, but by heavyweight standards he’s practically a baby. He wants to make a title run, and though a penchant for untimely TKO losses of his own doesn’t necessarily make that a viable future, he’s got such vicious power that he’s dangerous against anyone in the weight class. He’s won four of five, stopping each of those opponents; his escape from the ground against Gonzaga was impressive, and the way he was able to quickly turn on the rush for that finish showed you can’t let your guard down against him.

1. Junior dos Santos isn’t done yet: The former UFC Heavyweight Champion hadn’t looked particularly good over the last several years, and he’d suffered some absolutely devastating losses to Cain Velasquez and, most recently, the TKO loss to Alistair Overeem. It had many believing his time as a legitimate contender was over with, and his performance Sunday at the very least delayed that conversation. He still has holes certain styles of opponent will be able to exploit, but Sunday was a necessary and encouraging step back from the brink. The foot movement he showcased especially was excellent, and he didn’t allow himself to simply get backed up to the cage as he had in many fights since he lost the title. It’s not the end for him just yet, and though he may not get back to the title as he envisions, it’s no longer an idea to dismiss outright.

[Junior dos Santos art by Grant Gould (c)]

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