MMATorch Daily Top Five 5/30: Top Takeaways From Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 88 Event

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Cody Garbrandt (photo credit David Dermer © USA Today Sports)

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5/30/16: Top Takeaways From Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 88 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 88 event from Las Vegas.

5. Sara McMann… title contender? Not going to happen: Sara McMann scores a one-sided yet uninspired win over Jessica Eye and she’s calling for a title fight? I guess I get it considering the state of the UFC’s bantamweight division, but let’s look at where she’s at – the win over Eye snapped a two-fight losing streak. She’d lost three of four fights into UFC Fight Night 88. The win barely registered as a fight through the opening frame. McMann is not touching a title fight in the foreseeable future, and the timid, polite, highly uninspired call for one after the bout was one of the least convincing title pitches ever.

4. Lorenz Larkin continues to impress: The former light heavyweight has absolutely found new life at welterweight. Still just 29-years-old, Larkin has been faster, stronger, more effective, and simply better than he’s ever been. He should be 4-0 in the division, as his loss to Albert Tumenov by split decision should have gone his way, and he looked very good against Jorge Masvidal on Sunday night. Masvidal gave him a fight, especially in that third round, but Larkin took what he could and connected on even more strikes of his own to take the win. It was another highly impressive performance, and I can’t wait to see his next one.

3. Swing and miss for Sterling: As he noted after the fight, Aljamain Sterling wanted a challenge, he got one, and it didn’t pan out for him. Though still a bright prospect in this bantamweight division, this fight with Bryan Caraway wound up being a road block. Sterling had a very good first round, but he self-admittedly burned himself out trying to finish a nasty looking full nelson; it would have been one hell of a way to finish a fight, but failing to put Caraway away with that hold left him unable to keep that output going for the last two rounds. It’s a learning experience, and expect him to be back strong, but this one was a setback.

2. Renan Barao might just be done as a contender: There were a few different takes on Renan Barao into UFC Fight Night 88. Either he was entirely shot, the featherweight move wasn’t going to solve his problems, or T.J. Dillashaw simply had his number. It seems we got something in the middle of all of that. In his three round fight with Jeremy Stephens, he had some success early, looking rejuvenated at 145 lbs. without the weight cut. Then he got hit, his movement slowed, and he looked much like he did throughout much of his two fights with Dillashaw. He bounced back with a close third round, but whether he had an argument for that round or not, the judges didn’t think he did enough to win. That loss puts him in an odd spot, because featherweight might not be for him, and he doesn’t have an easy time making bantamweight. He simply may never be the same again.

1. So… Cody Garbrandt’s the real deal: I wholly expected Thomas Almeida to take Garbrandt’s best, fight through it, and score another highlight reel win. We hadn’t seen enough dominance from Garbrandt despite TKO wins in two of three UFC bouts to suggest it was going to be the other way around. However, that’s just the thing with young prospects like this, especially given only a handful of career fights, as Garbrandt was put in a position in which he needed to prove himself and did just that. This was such a massively impressive victory that it suggests there’s every possibility Garbrandt is a title challenger within a short amount of time. It was the type of clear move up to the next level in the division that we rarely expect to see coming, and he’s going to get another significant opportunity out of that main event win.

[Photo (c) David Dermer via USA Today Sports]

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