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7/25/16: Top Five Takeaways From UFC on Fox 20 “Holm vs. Shevchenko”
Following major UFC events, we run down what stands out from a particular card, from fights, individual performances, or storylines out of the event. Today we look back on Saturday’s UFC on Fox 20 card from Chicago.
5. Sometimes events are exactly as the seem on paper: The UFC often likes to throw out the idea that you can’t judge a card until it happens, but this event was pretty much exactly what people expected it to be. Sure, perhaps a few fights were better than some might have believed them to be, but there wasn’t anything that stood out on paper, and very little that will be remembered beyond this weekend. Valentina Shevchenko’s main event performance was quite good, but it wasn’t a thrilling, epic main event. Edson Barboza looked good against Gilbert Melendez, but it wasn’t the best fight. A couple of fighters had some nice finishes, but again it was an event not up to past Fox cards, and leaves little of a lasting impression.
4. Darren Elkins is one hell of a gatekeeper: Getting past the negatives, there were a handful of things that were made apparent on Saturday night, and Darren Elkins’ third straight win fits that bill. The 32-year-old veteran is a smothering entity, and he separates those ready for the next level from those who aren’t. Godofredo Pepey had been on a hell of a highlight reel run, but like Chas Skelly, Robert Whiteford, Lucas Martins, Hatsu Hioki, and numerous others before him, he didn’t have it in him to get past Elkins. He’s got time to get back from there, but the loss is a significant setback for Pepey.
3. Edson Barboza might be a legitimate challenger: On the other end of that, Edson Barboza’s second straight win over an elite competitor has firmly established him as a contender, and he’s working on a different level than at any other point of his UFC career. Though he does have three losses over the last two and a half years, the most recent came on short notice against perhaps the next title challenger in Tony Ferguson, and since then he’s beaten former champ Anthony Pettis and two-time UFC title challenger Gilbert Melendez. He’s fighting at his best, and if he keeps this up he will be in that veritable mix sooner rather than later.
2. Women’s bantamweight is wide open: For a division created in the UFC specifically for one fighter, the women’s bantamweight field is now completely wide open after both Miesha Tate and Holly Holm won this month. Amanda Nunes’ first title defense could come against just about anyone, and an impressive win from Valentina Shevchenko has her right in the mix. Ronda Rousey’s return is either imminent or just a tease with no official fight in sight, Tate’s loss to Nunes keeps her out of the title picture for now, and the loss for Holm means the Rousey fight’s off and the Tate fight won’t bring a title bout. Holm vs. Tate makes perfect sense for the fall, but everything in the top end of this division is now up in the air.
1. Ronda Rousey might have beat herself last November: Noting the chaos this division has brought about in the last eight months, it seems very possible that Ronda Rousey’s shocking loss to Holly Holm came about due to Rousey’s hubris as much as anything Holm brought to the table. Holm taking her out the way she did can’t be entirely discredited, but given what we’ve seen in every other fight for Holm in the UFC what’s clear is that Rousey played right into her game at UFC 193. Holm is a beatable fighter at this point, and Rousey can win that rematch with a different strategy than what she brought into that matchup. Holm’s on a considerable downfall from that career high, and needs to do something dramatic to get back on track.
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