HYDEN: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 163 and UFC Fight Night 98 – Ferguson shows he deserves the next Lightweight Title shot

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor

Tony Ferguson vs. Rafael dos Anjos (photo credit Etzel Espinosa © USA Today)

Bellator 163 and UFC Fight Night 98 were this past week. Let’s get to the rundown.

Bellator 163

GOOD – Javy Ayala stops Sergei Kharitonov: This was over in about fifteen seconds. Most everyone would have thought that meant a big win for Kharitonov, but instead it was Ayala who scored the huge knockout. That’s surprising to say the least. No offense to Ayala, but I don’t know how many saw this coming.

GOOD/BAD – Neiman Gracie submits Ruby Bears: This fight sucked from a standup viewpoint, as there really wasn’t any, but it was pretty textbook on the ground. Gracie was very smooth and patient, and worked for the submission win. It wasn’t all that exciting, but it was effective. Nice win for Gracie, and hopefully he faces tougher competition next.

Staff08Hyden_150GOOD – Brennan Ward stops Saad Awad: Ward has some serious power so if you’re going to stand and trade with him, you better be able to avoid the big shot. Awad couldn’t do that long enough to get the win and he paid for it. Ward has the power to stop just about anyone and it takes a lot of confidence to want to stand with him. Nice win for Ward.

GOOD – Phil Davis vs. Liam McGeary: This fight was dominated by Davis, who controlled McGeary on the ground. Davis just basically kept taking him down over and over. He worked some nice ground-and-pound as well. To be honest, though, this fight was just solid. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t all that exciting, but Davis was clearly the better fighter in the cage. And with this dominant win Davis becomes the new Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. If he keeps fighting like this, he’ll probably hold the belt for quite a while.

UFC Fight Night 98

GOOD – Alexa Grasso vs. Heather Jo Clark: Grasso pretty well controlled the entire fight. She was more active and showed better technique. Things slowed down in the third round, but Grasso still did enough to win the decision. It was a good win for the young fighter.

UGLY – Beneil Dariush vs. Rashid Magomodov: This fight sucked. Nothing happened worth mentioning. I don’t know if the altitude in Mexico City affected these guys, but they didn’t do jack. Dariush won the decision.

GOOD – Martin Bravo stops Claudio Puelles: Bravo dropped Puelles in the second round with a hard body shot that essentially ended things. Nice win for Bravo.

GOOD – Ricardo Lamas submits Charles Oliveira: Oliveira dominated the first round and damn near had the submission win, as he had Lamas in a tight choke that was possibly seconds away from ending the fight as the first round ended. The second round was completely different, though, as Lamas took control off of a Oliveira takedown. They scrambled some and Lamas locked in a tight choke that forced the tap. Good win for Lamas and disappointing loss for Oliveira.

GOOD – Diego Sanchez vs. Marcin Held: This wasn’t a great fight by any means, but it was solid. Sanchez controlled the fight with his grappling. It’s easy to forget how good Sanchez can be on the ground. He usually opts to brawl like a crazy man, but he’s got the skills to take you down and control you. He did that here, and it got him the nice decision win. I’m surprised that Held didn’t try to stand with Sanchez and goad him into a firefight. I know those are dangerous, but he clearly wasn’t winning the fight on the ground.

GOOD – Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson: I liked this fight a good deal. Admittedly, I am a big believer in Ferguson and think that he deserves the next title shot in the Lightweight Division, but this was very entertaining. Both guys were throwing and landing big bombs. Ferguson took everything dos Anjos threw at him and just kept coming. He didn’t finish dos Anjos, but you can’t expect him to finish a tough guy like that. Ferguson also outstruck dos Anjos, it was an extremely impressive showing. Ferguson has now won nine fights in a row and I think he is clearly the number one contender. I know some would point to Khabib Nurmagomedov, but I don’t think he’s done enough lately to warrant a title shot. It’s true that he’s fighting Michael Johnson at UFC 205 this week, but other than that, he’s only fought once in two and a half years. If he has an impressive showing against Johnson then maybe there’s an argument. As of right now, though, I don’t think you can make a case for Nurmagomedov over Ferguson. Of course, this is all still reliant upon the outcome of the champion vs. champion fight at UFC 205 between UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor and UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. After that we’ll start clearing some things up, but it’s still going to be a waiting game. Hopefully it’s not too long, regardless of who it is that gets the next title shot.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FRANK HYDEN COLUMN: Georges St. Pierre, Fabirico Werdum, Max Holloway, and Cody Garbrandt vs. Dominick Cruz

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow Frank on Twitter at @hydenfrank.

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