After an enthralling card in Singapore which saw a new champion crowned and a long-time champion cling on to their title, we look back at some of the major talking points from UFC 275.
While it would be harsh to call Glover Teixeira’s upset win over Jan Blachowicz last year a fluke, he did have the look of a one-fight champion.
He’d last fought for the UFC light heavyweight title more than seven years ago, coming up short against Jon Jones, and not really getting that close again, losing to the likes of Rumble Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson and Corey Anderson in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
But a five-fight win streak, including impressive wins over Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos gave him one more shot, and at 42 years old, he became the UFC’s oldest first-time champion.
However, his first defence would be against Jiri Prochazka, who was widely fancied to take the title, though he didn’t have it all his own way.
Yes, the Czech did come out on top and his striking was laser-sharp throughout the night, but he needed a stoppage with 30 seconds left to take the title with the scorecards against him. Prochazka was down on two scorecards, and even if all three judges scored the final round for him, he’d have been on the wrong end of a split draw.
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Teixeira's chin held out tremendously, and the jiu-jitsu game was as solid as ever, landing five takedowns throughout the fight, causing Prochazka real problems.
It’s unclear who Teixeira will fight next, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s already recorded his final win at the top level of the light heavyweight division, but his performance on Saturday night means he’s not out of the reckoning just yet.
Valentina Shevchenko hasn’t lost to anyone not named Amanda Nunes for nearly 12 years, and remains unbeaten throughout her career at flyweight.
She’s now beaten each of the top four in in the division, and had things played out slightly differently in the last six months, we’d be hearing more calls for Shevchenko to move back up to bantamweight for a trilogy fight with Nunes.
As it happened, Nunes needs to reclaim her title in July, and Shevchenko may be looking at a rematch.
Saturday night was the most we’ve seen Shevchenko troubled in a long time, and with Katlyn Chookagian and Lauren Murphy already booked, and Jessica Andrade losing last year and dropping to strawweight, Talia Santos seems the most obvious option.
The Brazilian was a huge underdog going into the fight, bemusing Dana White, who insisted she had every chance. The fight could so easily have gone the other way, with the 49-46 in favour of the champion farcical; many believing Santos had the better of her opponent over the 25 minutes.
A clash of heads leading to a fractured orbital certainly didn’t help the challenger, and she’s very deserving of another go.
When you lose to a fighter as the champion, and then lose again as the challenger, it can be tough to make the case for a trilogy fight.
But if Rose Namajunas losing the title to Carla Esparza doesn’t open the door up for Zhang Weili, her performance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk surely does.
Zhang’s head kick KO to Namajunas was devastating, but her performance in the rematch, where she lost out by a split decision was admirable. The rematch with Jedrzejczyk lived up to its billing, and left Zhang firmly amongst the top of the division. The spinning backfist was the most perfect of spinning backfists, landing right behind the ear, and was a terrifying warning shot to the rest of the division that she’s not going away.
For Joanna, she hung up the gloves after the fight, which seems a smart call. The early pioneer of the lighter weights in women’s MMA, it shouldn’t be forgotten just how fearsome the Pole was in the early days of the strawweight division.
However, as so often happens, when a seemingly unbeatable fighter is beaten, they can come off the rails. Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey both had lengthy unbeaten runs as champions, but losses to Chris Weidman and Holly Holm respectively brought their eras of dominance to an end, and the same happened to Joanna. After 14 straight wins, she was defeated twice by Namajunas, losing five of her final seven fights, and is bowing out at the right time.
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