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UFC 270: 5 Things We Learned

UFC 270

UFC 270
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 270: 5 Things We Learned

UFC 270 went down at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA on Saturday and had two great title fights headlining. Across the 11 fights that took place, we saw a little bit of everything with two submissions, three knockouts, and six fights going the distance including both title fights. It was an eventful card full of surprises. Here are the five things that we learned from the first pay-per-view fight of 2022, UFC 270.

1. Francis Ngannou can find ways to win without his power punches

We all knew about the ferocious power that the newly crowned UFC heavyweight king, Francis Ngannou, possesses, but what he did Saturday night at UFC 270 as he defended his belt for the first time surprised us all. Ngannou opened his title defense against Interim Champion Ciryl Gane and used his ground game to stop his former teammate. Coming in this fight was a question of if Gane has the skills and chin to avoid the power of Ngannou and if Ngannou would have enough gas in the tank if the fight went into the later rounds. Gane showed that skill and new athletic style of heavyweights in the first two rounds while keeping the champ’s power at bay. As the first few rounds of the UFC 270 main event went on Ngannou looked to be tiring from Gane’s consistent movement and pressure along the fence, but how the fight changed in the third round. It is as if Ngannou knew his power was not going to be enough to beat the undefeated Gane, so he changed up his style completely. For the next three rounds, Ngannou became a fighter that will be hard to beat for anyone. Ngannou somewhat abandoned his strong stand-up game in exchange for a grappling and wrestling match. Through the third and fourth rounds, Ngannou managed to dominate Gane on the ground and despite not having an official submission attempt seemed close to doing so.

Prior to this fight, Ngannou had only ever gone past the second round twice, both of which were unanimous decision losses. Seeing Ngannou in that fifth round suddenly flip Gane, who at the time had top control, on his back and smother him for the last minutes was nearly unimaginable. Everyone went into this fight believing that if it went to the ground Gane would have a significant advantage, but that was far from the truth. It was because of what Ngannou did in the last round that he won the fight and retained his belt. He used every single ounce of his 257-pound frame to make Gane look like the much more tired fighter. In the process, Ngannou handed Gane his first career loss in MMA. From seeing what Ngannou was able to do on the ground plus knowing he has one-punch knockout power makes him one of the most dangerous heavyweight Champions in the UFC’s history. This newly shown skill comes at a perfect time as either a trilogy fight with former champion Stipe Miocic or a fight with the heavyweight Division’s newest member, Jon Jones, being the next title defense for Ngannou.

2. The rest of the flyweight division has to wait a little bit longer for their title shot

Three fights down between newly crowned UFC flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo and former champion Brandon Moreno and the series is all even with one win each following a draw in the first fight. The third fight between the two was just as entertaining and close as the first fight with Figueiredo winning by unanimous decision as all three judges scored the fight 48-47. This fight had a little bit of everything. It started out as two experts keeping each other at distance before progressing to the ground only to end with an all-out slugfest in the final round. There were multiple times throughout the fight that either Moreno or Figueiredo were caught with something and looked as if the fight may be heading to an early finish, but probably the biggest opportunity for a finish came at the end of the third round. Figueiredo landed a right punch squarely on the chin of Moreno and knocked the champ down before immediately jumping on Moreno and trying to complete a choke before the horn sounded to end the round.

Following the fight both fighters made it known that they are ready for fight number four. This would be the first time two fighters have fought each other four times in UFC history. This is great news for us the viewers, but it is unfortunate for the rest of the flyweight contenders that want a shot at the belt. Amongst those are undefeated and #2 ranked, Askar Askarov, #3 ranked Alexandre Pantoja, #4 ranked Brandon Royval, who won by split decision at UFC Vegas 46 last week, and # 6 ranked Kai Kara-France. All four of these fighters have a deserving shout to be the next title challenger, but appear to have to look elsewhere for fights at the moment. Taking place at the end of March is a big fight between Askarov and Kara-France with the winner being in a great position for the next title shot. Another fight that will be taking place at UFC 271 is between the other #4 ranked flyweight Alex Perez and the #9 ranked Matt Schnell. An interesting situation arises for the other two fighters in the top six since in August last year Pantoja beat Royval with a second-round submission. Whatever happens next will have to wait to see what happens with Figueiredo vs Moreno 4.

3. There is another Nurmagomedov to watch out for

It took a whole 47 seconds for Said Nurmagomedov to submit Cody Stamann at UFC 270. With the submission Nurmagomedov extended his record to 15-2 and 4-1 in the UFC. This was the Russian’s quickest win in his MMA career, beating out a 51-second knockout in his last fight back in 2020. Despite not being related to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Said Nurmagomedov is making a name of his own following the quick finish of the #15 ranked Stamann. This was the fourth submission victory in the career of Said Nurmagomedov, along with four wins by knockout he has shown all-around talent that could vault him into contender status in the next few years. Following the win, it would not be a surprise to see Said move up into the bantamweight rankings and fight another top 15 opponent soon.

4. There is plenty of new talent in the UFC

Nine fighters were making their UFC debuts at UFC 270 and overall the rookies went 5-4 on the evening. The first two fights of the event were won by rookies. First, in the women’s flyweight division Canadian Jasmine Jasudavicius moved to 7-1 with a unanimous decision victory over Kay Hansen. This win was the third straight for Jasudavicius who controlled the fight for all 15 minutes. One of the talking points of the prelims was when rookie Vanessa Demopoulos jumped into the arms of UFC commentator Joe Rogan during her post-fight interview. The American prospect made quick work of Silvana Gomez Juarez, winning with a first-round submission. Three straight fights were won by debutants ending the preliminary card and opening the main card. First, in a fight between newcomers, Jack Della Maddalena beat Pete Rodriguez by first-round knockout in a very entertaining bout that gave Rodriguez his first career loss and extended Della Maddalena’s winning streak to 11. Next up was Victor Henry. Henry came into his fight with Raoni Barcelos as the biggest betting underdog on the UFC 270 fight card at +425. Despite the odds, Henry took care of the Brazilian to win his second straight fight and first inside the UFC octagon. Then to open up the main card another undefeated newcomer took the octagon. Ecuador’s Michael Morales moved to 13-0 with a first-round knockout of Trevin Giles. This was Morales’s tenth win by knockout and fifth in his last six fights. Morales was one of four fighters fighting out for the Entram Gym but the only one to win with Gomez Juarez, Genaro Valdéz, and Brandon Moreno all losing. Overall it was a very strong day for the newest members of the UFC roster and there are some names to keep an eye on in the future.

5. Matt Frevola is back to winning ways

Last time out Matt “Steamrolla” Frevola lasted only seven seconds before being knocked out by UFC rookie Terrance McKinney at UFC 263 in June last year. Once again Frevola took on a fighter making their UFC debut in Genaro Valdéz. The fight was also a short one finishing in the first round with a knockout. This fight was a pretty solid one with both guys throwing the whole three minutes that it lasted, but Frevola finished the fight with some ground and pound. The win by Frevola at UFC 270 snapped a two-fight losing streak and moved his record to 9-3-1. On the other side, this was the first professional loss for Valdéz who had been 10-0 prior to the fight with Frevola.

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