UFC Austin 2023: Five Things We Learned
UFC Austin was billed as one of the top fight night events of 2023 and it did not disappoint. The card was stacked with compelling fights that ended up being entertaining scraps. Let’s recap the card and discuss the biggest lessons during the event.
Arman Tsarukyan makes the lightweight title picture muddy:
In the UFC Austin main event, Arman Tsarukyan impressed as he knocked out Beneil Dariush in the first round.
Tsarukyan made quick work of Darisuh as he earned a knockout in one minute and four seconds. The finishing sequence was impressive as Tsarukyan used a knee to disguise a right hand. That right hand finished the fight.
Typically, it is hard to take much away from a fight that ends in a minute. In this case, it should be noted this was Tsarukyan’s best striking performance. Additionally, this is the most punching power he has displayed. The up-and-coming lightweight deserves credit for that.
Tsarukyan’s performance at UFC Austin makes the lightweight title picture a puzzle. If you look at fighters individually, Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje and Tsarukyan have all earned cracks at the title. Obviously, only one fighter can get the next shot.
UFC CEO Dana White has stated he wants to see Oliveira get the fight against champion Islam Makhachev. At the same time, Gaethje should fight for the title considering he is coming off a knockout win over Dustin Poirier.
It will be interesting to see how the UFC opts to handle booking the aforementioned lightweights. One thing is for certain, the promotion can’t give each fighter the opponent they want.
Jalin Turner re-establishes himself in the lightweight rankings:
At UFC Austin, Jalin Turner had the cards stacked against him as he entered his fight against Bobby Green. Turner took the fight on short notice, had a challenging weight cut, and desperately needed to break his two-fight losing streak. Despite the pressure, Turner got a massive victory, knocking out Green in the first round.
This was a classic Turner performance. The powerful kickboxer landed a clean shot that hurt Green badly. The aspect missing was a front choke once he had his opponent hurt. Although, that was not necessary since Green was out cold. It does present questions as to why it took the referee so long to stop the fight, however.
This win re-established Turner’s position in the rankings. A loss would have almost guaranteed that he fell out of the top 15. Instead, he picked up a ranked win and proved he deserved a number next to his name.
Deiveson Figueiredo can compete at bantamweight:
One of the most interesting fights, on paper, from UFC Austin was Deiveson Figueiredo against Rob Font. The bout was surrounded with questions as Figueiredo, the former flyweight champion, made his bantamweight debut.
Figueiredo answered a few of the questions that were present. The most notable was his power. It is pretty clear that his power translates to the higher-weight class. It did not seem like he was out physically outmanned either.
It is safe to say that Figueiredo can compete at bantamweight. That is a serious question when a fighter moves division.
On a more negative note, Figueiredo is not championship-caliber in the weight class. At flyweight, Figueiredo was great at leveraging size and power to punish opponents. At bantamweight, he does not hold the same advantages. Additionally, his cardio is still concerning.
All things considered, Figueiredo can compete at bantamweight, but will never be a part of the division’s elite.
Sean Brady reminds people of his dominant grappling:
At UFC Austin, Sean Brady sent out a reminder that he is a dominant grappler. In his bout with Kelvin Gastelum, he easily got takedowns and racked up control time before finishing the fight with a kimura in the third round.
This was a bounce-back victory. In his last time out, he suffered the first loss of his career. Now, he is back in the win column and is looking to move up the rankings.
Brady will always present issues because of his grappling. As he proved against Gastelum, once he gets on top he is a problem to deal with. It will take elite defensive grappling to beat him.
Clay Guida still has an elite chin:
Clay Guida is a legend and pioneer of MMA. At UFC Austin, he faced Joaquim Silva- a dangerous opponent. Despite losing a decision, Guida proved he is one of the toughest fighters on the roster and has an elite chin.
At 41, Guida is no longer the fighter he used to be. It is pretty clear he is not as quick and his takedowns are not as effective. Miraculously, Father time has not affected his chin.
Guida ate a ton of big shots against Silva. That includes a head kick, a massive uppercut, clinch knees, and multiple long flurries. Remarkably, he was not knocked out. Furthermore, he fought off several tight submissions. Despite being far past his prime, Guida is tough as nails.
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