UFC Nashville: Five things we learned
UFC Nashville is in the books and we have some noteworthy results to discuss. The card featured some recognizable names, solid talent, intriguing fights, and telling outcomes. Let’s breakdowns all the important results from UFC Nashville and take a look at five lessons we learned from the event.
Cory Sandhagen is committed to wrestling
At UFC Nashville, Cory Sandhagen did not put on his typical violent style. Instead, he put on a wrestling clinic. The kickboxer finished the night, according to UFC stats, seven for seven on takedown attempts while racking up over 19 minutes of control time.
The growth of Sandhagen’s grappling has been well-documented as of late. After being submitted by Aljamin Sterling in a No. 1 contender’s bout, Sandhagen realized he had some holes to fill. That is exactly what he did. In the seven fights since, we have seen Sandhagen slowly improve his grappling. That hit a pinnacle against Font as he was able to control the bout on the ground.
While Sandhagen did not earn any new fans at UFC Nashville, that was probably not the result he was aiming for. Instead, he opted to take the path of least resistance. In the long term outlook, that will help his career longevity. Plus, Sandhagen has made it clear his wedding is coming up in September. I imagine his finance will be happy he was able to come home unscathed and ready for wedding pictures. That is always a positive.
Rob Font has massive grappling deficiencies
On the opposite side of the UFC Nashville main event, we saw a lot of holes in Rob Font’s grappling.
Over the course of five rounds, Font struggled mightily to defend takedowns, land sweeps, or stand-up. It is nice that he was able to limit Sandhagen’s offense, but at the end of the day, all that did was led him to a decision loss.
It is hard to be optimistic about where Font sits in his career. At 36-years-old, it is hard to see him overcoming the grappling deficiencies in his skill set. Admittedly, he would probably do better against a grappler if he had a full camp to prepare for a wrestling-heavy game plan. Still, is hard to imagine that he could suddenly string together a game plan to defeat an elite grappler.
Thankfully for Font, the bantamweight division does not have a ton of elite grapplers. Yes, the top of the division has elite grapplers like Sterling, Merab Dvalishvili and Henry Cejudo. Font is quite far from that portion of the rankings, however. Instead, he sits in a section of the division with a lot of strikers and fewer grapplers.
Tatiana Suarez still has title potential
In the UFC Nashville co-main event, Tatiana Suarez proved that she is still on track for a UFC title fight in the near future, submitting Jessica Andrade in the second round.
To be fair, it is not a revelation that Suarez is an outstanding grappler. We have seen Suarez dominate fighters on the ground throughout her career. The positive lesson from this fight is that she is ready to fight the toughest fighters in the division. At this point, she should be either fighting for a title or fighting in a No. 1 contenders bout.
The women’s strawweight title picture is a little fuzzy at the moment. At UFC 292, we get some clarity as champion Weili Zhang will look to defend the belt against Amanda Lemos. Regardless of what goes down, either Zhang or Lemos will need to defend the belt against someone. That leaves Suarez and Yan Xionan as the obvious contenders. With both coming off dominant wins over Andrade, they are essentially tied in the race to become the next contender. It will be interesting to see who the UFC wants to have fight for a title.
Dustin Jacoby is still going strong
At UFC Nashville, Dustin Jacoby got back to his winning ways as he picked up a finish victory over Kennedy Nzechukwu.
Jacoby came into this fight on a tough run. The former kickboxer was riding a two-fight losing streak that was overshadowing his impressive UFC tenure. All of those doubts are gone after his performance against Nzechukwu.
Jacoby is now in a position where he can climb the rankings again. At 35-years-old, a third consecutive loss would have been catastrophic. Instead, he got a highlight reel finish that catapults him up the light heavyweight rankings. If Jacoby can keep winning, he has a legit chance to climb the rankings considering the current state of the division.
Diego Lopes is a highlight reel finisher
Diego Lopes is only two fights into his UFC career and it has been filled with madness. In his promotional debut, he went toe to toe with Mosvar Evloev and proved that he deserved a spot in the UFC. At UFC Nashville, he put his finishing chops on display as he picked up a first-round submission over Gavin Tucker.
I do not know what Lopes’ ceiling is in the UFC, but I am not sure it matters. Lopes has shown that he is a fighter that will provide the fans with widely entertaining fights are fun submission finishes. That will make him a beloved commodity in the UFC.
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