UFC Fight Night 158 came to the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday, and the lightweight main event delivered.
Contenders Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje were always going to deliver a striker's affair, with heavy leather being thrown. One man was almost certain to meet an early demise. It turned out that man was Cerrone, as Gaethje dropped and finished him within the first five minutes.
What is the fallout from that main event?
Light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and Misha Cirkunov picked up wins on the main card, but who took a step forward in the division?
We are about to take a look at those questions and provide the context that will give us the proper answers. Just because someone did or did not get their hand raised does not mean they are necessarily a winner or a loser. The context determines whether they are a real winner or loser.
So let's dig into the meat of UFC Fight Night 158 and find out who the winners and losers were exiting Vancouver.
Winner: Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje may be, pound-for-pound, the most exciting fighter in the sport today. He proved it again on Saturday with his first-round TKO over Donald Cerrone.
But more importantly, in the grand scheme of winning and losing, he became the hot name in the lightweight division.
The title picture looks set with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, but that fight has been cursed. It's been made on several occasions and fallen apart each time. What happens if history repeats itself? Who's next in line? It sure does look like Gaethje.
Oh, and what about a certain Irishman?
In the Conor McGregor sweepstakes, Gaethje is holding the winning lottery numbers.
The biggest fights possible in the lightweight division are both realistic options for Gaethje after Saturday. He has to be pleased with where he is sitting.
Loser: Donald Cerrone
After dropping back down to lightweight, Donald Cerrone looked impressive and made a run at being a title contender.
He started off the year by calling out Conor McGregor. Nine months later, he has been knocked out in back-to-back bouts and is well off the contender's pace at 155 pounds. A quick turnaround from how he started 2019.
But that's Cerrone. It's why fans love him. That won't change.
However, Cerrone always wanted to be champion, and now it seems increasingly less likely he will get another chance at the gold. After being knocked out yet again, Cerrone has to start looking at what is best for his future in and out of the cage. He is still around the top of the division, but it's not exactly where he wants to be. He wants to be in that next level up with the true title contenders.
The loss on Saturday was devastating in his bid to rejoin them.
Loser: Glover Teixeira
Yeah, Glover Teixeira won but he is once again a loser in the UFC's light heavyweight division.
He is being used as a gatekeeper, and he kept that gate against Nikita Krylov. But Krylov isn't seen as a legitimate threat to Jon Jones, and neither is Teixeira. Especially after barely escaping with the win on Saturday.
Teixeira is a loser because the win didn't help his case.
Is he closer to a rematch with Jones? No. Was it an exciting display making fans eager to see him again? No.
He's still a gatekeeper, and the UFC will call his name once again when it finds someone it wants to see who is ready for the upper echelon of the division. It's an unheralded role, and it's one occupied by an unheralded veteran.
Loser: Todd Duffee
Todd Duffee has no luck. No luck at all, I tell you.
Duffee returned for the first time since 2015 after battling more injuries that has plagued his career only to end up getting poked in the eye in the first round. The bout was deemed a no contest because of an accidental foul.
He has had bad luck, some of it begotten by his own design, since entering the UFC. In the cage, he was the butt of many jokes for the stunning KO loss to Mike Russow after he dominated an overmatched opponent only to get clipped in the final round. Or for his strange striking decisions that led to Frank Mir, yes that Brazilian jiu-jitsu loving Frank Mir, to knock him out cold.
Out of the cage, it has been injuries.
Duffee needs to invest in horseshoes or rabbits' feet because there is some seriously bad juju surrounding him.
Winner: Uriah Hall
Uriah Hall was thought to be the "next" Anderson Silva. That never panned out. However, he has continued to hang in and around the top 15. Now, for the first time since 2015, Hall has back-to-back victories.
Like Teixeira, Hall won by split decision. What makes Hall a winner instead of a loser like Teixeira is the hope he has to make another run.
Hall is still showing he's a force. Antonio Carlos Junior is no easy out, and the last two losses on his record were to Paulo Costa and Gegard Mousasi. It's easy to forget the talent he possesses. It was a tough fight, but he found a way to win—something he hasn't always been able to do.
Getting this victory under his belt and moving toward a winning streak puts Hall in a prime spot for 2020.
Winner: Misha Cirkunov
Misha Cirkunov got back in the win column, but more importantly, he got back into the win column in style.
A swift first-round submission puts a little star next to his name.
Cirkunov has long been a name the UFC has been waiting to come up through the light heavyweight ranks. And in such a shallow division, it doesn't take much to start an ascent. But since 2017, Cirkunov has found it difficult to maintain success.
Saturday, he finished a hot up-and-comer in Jimmy Crute. That shows he's still making a play to be a factor in the division, and finishing the bout within the first round will earn him a bigger fight in the division.
UFC Fight Night 158 Full Card Results
UFC Fight Night 158 Main Card
- Justin Gaethje def. Donald Cerrone by TKO at 4:18 of the first round.
- Glover Teixeira def. Nikita Krylov by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
- Todd Duffee vs. Jeff Hughes ends in a no-contest (eye poke) at 4:03 of the first round.
- Tristan Connelly def. Michel Pereira by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).
- Uriah Hall def. Antonio Carlos Junior by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
- Misha Cirkunov def. Jimmy Crute via submission (Peruvian necktie) at 3:38 of the first round.
ESPN+ Preliminary Card
- Augusto Sakai def. Marcin Tybura by KO at 0:59 of the first round.
- Miles Johns def. Cole Smith by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
- Hunter Azure def. Brad Katona by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
- Chas Skelly def. Jordan Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
- Louis Smolka def. Ryan MacDonald by TKO at 4:43 of the first round.
- Austin Hubbard def. Kyle Prepolec by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).