I must start off by saying that I was wrong about the main event, very wrong. Fabricio Werdum was able to pull off a massive upset and dominate Travis Browne everywhere. The Vegas odds were -210 favoring Browne with +190 for Werdum, and a quick poll on ufc.com had Browne favored to win by around 75% of the vote. Werdum survived some punishment from Browne in the first half of the first round but Browne seemed to gas and Werdum used his unexpected speed advantage to dictate the pace of the striking. Browne threatened Werdum in the first with a mean flurry, but Werdum survived the early and brief onslaught to take Browne down for the first time in his UFC career. The beating continued as Werdum landed first, often and more often than not in bunches as he dominated Browne on his feet, outstruck Browne 121 to 60 in significant strikes, and earned a total of 2 takedowns and 3 passes over his 5 round domination.
The new, quick, slimmed down Werdum clearly imposed his will over Browne and clearly sealed the deal on his title shot coming up later this year. This presents an interesting match up because Werdum showed good resilience, cardio and is known for having a solid BJJ game to survive and threaten a top heavy, fast paced wrestler like Cain Velasquez. Browne needs to work on his gas tank, and likely slim down a bit to boost his striking speed. Browne showed he has heart for lasting all 5 rounds with a broken hand and rumored broken ribs, but didn't look like the same fighter that won 3 straight knockout of the night bonuses leading up to this bout. Browne needs to have 1 or 2 dominant fights against quality opponents to be in a title contender bout again, and the winner of Junior dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic, Roy Nelson or a rematch with Antonio Silva would all be good fights for Browne to start to rebuild himself, after he heals up of course.
In the co-main event, Meisha Tate won a somewhat controversial 29-28 decision against Liz Carmouche. Carmouche clearly won the first round with 3 takedowns, and Meisha clearly won the third round with a single takedown accompanied by 3 passes showing superior top control. The deciding round was the second round, and it could be looked at differently depending on what criteria is viewed more highly. Carmouche landed 2 takedowns and maintained top control for a fair part of the round, but Tate was controlling Carmouche and threatening her from the bottom during that time, doing more damage in the process. The judges thought Tate's threats and control in the second round won her the fight, but even Tate herself admitted after the fact that it was a surprise that Carmouche's top control didn't win her the fight. Neither fighter made a big statement that will alter the title picture anytime soon, but they proved they both belong in the top of the division and prove a stiff test for anyone looking to work their way up to a shot at Ronda Rousey.
The second fight on the main card saw a motivated Donald Cerrone fight a confident and relaxed Edson Barboza. Barboza dominated the opening couple minutes of the fight and looked as if he was going to continue to move in and out, peppering Cerrone with little resistance in the process. Cerrone is a self-admitted slow starter, but after taking Barboza's early punishment on the feet he dropped him with a stiff jab and quickly locked in a rear naked choke to get the tap at 3:15 into the first round. It was quite the shock that Cerrone could find a hole in Barboza's strong suit and take the fight to the ground where Cerrone was believed to have an advantage, but that's just another day at work for the cowboy. Cerrone has proved once again that he can change the outcome of a fight in a matter of seconds, and this ability won him another performance of the night bonus, his 14th fight night bonus in the WEC or UFC, breaking his own record for the most bonuses in the combined promotions' history. Cerrone needs another fight to crack into the top 5 and will likely look to secure that fight within the next 2 or 3 months. Barboza needs to go back to the drawing board and face someone in the lower end of the top 10 because while he has shown to be a dominant fighter, his only 2 losses came by finish in the first round and he needs to develop the fighter IQ and patience to survive the early onslaught of his toughest opponents more readily.
Yoel Romero fought Brad Tavares on the first fight on the Fox main card, and he proved to be one of the most highly touted prospects in the middleweight division. Romero the former Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Silver medalist dominated Tavares for almost every second of the 15 minutes they spent in the cage. Tavares had no answers for most of the takedowns that Romero shot on him, and Romero stayed on Tavares like a violent wet blanket for the majority of their outing. Whether it was a muscled drag to the mat or a technical shot, Romero has wrestling and strength on another level when compared to most fighters in the middleweight division, and needs a stiffer test to see where he should be in the top 10. Tavares who was riding a 5 fight win streak within the UFC before this tough loss needs to show that he can rebound to stay a ranked fighter in this division of killers.
In the “main event of the prelims,” a rather contradictory statement made famous by Dana White, Khabib Nurmagomedov kept a fast pace and ragdolled Rafael dos Anjos for the better part of their 15 minute affair. Khabib has not faltered in his MMA career, he is undefeated at 22-0 and has looked dominant in every UFC appearance he's had, he needs a tough challenge at the top of the lightweight division next, while dos Anjos needs to put some more mat time into his training regiment. Thiago Alves made a strong return to the UFC after a 2 year hiatus due to injury and proved that he can not only overcome cage rust, but remain a crowd favorite. The crowd couldn't get enough of Alves during his introduction or throughout any moment of his dominant fight of the night victory over Seth Baczynski. Alves took a little punishment towards the end of the bout, but always dished out more than he took, and in a rapidly moving welterweight division the landscape is perfect for a resurgence. Two other performances worth noting from the undercard on Fox Sports 1 were Jorge Masvidal's dominant decision win over the potentially unemployed Pat Healy, who may be getting his pink slip after a 0-3 run and 1 no contest due to a failed drug test in his current UFC stint. On a more positive note, Alex White made his debut on short notice against Estevan Payan and not only made a statement after getting a TKO win at 1:28 into the first round, but got the other performance of the night bonus alongside Donald Cerrone for his quick work.
Overall it is hard to argue that this wasn't a great night of fights that fans were lucky enough to get for free. What did you think were the highlights of this card? Feel free to leave comments and feedback below.