UFC Fight Night 40 was unquestionably the night of the underdog, as 6 underdogs were victorious over the course of the night. This was a great night of free fights, with 7 devastating KO or TKO finishes and a main event that will be remembered for a long time.
The main event was easily the best fight of the year so far as Matt Brown came back after being hurt early in the first round to earn a TKO victory over Erick Silva in the third round. The first round was unquestionably the best round of the year, as it saw Brown get dropped by 2 hard body kicks, Silva got his back and looked for the choke and Brown showed his toughness by surviving, escaping and immediately hurting Silva once he got back to his feet. Silva was hurt bad and due to either a lack of conditioning, overexertion on the ground hunting for a submission, or damage from Brown, his cardio did not look suitable to last much longer at the end of the first round. Brown continued to hurt the seemingly hopeless Silva at the start of the second round, and kept a fast pace, mixing in takedowns, attempting a few submissions, landing combos on the feet and using the muay thai plum to batter Silva's head with knees until Silva was unable to defend himself midway through the third round. Brown looked unstoppable, as if he was a robot who knew only to do damage, plod forward and do more damage until he secures a victory. Brown is likely a single fight away from a title fight, maybe two if Johny Hendrick's is out for awhile longer than expected and the division gets backed up. Brown is a very personable fighter who can become popular with the proper promotion based on his humble attitude. Brown has also been promoting himself by campaigning for a title shot, and it would be nice to see him in a title contender bout against another worthy opponent by the end of the year. Silva needs to face someone ranked lower in the top 15 in his next fight, but with some work to find openings better and conserve energy he can be a serious threat in the future.
The co-main event featured Costas Philippou successfully snapping a 2 fight losing streak by knocking out Lorenz Larkin in the first round. Philippou looked dominant in the clinch, he took Larkin's best shots on the chin without issue and showcased solid striking, starting with his well-established jab and ending with a left hook right straight combination that put Larkin to sleep. Philippou showed that his crisp boxing is enhanced by his ability to control the clinch and maintain the confidence to avoid the takedown without sacrificing his striking power. Philippou earned his spot in the UFC's middleweight rankings, he likely won't progress up the list at all with this win but snapping the 2 fight losing streak he was riding up to this bout likely provided him with job security and a fight that will move him up the ranks if he is victorious in his next outing.
The fourth fight on the main card saw Daron Cruickshank knock out Eric Koch with a vicious head kick. Koch was a -450 favorite facing the +355 underdog Cruickshank, but the betting odds didn't prove to matter much as over the course of the night. The fight started with some flashy exchanges with neither fighter looking particularly dominant, but that all changed when Cruickshank threw a right high kick and right straight punch that missed, and then a left high kick over the right shoulder Koch, a southpaw who was blindsided with the kick. The kick wasn't blocked by Koch, who likely expected it to land on the body, but Cruickshank hit Koch behind the ear and finished the fight quickly with some punches on top after Koch dropped. Cruickshank made a strong case for a low ranking with this finish, and if he doesn't earn it with this win he should fight someone who is ranked near the bottom of top 15 rankings list in his next fight. Koch needs to have another fight at lightweight against someone else in limbo in their career, or make the cut back to featherweight where he was successful before, once earning a title shot that he wasn't able to capitalize on due to injury.
The third fight on the main card showcased Neil Magny emerging victorious over Tim Means. Magny used a superior strategy to secure a takedown and knock down in the first round, keeping Means from mounting any real offense in the second and ate Means' best shots before securing another takedown to close out the third round. Much of the bout was uneventful, earning some boos at the end of the second round due to the small amount of damage being done and the quick and insignificant takedowns and strikes that were being exchanged. The most exciting part of the fight came at the start of the third round, when Means tagged Magny and had him slightly stunned, but it wasn't long until Magny was dictating the pace once again. Its hard to imagine that Magny or Means moved much up or down the ladder of the welterweight division with this fight, it wasn't extremely memorable and the next performance by these two fighters will be better indicators of where they will sit in the divisions landscape.
The second fight on the main card featured Soa Palelei demolish Ruan Potts with a couple short shots from mount. The fight started with Palelei securing an early takedown and fighting off a few rather desperate submission attempts before passing to side control after a failed submission attempt left an opening for him to move to mount. From mount Palelei missed with a big right, a short left hook put Potts to sleep, and a few follow-up shots ensured Potts was out as the ref stepped in to stop the fight. From there Palelei kissed the ref and proved he's also a talented singer during his post-fight interview. This finish is very similar to how Palelei won his first two fights in the UFC, and this third straight win should prove to Joe Silva that Palelei needs to have a tougher test to establish himself in the heavyweight division. Based on his actions after the win, it is clear that Palelei has the skills and personality to be a star in the shallow heavyweight division with a slow progression towards the top of the division, provided he isn't thrown to the wolves too quickly. Potts needs to fight someone else who is rather new to the roster next to keep his spot, as he has had some good success on the regional circuit in Africa and someone who is unestablished on the international stage will be a good test.
The first fight on the Fox Sports 1 main card saw Chris Cariaso beat Louis Smolka by a split decision. Smolka looked to establish dominance in the clinch in the first round and maintained that for over half of the first round before exchanging blows on the feet. Cariaso attempted some high level submissions at the end of the first, and throughout the second round, and showcased his takedown ability in the second round as well. The third round was a back and forth exchange of position and striking, while Cariaso continued to show dominance in the striking game on his way to pick up a split decision victory. Cariaso showed that he is becoming a great striker and is capable of securing high-level submissions, but needs to work on his ability to finish the submissions in time. Smolka needs to work on his striking and takedown defense, focusing less on what he can do to his opponent and seeing what his opponent is planning to do and capitalizing on it. Cariaso and Smolka looked pretty good and in a division as shallow as the flyweight division, almost anything can happen when it comes to matchmaking. Cariaso should face someone ranked a little higher than him to move up, and Smolka should face someone else who is in limbo to secure his job.
The fourth and last fight on the Fox Sports 2 prelims featured Ed Herman earning a unanimous decision victory against Rafael Natal. It looked like Natal hurt Herman's leg with his strong leg kicks in the first round, and spent a fair portion of the round in top position to clearly win the round. Natal looked to continue his dominance on top in the second round, but Herman came back towards the latter portion and hurt Natal in some standing exchanges, starting to open up a cut and narrowly winning the round. The third round was all Herman as he continued to tag Natal without allowing Natal the opportunity to get off much offense. While I don't agree with one judge scoring the fight 30-27, I think the other judges who had it 29-28 in Herman's favor were on point. Herman likely saved himself a trip to the unemployment line, and will earn another opportunity to advance towards ranked status in the middleweight division, while Natal will need to get back to the win column after dropping two straight fights. Another fighter who has some doubt in their recent performances will be a good opponent for either Natal or Herman.
The first fight on the Fox Sports 2 prelims saw Johnny Eduardo knock Eddie Wineland out cold in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Wineland came in riding a TKO victory after coming up short against the current bantamweight champion Renan Barao, and was ranked fourth in the divison. Eduardo was riding a decision win over Jeff Curran almost 2 years ago after coming up short against Raphael Assunciao. Eduardo was a +495 underdog expected to be blown out of the water since he hasn't even fought since the UFC rankings were created, while Wineland was a -510 favorite expected to walk through Eduardo without issue. Wineland looked confident and showed impressive movement in and out, good faints and comfort in both orthodox and southpaw stances. Eduardo was throwing hard leg kicks and punches looking to capitalize on Wineland's tendency to hold his hands low, and he found his target with two solid punches that put Wineland away just over the four and a half mark of the first round. While this fight was ruled a TKO, Wineland hit the ground hard and wasn't moving much from his slumped over position with his head against the mat, and I think it could have easily been ruled a knockout for Eduardo. Eduardo needs to fight someone else high in the rankings to prove that he's a contender and that this win isn't just a fluke.
With another win or two he could put himself in a good position to secure a title shot, but he needs to ride the momentum from this win into his next fight or else this will be remembered as a fluke win due to a couple lucky shots. That isn't my call to make, but Eduardo will prove his real worth in his next fights. Wineland needs to face someone ranked low in the top 10 or 15 on the rankings, and it will become even more difficult to rank him properly if he doesn't come out victorious. If Wineland wins his next fight impressively he may be able to prove he just had a bad night, but after losing to Renan Barao by TKO recently it will be hard to prove that this loss was a fluke. Wineland needs to keep his hands up better as basic as it sounds, because it doesn't matter how good a fighter is, everyone has a chin and everyone has the potential to get caught.
The last fight on the UFC fight pass prelims before the TV card started, saw Nik Lentz dominate Manny Gamburyan for almost every minute of the fight on the way to a unanimous decision victory. Lentz outworked, and out-wrestled Gamubryan. Gamburyan didn't have any answers besides some elbows while Lentz was attempting takedowns, a few projected haymakers, a few desperate submission attempts, and a little bit of time on top. Lentz swelled up Gamburyan's eye badly with his striking, and his wrestling attacks were largely unanswered. Gamburyan couldn't handle the technical ability, speed, cardio or wrestling of Lentz, and the only real chance he had to win the fight based on his performance was the submission attempt he went for in the third round. Lentz needs to fight someone in the bottom of the top 10 next, and if Gamburyan stays in the UFC he needs an inconsistent, unranked opponent to fight for his job.
Overall I got 6 of my 9 picks correct, with of 4 those picks being perfect. What did you think of the fights? Please leave any feedback and comments below.