A free night of UFC fights is always a good thing for a rainy Saturday night. When the results are fantastic finishes instead of boring fights capped by predictable decisions, the night is even better. UFC Fight Night from Newark, N.J. was a very good lineup of fights for the most past. Some names that are not part of the mainstream got into the spotlight with some very impressive performances.
Luke Rockhold dismantled Lyoto Machida, who is of course a legend and had been very impressive in his recent fights, including the bout with Chris Weidman. Rockhold will be on many more folks’ radar after his second round win over Machida via submission. The legendary “Dragon” had no answer for the 30 year old Rockhold, who controlled the entire fight. Machida is one of the most difficult UFC fighters to prepare for with his unorthodox technique. That mattered not in this fight. Luke Rockhold imposed his will on the former Light Heavyweight Champion, making Machida’s fighting style irrelevant. Awkward angles and being hard to hit historically makes no difference if the guy in front of you is smothering you at every turn. Machida was hurt badly in the first round and never really recovered. The fat lady was tuned up and started singing as soon as Rockhold got Machida’s back, flattened him out, and firmly placed him in a rear naked choke hold to end it all. Check out the highlights vid below.
Anyone not impressed with Max Holloway’s late fight submission of hardcore UFC vet Cub Swanson must not like MMA fighting. Swanson is a tough SOB with a mean mug that is close to Ronda Rousey‘s hatefilled stare. This was no easy win for the 23 year old Holloway. This was a great fight that ended with a very late submission after Holloway rocked the number five ranked Swanson late in the third. The kid followed up the strikes with a perfectly placed guillotine choke that ended the battle with just over a minute left in the final round.
The highlight of this UFC Fight Night, and there were many, was Paige VanZant. The comparisons to Ronda Rousey are inevitable and although she is not on that level of talent or personality, she does have the “it” factor. Maybe she flames out sooner rather than later, but from what we have seen of the 21 year old so far, you can not help but be impressed.
VanZant and Felice Herrig fought a close fight for about one full round. After that initial period, the fighter barely old enough to drink, began to dominate her opponent. She didn’t have a signature move like you know who. She simply got busy on the face of Herrig for the better part of two rounds. If VanZant ever got tired, it certainly didn’t show. She had plenty of energy to spare as she relentlessly attacked the elder Herrig, resulting in numerous knots on the forehead of Herrig at the end and a unanimous decision for VanZant.
VanZant has many more rungs to climb to get to the top of her strawweight division. Her win over number eight ranked Herrig will move her up a bit and with her notoriety growing, it may not be as long as we think before she gets a shot at the belt currently held by Carla Esparza. Anything can happen with this very new division of the women’s’ side of things in the UFC.
Whether lightning can strike twice remains to be seen. The UFC has benefited greatly from the beauty, brashness, and epic skills of Ronda Rousey. If VanZant can keep rolling, Dana White will have the perfect poster child for the strawweight division. She has the looks like Rousey and the “it” factor I mentioned. She just needs to keep getting better where it counts the most, inside the octagon. Count me as a believer even though I know how quickly a UFC career can take a nosedive.
Luke Rockhold vs Lyoto Machida Hightlights: UFC Fight Night New Jersey