UFC Fight Night: Kansas City

Kansas City played host to an impressive main card for the Fight Night on Fox event on Saturday night which saw history made in the flyweight division and waves made in both the men’s middleweight division and the women’s strawweight division. We take a look at some of the main talking points of what was a highly entertaining main card.

Jeremy Stephens v Renato Moicano
The main card began with an intriguing encounter between UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens and newcomer Renato Moicano. With 10 years in the promotion under his belt, heavy hitting Stephens was the big favourite to win this clash with the 27 year old Brazilian, who was fighting outside of Brazil for the first time.

Clearly weary of Stephen’s power, Moicano kept his distance throughout and began to frustrate both Stephens and the Kansas City crowd in a fight that went the distance. Although not necessarily a pleasing style to watch, Moicano did what he needed to avoid getting tagged by Stephens as this would’ve more than likely only ended with one possible outcome.

Taking the split decision victory, Moicano, who is now 3-0 in the UFC and 11-0-1 overall, has room for improvement but beating Jeremy Stephens is a big victory for the newcomer regardless of how it came about.

Ronaldo Souza v Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker put the middleweight division on high alert following his blistering victory over Jacare on Saturday night. Even when Jacare had Whittaker on the ground in the first round, Whittaker stayed calm and returned to his feet with relative ease, which is by no means an easy feat against a man feared on the ground.

In the second round, Whittaker had the fight done and dusted with a stunning display of power and aggression. Landing a big left before unleashing a savage head kick, Jacare was stunned and uneasy on his feet which Whittaker jumped on with all guns blazing. Eventually dragging Jacare to the ground, Whittaker smothered the Brazilian with a series of hammer blows and vicious elbows which ultimately resulted in referee, Mario Yamasaki, calling a halt to proceedings.

Ranked #6 before the fight, victory over the #3 ranked Jacare has put Whittaker firmly in the mix for a title shot as and when it becomes available. However, with Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi waiting for the outcome of Bisping v GSP money fight, the middleweight division will have to wait before legitimate ranked fighters get a fair crack at the title again.

Rose Namajunas v Michelle Waterson
Following her superb victory over Michelle Waterson at the weekend, Rose Namajunas surely has to be next in line for a title shot. Namajunas, who lost to Carla Esparza for the inaugural strawweight title in December 2014, will be waiting for the outcome of the Jędrzejczyk v Andrade fight at UFC211 next month with bated breath.

In a fight dominated by Namajunas, Michelle Waterson didn’t really know how to deal with the constant pressure from Thug Rose and ended up losing her first professional fight at the hands of the impressive Namajunas who now has a 7-3 record. Full of confidence after her defeat to Karolina Kowalkiewicz back in July 2016, Namajunas never looked in danger against Waterson and looked dominant when the fight got to the ground. Stunned by an impressive head kick in the second, Waterson valiantly held on despite being rocked but Thug Rose had the fight wrapped up when she sunk in a deep rear naked choke on Waterson who tapped out at 2:47 of round two.

Assuming she beats Jessica Andrade, which is no means a given, a title shot against the dominant Jędrzejczyk would be a big ask for Namajunas but one that she would give her all.

Demetrious Johnson v Wilson Reis
What can you say about Mighty Mouse that hasn’t been said already? Equaling Anderson Silva’s record of 10 straight title defences, Johnson still remains the only UFC flyweight champion. With 12 consecutive wins under his belt, a record shared with GSP, Johnson will almost certainly equal, if not beat, Anderson Silva’s 16 fight winning streak unless someone steps up to the mantle and beats Mighty Mouse.

On Saturday night, Wilson Reis attempted to spoil the historical night but was left looking ridiculously average by the ever impressive Johnson. Lasting three rounds before tapping out to an arm bar at the 4:49 mark, the number #3 ranked Reis was made to look like he didn’t belong in the octagon. Barely able to get within striking distance, Johnson was always one step ahead and was zipping around the octagon like a man possessed. Caught with an over arm right, Johnson pummelled Reis on the ground with some heavy ground and pound before hooking out Reis’s arm to finish the fight with an arm bar and claim the record equalling victory.

What’s next for Johnson is the big conundrum that many are trying to work out. Having cleaned out and dominated the flyweight division, genuine contenders are pretty much a nonentity so the only other real option is to step up to bantamweight. Whatever happens, Demetrious Johnson is without doubt one of the greatest champions the UFC has ever seen and already has himself firmly cemented in UFC folklore.

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