UFC Fight Night 164 on Saturday turned into one of the more disappointing events of 2019, as the main card resulted in only one knockout and mostly dull affairs. Regardless, there were still a lot of talking points to come out of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Here are five lessons we learned:
1. Poor events are the result of oversaturation.
It says something that fans, journalists and fighters were all complaining about the lack of action, particularly during the main event. In a way, it should not be surprising. The main card, on paper, did not excite anyone, even hardcore fans. The Jan Blachowicz-Ronaldo Souza headliner wasn’t exactly viewed as a possible a barnburner, but it provided further evidence as to how oversaturation of the UFC product can lead to events like these. There has been an Ultimate Fighting Championship event every week for the last three months. If you dig deeper, it’s 21 UFC events in the last 22 weeks. That’s a lot of cards and fighters on display. Stacking pay-per-views like UFC 244 and UFC 245 also contributes to a lack of depth at the smaller shows. Fortunately, the next UFC event does not take place until Dec. 7.
2. Blachowicz stock drops in victory.
Although he earned a split decision and won for the sixth time in his seven appearances, Blachowicz’s stock certainly dropped following UFC Fight Night 164. He outstruck Souza and defended all of his takedown attempts, but he could have shown more initiative. Because of his lackluster display, he will likely need at least one more win before he gets a crack at the title. Blachowicz arguably has a more impressive resume than fellow contenders Dominick Reyes and Corey Anderson, highlighted by his vicious knockout of Luke Rockhold in July. However, he may have to settle for a rematch with Anderson next.
3. We may be in the midst of Souza’s decline.
Souza complained about close decisions never going his way, and he may have a point -- but not based on his last two showings. “Jacare” failed to land a single takedown, and although he enjoyed significant clinch control, he never really did anything with it. In fact, he only landed a total of two significant strikes in the final two rounds, while Blachowicz connected on nearly four times as many. Some believed the move to 205 pounds would benefit Souza. However, with four losses in his last six outings, it seems like age has caught up with the 39-year-old, who notably struggles when his opponents manage to defend his takedown attempts.
4. Charles Oliveira needs a top-ranked opponent next.
Oliveira was the lone bright spot, as he lit up the Ibirapuera Gymnasium with a quick first-round knockout of Jared Gordon. It was the second knockout of 2019 for “Do Bronx,” who continued to show that he has more than just submissions in his game. Oliveira has now won six fights in a row, with all of them resulting in finishes. Currently No. 13 in the UFC lightweight rankings, the time has come for the Brazilian to get a ranked opponent and preferably someone above him. He called out Conor McGregor and Paul Felder -- the last man to defeat him -- in his post-fight interview. While those are ambitious targets, even fighting someone like Al Iaquinta or Edson Barboza would be a step in the right direction.
5. The scoring of 10-8 rounds needs to be consistent.
When the Mauricio Rua-Paul Craig light heavyweight co-main event came to an end, not many saw the first round as a 10-8. That round certainly belonged to Craig, who unloaded a flurry of punches on “Shogun” in one memorable sequence. Even though the “Bearjew” landed over four times as many significant strikes, it did not seem to be enough to qualify as a 10-8 round. However, that was how one judge saw it, a development which eventually led to a split draw. Under the unified rules, the general criteria for a 10-8 round is not only domination but impacting an opponent and diminishing his or her abilities. If the opponent also exhibits a lack of control, it could contribute to a 10-8 round. That was not the case for Rua. Although he was absorbing strikes, he was not significantly hurt and even responded with some counter shots; and the fact that he arguably won the second and third rounds -- at least based on two judges’ scorecards -- proved he was not overly compromised. The scoring of 10-8 rounds needs to be more consistent, especially given that it is not a common score.