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The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday paid a visit to San Antonio, Texas, as UFC on ESPN 4 touched down at the AT&T Center with a pivotal welterweight main event between Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards. As always, some stocks rose and others fell.
Leon Edwards: The former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion put on a masterclass, and while a finish over a Top 10 opponent still eludes him, his win over dos Anjos puts him firmly in the mix of welterweight contenders. There are others in line for a title shot, but Edwards proves each time out that he has become an elite fighter with no glaring holes in his game. Most expected “Rocky” to use his size and length to keep a safe distance while attempting to tee off on dos Anjos from the outside, but he was more than willing to grapple with the seasoned Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and never once looked out of his depth in earning a five-round unanimous decision.
Walt Harris: Harris’ second stint in the UFC has proven to be much more successful than his first, and after scoring back-to-back knockouts in under a minute, the rest of the heavyweight division has begun to understand just how dangerous “The Big Ticket” can be when he lets his hands fly. The power he packs into his punches helped him stay afloat in the weight class, but his newfound consistency has established the 36-year-old as a dark horse contender. After his 12-second knockout against Alexey Oleynik, Harris figures to draw another high-profile opponent in his next assignment and has already indicated he would prefer to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible.
Dan Hooker: Bouncing back from his first loss in the UFC’s lightweight division, Hooker put down James Vick with a vicious left hook and some accurate follow-up shots 2:33 into the first round. The win steadies “The Hangman” at 155 pounds, and he called his next shot: He wants to compete at UFC 243 on Oct. 5 in Australia, where close friend and City Kickboxing stablemate Israel Adesanya will meet Robert Whittaker for the undisputed middleweight championship. In response to Hooker’s post-fight request, a few potential suitors have already clocked to social media in attempt to secure a fight with him.
Juan Adams: After a strong performance on Dana White’s Contender Series and a win in his UFC debut, Adams was viewed as a prospect on the rise in the heavyweight division. It was easy to believe the hype, as the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Paradigm Training Center representative towered over much of the competition and tossed around grown men with surprising ease. However, after his 45-second technical knockout loss to former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy, it appears as though the time has come to dial back some of the hype. Moving forward, Adams will need to refine his skills and rely less on brute strength.
James Vick: Once an undefeated lightweight prospect who used a semifinal run on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” as his springboard to the UFC, Vick has fallen on hard times. The Lloyd Irvin protégé succumbed to blows from Hooker and has lost three fights in a row, two of them resulting in brutal knockouts. Vick’s talent is undeniable, but the 6-foot-4 Texan now finds himself in a precarious position. Perhaps a change of scenery or a move to 170 pounds could provide the spark he needs to get his career back on track.
Alexander Hernandez: While Hernandez escaped with a controversial decision over Francisco Trinaldo, his performance can best be described as puzzling. He opted to stay on his back foot for a majority of the fight, seldom throwing anything of note outside of the occasional leg kick. Donald Cerrone handed the 26-year-old the first stoppage loss of his career in January and there appeared to be some carryover effect. The aggression that defined Hernandez’s early days in the UFC was replaced by a gunshy approach, and if he wants to revive the hype that once surrounded him, he will need to re-activate the entertaining style that put him on the map in the first place.