Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.
All it took was 108 seconds for Glover Teixeira to end the night of former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Rashad Evans in the UFC on Fox 19 main event on Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Whether that was all he ended seemed to be on the mind of quite a few commentators after yet another rough outing for “Suga.” The loss was the fifth of Evans’ career, but more poignantly, it was his fourth in his last six fights.
After suffering a spate of injuries that limited him to one appearance in 29 months, Evans was hoping to get back into the mix in the light heavyweight division. This loss all but ends his hopes of fighting for a title at 205 pounds and may even leave the UFC wondering what to do with the “The Ultimate Fighter 2” winner.
Teixeira has rattled off three straight wins after he lost his shot at the title against former champ Jon Jones and following it up with a disappointing loss to Phil Davis. He was ranked No. 4 in the UFC rankings coming into this fight and seems to have his sights set on Evans’ Blackzilians teammate Anthony Johnson after his big win. That fight would undoubtedly set the table for whoever wins between Jones and Daniel Cormier -- yes, I’m writing off Ovince St. Preux -- later this summer. It would also be a big fight in the continuing feud between south Florida’s biggest gyms, American Top Team and the Blackzilians.
Back to Evans: At 36 years of age, I’m not sure the former champion has anything left to prove in the sport. He is part of the dying breed of fighters who bridged the gap between old-school MMA and what I would term as the modern era. I once saw him fight three times in two days in tattered tapout shorts on an Indian reservation in California. He went on to win UFC gold and cement himself as one of the best fighters the light heavyweight division has ever seen. Evans has proven to be a good analyst in his moonlighting gig at Fox and should have plenty of work to keep him busy if he decides it’s time to hang up the his four-ounce gloves. Let me be clear: I’m not pushing for Evans to retire. If he feels he still has enough in the tank to compete, then by all means, get after it.
However, if it’s the title that motivates him to keep logging the long hours in the gym, to put up with the nagging injuries and to continue to put his long-term well-being at risk, then it may be time to gracefully exit. I think it’s pretty clear he isn’t at the level he consistently performed at for so long, and at his age, he isn’t likely to return to form. Either way, I’ve been a big fan for years and wish him all the best in all his future endeavors, in and out of the cage.
‘Thug Rose’ Squeaks By
It was a rematch of a 2013 match in Invicta Fighting Championships, and what a rematch it was. Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres put on a 15-minute barnburner of a co-main event that saw both women claim the upper hand for extended stretches. Torres scored with a steady diet of low kicks, while Namajunas did her best work off her hard left jab.
The first two rounds were clearly split, with Torres carding the first and Namajunas the second. Torres seemed to seize the advantage in the third round, but Namajunas notched a late takedown that may have swayed the judges in her favor.
The win should position “Thug Rose” for a crack at the strawweight title once Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha settle their feud in July. If she does indeed get the shot, it will be her second attempt at the belt. She dropped the inaugural championship fight in the 115-pound division to Carla Esparza in 2014. Namajunas has grown immensely since her first crack at the gold and should be a formidable opponent for whoever wears the belt to the cage. Just how much she has matured is still up in the air, but she can put any doubters in her rearview mirror if she can get her hands on that championship.
‘The Eagle’ Rolls In Return
Almost exactly two years to the day since his last Octagon appearance, Khabib Nurmagomedov returned to action against Darrell Horcher and showed why he has been viewed as a potential titleholder. “The Eagle” knocked off any of the rust that may have accumulated over the last 24 months in the opening minute or so before he scooped up Horcher and planted him on the mat.
The patented Nurmagomedov ground-and-pound was on display right away, and he opened a nasty cut on Horcher’s head with a penetrating elbow from top position. The rout was on, and referee James Warring probably should have stepped in before the horn sounded to simultaneously end the beating and the first round. Unfortunately for Horcher, he was ushered back to his stool and sent back out for the second frame.
As if taking a fight with a killer like Nurmagomedov wasn’t bad enough, Horcher had to endure another three-plus minutes of the Dagestani’s torturous ground-and-pound. At least he has the respect of the broadcast crew, for whatever that’s worth. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg kept praising Horcher’s toughness and grit and noted about 582 times how he accepted the fight on 11 days’ notice. I suppose it deserves some credit, but let’s not forget this is one of the best means for middling prospects to get into the big show. Take a fight on short notice against someone nobody on the roster wants any part of and you’ll generally be rewarded with at least one more fight. It’s a tough way to break in, but there’s a lot to be gained if a fighter is willing to take a chance.
I look forward to seeing what direction UFC matchmaker Joe Silva goes with Nurmagomedov. He called out lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos -- a man he soundly defeated in 2014, before RDA won the lightweight strap. Dominance MMA and Ali Abdel Aziz represent both men, so we’ll have to see if that’s the direction both parties want to go. The two don’t train together, so there shouldn’t be a huge issue. Eddie Alvarez, a fighter who trains with another Dominance MMA client in Frankie Edgar, is scheduled to face dos Anjos in July, so the point might be moot by then. Whatever unfolds in the lightweight division, I would expect Nurmagomedov’s next fight to be for UFC gold and I would expect that to happen sometime before the end of 2016.
‘The Magician’ Up to Old Tricks
John Dodson made the move back up to 135 pounds after dropping his second decision to flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson in September. It was a successful move for the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner, as he needed less than a minute to blitz veteran Manny Gamburyan with a salvo of punches along the cage.
It was not unexpected for the Albuquerque, New Mexico, native to make the transition back to bantamweight. He did drop those two fights to Johnson at 125 pounds and didn’t really have an avenue back to a title shot anywhere in sight. What was shocking was hearing Dodson call Johnson a “pussy” for not defending his title on the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Dodson is one of the most down-to-earth fighters you will ever run into in MMA. To hear him go after Johnson after losing to him twice seems out of character, but it may show just how painful those losses were for the normally jovial fighter.
I would expect his focus to shift from “Mighty Mouse” to the guys at the top of the bantamweight division now that he’s made the jump. Either way, his performance against Gamburyan showed just how exciting and entertaining his fights can be. I’m sure we’ll see some more fun matchmaking with “The Magician” and the middle of the bantamweight top-10 before he gets a crack at Dominick Cruz’s title.
Sherdog.com Executive Editor Greg Savage can be reached by email or via Twitter @TheSavageTruth.
« Previous Blog Andreas Hale Joins Press Row Next Blog Postal Connections: Big Apple Finally Bites »