MMA Gradebook: Rating Every Fight From UFC on ESPN+1

By Kevin Wilson Jan 22, 2019

If you’re like me and watch an absurd amount of mixed martial arts each week, you probably wished there was some sort of rating system, so you’re not forced to sit through a boring decision waiting for something to happen. We at Sherdog have decided to start rating each fight from every Ultimate Fighting Championship card to solve that problem. If you happen to miss an event, check back here every week for ratings so you can pick and choose what bouts to watch and which ones to skip.

Fights will be ranked on a 5-star scale. 0 stars being one of the worst matches I’ve ever seen, 1 is below average, 2 is average, 3 is above average, 4 is exceptional, and 5 stars is an all-time great bout. Ratings will be given based on competitiveness, showcase of skill and technique, finishes, and the story and heightened drama of the contest. However, just because a fight is one-sided doesn't mean it will receive a bad rating. Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega, for example, would have scored high for Holloway’s showcase of technique and the overall drama seen despite it being one-sided domination. With that out of the way, let's get into this week’s bouts.

Chance Rencountre vs. Kyle Stewart

Both men were throwing bombs to open the first round before a groin shot halted the action. Once the fight was started back up, Rencountre secured a double leg takedown but Stewart was able to get back to his feet. Rencountre wanted nothing to do with Stewart’s striking and immediately took him down again before locking up the rear naked choke for the win. Nothing too crazy happened in this fight and it was a quick finish, so I’m giving it 2.5 stars.

Geoff Neal vs. Belal Muhammad

Vegas odds suggested this was going to be a competitive bout but instead we saw Geoff Neal put on the best performance of his career and dominate Muhammad from bell to bell. Neal landed a couple of clean left straights in round 1 but it was his clinch striking that won him the stanza. Muhammad had a bit of a resurgence, landing some nice counters to the body that seemed to slow Neal down, but Neal was never in serious trouble. In the final round, Neal picked up the pace and dropped Muhammad to the canvas multiple times with a head kick and his favorite left straight while taking an angle to his right. Muhammad somehow recovered and spent the last seconds of the fight looking for a knockout, but Neal remained calm as always and coasted to take home an easy decision victory.

Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards

This card had a lot of questionable underdogs that wound up coming out on top and Bermudez was one of them. The first round was rather close before Bermudez landed a takedown in the final minute and landed some nice elbows. Knowing he had the grappling advantage, Bermudez looked to take the fight to the ground early in the second and spent a good amount of the stanza in top position but didn’t land much offense. Edwards knew he needed a finish, but he was still unable to defend the takedowns and Bermudez spent most of the final round in top position and landed 21 ground strikes. Bermudez ended up taking home an easy 30-26 unanimous decision victory and put on a decent performance in the last of his career.

Cory Sandhagen vs. Mario Bautista

Cory Sandhagen put on one of the best performances of the night when he finished Mario Bautista with an armbar just three minutes into the fight. Sandhagen opened the bout attacking the legs of Bautista and then out of nowhere he lands a beautiful flying knee that dropped his opponent to the mat. Bautista miraculously recovered and slammed Sandhagen to the ground, but the crafty grappler locked up a triangle on the way down and eventually switched to an armbar for the finish. The back and forth action along with a quick finish and a perfect flying knee make this a 3-star fight.

Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Alves Moreira

Not much to say about this fight since it was such a quick finish and Moreira was basically done after the first exchange. However, the sound of Menifield’s right hand that finished the contest is enough to give this a slightly above average rating and is definitely worth your time.

Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski

Continuing the trend of underdogs winning, “JoJo” Calderwood dominated UFC newcomer Ariane Lipski to win her second fight in a row. Whether it was on the feet, on the ground, or in the clinch, Calderwood looked incredible wherever the fight took her and showed Lipski that there is a major difference between the UFC and regional promotions. Lipski still put up a hell of a fight and was never going to quit but Calderwood’s experience was too much for the young prospect to deal with.

Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez

Our first 4-star rating goes to none other than “Cowboy” Cerrone. As if the veteran hasn’t done enough to make him a first ballot Hall of Famer, he went out there and finishes a hyped prospect and put on the best fight of the night. Just as it seemed Hernandez was picking up the pace, Cowboy stunned him with a couple of combinations to end the opening round. “Cowboy” picked up where he left off and started to land punches and knees to the body from clinch with ease before stunning him again with an elbow. He then landed his favorite rear head kick that dropped Hernandez to the ground and finished the fight with some strikes. “Cowboy” is already seen as one of the greatest to ever step in the cage and he is still taking out young prospects with ease at 35.

Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson

Although nothing too rememberable happened, a 39-year-old Teixeira getting dropped and immediately recovering before submitting Roberson a minute later is enough to make this a 3-star fight. People were saying Teixeira was a shot fighter after his loss to Alexander Gustafsson in 2017, but he has gone 2-1 since against top opponents with both wins coming in the first round.

Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich

The opening was stagnant with Ostovich laying in top control to edge out the round and VanZant playing defense. “12 Gauge” knew she had to pick up the pace and reversed a takedown attempt to take Ostovich’s back and started unloading with ground and pound. For a second, it seemed Ostovich had the opportunity to slip out, but Van Zant locked up the armbar and forced her opponent to tap immediately.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz

If you’re a fan of grappling heavy MMA fights this one if for you, but nothing special, enough happened to give this anything over an average rating. Ortiz was able to outstrike Benavidez 93-37 throughout the fight, but he couldn’t stop the takedowns and spent a lot of the fight on his back. Ortiz did look good in the second and won the round in the eyes of most, but Benavidez was able to get the fight back to the ground in the following stanza and squeaked out a unanimous decision.

Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros

Not much to say about this fight. I’m a big fan of both men, but Gillespie spent the entire first round wrapped around Medeiros against the cage with almost no action and the second was much of the same before the finish. Gillespie is definitely a contender you want to keep your eye on but there was nothing special about this performance.

Allen Crowder vs. Greg Hardy

Not much happened in this fight and it couldn’t have ended any worse with Crowder winning via disqualification due to an illegal knee from Hardy. This gets an average rating for the feeling throughout the fight that it could literally end at any moment with both men swinging for the fences and Crowder calling Hardy a bitch just seconds before the DQ.

Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw

This fight and the controversial quick finish were an absolute disaster for the UFC and was oddly reminiscent of the first UFC on FOX card. All credit to Cejudo for stunning Dillashaw in an awkward exchange and taking advantage of the moment, but nothing exceptional happened and the fight ending strikes weren’t devastating, as shown by T.J. jumping right back to his feet. However, this is the UFC and it only seemed fitting for the main event of the first card on a new station to end quickly after months of hype.


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