The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 243 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday tested the waters in an untapped market, as UFC Fight Night 160 played out at Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark. Jared Cannonier squared off with former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jack Hermansson in a main event featuring two surging but unlikely middleweight contenders. Some stocks rose and others fell.
Jared Cannonier: In improving to 3-0 since dropping to middleweight, Cannonier established himself as a serious title contender with his technical knockout of Hermansson. Cannonier’s takedown defense kept him upright, as he shrugged off multiple attempts from the Swede before opening up with his power early in the second round. This latest win puts Cannonier in favorable position, likely a fight or two away from a title shot. Cannonier’s middleweight run has been stellar thus far, and in just three outings, he seems to have found his footing by combining defensive wrestling with power few can match.
Gilbert Burns: Since returning to the welterweight division Burns has gambled on two short-notice opportunities and won big and in short order. He now finds himself headed toward the Top 15 at 170 pounds. After he took a decision from Gunnar Nelson, he called for a match opposite Neil Magny -- a fight that on paper favors Burns heavily on the ground and in the power department. It will be interesting to see if Burns opts to fight once more in 2019 and capitalize on his newfound momentum or rest until the first quarter of 2020, with an eye towards the top of the welterweight division.
Ovince St. Preux: After weathering an early storm from Michal Oleksiejczuk, St. Preux composed himself in the second frame and better utilized his grappling advantages. There, he took down Oleksiejczuk and quickly locked up his signature Von Flue choke, his fourth successful submission using the maneuver in the UFC. The win afforded “OSP” a sigh of relief. After back to back losses, it affirmed his place in the UFC and can act as a springboard as he pushes back toward the Top 15 at 205 pounds.
Jack Hermansson: With a title shot in his sights, Hermansson came out flat against a dangerous opponent in Cannonier and paid the price. Early on, Hermansson attempted to push the pace with grappling exchanges but was unable to drag down his opponent; and with each failed attempt, you could almost feel Hermansson wilt more and more. The loss knocks the Swede out of the title race in a division ripe with opportunity following the mass exodus of former contenders to 205 pounds. For Hermansson to reclaim his place near the front of the line, he will have to bounce back with another win over Top 10 competition.
Khalil Rountree: Rountree never had the opportunity to get going. Opponent Ion Cutelaba pushed an incredible pace and applied maximum pressure from the opening bell, attacking Rountree with takedowns before transitioning to heavy ground-and-pound. Consistency has been a constant problem for Rountree inside the Octagon, and while his prodigious standup skills can give anyone problems, he will need to make serious strides in the grappling department if he ever wants to be taken seriously as a contender. The loss eliminates any hope of his earning a crack at a Top 15 opponent and kills any of the momentum he gained from his flawless performance against Eryk Anders a little less than six months ago.
Alex Oliveira: When Oliveira made the move to welterweight, he was viewed by some as a dark horse contender following back to back wins. However, he has since lost three consecutive bouts and is much closer to losing his position in the UFC than he is to becoming a title contender. Going forward, Oliveira will need to work more on refining his skills rather than relying on looping overhand rights and head kicks. Oliveira is an entertaining fighter, and while that holds weight in the UFC, at some point, wins must be produced. His next fight will be his most important, with his job likely on the line. It will be interesting to see what sort of technical improvements he can make as he tries to reclaim his position of relevance.