UFC Austin: Biggest Winners and Losers
UFC Austin is done and in the books, and it’s time to take a look back and see who came out ahead and who lost ground during this card. Donald Cerrone took the victory in the main event by knocking out Yancy Medeiros in the first round, but some of the biggest winners and losers came from the rest of the event. Here’s a look at them.
Winner: Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis didn’t have the easiest time defeating Marcin Tybura, but that’s probably for the better. Coming off of a loss, Lewis needed to show everyone that he can still battle through adversity, and he did that by stepping his game up in the third round and securing both a knockout-victory and a Performance of the Night bonuses. The knockout seemed to come out of nowhere and Lewis looked as dangerous as ever. Because of that, he should be right back in the title conversation despite only being ranked as the seventh best heavyweight going into the fight.
While Tybura might not be as big of a name as some of the heavyweights that are above Lewis in the rankings, the win should have enough quality to propel him to a matchup that decides who gets a title shot. The means of victory counts for something here, since Lewis could have fought conservatively and hoped that the judges would score things his way. Instead, he stayed with his usual style of looking for a knockout, and won Performance of the Night because of it. Who could his next opponent be? It’s going to be someone near the top of the standings, that seems likely.
The match to make in this case might just be top contender Francis Ngannou, and if the fight is made, it’s guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining striking battles of the entire year.
"I'd like to get Francis, Blaydes, Fabricio…anyone who signs the contract first!" @thebeast_UFC now has the second most KOs in UFC Heavyweight history, who should Lewis fight next? https://t.co/ilNMeycAWi
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 19, 2018
Winner: Curtis Millender
If you didn’t know who Curtis Millender was going into this card, you probably do now. He’s on the list of winners for a strong UFC debut performance, but even though he only has one fight in the UFC as of now, his record is better than you might think from first glance. He’s 15-3, with wins in the respectable LFA and Bellator promotions, and now that list of wins includes a UFC-veteran who has been fighting in the promotion since 2005.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 19, 2018
The experience advantage couldn’t save Thiago Alves from Millender, though. Millender outstruck him and was able to score knockdowns, even celebrating early and missing a chance to end the fight in the first round. In the second round, he was able to land the rough knee to the face that ended the fight and got him onto the highlight reels. He called out the entire welterweight division after the fight, and with a performance like this, he’s in good position to start a run up the standings. Millender isn’t just a winner on the night, but in the coming months.
Winner: Carlos Diego Ferreira
If you forgot that Carlos Diego Ferreira existed, that’s not surprising. He hadn’t fought in two years before UFC Austin, but put himself back on the map with a finish that came in the first round. His win snapped a five-fight streak of victories for Jared Gordon, and it wasn’t exactly a close fight either. He dropped Gordon with a left hook and followed it up with top tier ground-and-pound, in a finishing sequence that was almost reminiscent of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last outing. It’s not often that you see dominant finishes like that in a promotion that has the best fighters in the world, and so for making it look easy, Ferreira is on the list of winners.
Loser: Francisco Trinaldo
There was a time when Francisco Trinaldo had one of the hottest streaks in the UFC. But Kevin Lee stopped his winning streak at seven, and his loss to James Vick gives him his second loss in three fights. He’s fighting in the toughest division in the UFC and the world, and in lightweight, two losses in three fights is enough to drop someone out of the rankings completely, not just contention for titles. At 39, Trinaldo would also have to stave off aging for awhile to have another chance at making a title run. It’s not that he’s a bad fighter, but a win against Vick would have served to give him another ranked win and improve his record to eight wins in his last nine fights, making him a lot more attractive to matchmakers. It doesn’t help that the loss is a unanimous-decision and not a very controversial one.
Loser: Marcin Tybura
This was Tybura’s second-straight event either headlining or fighting in the co-main event, and both times, he lost. Not only that, but he was knocked out this time rather than lasting to the end and losing by decision. Losing headline fights isn’t a good way to build a fanbase or impress matchmakers, and Tybura will be kicking himself for not finding success with getting a submission or a ground-and-pound finish despite having the better grappling game throughout the fight. There’s no shame in losing to Derrick Lewis, but for Tybura, the loss didn’t come at a great time. This may be the year for him to go back to the drawing board and change up some tactics, because the momentum from the three-fight winning streak that he took into UFC Syney is gone.
Loser: Thibault Gouti
Gouti isn’t making that strong of a case to remain in the UFC. He only has one win since joining the promotion, and there’s no hype left from the undefeated record that he came in with. He hasn’t exactly fought top names either, and has losses to prospects such as Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Teemu Packalen. A win over Sage Northcutt would have stolen the thunder from a fairly big name prospect and would mean that Gouti has two straight wins, but despite giving Northcutt trouble, he didn’t do enough to secure the win. One could make an argument that the decision loss wasn’t necessarily a bad one, but that doesn’t make Gouti’s record since joining the UFC look much better.
— Thibault GT Gouti (@goutithibault) February 19, 2018