UFC Norfolk: Biggest Winners and Losers

Dustin Poirier Continues to Rack up Wins at Lightweight

UFC Fight Night 120 marked the UFC’s fourth event in the state of Virginia and the first that wasn’t in the Virginian city of Fairfax. The event was headlined by former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier. Going into the fight, Poirier was 0-2 in main event fights. His second main event in Virginia would also be his first win as a headliner. Thus making him one of the weekend’s biggest winners.

 

Winners

Dustin Poirier

Dustin Poirier has been constant entertainment since making his way to the UFC in 2011. Now having 19 fights in the organizations, he’s gone 14-4 (1 NC) with only 6 of those fights going to decisions(8 KO/TKOs, 4 submissions). One of those includes Saturday night’s somewhat odd finish of Anthony Pettis.

Poirier was in control of the fight for a majority with Pettis having his moments in the multiple exciting scrambles and submission threats during the second round. Poirier showed off his great striking and punch combos while mixing in an underrated wrinkle in his game, the wrestling. The American Top Team product landed five of his six takedowns against Pettis which really showed his improved versatility and fight IQ.

In the always deep lightweight division, Poirier could very well be on a three-fight winning streak if it wasn’t for the controversial ending to his previous bout with former Bellator and UFC Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez (a fight in which Poirier was having plenty of success in). Now 6-1 at Lightweight in the UFC, Poirier finds himself poised for one or two more wins before a title shot. His last two outings showed he can hang with championship caliber opponents and he’s rarely found in a boring fight.

Poirier wants to get his hands on Alvarez again but Alvarez needs to get past the monster that is Justin Gaethje first. Those two will meet at UFC 218 and the winner seems like they could be a logical next opponent for Poirier. When isn’t the 155 lb division interesting?

 

Nina Ansaroff

As I said in last week’s Weekend WMMA Fights to Keep An Eye On, the matchup between Angela Hill and Nina Ansaroff saw Hill as the fighter with more to prove and Ansaroff with more to gain. Regardless of what the UFC’s official rankings say, Angela Hill is a top fighter at 115 lbs as evidenced by her championship run in Invicta FC. But the underdog, Ansaroff capitalized on her opportunity against one of the division’s best.

Hill is known for her striking and she did well and was competitive as expected, but as the fight went on Ansaroff took over and began to get one step ahead, beating Hill at her own game. Mixing up all her strikes well and even throwing in some nice spinning attacks, the 31-year-old Ansaroff earned the biggest win of her career and expanded her win streak to two. A win streak that very well should be a three-fight win streak (thanks to a questionable split decision loss to Justine Kish).

Showing clear improvements in each fight, Ansaroff now positions herself for an even bigger step up in competition. Well…she should be positioned for such, but seeing how the UFC thinks of Hill, Ansaroff may have to take on one or two more unranked fighters before getting a crack at officially ranked top 15ers. It doesn’t hurt to have UFC Bantamweight Champion, Amanda Nunes singing your praises though. Whatever is next for Ansaroff, she’ll definitely be one to look out for in the quietly flourishing Strawweight division.

 

Clay Guida

Talk about cashing in on a moment! After Clay Guida‘s quick 67 second TKO of Joe Lauzon, he revealed to the Norfolk crowd that this was the last fight on his UFC contract and that he wants to finish his storied 51-fight career within the UFC. Guida then asked the crowd if they want to see him keep fighting in the UFC and they erupted with screams in response. So I think it’s safe to say that the answer was a resounding yes.

Since moving his training to Team Alpha Male, Clay Guida has never looked better than he has in his last three fights. That even includes his UFC 199 clash with undefeated top Featherweight contender, Brian Ortega. Guida looked to be well on his way to a decision victory…but as Ortega does, he pulled out the late victory via TKO by knee strike with 20 seconds remaining in the third round.

Winning two fights dominantly since then, at age 35 it appears that Guida is only getting better. We’ve known him to be primarily a wild wrestle brawler throughout the years but now he’s putting together calculated combos and showing improved power. Perhaps the power was there the whole time and it was just the technical refinements that have brought it to light. Either way, if you don’t want to see this version of Guida keep on trucking his way through the Lightweight division, you might as well give up your fan card.

 

Tatiana Suarez

Somebody’s 0 had to go when Tatiana Suarez and Viviane Pereira met in the cage on Saturday. It was only Suarez’ second fight in the UFC, her first after winning season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter. A serious shoulder injury(s) held the two-time freestyle wrestling world champion out of competition for sixteen months. One wouldn’t have noticed this if no one told you prior to the fight. Suarez showed no signs of inactivity or ring rust.

Suarez had her way from the opening bell to the closing as she out struck Pereira 144-69 along with landing four of her five takedown attempts. There was plenty of hype surrounding Suarez as she went through and won TUF 23 so coming back and looking as good as she did was a huge deal. Especially for such a young and talented fighter, it means a lot to overcome something like this mentally.

Seeing how fast the UFC wants to move Suarez through the ranks will propose plenty of intrigues. One would imagine she may get similar treatment to the fellow prospect, Cynthia Calvillo. But that is to be determined. If anything is for sure, it’s great to have Suarez back in the mix at 115.

 

 

Losers

Anthony Pettis

The last three years haven’t been kind to the former 155 lb. kingpin, Pettis. Since defending his title against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181, Pettis has gone 2-5 with his most recent losses being the only times he’s lost via finish.

Once on top of the world and slated to be one of the UFC’s next big superstars, Pettis just hasn’t evolved much if at all since he was the champion. Sure, he has remained dangerous with the skills he has but it hasn’t been enough to top the upper echelons of Lightweight and Featherweight. The blueprint to beat him has been laid out and he’ll need to make some drastic changes to his style if he hopes to one day get back to his old winning ways.

Pettis is still only 30 years old so anything is possible. Especially in the fight game. Perhaps it’s time to make a camp change which is much easier to suggest to a fighter than it is to convince them to go through with it.

 

Angela Hill

It’s always a big setback for a fighter who loses one that they aren’t supposed to. That was the case with Angela Hill when she took on Nina Ansaroff. The former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion was looking to finally put together her first win streak inside the UFC but Ansaroff spoiled that plan.

Highly underrated as is, this loss will just further underrate Hill going into her next bout and surely some beyond that. Which could be a good thing in some aspects as being underestimated can often work in one’s favor. But getting the win in this fight was crucial for Hill to prove to people and the UFC that she is, in fact, one of the top Strawweights. Instead, she faces another setback and has to keep on proving it.

 

Diego Sanchez

The nightmare continues for Diego Sanchez. Two brutal knockouts in a row, yet the Albuquerque native still wants to keep at it. Some fighters may be too tough for their own good and Sanchez may now be falling into that category.

If you take into consideration the robberies that Sanchez has been involved in over the recent years…because let’s be honest, he has been in more than one. With a few different choices in judge selections, he’s 3-11 since his only career title shot when he lost to BJ Penn at UFC 107 in 2009.

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner has nothing left to prove at this point and has provided us with so many great battles and entertaining moments through the years. The longer he keeps going, the more likely he’s going to end up permanently damaging his health and absolutely no one wants to see that. You can never tell a fighter when to quit…but there comes a time and that time has arrived.

 

Junior Albini

*insert plethora of diaper jokes here*

I couldn’t say anything more about Junior Albini‘s attire selection on Saturday that hasn’t already been said. Just about everyone watching the fights on Twitter absolutely roasted the poor guy. But that’s beside the point…

Aside from his rather hard to look at choice in shorts, Albini came into his fight with Andrei Arlovski already in the top 15 after stopping the durable Heavyweight sleeper, Tim Johnson in just the first round. Arlovski, on the other hand, was coming in on the worst skid of his 42-fight career with five straight losses.

That is until Albini became the “streak snapper”, making himself Arlovski’s first win since September of 2015. A win probably wouldn’t have done that much for Albini rankings-wise but he was already off to a great start in a relatively shallow Heavyweight division. A win over a former champion and legend is always a nice thing to have on your resume thus potentially setting up bigger fights immediately afterward. Although we saw he may not be ready just yet, that’s alright.

It could be worse for Albini who is one of the youngest fighters on the UFC’s Heavyweight roster at only age 26. He can learn from this experience and come back better…I’m sure someone will tell him to wear normal shorts next time out as well. Sorry, I had to.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and follow me on Twitter: @Dre_Kriggs

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Drake Riggs is an MMA writer who specializes in rankings and breaking down cards. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since he was a Homeless Infant. Drake also writes for Sportskeeda.com's MMA section and is a former contributor to Sherdog, he is a die-hard fan of the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars as well.

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