The mid-week UFC on ESPN 13 card may not have featured the biggest names, but it delivered many entertaining scraps with a fair share of exciting prospects turning in strong performances. There are quite a few fighters who deserve a place in the winner’s circle. Unfortunately, only three can make it to the podium.
Calvin Kattar performed very well in the main event, where he picked up a relatively trouble-free win over Dan Ige. After nearly finishing Ige in the first round, Kattar went on to overcome adversity in the second frame and control the remainder of the fight. Perhaps Kattar has set the bar too high for himself after administering some devastating knockouts over the past couple of years. Now 6-2 in the UFC, he saw the championships rounds for the first time with the company and proved that he has what it takes to compete at a high level over five rounds.
Jimmie Rivera picked up a much-needed victory with a unanimous decision over up-and-comer Cody Stamann. After dropping three of his previous four bouts, Rivera needed a win in order to stay relevant in the jam-packed 135-pound division. Granted, all of his losses have come against elite competition. Rivera controlled all facets of the fight and looked sharp, despite coming in on extremely short notice. The victory over No. 9 contender Stamann should set up Rivera nicely for another crack at a top-five opponent.
Bronze Medal: Lerone Murphy
Murphy certainly hasn’t had an easy path in the UFC, where he’s thus far faced Zubaira Tukhugov and Ricardo Ramos over his first two fights. Despite the tricky schedule, Murphy has emerged as an intriguing prospect within the featherweight division. On Wednesday, he dismantled Ramos with heavy ground-and-pound in the very first round of the fight. Ramos is certainly no slouch, especially not on the mat.
Silver Medal: Mounir Lazzez
Many people were discounting the debuting Lazzez’s chances to defeat the knockout artist Abdul Razzak Alhassan. As the first Arab-based fighter signed by the UFC, it was certainly a huge occasion for Lazzez to fight in Abu Dhabi. After absorbing Alhassan’s big flurry of strikes in the first round, Lazzez controlled the fight. The 6-foot-2 welterweight used his length brilliantly, repeatedly catching his opponent with a beautiful knee to the midsection. He looks like an interesting prospect going forward.
Gold Medal: Khamzat Chimaev
The undefeated prospect Chimaev treated fans to a masterful performance in Abu Dhabi, where he dominated John Phillips for nearly two rounds before submitting his Welsh opponent. Now 7-0, Chimaev had a flawless UFC debut. The 26-year-old fought at middleweight on Wednesday, but he mentioned that he plans to compete at 170 pounds in the future. He looks like he will be a serious problem in the welterweight division. Chimaev exhibited absolutely smothering grappling ability and was quick on the feet as well.
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