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What did we learn from UFC Fight Nights 43 and 44?

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On Saturday June 28th, the UFC held two events at opposite ends of the world. The action went down in less than 12 hours and contained 21 fights. There were 21 winners and 21 losers but not all of them were created equal, here we will try to make some sense out of some of the bigger winners on this long night.

Did Cub Swanson earn his title shot?

The short answer is maybe. He got the win but it was a close fight and the crowd did not seem happy with the decision. The numbers are close. One thing is if Stephens did break his hand, you have to wonder if taking a close decision over a fighter with a broken hand gets Swanson that title shot.

It is easy to give rounds 1 and 3 to Swanson. The same goes for 2 and 4 for Stephens, who out struck Swanson in those two. The fifth is very close with Swanson landing 31 total strikes all of them significant to Stephens’ 32 total and significant.

A lot also has to do with what happens in the title fight. If Mendes wins that expect that Aldo gets a rematch. He has been a dominant champion and the UFC could set up the Team Alpha Male versus Nova Uniao double title fights with Renan Baro and T.J. Dillashaw. Mendes winning is a very real possibility.

If that is the case then Swanson will not want to sit out another year. He would be better served to take a fight around the time of the rematch if it does happen. If Aldo wins he probably gets the shot but Conor McGregor could swoop in and steal it if he is not careful.

Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny and there is always one guy from TUF these days

No matter what the season of TUF is like it always produces at least one good to great UFC fighter. Sometimes it is the season winner like Gastelum from TUF 17 and in others it is someone who did not even fight in the finals like Magny. Both of these fighters looked impressive in getting their wins and would setup very nicely as each other’s next opponents.

They also shared horrible first rounds that forced them to come back to get the win.

Magny caught a kick and naturally turned it into a takedown. That turned the rest of the round into a nightmare as Rodrigo de Lima dominated him on the ground. Magny landed 1 of the 5 strikes he attempted in the round. In the second round he used his height and reach to landed 30 strikes and end the fight via TKO. He held de Lima to 1 strike in the round.

Gastelum was surprised by his opponent, striker Nico Musoke, going for the takedown. Musoke scored on 2 of the 3 he attempted to take the round from Gastelum. In the second and third it was Gastelum dominating the striking and shutting down all 3 takedown attempts in the third round.

The heart and striking they showed after losing the first round hint at what could be a great fight between these two let’s hope the UFC puts it together.

New Faces: Impressive debuts and a take two 

There were several debuts and a couple of fighters who rebounded in their second UFC fight after dropping their first one. The standouts from the two events were Ray Borg, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Jake Matthews, and James Moontasri.

I know Moontasri technically lost his fight to Joe Ellenberger. I feel like it is easier to make the case for Moontasri winning the fight than Ellenberger. It was not a horrible decision but one that could have gone either way. Moontarsi fought just three weeks ago in RFA and took this fight on 15 days notice. He future is exciting and he will make the lightweight division even deeper.

The 19-year-old Matthews looked brilliant in throughly tuning up fellow debuting fighter Dashon Johnson who also brought an undefeated record into this fight. From that common starting point it was all Matthews the best trait Johnson displayed was his toughness.

Everywhere else it was Matthews. He landed 105 strikes to Johnson’s 10, scored 2 takedowns to Johnson’s 0 and had 10:31 of octagon control in the three rounds. Matthews looked very good for such a young fighter and showed tremendous composure.

The 20-year-old Borg also had an impressive take two after dropping his debut earlier in the Spring to Dustin Ortiz. In that fight he gave Ortiz problems before dropping a close decision. He fought that fight just two weeks after winning his Legacy FC debut.

Borg went to work quickly in his fight with debuting Shane Howell and locked up the submission win in the first round. The RNC gives Borg 5 submission wins out of his 7 career victories. He is a well rounded fighter who is a beast on the ground. The flyweight division is quickly growing into a very exciting one in the UFC.

Another former Legacy FC fighter who won his debut was Ferreira who locked up a quick submission win over TUF 16 winner Colton Smith. Since winning TUF Smith has now gone 0-3 in the UFC. While Magny from that season has gone 4-2 in the UFC and is riding a three fight win streak.

It only took Ferreira 38 seconds to get the win. He probably worked harder in the back getting warmed up before the fight than he did during it. Look for him to be ready to step up if somebody gets hurt. The submission is his sixth out of his 10 wins.

 Are Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson headed towards a rematch?

It kind of smells that way to me right now. I see Mendes as mentioned earlier beating Aldo. This sets up a rematch between them and ties up the belt for a while.

Both Lamas and Swanson want their rematches with Aldo or a title shot with Mendes if he ends up with the belt. That could be a year away if Mendes and Aldo fight each other twice. It makes sense that these two fight again. They both are very different fighters than the versions that fought a couple of years ago. They both think they deserve the shot let them settle in the octagon.

Sometimes you just need to let go

Two other fighters making their debut at UFC FN 43 were Dan Hooker and Ian Entwistle. In his previous fight before this debut Entwistle defeated Liam James via a first round heel hook at Cage Warriors FC 62. That was his second win by that submission and he was determined to get his third one in his first UFC fight.

Now you have to give him credit for actually securing the submission. The problem for him was it did not seem to bother Hooker. Instead it created a great angle for him to batter Entwistle’s head with his elbow. Entwistle would not let go of the submission and was content to see whether his head or Hooker’s elbow would give out first. Turns out it was the referee who stepped in and mercifully ended the fight.

The blood spatter from Hooker’s elbows created a band of red on his bicep. It was a testament to Entwistle’s commitment to the submission and Hooker’s ability to elbow a stationary target repeatedly until stopped. It was almost like Hooker used a Jedi mind trick on Entwistle to evoke his inner stubborn child. It lead to debut win for the local Hooker which left the crowd satisfied.

photo credits – UFC – Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny

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