The Real Winners and Losers From UFC on ESPN 40

The Real Winners and Losers From UFC on ESPN 40

0 of 6

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Exactly one week after a drama-filled Saturday in Dallas, the UFC was back on home turf at the Apex facility in Las Vegas for a Fight Night show jam-packed with quick endings.

    All of the card’s 10 bouts were finished inside the distance, and the main show combined for just 60 minutes and four seconds across six fights.

    It was the first time since 2014 that every fight on a UFC card ended early.

    Ranked 205-pounders Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill shared main event duties in the Nevada desert, carrying a main show that included a pair of The Ultimate Fighter season 30 finales and whose broadcast was carried by Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

    The B/R combat sports team took it all in from start to finish and put together a definitive list of the card’s winners and losers. Scroll through to see what we came up with, and feel free to drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.

1 of 6

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Hill fell to his knees, rolled to his back and lay in the middle of the cage.

    And, though clearly exhausted, he managed the energy to whisper, “I belong.”

    Based on what he’d just accomplished in the first trip into the UFC’s “championship rounds,” the fighter nicknamed “Sweet Dreams” certainly deserved the affirmation.

    The 10th-ranked light heavyweight staked a definitive claim to a prodigious ladder climb next week, outworking and eventually pummeling No. 6 contender Santos into a fourth-round stoppage in the main event of Saturday’s card.

    The end came at 2:31 of the fourth after Santos, himself out of gas, was driven to the floor and hit with a steady torrent of fists and elbows before referee Herb Dean waved it off.

    It was Hill’s fifth win alongside a loss and a no-decision in seven UFC fights since winning on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019. He’d never gone past three rounds before and had finished each of his last four victories since a decision over Darko Stošić in 2020.

    Santos has now lost five of six since mid-2019 and four of five since losing a 205-pound title shot to then-champ Jon Jones. The Brazilian established a career-best in takedowns but couldn’t secure a submission and was unable to match Hill’s output on the feet.

    “I expected him to come in and shoot because I’m a hard person to stand with,” Hill said.

    “That’s what I learn from my coaches and team, we just work. Once I got on top of him, I was just thinking ‘work.'”

2 of 6

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Saturday night was Geoff Neal’s ninth trip to the UFC Octagon.

    But it was the first time he’d arrived as an underdog.

    And it was clear he didn’t like it.

    The 13th-ranked welterweight had it tough against the division’s No. 6 fighter in Vicente Luque, but he used his foe’s lofty ranking as motivation and ultimately made it count with a smashing third-round knockout in the show’s co-main event.

    “I’ve been looking forward to Luque,” he said.

    “A tough opponent always brings the best out of me.”

    That was surely the case from the outset, as Neal controlled the first round from a southpaw stance with a precise straight left. He landed the shot several times and had Luque reeling before finally dropping the Brazilian with about a minute to go in the round.

    He couldn’t get the stoppage there, however, and Luque rallied to take the second with more aggression and increased accuracy with both his punches and multiple kicks to Neal’s legs and body.

    Neal’s corner exhorted him to rally in the final round, and he followed orders, again rattling Luque with left hands and firing nine straight uppercuts at one point as Luque was pinned against the fence. He didn’t land every shot as Luque stayed in the fray, but another straight left eventually got through, dropped Luque to his knees and prompted a wave-off at 2:01.

    It was his seventh win in nine UFC fights since he graduated from Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017.

    “I go hard in the first round, and I tend to take it easy in the second,” Neal said. “He got in my ass in the second, but I got back on him in the third round.”

3 of 6

    She may never be a UFC champion, but Juliana Miller surely knows how to perform on a big stage.

    The California-based flyweight chalked up the most impressive win of her brief MMA career in The Ultimate Fighter’s 125-pound finale, mauling rival Brogan Walker for two rounds before pounding her into a final-round finish and earning a UFC contract.

    Miller was a member of Julianna Pena’s TUF team, and the now-ex-champ at featherweight was in the building in Las Vegas to cheer on her charge.

    Pena lost her title to Amanda Nunes in a rematch at UFC 277 last week in Dallas.

    “I level up exponentially every time I step into this cage,” Miller said. “And I can’t wait to show the world what’s next.”

    The 26-year-old got the fight to the floor in each of the first two rounds and said afterward that Walker’s trash talk early on inspired her to go for the finish. It came at 3:57 of the third after she’d again established top control and pummeled Walker with vicious elbows.

    “She’d whispered in my ear that I had nothing for her,” Miller said.

    “So as I was coming down with the elbows, I was laughing and telling her ‘this one’s for you.’ She got what she asked for.”

    Pena was the coach for both Mohammed Usman and Zac Pauga in the show’s heavyweight finale, so she picked up her second straight win when Usman won by thudding knockout in the first minute of the second round.

    Usman, the younger brother of the UFC’s welterweight and pound-for-pound king, Kamaru, landed a left hook flush as Pauga charged forward, and he drilled the former nfl practice squad player with two more violent ground strikes that left him prone for several minutes.

    “I never stopped working. I never stopped believing in myself,” Usman said. “I can’t wait to get back to work.”

4 of 6

    If nothing else, Terrance McKinney has a keen sense of timing.

    The 27-year-old American bills himself as “T.Wrecks” and had carved a path of recent octagonal destruction, winning two of three UFC bouts by first-round finishes.

    So Saturday’s main-card date with Erick Gonzalez, which McKinney ended by rear-naked choke in less than half a round, was indicative of his “get to work” mindset.

    But the streaking lightweight saved his best career-advancing work for after the fight when he was casually chatting with Bisping.

    It was then that he decided to land his biggest shot of the night, calling out perpetually chatty Paddy Pimblett for a date later this year.

    “Hey, Paddy the Baddy,” he said, “the fans want it, so let’s get it.”

    Pimblett was in the Octagon just two weeks ago and scored his third straight UFC finish, stopping Jordan Leavitt by rear-naked choke in two rounds.

    McKinney’s win was the 13th of his pro career, all by finish, and the ninth straight time he won in the first round. In fact, he’s not gone past three minutes to get a victory since 2018.

    “When it’s time to eat, I don’t play with my food,” he said. “[Gonzalez] hung his neck out there, and I’m a pretty strong m’er f’er, so I just squeezed him up.”

5 of 6

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    It might have been a shock.

    If you tuned into ESPN around 9 p.m. expecting to catch a handful of prelim bouts before the main card began, you tuned in way too late.

    The six-fight early show was wrapped up well before its back-end time boundary thanks to a pair of bouts being scrubbed and the four that remained all ending via stoppage.

    MMA veteran Sam Alvey strutted to the ring past several family members in the audience, but the in-house adoration didn’t help as the 36-year-old was battered, bloodied and dropped twice on the way to a KO loss in less than two minutes.

    “I’m here to win, and I’m here for knockouts,” said Michal Oleksiejczuk, moments after his final sweeping left hook left Alvey flat on his back and ended the featured prelim at 1:56.

    “It’s the type of fighting I want to show to the UFC and the fans.”

    The three fights that preceded Oleksiejczuk’s win ended in barely more than eight minutes of combined combat time, thanks in part to a high right kick from Bryan Battle that rendered welterweight foe Takashi Sato helpless after just 44 seconds of the opening round.

    “I’ve never had a one-hitter quitter like that,” Battle said, “so I’m pretty gassed up.”

    Also ending fights early were Cory McKenna and Mayra Bueno Silva, with the former becoming to first UFC woman to win via Von Flue choke against Miranda Granger and the latter stopping Stephanie Egger with an armbar.

    A bout between Josh Quinlan and Jason Witt was pulled from the card after a small amount of dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT) was found in a recent Quinlan urine sample and prompted the Nevada Athletic Commission to not clear him. Also, an illness suffered by Ariane Lipski resulted in her bout with Priscila Cachoeira being rescheduled to next week.

6 of 6

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Main Card

    Jamahal Hill def. Thiago Santos by KO (punches), 2:31, Round 4

    Geoff Neal def. Vicente Luque by KO (punch), 2:01, Round 3

    Mohammed Usman def. Zac Pauga by KO (punch), 0:36, Round 2

    Juliana Miller def. Brogan Walker by KO (punches), 3:57, Round 3

    Serghei Spivac def. Augusto Sakai by KO (punches), 3:42, Round 2

    Terrance McKinney def. Erick Gonzalez by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:17, Round 1

    Preliminary Card

    Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Sam Alvey by KO (punch), 1:56, Round 1

    Bryan Battle def. Takashi Sato by KO (kick), 0:44, Round 1

    Cory McKenna def. Miranda Granger by submission (von flue coke), 1:03, Round 2

    Mayra Bueno Silva def. Stephanie Egger by submission (armbar), 1:17, Round 1

Read More



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here