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The real winners and losers from UFC 272
In the end, no one went to the hospital and no one was left in critical condition.
The main event of UFC 272 played out largely as expected. Colby Covington did his thing and dominated his welterweight fight opposite Jorge Masvidal via his wrestling skills, relentless work on the mat and deep cardio.
In the co-main event. former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos made the best of an unpleasant situation and put in an impressive 25 minutes of work in a catchweight bout against late replacement Renato Moicano.
Also on the main card, Bryce Mitchell stayed unbeaten with a one-sided decision win over Edson Barboza and Sergey Spivak stopped Greg Hardy in the first-round in the last fight of Hardy’s current UFC contract.
Meanwhile. on the prelims, Jalin Turner, Marina Rodriguez, Yan Xiaonan, Maryna Moroz and Umar Nurmagomedov all put in noteworthy performances.
Read on for the winners and losers of UFC 272, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streamed on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Colby Covington: Colby Covington earned a unanimous decision win over Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 272. Outside of one judge giving Masvidal a single round, the fight was a clean sweep for the former interim champion and he earned the win in classic Covington style.
Covington’s goal throughout the fight was to get the bout to the mat and keep it there for as long as he could. Yes, he showed a willingness to strike with Masvidal, but that willingness never went too far into the danger zone. Even when Covington landed a flurry of strikes in the fourth, he was aware enough — and smart — to transition to a takedown attempt when he realized a finish was not forthcoming.
Covington’s relentless ground work has always been impressive. That held true in this fight. I saw there was some online eye-rolling about his submission attempts, but Covington does not use those techniques as legit submission attempts, they are designed to keep his opponent thinking, moving and spending energy — but most of all, they are used to keep the fight on the mat.
Covington’s ground work was a little meaner than usual in this fight as he seemed to throw with more power and intent to injure than usual, especially with his use of elbows on the mat.
This was a classic Colby Covington fight from start to finish.
Rafael dos Anjos: Before UFC 272, Rafael dos Anjos last fought in November 2020. He was impressive in his return to action, taking the fight to his replacement opponent, Renato Moicano, for the full 25 minutes of their 160-pound catchweight fight. The contest allowed the former lightweight champ to get some valuable octagon time in and showed that he deserves another fight against a highly ranked 155-pound opponent.
I’ll be curious to see how quickly Dos Anjos wants to get back inside the octagon and how accommodating the UFC will be.
Bryce Mitchell: Bryce Mitchell continued his climb up the featherweight rankings with a dominant win over Edson Barboza. Mitchell fought a very smart contest. He hurt Barboza in the first round with a heavy punch, but instead of rushing in to finish the contest, he used that moment to set up a takedown and then use ground control and strikes to rack up points.
Mitchell had a remarkable amount of ground control time in this fight, but what can’t be overlooked is the fact that he did not just control Barboza on the mat. He stayed active with his striking and rang up an impressive number of ground strikes.
Mitchell was the No. 11 ranked fighter in the official UFC rankings heading into this contest, while Barboza was ranked No. 10. The win should get the 27-year-old a stiff test in his next outing. Michell moved to 15-0 with the win and he looks like he is going to be a difficult problem to solve.
Kevin Holland: Kevin Holland had a rough first five minutes for his UFC welterweight debut. He seemed a little uncomfortable and tentative during the first round of his fight against Alex Oliveira. Holland was clearly frustrated by his effort in that first stanza. Holland looked like a different fighter to start the second round. He tagged Oliveira and dropped him and then swarmed him on the ground for the finish.
It’s hard to assess where Holland stands at 170 pounds after just one fight, but with the weight cut and one fight behind him, I think we should look forward to his next outing at welterweight.
Sergey Spivak: Sergey Spivak gave up a lot of size to Greg Hardy in their heavyweight fight at UFC 272. Spivak’s advantage in the fight was his skill level, and he used that skill to avoid the striking power of Hardy to get him to the mat and then score the TKO win. Spivak is 4-1 in his past five outings with his single loss coming to Tom Aspinall.
Jalin Turner: Jalin Turner turns 27 in May. On Saturday night he scored his fourth straight win via stoppage under the UFC banner. Turner is a big lightweight at 6-foot-3. He uses his height and reach well, but what’s really impressive about Turner is his ability to stay composed during a fight. Turner took the best strikes Jamie Mullarkey offered and never got shook. Even when things went against him, after Mullarkey took him down in the last minute of the first stanza, Mullarkey didn’t panic when he was on his back on the mat. This was an impressive performance in a high-profile spot on the UFC 272 card for Turner.
Marina Rodriguez vs. Yan Xiaonan: This strawweight fight between the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked strawweights was a fun and exciting scrap. Marina Rodriguez took a while to get going, but when she did, her striking was more powerful and output higher than Xiaonan’s.
Even in defeat, there were a lot of positives to take from Xiaonan’s effort. She has incredibly fast hands and the ability to counter effectively. With that, she might need to lead the dance more than respond.
However you slice it, this was a very entertaining scrap.
Nicolae Negumereanu: Nicolae Negumereanu took advantage of his opponent, Kennedy Nzechukwu, not using his physical advantages and turned what should have been a disadvantage into an advantage in this light heavyweight fight. He turned the fight into a brawl and pushed the action, and that, and his toughness, earned him the win.
Maryna Moroz: Not only was Maryna Moroz dealing with a fight against a former teammate on Saturday, she had the weight of knowing her family — mother, father and sister — was at home in Ukraine. Moroz said she was fighting for her country on Saturday and she did herself, her family and her country proud by getting the second-round submission win over Mariya Agapova.
Umar Nurmagomedov: You want to talk about making things looking easy? That’s what Umar Nurmagomedov did on Saturday in beating Brian Kelleher in the first round via submission. Let’s not forget that this fight was at flyweight and not Nurmagomedov’s normal 135-pounds.
What stood out in this brief appearance was how easily Nurmagomedov got the hooks in and secured the choke that ended the bout. In his UFC debut, Nurmagomedov seemed to force his back takes. In his second UFC bout, that was not the case.
Nurmagomedov is going to be a problem for the top-ranked UFC bantamweights.
Tim Elliott: Tim Elliott had a good first two rounds against Tagir Ulanbekov and that was enough to get him the win. He did a nice job using his usual weirdo style in the first round. He was relentless in his takedowns and solid with his striking, even scoring a knockdown in the first stanza. This was a big win for the 35-year-old and keeps him in the conversation in the flyweight division.
Dustin Jacoby: Dustin Jacoby rejoined the UFC is in 2020, eight years after he went 0-2 with the promotion. On Saturday, Jacoby earned his sixth straight win since his return with a unanimous decision win over Michal Oleksiejczuk.
Jacoby should ask the UFC matchmakers when he’ll get a chance to face a ranked opponent.
Bryce Mitchell: After his win over Edson Barboza, Bryce Mitchell announced that he was donating half of his $90,000 fight purse to a a children’s foundation in Arkansas that provides for children with medical conditions. Mitchell seemed sincere in making the announcement, hopefully he follows through on that promise and perhaps the UFC can match that donation.
Joe Rogan: One of the unwritten (maybe written, I don’t know) of broadcasting is to never give up the microphone. Joe Rogan broke that rule on Saturday and surrendered the mic to Maryna Moroz so she could speak freely about her fight, her family and Ukraine.
Jorge Masvidal: Jorge Masvidal had one route to a win, a knockout. He did not get that. When he hurt Covington late in the fight, the relentless attack of Covington had depleted his gas tank, and he could not muster the energy needed to stage an attack.
Masvidal is now on an 0-3 run. This loss will hurt him a lot more than the back-to-back defeats to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. It’s difficult to assess what’s next for Jorge Masvidal, but a fight against a top-five opponent seems like a (very) longshot for the man who signed a new deal with the promotion prior to UFC 272.
Renato Moicano: Renato Moicano gets points for taking the fight against Rafael dos Anjos on short notice and for his toughness, but he took a beating on Saturday night. I hope he got paid a fair amount for taking the fight.
Edson Barboza: Edson Barboza dropped a unanimous decision to Bryce Mitchell at UFC 272. With the loss, the 36-year-old fell to 2-3 at featherweight. With that, it looks as if Barboza’s hopes of climbing the 145-pound ranks have reached their end. At his age, it’s going to be interesting to see if he stays at 145 or if he moves back to 155 pounds. It’s hard to think that the weight cut didn’t hurt him in his loss to Mitchell.
Greg Hardy: Greg Hardy never deserved to be in the UFC based on his MMA skills. Saturday night was his 10th fight with the UFC and he showed no progress between fight one and fight 10 on the ground. At UFC 272, Hardy lost his third straight fight via knockout. It would be a surprise to see Hardy fight for the UFC again.
Kennedy Nzechukwu: Kennedy Nzechukwu seemed reluctant to use his height and reach advantage over Nicolae Negumereanu. Nzechukwu also had the better technical striking, but for the most part, he seemed content to fight off his back foot and throw single strikes instead of combinations. Nzechukwu has talent, but he did not use his skills to the fullest in a losing effort on Saturday.
Mariya Agapova: As Din Thomas pointed out during the UFC 272 broadcast, Maryna Moroz was able to exploit the shortcomings Mariya Agapova showed when the two trained together in the past at American Top Team. Agapova and her team had to be aware of those shortcomings, that they seemed to do little to work to close that gap was not a smart approach to Saturday’s fight.
Colby Covington: Colby Covington is the No. 1 fighter in the official UFC welterweight rankings and his callout for his next opponent was a man who has never fought at 170 pounds. I get the whole “grudge match” thing, but c’mon now, this call out was silly and seemed like a desperate cry for more attention from Covington. So, I guess it was on brand.
Renato Moicano’s corner: Renato Moicano’s corner should have stopped the fight before the fourth round — and again ahead of the fifth. Their fighter had no path to victory outside a Hail Mary knockout.
UFC: UFC had the No. 3 and No. 4 strawweight fighters face off on the prelims and Greg Hardy on the PPV card? C’mon now, that needs to be explained because it makes no sense.
Referees and athletic commissions: When a fighter fouls another fighter, we often hear the referees and commentators comment about intent and how the fighter’s intent was not to foul, and therefore not taking a point was the right call from the ref. Well, Tim Elliott gave the referees and athletic commissions something to think about when he said his intent against Tagir Ulanbekov was to cheat.
Tim Elliott confirms he grabbed Tagi Ulabekov’s glove. I asked if it was an accident and he said “No. I grabbed his glove.” #UFC272
— José Youngs (@JoseYoungs) March 6, 2022
Din Thomas: The first thing that needs to be noted is that Din Thomas works for the UFC during events. The second thing that needs to be said is that the below is a terrible take. MMA judging might have issues, but MMA judging has not made a business of exploiting fighter bodies and brains for massive profits, which is what the UFC has built a multi-billion dollar business on.
Fighter’s pay isn’t the biggest problem in MMA. Judging is.
— Din Thomas (@DinThomas) March 6, 2022
Tagir Ulanbekov: Tagir Ulanbekov lost his first fight in nearly four years when he dropped what felt like a very close fight to Tim Elliott. The 30-year-old seems like he is lacking some of the confident that his teammates at American Kickboxing Academy possess. What he’s not short on is desire and coachability. Ulanbekov, who only has three UFC fights to his name, needs to flow with the fight a little more. There’s a lot to like about Ulanbekov, but he needs to get more real octagon time.