UFC Fight Night 103’s Biggest Winners

Nina AnsaroffWith UFC Fight Night 103 behind us, there were many noteworthy performances which saw fighters’ stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers and what’s next for them. Nina Ansaroff Overview: The UFC strawweight has made significant improvements since she made her UFC debut in November 2014. She was known as an athletic striker with no sense of a ground game. Her time at American Top Team has done wonders for her game, and unsurprisingly the rise of Amanda Nunes has seen steady improvement from Ansaroff as well. At UFN 103, Ansaroff put in a complete performance, including a dominant ground game in which she controlled Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger on the mat to win her second career fight by submission and more importantly earn her first UFC win. What’s Next: With the victory, it’s time for Ansaroff to take a step up in competition. A matchup with Amanda Cooper would make the most sense. Both fighters can strike and have shown some ability on the ground too. Both fighters are coming off their first UFC win, and a win by either fighter would project the victor in a potential Top 15 ranking. Augusto Mendes Overview: The former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion turned MMA fighter had as difficult a UFC debut in recent memory, as he was tasked to fight current champion Cody Garbrandt. He was knocked out in the first round but showed well in that fight. In his second UFC fight, he was still given a difficult matchup with veteran Frankie Saenz but much more manageable. Mendes showed improved striking and had Saenz in trouble multiple times in this fight. It was a very close fight, but Mendes squeaked out a close decision. It was a big win for the Brazilian that should put him a win away from cracking the bantamweight rankings. What’s Next: Before he’s ready to face a Top 15 bantamweight, Mendes needs to show he can contend with a power striker. Francisco Rivera has heavy hands and is a guy who can score a knockout at any moment if he finds an opening. This is a good test for Mendes to show where his striking truly stands. Yair Rodriguez Overview: The talented Mexican featherweight headlined his first-ever UFC card opposite UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn. While MMA insiders have known about Rodriguez for a couple years now, this fight was his true coming-out party. He absolutely dominated Penn from start to finish. What stood out the most was the volume with which he was able to land quality leg kicks. Rodriguez has a tremendous motor and ran circles around Penn to finish him in the second round in what one would have to classify as a breath-taking performance. What’s Next: It’s time for Rodriguez to take the next step and face formidable competition. He’s now won six straight fights in the UFC, and he’s proven to be one of the most dynamic fighters in the promotion. It’s time to see him face some with heavy power striking and a proven quantity in this weight class. Jeremy Stephens fits the bill perfectly. The fifth-ranked Stephens is one of the biggest hitters in the weight class and presents a new kind of threat to Rodriguez. Stephens has developed into a gatekeeper for the elite fighters in the division. He’s a championship-level fighter, but he’s just below elite status, so this would be a great matchup to make to see just how close Rodriguez is to the Top 5.

Written by Jay Primetown

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