Updated Fighter Grades: Post-UFC on Fox 23

Francis NgannouJay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC on Fox 23 in Denver, Colorado. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com   J.C. Cottrell vs. Jason Gonzalez Cottrell: Struggled with size and length of his opponent. He did well in top control, but once out he dove into a takedown attempt and was easily submitted by his opponent. He’ll likely be cut with this loss. Downgraded from D to D- Gonzalez: Strong leg kicks had his opponent backing up early. He was taken down at one point, but limited the damage and eventually found a choke. Convincing win. Upgraded from D- to D   Alexandre Pantoja vs. Eric Shelton Pantoja: Surprised me with his pace in this fight. Forced Shelton to fight off his backfoot at times. His submission game is very good and he threatened at several times in this fight. Upgraded from C- to C Shelton: His hands were quick and he landed some nice punches in this fight. He’s a capable wrestler, but if put on his back he could be threatened with submissions. Elevation may have affected his pace in this bout. Grade remains C   Jeremy Kimball vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima Kimball: He looked a bit out of his depth in this fight as he fought a guy with big power. His movement is good, but the power difference was glaring in the cage. Downgraded from D to D- De Lima:  He’s put together a 4-2 record in the Octagon and his size and punching power is to be feared in this weight class. Missing weight didn’t seem to be an issue for him. Upgraded from D to D+   Alessio Di Chirico vs. Eric Spicely Di Chirico: He was able to knock Spicely down, but he made a critical mistake following the talented submission grappler to the mat. He got his neck trapped in a triangle and was forced to tap. Poor decision making by Di Chirico to go to the mat in this bout. Downgraded from D+ to D Spicely: His standup is still a major issue, but he’s very dangerous on the ground and can submit a wide array of opponents at middleweight. With favorable matchmaking, he can win a few more fights in the UFC. Upgraded from D to D+   Jordan Johnson vs. Luis Henrique da Silva Johnson: His length is going to be a major advantage for him moving forward as he’s able to stay on the outside and jab in standing exchanges. However, he’s one of the best wrestlers in the division and his top control is very strong. It would have been nice to see a finish, but a complete 15 minute performance does the job as well. Grade remains C Da Silva: He only came to Denver one week before the fight and that was cause for concern from the start. Combine that with being in over his head against a much better wrestler and he was laid out on his back for the majority of the bout. This fight was never close. Downgraded from D+ to D   Li Jingliang vs. Bobby Nash Jingliang: He showed a good amount of resilience in this fight as he was hurt bad towards the end of round one and had to fend off submissions. He came back well in the next round finding a hole in Nash’s strike defense where he could land an overhand right with regularity. Jingliang connected on a big right hand that floored his opponent and gave him the finish for an exciting win to a very entertaining fight. Grade remains D+ Nash: He certainly was game as a UFC debutant. He had Jingliang in trouble in the opening round, but his striking defense is porous and he was unable to avoid Jingliang’s overhand right. The damage took its toll in round two and he was put away by the more well-rounded fighter. Upgraded from D- to D   Raphael Assuncao vs. Aljamain Sterling Assuncao: He had a decent game plan of striking on the counter and stuffing Sterling’s takedown attempts. This was very similar to his game plan against Caraway and it worked. I thought he could of done more in the third round, but he did enough in the first two rounds to win a decision. Grade remains A- Sterling: He needed to attempt more takedowns early in the fight, but was content to stand with Assuncao. He was getting counter punched the first 10 minutes and gave the fight away before putting in a solid final five minutes to the bout. This was a tough opponent for   Sam Alvey vs. Nate Marquardt Alvey: Not as aggressive as he usually is in his fights, but he landed the much better strikes on the feet. In particular, he had a very effective second round damaging the eye of his opponent. Outside of being taken to the mat in round three, he faced little adversity in this bout. Grade remains C Marquardt: He wasn’t able to land anything to alter Alvey’s game plan. In a fight with limited grappling, Marquardt is generally going to struggle because he doesn’t have speed and durability to engage consistently with opponents. Grade remains C-   Alex Caceres vs. Jason Knight Caceres: He connected on some decent punches on the feet, but got a lesson in grappling by Jason Knight. He defended submissions for a good amount of time, but eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke. A humbling loss for Caceres whom I believe we have seen hit his ceiling in MMA. Grade remains C- Knight: He still needs to improve his striking defense as he is hittable in standing exchanges. However, he’s got a great work rate and his submission game is very good. He controls opponents well with an excellent body lock and then hunts to end the fight with a variety of chokes. He’s certainly a fighter that has exceeded my expectations and is one to watch. Upgraded from C- to C   Andrei Arlovski vs. Francis Ngannou Arlovski: This was never a good fight for him and the first big punch that his opponent landed sent him to the mat. It’s hard to grade Arlovski negatively here as I think he simply was beaten by a train that was going full steam ahead. Grade remains C+ Ngannou: UFC on Fox 23 was built to be a coming out party for Francis Ngannou and he delivered. He didn’t land his biggest punch, but it was more than enough to floor Arlovski to give him his first victory over a legend of the sport. If Ngannou wins his next fight, I believe he will then get a crack at the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Upgraded from B- to B+   Donald Cerrone vs. Jorge Masvidal Cerrone: He got into a fire fight with a very game opponent. Like his loss to Nate Diaz, he was repeatedly on the end of a stinging jab and that took its toll. Masvidal floored him at the end of round one and the fight should have been stopped. He was still getting rid of the cobwebs in the second round and he wasn’t able to recover. Fighters with an excellent jab have been Cerrone’s Kryptonite. Grade remains B+ Masvidal: His best performance ever inside the Octagon. His jab was on point in this fight and he went after it in this bout. It’s not easy to finish Donald Cerrone, but Jorge Masvidal did it twice in this fight. He’s earned himself a top contender fight and is definitely fighting at his top level. Upgraded from B to A-   Julianna Pena vs. Valentina Shevchenko Pena: Her grinding style is difficult for most fighters to deal with, but Shevchenko was up to the test. Pena struggled to secure takedowns and once she did, she made a mistake giving her arm to her opponent and she was forced to tap via armbar. She’s certainly one of the top fighters in this weight class, but she’s not on Shevchenko’s level. Grade remains A- Shevchenko: She’s improved significantly in the last couple years. She’s added a very good defensive wrestling base and has even developed a submission game. Her cardio is excellent and she is certainly a legitimate threat to Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight championship. Upgraded from A to A+

Written by Jay Primetown

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