Updated Fighter Grades: Post-UFC 221

Jay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com

Daichi Abe vs. Luke Jumeau

Abe: He was aggressive in the first round, but then simply ran out of gas in the second round. Simply not enough volume to win rounds against any opponent. Downgraded from D to D-

Jumeau: Despite taking the bigger shots in this fight, he took advantage of a tired Abe to sneak out two rounds and earn a decision. Grade remains D-

Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Quinonez

Ishihara: I was surprised at his improvement in defending takedowns especially in the second half of the fight, but he wasn’t able to land punches consistently and it’s the reason he lost this fight. Grade remains D

Quinonez: He focused on a grappling heavy attack in round one and then focused on leg kicks in the final two round in an effort to avoid the big punches of his opponent. He employed a smart gameplan and it earned him the win. Grade remains D+

Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson

Hirota: He had Pearson hurt towards the end of round two, but couldn’t finish. In a close fight heading into the final round, he simply couldn’t stay busy enough in round three to get a result. I was surprised by the lack of takedown attempts as well. Grade remains D

Pearson: He may have been a bit plodding at times in this fight, but he was more effective on the feet and had a good round three to secure the fight. It’s clear Pearson is closing in on the end of his career, but still good enough to be a gatekeeper to the middle part of the division. Grade remains D+

Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen

Formiga: A really strong performance from the Brazilian. He secured timely takedowns in the first two rounds to get ahead in the bout and then put a signature on the performance with a spinning back fist to rear naked choke submission. He’s closing in on a flyweight title shot. Upgraded from B to B+

Nguyen: He was outclassed by a savvy veteran in this bout. He had some success against the cage, but didn’t show much resistance when he was taken to the mat. Back to the drawing board for Nguyen. Grade remains B-

Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski

Kennedy: He’s known as a grinder who outworks opponents, but in this fight he got a taste of his own medicine. Kennedy needs to work on his offensive striking game if he’s going to be able to beat fighters in the middle part of this division. Grade remains C-

Volkanovski: His best performance in the UFC. He faced a solid, undefeated fighter and completely dominated him from start to finish. Volkanovski is a win away from the top 15 of the featherweight division. Upgraded from C to C+

Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson

Adesanya: Entertaining and exciting debut. His athleticism stood out and he did a decent job of defending takedowns. His striking talent really stood out in the second round as he put away Wilkinson. He’s absolutely one to watch moving forward. Upgraded from C- to C+

Wilkinson: He did what he could early to stifle the offense of his opponent, but it just wasn’t in the cards to do that for 15 minutes as he took a beating in the second round prior to the referee stepping in to stop the bout. Grade remains D

Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Brown: He wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been in previous fights. He did a nice job landing leg kicks, but took more damage overall in this split decision defeat. Grade remains D-

Kim: It wasn’t a great performance, but he did land the bigger punches and did cut Brown open to sneak out a victory. Grade remains D

Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov

Pedro: He’s got a nice submission game and is starting to rack up some wins in the UFC. He’s a young fighter and is capable of moving his way up the standings. Grade remains D+

Safarov: He’s fought twice in the UFC and he was not competitive in either bout. It’s likely he’ll be cut from the UFC after this defeat. Downgraded from D to D-

Li Jingliang vs. Jake Matthews

Jingliang: He took Matthews biggest punches and was able to survive, but didn’t land enough of his own to walk away a winner in this bout. Downgraded from C- to D+

Matthews: One of his best performances in the UFC. He not was able to grapple, but he showed real improvements in his striking ability. However, he needs to show some consistency before his grade is upgraded. Grade remains D+

Cyril Asker vs. Tai Tuivasa

Asker: He was setup to lose in this fight. The first big punch he took in this fight knocked him back and from there it was just the beginning of the end. Grade remains D-

Tuivasa: His youth and athleticism is refreshing in this weight class. He’s aggressive and hits hard. He’s won all his fights by first round finish and deserves a step up in competition. Upgraded from D to D+

Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt

Blaydes: He was in trouble in the opening round, but was able to score a takedown and survive the round. After that he focused on his wrestling beating up Mark Hunt for the remainder to earn the big win. Blaydes is creeping up to top five in the division and possibly one fight away from a title shot. Upgraded from B- to B

Hunt: He had an opportunity in the first round to finish the fight, but couldn’t get the job done. After that he didn’t have much of a chance as Blaydes forced him to the mat repeatedly. Hunt can still compete with the best on the feet, but wrestlers are his kryptonite. Downgraded from B- to C+

Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero

Rockhold: His game plan was effective early landing strikes from the outside and not allowing Romero to get in range. However, all it took was one lapse for Romero to get in range and send Rockhold to the canvas. This is the third time he’s been knocked out in the UFC and it has been his striking defense which will hold him back from being one of the all-time great fighters in this weightclass. Downgraded from A to A-

Romero: He doesn’t have the length of his peers, but he makes up for it in athleticism and raw power. He’s certainly been a late addition to this weight class but he’s made up for it beating everybody in this weightclass with the exception of Robert Whittaker. His knockout of Rockhold should solidify his legacy and if he can beat Whittaker it will define his legacy. Grade remains A

Written by Jay Primetown

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