Surprises & Disappointments From UFC 173

Jake Ellenberger Surprises and Disappointments is a column featured on after every UFC event, highlighting three fighters who had surprising performances and three fighters who disappointed. Here are the three surprises and the three disappointments from UFC 173. Surprises TJ Dillashaw — In the definition of a surprising performance, TJ Dillashaw laid waste to Renan Barao by beating down the P4P great over the course of five rounds before landing the finishing blow in the fifth and becoming the new UFC bantamweight champion. It was an incredible performance by Dillashaw, and he looks like he could be a big star for Zuffa going forward. For his next fight, a rematch against Raphael Assuncao makes a lot of sense. Mitch Clarke — After being dominated in the first round, Clarke managed to get a hold of Al Iaquinta’s neck in the second and pick up an impressive submission victory via D’arce choke. It was Clarke’s second-straight victory in the Octagon, and in his next bout — which I expect will take place in Toronto this September — I’d like for Clarke to fight Vinc Pichel, who picked up an upset win over Anthony Njokuani on the undercard. Jingliang Li — And in the opening preliminary card bout, Jingliang defeated David Michaud via split decision in a small upset. The Chinese fighter showed surprisingly-good wrestling as well as passable striking and definitely deserved to win the fight. The UFC needs marketable fighters in China, so look for him to be on the Macao card in August against a lower-tiered lightweight like Vagner Rocha. Disappointments Jake Ellenberger — Once again, “The Juggernaut” didn’t show up, as Ellenberger was TKOed in the third round by Robbie Lawler in a welterweight bout. Following a disappointing performance against Rory MacDonald in his last bout, Ellenberger needed a standout performance but he looked worse than ever and has now lost two-straight fights. He’s still got knockout power, but he needs to start using it again if he ever wants to contend for the belt. Just 29 years of age, I expect the UFC to keep Ellenberger around despite the loss. For his next fight, let’s have Ellenberger take on Erick Silva in a make-or-break fight for both fighters. Francisco Rivera — Although he managed to survive to the final bell, Rivera disappointed in dropping a unanimous decision to Takeya Mizugaki. Rivera is known for his power but instead it was he who was the one getting dropped and knocked down in the fight, and overall he just didn’t look very good. He still has potential, though, and I think a fight against fellow top-10 bantamweight striker Eddie Wineland makes sense for both fighter’s next appearances. Anthony Njokuani — And in a lightweight bout that aired on the prelims, Njokuani dropped to 3-4 overall in the UFC with a clear-cut decision loss to the hands of Vinc Pichel. Njokuani was taken down repeatedly throughout the bout and looked awful in his return from a 13-month layoff. Considering he’s 34 and is showing signs of declining, it’s possible the UFC will cut him but I think they should give him one more chance and a fight against fellow striker Katsunori Kikuno, who also lost at UFC 173, makes sense.

Written by Adam Martin.

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