The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC Fight Night 54 Fallout

Rory MacDonaldThe MMA-Analysis co-host Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 54 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. #5 New Blood at Bantamweight – In a division that is really starting to heat up, Halifax saw a pair of young under-30 bantamweights finish in impressive fashion. In the opening fight on the card, Pedro Munhoz made lightning fast work of Jerrod Sanders submitting him in under a minute. The 28-year old Brazilian has two straight first round finishes and is poised to join the top 15 of the division with another win. One fighter who cracked the top 15 of the division after a win Saturday night was Canadian Mitch Gagnon. The Ontario-born bantamweight has reeled off four straight wins; three of them inside the distance for one of the longest winning streaks in the weight class. In a division that was dominated by Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber (later Renan Barao), it’s compelling to see several fighters still in their prime begin to rise in the division. Gagnon and Munhoz are just a couple of the fighters fight fans should be excited about in this division. Look for the likes of Thomas Almeida, Chris Holdsworth, and Aljamain Sterling to also make waves over the next couple years. #4 Hometown Throwdown– It’s rare that fight fans are treated to a true storybook moment. Even Hollywood couldn’t write a script to describe Chris Kelades’ win over Paddy Holohan. The 33-year old Kelades took a fight with Ireland’s Holohan on five days’ notice. What made this even more special is that Kelades resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax, where UFC Fight Night 54 took place. After a difficult first round in which Kelades saw himself down 10-9 on the judges’ scorecards, the local fighter controlled the remainder of the fight with effective grappling much to the approval of the local crowd. The raucous, sold out crowd at the Scotiabank Centre chanted his name as the referee held up his hand en route to a 29-28 decision win. It was a great moment not only for Kelades, but for the fans of Nova Scotia MMA in the first ever UFC card in the province. #3 Everything but a Title Shot – What do Raphael Assuncao, Jon Jones, and Chris Weidman have in common? They have the three longest winning streaks of fighters currently active in the UFC. Jones and Weidman are currently champions in their respective weightclass, while Assuncao still hasn’t received a title shot. The Brazilian-born fighter has arguably been the most underrated fighter in MMA. He holds wins over bantamweight prospect Pedro Munhoz, top 15 bantamweights Bryan Caraway and Johnny Eduardo, and most notably a split decision win over current champion TJ Dillashaw. Assuncao is a really well-rounded fighter. He has good fundamentals in his striking and has a decent wrestling game which he combines with dangerous submissions. Most will agree Dominick Cruz deserves the opportunity to win back the title he never lost, but Assuncao has done all he could to put himself in line right after him. #2 Making the Case for TUF Nations – When TUF Nations debuted in January 2014; few people thought the fighters on that season would amount to anything in the UFC. In under a year, the fighters from TUF Nations have proven that the talent on the show is one of the best of any non-US season of the show. From Team Canada alone, four fighters were victorious at UFN 54. TUF Tournament winners Chad Laprise and Elias Theodorou are the cream of the crop. Laprise is a very talented, technical striker who could be very formidable in the lightweight division. While Theodorou’s style is not the most aesthetically pleasing, his conditioning and relentless approach will make him a tough out for most of the fighters in the middleweight division. Also on the card, Olivier Aubin-Mercier dominated Jake Lindsey and Nordine Taleb squeezed by Jingliang Li. In addition to those fighters, Canadians Kajan Johnson and Sheldon Westcott, as well as Jake Matthews and Richard Walsh from Team Australia appear to have a bit of staying power in the promotion. In total, that’s eight of the 16 fighters who appeared on the season of TUF that should get multiple fights in the organization over the next couple years. Outside of TUF Brazil Season One (Cezar Mutante, Rony Jason, Sergio Moraes, Francisco Trinaldo), this is likely the best international season of the long running franchise. #1 It’s Time, It’s Rory’s Time! – With a spectacular technical knockout of former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec Saffiedine, Rory Macdonald has vaulted himself into the top contender for the UFC’s Welterweight title. In addition to Saffiedine, the Canadian holds wins over Jake Ellenberger, Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. All of those guys are currently in the UFC’s top 10 in the weight class. Macdonald’s all-around game of technical boxing, reach management, grappling and fight IQ make him a legitimate threat to whoever wins December’s title match between champion Johny Hendricks and challenger Robbie Lawler. Canada has yearned for a star since superstar Georges St. Pierre went on hiatus. Judging by the sold out crowd and the excitement in the arena during Macdonald’s fight, it’s clear that the 25-year old Tristar product is the new face of Canadian MMA.

Written by Jay Primetown

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