Updated Fighter Grades: Post-UFC Fight Night 87

Alistair OvereemJay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC Fight Night 87 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com.   Willie Gates vs. Ulka Sasaki Gates: Had a couple moments, albeit brief, where he was able to land some strikes, but otherwise he was grinded to the ground and simply outworked. His inability to defend submissions on the ground is what will get him cut from the UFC sooner rather than later. Downgraded from C to D+ Sasaki: Still looks rather poor on the feet and his conditioning is a question mark, but his grappling game is decent and he has ways to grind out wins. This was a good win for him to get back on track. Grade remains D+   Leon Edwards vs. Dominic Waters Edwards: Made some good strides in offensive wrestling, outworking his opponent for the majority of the fight. His striking wasn’t as impressive as previous fights, but that may have had more to do with being at a size disadvantage. Still, a solid performance from Edwards as he works his way up the ladder. Grade remains C- Waters: He was supposed to have the wrestling advantage in this bout, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Waters lost the vast majority of this fight and was unable to prove he belongs in the UFC. Grade remains D   Kyogi Horiguchi vs. Neil Seery Horiguchi: A great performance by Horiguchi. He dominated this fight from start to finish with striking, wrestling, and grappling. This was his first camp with American Top Team and he really showed that he’s a complete fighter and a true top five flyweight in the world. Grade raised from A- to A Seery: Not much Seery can do when tasked to fight a buzz saw like Horiguchi. He had a few moments on the feet when he was able to counterstrike, but other than that he had zero answers. Then again, this was a mismatch on paper and that’s how it played out in reality. Grade remains C-   Yan Cabral vs. Reza Madadi Cabral: Did well early on, scoring a takedown in the opening round, but really slowed down halfway through the fight. He was clipped in the third round and finished. He’s a fighter who has hit his UFC ceiling and is not going to beat mid-level fighters. Downgraded from C- to D+ Madadi: This was a battle of who could control the clinch. Early on he had some issues, but really did better as the fight progressed. Once he had success with boxing, he really took over the fight and earned a big finish. Big win for Madadi to earn himself another couple fights inside the Octagon. Grade remains C-   Josh Emmett vs. Jon Tuck Emmett: His foot and head movement is the type of thing one shows to someone just getting started in MMA. He was on his way to an easy 30-27 win before hurting his hand in the third round and was reduced to being a one arm fighter. He gave away that final round, but really impressed me in his UFC debut. It will be interesting to see what caliber of opponent he gets next. He’s the type of fighter that doesn’t need to be brought along slowly. Upgraded from C- to C Tuck: Had no idea how to deal with Emmett’s speed and movement. He only began to score late in the fight when Emmett was injured from a rather fluke injury. Tuck’s tentativeness is certainly reason for concern in the Octagon. He’s a fighter who really should be doing better than he has so far in his UFC career. Grade remains D   Magnus Cedenblad vs. Gareth McLellan Cedenblad: Size was the big difference in this bout as Cedenblad dominated this fight from range with both kicks and punches. He’s a guy who can quickly turnaround and fight again if needed. Grade remains C McLellan: He simply has little to offer inside the Octagon. He was confused by the range of Cedenblad and had no idea how to engage with his opponent. A poor performance and likely his last inside the Octagon. Downgraded from D- to F   Rustam Khabilov vs. Chris Wade Khabilov: He was clipped badly in the second round, but recovered brilliantly. After that, he absolutely dominated this fight with power grappling and suffocating ground and pound. This was the Khabilov I expected a couple years ago and if it’s back for good, the whole division is on notice. Upgraded from B- to B Wade: He fought a competitive first half of the fight, nearly finishing Khabilov early in the second round. Wade has won fights in the UFC by grinding out opponents with his aggressive wrestling, but in this bout he simply didn’t have the strength or aggression of his opponent. Grade remains C   Heather Jo Clark vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz Clark: Fought a competitive first round, but not sure there’s anyone in the division who can keep pace with Kowalkiewicz. This was a bad match-up for Clark and she lost a decision in the way I thought she would; simply getting outworked in the cage. Grade remains C- Kowalkiewicz: She’s a bit of a slow starter, but once she gets going, the volume with which she throws is fantastic. Her conditioning is absolutely phenomenal. In the clinch, she made excellent use of elbows, beating Clark up at close range. She’s in the division’s top 10 and I think may even be a fringe top five fighter currently. Upgraded from B- to B   Francimar Barroso vs. Nikita Krylov Barroso: He’s still a pretty durable fighter, but he doesn’t have any weapons that can hurt his opponents. That’s a real problem at light heavyweight. Grade remains D Krylov: He blitzed his opponent on the feet at the start of the first and second rounds. The biggest thing for Krylov is he showed an improved gas tank with the ability to go into the second round and work from top control. He’s still quite green, but given his age and ability, he’s one to watch. Grade remains C-   Anna Elmose vs. Germaine de Randamie Elmose: A complete mismatch. Elmose was put into a fight against perhaps the biggest fighter in the division. Elmose took this fight on short notice and appeared to really tire just a couple minutes into the contest. In hindsight, Elmose looked like a sacrificial lamb. Downgraded from D+ to D De Randamie: It’s clear that she was motivated fighting in her home country. She’s really coming into her own in the cage and is becoming must-watch MMA. She’s a scary opponent and a tough out for fighters that are forced to fight on the feet with her. Upgraded from C to C+   Gunnar Nelson vs. Albert Tumenov Nelson: He showed significant improvements in this fight. It’s clear he’s been training with Conor McGregor with his fluid foot movement throughout the bout. He combines that with a tremendous grappling game. Nelson may be undersized for a welterweight, but he’s a very good fighter. Upgraded from B- to B Tumenov: Didn’t look right from the start of the fight. Fought sluggish and was taken down in both rounds of the contest. On the feet, he’s a stud, but his lack of ground game will keep him from becoming a top fighter. Downgraded from B to B-   Antonio Silva vs. Stefan Struve Silva: He tried to be the aggressor from the jump, but got clipped, dropped, and was quickly finished. After this loss, there’s no doubt in my mind that Silva needs to hang up the gloves. Downgraded from C- to D+ Struve: It was a quick finish so really difficult to take much from this fight. Need to see him against better competition to assess if he’s capable of being a top 10 fighter again. Grade remains C-   Andrei Arlovski vs. Alistair Overeem Arlovski: He swarmed Overeem in the very opening minute of the fight, but wasn’t able to stun the Dutch heavyweight. As the fight went on, the talent gap was exposed with Arlovski eventually being brutally knocked out. Grade remains B Overeem: He’s become a bit of a slow starter, but I think it’s more of being cautious and calculated in his approach. His jumping leg kick to stun Arlovski is something I’m not sure more than a couple of heavyweights are capable of. Overeem is on the verge of a shot at the UFC title. Upgraded from B+ to A-

Written by Jay Primetown

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