UFC Fight Night 73 was a night for various contenders to take the next step in their quest for a title. Headlined by a light heavyweight tilt between Ovince Saint Preux and Glover Teixeira, there were no title fights or even No. 1 contender bouts.
There were, however, multiple fighters who took pivotal steps on their journey to get into those higher magnitude spots.
Here’s a quick look at the final results along with a recap and instant analysis for each fight on the main card.
Ray Borg vs. Geane Herrera
Ray Borg may have had issues at the scale on Friday, but it didn’t keep him from getting the job done Saturday. He kicked off the main card with a unanimous-decision win over Geane Herrera in flyweight action.
Borg dominated the fight from the opening bell using a swarming top game that never let Herrera breathe. Herrera did his best to keep active but spent the majority of his time staving off transitions, submission attempts and ground-and-pound en route to 30-27 scores across the board, per UFC on Fox:
The UFC provided a look at Borg’s dominant takedowns, featuring a double leg that got the beatdown started:
Borg missed weight by just .75 pounds on Friday, per MMAjunkie, but made up for it in a big way by scoring the win over Herrera. The win marks Borg’s third in a row after losing his UFC debut by split decision to Dustin Ortiz.
Given the submission artist’s two previous fights earned him performance-of-the-night honors, he’s definitely a talent to keep an eye on. At 22 years old, Borg’s future is looking bright.
Herrera is now in the situation Borg was in to start his UFC career. The loser of his debut, he’ll still have a shot at bouncing back and making waves in the division.
Sara McMann vs. Amanda Nunes
No. 7 women’s bantamweight Amanda Nunes made a strong case to enter the title picture in the division with a first-round submission win over No. 4 Sara McMann in Nashville.
Nunes came out aggressive right off the bat, looking to exchange with McMann. While her Olympic wrestler opponent looked to take her down, Nunes stuck to her takedown defense and stayed on the feet long enough to stymie McMann with an overhand right.
From there, Nunes jumped on her opportunity and locked in the rear-naked choke for the win.
This is easily the biggest win of Nunes’ career to this point. The 27-year-old made it two wins in a row since her crushing defeat to Cat Zingano and all of a sudden looks like one of few fighters with momentum in the women’s 135-pound division.
Nunes is hoping that momentum will ultimately lead to a bout with Ronda Rousey but is willing to settle for some revenge fights while she’s waiting.
“Maybe after this fight but because Ronda already has a fight scheduled, I think maybe I’ll fight one more time rather than wait a long time. I’ll be ready,” Nunes said per Damon Martin of Fox Sports. “Yes for sure a rematch with (Cat) Zingano or Alexis Davis would be amazing.”
With a quality win over the likes of McMann, it’s safe to say those rematches would be well-deserved and the outcome could change this time around.
Jared Rosholt vs. Tim Johnson
Jared Rosholt continued his forward momentum with a unanimous-decision win over Timothy Johnson in the heavyweight division.
Rosholt picked up the win, but that’s about all that could be said for him here. His stifling wrestling was effective enough to score points but was far from fan-friendly. Johnson brought the only exciting part of the fight with a flurry to end Round 3 before he took Rosholt down to close the round.
The win marks the three-time All-American wrestler’s fourth victory in the UFC’s Octagon. With a TKO over Josh Copeland, this is his second consecutive win. In a division as thin as heavyweight, that qualifies Rosholt as an up-and-comer. The 29-year-old still has plenty of time to climb into the rankings that include the likes of Frank Mir, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt.
The loss brings a halt to the good vibes Johnson had conjured up in his UFC debut, in which he knocked out Shamil Abdurahimov in the first round.
Derek Brunson vs. Sam Alvey
The days of Derek Brunson being an underrated middleweight might just be over. With a first-round TKO win over Sam Alvey, Brunson might finally start getting the credit he deserves.
Brunson showed that he isn’t just a wrestler in this one. After his opponent stuffed a few takedowns, he went to blasting Alvey with left hands that sent him backward and ultimately to the canvas. The stoppage might have been early, but the message was just as emphatic: Brunson has some real power.
Damon Martin of Fox Sports summed it up as concisely as possible:
Brunson entered this bout at No. 15 in the UFC middleweight rankings. However, a win over the likes of Alvey should be reason to consider him a few spots higher. Alvey was unranked but had three consecutive first-round knockouts to his name.
That’s a tough streak to bring to an end, and that’s a credit to Brunson for stealing that momentum.
Michael Johnson vs. Beneil Dariush
Beneil Dariush finally got a chance to shine on a big stage, and he came through in controversial fashion. The Kings MMA fighter scored a split-decision win over Michael Johnson in the night’s co-main event.
This was a decision that’s likely to have some backlash among fans. It appeared that Johnson controlled the majority of the action and looked great in the striking department. As Mike Johnston of Sportsnet points out, the stats were actually closer than the broadcast might have led on:
Dariush entered this fight with just one appearance on a televised main card, but he didn’t shy away from being a co-headliner. The win makes it five in a row for the lightweight with wins over Daron Cruickshank and Jim Miller in his two appearances before Johnson.
With a win over the No. 5 lightweight in the UFC rankings, it’s safe to say Dariush will be moving up from the No. 12 spot he held before Saturday.
The loss snaps a four-fight win streak for Johnson. Although this shouldn’t completely count against him based on the questionable decision, it’s still a blow to a good run.
Glover Teixeira vs. Ovince Saint Preux
For the first time in nearly two years, Glover Teixeira had his hand raised in the UFC Octagon in the night’s main event. Teixeira defeated Ovince Saint Preux via third-round submission.
It’s fitting that Teixeira ended the fight by submission because it was his ground game that was the difference. The hometown favorite in Saint Preux was able to steal a few moments in the stand-up department, but he consistently found himself in bad positions on the ground.
After spending time in the mount in Rounds 2 and 3, Saint Preux was no longer able to hold off Teixeira’s ground-and-pound assault. He gave up his back one too many times as Teixeira sunk in the rear-naked choke.
Teixeira needed this win badly. After a failed bid at Jon Jones’ title, Teixeira lost a decision to Phil Davis. Even with a 20-fight win streak that spanned from 2006-2013, a third consecutive loss would have likely meant the end of the Brazilian as a title challenger.
Now, at 35 years old, Teixeira has new life. OSP might not be the biggest name among light heavyweights, but he’s been one of the more exciting up-and-comers in the division and worked his way up to No. 6 in the rankings. With a win over a top-10 opponent in tow, it isn’t inconceivable that Teixeira’s next fight would be a No. 1 contender-type of fight.
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