UFC Fight Night 956 was last night. Cris Cyborg headlined her first UFC event, Renan Barao looked for his first win at featherweight, and Roy Nelson and Bigfoot Silva squared off in a heavyweight battle on the feet.
Cyborg is the best female fighter in the world. I don’t think that’s deniable anymore. She walked through Lina Lansberg like she wasn’t even trying. Lansberg was never in the fight, she looked like she was just riding the bull for as long as she could before she fell off. Cyborg held her up against the cage for most of the fight in between brutal combinations to Lansberg’s face and body. Cyborg also dominated the two ground exchanges. She easily held top position and worked her ground and pound.
One of the highly publicized aspects of last night’s event was Cyborg’s weight cut. She had over 25 pounds to cut as of Monday on the MMA Hour. I’m not sure why, but the UFC keeps insisting that she fight at a catchweight of 140. It’s unneccessary, there are girls willing to fight her at 145. It seems like the UFC is trying to punish her for not making the Ronda fight happen at 135.
Cyborg’s last loss was 11 years ago. Aside from testing positive in 2011, she hasn’t lost a fight since then. Ronda was a dominant champion, but she was completely dismantled by Holly Holm last November. The UFC needs to give Cyborg a division that she can compete in without completely draining her body. She’s already a draw, I don’t understand why Dana White is so resistant to the idea. If he can sell a smaller division like 115, I would think 145 with a guaranteed star would be a slam dunk.
After going 1-3 in his last 4, Barao needed this win bad. If nothing else, just to build his confidence back up. He was considered one of the top 3 pound for pound best fighters for a decade, and the two losses to T.J. Dillashaw seem to have left him a different fighter. The air of invincibility is gone, and he looked tentative and slow against Jeremy Stephens a few months ago in his debut at 145. Beating a guy like Phillipe Nover is exactly what Barao needed now.
Barao looked faster in almost all of the exchanges on the feet with Nover. He consistently countered with hard shots and combinations and made Nover look slow in comparison. Nover landed some shots as well, but Barao was clearer landing more signifcant shots throughout the fight. If there was any doubt who won the standup exchanges, Barao’s takedowns cinched the fight for him, getting him a much needed first win at featherweight.
Roy Nelson and Bigfoot
Both these guys needed a win last night. The heavyweight division is full of aging fighters, and Roy and Bigfoot have both been on the losing end of their fights over the last few years. Both fighters have had a couple wins here and there, but overall they’ve both been losing more than they’ve been winning. Bigfoot was in a worse position, losing his last three in a row.
The first round saw both guys throwing heavy leather and doing their best to avoid taking damage. At heavyweight, all it takes is one punch, and both guys have one punch knockout power. In the end, it was Roy who was able to connect and put down Bigfoot. Bigfoot’s chin is just gone, he hasn’t been able to take a decent shot for years. It might be time for him to think about hanging up the gloves.
Roy looked good last night, if I were him I’d angle for a fight with Ben Rothwell to move closer to a title shot. There are several guys ahead of him right now, but a win over Rothwell next would put him at 3-1 in his last four. That might be enough to talk his way into an elimination bout for a title shot.