Fight of the Night
Stephen Thompson vs Vicente Luque
“Wonderboy” returned to form in the face of the fast-rising Vicente Luque, who gave Thompson all that he could handle. In the first round, it looked like Luque was going to find a finish as he rocked Thompson a couple of times with short hooks. However, Thompson found his distance, led the dance and struck Luque more than a few times on the button. The former-title-challenger seemed like he was close to a finish, but it did not come to fruition as “The Silent Assassin ” showed he could take a few shots and keep coming. The loss is just a bump in the road for Luque, who came in on a 6-fight winning streak, but for Thompson, it was much-needed. It was Thompson’s first win in nearly two years, coincidentally his last one also coming in Madison Square Garden.
Performance of the Night:
It’s one thing to halt a hype train. It’s entirely another to dismantle a hype train with as much steam as the one with which Johnny Walker walked into the Octagon. Corey Anderson connected with a right hand early that stumbled the Brazilian and showed some patience before he swarmed for the finish. Anderson made his statement: He wants a title shot, and he believes this performance is the one that put him at the front of the line to face Jon Jones.
Plenty of statements were made, but none more than Kevin Lee’s return to the win column. Gregor Gillespie was a tough opponent to take on in Lee’s return to lightweight, and although Gillespie found some success early, Lee connected with a vicious head-kick that turned the lights out. It was a stunning finish, and a sorely needed one as Lee looks to regain some traction in the 155-pound ranks.
Around The Card
Jair Rozenstruik In A Blink
“Bigi Boi” made a big statement with another sub-30-second knockout win. This time, it came against former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. This time, Rozenstruik’s defining strike came fading backward as he planted a perfect left hook behind Arlovski’s ear. Arlovski crumbled, and afterward, Rozenstruik said Dana White gave him a speech that lit a fire in him. The Suriname-native hinted that he wants to get another fight in before the year ends, and there could be more than a few options open for him after this performance.
Edmen Shahbazyan Makes His Statement
Heading into Edmen Shahbazyan’s fight with Brad Tavares, some wondered whether it was too big of a step up in competition for the 21-year-old. Instead, Shahbazyan left any doubters silenced as he collected another first-round finish. After a measured start to the fight, Shahbazyan caught Tavares with a clean right hand, and moments later, he closed the door with a beautiful left high-kick that put Tavares’ lights out. “The Golden Boy” insists he is the “new breed of mixed martial artists,” and if he keeps putting together these types of performances, he could be well on his way to becoming the new standard as well.
Another fight, another win for the No. 1-ranked flyweight contender. “Blonde Fighter” made it look relatively easy against Jennifer Maia, and it seems like the only fight for her to make is a title shot against Valentina Shevchenko.