Saturday’s UFC 244 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in New York City, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Madison Square Garden.
No one does that to Brad Tavares. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya couldn't do over five rounds what Edmen Shahbazyan did in less than three minutes on Saturday night. That's a big deal, and in besting the durable Hawaiian contender, Shahbazyan sets up a 2020 campaign that will be one to watch. If you were skeptical before, you can't be now.
In the unofficial battle between two of the nicest guys in the sport, Stephen Thompson and Vicente Luque delivered a Fight of the Night battle, but it was "Wonderboy" who stole the show with his best performance in a long time. This was the guy who nearly took the welterweight title a few years back, and if he keeps on this track, he may just get back there again. And a note to welterweights - don't fight him in Madison Square Garden, as it's become a second home for the South Carolina standout.
Kevin Lee called Gregor Gillespie the worst fight he could take in his return to 155 pounds, but his head kick knockout proved that often, who dares wins. Yeah, it was a risky fight to take, but in doing so, Lee made a statement and then made a bigger one with perhaps his biggest win to date. The Motown Phenom is back.
If you've ever had any interactions with Corey Anderson, you'll come away with an appreciation for a man who is quite old school in his approach to life. In short, hard work pays off, even if it's not flashy. Saturday night, Anderson proved it by handing Johnny Walker his first UFC loss, with the lesson being that sometimes getting to the top takes a little longer, but oh how sweet it is when that moment arrives.
The finish may not have been what Jorge Masvidal was expecting, but the performance he put on against Nate Diaz had to be satisfying for a fighter who has more than paid his dues to get to this point. And often, when someone like Masvidal has scratched and clawed his way here, he doesn't want to leave, and with three defining efforts in an row, it looks like "Gamebred" may just get a shot at adding welterweight gold to his new BMF belt in 2020.