Saturday’s UFC Combat Night time card began with three first-minute flash knockouts and ended with Cynthia Calvillo making an emphatic assertion in her UFC girls’s flyweight debut.

Calvillo soundly defeated Jessica Eye and immediately put herself within the dialog among the many greatest within the division. Merab Dvalishvili made an impression of his personal, each contained in the Octagon, the place he placed on a wrestling clinic in a one-sided victory over Gustavo Lopez, and out of doors, when he tried to leap out of the cage.

One of many greatest takeaways thus removed from the playing cards on the UFC’s Apex facility has been the influence of the smaller Octagon — 25 toes vs. 30 toes at different venues. UFC president Dana White does not imagine it has had an impact, however the truth is that the start of Saturday’s card set a report. It was the primary card in UFC historical past wherein every of the primary three fights ended inside a minute, in line with ESPN Stats & Information, and it tied the report for many finishes in lower than a minute on a card. Coincidence?

What does all of it imply? Our skilled panel that includes Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi is right here to interrupt down the evening’s greatest questions.

The place does Cynthia Calvillo’s victory put her within the flyweight pecking order? Whom ought to she combat subsequent?

Helwani: Cynthia Calvillo is simply what the physician ordered for flyweight, one of many UFC’s most shallow divisions proper now. She’s a legit participant who simply improved her UFC report to 6-1-1 (1-Zero at 125). I just like the transfer to 125 so much for her as a result of she was clearly having bother slicing to 115, lacking weight in two of her earlier three fights. Calvillo’s efficiency confirmed that that is the burden class for her. She scored an important, dominant win over the gritty veteran Jessica Eye. Did she run out of gasoline towards the top? Certain, however that was her first five-round combat, and she or he took it on three weeks’ discover. Not unhealthy.

Is Calvillo prepared for Valentina Shevchenko? No. However most 125ers aren’t. She has work to do earlier than coming into that dialog, and she or he does not have to fret concerning the champ anyway as a result of Shevchenko’s subsequent foe is probably going going to be Joanne Calderwood. Shevchenko was going to combat Calderwood in June earlier than that combat obtained delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Shevchenko’s knee damage. I actually hope they do not push Calderwood apart as a result of Calvillo simply received. That might not really feel proper. So I would prefer to see Calvillo combat the winner of Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy subsequent. That combat is occurring subsequent Saturday, by the best way, so the timing works out completely. I believe the winner would symbolize a strong problem for the 32-year-old Calvillo. If not, I appreciated seeing Katlyn Chookagian, who appeared superb two weeks in the past, name out Calvillo after her win tonight, too. I would not thoughts that matchup both.

Okamoto: I anticipate Calvillo skyrocketing up the rankings after this end result, which she ought to. Jessica Eye was 4-1 within the UFC’s flyweight division coming in, together with her solely loss to Valentina Shevchenko. I do not assume Eye was ever going to topple Shevchenko for a title, however she is a confirmed, elite flyweight with wins over the likes of Katlyn Chookagian and Viviane Araujo. And Calvillo practically received each spherical towards her. I believe the UFC may pair her with somebody reminiscent of Chookagian, who wrote on social media “gimmie gimmie,” however I do not know if that is what the promotion ought to do. Flyweight wants new blood and new contenders, and reserving Calvillo towards Chookagian, who has already fought for the title, may stunt her momentum with not a lot payoff. I would not thoughts seeing a rematch of a combat from 2017 between Calvillo and Montana de la Rosa. De la Rosa is extremely ranked, and she or he and Calvillo have developed from that first assembly, which passed off at strawweight. That is the one I would make.

Raimondi: Calvillo may be very a lot within the title combine in what’s a wide-open division, other than champion Valentina Shevchenko. Eye was the UFC’s No. 1 contender and got here in at No. 6 on ESPN’s girls’s flyweight checklist. Katlyn Chookagian referred to as out Calvillo on Twitter after the bout, however that may be a bit quickly for Calvillo. Chookagian is a former No. 1 contender coming off a formidable win over Valentina’s sister, Antonina. Subsequent week, there’s a flyweight combat between Lauren Murphy and Roxanne Modafferi. Each are on the cusp of being contenders. I would not thoughts seeing Calvillo face the winner. She must proceed to show that she will beat larger flyweights. Like Valentina Shevchenko and Eye, Murphy and Modafferi are former bantamweights.

What was your response to Merab Dvalishvili’s problem to Sean O’Malley, and what do you assume that combat would appear like?

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Merab Dvalishvili lands a giant proper hand after which a large takedown of Gustavo Lopez early within the second spherical of their bout at UFC Combat Night time.

Helwani: That is actually a high-level combat and an fascinating one, too, however I would be shocked if the UFC made it occur subsequent. Merely put, O’Malley is simply too sizzling proper now to ebook towards a beast reminiscent of Dvalishvili. It will be a traditional striker vs. grappler matchup, and although I am not saying O’Malley would positively lose, there is not any upside in reserving him towards Dvalishvili proper now. Save that one for later. Dvalishvili is simply too good, too robust and never very identified.

I believe it is a straightforward combat to foretell: Dvalishvili would attempt to take the combat to the bottom instantly, and O’Malley would wish to maintain it standing. If it have been to occur within the smaller cage, it might actually favor Dvalishvili as a result of there’s much less room to maneuver in there. Anyhow, if I have been in cost, I might go along with O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera and Dvalishvili vs. Track Yadong subsequent. In the event that they maintain profitable, they’re going to absolutely meet down the highway.

Okamoto: I do not assume he is gonna get his want. Lots of people are calling out O’Malley nowadays, which is a testomony to what he has constructed. He is one of many greatest names within the division, however he is nonetheless unproven. Perhaps he is a future champ. Perhaps he is a flash within the pan. I lean extra towards the previous than the latter, however the level is we do not know but. His title is larger than his résumé proper now, and meaning he has a goal on his again. It is smart that Dvalishvili would throw his title within the hat, however it would not make sense from the UFC’s standpoint to ebook that combat. There may come a time when O’Malley must face one of many higher wrestlers of the division, however I assure you that point is just not now in case you’re the UFC. I mentioned final week that I would prefer to see O’Malley combat Marlon Vera. Perhaps Dvalishvili fights Raphael Assuncao.

Raimondi: My first thought? It will be a horrible promotional mistake by the UFC. O’Malley is a red-hot prospect who has appeared sensational along with his putting, knocking out two opponents up to now three months by way of highlight-reel end. Dvalishvili, in the meantime, is a bantamweight prospect who has been spectacular along with his potential to take his opponents down — he scored 13 takedowns on Saturday, which broke his UFC bantamweight report. It is manner too early for them to combat one another earlier than both is a legit title contender. Down the highway, O’Malley vs. Dvalishvili may very well be quite a lot of enjoyable. However now? Too quickly.

Which of the three first-minute knockouts impressed you most?

Helwani: I beloved the Tyson Nam knockout for a few causes. First, it was a gorgeous, clear knockout, a vicious overhand proper. Though I did not love the additional punches on the bottom as a result of his opponent, Zarrukh Adashev, was clearly out (shoutout to referee Herb Dean for stepping in there to separate Nam), that does not take away from the truth that it was an important KO. It is also important as a result of it was Nam’s first UFC win (and knockout). The 36-year-old has been a professional for greater than 14 years and has fought all around the world.

For some time, it appeared as if he’d by no means combat within the UFC and was destined to be a type of traditional journeyman fighters. However Nam obtained a short-notice alternative late final 12 months towards Sergio Pettis, and it was nice to see him within the UFC in spite of everything these years. Sadly for Nam, he misplaced his first two UFC fights by way of unanimous determination to Pettis and Kai Kara-France, so you could possibly make the case that he was combating for his UFC job on Saturday. No extra. Nam is right here to remain for no less than a bit longer, and he proved his price in emphatic style.

Okamoto: Tyson Nam’s monster proper hand, simply 32 seconds into his bout towards Zarrukh Adashev. It was unbelievable that it wasn’t a walk-off. I do not know the way Adashev managed to take a seat again up from that preliminary shot, and it in all probability would have been higher had he stayed down as a result of sitting up gave Nam the inexperienced mild to mild into him with a second shot. It was a highlight-reel knockout, and Nam badly wanted it. His job very nicely may have been on the road. Nam really was very shaken up within the Octagon afterward, after Adashev had bother attending to his toes. Adashev did finally make it out of the cage on his personal.

Raimondi: Nam, fingers down. There’s nothing fairly like a one-hitter quitter in MMA. Nam put Zarrukh Adashev to sleep with a giant proper hand in simply 32 seconds. What made it even higher is that Nam has been a professional since 2006. He has bounced round a number of promotions, together with Bellator, World Sequence of Preventing and Combat Nights International in Russia. Nam by no means had a UFC win earlier than Saturday evening, and it occurred in completely spectacular style. What made it even higher is that Adashev is a legit prospect with a superb kickboxing background, together with appearances in Glory.

Which prospect made the largest impression on this card?

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Mariya Agapova lands a wonderfully timed kick on Hannah Cifers’ chin in Spherical 1.

Helwani: Does 29-year-old Merab Dvalishvili depend? If that’s the case, him. He is a freight prepare. He scored 13 takedowns in his victory over Gustavo Lopez (a private report), which implies he has 52 whole in his UFC profession. That ties him for 16th all time alongside Randy Couture and places him previous the likes of Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Grey Maynard and Ryan Bader, per UFC Stats. He additionally has 10 greater than Jon Jones. That is wild.

In case you are questioning, Georges St-Pierre holds the UFC report for takedowns with 90, and it took him 22 fights contained in the Octagon to get them. Dvalishvili has 52 in six Octagon appearances. Moreover, per ESPN Stats & Information, the report for takedowns in a fighter’s first 10 UFC fights was 50 by Karo Parisyan, and Dvalishvili has already damaged that in 4 fewer fights. In the event you ask anybody who trains with Dvalishvili at Serra-Longo on Lengthy Island about him, they are going to let you know that he is a future title contender and one of many nicest teammates they’ve ever had. Good or not, he seems to be a drive to be reckoned with at 135 after choosing up his fourth straight win.

Okamoto: Mariya Agapova. It isn’t typically that you simply keep in mind somebody who misplaced on the Dana White Contender Sequence, however I positively keep in mind Agapova. UFC president Dana White in contrast her to Joanna Jedrzejczyk that week, and you’ll see why. She’s tall and lengthy for the burden class. She’s a depraved striker at vary. What she lacked in that Contender Sequence bout was a refined floor recreation, as she was out-grappled by the gritty Tracy Cortez. Properly, she’s at an important camp at American High Crew, and she or he’s youngersolely 23. I see a really excessive ceiling on Agapova. I am guessing that anybody who noticed her on Saturday agrees.

Raimondi: I am unsure if she qualifies as a prospect, however Julia Avila has an opportunity to make a significant mark at girls’s bantamweight. She was extraordinarily spectacular in steamrollering previous Gina Mazany on Saturday by way of TKO in simply 22 seconds. Avila has received each of her UFC fights, and her solely profession loss got here in 2018 as a result of a gnarly hand damage. She has by no means actually been crushed. “Raging Panda” has the scale, the facility and the poise to beat quite a lot of opponents at 135 kilos. Plus, she could be a superb ambassador for MMA, which is her second job. Her first is as a geologist for an oil firm in Oklahoma Metropolis.

What was probably the most entertaining non-fighting second of the evening?

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Andre Fili manages to outlive Spherical 1 after getting knocked down by Charles Jourdain.

Helwani: A number of come to thoughts: First, I am actually having fun with the “new” postfight interviews. Initially, I did not like them, however I’ve fully modified my thoughts. They remind me of old-school professional wrestling interviews wherein the wrestlers would return to the “locker room” huffing and puffing and lower a promo about what simply occurred within the ring. They’re additionally like these between-intermission hockey interviews.

I discover that ready a few minutes after the combat offers for various solutions from the fighters. All in all, they have been strong as soon as once more. It additionally offers for moments such because the one with Mariya Agapova, whose power afterward was infectious. I additionally loved when Dvalishvili was scolded for leaping on the cage, and his response was that he was “simply glad.” Additionally, when he discovered through the postfight information convention that he broke his private report for takedowns and set free a large scream — that was enjoyable, too. Lastly, I loved Andre Fili‘s patented postfight victory dance. I hope he is someplace consuming a big pizza proper now. He is a pizza aficionado, in spite of everything.





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