With a 2 week long break that felt like forever, the UFC had a banger of a card with UFC Fight Night: Font VS. Aldo. The main event saw the former two time UFC featherweight champion and now bantamweight title contender Jose Aldo (31-7 MMA, 13-6 UFC) grind out a hard 25 minute unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45 x2) over the New England's Cartels own Rob Font (19-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC). Font started early with a fast pace trying to get Aldo into a brawl and gas him out as seen in his fights in the past but Jose's power was too much, dropping him twice in the fight and using his under utilized ground game to notch over 9 minutes of ground control to earn his 3rd straight win and calls for a fight with TJ Dillashaw. With the entire main card besides the main event ending before the distance, there was a knack for violence with 8 finishes as well as 4 performance of the night bonuses handed out and a questionable fight of the night to the prelim bout between Cheyanne "The Warrior Princess" Vlismas (7-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Mallory Martin (7-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC). A lot of storylines can and will be taken into account when it comes to serious ranked matchups and title contention so Saturday night was a fight card that won't be forgotten.
The Action Man Brings The Action AGAIN.
With notching 5 straight wins and 4 KO/TKO stoppages including his upset 1st round KO win over highly touted prospect Phil Hawes in Madison Square Garden in 2021 alone, you'd think he would take time off to fight with a full camp? You wouldn't be anymore wrong and you can always count on the action man. With multiple pull-outs leaving DWCS alum Brendan "All In" Allen (17-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) without an opponent, Curtis stepped in with only 2 weeks notice and yet again his opponent over looked him. With quotes like "I feel like I do everything better than him" thrown around speaking to the media on media day and downplaying Curtis and seem more focused on a rematch with Sean Strickland and ahead of the nasty right hook that was heading his way. The 1st round was a close back and forth with Allen finding his way with low kicks and attempting to bring the fight to the ground while Chris dug the body the only way Chris Curtis knows how. Midway through the 2nd however, Chris threw a body uppercut that was partially blocked but left Allen open for a right hook that rocked him bad and after a flurry of body uppercuts and knees left referee no choice but to stop it at the 1:58 mark with a TKO finish, his 5th in 2021 and his 6th straight win. He left the Apex with an extra $50 thousand in his pockets and it is safe to say that Curtis is more than just a journeyman and now a UFC mainstay and a tough matchup with an even tougher outcome.
Starboy Earns His Shining Moment
Former RIZIN bantamweight champion Manel "Starboy" Kape (17-6 MMA, 2-2 UFC) stumbled out of the gate in his UFC tenure. His UFC debut was a unanimous decision loss to flyweight title contender Alexandre Pantoja back in Feburary and lost his next fight against Matheus Nicolau the following month via controversial spilt decision. With Kape being winless in the UFC and the threat of a UFC release and a signing that did not pan out, Kape has rattled off 2 straight first round finishes, with a flying knee KO over Ode Osbourne and a TKO victory over Zhalgas Zhumagulov on Saturday night. The matchup between Kape and Zhumagulov was one filled with rivalry as Kape attacked the country of Kazakhstan (which is Zhumagulov's home country) and one filled with intensity as the stare down was the most fierce one at weigh ins. When it came down for them to square up and the octagon cage shut, the difference in speed and power was heavily on Kape's side. With a short feeling out process, Kape started the fight with more volume compared to what he lacked in his first 3 outings with the company. With only a minute and a half left in round one, Kape landed clean with a straight right hand that dropped his opponent and a flurry of punches up against the fence not only finished the fight but it as well showcased the insane hand speed and finishing ability he holds in the flyweight division. With a 1st round victory and Ronaldo's signature goal celebration used to rejoice, Kape is starting to live up his nickname Starboy to the fans of the UFC and in the United States.
A Comeback For The Ages
In his 49th fight as a professional and his 32nd fight with the UFC, Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (37-21 MMA, 17-15 UFC) put on his best performance yet with a shocking 2nd round rear naked choke submission over Brazilian Jiu jistu black belt and Nova Uniao product Leonardo Santos (19-5-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC). With wavering success with the UFC and Santos just suffering his first UFC loss in his 9th appearance, people wrote him off noting that his best days were behind him and the first round almost proved the critics right. The first round was all Santos, originally hurting him with a kick to the body following up for about a minute and a half of knees from the Thai clinch that sent Guida to the canvas but Keith Peterson let the fight go on and Santos gassed his arms and legs out by trying to manufacture a finish as the end of the first round saw Guida on top and a momentum change to the side of the American. With Santos visually drained from the onslaught thrown in the first, Guida took his opportunity and pressured him to the cage and took him down with plenty of time to work on the ground. In a shocking turn of events, Guida took his back and at the 1:21 mark of the second, he sunk in a rear naked choke that forced the tap and earned him one of the best comebacks of 2021 (Spike Carlyle and Sergio Pettis just a day before are the other two on that list) as well as a performance of the night bonus as well as a UFC ring given to him for his 40th birthday in a few days. And at the young age of 39, Guida continues to show that father time CAN be beaten.
Vince Vaughns's and Hasbulla's Worst Nightmares
In a ranked lightweight matchup of 2 future contenders, Rafael "Attaman" Fiziev (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) faced off against the hard hitting City Kickboxing product Brad Riddell (10-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) in the co-main event slot and it delivered in all aspects and received a highlight finish to cap it all off. Fiziev is coming off a fight of the night against fellow fan favorite Bobby Green and calling out Hasbulla afterwards and Riddell as well coming off a fight of the night with Drew Dober, fireworks were bound to happen in the cage with these two former training partners. With the first two rounds being highly contested with Fiziev pushing the action and controlling the octagon as Riddell jabbed and tried to solve the puzzle of Fiziev's excellent striking ability, Rafael made a read that lead to the only 13th wheel kick finish inside the UFC and $50 thousand to remember the performance. Riddell noticed that when Fiziev would switch to orthodox to use that to escape side to side to avoid the switch kicks coming with his hands down, to combat that Fiziev switched stances and fired a wheel kick clean to the jaw that left Riddell out on his feet and Herb Dean (thank god he made a good stoppage because he has not been too great as of late) called the fight with 2:20 on the clock and in his post fight interview called out actor Vince Vaughn as his next opponent who was sitting cageside. With a fan friendly attitude and performances like the one against Riddell, Fiziev becomes a massive player in the near future to contest for the UFC lightweight championship currently held by Charles Oliviera.