UFC Rio Rancho was not what anyone was expecting. While it was never going to be a powerhouse of a card, the main event, in the wake of Jon Jones’ latest title defense at UFC 247, was expected to produce a possible contender for the light heavyweight division. If not a title eliminator, it was the next best thing.
Well, on that front, the card delivered. The rest of the night was a rather weird affair, however. Fights that were expected to be hot, ran cold. Fights that had bonus potential ended with fouls. The same foul, in fact. Michel Pereira vs. Diego Sanchez, which had Fight of the Night written all over it, came to an end early when Pereira connected with an illegal knee. Pereira had been dominating the bout. Sanchez was cut open, but the doctor ruled he could continue. Sanchez, however, said he could not. After asking to speak to his coach, and confirming that the fight would end with a DQ if he couldn’t continue, he advised the ref he couldn’t see.
That was that. A DQ win for Sanchez, who was well within his rights not to continue. The only problem, it was not the end any fan really wanted to see in an entertaining and at times puzzling affair. Sanchez attempted some rolling thunder kicks, apparently forgot how to wrestle, entered the octagon strutting like a peacock, and prior to the fight was seen foaming at the mouth.
Only in MMA, right?
Pereira, meanwhile, was his usually flashy self, with just a hint of restraint. By the third round, there was no sign of fatigue from the Brazilian.
The end was almost a carbon copy of the Brok Weaver-Kazula Vargas fight, where Vargas kneed his downed opponent. That ended in a DQ as well, with the win going to Weaver.
What was left, in terms of bonus-worthy bouts, was the main event knockout of Corey Anderson by Jan Blachowicz. That one was a lock the second Anderson’s head bounced off the canvas. Statement made. Polish power prevails. Blachowicz, despite his last two wins coming over middleweights, probably should get the next title shot. Jones himself was in attendance, and certainly seemed impressed.
That earned the former KSW champ a Performance of the Night award. The other went to newcomer Daniel Rodriguez, who no one gave much of a chance to against Tim Means. Rodriguez proved the pundits wrong, catching a battered Means in a standing guillotine for the submission win.
#UFCRioRancho POTN bonuses 💰💰 pic.twitter.com/cb9MX82LE2
— UFC (@ufc) February 16, 2020
Fight of the Night, meanwhile, went to Jim Miller and Scott Holtzman, who managed to battle it out for three rounds without any significant fouls. An impressive feat on a night with two illegal knees, and more low blows in Dodson vs. Wood than we care to recall.