Max Holloway And the Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 225 (2023)

Max Holloway And the Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 225

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    Max Holloway And the Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 225 (1)

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    Punches, kicks and tap-outs? First thing in the morning?

    Sign us up.

    The B/R combat team was at work prior to the east coast sunrise Saturday morning thanks to the UFC's trip across the globe to produce a Fight Night show from Southeast Asia.

    Ex-featherweight champion Max Holloway hasn't lost a non-title fight in 10 full years and he was in the main-event slot at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, where he met 36-year-old veteran Chan Sung Jung, who fought as the "Korean Zombie."

    Holloway has won 12 straight fights in non-championship settings since a decision loss to Conor McGregor in August 2013. He won a belt in 2016 and reigned for more than three years before dropping it to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 245 in 2019.

    Zombie, meanwhile, hadn't fought since losing his own bout with Volkanovki 16 months ago at UFC 273 and he's 4-3 in seven overall outings since a title loss to Jose Aldo in 2013.

    The preliminary show got underway at 5 a.m. ET and the main card, which began at 8 a.m., was littered with other interesting names as well, including former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith in the co-main event, unbeaten Japanese bantamweight Rinya Nakamura, and top-five women's flyweights Erin Blanchfield and Taila Santos.

    We were on hand to crank out a definitive list of the show's winners and losers in real time, so take a look at what we came up with and drop a thought of your own in the comments.

Winner: A Signature Exit

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    For most of the first two rounds, Max Holloway was faster,sharper, and more effective than the Korean Zombie and looked as if he couldeasily ride things out to a clear-cut five-round decision.

    But then the Zombie, at 36 years old and fighting in frontof a raucous crowd not too far from his native South Korea, decided to give itone last kill or be killed mission.

    The 12-year UFC veteran charged toward Holloway with a final barrage with the hopes of landing a fight-altering shot that'd fell the No. 1 featherweight and give him a reason to prolong his career.

    Instead, the ensuing scrum yielded a looping right hand fromHolloway that dropped him face-first to the floor and decisively ended both thefight and a professional run that began in 2007.

    "He's the Korean Zombie for a reason," Holloway said. "The man's a myth. The man's a legend. I'm just happy my right hand landed before his did."

    The official end to the competition came at 23 seconds ofthe third round.

    The official end to one of the promotion's most memorable careers came moments later when the Zombie removed his gloves, left them in the center of the Octagon and soaked up the adoration of a crowd that serenaded him back to the locker room with the chorus from the Cranberries' 1994 alternative radio hit Zombie.

    It was a spine-tingling moment in spite of the result.

    "I'm gonna stop fighting," he said. "I'm not here to be ranked third, fourth, or fifth. I really, really believed I could beat (Holloway), but I ended up failing. I don't think I have the opportunity anymore."

Loser: Casual Combat

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    So, you want to be a fighter for a living, eh?

    The three-round scrap between light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann might be enough to run off the pretenders.

    If the damage Smith's first-round kicks to Spann's left calf weren't enough to dissuade those on the fence about a career in combat, the sickening swelling Smith sustained around his own left eye after taking a punch directly to the socket in the second probably would have.

    The 35-year-old ex-title challenger stayed on the canvas for the balance of the round after the blow and had to endure a prolonged observation from a cage-side physician before the start of the third, but his endurance was rewarded with a split decision in which two judges gave him two of three rounds.

    Smith won two 29-28 scores and Spann got a third by the same margin. The B/R card agreed with the latter tally, seeing Spann's activity rate in the final 10 minutes as superior to Smith's precision in the first.

    Spann was choked out in one round by Smith when they met for the first time 23 months ago and was slack-jawed and stunned when announcer Joe Martinez declared he'd lost the rematch, too.

    Smith, meanwhile, sounded like a guy contemplating the end of the road.

    "I'm a 35-year-old man. I'm a dad. I've got 55 fights," he said. "That ain't too bad hanging with some of these mother f--kers in here.

    "Ryan Spann is physically superior to me. I had my faculties about me (after the eye punch), but it kinda blinded me for the rest of the round. I had to make a decision that I wasn't going anywhere. But right now I just wanna go home."

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Winner: Simple Success

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    Giga Chikadze's Saturday performance was not complicated.

    But its simplicity did not at all lessen its impact.

    The UFC's ninth-ranked featherweight hadn't fought in 18 months and hadn't won in two years before ending both droughts with a unanimous scorecard defeat of No. 15 Alex Caceres.

    Caceres, nicknamed "Bruce LeeRoy," arrived to the cage with a more memorable look and a more colorful style—complete with Superman punches, spinning elbows and jumping kicks. And he was intermittently effective with it in the first round as Chikadze did more watching than punching.

    The product of the Republic of Georgia began assertinghimself in the final two rounds, however, moving forward with fundamental jabs,straight right hands and follow-up left hooks, alongside an occasional kick to thelegs that left Caceres slightly less willing to charge forward.

    All three judges scored it a 30-27 shutout for Chikadze, whoappeared introspective at the outset of his post-win interview with MichaelBisping.

    "It's not easy to be without a job for one-and-a-half years when you have two kids and a wife and a family," he said. "But as you guys can see, I worked on many things, changed my style a little bit and I'm blessed to be here."

    Then, the 35-year-old broke character. Loudly.

    "The Giga Show is back mother f—kers," he screamed. "I've never lost a pay-per-view fight. Put me on that show in December."

Winner: Bantamweight Future

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    Sean O'Malley is the new king of the bantamweights.

    And though he needn't lose sleep quite yet over an unranked contender with just two official fights with the promotion, there's little to suggest Rinya Nakamura won't someday be a factor.

    The 28-year-old Japanese wrestler had gone past a singleround just once in his first seven pro outings but seemed more than willing todisplay a full arsenal of skills while grinding American-based foe FernieGarcia across 15 minutes on the way to a shutout unanimous decision.

    Two scorecards of 30-27 and another of 30-26 were thepredictable outcome but it was more about the superiority Nakamura showed whilegoing 4-for-4 on takedowns, running up better than nine minutes of control timeand chasing decisive finishes by strikes, chokes and armbars.

    "Rinya Nakamura has given Japan a bantamweight to watch," analyst Brendan Fitzgerald said.

    He didn't get a desired ending and didn't become the first foe to stop Garcia, but his gas tank still seemed near full after 15 minutes and indicated he'd be a factor after another year or two of seasoning.

    During fight week he'd deemed himself the "Japanese Bo Nickal," referencing the U.S. collegiate wrestling champion who's scored two first-round finishes since arriving to the UFC in March.

    "Every top-15 fighter is on my list," Nakamura said. "I'm a freshman in this sport. I'm developing. Just wait a few years and I'm gonna show you a surprise."

Winner: Flyweight Fortitude

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    Fighting Erin Blanchfield is no picnic.

    And even though the 24-year-old New Jerseyan's face was reddened, and her nose bloodied after five minutes of a flyweight scrap with fellow top contender Taila Santos, she was by no means bowed.

    In fact, she was just getting started.

    Blanchfield insisted all week that her gas tank would carryher through against her Brazilian foe and she was right, outhustling Santos andgradually taking control over the subsequent 10 minutes on the way to a narrowbut well-deserved unanimous decision—with all three judges scoring it 29-28.

    The longer the fight went the more Blanchfield changed itsgeography from the center of the mat to up along the fence, where sheconsistently locked Santos into clinches and chased takedowns. And even thoughSantos was able to successfully defend 12 consecutive takedown attempts, the persistentpressure wore her down and let her vulnerable to the intermittent strikes thatBlanchfield delivered.

    By the end, Santos was exhausted and Blanchfield wasexultant.

    "I'm fighting top five in the world so everyone's gonna be hard to hit, hard to take down," Blanchfield said. "She was swinging wild so that's why I was so persistent on the takedowns. I wanted to be sure I didn't get hit with anything crazy."

    Santos was one fight removed from a five-round challenge of then-flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko, so, given that she's improved to 6-0 in the Octagon, it's no surprise Blanchfield was insisting she's got next once Shevchenko rematches the foe who subsequently dethroned her, Alexa Grasso.

    "I want a title shot next," Blanchfield said. "I should get the winner."

Winner: Dominican Dominance

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    Waldo Cortes-Acosta knew what he'd accomplished.

    The Dominican heavyweight, a former baseball farmhand in the Cincinnati Reds organization, cringed and groaned as the replay of his KO of Lukasz Brzeski was shown.

    And there was good reason.

    The 31-year-old ex-pitcher, who fights with a something less than threatening "Salsa Boy" nickname, landed a series of thudding strikes that ultimately sent his opponent timbering face-first toward the mat and into a corner of the fence.

    "That's a fastball," he said. "It landed. I felt the best I ever felt in that fight."

    The devastating end came as Cortes-Acosta caught a right leg kick from Brzeski, who mirrored him at 6'4" but weighed "only" 243 pounds to his 264.

    Cortes-Acosta landed two right hands to his compromised opponent in that one-legged stance, then re-engaged a moment later and landed another straight right that prompted Brzeski to turn away and lurch like a wind sock in a tornado.

    Cortes-Acosta pursued with two more wrap-around lefts as Brzeski fleed, sending him toppling heavy to the floor and ending matters at 3:01 of the first.

    "That's the biggest win of his career," analyst Michael Bisping said.

Winner: Americans on the Road

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    Some folks are up for long road trips.

    Others, not so much.

    Turns out no fewer than four U.S.-based fighters were on the undercard portion of Saturday's show after having made an 8,000-plus-mile voyage from the continental mainland to the tiny diamond-shaped island at the south end of the Malayan Peninsula.

    Flyweight JJ Aldrich and welterweight Billy Goff started off strong for the red, white and blue, shaking off the jet lag to register finishes in the second and first rounds, respectively.

    Texan Chidi Njokuani took the first American 'L' when he was stopped in less than a round by Michal Oleksiejczuk in a middleweight slugfest, but he was picked up a fight later when Missouri bantamweight Garrett Armfield earned his first UFC win with a one-shot erasure of Japanese jiu-jitsu ace Toshiomi Kazama.

    Armfield and Kazama exchanged words and headbutts during a particularly testy Friday weigh-in and the enmity continued into the cage, where Armfield strafed his foe with accurate strikes for several minutes before landing a decisive straight right that left Kazama flat on his back. He pounced for another thudding right hand as Kazama laid prone and referee Kevin Sataki leapt in to protect the fallen fighter.

    Kazama sprang to his feet and grappled with Sataki in apparent protest but his continued wobbling backed analyst Michael Bisping's suggestion that it was "a perfect stoppage."

    Armfield, now 9-3 as a pro and 1-1 in the Octagon, insisted there's more to come.

    "I've been boxing since I was 7 years old," he said. "I'm 26 now. That's almost 20 years. I don't miss."

Full Card Results

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    Main Card

    Max Holloway def. Chan Sung Jung by KO (punch), 0:23, Round 3

    Anthony Smith def. Ryan Spann by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

    Giga Chikadze def. Alex Caceres by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Rinya Nakamura def. Fernie Garcia by unanimous decision (30-26, 20-27, 30-27)

    Erin Blanchfield def. Taila Santos by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    Junior Tafa def. Parker Porter by KO (punches), 1:24, Round 1

    Preliminary Card

    Waldo Cortes-Acosta def. Lukasz Brzeski by KO (punches), 3:01, Round 1

    Garrett Armfield def. Toshiomi Kazama by KO (punch), 4:16, Round 1

    Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Chidi Njokuani by KO (punches), 4:16, Round 1

    Song Kenan def. Rolando Bedoya by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    Billy Goff def. Yusaku Kinoshita by KO (punch), 3:49, Round 1

    JJ Aldrich def. Liang Na by KO (elbows), 4:49, Round 2

    SeungWoo Choi def. Jarno Errens by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

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