The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday touched down in new territory, as it brought UFC Fight Night 156 to Montevideo, Uruguay. Some stocks rose and others fell.
Vicente Luque: In extending his winning streak to six fights, Luque took home “Fight of the Night” honors for his three-round slugfest with Mike Perry. Luque failed to secure a finish, but another exciting performance figures to earn him a ranked opponent in his next assignment. Luque continues to prove that he is willing to stand and trade with anyone in the welterweight division, and the Hard Knocks 365-trained fighter seems to be hitting his stride. Afterward, Luque used his mic time to call out Stephen Thompson -- an opponent who could certainly put him on the map.
Volkan Oezdemir: The Swiss standout recovered from a three-fight skid and did so in a major way, as he knocked out Ilir Latifi in the second round of their heavyweight showcase. A dominant Oezdemir pushed a pace that Latifi could not match. Still ranked in the Top 10 at 205 pounds, “No Time” appears to be primed for another high-profile opponent in wake of his impressive effort. Afterward, Oezdemir called for a rematch with Dominick Reyes -- the undefeated Californian faces Chris Weidman at UFC on ESPN 6 in October -- or a showdown with former KSW champion Jan Blachowicz.
Gilbert Burns: In his return to the welterweight division, Burns passed a stiff test with flying colors and took a unanimous decision from the previously unbeaten Alexey Kunchenko. The four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion wore the added weight well, used his strength to force grappling exchanges and controlled most of the three-round affair. Burns extended his winning streak to three fights and established himself as a person of interest at 170 pounds. Afterward, he called for a fight with Michael Chiesa, another former lightweight who has benefited from a change in division.
Liz Carmouche: The Team Hurricane Awesome rep failed in her second attempt at a UFC title, as she dropped a lopsided unanimous decision to flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in the main event. Carmouche failed to implement her strengths, instead opting to play the distance game with a vastly superior striker. She ate leg kicks and jabs for the better part of five rounds. It was an uninspiring performance from Carmouche, and her lack of urgency can only be described as troubling. Perhaps she can get back on the horse soon and secure a matchup against another Top 10 opponent, but her days as a championship contender appear to be over.
Ilir Latifi: The 36-year-old suffered his second consecutive setback in a knockout loss to Oezdemir that saw him fall further out of contention at 205 pounds. Latifi’s recent troubles can be traced to cardio woes, as both Oezdemir and Corey Anderson managed to pull away from him. He has admitted to considering a move to heavyweight, but despite his stout frame, he would likely find himself at a significant size disadvantage against many opponents. Latifi is in an awkward place at this stage of his career.
Oskar Piechota: Not all that long ago, Piechota was viewed as one of the more promising up-and-coming middleweights in the company. Since starting his UFC run with consecutive victories, he has lost his last two bouts -- the latest setback resulting in a submission defeat to grappling ace Rodolfo Vieira. Piechota will need to make some adjustments moving forward if he wants to get back to his winning ways and become a viable contender at 185 pounds. One fact working in his favor: As a proven finisher, he has delivered 10 of his 11 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
Tecia Torres: It cannot be denied that Torres has endured a rough slate of opponents of late. Her four-fight skid consists of losses to current strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, former champion Joanna Jendrzejczyk, current No. 1 contender Weili Zhang and the undefeated Marina Rodriguez. While the UFC may consider Torres’ fight-anybody attitude, four straight losses speaks for itself and she could find herself in a do-or-die situation -- if she even receives another opportunity with the promotion. She would be wise to dial down the degree of difficulty next time out.
Polyana Viana: The former Jungle Fight champion has lost three straight bouts since she made a successful UFC debut in February 2018 and appears to be inching closer to a dreaded pink slip. Viana does possess a skill the company covets, as she has a knack for finishing fights: All 10 of her wins have come by KO, TKO or submission. That is especially true for someone who competes at 115 pounds, where finishes are less prevalent. Should Viana draw another assignment from the UFC, expect her to go out and try to show why she was signed in the first place.