The Ultimate Fighting Championship was in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday with a middleweight banger as its featured attraction, as Ronaldo Souza attempted to secure a title shot with a win over relative newcomer Jack Hermansson. Though “Jacare” had his moments during the 25-minute affair -- they included an excellent third round in which he appeared to stagger Hermansson with a left hook and a follow-up flurry -- the former Strikeforce champion ultimately did not do enough to carry the scorecards, dropping a unanimous decision that put his future with the promotion into doubt.
Beneath the 185-pound marquee, controversy magnets Greg Hardy and Mike Perry -- who also happen to be Florida locals -- picked up a pair of victories, while former light heavyweight title contender Glover Teixeira overcame a hazardous first round against Ion Cutelaba to score a second-round submission.
As always, “The Vanquished” analyzes the main card fights from UFC Fight Night 150 and makes recommendations for who their losers will fight next.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Jared Cannonier-Anderson Silva winner: Souza was more than a 2-to-1 favorite to beat late-replacement Hermansson, but the Swede’s constant pressure and willingness to jump into the “Jacare” guard to land punches and elbows saw him cruise to an upset unanimous decision. With the win, “The Joker” supplants Souza’s status as a frontrunner for the next middleweight title shot after Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya unify the titles later this year, leaving the 39-year-old Souza as an odd man out at 185 pounds. Of the four men ranked ahead of him (Whittaker, Adesanya, Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold), “Jacare” has lost to three of them, and at the post-fight press conference, he seemed genuinely distraught when asked if he had thought about what his future held. Assuming he does not announce his retirement, a fight opposite the winner of Silva-Cannonier at UFC 237 in Brazil would make sense next, if only due to a lack of alternatives.
Alex Oliveira vs. Niko Price: Perry hit Oliveira with everything he had in their welterweight scrap, but “Cowboy” kept coming, all while throwing a dynamic array of punches and kicks on his way to a unanimous decision loss that was picked as “Fight of the Night” after the curtain closed. A consummate finisher with 15 UFC fights -- 10 of them victories -- under his belt, Oliveira finds himself in unfamiliar territory, with Perry handing him a second consecutive loss for the first time in his eight-year career. At only 31 years old and fighting more frequently than most of his welterweight counterparts, he figures to have plenty of time to right the ship. Oliveira should next fight Price, who got back in the win column with a knockout of Tim Means at UFC Fight Night 146 in March.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Misha Cirkunov: Cutelaba got off to a flying start in his fight with Teixeira, rocking the veteran with a spinning backfist and coming within range of a finish with some nasty ground-and-pound in the opening round. However, the Moldovan came unglued in the second act, succumbing to a slick rear-naked choke that underscored Teixeira’s status as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and overall badass. At 25 years old and in a desperately thin division, “The Hulk” is in no danger of losing his job anytime soon, but with a .500 record inside the Octagon, his ceiling does appear to be coming into focus. A fight with a Top 15 commodity in Curkunov, who was last seen getting blasted by Johnny Walker, would answer a lot of the outstanding questions about Cutelaba’s potential.
John Lineker vs. John Dodson: One of the bantamweight division’s most beloved fixtures, Lineker lost an exciting and contentious decision to Cory Sandhagen that could easily have been a “Fight of the Night” on a less exciting card. Though Lineker managed to land a number of vaunted left hooks that would have put down most other 135ers, Sandhagen controlled the range well and utilized a solid jab and feints on his way to a split decision. A perennial contender as both a flyweight and a bantamweight, Lineker once again finds himself back “in the mix.” He should next face Dodson in a rematch of their 2016 scrap, which Lineker won by split decision.
Thomas Gifford vs. Callan Potter: Gifford made his UFC debut opposite fellow prospect Roosevelt Roberts, losing in straight sets on the judges’ scorecards. With an underwhelming 14-8 professional record and having landed in perhaps the most talent-stacked division in the UFC’s history, Gifford will need to defy many expectations to become a factor at 155 pounds. He should next fight Potter, an Australian MMA veteran who lost his Octagon debut via first-round knockout to Jalin Turner in February.