Perhaps it was the predetermined outcome of Cain’s destruction of “Big Foot” Silva or maybe the weather was nice everywhere else in America this weekend. Whatever the reason the 7th annual Memorial Day outing at the MGM Grand proved to be the lowest live gate, by far, which is fascinating considering the fan base for the explosive heavyweights in the UFC. But as I am sure Joe Silva would tell you, it is all about the match making.
Despite the poor gate there were some fantastic fights on Saturday night, none as stand out as the arrival of TJ Grant. When I had the opportunity to see Grand fight Matt Wiman at UFC on FOX in Chicago, his 4th fight at lightweight and another 1st round stoppage of Wiman there was something about him after that fight that you knew something special was coming. I am sure many, including myself, would have failed the test if they had to guess when that performance was coming. But Saturday night in just over two minutes TJ Grant stopped Gray Maynard, a man who was a punch or two away from having the lightweight strap around his waist in 2011. TJ Grant’s performance was spectacular on Saturday and while I am hard pressed to say he could do the same thing to Benson Henderson he is on a collision course to become a household name. The rumors are that the fight will happen at the FOX Sports 1 card and I could not be more excited.
The trilogy between Junior Dos Santos and the defending champion Cain Velasquez (who is one more win away from tying the record held by Randy Couture) is set to happen before the end of the year. On the one hand you have a stunning heel kick that stopped Mark Hunt (broken toe and all) in his tracks and set JDS on the course he felt he was destined for, Cain Velasquez III. Cain on the other hand made quick work of Big Foot Silva who probably saw his stock go down more than any fighter on the card Saturday night. But what can we expect from the third fight between these two? Both men were said to be hurt going into the first bout, JDS is rumored to have had a medical condition from overtraining for the second fight that nearly killed him, and now we have two men who are in their prime heading towards each other for a definitive end to the trilogy. Dana would not commit to a date but needless to say this was the biggest win for the UFC on Saturday night.
The other stand out is now 20-0 (4-0 in the UFC) Khabib Nurmagomedov who outworked and out grappled Abel Trujillo. What is fascinating about Nurmagomedov is that he can attack you from every position and move to any other position with a flow that is very impressive and an aggressive style where he constantly tries to finish the fight. In those three rounds Khabib finished 28 takedowns shattering the previous record of 16 held by Sean Sherk when he fought Hermes Franca back in 2007. Nurmagomedov is one to watch assuming he has no more issues with the weight cut as he came in 3 lbs over Friday night as he could be in line for a title shot very soon.