The Brain carried a very narrow lead heading into this card. When the dust finally settled the Heart managed to do slightly better by going 4-2 while the Brain only managed to go 3-3. That means that everything is tied up again at 47-35. This card had the potential to be fireworks. While the card may have been a little light on finishes, it still had plenty of action. Let’s look at the top 5 moments of UFC Fight Night 88:
- Koch Picks Up Solid Win after Long Layoff
Koch had been out of action for over two years and many wondered how he’d look upon his return. He looked solid striking early against the dangerous Campbell. Koch managed to get the fight against the fence and got a takedown to close out the first round. In the second, Koch was able to score with a takedown early and immediately started hunting for a submission. Campbell was able to fend him off, but he left a small opening and Koch jumped all over it and locked in the rear-naked choke to force the tap. It was good to finally see Koch back in action after injuries had previously set him back. I’m excited to see what he can do at 155 if he can stay healthy. He still has a long road ahead to reach the top, but this will go a long way in establishing some much needed momentum.
- Colliers Earns Bonus with Nasty Body Kick
Collier appeared to be in trouble early in the first, but managed to hang on and come back strong in the second half of the first round. The second round wasn’t so close. Collier landed a nice spinning kick to the body. He then followed up with a knee and a few more shots against the cage. Uda was clearly hurt and Collier landed another spinning back kick to the body the dropped Uda to the canvas. Collier followed with a couple punches, but it was clear the damage was done. That nasty finish earned Collier a Performance of the Night Bonus. With the win Collier now sits at 2-2 in the UFC and likely saved himself from being cut in the process.
- Larkin Tops Masvidal in Entertaining Scrap
Larkin and Masvidal traded strikes and kicks throughout three full rounds of action.Both fighters had their moments in this fight. Just as momentum appeared to be swinging one way, the other fighter would pick up the pace. Larkin seemed to get the better of some of those exchanges and was able to land a couple takedowns in the fight as well. All three rounds were close and hard to score. I definitely figured there would be a split decision. I was correct, and two of the three judges scored the fight for Larkin giving him the split decision win. Larkin is likely now looking at a top 15 opponent and he may slide into the top 15 when the new rankings come out as well.
- Stephens Spoils Barao’s Move to Featherweight
There was quite a bit of tension at the weigh-ins, but both of these guys seemed to have a lot of respect for each other once the cage door closed. Barao looked sharp in the first and did a nice job of getting in and out and circling to avoid the power of Stephens. In the second and third rounds, Barao stayed in front of Stephens a little longer and gave him the openings he needed to consistently tag Barao. There was a point in the second where Barao appeared very rocked, but he was able to regain his composure. Stephens kept trying to throw bombs. Barao held his ground and landed some as well. In the end, Stephens took home the unanimous decision 29-28. Barao was definitely hoping for some better luck in his featherweight debut, but he didn’t look out of place. Stephens picks up a much needed win in a fairly high profile fight. Many of the people ahead of him in the rankings Stephens has already lost to, but there are still plenty of options in the top 10 or top 15 for him to fight.
- Garbrandt Blasts Almeida
Garbrandt looked sharp early. He pressed forward from the start and never let Almeida get comfortable. A couple solid shots by Garbrandt had Almeida backing up and a massive right sent Almeida tumbling to the canvas. Garbrandt followed up with a few shots to seal the deal. Outstanding work from Garbrandt to remain undefeated and give Almeida the first loss of this career. This loss will definitely hurt for Almeida, but he’s still young and can definitely bounce back and continue his climb towards the top. I don’t this is the last time we see these two go at it. I really don’t think Garbrandt is too far off from a title shot, but the UFC may want to “build his star” a little more before he receives a title shot. A fight between fellow Fight Night 88 winner Bryan Caraway seems like the fight to make, though it may take one more win after that to earn a title shot.
Be sure to check later this week for UFC 199. The main event is a rematch between Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman for the middleweight title. The co-main event is trilogy fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber for the bantamweight title.
Any questions or comments? Hit me up on Twitter @IAMMAEverlast or comment below.