The Octagon’s run of electric Fight Night’s continued in UFC Rochester on Saturday night. A UFC 2019 record of nine finishes; a champion-esque performance in the main event; and a hometown fighter delivering for hundreds of fans highlighted a night to be remembered in upstate New York.
At the top of it all was Rafael Dos Anjos. In finishing Kevin Lee in the main event, Dos Anjos showcased of experience against the UFC’s elite. In arguably the UFC's most crowded division, another wrinkle was added to its long list of contenders.
There storylines ran deeper than just finishes for some of the victors. Here are the Talking Points for UFC Rochester.
Rafael Dos Anjos has faced a murderer's row of opponents since stepping up to welterweight. After defeating longtime champ Robbie Lawler, Dos Anjos dropped back-to-back fights against Colby Covington and current champ Kamaru Usman. The previous two bouts – against two of the UFC’s elite wrestlers – seemed to prepare him for the wrestling of Kevin Lee.
Dos Anjos took Lee down more than he’s ever been taken down before. And after going five rounds in each of his last three fights, Dos Anjos’ gas tank was relentless en route to submitting Lee in the fourth.
If you asked the fans in Rochester, Michel Pereira delivered one of the most memorable moments of the night when he knocked out Danny Roberts in the first round. Pereira, however, thought he could have done more.
“I’ve had better fights than this,” Pereira said. “I fought very little in there. I couldn’t even show half of my skills. I still have a lot of fantastic moves to show the UFC fans.”
Pereira will surely get his chance to show UFC fans more of his moves. The 25-year-old already has 22 victories - including 15 finishes – and regardless of his self-criticism, you could argue Saturday’s performance was the best of all. Not many fighters are given the caliber of opponent that Pereira matched up with for his UFC debut.
Pereira said he wants to be the new showman of the UFC – a proclamation that seems very possible.
As for Dawson, the featherweight said leading up to Saturday night how he was disappointing with his most recent performance – decision win over Julian Erosa in March – because he failed to get a finish. Dawson righted that ship in Rochester locked in a rear-naked-choke for the win against Michael Trizano.
Aspen Ladd (8-0) isn’t the type to call out an opponent. But it’s clear it’s time for the undefeated bantamweight to step up in class. Ladd defeated Sijara Eubanks for the second time and with only two UFC wins entering Saturday, she was already ranked sixth in the division.
Ladd showed a variety of skills against Eubanks. She landed 85 strikes, three takedowns and came close to earning a submission.
Despite being featured on the prelims, it was apparent at the final bell that the back-and-forth contest would be an easy pick for Fight of the Night.
An event packed with thrilling finishes and electric moments reached its peak when Rochester’s hometown fighter walked to the Octagon. Fans pelted Green with cheers before and after he earned a decision victory over Charles Jourdain.
It wasn’t the most impressive victory of the lightweight’s career. Despite a clear size advantage, Green stood with Jourdain for much of the fight in hopes of earning a finish. In the end, he got the job done with his best skill: wrestling. He earned a takedown in the first and a few more in the third which was enough to seal the win.
The continued improvement of Charles Oliveira may be the most underrated storyline in the lightweight division. A legendary submission artist, Oliveira showed another aspect to his game in Rochester when he finished Nik Lentz by TKO in the second round.
It’s now been five consecutive wins - all by finish. This recent finish etched his name deeper in the record books as Oliveira is now tied with Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort for the second most finishes (14) in UFC history.
There isn’t much else the Brazilian could have down to improve his stock Saturday.
The main card matchup between Megan Anderson and Felicia Spencer has been anticipated longer than this most recent fight week. The two featherweights are the last two title holders of the 145-pound strap in Invicta FC but they had never met.
While Anderson entered the Octagon for the third time, Spencer entered as the debutant. It couldn’t have went better for the Canadian. Spencer grabbed hold of Anderson early and never let up, eventually sinking in a rear naked choke.
Their remains to be an official rankings list for the UFC’s women’s featherweight division but when it comes, Spencer figures to be as close to the top as anyone.
Fight of the Night: Ladd vs. Eubanks
Performances of the Night: Pereira & Dawson