UFC 293 is officially in the rear view mirror, closing with a massive headline and a stunned crowd in Sydney, Australia. The event was meant to be a home fight for many fighters from Australia and New Zealand, but homefield advantage didn’t necessarily show up. And the flyweight division gave us another banger that proves why it’s the most underrated division in the UFC.

Noche UFC, a fight card in Vegas to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, was held a mere week later. Alexa Grasso defended her belt for the first time in a title rematch over Valentina Shevchenko, the woman she beat for the title. Noche UFC provided Mexican fighters with a homefield advantage that wasn’t necessarily any friendlier to the natives as Sydney. So without further wait, let’s dive into my UFC 293 plus Noche UFC recap.


Shocker in Sydney

Sean Strickland stuns Israel Adesanya to win UFC middleweight title - ESPN

Heading into UFC 293, mostly everyone with a brain was favoring Israel Adesanya to beat Sean Strickland and retain his middleweight title. The end result shocked the MMA world, as Strickland defeated Adesanya by unanimous decision in a fight that he controlled most of the way, scoring a knockdown on Adesanya in the process. That knockdown was the first suffered by Adesanya in his UFC career, and it all led to hearing “And Neeeeewwww …” once Bruce Buffer announced the result.

Nabbing a win over Adesanya in this fashion was a massive accomplishment for Strickland. It probably helped that he trained with Adesanya’s arch rival, Alex Pereira, who Strickland lost to back in 2022. With Pereira’s help, Strickland and his acclaimed coach, Eric Nicksick, came up with an effective gameplan that outclassed that of Adesanya and his coach, Eugene Bareman, another one of the best coaches in the sport.

Strickland now has a ton of options in the middleweight division, but it seems like a rematch with Adesanya is likely to happen next. The UFC loves giving rematches to their long-reigning champions and superstars, and Adesanya fits that mold. If Strickland can win the rematch, he would have a ton of interesting potential challengers, such as Dricus Du Plessis, Jared Cannonier, Robert Whittaker, and more.


Flyweight Entertainment

Manel Kape def. Felipe dos Santos at UFC 293: Best photos

In my opinion, the flyweight division is the most entertaining division in the UFC. Yet it is also the most overlooked division by the majority of fans. Everyone loves to see the big heavyweights slug it out, but the technical ability of the fighters at 125 lbs might be the highest of any division in the entire UFC. 

Manel Kape was originally slated to fight Kai Kara-France at UFC 293 before KKF suffered a concussion three weeks prior that rendered him unable to compete. This led to drama between Kape and Kara-France when KKF showed up at both the ceremonial weigh-ins and the event itself to support his teammates from the City Kickboxing gym. Kape did not like KKF showing up and not fighting, and called him out for it. 

Kape got a replacement fight against Felipe dos Santos, who was making his UFC debut and held a career MMA record of 7-0. The fight between Kape and dos Santos was an extremely fun, high-paced bout. Although Kape came out with a solid win, dos Santos showed he can compete in the UFC. The fight also took home Fight of the Night honors, awarding each fighter with a $50,000 bonus. With tension still extremely high between Kape and Kara-France, it seems like the two of them are now on a collision course to face each other in a future fight.


A Split Draw?

Noche UFC results, highlights: Alexa Grasso, Valentina Shevchenko battle to split draw, champ retains title - CBSSports.com

Moving to Noche UFC, Alexa Grasso defended her women’s flyweight title for the first time in a rematch with the woman she defeated to win the title, Valentina Shevchenko. Headlining Noche UFC was a massive moment for Grasso, a Mexican who was granted the opportunity to represent her country on a massive stage. Shevchenko, the second women’s flyweight champ ever and the first to defend the belt, was in turn granted a chance to regain her throne atop the division.

The fight was extremely tight, with Grasso’s biggest moment coming on a knockdown in the second round. Shevchenko’s biggest moments came on the ground following multiple trips and takedowns. It was an extremely close fight that ended with Grasso retaining her title in a controversial split draw, with the scorecards reading 48-47 Grasso, 48-47 Shevchenko, and 47-47 (due to a controversial 10-8 5th round scored for Grasso). No one as of now is quite sure what’s next for either fighter. Shevchenko is pushing for a rematch, while Grasso is in wait-and-see mode. A trilogy fight seems likely, but there’s a chance that Grasso defends the title against someone like Manon Fiorot before facing Shevchenko yet again.


Homefield Advantage?

After a tough loss at UFC 293, what's next for Tai Tuivasa?

At UFC 293 in Sydney, the fighters that hail from or train in the Australia/New Zealand region went a combined 5-5 in their fights. The highest profile wins were Justin Tafa’s knockout victory over former NFL player Austen Lane and Tyson Pedro’s knockout win over Anton Turkalj. The highest profile losses were Israel Adesanya’s loss to Sean Strickland in the main event and Tai Tuivasa’s submission loss to Alexander Volkov, who choked him out with the rare use of an Ezekiel choke. That was only the fourth ever Ezekiel choke win in UFC history, and Volkov was just the third fighter to win with that hold. An interesting note is that all four Ezekiel choke wins in UFC history have come in the heavyweight division.

At Noche UFC, Mexican fighters put up a record of 4-2-1, with one no contest. If that looks confusing, here is a quick explanation. The highest profile win was from 18-year-old Raul Rosas Jr, who defeated Terrence Mitchell by KO/TKO. The highest profile defeat was probably Fernando Padilla losing to Kyle Nelson by decision to open the main card. The draw was the split draw between Grasso and Shevchenko, and the no contest was in a bout where Edgar Chairez appeared to defeat Daniel da Silva by submission, yet after replay it was determined that the referee ended the fight before da Silva tapped or passed out from the choke. That resulted in the finish getting overturned, and the fight ending in a no contest.


UFC 294 Look Ahead

UFC lightweight champ Islam Makhachev will rematch Charles Oliveira at UFC 294

Now that UFC 293 and Noche UFC are both in the books, it’s now time to look ahead to UFC 294, which will take place in Abu Dhabi. The headliner is UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev defending his title in a rematch against Charles Oliveira, the former champ who Makhachev defeated for the title. Makhachev will definitely be the favorite for that fight, but Oliveira cannot be counted out. Oliveira owns the UFC record for most submission victories, and his striking has improved by leaps and bounds in the past five years, let alone since he made his debut at 20 years old back in 2010.

As for the rest of the card, the co-main event should bring fireworks. Former title challenger Paulo Costa faces off against the 12-0 Khamzat Chimaev, who returns to the middleweight division after missing weight in his last welterweight fight a year ago. If Chimaev wins, he’ll be in place for a top contender fight, which could lead to a title opportunity. Other fights include Nassourdine Imavov facing Ikram Aliskerov in a middleweight fight, as well as Magomed Ankalaev facing off against the always entertaining Johnny Walker in what should be a title eliminator at light heavyweight.


That wraps up my recap of UFC 293 and Noche UFC. It was a fun night of fights for both events, including a stunning upset for the middleweight title from Sean Strickland, a split draw for the women’s flyweight championship, and much, much more. If there’s anything you took away from UFC 293 or Noche UFC that you would like to share, make sure to tweet it out to myself @derrik_maguire and to @BleacherBrawl to let us know your thoughts.

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