DWCS week 2 has some winners that could have bright futures.
Bantamweight, Chad Anheliger
Anheliger was largely looked over in this fight by the bookmakers. He fought Tajikistan’s Muin Gafurov who was a veteran of twenty pro fights and a ONE Championship staple. Anheliger was a big underdog closing in at a +310. Gafurov started off hot taking Anheliger and taking the back. For the duration of the three rounds, Anheliger fought out of bad spots and got into better positions. Anheliger won the majority of the exchanges on the feet even dropping Gafurov at a time. He did get taken down a few times but capitalized on mistakes and recovered top position. Going into round three it was 19-19 and Anheliger with more in the tank clearly won the round.
It was a tough/gritty performance from Anheliger but the fight overall was stale. It’s no question he’s had an amazing career turnaround but to me, the performance wasn’t enough. Anheliger is already 34 and at his peak right now. He’s not gonna get better and the roster is a huge step up compared to who he’s been fighting. There is no way Anheliger can make any sort of impact in the bantamweight division. He proved me wrong before but I still believe my initial thoughts remain true.
I would pair Anheliger up with someone well-rounded who can test him everywhere. Kevin Natividad is someone who’s struggled in the UFC as he sits at 0-2. He’s much better than that and is in dire need of a win. It’s a fight to see how good Anheliger is and to see if Natividad has that spark he had when he was in LFA.
Flyweight, Carlos Vergara
On paper and looking this fight over Vergara and Bruno Korea was the most competitive fight. It was not competitive at all and Vergara finished in under a minute. Vergara right out of the gate went after it put a stamp on the fight and his name on the contract early.
I picked Korea to win but stated it was close and both are UFC caliber. After the way, Vergara dismantled Korea I have even more praise towards him. I’m not sure if he ever reaches the top 10 but the top 15 is a real possibility. If he can straighten up his striking defense and improve his ground game slightly he’ll be even better. He already has the speed, power, endurance, and finishing ability that fits perfectly in at the 125-pound flyweight division.
Vergara is capable of exciting fights and a fight with Zarrukh Adashev would be that. Adashev is on the edge if he’s UFC level or not. He was brought into the UFC too early. He got knocked out in his first two fights and won his last one. Adashev is primarily a striking and a good one at that. Someone would come out with a KO/TKO victory if these two paired up.
Bantamweight, Saimon Oliveira
This was another underwhelming fight between Brazil’s Oliveira and short-notice replacement Jose Alday. On the broadcast, Dana said this was a dog fight. Sure there were some good moments but it was far from high-level at all. Oliveira threw a ton of output while throwing a lot of kicks and explosive shots. He landed some but missed way more and was extremely sloppy in his approach. Oliveira did control Alday on the mat, landed some good takedowns, and had the bigger moments on the feet. To do that was impressive, I will say. Oliveira admitting he was tired after five minutes was a bad look. He hurt Alday real bad on the feet that had him frozen but took him down instead which was beyond the wrong decision.
Oliveira has a lot of holes and they will be exploited in the best division in the world right now. I cant understand the signing but beating Journey Newson would prove a lot of people wrong. Newson is 1-2 in the UFC and is hardly known at all but a fight Id consider him as a large favorite. It would be a good test for both guys. Newson is a far different fight compared to Alday and Oliveira is just a tough guy to read.
Middleweight, Chidi Njokuani
Njokuani made his contender series appearance with 26 fights and 14-years of experience. Njokuani fought for Bellator for five years and has main evented three times. It was weird to see him go the contender series route to get in the UFC. His opponent was Mario Sousa who fought and won last season on the contender series. Even though this fight went longer than the two others it was the biggest beatdown of the night. Njokuani destroyed Sousa on the feet, especially in the clinch. Njokuani hasn’t shown a lot of his ground game as he’s a kickboxer but did in this fight. He pummeled Sousa on top with elbows. He dropped Sousa in round three with a knee to the body and finished it up with ground and pound. It was evident as the fight went Sousa didn’t wanna be in there with all the damage he was taken.
I like Njokuani and the style he brings to the table. He’s a strong kickboxer and a crafty striker overall. As it’s nice to see he has a ground game I have strong concerns if he was to compete against an actual good grappler. He’s already established and has fought tons of good competition so the UFC is where he belongs. I see Njokuani doing well in the UFC but never reaching his full potential. I still feel he’s good but his best days are behind him most likely. He’s 32 so I’d give him a stern test since time isn’t on his side. Pair him up with Ian Heinisch.
That fight could be one-sided either or competitive between the two. It would be interesting to see how Njokuani used his significant size advantage and how he would deal with the forward pressure and wrestling from Heinisch.
Welterweight, Josh Quinlan (6-0)
In the main event, it was supposed to be Quinlan fighting Darian Weeks. Due to covid, Weeks had to pull out. On only days’ notice, Logan Urban stepped in who was riding high off a highlight-reel knockout last July. Unfortunately for him, he was on the other side of a highlight-reel knockout to Quinlan. It only took Quinlan under a minute to finish and it just showed how dangerous this guy is. No surprise to any, Quinlan was signed.
Josh Quinlan is a fan favorite with his aggressive action fighting style. He’s always gonna bring it and isn’t capable of a boring fight. He may not become champion nor even ranked but he’s someone the fans will tune in to watch. Pairing Quinlan up with someone similar is important so it can showcase what all he can do and put on a show for the fans. There are a few options but a bout with Sasha Palatnikov catches my eye. Palatnikov is another all-action guy. It’s the fight to make and hopefully, it happens.