UFC Fight Night from Long Island, New York may go down as one of the most memorable Fight Nights in UFC history for one reason especially, Chris Weidman. Going into the bout, the former UFC middleweight champion had dropped three straight fights. Bouts that none of which came without an asterisk beside them. When he lost to Rockhold, it was in the Championship bout. When he lost to Romero, he was arguably winning the fight before Yoel landed the devastating knee that would end the fight. And when he lost to Mousasi there was a swell of controversy over the stoppage. It seems as though the world of MMA has a serious, “what have you done for me lately” attitude, and heading into this bout Weidman had to be aware of all that was at stake for him. Down three fights, fighting in his backyard, and against a game opponent like Kelvin Gastelum. Ariel Helwani mentioned during his post fight wrap up that there felt like there was a nervous energy in the air as Weidman entered the arena.
The energy was palpable as the bell to round one sounded. Initially the fight seemed like each of his last three going exactly how Weidman wanted, controlling most of the first round with wrestling. Gastelum remained calm on the bottom and managed to escape back to his feet, after using his lulling motion Kelvin suddenly caught Weidman off guard with a big shot that sat Weidman on his butt. Weidman recovered quickly, catching his own fall then springing into a single leg as Gastelum ran in attempting to finish the fight. Weidman would survive round one and look to the crowd of now stunned Long Islanders, almost to reassure them of his ability to continue.
In round two, Weidman seemed to have regained his composure as he completely controlled the second round with strong wrestling and good movement on the feet. Heading into round three, it seemed as though Weidman was pushing a strong pace, and Gastelum sensing that seemed to try to settle himself and remain calm. After good exchanges on the feet from both fighters, Weidman would force Kelvin back to the ground with his wrestling, and this time he had his corner men close by, imploring his patience, and it paid off. As Kelvin worked to position himself to make his way to his feet Weidman locked up a head and arm triangle choke that forced the submission of Gastelum. The crowd pop was phenomenal as Chris Weidman ended the tough three fight slide. His family in attendance joined him inside the octagon which created a very nice and touching moment of victory. And in his post fight interview, Weidman would call for certain someone to make good on their stake as Champion.
Eryk Anders would also spark headlines as he recorded a phenomenal KO victory over UFC vet, “Sapo” Natal. Anders making his UFC debut was no stranger to the big stage, as he played an instrumental roll in Alabama winning the 2009-2010 BCS National Championship. Anders proved he has more than just top notch athleticism. He’s also a very game competitor inside of the octagon. The win came as no surprise to the former LFA middleweight champion, in his pre fight interview with Canvas Conversations he explained that he is a full time student of the game, coaching and training in martial arts full time. His athleticism and his dedication to the game has positioned Eryk well and in first UFC appearance, he’s already made him self a middleweight to watch for.
Junior Albini and Alex Oliveira would earn themselves the Performance of the Night bonuses. While Elizeu Zaleski and Lyman Good earned the Fight of the Night bonus for their amazing battle.
Chris Weidman def. Kelvin Gastelum via Submission Round 3 -(3:45)
Darren Elkins def. Dennis Bermudez via Split Decision
Patrick Cummins def. Gian Villante via Split Decision
Jimmie Rivera def. Thomas Almeida via Unanimous Decision
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Lyman Good via Unanimous Decision
Eryk Anders def. Rafael Natal via KO Round 1 -(2:54)
Alex Oliveira def. Ryan LaFlare via KO Round 2 -(1:50)
Chase Sherman def. Damian Grabowski via Unanimous Decision
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Jeremy Kennedy def. Kyle Bochniak via Unanimous Decision
Marlon Vera def. Brian Kelleher via Submission Round 1 -(2:18)
Junior Albini def. Timothy Johnson via TKO Round 1 -(2:51)
Shane Burgos def. Godofredo Pepey via Unanimous Decision
Chris Wade def. Frankie Perez via Unanimous Decision