1. Zhang Weili: The WWE crowd is seldom original and seldom entertaining, but when they busted the “FIGHT-FOR-EV-ER!” chant out for Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura years ago, they created a timeless classic that should have been chanted en masse for Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk on Saturday. For nearly every delicious second of this fight, these two were either battering each other in the head and neck region, or positioning themselves to. It was an absolute classic, perhaps the greatest women’s MMA fight of all-time, one of the best UFC title fights ever, period, and one of the rare fights where both fighters came out looking better. Joanna proved she is very much a monster at 115 and nowhere near ready to hang ’em up, and Weili finally made a statement on Western Hemisphere soil and opened the eyes of millions of new fans.
2. Robert Helenius: In August, when Adam Kownacki fought Chris Arreola in his last bout, he said he felt too heavy for the fight, weighing in at 266lbs. So, hey, lesson learned, he escaped with a win, no harm no foul, he’s got a world title fight eliminator against a fighter in Helenius who hasn’t been a real contender since 2011, what does he step on the scales at? 265lbs. Helenius proceeded to finish him in the fourth round. Little too high on praise? Little Andy Ruiz Jr. Syndrome? At any rate, a horrible showing and result for Kownacki, and for Helenius, the chance of a lifetime.
3. Israel Adesanya: Well that was certainly a “fight”, according to the guidlines of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Woof. Over the span of twenty-five minutes, and on the monentum of possibly the greatest women’s fight in history that came before it, Adesanya and Yoel Romero went out and WENT. TO. WAR. After five rounds of what can generously be described as “light tapping”, the bell mercifully rang, and Adesanya was announced as the retaining champion. Afterwards, there was plenty of blame to go around. Dana White blamed Romero, Paulo Costa blamed Adesanya, and I blamed my credit card for being stolen to the VISA customer service line.
4. Tom Halpin: Won a 16-man tournament at Eddie Bravo’s Combat Jiu Jitsu, heel hooking Kevin Berbrich in the finals, and doing me a personal solid by tapping out perpetual dick Masakazu Imanari in twenty seconds.
5. Julija Stoliarenko: Proved she was more than just a one-trick pony, going the distance with Lisa Verzosa and emerging as the new Invicta bantamweight champion, winning her first fight that wasn’t by first-round armbar.
6. Jono Carroll: Dominated former junior featherweight champion Scott Quigg over eleven painful rounds until his corner threw in the towel. Carroll is in the catbird seat in the junior lightweight title picture.
7. Taneisha Tennant: Defeated Brittney Victoria, Hope Chase, and Taylor Guardado, not losing a single round, and won the Invicta Bantamweight contender tournament at the 3rd Phoenix Series.
8. Beneil Dariush: Until Weili and Joanna decided they were going to be Ali and Frazier in the co-main, the most exciting and insane moment from UFC 248 was Dariush battling back from seeming death at the hands of Drakkar Klose to hit a solid hook, wobble Klose, then move in for the kill and knocking him out cold in the second round. Insane performance that earned him an extra 50 large.
9. Guthierry Barbosa: Won the Copa Podio Lightweight Grand Prix, with his biggest win coming over Leonardo Silva in the semi-finals.
10. Jack Cartwright: Over five rounds, Cartwright retained his Cage Warriors bantamweight championship over Manuel Bilic in the main event on UFC Fight Pass.
11. Sean O’Malley: After two years of VADA bullshit keeping him from the cage, he walked in not only looking like he hadn’t lost a step, but even better than before in trouncing Jose Alberto Quinonez at UFC 248.
12. Damon Jackson: One of most talented and exciting fighters not in the big leagues, Jackson headlined the latest installment of Legacy Fighting Alliance 83, LFA 83, and closed it out with a first-round submission in the main event over Mauro Chaulet. Someone sign this dude!
13. Ewa Brodnicka: And still WBO World Female Junior Lightweight champion after a headlining UD over Djemilla Gontaruk in Poland.
14. Lara Fernandez: The new WBC Muay Thai Women’s Flyweight champ after a five-round UD over Grace Spicer at Combat Fight Series 4 in London.
t15. Danny Dignum: In ESPN+’s best offering of the weekend, Dignum retained his secondary WBO middleweight title by a ninth-round TKO over Alfredo Meli in the UK.
t15. Lucas Barbosa: In the main event of Fight To Win 137, Barbosa slapped on an armbar over Roberto Jimenez to cap a fantastic card.