A non-title featherweight fight between Max Holloway (14-3) and Charles Oliveira (20-5) didn't go according to plan, as Oliveira was forced to take a seat in the second minute due to an esophagus tear.
There is still plenty of action to break down from Sunday's UFC Fight Night inside SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Canada. Check out my list of grades for the entire card below.
Crazy. Perez is 26, with a 10-2 professional record and coming off a sub-minute knockout against a well-known veteran in Sam Stout -- and he retires? If you follow this sport closely, it's hard not to fall in love with this. We see far too many athletes stay in the cage too long. Heck, Stout, who suffered his third consecutive KO loss, is probably one of them. It's extremely rare to see a retirement speech that's not in some way linked to a heartbreaking, difficult-to-watch decline in skill (and durability). Congrats to Perez for leaving on his own terms.
Whatever. Holloway gets a high grade because at the end of the day, it's a win and he sure as heck shouldn't get a low one. Let's talk about what's next for the 23-year-old. In my opinion, he's got it right. Frankie Edgar. It seems like a lot for him to take on, but by now, you throw age out the window. He has 10 wins in the UFC. He schooled Cub Swanson earlier this year. I've campaigned for an Edgar vs. Chad Mendes fight before, but with Mendes coming off a loss, I don't think that fight is as necessary as it used to be. I'm down for Edgar vs. Holloway for the No. 1 contender spot. Let's do it this year.
Could it be? An actual prospect in the light heavyweight division? It's hard to refer to him as a true prospect, as he's already 28, but he's a relative baby at 205 pounds. Just two of the men ranked inside ESPN.com's top 10 are in their 20s. In other words, this is a weight class that is badly in need of new blood. Be that new blood, Cirkunov. Please. The Latvian is built like a tank but he moves well, especially on the ground. Let's not hand this guy any belts yet of course, but he's worth keeping an eye on.
Let's be real here and not avoid the elephant in the room: Cote moves like someone who is about one or two steps away from requiring a full-time walking cane. He has lost the element of "grace" from his game -- and I don't think even he would disagree. Cote has had more than 10 operations on his knees. Of course that's going to show up in his movement. And he is still 5-1 in his past six fights. It's incredible. He flirted with disaster a few times against Burkman, but the chin is holding up and the pressure Cote is able to apply usually has positive effects.
The thing about Letourneau is that she just doesn't go anywhere. She doesn't back down. From a technical standpoint, she's not offering anything that's really wowing her opposition. But she's in shape, she has a quick counter right and it's difficult to get her to take a backward step. You come in on Letourneau with offense, you have to be ready for the return fire. She probably needs to move her head more. She's hasn't left a UFC fight with zero damage yet, but you consider her record (split decision losses to Claudia Gadelha and Alexis Davis) it might be time to give Letourneau more attention.
Honestly, this entire situation -- Rick Story going down with injury, Magny getting the call less than two weeks after the Demian Maia loss, taking the co-main event against Silva -- I thought it was great luck for Magny. Stylistically, he just meshes up well with Silva, who can't seem to be competitive if a fight goes longer than one round. Still, Magny gets a high grade here for taking advantage of the opportunity, fighting smart, and somewhat erasing that humbling experience to Maia so quickly. Something tells me we'll see him again before the end of the year.
UFC Fight Night (lightweight)
Defeated Tony Sims (UD)
It wasn't exactly thrilling to watch, but there are probably more than a handful of lightweights out there who saw this fight and said, 'I don't want any part of that.' Mercier is GFL. Grind for Life. Until someone backs him off, he's going to smother and frustrate every opponent he faces. I don't see a title contender here yet, but at 26-years-old he's got plenty of time -- and until he gets matched against elite opposition, there's a good chance he's going to churn out plenty of performances like Sunday's.
This much is certain about a Krylov fight: He's either going to do well or poorly. There is little in-between. There's a reason Krylov has never gone the distance in his career. The bell rings and this dude goes. You can pick apart his technique if you want (it's not hard to do), but you have to give him some credit: He knows to create and (mostly) thrive in chaos. Nearly submitted twice by a less-than stellar grappler in this fight, before coming away with a first-round finish. He blatantly grabbed the fence during the final sequence, which helped set up the rear-naked finish, but ... water under the bridge I guess. He got away with one.
Despite a 2-0 start in the UFC as a bantamweight, Beal elected this year to drop to 125 -- where he is now 0-2. Beal just doesn't look right at this weight. He appeared unstable on his feet as early as the first round. His cardio is shot and you have to believe the cut has something to do with that. Kelades recognized Beal' exhaustion and basically won by simply going after him. His combinations weren't pretty, but Beal's hands were down and he had nothing on his counter punches. Once Kelades made the decision to get on him, it was done. Hopefully Beal's next appearance is back at bantamweight.
UFC Fight Night (flyweight)
Lost to Patrick Cote (TKO3/1:26)
Burkman is now three fights into his UFC rebirth, after fighting outside the promotion for years. He's 0-2, with a third loss that was later changed to a no-contest against Hector Lombard. The losses have come to relatively strong competition, but can someone snap their fingers loudly in front of Burkman's face? Is this dude awake? He's sitting back waiting for counter opportunities, which is fine, but there just hasn't been much fire from JB recently. And the results are definitely reflecting that.
First loss of Laprise's professional career and you can't really say he went down swinging. It's not as if Laprise was being looked at as a No. 1 contender or anything, but he had won The Ultimate Fighter and if you go back through his UFC performances, he has closed higher than a 3-to-1 betting favorite in his past three fights, which shows expectations are on him. And after eating a hard left hand, Laprise (in a puzzling move) pulled guard, gave up his back and immediately covered up. There wasn't a life-or-death fight out of him to preserve that perfect record. It was an unceremonious end to a 10-0 run.
UFC Fight Night (welterweight)
Lost to Neil Magny (SD)
It looked like Silva toned things down a little in the first round, perhaps in an effort to have more gas later in the fight -- except he didn't have more gas later in the fight. He still wore out in the second round. This guy is capable of jaw-dropping, physics-defying offense -- but it's kind of lightning in a bottle, right? If it lands then, "Woo-hoo! Erick Silva!" If it doesn't he tends to lose. Rather badly. Let's face it: Silva, bottom line, at this point in his career, has been underwhelming. He has been a lot of fun along the way, but he's still underwhelming.