Contenders Emerge in Fairfax (UFC Fight Night 63 Review)

ufc_fn63The UFC returned to Fairfax for a rare midday fight that would feature a number of lighter weight fights.

Through all of the lighter weight fights, one seemed to take more of the focus for UFC fans especially after developments throughout the week.

That fight wasn’t the main event or the co-main event as it was instead a fight in the middle of the main card between two bantamweight women that were at the very beginning of their UFC careers.

On the surface it seemed like another fight between two women looking to solidify their spot among the rest of the bantamweights.

That wasn’t exactly the case though as the fight involved the future #1 contender in the division, or at least that is what she was built as.

Julianna Peña had surprised everyone by running through The Ultimate Fighter house to win the show and earn a contract.

After the show she was considered a true contender for Ronda Rousey’s belt all she needed was a few more fights.

Then came the devastating injury where Peña tore her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring and was sidelined before her career began.

She finally returned at UFC Fight Night 63 against Milana Dudieva who had only fought once in the UFC and was given the challenge of facing one of the most promising female prospects.

Throughout the week the fight gained a lot more talk but all because of Peña after revealing a run in with Rousey after the Ultimate Fighter.

In the meeting between the two women, Rousey was a coach of one of the teams on the season, Peña claims that Rousey said that the reality show winner was going to be the toughest fight of Rousey’s career but that Rousey was still going to win.

Peña then went on to say that she was thinking that Rousey was already “6 feet under.”

It was clear that the two never got along during the show, Peña was on the other team, and that the goal for the young fighter is clear.

Peña is looking for the belt and now healthy and ready to fight she is ready to make her way towards the title shot.

Heading into UFC Fight Night 63 the talk was more about Peña eventual title shot and not the fight at hand.

That could have been devastating as Dudieva is no push over and many times a fighter can be caught looking past a good opponent.

It wasn’t the case for Peña though as she came forward immediately in the fight and put the pressure on the Russian fighter.

After a few big shots from Peña the fight eventually went to the ground where the TUF winner was caught in a choke but slipped out to earn the mount.

With the mount Peña went to work and although Dudieva tried to defend it was all for not as Peña forced the referee to stop the fight early.

It was an impressive win for Peña and one that proved what most people believed, she could very well be the nest title challenger.

With one or two more fights Peña may find herself in that position and with the words already flying between her and Rousey it could be a fight filled with animosity.

Although the women’s bantamweight fight took a lot of the focus it wasn’t the only fight on the card as two featherweights fought for a potential title shot.

Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas faced off in the main event and with both fighters sitting atop the featherweight rankings all it was going to take was a good showing to prove that they belonged back in the title fight.mma-sidebar.fw

Although both had already fought and lost the current champion they are the two best options if Conor McGregor can’t beat Jose Aldo.

Even if McGregor does win his title shot against Aldo later this year both Mendes and Lamas have proven to be good opponents.

With Mendes sitting at #1 in the division it is almost sure that he was going find his way to the title fight if he could pick up a win.

Lamas, on the other hand, was dismantled by Aldo and needed to truly impress in his main event chance.

After beating some top featherweight talent including Hacran Dias and Dennis Bermudez Lamas was ready to take a step up and proved that he is a better fighter and that he deserves a title shot.

The only way to ensure that outcome was an impressive win though and that is what Lamas looked to do in the main event.

The fight was fairly even from the start but eventually the power of Mendes proved to be the difference.

With a big right hand Lamas was sent back and Mendes moved into a different mode with his opponent n hurt.

It took some time but eventually Mendes took the back of Lamas and unleashed strikes to force the referee to end the fight.

The TKO win is a big one for Mendes as the rest of the division faces off in the next few months, Mendes will likely wait for the winners and could very well find himself fighting for a title next.

The loss for Lamas is a setback but he will be back looking to fight his way to the top again although it will take him longer now.

The UFC seemed to find two new contenders in Virginia as they continue to determine the future of the sport.

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