What We Learned from UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Clark
Losing the main event of any card sucks.
Thankfully, it doesn’t happen too often. But when the main event of the evening is set to be a war between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis, well, it kind of leaves a dull pain in your gut.
Regardless, Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark was bumped up to main event status on account of the heavyweight crunch falling by the wayside. Not only did the bout deliver as a spectacle, but it also taught some of us a couple of things about writing particular fighters off.
Elsewhere, we learned that there might be a lot more to come from a certain Contender Series graduate, as well as a couple of other truths.
Keep reading for the big takeaways from UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Clark.
Anthony Smith is Not Done Yet
Smith was one of the success stories of 2019.
Few had expected the former middleweight journeyman to witness a rebirth at light heavyweight in late 2018. But if there was anyone who had foreseen “Lionheart” pushing himself all the way to a title shot against Jon Jones, I have yet to hear of them.
Before Saturday night, Smith had enjoyed a far less impressive 2020. A brutal beating at the hands of Glover Teixeira in May was followed up by a flat decision loss to Aleksandr Rakic in August. That led to many writing the Texan off with elegies for Smith’s career doing the rounds on social media.
But against Clark on Saturday night, Smith had a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. He had the opportunity to show that no one manages to make the headline slot from six from their last seven fights for no reason. Yes, even if this latest one was down to good fortune for the former title contender.
Unmistakably confident, the 32-year-old pulled off a sublime submission of Clark to mark his fiftieth professional fight. That alone is an incredible number, especially given his age. There are few fighters in this sport that will see 30 fights while still operating at a high level, so kudos to Anthony.
Smith’s post-fight defiance really caught my attention. So much so that I’ll leave you with the profound words of Lionheart before I move on to a little about Devin Clark.
Devin Clark Needs to Reset
Clark wasn’t expecting to headline Saturday’s card.
Regardless, a professional of his ilk given such an opportunity would grab it with both hands. Unfortunately for Clark, he was just not good enough to earn what would have been the biggest win of his career.
I saw little to suggest that this version of Clark is capable of cracking the top ten of this division. Even the lower end of the divisions finest fifteen would probably have his number.
Even if light heavyweight is regarded as a weaker division compared to the likes of lightweight and welterweight, there are still some monsters operating within its walls. And with Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya likely to happen in 2021, the chances are that this pool could get a lot deeper.
Clark must reset and come back stronger. He will remember this night and learn from it. Who knows, it could be the best thing to have happened to him at this stage of his career.
Miguel Baeza Has Bags of Potential
In an age where cage names are getting more ridiculous, “Caramel Thunder” sits up there with the worst of them.
But Miguel Baeza, despite that name, is one to watch. He made it 10-0 on Saturday night with a stunning submission in the co-main event, leaving the cage with a perfect 3-0 from his first three fights in the promotion.
You could have bagged nice odds on the top online betting sites for Baeza to grab his first submission win, but few saw it coming.
Baeza’s opponent, Takashi Sato, was expected to give him a run for his money. The Japanese welterweight is no laughing matter, and that made Baeza’s test a tougher prospect. It was one he passed with flying colors, landing his first-ever submission win in professional mixed martial arts.
You can look to the American to make a name for himself over the next couple of years. While he has some way to go before he can challenge the bigger names in this division, the right matchmaking can expedite that process.
Is Baeza a star of the future? He can be. He certainly has the skills, the attitude, and the charisma to go far. We need to see more of him, however, to properly gauge how far that will be.
Mazany’s Marked Improvement
Gina Mazany scored her first UFC win in three years against Rachel Ostovich.
Mazany’s front kicks to the liver looked as painful as they must have felt to Ostovich, who has no answer to her opponent’s strikes. That should be worrying for anyone in Ostovich’s corner, considering they weren’t exactly hidden behind clever feints or setups.
But let’s not take the shine off Mazany’s win.
Having relocated from Las Vegas to Missouri earlier this year, the 32-year-old was coming into this bout as a new fighter. It was her first showcase at flyweight and a chance to show everyone just how far she has come under the tutelage of James Krause.
From what I saw, I was impressed. Mazany has been unlucky in the past but appeared to have a clear game plan and vision this time around. She got the job done, making it two wins from three in 2020, having scored a win, at lightweight, on the regional scene.
This was the third weight class Mazany has fought at this year. But judging on her performance, I think it’s safe to say that she will be urged to stick around at 125-pounds for the time being.
The Big Fights in December
That’s it for the UFC in November.
Now we look forward to the fights coming up in the final month of the year. And unlike other years, there are some really tasty bouts set to hit our screens in December.
I have put together a guide to the best MMA and boxing fights to bet on in December. But if you’re not planning on betting this month, make sure you don’t miss them, as they should all be excellent spectacles.
You can find betting odds, tips, predictions, and previews for the big fights coming up. Simply head over to our picks section to get your hands on those.
I’ll leave you with a bit of reading material that will help you fill in your calendar for the 12th month. Enjoy!