What mattered most at UFC Fight Night 213 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …
4. Chase Hooper's development stalls
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (R-L) Chase Hooper punches Steve Garcia in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
When [autotag]Chase Hooper[/autotag] first made his UFC debut in December 2019, there were a lot of concerns about whether he was ready. He was just 20 at the time, and it was pretty clear his striking was behind the curve for this level, but his submission game was dangerous enough that he could pick up some wins.
Fast forward nearly three years, and Hooper (11-3-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is six fights into his octagon tenure and has a .500 record. His first-round TKO loss to Steve Garcia marked the first time he’d ever been stopped by strikes, and it came in a brutal fashion as he was knocked down three times in a 92-second fight.
Even though it’s never been elite, it almost felt like Hooper’s striking regressed in this bout. His reactions to Garcia’s strikes were worrisome, as he spun around, rolled to the mat and more every time he was hit.
I don’t want to overreact to a bad loss. Now 23, Hooper does have a lot of time to evolve his skillset. However, he needs to make some serious decisions on how he wants to do that. Because right now, he’s a sitting duck on the feet. All his opponents are going to try to expose his standup, and if he doesn’t want more losses than this, improvement is essential.
3. Roman Dolidze's demand for 'better fights'
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Roman Dolidze of Georgia punches Phil Hawes in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
[autotag]Roman Dolidze[/autotag] brutally knocked out Phil Hawes in the first round of their middleweight bout then promptly got on the microphone and told Michael Bisping he wants “better fights.”
It’s a bit of shade on Hawes – who is good – but it’s hard to deny Dolidze (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) doesn’t deserve that opportunity after a masterful performance on the ground and highlight-reel finish on the feet. The Georgian fighter has won five of his six fights inside the octagon, and I’m quite keen to see how he would fare against that next tier.
Should he get Paulo Costa, who he mentioned by name? No. Of course not. But I would be compelled to see him fight someone in the top 10-15 range, because this guy has proven to be pretty solid. At 34, too, time is of the essence for Dolidze, so here’s hoping he gets the step up he asked for.
2. An unfortunate end for Calvin Kattar
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (R-L) Calvin Kattar punches Arnold Allen of England in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
It was heartbreak for [autotag]Calvin Kattar[/autotag] in the main event when he went down with a knee injury late in the first round off a missed flying knee, then aggravated it in the first exchange of Round 2, forcing the injury TKO finish.
No one should wish for, or want injury to end of a fight, but the silver lining for Kattar (23-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) is that he didn’t get cleanly beaten. The fight wasn’t necessarily going his way, but the sample size was too small to know how it would’ve trended as things went on.
Would Kattar’s experience in five-round fights have carried him if it went into the later rounds? His endurance, durability and output were his advantages coming into. The durability betrayed him in this one, though, because his body ultimately gave out.
Here’s hoping this isn’t an injury that keeps Kattar out for a long time, because between this result and his controversial split decision with Josh Emmett over the summer, it doesn’t really feel like he’s on a two-fight losing skid.
1. Take nothing from Arnold Allen
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Arnold Allen of England and Calvin Kattar exchange punches in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Despite what I said above about the small sample size, what can be taken away from the 5 minutes and 8 seconds of cage time is that [autotag]Arnold Allen[/autotag] is absolutely an elite featherweight, and belongs in the top five.
The biggest question about Allen (19-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) coming into this one was how he would hang with the next level of competition. His best win to date was against Dan Hooker, whom he absolutely steamrolled in March. Against Kattar, he looked very fast, strong and fought with great IQ.
Allen is now just the second 145-pound fighter in UFC history to start 10-0 in the octagon, joining the current champ Alexander Volkanovski. Does this perfectly set the stage for a fight between them? In most instances, probably. But in this case, probably not.
With Volkanovski planning a move up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev for a second belt, that leaves a bit of a gap until his next title defense. If I had to make a guess, maybe Allen fights Yair Rodriguez or Josh Emmett in an interim title bout on the massive show the UFC plays in England next year headlined by Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 213.