UFC 259 rookie report: Grading the newcomers in Las Vegas

Simon Head
·3 min read

Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For three athletes, Saturday’s UFC 259 event marked that special moment in their career.

Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression they made on the sport’s biggest stage from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Uros Medic

Division: Lightweight Result:Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:40Record: 7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC Grade: A Given his fighting moniker of "The Doctor," it's pretty appropriate that [autotag]Uros Medic[/autotag]'s UFC debut saw him produce a clinical performance to kick off his career on the big stage with a big win. Fighting out of the southpaw stance, Medic smartly slid away from Cruz's initial forward pressure, then answered with fast, flowing strikes as he mixed punches with body kicks. The debutant stuffed a Cruz takedown attempt and punished the American with a huge left hand, then a flying knee that sent Cruz to the canvas. Medic then poured on the pressure and hammered his man with powerful ground strikes. https://twitter.com/ufc/status/1368333364005109761 Cruz attempted to move out of danger but simply could not avoid the Serbian's strikes and, after a prolonged series of unanswered strikes, referee Mark Smith finally stepped in to stop the fight. In truth, the stoppage could, and perhaps should, have come a good 20-30 seconds earlier, but it didn't detract from a hugely impressive display from the Contender Series alum, whose striking could make him a real problem as he makes his way up the 155-pound division.

Carlos Ulberg

Division: Light heavyweight Result:Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:19Record: 3-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC Grade: C Sometimes when you play with fire, you get burned, and that's exactly what happened with [autotag]Carlos Ulberg[/autotag] on his octagon debut at UFC 259. Ulberg looked outstanding early on as he started fast and connected with an array of heavy strikes on Kennedy Nzechukwu. But, despite his eye-catching early flurries, he wasn't able to land a fight-ending strike, or even connect cleanly enough to put his man in big trouble. Ulberg continued to fight in high-paced bursts as he backed his man up against the cage and let fly with powerful combinations, including a vicious salvo at Nzechukwu's body, but all of his exertions came back to haunt him as he started to slow down toward the end of Round 1. Nzechukwu came out of his defensive shell and connected remarkably easily with punches as he took advantage of Ulberg's low-slung hands and, in Round 2, he connected with a clean shot to the Kiwi's unprotected chin and scored a big TKO finish. https://twitter.com/ufc/status/1368355325691256836 Ulberg looked excellent moving forward, but his defensive shortcomings came back to haunt him as his pace started to slow. There are certainly plenty of positives, but perhaps an over-eagerness to please on his debut may have seen him gas early and leave himself open to a big shot as a strong start ended in a stoppage defeat.

In pictures: UFC 259

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In pictures: UFC 259 scorecards

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