What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 53 in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …

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4

Indefensible foul ends Igor Severino’s UFC run

The most blatant incident of biting in UFC history took place on the prelims when Igor Severino took a chomp at Andre Lima’s bicep in the second round of their flyweight bout.

Although the commentary booth initially called for a mere point deduction, biting should be treated with zero tolerance, and it was in this situation, with Severino being rightfully disqualified for the disgraceful action.

It was laughable that Severino (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) tried to deny the foul in the aftermath of his DQ. The bite marks on Lima’s (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) arm were about as gross as it gets without taking a chunk out of the skin, and there’s no place for this. I’ll be very curious to see what Severino says to justify what he did, but it was a bad move for a prospect with some serious potential.

He ended his UFC career by doing this, too, with UFC CEO Dana White quickly cutting him from the roster. He’s young enough to work his way back one day, maybe, but maybe not. Severino has done irreparable harm to his reputation, and will always been known as the biter going forward.

3

Payton Talbott officially on the radar

Payton Talbott put on a striking masterclass against a helpless Cameron Saaiman en route to an early second-round TKO.

This bantamweight prospect is grabbing attention from all directions with some sensational striking and a smooth demeanour. Talbott (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is no doubt on the rise, and it would be a good time to invest your stock into the 25-year-old.

How high can Talbott fly? It’s tough to predict. He looks to have all the tools to be something special, but there’s arguably no more treacherous climb to the top of a division than what he’s facing at bantamweight.

If Talbott can stay the course, he’s going to have a lot of fun fights and be a part of the conversation at 135 pounds for years to come.

2

Amanda Ribas should stick to strawweight

Amanda Ribas put up a valiant effort against Rose Namajunas in her first main event, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Now I’ll preface what I’m about to say in noting that I don’t think the size, strength or endurance of Ribas (12-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) played a truly significant role in her loss. It was more about fight IQ. But I continue to not be a fan of the Brazilian competing at flyweight.

The numbers say it all. Ribas is now 2-3 in the octagon at 125 pounds. She’s 5-1 at strawweight, meanwhile, and appears to be a far more effective fighter in that division. If she can’t physically make the weight anymore in a safe fashion and needs to build her career in the higher division, then so be it. But Ribas just won a Performance of the Night bonus in a strawweight bout in November, so it’s time to go all-in on that division.

1

Rose Namajunas adds more intrigue to women’s flyweight

Since we’re on the topic of weight divisions, I can’t quite put my finger on what level Rose Namajunas is really at fighting at flyweight.

The former two-time strawweight titleholder lost her divisional debut to Manon Fiorot in September, but is now 1-1 at 125 pounds after a solid unanimous decision win over Ribas.

We just went over the inconsistencies of Ribas in this division, so what does this really mean? If it happened at strawweight, many people would be saying Namajunas has badly fallen off from her championship form. But in this situation, her strong but not outstanding performance could be justified by the need to be safe to avoid a three-fight losing skid, still adjusting herself to the new weight, and more.

Even in the loss to Fiorot, where Namajunas wasn’t completely dominated by any means, she sustained a hand injury early in the fight. This is all to say it’s hard to judge how good Namajunas still is, and what her ceiling right now looks like.

Regardless, the women’s flyweight division is rapidly gaining intrigue with Namajunas’ presence being a part of that. Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko will decide their trilogy for the title later this year. A potential title eliminator between Fiorot and Erin Blanchfield headlines Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 54 card in Atlantic City, N.J., and Namajunas proposed matchup with Maycee Barber next is compelling.

I’m here for all of it.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 53.