UFC 268 was a card full of exciting fights and finishes, and several fighters on the prelims proved they could break through to stardom given some time. Between three fighters making their debuts and others winning by incredible stoppages, the prelims were packed with both action and fighters to be on the lookout for. These fighters have a long way to go but don’t be surprised when they start competing for titles.
Saturday’s Best Performances
Ian Garry: Undefeated Irish prospect Garry (8-0-0 1-0-0 UFC) made his way over from Cage Warriors where he was a welterweight champion, even at 23 years old. He made the walk for his first UFC fight Saturday, facing off against Jordan Williams (9-6-0 0-3-0 UFC). Garry looked in over his head early, as Williams kept landing combinations, bouncing in and out of the pocket and firing straight shots that kept Garry off his timing. Garry fired a right hand with five seconds left as Williams stepped in to throw a combination, wobbling him. On top of that, Garry followed it up with a shot that put Williams straight on his face.
The post-fight presser was even better if that can be topped. Garry had a buzzer-beater finish in his debut, and there’s no better way to kickstart what should be a fantastic career.
Chris Curtis: “The Action Man” Curtis (27-8-0 1-0-0 UFC) stepped into the Octagon against Phil Hawes in his debut, a tough fight for anyone, let alone a journeyman debutant. Curtis was a massive underdog in the bout, be he didn’t show it. He started off shaky in the early going, getting wobbled by Hawes’ constant combinations. It looked as if Hawes would walk away with the stoppage win, but just as Hawes stepped into another combination, Curtis threw a devastating right, wobbling Hawes and putting him in the clinic where Curtis landed several devastating knees to finish Hawes.
“I’ve been trying to get here for about 10 years now. I just never got that chance. I’m here. I can’t tell you, I’ve given up 14 years of my life for this. Now I get to make my UFC debut in Madison Square Garden. I couldn’t ask for a better story.”Chris Curtis on his debut win
Alex Pereira (4-1-0 1-0-0 UFC): Israel Adesanya’s former opponent and only loss barring Jan Blahowicz made his UFC debut Saturday and won in stunning fashion. However, the fight didn’t start in his favor as Andreas Michaldis landed an early takedown and took Pereira’s back. Even as Pereira got back to the center of the Octagon, Michaldis continued to attack a takedown. This was the rest of the first round, but Pereira leaped out of his corner with a head full of steam and landed a spectacular flying knee that dropped Michaldis.
Pereira thought he had him knocked out, but he had to finish with a few parting shots, as referee Dan Miragliota didn’t think it was enough to get the stoppage. Regardless, he caught the attention of both Adesanya and Dana White, so he did about as good as he could do.
All of these fighters are poised to go very far in their careers: where could they possibly end up next? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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