Why Fight Night in Boise was a Huge Win for the UFC

With big names returning, prospects rising and newcomers emerging, UFC Fight Night in Boise, Idaho last weekend was a huge win for the promotion.

Updated: July 16, 2018 • 6:45 PM ET

UFC Boise didn't disappoint UFC fans.

At UFC Fight Night in Boise, Idaho this past Saturday, Junior Dos Santos made his return to the Octagon and scored a unanimous decision victory over newcomer and former WSOF champion Blagoy Ivanov. For Dos Santos, the win was huge because he made a statement that he’s still dangerous in a heavyweight division that has recently gone through major changes. However, the real winner of the evening was the UFC.




Chad Mendes is back


After serving a two-year suspension for a failed drug test, Chad Mendes had a triumphant UFC return on Saturday by defeating Myles Jury by TKO at 2:06 of the first round. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency suspended Mendes after he tested positive for GHRP-6 in July 2016. Mendes, though, said the break was beneficial.


“It was great taking that time off,” Mendes said on MMAFighting’s The MMA Hour last month. “I was getting a little burned out with just a lot of the things with the fight game — a lot of the politics and doing a lot of the media, the weight-cutting, getting punched in the face — you know?


“It was just kind of, I don’t know. I just felt like I was kind of getting burned out. So I feel like this time off has been really, really good for me.”


Mendes is a two-time title challenger and was part of one of the best fights in UFC history when he went back and forth for five rounds with Jose Aldo at UFC 179 in 2014. Mendes also looked impressive in a short notice fight against Conor McGregor in 2015 at UFC 189, where he dominated the Irishman in the first round but eventually tired out. Ultimately, it was that fight that shot McGregor to superstardom, and that was because Mendes was such a worthy opponent.


Mendes has now come back with a win over a tough opponent to a featherweight division that only gets tougher with his return. He’ll likely return to the rankings and there are plenty of fights for him that are intriguing, especially against younger guys who can try to use a fight with him as a springboard into title contention.




Sage Northcutt wins impressively


Sage Northcutt is on a three-fight winning streak after the fan favorite finished a tough opponent in Zak Ottow at 1:47 of the second round on Saturday. If he’s winning, the 22-year-old is great for the UFC, as they need ratings grabbers with McGregor’s return uncertain and Ronda Rousey now in the WWE, although it does appear that Brock Lesnar is back.


Northcutt has all the makings to be a star for the UFC and as long as he keeps developing his skills and winning, he’ll likely become the draw the UFC hoped he would be. He has a tough task ahead of him, because he truly seems comfortable in a welterweight division that has slowly become one of the best in the UFC. Northcutt, though, thinks a move to middleweight might even be in his future.


Asked what’s next after Saturday’s victory, Northcutt said, “Who knows? If you look at my brother, my brother’s like (6-foot-4) and he’s only 19 years old. So I hope I’m as tall as him.


“I might be 6-5. I could be 220, 230 pounds. I have no idea. My mom’s dad was 6-5. I could be fighting at 185 in the future. But first, 170.”




Niko Price finishes another fight


As mentioned, the welterweight division keeps getting better. Niko Price knocked out Randy Brown from his back with hammerfists on Saturday, something fans haven’t seen before and one of the more impressive finishes in recent memory. The 28-year-old is now 4-1-1 in the UFC and hasn’t had a fight go beyond the second round.


Price seems to be getting better with every fight and has shown signs of a well-rounded game to compliment a giant heart. He’s fighting in a division with no easy fights in his future, but he can make a true name for himself if he continues to get finishes in crafty ways. Perhaps a fight with someone in the top 15 will be next to see if Price can handle a step up in competition. The opportunity could solidify his contender status in the welterweight division and truly make him a part of the new blood at 170 pounds.




Alexander Volkanovski proves he is for real


The Australian defeated Darren Elkins by unanimous decision, moving to 5-0 in the UFC in the process. Elkins is one of the toughest fighters to finish at 145 pounds, and the victory was a huge statement by Volkanovski. He nearly finished Elkins in the first round, but also showed discipline by conserving his energy to dominate the rest of the fight.


The 29-year-old Volkanovski has shown tremendous power and accuracy with his striking, as well as impressive grappling skills. With his victory on Saturday, Volkanovski has put the featherweight division on notice after a dominant performance against a top 10 fighter and one of the toughest in the division. He has moved to 18-1 overall and can be expected to face an even bigger challenge in his next fight.

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