The first UFC pay-per-view of 2023 sure was an exciting one! There were plenty of exciting finishes, whether they be knockouts or submissions, and two new champions were crowned. In this article, I will be making the hard choice of only picking five of these fighters to make my top five performances of the night.
(5) Gilbert Burns’ Round One Arm Triangle Choke Submission win over Neil Magny
After the fight of the year with Khamzat Chimaev in 2022, Gilbert Burns made his return to the Octagon with a major step down in competition against Neil Magny. From the start, I felt as though this fight was destined to be a win for Burns, but he made this look easy. After a feeling out process that lasted nearly half of the first round, Burns made his move and took Magny down to the ground. For about the next two minutes, Burns showcased his excellent grappling ability by smothering Magny and using leverage maneuvers to find his way into full mount. After getting the mounted position, it didn’t take Burns long to lock in the arm triangle choke, and once he did, there was nothing Magny could do but tap. Burns proved in this fight that he belongs in fights with the top contenders in the Welterweight Division after rag dolling a lower ranked fighter.
(4) Jessica Andrade’s Unanimous Decision win over Lauren Murphy
MMA is a brutal sport, and this fight was a prime example of how brutal it can be. Most MMA fans, including myself, understand how good Jessica Andrade is and thought that she would win this fight and even find a finish. Even though she wasn’t able to finish the fight, her performance couldn’t have been more impressive. Andrade landed a staggering 231 significant strikes in this fight and left Lauren Murphy’s face looking a mess by the end of it. Andrade was just three steps ahead of Murphy in this fight, closing the distance, absorbing one punch and landing three of her own. By the third round, the commentators were calling for the referee to step in and stop this fight or for Murphy’s corner to throw in the towel, because of how hard it was to watch. In this fight, Andrade proved to me that she is by far the second-best fighter in the Women’s Flyweight Division behind Valentina Shevchenko and should be next in line for a title shot.
(3) Ismael and Gabriel Bonfim’s First Round Finish wins over Terrance McKinney and Mounir Lazzez.
This might be cheating, but I feel like these two both deserve to be on the list, especially since they are brothers. The first of the brothers to have their highlight reel moment was Ismael Bonfim. Although the odds were nearly even at close, the fan vote was largely in favor of Terrance McKinney, but Ismael Bonfim showed that the odds were too close and he should have been the favorite. After getting up off the mat, Bonfim started to tee off on McKinney, and his final combination was devastating. After landing a hard punch that knocked McKinney’s mouthpiece out, he set up a beautiful switch knee that hit McKinney right on the side of the head and neck and immediately shut his lights out. One thing that I do want to make clear is that this was no fluke knockout, Bonfim was controlling this fight from the start, out-landing McKinney 34-14 and getting a takedown of his own.
Moving onto the second brother in this pairing, Gabriel Bonfim’s mounted guillotine choke submission win in under a minute. This fight was as quick as they come as both fighters exchanged in the pocket a few times before Lazzez dropped his head avoiding a strike and Bonfim grabbed a hold of the neck and pulled him into a guillotine. Once Bonfim was mounted, Lazzez had to tap, making the Bonfim brothers 2-0 on the night. After watching both Ismael and Gabriel shine last night, I think it can be easily said that both of these fighters could be a problem in their respective divisions.
(2) Brandon Moreno’s Third Round doctor stoppage win over Deiveson Figueiredo to become the Flyweight Champion
The first of two new champions on this list is Brandon Moreno. Moreno did absolutely everything right Saturday, whether it be out-striking Figueiredo on the feet or being able to take the fight to the ground and control it once it got there. Although the first two rounds were competitive, the third round was not. Moreno absolutely dominated Figueiredo in round three on the feet and on the ground. After connecting with a looping left hook that hurt Figueiredo’s eye, the fight hit the mat where Moreno continued to dominate for the rest of the round. By the end of the round, Figueiredo’s eye was completely swollen shut, and he was unable to continue fighting, meaning Moreno was once again the undisputed champion of the Flyweight Division.
(1) Jamahal Hill’s Unanimous decision win over Glover Teixeira for the Light Heavyweight Championship
If you had any doubts about Jamahal Hill coming into this fight, you shouldn’t anymore. Hill went out against a former champion in Glover Teixeira and absolutely dominated him. He landed time and time again on the feet, especially with damaging head kicks that rocked Teixeira multiple times. Hill also answered the questions about his ground game. Although he may not have gone for his own takedowns, he was able to escape Teixeira’s full mount and stop himself from being taken down more than twice. Despite not being able to get the finish, Hill made it clear that he was much better than his opponent and is going to be a champion that no one is going to be happy challenging.