Biggest winners from UFC 234

Israel Adesanya
Image: @UFC on Instagram

No that it is over let’s take a look at the biggest winners from last weekend’s UFC 234 card.

Unfortunately, middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was forced to have surgery to fix a hernia rather than defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event, but luckily the co-main event featured Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya.

Due to the last minute changes to the fight card UFC President Dana White needed to shuffle some fights around to accommodate the five-fight pay-per-view portion of the broadcast. White said it was a “no brainer” when it came time to choose UFC 234’s new co-main event — Lando Vannata vs. Marcos Mariano.

Which leads me to the start of the UFC 234 biggest winners list.

Lando Vannata

Lando Vannata

Other than Adesanya, no other fighter seized the day as Vannata did at UFC 234. He went from fighting on the prelims to winning the highest profile fight of his life as he submitted Marcos Mariano in the first round of their co-main event fight.

It was a risk that paid off for the UFC, considering Vannata was on a two-fight losing streak heading into UFC 234.

Ricky Simon

Ricky Simón

If Simón wasn’t on your bantamweight radar heading into this weekend he should be now.

For the majority of their 15-minute fight, Simón put on a clinic against veteran Rani Yahya, demonstrating time and time again that he is more than just a wrestler with power.

With the win, Simón will likely break into the top 15 of the division considering the man he just beat occupies the number 15 spot.

Devonte Smith

“King Cage” took full advantage of being in the ESPN featured prelim fight.

Smith needed less than four minutes to dispose of Dong Hyun Ma and improve his record to 10-1. His effort was good enough to earn him a $50,000 performance bonus.

At just 25 years old Smith is an interesting addition to a talent-rich lightweight division.

Israel Adesanya
Image: @UFC on Instagram

Israel Adesanya

Some people just have it. Israel Adesanya is one of those people.

Effortlessly, Adesanya and Silva slid into the main event role to salvage UFC 234. Adesanya rose to the occasion like most people suspected he might. He does so, however, with a blend of flair and swagger that is rarely seen in the MMA universe

Adesanya represents so much more than Nigeria or New Zealand. He represents the new-new breed of fighter. UFC 234 gave birth to a star.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/11/2019.