UFC closed out their 2023 schedule with a bang Saturday night, with UFC 296 results that were both difficult and captivating to witness. Although both defending champions successfully defended their belts in one-sided fights, the UFC 296 results last night delivered some other shocking — and scary — moments that are certainly worth recounting on Sunday.
With that in mind, let's get into ‘Five Things We Learned From UFC 296′, try to make sense of some of the results we saw last night, and reckon with what it might mean for the UFC as it heads into 2024.
UFC 296 Results: Five Things We Learned
1. Leon Edwards Fights Well With Emotion
The UFC 296 main event results showed Leon Edwards, the reigning welterweight champion, put on a dominant display against Colby Covington, winning 49-46 in all three judges scorecards — which is more or less how we predicted this fight would unfold.
The biggest question leading into this fight was whether Edwards could channel the negative emotion he held toward Covington — the result of Covington's smack talk during the pre-fight press conference — into motivation. And that's exactly what he did. Edwards looked cool, calm, and collected, and barely had a scaratch once the five rounds was over.
As for Covington, it was a disappointing performance after everything he said during the fight's lead up. He looked slow, hesitant, and scared in there, and is now 0-3 in three undisputed title fights. After last night's poor showing, it's unlikely we'll see Covington fight for a belt again.
2. Alexandre Pantoja May Remain King For A While
In the UFC 296 co-main event, we watched the reigning 125-pound champ Alexandre Pantoja produce an impressive unanimous decision victory against Brandon Royval. While much of this fight took place on the ground, we got to witness the world-class grappling from both fighters.
Yet, Pantoja was clearly the superior grappler, and won the fight with relative ease. Although the UFC flyweight division's champion has changed hands multiple times in recent years, Pantoja's results last night gave the impression that he could hold on to the belt for a long time, and bring some stability at the top of the UFC's flyweight division.
3. Shavkat Rakhmonov Deserves A Title Shot
We're used to seeing Shavkat Rakhmonov impress in the octagon — which is why we correctly predicted Rakhmonov would submit Stephen Thompson last night. Yet, before the UFC 296 results, Rakhmonov hadn't dominated an elite opponent like Thompson. Well, that has now changed — which means Rakhmonov deserves a title shot.
Although Belal Muhammad is more than deserving of a shot at Leon Edwards' welterweight strap as well, how can anybody deny that Rakhmonov is worthy after last night's performance? At this point, it seems like a matter of when, not if, Rakhmonov will ascend to the UFC's 170-pound throne.
4. It's Tony's Time… To Retire
In one of the more depressing UFC 296 moments, we saw Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett dominate Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson across three rounds, winning 30-27 on all three scorecards. While Pimblett impressed like we predicted he would, the biggest storyline to come from this fight is that the 39 year old Ferguson is now 0-7 in his last seven fights.
It's time for Tony Ferguson to retire. He looked slow and tired in the octagon last night, and had no answer for anything Pimblett threw his way. In fact, he should have retired a few fights ago. Unfortunately, Ferguson doesn't seem ready to hang the gloves up just yet. Hopefully that changes before we have to see him get hurt further.
5. Josh Emmett Is A Very Scary Man
The scariest UFC result of the night — and perhaps of the entire year — was the devastating one punch knockout that Josh Emmett produced against Bryce Mitchell last night. The KO left Mitchell convulsing on the canvas, and had many fans seriously worrying about his health.
Since Mitchell eventually turned out okay, the story turns to Emmett — who was on a two-fight losing skid before the UFC 296 results last night. Despite being 38 years old, Emmett proved that he's still the most powerful puncher in the featherweight division, and may still have more impressive performances ahead of him.
UFC Results Last Night: Everything You Need to Know
With those five UFC results now covered, let's get into the complete UFC 296 results:
- Welterweight: Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington – Edwards won via Unanimous Decision
- Flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval — Pantoja won via Unanimous Decision
- Welterweight: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Stephen Thompson — Rakhmonov won via Submission (Round 2, 4:56)
- Lightweight: Tony Ferguson vs Paddy Pimblett — Pimblett won via Unanimous Decision
- Featherweight: Josh Emmett vs Bryce Mitchell — Emmett won via KO (Round 1, 1:57)
- Light Heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield vs Dustin Jacoby – Menifield won via Unanimous Decision
- Women's Bantamweight: Irene Aldana vs Karol Rosa — Aldana won via Unanimous Decision
- Bantamweight: Cody Garbrandt vs Brian Kelleher — Garbrandt won via KO (Round 1, 3:42)
- Women's Flyweight: Casey O'Neill vs Ariane Lipski — Lipski won via Submission (Round 2, 1:18)
- Flyweight: Tagir Ulanbekov vs Cody Durden — Ulanbekov won via Submission (Round 2, 4:25)
- Bantamweight: Andre Fili vs Lucas Almeida — Fili won via TKO (Round 1, 3:32)
- Heavyweight: Martin Buday vs Shamil Gaziev — Gaziev won via KO (Round 2, 0:56)