Saturday's UFC on ESPN 36 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Las Vegas, it's time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at the UFC Apex.
1. Jan Blachowicz
I'm guessing it was not the way Jan Blachowicz (29-9 MMA, 12-6 UFC) wanted to get back into the win column, but a win's a win, and in defeating Aleksandar Rakic, he now has a clear path to a shot at regaining his 205-pound title against the winner of next month's clash between champ Glover Teixeira and challenger Jiri Prochazka. And before Rakic was forced out of the bout due to injury, Blachowicz did look back in form in the first round after appearing listless in his title fight with Teixeira. And though the fight was even heading into the third, Blachowicz appeared ready for three more rounds, which bodes well for him moving forward.
2. Ryan Spann
Ion Cutelaba has caught a lot of people off-guard with his intensity both in and out of the Octagon, and that's affected plenty of game plans on fight night. Ryan Spann (20-7 MMA, 6-2 UFC) wasn't playing into any of it, not during weigh-ins, before their fight, and not when the bout began. Sure, Cutelaba had his moments, but the cool of "Superman" won out. With that co-main event win out of the way, now the Texan can look forward, and if he’s got his head right, he’s trouble for anyone at 205 pounds.
3. Katlyn Chookagian
You've heard the phrase that it takes two to make a fight, and while Katlyn Chookagian (18-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) has won fight after fight, earning her a title shot and the No. 1 contender's spot at 125 pounds, she's been criticized for winning all 11 of her UFC bouts by decision. Number 11 was last Saturday, but this one earned the "Blonde Fighter" her first "Fight of the Night" bonus. Why? Because she had the right dance partner who meshed with her to deliver that kind of compelling action. Styles make fights, and it takes two to make a "Fight of the Night." As for Chookagian's future, I'm guessing she will be cheering for Taila Santos to take Valentina Shevchenko's flyweight crown next month, because if the Brazilian does score the upset, Chookagian is a no brainer to get the next shot.
4. Davey Grant
Davey Grant (12-6 MMA, 5-5 UFC) has been on such a run over the last couple years that many forget there was a time when many wondered if the Brit would ever fight again due to injuries, but since decisioning Grigorii Popov in November 2019, Grant has been active and a must see, compiling a 4-2 record that includes three knockout wins and four post-fight bonuses. Last Saturday's KO of Louis Smolka was the latest addition to that slate, making it clear that "Dangerous" Davey is back for good.
5. Michael Johnson
A look at Michael Johnson's (20-17 MMA, 12-13 UFC) resume and it was hard to reconcile that the man who defeated Tony Ferguson, Joe Lauzon, Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier may have been fighting for his job last Saturday. Unfortunately, a four-fight losing streak will put anyone in that position, but the artist formerly known as "The Menace" was in fine form at the Apex, with a blistering knockout of Alan Patrick putting new life into the career of the 35-year-old, who will still give anyone fits when he’s on his game.
This story first published at UFC.com.