The final UFC event of the summer delivered in more ways than one. Most notably, the performances of Giga Chikadze and the TUF 29 finalists. Afterward, the winners as well as Dana White spoke at the UFC Vegas 35 post-fight presser.
In the UFC Vegas 35 headliner, Georgia’s Chikadze extended his unbeaten streak within the promotion to seven. The feared striker stamped his third consecutive performance of the night en route to a third-round TKO of Edson Barboza.
Additionally, both of the TUF 29 finale fights were unforgettable. Ricky Turcios edged out Brady Hiestand to secure the season’s bantamweight crown in what was a non-stop affair. Then, Bryan Battle — the season’s last pick — weathered the early adversity before realizing TUF 29 middleweight supremacy.
UFC Vegas 35 Post-Fight Presser: Notes & Quotes
Leading up to his fight with Barboza, Chikadze continuously asserted his belief that he’s the best striker in all of mixed martial arts. After his spectacular showing, “Ninja” has doubled down on that notion.
“Guys, I was supposed to fight a top-five guy,” he told reporters at the UFC Vegas 35 post-fight presser. “And this would be my bridge to title and nobody agreed to fight me from top-five at the moment, so I fought Edson who was next biggest name. Now I believe I deserve a title shot. With Max (Holloway), he was calling himself the best boxer. Now, they were calling the best striker to Edson so I already passed this test and now I’m holding the best striker in this sport. Boxing is a part of the striking right? So I feel like the best boxer is under the best striker, what can I say?”
Perhaps all of this “best striker” talk will lead to a future matchup between Holloway and Chikadze. Can’t imagine many fans would dispute that fight being booked.
TUF 29 Winners
From watching how he conducted himself in the TUF house to seeing how he competes in the octagon, how could anyone not be a fan of Ricky Turcios? Backstage after the fight, with his trophy by his side, Turcios was at a loss for words when detailing how he feels about becoming the TUF 29 champion.
“It’s a dream come true,” he began, “It’s a very humbling experience. It’s been a long journey in the sense of the short term kinda, in the last 10 months from preparing for The Ultimate Fighter, making it to the isolation house, fighting through the isolation house, to today the epic conclusion, and now I’m the champion. But in the long term, it’s been a whole life journey. I’ve done martial arts since I was a young boy and it’s all about that journey.”
The 28-year-old Houston native doesn’t just want to put on amazing fights for the fans. Rather, he intends to inspire others along the way in addition to building his MMA career.
“Forever you can call me The Ultimate Fighter champion you know what I’m saying,” Turcios stated. “I’ll take that title with me to the day I day, and also, it’s just the beginning you feel me? I hope to continue now to just live the good path and continue to inspire people, you feel me?”
Turcios wasn’t the only one who left UFC Vegas 35 with a shiny new trophy. Middleweight Bryan Battle — who’s quickly becoming a fan favorite also — became champion of TUF 29. And like his TUF castmate, Battle knows it’s just the beginning.
“It’s awesome, it’s really really cool and I’m gonna enjoy it as much as I can, but we’re just entering the next level,” Battle affirmed. “There’s still a lot of improvements to be made. A lot of hard work to be done, the hard work is just beginning.”
As far as what’s next for the rising middleweight, Battle isn’t content with resting on his laurels. Instead, he’s looking to keep the momentum going.
“I’d like to fight again before the end of the year,” he replied and repeated. “Like I said, I don’t wanna get complacent. I don’t wanna sit and enjoy myself too much. I still wanna go back home. Still wanna get back to training. I still wanna get better, but yeah I wanna fight again before the end of the year. That would be ideal.”
A very notable takeaway from White’s UFC Vegas 35 post-fight presser was the update on whether or not The Ultimate Fighter will be back.
“It (TUF) did really well for us, it killed it as far as viewership goes,” White confirmed. “They’re really happy, we’re really happy, and I love the show. I said it before and I’ll say it again, that show will probably never go away — while I’m here anyway. We’re doing one a year. Now that this one’s over, we’ll start figuring out what’s next.”
Let’s also note that White plans to give Brady Hiestand another fight after the Fight of the Night that he was one half of with Turcios.
As expected, White had very high praise for Daniel Rodriguez, who stepped in on short notice to fight an always dangerous Kevin Lee.
“Yeah I love guys like him,” White proclaimed. “An absolute savage. Takes that fight on two-week notice against Kevin Lee and yeah he did get taken down in the first round, but then successfully defended himself a few other times. You gotta remember, he didn’t have anywhere near a training camp for that fight. So to come in here and do what he did against Kevin is very impressive.”
It’s quite possible that “D-Rod” will see a number next to his name when the updated rankings are released during the week. All in all, UFC Vegas 35 was a night to remember with performances from fighters that will be around for a very long time.