Just In UFC on ESPN+ 12 rookie report: Grading the newcomer in South Carolina MMA Life

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Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For one athletes, Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 12 event marked that special moment in his career.

Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression those fighters made on the sport’s biggest stage from Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.

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Deron Winn

Deron Winn

Division: Middleweight
Result: Deron Winn def. Eric Spicely via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Record: (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Grade: B+

Deron Winn is certainly an intriguing prospect – an undefeated record and the full endorsement of UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will do that for you. At just 5-foot-6, Winn is certainly a unique type in the middleweight division, and his elite wrestling background gives him an incredible base of skills from which to grow.

On Saturday, Winn faced an opponent that was stepping in on just six days’ notice. While the focus on short-notice replacements usually centers upon the athletes stepping in, it’s important to remember the one already scheduled also has to make adjustments, as well. With Winn finding himself in just such a position while making his UFC debut, it certainly wasn’t the ideal scenario.

Winn showed plenty of positives. The power in his punches is palpable. Eric Spicely deserves all the credit in the world for not wilting in the face of the attacks. Winn’s pressure was relentless, rarely taking a step back. And the fight was one heck of a way to start the night, setting the tone for a fun night and earning Winn and Spicely $ 50,000 each for the evening’s “Fight of the Night.”

Winn didn’t flash his wrestling skills, but there’s really no question whether or not those exist. Instead, he said he made a conscious decision to try and entertain the fans, electing to just duke it out on the feet. The only thing stopping Winn from earning a higher mark – he didn’t get the finish that would have put an exclamation mark on his performance. Otherwise, the takeaways seem to show Winn is going to matter in this division – short legs or not.

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 12, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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