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Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada reacts after her submission victory against Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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UFC MONTHLY REPORT | JANUARY 2024

Highlighting Some Of The Best Performers And Performances From Inside The Octagon During The First Month Of The 2024 Campaign

The UFC Monthly Report is a feature that will highlight some of the best performances from the previous month of action inside the Octagon, spotlighting outstanding finishes and fights, breakout competitors, and talented new arrivals, in an effort to keep track of competitors and performances that could end up on the Half-Year and Year-End Awards.

And just like that, the first month of the UFC’s 2024 campaign is already in the books.

An action-packed show at home in Las Vegas followed by a return to Toronto for the first time in a little over five years provided the settings for the first two events of the year, and while there were roughly half as many fights to select from this month as compared to those upcoming, finding deserving recipients for these monthly awards wasn’t difficult at all.

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The first two shows delivered a dozen finishes in 23 fights, two new champions, and a couple efforts that have already taken up residency on the long list for year-end honors.

Here’s a look at the efforts and competitors that really stood out in January.

Breakout Performance: Joshua Van

Joshua Van Starts 2024 Out With A TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Ankalaev vs Walker 2
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Joshua Van Starts 2024 Out With A TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Ankalaev vs Walker 2
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Over the last nine months, Van has registered three consecutive UFC victories to push his professional record to 10-1 and establish himself as a tremendous prospect in the flyweight division.

After registering a unanimous decision win over Kevin Borjas at UFC 295 in New York City, Van jumped in on short notice earlier this month, replacing Denys Bondar opposite Felipe Bunes in the first bout of the year. It was a cool little “full circle moment” as Bunes being forced out of a fight with Zhalgas Zhumagulov last year was how Van originally reached the UFC stage, and after a sluggish opening round, “The Fearless” found his gear and put the Brazilian away late in the second.

There are a couple things that really stand out about Van that make him such an intriguing name to track in the 125-pound weight class.

Joshua Van of Myanmar reacts after his TKO victory against Felipe Bunes of Brazil in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Joshua Van of Myanmar reacts after his TKO victory against Felipe Bunes of Brazil in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

First, he’s 22 years old and already producing finishes at the highest level in the sport. Secondly, he only made his pro debut in October 2021, which means he’s logged 11 appearances and three UFC victories in just over two years. And lastly, he’s admittedly still a work in progress, having never wrestled until recently.

You could see some of the rawness and inexperience in the opening round with Bunes, but the fact that Van settled himself and chased down a finish before the second round wrapped was a huge indication that he possesses genuine upside and is only going to continue getting better with additional training and experience.

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Flyweight has a bunch of impressive young fighters in its ranks right now, and should be one of the most fascinating divisions to follow in the years to come.

Honorable Mentions: Nikolas Motta, Jean Silva, Farid Basharat, Marcus McGhee, Sam Patterson, Sean Woodson

Submission of the Month: Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Priscila Cachoeira (UFC 297)

 Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada reacts after her submission victory against Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada reacts after her submission victory against Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

I’m a sucker for a good anaconda choke, so the fact that Jasudavicius put Cachoeira away with one made this an easy selection for the first Submission of the Month for 2024, but I have to be honest: part of me also just wants to sing the praises of the Niagara Top Team representative for her overall performance at UFC 297.

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Jasudavicius wasn’t happy with Cachoeira, but agreed to alter the fighting weight for their preliminary card matchup during fight week when the Brazilian made it clear that competing at flyweight wasn’t an option. She marched out for her homecoming bout in Toronto, switched on after excitedly interacting with a bunch of fans at the start of her walkout, and then put an absolute beating on Cachoeira for nearly three full rounds.

The St. Catharines, Ontario product admitted she wanted to make her opponent pay for the weight changes, and did she ever, logging 10-8 scores in each of the first two rounds before repeatedly working towards the fight-ending choke.

 Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada works for a submission against Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada works for a submission against Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

In terms of the finish itself, Jasudavicius gets huge marks for getting halfway setup and then raining down short, cutting elbows on Cachoiera that prompted her to react and make sinking in the hold easier; it’s something more fighters need to do when chasing submissions.

This was a dominant effort in a crucial spot — hometown showcase coming off a loss — and Jasudavicius made the absolute most of it by taking “Zombie Girl” to the woodshed on Saturday night.

Honorable Mentions: Jim Miller vs. Gabriel Benitez, Jimmy Flick vs. Malcolm Gordon, Sam Patterson vs. Yohan Lainesse

Knockout of the Month: Magomed Ankalaev def. Johnny Walker (UFC Vegas 84)

Magomed Ankalaev of Russia reacts after his knockout victory against Johnny Walker of Brazil in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Magomed Ankalaev of Russia reacts after his knockout victory against Johnny Walker of Brazil in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

If I’m a UFC light heavyweight and my first meeting with Magomed Ankalaev ends in controversy, necessitating an immediate rematch, I might consider telling the matchmakers “I’m good with moving on” because the Russian contender has turned those second meetings into two of his more impressive finishes thus far.

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After spending all of 2020 dealing with Ion Cutelaba and putting him out in blistering fashion in their second meeting, Ankalaev kicked off his 2024 campaign by facing off with Walker for the second time after their UFC 294 bout ended in a no contest as a result of the Russian hitting Walker with an illegal knee.

Just like in the Cutelaba sequel, Ankalaev made sure to leave no room for questions about who the better man was when they faced off for a second time earlier this month, putting the Brazilian out with a crushing blow as he lay slumped against the fence midway through the second round of their main event encounter.

Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks out Johnny Walker of Brazil in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks out Johnny Walker of Brazil in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

This was as clean of a follow-up, “get him out of here” blow as you’re going to see all year. Ankalaev dropped Walker, followed him to the fence, and put his whole fist straight into the Dublin resident’s nose, prompting him to instantly reach for his face and cover up on the ground, prompting the stoppage.

Ankalaev has been in the title conversation in the light heavyweight ranks for a couple years now, but entered the fight having earned a draw and a no contest in his previous two outings, making his standing a little less sturdy.

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Well, it’s been reinforced and cemented now because he beat Walker to get back in the win column and push his unbeaten streak to a dozen, which puts him on the short list of possible title challengers in the 205-pound ranks as 2024 gets rolling.

Honorable Mentions: Motta vs. Tom Nolan, Brunno Ferreira vs. Phil Hawes

Fight of the Month: Ramon Taveras vs. Serhiy Sidey (UFC 297)

Ramon Taveras punches Serhiy Sidey of Ukraine in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Ramon Taveras punches Serhiy Sidey of Ukraine in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

I know the middleweight title fight earned Fight of the Night honors in Toronto, but for me — and these are all my selections, remember, and not the official verdict — the best fight on the card was the rematch between Dana White’s Contender Series alums Ramon Taveras and Serhiy Sidey.

This was a wildly entertaining battle that played out in multiple parts.

Out of the gate, Taveras was the sharper, quicker fighter, stinging Sidey towards the end of the first round before dropping him and busting him up good in the early moments of the second to look like he was going to win the fight going away, if not get a stoppage. But the Burlington, Ontario native showed tremendous grit and tenacity, battling back to make things real interesting heading into the third and final round, where Sidey remained the pressuring fighter and the two ran pretty close to level.

Ramon Taveras reacts after a split-decision victory against Serhiy Sidey of Ukraine in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Ramon Taveras reacts after a split-decision victory against Serhiy Sidey of Ukraine in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The judges awarded Taveras the split decision victory, much to the dismay of the partisan crowd, but regardless of your feelings about the result, this was an outstanding battle between two debuting bantamweights that should have promising careers going forward in the UFC.

Honorable Mentions: Dricus Du Plessis vs. Sean Strickland

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