Anderson Silva will always be one of the most respected and admired fighters in MMA history. For evidence of that, one does not need to look further than the outpouring of well wishes he received from other fighters in the aftermath of his loss to Uriah Hall in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 12 fight card. And for those who do need more evidence, I would point them to the tearful apology Hall offered Silva after Hall earned the TKO win in the fourth round of their middleweight matchup.
I love you. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” Hall said before he embraced Silva and the two had a brief whispered conversation before the opponents thanked each other for the moment they shared inside the octagon.
Shortly after that, UFC commentator Michael Bisping recalled how he wished Silva “good luck” before they fought and then admitted he had never done before and couldn’t figure out why he had done so prior to facing Silva.
Silva did not get the storybook ending many wanted for him on Saturday, but that will not take away from his legacy.
Read on for the winners and losers from UFC Vegas 12.
Uriah Hall: It was not a surprise to see Hall focus on his defense when he faced Anderson Silva. Silva’s last few years have not been the best, but he will always be Anderson Silva, the man who won 16 fights in a row under the UFC banner, the man who many of the current crop of MMA fighters grew up idolizing and maybe fearing.
Even after he dropped Silva in the final moments of the third stanza, Hall did not get too aggressive in the fourth stanza. Instead, he waited for Silva to rush in recklessly and he then touched him up with a counter that dropped the ex-middleweight champion and led to the finish.
The fight was not a great one for Hall, but it was a win and that is what he needed to move forward in the middleweight division. Hall will get a tougher fight in his next outing and if he wants to make the most of that opportunity he is going to have to be more aggressive.
Bryce Mitchell: Mitchell walked away with a win over Andre Fili, but it was not the easiest fight of his career. Mitchell might have learned a lesson in this outing, something he addressed in the post-fight interview where he said there were things he needs to work on. One thing Mitchell could add is a more active ground striking game if he can’t find openings for his submissions after his takedowns a la Chael Sonnen. By no means was this a poor performance for Mitchell, but because of his high ceiling, expectations are elevated for the unbeaten 26-year-old.
Kevin Holland: Holland became the first UFC fighters to four wins in 2020 with a TKO victory over late replacement Charlie Ontiveros, who moved up to middleweight for this one. After his win, Holland said he wanted a name opponent next, hopefully he gets his wish.
Thiago Moises: Moises scored a unanimous decision win over Bobby Green. That victory might have come thanks to Moises changing things up a bit in this matchup. The top-notch ground fighter said he respected the striking of his previous opponent, Michael Johnson, a little too much and that he did not make the same mistake against Green.
Moises did not land as many strikes as Green, but he did bloody his opponent on the way to the win. If Moises can find a balance with his cardio, aggressive striking and jiu-jitsu he could make some moves in the lightweight division.
Alexander Hernandez: The UFC matchmakers provided Hernandez an opponent he could show out against and he did just that, ending Chris Gruetzemacher’s night 1:46 into the first round.
The 28-year-old looked great against Gruetzemacher, but that was what he was supposed to do against his overmatched opponent, but questions will remain about Hernandez until he bests a ranked opponent following UFC losses to Donald Cerrone and Drew Dober via TKO.
Adrian Yanez: Yanez was one of the biggest favorites on the card and he showed why when he faced Victor Rodriguez. When Yanez got space he used it well, hurting his opponent with strikes. As soon as he started landing, he had Rodriguez in trouble and retreating. Yanez did an excellent job in setting things up with his hands and then finished with a nasty head kick to end things in the first stanza. It’s easy in the game, but the UFC commentators were very impressed with Yanez and declared the 26-year-old someone to watch in the bantamweight division.
Sean Strickland: Strickland came back from a two-year break (and a horrible motorcycle accident) and looked good in doing so. The former King of the Cage middleweight champion remained calm and cool during his return to the octagon and absolutely pieced up his opponent, Jack Marshman, in earning an easy decision win. Strickland’s technical striking allowed him to bloody Marshman, but he could not put the Welsh fighter to the mat despite his verbal encouragement for Marshman to just fall down. Strickland looked excellent and showed zero cage rust.
Jason Witt: Witt opened the fight with a nice takedown and never let up. He landed strikes inside the guard of Cole Williams and opened a scary big cut with an elbow on the mat. Witt showed good awareness in the second round when he picked up his opponent and carried him to the side of the cage where his coaches were before dumping him to the mat and securing a submission win. An excellent performance from Witt, who absorbed a single significant strike over the 7:09 of the fight.
Dustin Jacoby: Jacoby went 0-2 in the UFC in 2011-12. He then spent a few years fighting for multiple MMA promotions as well as Glory Kickboxing before he earned a second shot in the UFC.
That kickboxing experience paid off for Jacoby, who used his leg kicks to set up a knockout in the first round in his matchup against Justin Ledet. A nice win for Jacoby, who has been a pro MMA fighter for 10 years.
Miles Johns: Johns did not have incredibly fast hands against Natividad, but he had success in marking up the forehead of his opponent, Kevin Natividad. Johns’ wrestling was not very successful, but he used takedown attempts well, especially when Natividad attempted to close distance and land his punches. When the third round began. Johns seemed to pull back a bit and perhaps play it safe, but when he saw an opening, Johns unloaded a nasty uppercut that ended the fight with no need for a follow up.
Johns still has some developing to do, but he seems to have the tools to have some success, including a good mix of striking and wrestling.
Anderson Silva: It’s hard to imagine a prime Silva losing to Uriah Hall. The Silva of 2005-2012 would have had the speed and timing to easily avoid Hall’s strikes. But we didn’t see the Silva of those days on Saturday. Instead, we saw a 45-year-old man who might have been in the last fight of his career. We caught glimpses of that Silva, but they were fleeting and only reminded us of how great Silva was when he ruled the middleweight division and occasionally moved up to light heavyweight to show us he could also do well at that weight.
Silva’s career ended — if he does retire — on a steep slide, but that should not take away from what he achieved in his prime.
Andre Fili: Fili prepared for his matchup against Bryce Mitchell by breaking down the jiu-jitsu of his opponent with Garry Tonon. That time might have been well spent, but it didn’t keep Fili off the mat as he was taken down seven times over the 15 minute contest. Fili did give Mitchell a good fight, and gave Mitchell some things to think about, but at best, he won a single round.
Maurice Greene: Like Greg Hardy, Greene has not made much progress during his UFC run. His loss to Hardy dropped him to 1-3 in his past four with his only win being a submission victory over Gian Villante, who did not look good at heavyweight.
Bobby Green: Green’s three-fight winning streak in 2020 ended on Saturday when Thiago Moises scored an upset victory over Green. Before his winning streak, Green was one of those fighters who found himself on the wrong end of close decisions. Green’s style sometimes works against him with the judges. This setback kind of felt that way as well.
Chris Gruetzemacher: Gruetzemacher had been out of action since he defeated Joe Lauzon in April 2018 and the UFC matchmakers did him no favors booking him against Alexander Hernandez. As expected, Hernandez ran over Gruetzemacher on the way to a first round finish.
Victor Rodriguez: Rodriguez did what he had to do in the early going of his fight against Adrian Yanez, push him to the fence and avoid his striking. However, he could only do that for the first minute. It was that striking that put Rodriguez away at the 2:46 mark of the second stanza. Rodriguez was badly overmatched in this bout.
Jack Marshman: We didn’t learn anything new from Marshman’s matchup with Sean Strickland, but he did remind everyone just how tough he is.
Cole Williams: Williams offered nothing against Jason Witt. Witt dominated from the opening bell to the time Williams tapped in the second stanza. He’ll take away a one-sided loss and a handful of stitches for his trouble.
Justin Ledet: Ledet opened his UFC run on a 3-0 rub at heavyweight. He fell to 0-4 at light heavyweight when he lost to Dustin Jacoby. Ledet, who uses a boxing base, failed to check the leg kicks of Jacoby and those strikes added up quickly and led to Jacoby finishing the fight.
If Ledet hopes to move forward, especially at light heavyweight, he needs to add more to his arsenal than boxing.
Kevin Natividad: Natividad had faster hands than his opponent, Miles Johns, but he struggled to make contact. Natividad also struggled to adapt to Johns. When Natividad moved forward with a flurry of strikes, Johns simply dropped his level and shot for a takedown. Natividad tried to ramp things up in the third, but when Johns countered, Natividad backed off on his aggression even though he lost the first two rounds. This bout was not a great UFC debut for Natividad.
Greg Hardy: Hardy defeated Maurice Greene by TKO in the second round. In the aftermath, there was a lot of talk of Hardy’s improvement as a fighter. Frankly, it’s hard to see that progress. He continues to be a one-trick pony, a heavy hitter who runs out of gas. If Hardy did not have his name, he wouldn’t be fighting where he does on UFC cards and he would be just another heavyweight.
Charlie Ontiveros: Ontiveros was no match for Kevin Holland, but he took the last minute fight so he could get into the UFC. What should have been a happy moment turned scary in an instant after Holland slammed Ontiveros to the mat. The result was an injured neck and Ontiveros being taken from the cage on a stretcher.
The UFC reported that Ontiveros had feeling in his extremities, but the injury was another reminder that the biggest MMA promotion in the world does not pay fighters nearly enough for the risks involved with the sport.