Anthony Smith and Devin Clark were not scheduled to headline Saturday’s UFC Vegas 15 card. But things were shuffled after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his scheduled bout opposite Derrick Lewis. That heavyweight contest was scheduled as the headlining bout.
The move put Smith in the top spot of a UFC card for the seventh consecutive time. In his previous four main event appearances, Smith went 1-3. He was on a two-fight losing skid heading into this contest. Clark had never headlined a UFC event before. He had won his two previous outings before he faced Smith.
Smith, who was badly in need of a win, made the most of his opportunity and secured a first-round submission victory.
Read on for the winners and losers of UFC VEGAS 15: ‘SMITH VS CLARK’
Anthony Smith: Smith was on a rough run heading into Saturday night. After moving to light heavyweight, Smith went 3-0 with three finishes before losing a decision to Jon Jones in a title fight. Smith bounced back from that loss with a win over Alexander Gustafsson and then dropped two in a row. He needed a win against Devin Clark.
He got that. What was impressive about Smith’s win was his awareness. After a takedown against the cage, Smith took his time and dragged Clark to the center of the octagon where he worked his grappling skills. Clark moved to top position after the takedown, but that did not slow Smith in the grappling department as he locked up a triangle choke for the submission win at the mid-point of the first round.
The win should serve as a good confidence rebuild for Smith.
Miguel Baeza: Beaza showed he is more than a striker when he scored the first submission win of his career to move to 10-0. The 28-year-old is now 3-0 in the UFC with three finishes following his stoppage of Takashi Sato. Beaza mixed up his strikes and targets and when he found his strikes would not get things done, Beaza moved to his grappling game to wrap things up. The UFC wouldn’t be out of line in giving Beaza a test against a tough veteran in his next outing to see if it can get a handle on his upside at welterweight.
Parker Porter: Porter will not be a UFC champion, but he could serve as a fighter who is going to give some younger heavyweights a tough go. The 35-year-old showed he could keep a solid pace for 15 minutes. Porter was almost as active in the third round as he was in the first stanza and he was more accurate in the final five minutes of the bout.
Bill Algeo: Algeo was calm and relaxed in his bout opposite Spike Carlyle. It seemed as if his game plan was to weather the early storm and then take over. Even if that wasn’t his plan, that’s what Algeo did on his way to a decision win. The scariest moment for Algeo came when Carlyle had a bulldog choke in the first round after a failed takedown. After that he controlled most of the second and third rounds.
Jonathan Pearce: Pearce was coming off a first-round TKO loss to Joe Lauzon in October 2019. He looked very good in this outing. If Pearce fights like he did in the second round of this bout, he will be a very fun fighter to watch. He was aggressive in his striking and it seems as if his ground game is developing well. Pearce’s finish was nice. He started looking to use his strikes to set up a choke from back control, but when he realized his striking was doing enough damage, he concentrated on punches to the head and earned the TKO.
Anderson dos Santos: Dos Santos scored his first win in three UFC fights on Saturday with a first-round submission win. Dos Santos was aggressive, if a bit sloppy, with his striking on the feet, but he was much better and more controlled on the mat. His guillotine choke stoppage came when his opponent, Martin Day, went for a takedown and left his neck exposed.
Gina Mazany: Mazany might have found her place in the UFC. Mazany went 1-3 in her first stint in the UFC. After one fight with King of the Cage, Mazany dropped another bantamweight matchup. She decided to give flyweight a go after that setback and she looked pretty good in earning a TKO win over Rachael Ostovich on Saturday.
Su Mudaerji: Mudaerji moved to 13-4 on Saturday with his 12th career knockout. This one showed off his striking power and skill as he destroyed Malcolm Gordon in under one minute. He used his length and power to perfection in scoring the knockout. Don’t be surprised to see Mudaerji tangling with a ranked opponent in his next flyweight outing.
Devin Clark: Clark’s mother-in -law died the week before he faced Anthony Smith in the main event of Saturday’s UFC fight card. According to Clark, one of her last wishes for him was that he finish the fight in the first round. Perhaps the emotion and pressure had something to do with how quickly Clark began the fight.
He tagged Smith with a right in the early seconds of the contest, but from that point the advantage went to Smith after he took Clark to the mat. Smith finished the contest via submission at the 2:34 mark of the first round.
It’s never a good feeling when a fighter loses in an emotional situation, but fights like these remind us that there are things bigger than any sport or entertainment.
Takashi Sato: Sato landed 15 significant strikes during his matchup against Miguel Baeza. If Sato’s plan was to avoid the striking game of his opponent it did not work out as Baeza showed that he also has some skills on the ground as he scored a submission win over Sato in the second stanza.
Josh Parisian: Parisian was a significant favorite over Parker Porter in this heavyweight matchup. While he hung with the underdog for the first round he did not have the cardio, defense or power to stay with Porter for the entire three round contest.
Spike Carlyle: Carlyle dropped to 9-3 on Saturday when he lost a decision to Bill Algeo. All three of his losses have come via decision. Carlyle is a fun fighter for the first five minutes, but once the first round ends, his gas tank seems to run low and that does not bode well for his future with the UFC.
Ashlee Evans-Smith: The chief topic from UFC commentator Paul Felder was that Evans-Smith was not at 100 percent for her bantamweight fight opposite Norma Dumont Viana. We did not get confirmation of that on fight night, but Evans-Smith struggled against Viana. It seemed as if Evans-Smith wanted to scrap with Viana, but she was forced to push things and be the agressor and that did not serve her well as she fell victim to the counters of her opponent. With the loss, Evans-Smith drops to 1-4 since 2017.
Kai Kamaka III: Kamaka had a decent first round against Jonathan Pearce and a fun second round full of scrambles and strikes, but he was just not as well rounded as Pearce.
Martin Day: Day learned a valuable lesson on Saturday when he left his neck exposed during a takedown and ended up on the wrong end of a guillotine choke. That lesson, if you’re facing a black belt in jiu jitsu, who has scored most his wins via submission, you best not give that fighter any opportunity to take advantage of their skill set. With the loss, Day falls to 0-3 in the UFC.
Rachael Ostovich: You can tell how badly a fighter is losing by how many times the commentators mention a fighter’s toughness. During her matchup with Gina Mazany, the UFC commentators mentioned Ostovich’s toughness before Mazany finished the fight in the third round with body kicks. Ostovich has lost her past three fights.
Malcolm Gordon: Gordon had nothing for Su Mudaerji. He could not deal with the striking of his opponent and ended up on his face in under one minute.
Luke Sanders: Sanders had some success early in his fight opposite Nate Maness. What was especially nice was his well-timed low kick when Maness was stepping in to throw a punch. What wasn’t nice was Sanders getting staggered a couple of times when he engaged with Maness in a slugfest. Had he been more patient and worked from distance, perhaps Sanders would have found more success. Instead, he got hurt, taken down and submitted. The loss dropped Sanders to 3-4 in the UFC. He has never won two fights in a row with the promotion.
Norma Dumont Viana: Following a loss to Megan Anderson, Viana dropped to bantamweight. Well, she tried to drop to bantamweight. Viana came in heavy for her matchup on Saturday against Ashlee Evans-Smith and that tainted a pretty good victory.
Viana fought smart. She made Evans-Smith come to her and she scored big on counters and kicks. When she saw an opening in the defense of Evans-Smith, Viana rushed in with combos and scored before backing out. Viana was better in scrambles, speed and accuracy.
While Viana got the win, she played it a bit safe with her countering style. I want to see Viana make weight and fight at 135 pounds before I get excited about her prospects at bantamweight.
Nate Maness: Maness scored a comeback submission win over Luke Sanders in the opening fight of the night. Maness showed nice power with his punches, but he also showed that getting hit is not on his list of favorite things to do inside the cage. That lack of comfort with absorbing strikes is why Maness lands under the “neither” heading here. Had he shown more all around comfort, Maness would have been a “winner,” but I think we need to see more comfort from him before we can call him someone to watch.