No doubt it was a disappointment when Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, cancelling his main event with Derrick Lewis. It left UFC Vegas 15 bereft of name value as the co-main event of Anthony Smith and Devin Clark was promoted to the main event. Credit to those two for accepting a five round contest on 36 hours notice, but it didn’t need to go that far. Smith secured an early takedown, looking nothing like the guy who was ragdolled by Aleksander Rakic this summer. Clark did end up getting the advantage, but he got reckless, allowing Smith to secure a funky triangle choke from the bottom, snapping his two-fight losing streak.
It’s still questionable whether Smith can work his way back into contention as his previous losses to Rakic and Glover Teixeira didn’t look like flukes, indicating there is a hard ceiling for Smith. Nonetheless, the win reinforces he can still be a sound gatekeeper at 205. As for Clark, the matchup with Smith seemed like a big step up in the first place and the loss only reinforces the dominant idea that Clark won’t reach the potential his physical tools would indicate.
As for the rest of the card...
- In a clash of welterweight prospects, Miguel Baeza emerged victorious over Takashi Sato. It wasn’t complete domination as Sato had a few moments, but Baeza was never in danger. After winning the standup, Baeza finished things with a takedown and an arm-triangle choke. Don’t be surprised if Baeza is a contender within three years.
- Heavyweight MMA can be difficult to watch when the competitors get tired. Parker Porter and Josh Parisian both got tired, but fortunately they continued to swing even when exhausted, making what could have been a train wreck only a minor traffic accident. Porter’s activity was the deciding factor in the hard fought decision, giving the longtime vet his first UFC victory.
- The action between Bill Algeo and Spike Carlyle started with a bang, only for Carlyle’s shallow gas tank to turn the action into a simmer. Outside of a bulldog choke from Carlyle in the opening round that came thisclose to ending the fight, Algeo was in control throughout the fight. It wasn’t the barnburner many thought it would be, but it wasn’t bad and it was a solid win for Algeo.
- Paul Felder hinted during the broadcast Ashlee Evans-Smith hinted at an injury during camp hampering her. I don’t doubt it as AES looked listless throughout her fight with Norma Dumont. Dumont’s attacks had zip whereas AES was just going through the motions. It lead to a dominant win for Dumont, her first in the UFC.
- The main card started out with a bang as Kai Kamaka and Jonathan Pearce made a strong case for a FOTN bonus. Pearce’s relentless ground assault proved to be too much for Kamaka, eventually deciding to just pound out the Hawaiian rather than hunt for a sub. The decision paid off as the ref had seen enough with about 30 seconds left in the second.
- Anderson dos Santos was getting lit up on the feet, so he took Martin Day to the ground. After exercising some solid control Day escaped… and immediately took dos Santos back to the mat with a double leg into a dos Santos guillotine. The Brazilian’s veteran savvy paid off as Day soon tapped, giving dos Santos his first UFC victory.
- More fans were concerned about whether Rachael Ostovich could pull out the win and maintain her spot on the roster. In the process, they completely forgot it would be Gina Mazany handing her the loss if that’s what happened. That’s how it played out. Mazany, making her flyweight debut, bullied Ostovich until finding her Achilles’ heel, attacking the body with front kicks, crumpling Ostovich late to secure the finish.
- Malcolm Gordon couldn’t even make his contest with Su Mudaerji competitive. Mudaerji picked apart the Canadian flyweight in no time, forcing Gordon to collapse to the mat in less than a minute. It looks like Mudaerji won’t have any issues translating his power to 125.
- It took a bit for Nate Maness and Luke Sanders to start consistently throwing, but it was a blast once they finally did. It was back-and-forth with most giving Sanders a slight advantage before Maness caught the veteran with a BIG right hand. That allowed Maness to sink in a RNC on a dazed Sanders for the club-and-sub victory.