You have to take your hat off to Marvin Vettori. Taking a main event fight on a week’s notice — meaning he’s taking a five round contest as opposed to three — Vettori pushed an incredible pace for the entirety of his five-round contest with Jack Hermansson at UFC VEGAS 16. By not being able to finish off Hermansson in the first round when he came thisclose to ending the fight, Vettori would have had to go the distance. By not getting the finish, Hermansson was nipping on his heals the entire time, giving Vettori a closer fight than the scorecards would indicate. Following the decision, Vettori called out Paulo Costa, foregoing the outside shot of fighting Israel Adesanya for the belt. Given he’s already lost to Izzy, I think Vettori made the right call.
Hermansson had nothing to be ashamed of in a loss. Though most would agree he only won a single round, it was by the slimmest of margins that Vettori took the second, fourth, and fifth rounds. Perhaps the craziest thing was seeing both seem to pick up their pace over the last half of the fight. Hermansson is out of the title picture for the foreseeable picture, but he could work his way back into it if he can pick up a couple of solid wins in the next year or so.
There wasn’t too much else of consequence for the rest of the card, but here’s the rest:
- No one denied Ovince Saint Preux was a MASSIVE step up for Jamahal Hill, big enough that few were picking Hill. Hill came out with his foot on the gas, which was expected. He never let up and OSP ended up wilting in the second round, giving the inexperienced Hill the biggest scalp of his young career. Nine fights into his career and it looks like Hill will be fighting a top ten light heavyweight in his next contest.
- It was a back-and-forth contest between Gabriel Benitez and Justin Jaynes – Benitez working over the body and Jaynes damaging the eye of Benitez – before a step in knee from Benitez dropped Jaynes into a curled up heap in the first round. It turns out Benitez working over his body paid off a lot quicker than we all thought it would….
- It was anticipated to be a battle of wild men as Roman Dolidze and John Allan threw down. It didn’t quite play out that way. Dolidze exercised greater control and even came thisclose to subbing Allan with a heel hook in the first round. He never came close to ending the fight again – and Allan had a few fleeting moments – but was in control the rest of the way.
- If you bet on Jordan Leavitt to win via KO in the first round, you’re either incredibly lucky or the next Nostradamus. Wiman willingly climbed into the arms of Leavitt and allowed the newcomer to walk across the Octagon and slam him to the mat, putting Wiman out cold. It surprised even Leavitt. Nonetheless, the DWCS had a debut even more successful beyond his wildest dreams.
- Jose Quinonez came out on fire, throwing Louis Smolka to the ground and beating on him. It didn’t look like Smolka came to fight. It turns out he just needed to be hit a few times to wake up. Smolka began to take the fight to Quinonez, only for Quinonez to gas out. Smolka scored a judo throw in the second and pounded out Quinonez from there for an impressive victory.
- It may have been a right overhand that set Damon Jackson on his ass, but it was the body work from Ilia Topuria that set up the finish. The native of Georgia pounded out the savvy vet in less than a round, ensuring the MMA world is aware of the 23-year old isn’t someone to be taken likely. The shark tank that is featherweight has another prospect to watch out for.
- Even though it looked more like regional heavyweights fighting at the county fair as opposed to high level UFC athletes, Gian Villante and Jake Collier put on a fun contest to open the evening. Collier, despite carrying more than a little extra weight in the middle, was the busier fighter, taking the decision.