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UFC Vegas 9: Overeem vs. Sakai results and post-fight analysis

Dayne Fox gives instant analysis to a truncated UFC Vegas 9 card that saw Alistair Overeem keep his championship dreams alive.

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed how the legacy of UFC Vegas 7 would be how late minute cancellations altered the card in a BIG way. UFC Vegas 9 told that event to hold it’s beer. Several positive COVID-19 tests created numerous cancellations, including two on fight day by Thiago Moises and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Thus, there were just seven fights on the card, a figure that hasn’t been that low since 2005. Yeah, it’s been a minute since the UFC had such a truncated event.

Headlined by a pair of heavyweights, Alistair Overeem proved he’s still a notable figure in the heavyweight division, turning away a game Augusto Sakai. The younger Sakai appeared to take the first two round by being the busier fighter. Overeem proved to just be biding his time, scoring takedowns in the third and fourth rounds and putting a beatdown on the Brazilian. A broken man by the time the fifth rolled around, Overeem had little trouble finishing him off by then, drilling him with several vicious elbows on the mat. Given the heavyweight division is the land of dinosaurs, it isn’t an outrageous idea that Overeem could still work his way back into title contention.

As for the other contests….

  • It was a classic Ovince Saint Preux performance. No, OSP didn’t get another Von Preux choke, but he did use his length to create all sorts of problems for Alonzo Menifield before turning the lights out with a brutal counter left on a lunging Menifield. OSP appears to be making himself a relevant figure at 205 once again.
  • I’ll admit that I’m a traditionalist when it comes to taking in fights. With that in mind, this was by far my favorite Michel Pereira. For nearly three rounds, he dominated Zelim Imadaev before securing a controversial RNC. For those of you who love the typical Pereira insanity, he still had some Showtime punches, impromptu dances, and general zaniness. There was just a lot more substance with his style this time around. He keeps this up, he could be an actual contender as opposed to a sideshow.
  • I was scared we would get another classic Bartosz Fabinski performance when Andre Muniz couldn’t secure the guillotine. Fortunately for the viewers, Muniz transitioned, faked going for a triangle choke, and scored with the armbar off his back. In the process, it saved us from 15 minutes of lay-and-prey. Maybe I’m suffering from recency bias, but that was one of my favorite subs of the year.
  • If Brian Kelleher isn’t the most opportunistic fighter on the roster, he’s near the top. Newcomer Ray Rodriguez was working for a takedown against the fence and Kelleher quickly dropped in on a guillotine and elicited a tap, clocking into work for all of 39 seconds.
  • Everyone jumped off Viviane Araujo’s hype train following her loss to Jessica Eye. I get the feeling a lot of people jumped back on as she picked apart a game Montana De la Rosa over the course of three rounds. It was a wonder De la Rosa could stand as Araujo chewed up her lead leg over the first two rounds. Even though it was a clear cut win for Araujo, it was a gritty showing from both combatants.
  • Hunter Azure bounced back from his first career loss with a strong performance against Cole Smith, returning to his wrestling roots. Azure did have his moments on the feet, knocking Smith to the mat with a hard left in the first, but control was the primary narrative of the fight, even as Smith fought for a RNC as the fight neared its end.