Saturday’s UFC Vegas 43 fight card featured 11 fights and one stoppage. It wasn’t the polar opposite of last week’s UFC Vegas 42 event, which featured 11 bouts and nine finishes, but it was a bit of a letdown, especially if you consider UFC 267 and UFC 268 were the events that took place immediately before UFC Vegas 42.
The card didn’t provide definitive answers about the upside of rising welterweight Sean Brady or the feasibility of Ketlen Vieira as a potential future champion. Yes, there were some bright moments, like the 135-pound scrap between Adrian Yanez and Davey Grant, Pat Sabatini’s development and Rani Yahya’s ability to keep doing what he’s been doing for years, but mostly, UFC Vegas 43 was a fight card that was just kind of, well, there.
Read on for the winners and losers from the event. which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streamed on ESPN+.
Ketlen Vieira: Ketlen Vieira is a very good fighter. She is an effective striker who manages time and distance well. She uses her length and reach to her advantage and she might be a future title challenger. Vieira looked solid in dismantling former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate over the course of their five-round main event fight at UFC Vegas 43. However, there seemed to be something missing with Vieira.
Vieira’s coaches tried to reach her between rounds and get her to fight to her potential. Their efforts failed. It seemed as if Vieira never put things in fifth gear. Maybe that was because she didn’t feel threatened by Tate. Perhaps there is a confidence issue there. Maybe Vieira didn’t feel like she needed to take any risk to get the win. Whatever the reason, there seems to be something blocking Vieira from putting things together and becoming a top-tier talent.
That’s something Vieira and her team are going to have to address and work through. Even with that stumbling block, Vieira looked good in beating Tate on Saturday night.
Miesha Tate: There are times when fighters retire and come back to MMA and we’re left to wonder why they came back. Miesha Tate answered any questions about her return after more than four years during her post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier. Despite losing, despite leaving the cage with a badly damaged eye, Tate had a positive attitude and a positive message for those who tuned into the bout.
Sean Brady vs Michael Chiesa: The welterweight contest between Sean Brady and Michael Chiesa seemed to be the most anticipated fight on the UFC Vegas 43 fight card.
The 28-year-old Brady entered the contest with a 14-0 record and four wins in the UFC. Chiesa, who won The Ultimate Fighter two years before Brady made his MMA debut, was coming off a submission loss to Vicente Luque after winning four straight. Brady was ranked No. 14 in the division according to the official UFC rankings. Chiesa checked in at No. 6.
Brady’s strength and power seemed to make the difference in this fight. He did a great job of getting Chiesa to the mat and, for the most part, keeping him there.
After the fight, Brady said the pressure of the situation got to him, so I think we’ll see a better version of Brady in his next high-profile outing and with his win over Chiesa, Brady should get a test in his next fight,
Taila Santos: Taila Santos entered UFC Vegas 43 as the No. 10 ranked fighter in the women’s 125-pound weight division. She made short work of the No. 5 ranked Joanne Wood. Santos made the most of this opportunity, earning a first-round submission on a card where the first eight fights went the distance.
Rani Yahya: Rani Yahya did his thing against Kyung Ho Kang and that thing was to take what Kang gave him. He took the strikes Kang hurt him with and he took the opportunities Kang gave him to secure takedowns and the win with his takedown and grappling skills. Rani Yahya might be getting older, but he’s still a threat.
Davey Grant vs. Adrian Yanez: The main card opener between Davey Grant and Adrian Yanez was an entertaining bantamweight scrap. The 27-year-old Yanez showed patience and poise in using his striking to get a decision win over Grant. Yanez moved to 4-0 in the UFC in his first fight to go the distance.
Yanez showed good movement and the ability to counter with power and speed. He also used his jab incredibly well in the third round. That jab allowed him to keep Grant, who threw his hands with fight ending intensity, from doling out too much damage in the third stanza.
Yanez is a strong fighter, but he’s still developing. The Grant matchup was a good one for him. It’ll be interesting to see who the UFC matches him up against next.
Pat Sabatini: Pat Sabatini was incredibly impressive in his grappling. He was calm on the mat and waited for openings to present themselves. When those opening happened, Sabatini attacked and did so in a way that didn’t allow his opponent, Tucker Lutz, to escape his grasp.
Sabatini’s defense on the feet in this matchup served him well. He never allowed Lutz to work in the open. Sabatini, a former Cage Fury champion, is now on a five-fight winning streak and 3-0 in the UFC. He is a featherweight to keep an eye on.
Cody Durden: Please note this is specifically about Cody Durden’s fighting performance. See the “Losers” section for more on Durden.
Cody Durden put a lot of effort into his wrestling during the first five minutes of his fight against. The amount of energy Durden used in the first stanza was worrisome and a point of conversation between the UFC commentary team. However, Durden gutted things out and showed a lot of heart and tenacity in getting the win over Qileng Aori, a fighter whose output increased round over round in his previous UFC outing.
Now, about his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier - see below.
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke had a good game plan and even when it failed early on, Nuerdanbieke’s team smartly stuck with the wrestling heavy attack and it paid off as his opponent, Sean Soriano, tired. Nuerdanbieke’s wrestling seemed to frustrate and break the will of his opponent. Nuerdanbieke, who was a decent underdog to Soriano, was impressive in getting his first UFC win. The question facing Nuerdanbieke in the future is what happens when he faces an opponent who can thwart his wrestling?
Miesha Tate’s mother: If you cut out from UFC Vegas 43 right after the main event, you missed Miesha Tate’s mother congratulating Ketlen Vieira on her win. It was a brief, but nice moment caught by the ESPN+ broadcast.
Kyung Ho Kang: I can’t help but think Kyung Ho Kang gave Rani Yahya the win on Saturday. Kang’s striking was incredibly effective, but his fight IQ cost him. Had he not thrown a naked kick in the second round and allowed Yahya to get the fight to the mat, this fight could have gone the other way. Kang and his coaches need to do a better job of scouting opponents. Allowing a fighter like Yahya the opportunity to get a takedown was a huge mistake.
Cody Durden: After getting a win over Qileng Aori figured it would be wise to say he “had to send him back to China where he came from.” And that is how to ruin a fighter ruins any good will they might have gained after a solid win.
Sean Soriano: Sean Soriano is a decent striker, but his wrestling remains a liability. Soriano, who had a three-fight stint (0-3) with the UFC in 2014-15, is now 0-2 in his second run with the promotion. It was Soriano’s lack of defensive wrestling that cost him at UFC Vegas 43. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soriano’s current run with the promotion come to a close after his loss to Shayilan Nuerdanbieke.
UFC: Terrence McKinney said that his UFC Vegas 43 fight was scratched on fight day because someone in his camp tested positive for COVID-19. In describing why there was a delay before the first fight on the ESPN+ broadcast, UFC commentator, Brendan Fitzgerald went with “medical condition” for the reason of the fight being off the card.
UFC and NSAC: Herb Dean was lambasted for his poor performance last week at the UFC Apex. So, what did the UFC and NSAC do about it? Nothing. Dean was back reffing at the APEX this week.