The UFC Vegas 44 main card is almost over and we’ve got some incredible finishes! The co-main event just witnessed the UFC’s #14 ranked lightweight, Rafael Fiziev, pull off a fantastic wheel kick finish on the #12 ranked, Brad Riddell. Fiziev took the center right away, forcing Riddell to fight with his back towards the cage. We got a lot of high level striking exchanges between the two, which culminated in a highlight reel TKO for the ages. This is Fiziev’s fifth straight win, which should set him up for a top-10 match in his next outing.
Before that, Jamahal Hill made quick work of Jimmy Crute, scoring a knockout in a sporty 48-seconds. Hill quickly dropped Crute with a right hand, and then put him down with another one not too long after that. Thankfully only one solo ground strike detonated before the referee was intervening, because Jimmy was donezo. Hill seems back and as dangerous as ever after his gruesome arm injury mishap from his fight with Paul Craig at UFC 263.
Longtime UFC veteran Clay Guida overcame all sorts of adversity before turning things around and submitting BJJ black belt champion, Leonardo Santos, with a rear-naked choke. The first round was rough for Clay, but as soon as Santos ran out of gas, things became much more manageable. This is Guida’s first finish since 2017.
Chris Curtis earned his sixth win of 2021, yes his sixth, by stopping Brendan Allen with strikes in the second round. Curtis wobbled Allen with a right hand, and then mugged him up against the cage with uppercuts, elbows, and knees to get the finish. After knocking out Phil Hawes in his UFC debut last month, Curtis is on one crazy hot streak. In his post-fight interview, Chris stated that he is willing to compete in a seventh fight of 2021 next week at UFC 269 if possible.
The UFC Vegas 44 main card opened up with Alex Morono running away with the scorecards against Mickey Gall. Morono dropped Gall with a jab in the first round, and then proceeded to be the better striker in what was a predominantly standup affair. Morono started off the year with a TKO of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, then won a decision over David Zawada, and is now finishing off 2021 with a decision over Mickey Gall.
**See complete results below
Rafael Fiziev def. Brad Riddell by TKO at 2:20 of round 3: Lightweight
As advertised, we got a high level striking match right away. Fiziev took the center and slowly came forward. When the fighters got close enough, one would fire, and then the other would respond with a combination of his own. Fiziev was doing a good job of mixing up his punches and kicks. He was blasting the body of Riddell with kicks, causing some welts along the ribs. The round ended with Riddell landing a clean flurry that Fiziev wore well.
Fiziev wasn’t throwing as many kicks early on in the second act as he was in the first. That made things much more even for Riddell. Just as Riddell was finding success, a well-placed elbow cut Brad open around his left eye. Fiziev kept marching forward behind his accurate punches. Before the start of the next round, the doctor was brought in to check the cut around the eye of Riddell.
Riddell started the final round by blasting a takedown, but he couldn't keep it. Fiziev went back to taking the center of the Octagon and commanding the cage. That’s when he unleashed a wheel kick that landed right on the jaw of Riddell. He didn’t go down, but he was clearly out of it, so when he shot an autopilot takedown the referee stepped in and stopped it. What a finish!
Jamahal Hill def. Jimmy Crute by KO at :48 of round 1: Light Heavyweight
Crute took he center and was launching kicks, but was knocked down briefly with a big hook. Jimmy recovered and looked to grapple, but a nasty lead hook dropped Crute again. Hill instantly came crashing down with a single savage ground strike to end the match. Yikes!
Clay Guida def. Leonardo Santos by submission (RNC) at 1:21 of round 2: Lightweight
Santos went right after Guida, assaulting him with a kick to the body that hurt Clay. A lengthy barrage had Guida shooting desperation takedowns, and he was eating a ton of punches because of it. He stood up and even a knee that dropped him and knocked out his mouth piece. The referee allowed Guida to stay in it, and Santos completely ran out of gas. Guida then got back into the fight by pressuring and hitting a takedown. Santos could only hold on from the bottom.
It was Guida’s turn to start a round on fire. The second stanza saw Clay pressure with punches and then wrestle Santos right to the floor. He took his back, sank the hooks, and locked up a rear-naked choke. Leonardo tapped out.
Chris Curtis def. Brendan Allen by TKO at 1:52 of round 2: Middleweight
It didn’t take long for Allen to prove how quickly he can take the back, even standing. Curtis had to fight off some early grappling, but managed to get himself back to open space. The fighters then started going back and forth with single strikes, talking to one another along the way. Allen dropped down for a leg, but Curtis remained safe on top until the bell.
The second saw more of the back and forth, until they both landed right hands at the same time. Curtis had is hand in place to blocks while Allen didn’t and got wobbled. Curtis then grabbed ahold of a single collar tie against the fence, and stared uppercutting the body and head. A couple of elbows landed and a few knees, one of which sending Allen to the ground.
Alex Morono def. Mickey Gall by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Welterweight
Morono clearly wanted to land some leather in this one. He would crash in on Gall with combinations, and needed up scoring a knockdown off of a jab. He followed Gall to the ground, but Mickey was able to recover and stand back to his feet. Gall threw a wild flurry just before the bell.
The standup battle continued into the second round. Gall was landing early with his hands, and tried to use his boxing to set up his takedown, but Morono was aware of the whole scheme and remained vertical. Morono was looping more of his punches, which was actually the most effective tactic being used.
Morono continued to have the better standup in the final frame. he was landing his jab, and also landing his looping punches. Gall just wasn’t pulling the trigger, or really threatening with anything else either. As the round grew on, Gall did start pressing forward, showing some urgency, but just didn’t have anything in the tool shed to get the job done. He also walked into a spinning backfist.