Anyone who hoped for a heavyweight slobberknocker, walked away from the main event of UFC Vegas 20 sorely disappointed. In that contest, Ciryl Gane used his speed, footwork and accuracy to pick apart Jairzinho Rozenstruik from distance.
Gane’s style gave Rozenstruik fits. Gane used his quickness and height to move in and out on his opponent before Rozenstruik could muster a counter. The strike count and landing percentage of Rozenstruik told the tale of the fight. He attempted 104 significant strikes in 25 minutes and landed 42 of those attempts. Rozenstruik’s highest number of landed strikes in a single round was 13. In three of the five rounds, Rozenstruik landed single digits in significant strikes.
While the heavyweight bout was a disappointing one for Rozenstruik, Gane, while not the most exciting of strikers, showed that while he’s only eight fights into his MMA career, he could be a real problem for less athletic heavyweight fighters.
With the future of the heavyweight division penciled in for the next little while, I’d expect the UFC to give Gane a step up in competition, but I don’t think he’ll get a big push from the promotion since he is a technical fighter who picks his spots and not a brawler or knockout artist. One thing that could change the future of Gane would be the UFC booking a fight card in France. If that happens, I’d expect the UFC to give the 30-year-old a lot of love.
While the main event did not deliver violence, the “Fight of the Night” bonus winning scrap between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera. While that bantamweight throwdown didn’t end in a finish, that result was not due to lack of effort from either man.
Below is a look at the winners and losers from the UFC Vegas 20 fight card.
Ciryl Gane: Gane might not have picked up many fans with his style on Saturday night, but he didn’t pick up any brain trauma either. He was fast, smart and effective in his striking and left his opponent, the dangerous Jairzinho Rozenstruik, looking less than effective throughout their 25-minute matchup.
Gane is going to give slower heavyweights fits. He’s in great shape and uses a smart and effective game plan to avoid taking big shots. As long as he remains faster and lighter on his feet than his opponents, it’s very likely he’ll keep winning.
The problem Gane has is the same problem a fighter like Curtis Blaydes has, he doesn’t deliver the kind of fights the UFC favors and that’s why a fighter like Gane, who isn’t all that interested in getting beat up on his way to a win, might have a difficult time getting a shot at the top of the heavyweight division and that’s unfortunate.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera: As soon as this bantamweight fight began, it was clear both men wanted to finish things before the final horn sounded. That didn’t happen, but I don’t think anyone complained about the lack of a stoppage.
Munhoz left Rivera on one leg by the end of the first stanza thanks to a steady diet of calf kicks. Despite his bad wheel, Rivera did his best to continue to land heavy strikes and he had some success, but he could not sustain any momentum.
Munhoz earned a decision win in this rematch and I don’t think anyone would mind seeing a third matchup between these two. Before the trilogy takes place, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of matchup Munhoz gets in his next contest. Munhoz entered this scrap as the No. 8 fighter in the bantamweight division, so this was a huge win for him, especially since it ended a two-fight losing skid.
Alex Caceres: The 32-year-old Caceres earned his fourth straight UFC win on Saturday with a decision victory over Kevin Croom. What is kind of crazy about Caceres is that he’ll have 10 years of UFC experience on March 26. It’s taken a while, but it seems as if Caceres has put things together and is in the midst of his best run with the promotion. It’s going to be interesting to see what the UFC does with Caceres considering how well things are going for him.
Thiago Moises: If there was one word that defined the first 14 minutes of Moises’ performance against Alexander Hernandez it would be poise. Moises was relaxed and calm in the face of the offense of Hernandez and that allowed him to counter with precision. The last minute of the bout was a different story as Moises opened up with his striking and his taunts as his confidence surged on the way to a unanimous decision win. Before this bout, the 25-year-old had wins over Michael Johnson and Bobby Green and he could be getting close to a top-15 opponent. Moises delivered a very good performance.
Alexis Davis: Davis was on a three-fight losing skid and coming off a break of nearly two years when she stepped into the octagon against Sabina Mazo on Saturday night. Mazo was a big favorite and it looked as if the fight was designed to get the 36-year-old Davis out of the UFC and put the 23-year-old Mazo on the map. Davis prevented that from happening.
Davis used kicks to set up takedowns and then used her ground skills to keep the fight on the mat. The win was the first for Davis since she earned a split decision over Liz Carmouche in December 2017.
Ronnie Lawrence: Lawrence dominated Vince Cachero in his bantamweight bout. The bout started at a high pace, but once Lawrence opened up his takedown game, the fight was one-way traffic. Lawrence was all action on the ground. He never gave Cachero a moment to get set as he looked to improve position and land ground strikes. Every time Cachero worked to his feet, Lawrence looked to put him back on the mat and he was pretty successful in doing so. When Lawrence dropped Cachero in the third stanza via a body kick followed by a leg sweep/low kick, he was relentless with his ground strikes and gave the referee a reason to wave off the fight.
Lawrence looks like he could be trouble in the bantamweight division. With his pace, output and wrestling skills, I expect the matchmakers are going to give Lawrence a test soon. Circle Lawrence’s name and don’t miss his next fight.
Dustin Jacoby: Jacoby took a break from MMA between 2015 and 2019 to concentrate on kickboxing. He did pretty well in that pursuit, fighting for the Glory middleweight title in 2016. When he returned to MMA, he moved to the UFC after a win on the SCL 74 card. He picked up a third straight UFC victory on Saturday when he defeated Max Grishin via decision.
Jacoby used a steady diet of leg kicks to earn the light heavyweight victory. Jacoby didn’t seem to thrilled about the win, but a win is a win in the UFC and Jacoby let his potential opponents know they’ll need to prepare for a load of leg kicks if they get booked to face him.
Jerin Valel: Referee Jerin Valel made the right call in the Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Montana De La Rosa bout. Bueno Silva blatantly grabbed the fence to prevent what would have been a takedown and Valel stopped the fight and took a point away. He did not hesitate in his call and the point deduction cost Bueno Silva the win. In a sport where we see referees hand out endless warnings for fouls and never take a point, it was refreshing to see Valel take the point when it was warranted.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik: Yes, Rozenstruik is a powerful heavyweight striker, but he requires a target to hit to deliver that power and Ciryl Gane was not interested in being that target. Gane was fast and smart with his striking. He didn’t get involved in a war with Rozenstruik and, for the most part, relied on single strikes and not combinations throughout the bout. The result was that Rozenstruik spent 25 minutes trying to counter a fighter that wasn’t there to be hit.
Nikita Krylov: If the odds were to be believed, the prognosticators believed Magomed Ankalaev would walk through Krylov in the co-main event. Krylov was the biggest underdog on Saturday’s fight card, but he didn’t seem to get the memo that he was expected to lie down for his opponent. Krylov won the first round of this light heavyweight contest before the more well rounded Ankalaev took over. Krylov is not a bad fighter and the odds seemed out of line in this matchup.
Montana De La Rosa: De La Rosa has relied on her wrestling skills a great deal during her MMA career. On Saturday she might have learned that wrestling is not always a great thing to count on if your opponent can land strikes in close. De La Rosa left the cage bruised and bloodied thanks to the clinch work of her opponent, Mayra Bueno Silva. If De La Rosa wants to succeed in the UFC, she needs to develop a better striking game.
Kevin Croom: Croom had an opportunity to make a big jump in the featherweight division in a matchup against Alex Caceres on Saturday. Instead, Croom learned he still has a great deal of work to do before he meets veteran competition with the promotion.
Alex Hernandez: Hernandez has been one of the more confident (cocky?) fighters since he joined the UFC in 2018. As his career moves forward, it seems as if Hernandez’s talent has not kept pace with his confidence.
On Saturday, Hernandez lost a split decision to Thiago Moises. Hernandez was aggressive in the bout, but that aggressiveness did nothing but get him hit by the counters of his opponent. Seven fights into his UFC career, Hernandez might need to humble himself and look to reinvent his style if he wants to move up the UFC ranks.
Sabina Mazo: Mazo was supposed to get a fourth straight UFC victory when she faced Alexis Davis. However, the young fighter and her camp seemed to forget that Davis is pretty good on the ground. Mazo was far too reliant on her striking in this contest. Hopefully, Mazo’s camp treats this as a learning experience and works on developing the 23-year-old into a more well-rounded scrapper.
Vince Cachero: Cachero was a game opponent against Ronnie Lawrence, but he had nothing to offer other than heart.
Maxim Grishin: Grishin did not have a good week. He came in heavy for his fight opposite Dustin Jacoby and his inability to sustain pressure and output over the 15-minute bout cost him a win. Grishin did not do nearly the damage Jacoby did during the contest, but had he been as busy as he was in the first round, Grishin might have got the nod in this one.
Mayra Bueno Silva: Bueno Silva left Montana De La Rosa with a badly damaged face at the end of their flyweight bout. Bueno Silva’s work in the clinch was excellent, but she did not leave the octagon with a victory despite the amount of damage she did. The reason for that was referee Jerin Valel. Valel (correctly) took a point from Bueno Silva in the first round when a fence grab prevented De La Rosa from getting the fight to the mat. Had Bueno Silva not grabbed the fence she would have won walked away a victor.