The APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada was home to a great night of fights at The APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada was home to a great night of fights at UFC Vegas 21: Edwards vs. Muhammad. The card saw five (T)KOs, TWO No Contests, one submission, and five decisions, including two split-decisions.
The preliminary card opened with a lightning fast knockout when Matthew Semelsberger starched Jason Witt in under 20 seconds. That was followed by Jinh Yu Frey finally notching her first win inside the octagon when she defeated newcomer Gloria de Paula. JJ Aldrich would best Cortney Casey via blind judging in a split-decision that should have gone to Casey. It shouldn’t have even been a split, but I digress. Nasrat Haqparast defeated Rafa Garcia by unanimous decision in a fun, entertaining scrap. Rani Yahya looked sensational in his 19th year of professional fighting, capturing Ray Rodriguez in the arm-triangle and making it look easy. Marcelo Rojo looked really good in the early goings of his UFC debut, but ultimately, Charles Jourdain would show him why his nickname is “Air” when he landed a devastating flying superman style punch that ended Rojo’s night. In the featured prelim spot, Angela Hill dominated a woefully deficient Ashley Yoder, easily taking a lopsided decision. Yoder’s striking is just awful. Much work is needed there.
The main card opened with a very entertaining battle between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart, but as is the way with MMA, fighters often find ways to shoot themselves in the foot, and Anders would launch a knee at a very grounded Darren Stewart. The fight was stopped, the ringside physician was called in and we all held our breath. When it was all said and done, Stewart was deemed unfit to continue, and somehow, this fight, despite what looked like an intentional knee, was ruled a no contest. Go figure. Matheus Nicolau edged out the split-decision against Manel Kape, handing the much-hyped Rizin star his second, straight loss. I thought Kape won it 29-28, but it was another lesson in weird judging tonight. Davey Grant defeated Jonathan Martinez via KO at just under the halfway mark of the fight, showing everyone why he’s such a dangerous opponent, surviving an early knockdown and a foot injury en route to his amazing victory. Not to be outdone, Dan Ige defeated Gavin Tucker with a nasty, round 1 knockout of Gavin Tucker, taking just 22 seconds to clean his clock. Ryan Spann needed just 71 seconds to defeat Misha Cirkunov when a barrage of punches forced the ref to step in and call a stop to the action. Spann called for the winner of Crute-Smith in his post-fight interview.
The headliner was a fast paced affair early on that saw Muhammad take an eye poke then eat some big head kicks, one of which staggered him, but he held on and stayed competitive. The fight would be stopped early in the second round after Edwards landed a second, unintentional eye poke ( a pretty bad one too), leading to a second No Contest. Anti-climactic, to say the least.
Performance of the Night: Matthew Semelsberger, Davey Grant, Ryan Spann, Dan Ige
Matthew Semelsberger (KO (punch) at :16 of round 1), Rani Yahya (arm-triangle choke) at 3:09 of round 2, Charles Jourdain (TKO (punches) at 4:31 of round 3), Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart (No Contest (illegal knee), 4:37 of round 1), Davey Grant (KO (punches), 2:03 of round 2), Dan Ige (KO (punch), :22 of round 1), Ryan Spann (TKO (punches), 1:11 of round 1), Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad (No Contest (accidental eye poke) :18 of round 2) all finished their respective fights inside the distance, but it would be Matthew Semelsberger, Davey Grant, Ryan Spann and Dan Ige that took the night’s $50K bonuses. All of them.
Fight of the Night: None
Jinh Yu Frey (29-28 x3), JJ Aldrich (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), Nasrat Haqparast (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Angela Hill (30-27 x3), and Matheus Nicolau (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) all heard the final horn in their respective bouts, but none would warrant a bonus in the eyes of the brass.