UFC VEGAS 21 Main Card (Tim)
After so long on the sidelines, Leon Edwards finally returned to the Octagon. He could have earned a title shot with a great performance. But following a great first round, things immediately went sideways for Rocky.
Just a few seconds into the second round of the UFC Vegas 21 main event, Edwards poked opponent Belal Muhammad in the eye, and it was ugly. Muhammad was immediately screaming in pain, and started to cry because he obviously understood the circumstances. It’s his first main event, and he wanted to put on a great performance. Instead, his eye got jacked up and he knew he was done right away, and his emotions poured over. It was obviously unintentional on Edwards’ part - he needed to perform here - but the vocal anguish from Muhammad was hard to watch. His eye was swollen shut immediately, and they went to a No Contest. Hopefully they can run it back.
- Wow Ryan Spann. That straight right was deadly, and he didn’t make the same mistake he did last time by engaging on the ground. Misha Cirkunov got up, was quickly dropped again, and Spann picked up the biggest win of his career. He called out the winner of Jimmy Crute vs. Anthony Smith, and I like that.
- Excuse my language, but holy shit Dan Ige! Gavin Tucker is very durable and can take a ton of abuse, and he got one-punched. That was awesome. I have no idea what DC and Bisping were doing for the start of the fight, since they thought it was over in four seconds when it was actually 22. Not a big deal though, stellar performance from 50k and I hope he’s paid accordingly.
- Davey Grant is awesome. He consistently tagged Jonathan Martinez with hard shots until he put him down for good in the second round. And he was amazingly charming in his post-fight interview, endearing himself to everyone with his explanations and wit. Great job.
- Matheus Nicolau did not beat Manel Kape. He certainly got off to a great start and won the first round with some solid shots. But Kape rebounded in the second to even it up, and I hate Kape taking the third. The judges didn’t agree though, and one of the best prospects in the division still doesn’t have a W.
- Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart was a really fun fight, until Anders made a stupid mistake and landed a knee on a clearly grounded fighter. It was very Petr Yan-esque, but because it was still in the first round, it was ruled a No Contest instead of a DQ. And the ref deemed it unintentional, which is a stretch to me. I think that should have been a DQ. I hope they run it back.
Preliminary Card (Mookie)
- Angela Hill put a hurtin’ on Ashley Yoder. It’s safe to say we won’t see a trilogy between these two because the rematch was even more dominant for Hill than in their first fight. Yoder had no answer for those right hands or knees to the body and even on the occasions where she got the fight to the ground she could do nothing of consequence. Hill was vastly superior all the way and she snaps her two-fight losing skid with a shutout win on the scorecards.
- Charles Jourdain and Marcelo Rojo went to war (as expected) and if Rojo might have had the upper hand through two rounds — turns out it was all even on the scorecards — the Canadian poured everything into getting the finish in the final round. A knockdown by Jourdain on a straight left had Rojo in serious trouble and Charles was relentless but also methodical at the same time. Jourdain even did an insane off the cage hammerfist which didn’t finish things but was cool. When Rojo got back up, he was a beaten man and Jourdain was able to get the TKO with a big body shot that capped off an accumulation of shots that the Argentine could not withstand. What a great, great fight and both men should be praised for their respective performances.
- Rani Yahya has the most finishes in UFC/WEC bantamweight history. That is not a misprint. He added to his collection with a dominant display of grappling against Ray Rodriguez, who tapped to an arm-triangle choke from half-guard midway through round 2.
- Nasrat Haqparast had a tougher time than expected with newcomer Rafa Garcia but he got into a groove with his striking in the final two rounds to take a unanimous decision win. Garcia is one tough customer and he absorbed a ton of clean body and head shots without so much as wobbling.
- I do not understand how JJ Aldrich got the split decision over Cortney Casey. Was her singular takedown in round 3 the difference? I thought Casey clearly outstruck Aldrich and deserved the nod. Casey clearly won round 1, Aldrich round 2, but two judges somehow saw Aldrich getting round 3 and thus the fight. It’s not a horrendous robbery but I think it is a very bad decision.
- Jinh Yu Frey almost certainly saved her spot on the UFC roster by using her wrestling and grappling in rounds one and three to take a 29-28 decision over newcomer Gloria de Paula, whose striking in round two was impressive but her takedown defense was decidedly not.
- Matthew Semelsberger got the card started with a straight right KO of Jason Witt, who’s now been smoked inside of a minute twice in three UFC fights.