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UFC Vegas 31: Makhachev vs. Moises results and post-fight analysis

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Dayne Fox gives instant analysis to UFC Vegas 31.

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Islam Makhachev defeated Thiago Moises in the UFC Vegas 31 main event.
Islam Makhachev defeated Thiago Moises in the UFC Vegas 31 main event.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Did anyone expect anything other than complete domination from Islam Makhachev? The highly regarded teammate of former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov took a very methodical approach towards Thiago Moises, showing the talented Brazilian grappler plenty of respect for his submission abilities. That only meant Makhachev wasn’t diving head first onto the mat with him, instead slowly working his way into dominant positions, coming close to securing stoppages at the end of the second and third rounds. He finally found what he wanted in the fourth round, securing an RNC.

The win doesn’t advance Makhachev any given he was expected to dominate Moises anyway, but it does further solidify his reputation as someone no one wants to fight. Given Makhachev approaches fights with a healthy degree of respect towards his opposition and is still able to put on such dominating performances is a scary proposition for anyone willing to step in the cage with him. It’ll be damn near impossible to deny him a top ten opponent at this point. The question is who is willing to do so. Don’t be surprised if Makhachev is fighting for the lightweight title by the end of 2022. Moises should remain largely static. Maybe he’ll fall out of the official rankings, but his standing in there was tenuous in the first place.

UFC Vegas 31 Main Card

  • There’s always a question of how someone would look after nearly five years away from competition. For Miesha Tate, she looked pretty damned good. Along with her trademark grit and wrestling, Tate showed an improved standup game, winning all aspects of her fight with an always game Marion Reneau before securing a third round GnP stoppage. Too early to say if she’ll return to being a contender, but this is a promising start. As for Reneau, though her retirement fight didn’t go as she hoped, her career as whole shouldn’t be shortchanged as she had a nice run.
  • After losing his UFC debut, Mateusz Gamrot has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Against longtime veteran Jeremy Stephens, Gamrot immediately took the fight to the mat and began hunting for a kimura, a submission that is rarely executed anymore. Nonetheless, the former KSW champion found it, then loudly proclaimed he’s coming for the rest of the lightweight division.
  • A win wasn’t going to be enough to get the haters off the back of Rodolfo Vieira. He knew that. The BJJ ace engaged mostly in a standup battle with Dustin Stoltzfus, having his share of moments. However, potentially down two rounds, Vieira reverted to his roots, clambering on the back of Stoltzfus and securing a third round RNC. Turns out Vieira can fight beyond the opening minutes….
  • Everyone knew Billy Quarantillo and Gabriel Benitez were going to put on a hell of a show. That ended up being an understatement. Quarantillo proved taking a brief break from the sport was good as he came roaring out of the gate, blistering Benitez for almost the entirety of the contest. Benitez never went out – and even mounted a brief comeback with a knockdown in the third – but the referee was forced to stop the fight after the damage racked up to extreme levels. That may have been Quarantillo’s breakout performance.

Prelims

  • Entering the UFC with little hype, Daniel Rodriguez has done everything to make everyone notice him. Disposing of a game Preston Parsons in the first round, Rodriguez now sits at 5-1 in the UFC in just 17 months. To Parsons credit, he did take the fight on short notice, but it wasn’t an inspiring performance for the newcomer.
  • Most were scratching their head when it was announced Amanda Lemos was facing Montserrat Ruiz. Lemos demonstrated why, eliminating Ruiz with a couple of hard shots that left Ruiz thinking the fight was still going after the referee pulled Lemos away from the rocked and rattled Ruiz. Can we get Lemos a top ten opponent next? Please?
  • Sergey Morozov let everyone know he’s for real, taking an intelligent strategy into the cage against a heavy handed Khalid Taha. Aware of Taha’s power, Morozov picked his strikes will while mixing in a number takedowns. The control on the mat made the biggest difference, never allowing Taha to get flowing.
  • It hasn’t been a good stretch for the Figueiredo brothers. Following his brother Deiveson dropping the flyweight title last month, Francisco dropped his sophomore UFC effort to a fighter previously winless in the UFC in Malcolm Gordon. Figueiredo flagged, allowing Gordon to utilize long stretches of control to take a unanimous decision.
  • It was a solid start to the evening for Alan Baudot, outlanding Rodrigo Nasciemento by a sizeable margin. Unfortunately for Baudot, he gassed pretty badly after the first round, allowing the Brazilian to tee off on him until the referee stepped in early in the second, getting Nascimento back on the winning track.