UFC Vegas 49 was a good night for the promotion’s lightweights.
During the prelims, 27-year-old Terrance McKinney scored his second straight first-round stoppage win in the UFC and 24-year-old Ignacio Bahamondes earned his second UFC stoppage win in three fights with the promotion.
The main card saw another young 155-pounder, Arman Tsarukyan, end his fight early. The 25-year-old, Tsarukyan, who entered the contest as the No. 13 ranked fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings earned a bloody second-round TKO win over Joel Alvarez.
As for the main event, Islam Makhachev, who was the No. 4 ranked fighter in the official UFC 155-pound rankings, ran over late replacement Bobby Green for his 10th straight win with the promotion. After the fight, Makhachev made it clear that he is only interested in facing the winner of the upcoming bout between UFC lightweight champ Charles Oliveira and former interim titleholder Justin Gaethje.
Islam Makhachev: Islam Makhachev barely broke a sweat on his way to his fourth straight stoppage win and 10th consecutive overall victory. Makhachev did a masterful job in getting a TKO win over Bobby Green. Makhachev worked a kimura attempt into full mount and then unloaded ground and pound on Green.
There might be some out there who feel as if Makhachev doesn’t deserve the next lightweight title shot, but those arguments are spurious, at best.
Bobby Green: Before UFC Vegas 49, Bobby Green said he knew he was not the UFC’s first call to step in to face Islam Makhachev, but Green took the fight and for that, Green deserves respect.
Wellington Turman: With the UFC light heavyweight champion in his corner, 25-year-old Wellington Turman got the biggest win of his UFC career on Saturday with a spectacular armbar submission over Misha Cirkunov. Turman locked up the technique in a flash, surprising the UFC commentary team and judging by social media, many fight fans as well. With the victory, Turman is on the first winning streak of his UFC career.
Ji Yeon Kim vs. Priscila Cachoeira: This fight was not pretty, but it was entertaining and that’s why these two end up listed as winners, but there’s a lot to discuss about this one.
First, Priscila Cachoeira concentrated almost entirely on throwing power shots and that allowed Ji Yeon Kim to do a lot of damage by fighting behind her jab and catching her opponent when Cachoeira was out of position. Where Kim slipped up, and probably lost the fight, was by deciding to brawl with her at points.
Both fighters should learn from this outing. Cachoeira should expand her striking repertoire and Kim should fight smarter and avoid brawling.
Arman Tsarukyan: Arman Tsarukyan got his second straight UFC stoppage on Saturday when he dominated Joel Alvarez on the way to a bloody knockout win. After his victory, Tsarukyan, said he wanted to fight to his opponents’ strengths, which he did at UFC Vegas 49 as he bested Alvarez on the ground, opening up a nasty cut on the face of Alvarez near the end of the first round. The cutman did his best to patch up Alvarez, but Tsarukyan showed the type of meanness that’s needed in a fighter to succeed as he went back to attacking that cut and getting copious amounts of blood flowing into the eyes of his opponent on his way to the stoppage win.
Tsarukyan’s only recent loss was a 2019 “Fight of the Night” decision setback to Islam Makhachev. Tsarukyan said he wants to run that one back.
Armen Petrosyan vs. Gregory Rodrigues: The middleweight bout between Armen Petrosyan and Gregory Rodrigues was an enjoyable scrap. Rodrigues was the more powerful striker, but his lack of output and penchant for headhunting might have worked against him at UFC Vegas 49. Petrosyan was much more active than his opponent. Not only did he have higher output, he mixed up his targets well, showed a lot of toughness and excellent cardio.
Rodrigues, who is a former LFA champion, should learn a lot from this fight. He should come away from this fight knowing that power alone does not get it done in the UFC.
Ignacio Bahamondes: Ignacio Bahamondes scored one of the best knockouts of 2021 when he finished Roosevelt Roberts at UFC Vegas 34. He followed that victory with the first submission win of his young career.
Bahamondes entered this contest with a focus on his striking and his ability to use his length, output, target selection, stance switching, footwork and toughness to rack up wins. The 24-year-old showed he is becoming a complete fighter with his submission win over Zhu Rong.
Josiane Nunes: At 5’2”, Josiane Nunes is not a tall bantamweight. She fought Ramona Pascual at featherweight at UFC Vegas 49 and took home a one-sided decision win. Nunes had a great UFC debut in August. Her win over Pascual built on that performance.
I praised Nunes after her debut for her aggressive nature. Her output and landing rate both increased in her second UFC outing.
Terrance McKinney: Terrance McKinney is a fighter to keep an eye on in the UFC’s lightweight division. After opening his UFC career with the fastest knockout in UFC lightweight history, McKinney scored an impressive first-round submission win over Fares Ziam on the UFC Vegas 49 prelims.
An awkward missed strike from McKinney put the fight on the mat early, but McKinney, who has a wrestling background, took control on the ground after a brief scramble and then broke down Ziam before securing a rear-naked choke.
McKinney is on a five-fight winning streak. All of those fights ended in the first round and the win at UFC Vegas 49 finish at 2:21 of the first stanza was the longest bout of that streak.
Jonathan Martinez: Jonathan Martinez used kicks very well in the first two rounds of his matchup against Alejandro Perez. Those kicks allowed Martinez to control the range of the fight. When Perez attempted to pick up his striking pace, his inability to get close to Martinez put him in position to get tagged with a lot of effective counters. The win moved Martinez to 6-3 in the UFC and put him on a two-fight winning streak.
Ramiz Brahimaj: Ramiz Brahimaj stepped into UFC Vegas 49 as a late replacement. Brahimaj was looking to put his January 15, 2022 decision loss to Court McGee behind him. He accomplished that goal very effectively.
Brahimaj entered the fight with nine submission wins over his 13-fight career (9-4). With that, everyone, including his opponent, Micheal Gillmore, knew Brahimaj was going to look to get the fight to the mat. He did just that and then spent the next 90 seconds looking to force Gillmore to tap, which he did at 2:02 of the first stanza.
Brahimaj has alternated wins and losses in his past nine outings (5-4).
Misha Cirkunov: Misha Cirkunov was 13-2 in May 2017. He was 4-0 in the UFC with four finishes and ranked No. 7 in the light heavyweight division. Things went south quickly for Cirkunov. By March 2021, he was on a 2-4 run and coming off a TKO loss to Ryan Spann. That stretch inspired him to drop to 185 pounds. In October 2021, he lost a split-decision in his middleweight debut. On Saturday, the 35-year-old dropped to 0-2 at 185 with a submission loss to Wellington Turman. The loss was his third straight setback.
Zhu Rong: Zhu Rong came in heavy for his lightweight matchup against Ignacio Bahamondes. He then went out and fought a very passive first round. Rong picked up his output in the second stanza, but Bahamondes ended the fight with a third-round submission win. UFC Vegas 49 was not a good fight week for the 21-year-old.
Ramona Pascual: Ramona Pascual took her fight against Josiane Nunes on short notice. She was a game fighter, but her striking technique needs a lot of work as she was wild and defensively suspect.
Alejandro Perez: Alejandro Perez sat back and let Jonathan Martinez take the fight tov him. He accepted the distance Martinez wanted to fight at and also the pace Martinez set. When Perez pushed forward he had some success with his hands, but he didn’t pressure Martinez enough. This was the kind of fight that Perez will probably look back on with regret.