The UFC Vegas 51 preliminary card was a bit of a mixed bag. We got a technical decision, a majority decision, point deductions, and a trio of pretty vicious TKO’s. Closing out the prelims, Devin Clark moved up to heavyweight to knockout the incredibly strong William Knight in the third round. Clark was looking to set up his takedowns, but it ended up being his standing strikes that got him the dub. Clark returns to the win column, and perhaps has found a new home at heavyweight.
The UFC’s #12 ranked women’s bantamweight, Pannie Kianzad, won a unanimous decision over the #11 ranked, Lina Lansberg, in their rematch 10-years in the making. This was a bloody one with plasma leaking on both sides, but the night belonged to Kianzad, who has now won five of her last six.
Drakkar Klose made his return to action in spectacular fashion with a ferocious TKO of Brandon Jenkins. Klose set the tone in the opening round with a wild extended flurry that had Jenkins in all sorts of trouble, and then he finished the job in the second. This version of Klose would be hard to deal with for anyone, but it’s Mark O. Madsen that Drakkar has in his crosshairs for his next outing.
Rafa Garcia lost a point for an illegal knee in the second round, but got right back to work and caught Jesse Ronson in a rear-naked choke inside the same round. This is exactly how you want to respond after losing a point. Show some urgency and remove the opportunity for wonky scorecards. After dropping two straight to begin his UFC career, Rafa has now won two in a row.
In his UFC debut, Martin Buday picked up a technical decision over Chris Barnett, after he landed an illegal blow to the back of the head in the third round — resulting in the match prematurely going to the scorecards. Buday was brutalizing the body of Barnett from the clinch all night, and seemed to be well on his way to a victory anyway before he made the mistake.
Jordan Leavitt utilized a bunch of leg kicks and top control tonight to edge out a split decision over UFC newcomer, Trey Ogden. “The Monkey King” is now 10-1 in his professional MMA career.
Sam Hughes overcame a rough opening round to win a majority decision over Istela Nunes. A point was deducted from Nunes in the third round for repeated eye pokes, resulting in one scorecard of 28-28. This snaps a three-fight losing skid for Hughes.
AlatengHeili earned himself his first UFC finish tonight when he stopped Kevin Croom with punches in bunches just 47-seconds into the match. The onslaught caused Croom to do a brief faceplant, but although he quickly stood up, the referee was aware that he was still badly hurt and mercifully stopped the match. Not a bad way for AlatengHeili to get back into the win column and extend his record to 15-8-2.
**See complete results below
Devin Clark def. William Knight by TKO at 3:21 of round 3: Heavyweight
Clark landed a stiff jab before shooting in for the takedown. Knight responded by threatening with a guillotine to remain on his feet, and after holding it for a bit, he exploded with a flying knee. Clark went back to the takedown, and although he didn’t get it, he was able to press Knight against the fence.
Clark was throwing out jabs in the seocnd round, but a big hook from Knight cut him open on the cheek. Clark used a right hand to set up a double leg takedown and get on top. From there, he transitioned into the full mount and controlled for a bit. At the end of the round, Knight exploded up and landed a belly to back suplex to get on top before the bell.
Clark used his punches to set up another takedown, but Knight quickly returned to his feet. Knight’s back was to the fence, and Clark delivered a nasty elbow followed by a left hook that staggered him. Clark flurried and caught Knight clean, knocking him to the ground and prompting the referee to intervene. Wow!
Pannie Kianzad def. Lina Lansberg by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Bantamweight
Lansberg backed Kianzad right to the fence, looking to deploy her usual clinch game. Kianzad freed herself, but went right back into the position, except she was able to finagle a takedown. She chipped away with short punches as she controlled Lansberg until the bell.
The fight went right back to the clinch in the second round, with Kianzad busting open Lansberg with around her left eye. The referee called timeout to bring in the doctor to check the leaky eye, but the bout quickly resumed. Kianzad was finding success in the clinch, preventing Lansberg from mounting much of her own offense, however, Lansberg did manage to drop Kianzad at the end of the round.
Lansberg continue to look for her entry into the clinch in the final round. Kianzad was working her boxing, intercepting Lansberg as she tried to close the distance. The check hook was scoring over and over, but credit to Lansberg for eating them rather well.
Drakkar Klose def. Brandon Jenkins by TKO at :33 of round 2: Lightweight
Klose methodically closed the distance on Jenkins, and landed an angry body kick that caused a big red mark on the ribs. Klose then scored a pretty lifting takedown, despite a fence grab. Jenkins quickly stood up, but Klose was still attached. A brutal barrage of clinch strikes unloaded all over the face of Jenkins, plus a bunch of punches, but he managed to stay in the fight. Jenkins was returning fire with knees to the body, and Klose backed off to catch his breath. Klose went back to work and dropped Jenkins with a clean right hand, giving Brandon a chance to showcase his toughness.
Klose continued to let his hands go in the second act, catching Jenkins with clean right after clean right. Jenkins was in jeopardy, getting dropped and dazed, so the referee had to step in keep this a sport.
Rafa Garcia def. Jesse Ronson by submission (RNC) at 4:50 of round 2: Lightweight
Garcia was letting his right hand go early and often here, catching Ronson with his head stationary. A short-lived takedown was achieved by Garcia, followed by a little bit of grinding against the fence. Ronson was struggling to stop the takedown, but he was able to quickly spring up to his feet.
Ronson tried for a takedown early int he second round, but Garcia defended it and hit a single of his own. Then, Garcia landed an illegal knee to the face of Ronson while he was on one knee, bringing a pause to the bout. Garcia lost a point for the infraction, and the match continued. Ronson was almost instantly taken back down and planted on the floor. Garcia eventually transitioned to his back, and punched his way into an RNC. Ronson tapped!
Martin Buday def. Chris Barnett by technical unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Heavyweight
The big men started trading right away, with Buday capitalizing on his reach. Buday then pressed Barnett up against the fence, grinding away with several piercing knees to the body. Barnett escaped into open space, but it wasn’t very long before he was right back up against the cage.
The second round saw Buday go right back to his clinch. He pressed Barnett against the fence again, and deployed the same strategy he used in the first act. When Barnett did escape, he willingly entered the clinch and brought Buday to the cage. Buday easily reversed him and returned to his grind. They would occasionally break apart to flurry, but the bulk of the round happened on the inside, with Buday doing great work with his knees to the body.
The final round saw the action go right back to the cage. That’s where one of those knees to the body dropped Barnett. Somehow Barnett kept fighting, and then Buday began landing blows to the back of the head. The referee called time out, and Barnett appeared badly hurt, so the doctor was brought in to have a look. Barnett was deemed unfit to continue, and the match was waved off.
Jordan Leavitt def. Trey Ogden by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Lightweight
Ogden started the match by pressuring Leavitt with strikes. He was doing a great job of backing up Leavitt, but slipped on his own and gave up top position because of it. Leavitt controlled from the top, but found himself caught in a guillotine with time dwindling away. Leavitt was able to avoid tapping and made it to the bell.
The seocnd round began with Ogden shooting in for a takedown, but accidentally head butted the chin of Leavitt. The referee called time out to check on Leavitt, but the match quickly got back underway. Leavitt was kicking at the leg, causing some redness on the thigh of Ogden, but rarely went upstairs to the head with anything. The body cross was open for Ogden all day, and he routinely went to that well.
Leavitt botched a takedown to start the final frame, but Ogden didn’t capitalize on it before Jordan worked back to his feet. Ogden hit a takedown to get back on top, but still couldn't keep it. On the feet, Leavitt clocked Ogden with a set of stinging right hands that prompted a poor shot. Leavitt got on top kept Ogden planted on his back all the way until the bell.
Sam Hughes def. Istela Nunes by majority decision (29-27 x2, 28-28): Strawweight
Nunes cracked Hughes early with a big right hand that got her attention. An accidental eye poke from Nunes briefly paused the match, and then on the restart the fighters went right back to trading hard combos. The hands of Nunes were dialed in, as well as her head kick. She started to pull away, seeming to have a big edge in the standup and busting open Hughes.
The second stanza saw the pace of Nunes slow down a bit. Hughes was finding a lot more success with her striking. Nunes was still getting her strikes off, but wasn’t keeping Hughes on the outside like she was in the first round. Hughes pulled off a takedown at the end of the round, and landed a bunch of short punches until the horn sounded.
Hughes appeared to be the much fresher fighter entering the final round. Another eye poke happened in the third round that resulted in her getting a point deducted. Upon the restart, Hughes closed the distance and hit a trip to put Nunes on her back. She remained on top, controlling al the way to the final bell.
AlatengHeili def. Kevin Croom by TKO at :47 of round 1: Bantamweight
AlatengHeili wasted no time in assaulting Croom. A big overhand right staggered Croom, and then an onslaught of combination boxing made Kevin do a brief faceplant. That’s all she wrote!