The UFC Vegas 53 main card ended with the promotion’s #8 ranked bantamweight, Marlon Vera, stinging the #5 ranked, Rob Font, multiple times across five rounds to walk away with a unanimous decision. Font started hot, throwing a ton of volume and running up the strike count, but Vera began connecting with venomous strikes that put Rob in all sorts of trouble. Font never quit, and never stopped throwing, but he just couldn’t overcome the firepower of Chito. Vera absorbed well over 200 strikes, but you couldn’t tell by looking at him. How close is Chito to a UFC title fight?
Before that, the co-main event of the evening witnessed 43-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, pulling out a split decision over Jake Collier. This fight was highly competitive throughout, with several accidental head butts, but Arlovski did just enough to get the judge’s decision. Andrei has now won four in a row, and six of his last seven. Is Andrei Arlovski going to get a win over Father Time?
In what was the fastest finish of the night, Joanderson Brito floored Andre Fili with a bodacious overhand right, and then proceeded to hammerfist Fili until the referee pulled him off. The whole thing lasted a sporty 40-seconds. After dropping his UFC debut, Brito has rebounded in a magnificent way, and over an established name like Andre.
The first finish of the main card occurred in the third round of Grant Dawson vs. Jared Gordon. Dawson had successful back takes across the first-two frames, but he was getting battered in the third and failing at his takedowns, but managed to find a window to jump on the back and sink a rear-naked choke. Dawson is now unbeaten in his last ten outings.
Darren Elkins was in a bit of a war with Tristan Connelly, but still managed to win every round on each scorecard. It was pretty even on the feet, but Elkins did his best work when he got the fight to the floor. This was the final fight on Darren’s UFC contract, so he will likely get re-signed for a couple more outings. Just for the record, Elkins made his promotional debut at UFC on Versus 1 way back in 2010.
Opening up the UFC Vegas 53 main card, Krzysztof Jotko ran away with the scorecards against Gerald Meerschaert, earning three 30-27’s. Jotko was quite quick and nimble on his feet, and his counter striking was on point, too. The big surprise was when Jotko started hitting takedowns on GM3, and was also able to stay a step ahead of him on the ground. Krzysztof has now quietly won five of his last six fights.
**See complete results below
Marlon Vera def. Rob Font by unanimous decision (49-46 x2, 48-47): Bantamweight
Font was launching jabs and crosses right away, while Chito was working his kicks. Font seemed dialed in, and was finding ways to pierce through the guard of Vera with his punches. As Chito tightened up his guard, Rob elected to start throwing uppercuts. Chito was on his back foot for most of this round, but he was never wobbled or in big trouble.
Font went right back to touching his target with his hands in the second round. Chito responded with a pretty spinning back kick to the body, but Font was still throwing volume. The kicks were still the primary weapon for Vera, as he attacked the legs and the body. Then, a big leaping left hook dropped Font, and the round ended with Chito dropping tomahawk elbows.
Font shot right away in the second stanza, but he was unable to get a takedown. Chito stayed vertical, but Font went back to his jabs and crosses. Font also started to rip to the body, building upon the work he was doing to the head. It was five or six punches coming one after another, but Vera was enduring the punishment rather well. Then, Vera landed a gorgeous knee to the face that made Font do the stanky leg before falling. Chito again tried to finish with elbows, but again ran out of time.
Font returned to his multi-punch combos, but another Vera knee backed him off. The volume was on the side of Rob, but the power was all on the side of Marlon. The KABOOM! Vera uncorked some sweet chin music, shades of Shawn Michaels, and Font went down again. Chito stood over Font, kicking at the legs until the referee stood him back up.
The fifth round started with a flurry from Font, who was pushing forward despite the punishment he absorbed. He was touching Chito, but still not able to visibly wobble him. Font was getting ahead like he was in the opening round, but then another hook kick staggered Font and slowed his forward pressure.
Andrei Arlovski def. Jake Collier by split decision (29-28 x2, 27-30): Heavyweight
Collier clinched up right away, pushing Arlovski against the fence and chipping away with knees. The former champ eventually broke free, and they began trading punches. Arlovski was working his right hand as Collier was looking for his left hook. An elbow from Collier cut open Arlovski on his right eyebrow, but it didn’t seem to bother him.
The second round saw Collier land another nice left hook before entering the clinch. Arlovski freed himself again, and then kept working his straight punches. Collier responded with wider punches, but Arlovski was taking less time to hit the target. Collier clinched back up against the cage, and even though he was able to hit a takedown this time, Arlovski sprung right back up. Arlovski went back to landing the better punches, and Jake was starting to bleed from the face at this point.
Collier continued to wing his punches in the third, but Arlovski was being elusive and hard to hit. An accidental clash of heads brought a pause to the match, and the referee warned both guys to watch themselves. As soon as the fight resumed, they clashed heads again. Arlovski kicked at the body, and then went upstairs to the head, but Collier wore it rather well. Collier grabbed ahold of a front head lock, and delivered a knee to the head, and Arlovski wore that well. Just as the ten-seconds stick clacked, Collier blasted a takedown to get on top.
Joanderson Brito def. Andre Fili by TKO at :41 of round 1: Featherweight
Welp, this one didn’t last very long. Brito came out attacking with leg kicks, and then put a gigantic right hand behind a jab that sat down Fili. Some viscous ground and pound was delivered to Fili, who appeared to briefly go out twice. The referee saw all he needed to see to stop the bout.
Grant Dawson def. Jared Gordon by submission (RNC) at 4:11 of round 3: Lightweight
The lightweights went right to work, launching strikes at one another. As Dawson went for a trip, Gordon was able to stuff it and get on top. Dawson quickly returned to his feet and went for a bodylock takedown, but Gordon threatened a guillotine to avoid landing on the bottom. It wasn’t very long before Dawson was back on a takedown, but this time he got it and solidified the position. He moved to the back and locked up a body triangle, and then landed a bunch of punches to maximize the opportunity. That’s where the round ended.
Gordon came out for the second round landed some punches, but Dawson changed levels and went right back to the... back. Dawson locked up the body triangle again, with a ton of time on the clock. Gordon found a way to wiggle out and back to his feet, and although Dawson was still attached to his hips, he found a way to free himself into open space. Gordon scored a few strikes, but Dawson again hit a takedown, and again finished a round in a dominant position.
Gordon was using his strikes to catch Dawson closing the distance in the final round. Dawson was having bad reactions to the strikes, and was struggling to secure a takedown. When he did finally get the fight to the floor, Gordon used a guillotine to quickly get back up. Despite having a horrible round, Dawson found a way to return to the back, and immediately locked up an RNC. Gordon tapped.
Darren Elkins def. Tristan Connelly by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Featherweight
Elkins closed the distance right away behind his punches, and took Connelly right to the ground. He briefly worked for an arm triangle, and then switched to dropping strikes from the full guard. Connelly worked his way back to his feet, but it wasn’t long before he was taken back down. Elkins dropped more punches from the top, while Connelly scored some elbows from his back. The fighters stood up for one solid exchange before the bell.
Connelly did a great job of stuffing the initial takedown of Elkins in the second round, and landing a few knees and an elbow on the break. Elkins was sneaking in his punches, and using them to disguise his entries into the clinch. Connelly gave up the takedown, and then exposed his back, but found away to escape the horrible position and get back to his feet. That’s when Connelly started to come alive with his strikes, punishing the body of Elkins with some knees. Elkins then went for a single, and Connelly used the cage to avoid it, but the referee saw it and put Connelly back down where he was.
Connelly went back to his knees to start the final round, and they were both throwing elbows on the inside. Back and forth they went on the feet, exchanging punches back and forth. Elkins was getting his entry into the clinch, but Connelly was ready to go blow for blow there. Elkins ended up pulling off a takedown, and made his way to the back. With a body triangle engaged, Elkins started to rack up punches before working for an RNC. Connelly was able to survive, but what a way to close out the match!
Krzysztof Jotko def. Gerald Meerschaert by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Middleweight
Jotko was countering with crisp punches early and often, and then brought a front kick to the face for good measure. Jotko looked exceptionally nimble on his feet, using fantastic footwork to stay a step ahead of Meerschaert. GM3 was trying to press forward, but Jotko just seemed to have his number.
Meerschaert was finding more success with his pressure in the second round. He was able to land more punches and find some entries into the clinch. He tried to get Jotko down to the floor, but proper defense from Krzysztof kept him vertical. In the clinch, Jotko was actually the one who was throwing softening blows. Jotko was also able to get Meerschaert down on his back, although he did have to escape a brief guillotine attempt.
Meerschaert pressured some more in the third round, but Jotko was able to snag a takedown. From his back, GM3 threatened the arm of Jotko, but nothing was ever really close. Back on the feet, Meerschaert tried to get a takedown up against the cage, but Jotko defended well again to return to open space. Jotko went back to the takedown, and GM3 kept threatening with various attacks, but Jotko stayed a step ahead of him.