The UFC Vegas 55 main card was scarce on finishes, but we did get one welterweight war and a sweet standing elbow knockout.
The main event, however, was rather stale as the #5 ranked 135-pounder, Ketlen Vieira, winning a split decision over the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Holly Holm. A lot of this fight took place in the clinch, with Holm holding Vieira against the cage for several minutes. In open space, there were some strikes landing, but nothing that was really doing much damage. This match could have been scored either way, but is this fight even worth caring about? My sources say ‘No,’ so the sooner we forget, the better.
A war broke out in the co-main event of the evening, with Michel Pereira squeaking out with a split decision over the UFC’s #14 rated welterweight, Santiago Ponzinibbio. Pereira started hot in round-one, landing a ton of powerful strikes, and then Ponzinibbio began his surge in the second with punches and leg kicks of his own. The final act was fought on a tremendous amount of heart and determination, with both men emptying the gas tanks and swinging away until the final bell. When all was said and done, one judge saw it 29-28 for Ponzinibbio, one had it 29-28 for Pereira, and then the final judge scored it 30-27 for Michel. Regardless of how you scored it, expect Pereira to be ranked come Monday, and pitted against another ranked fighter in his next outing.
In the first bright spot on the main card, Chidi Njokuani did his thing by starching Dusko Todorovic with a phenomenal standing elbow to get a first-round knockout. Todorovic was trying to wrestle, and forced Chidi to work to find open space. Once he got there, he quickly returned to the clinch on his own terms, punished the body with knees, and then connected with the fight-ending blow on the break. This is two UFC fights for Njokuani, and two first round knockouts. It’s great to see Chidi step out from his brother Anthony’s shadow, and do so by adding to his highlight reel.
Tabatha Ricci won a lackluster unanimous decision over Polyana Viana. Ricci would easily get the takedowns, but didn’t seem to want to actually compete on the ground. She spent a lot of time standing over a grounded Viana kicking at her legs.
Opening up the UFC Vegas 55 main card, Jun Yong Park won a split decision over Eryk Anders. This wasn’t the prettiest fight, with Park doing a lot of countering across the first-two frames, and then pressing the action in the third. It was far from a great fight, but it was close. How did you score it?
**See complete results below
Ketlen Vieira def. Holly Holm by split decision (48-47 x2, 47-48): (W) Bantamweight
The fighters opened the bout by exchanging leg kicks, followed by Vieira initiating the clinch. Holm quickly reversed the position, pressing Vieira up against the cage. A couple of short knees scored for Holm, and a few slaps from Vieira, but positional control was the name of the game. Vieira tried a couple of whizzer kick takedowns, but Holm addressed each of them, and the round ended in that clinch position against the fence.
Vieira started the second act with a head kick, but Holm was able to defend it well. Vieira was able to hit a toss from the clinch to get on top, and scored a couple of punches before Holm was able to use the fence to stand up. Holm went for a takedown of her own, but Vieira defended well and threatened with a really tight standing RNC. Holm squirmed out of the hold and went back to pressing Vieira against the cage.
The third round started with Vieira landing the better strikes, but Holm quickly went back to clinching up against the cage. Vieira eventually broke free, but it wasn’t long before her back was to the cage again. In open space, Vieira was landing the better strikes, but they were few and far between.
Vieira continued to land the harder strikes to begin the fourth frame, but they were landing one at a time, without building upon one another. Holm did push over Vieira with a teep kick, and then launched a partially blocked head kick as Ketlen stood up. When Holm brought the fight back to the cage, Vieira quickly escaped back into open space. Holm was the one landing some volume, but nothing seemed to really cause any damage.
Vieira landed some quality blows to start the final round, but Holm wore it all rather well. Holm tried to press Vieira against the fence again, and as soon as Vieira broke free, Holly landed a teep to the face. Shortly after that Vieira found herself with her back to the cage again, being controlled but not hurt.
Michel Pereira def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29): Welterweight
The match was paused as soon as it started thanks to a Ponzinibbio eye poke. The match restarted and Ponzinibbio took the center of the Octagon, but Pereira clipped him with a right hand. Ponzinibbio wore it well, and Pereira went back to playing the outside and being unpredictable. Ponzinibbio was coming forward, but struggled make contact on an elusive Pereira. A big right hand briefly stunned Ponzinibbio, and gave Pereira a moment to press forward.
The seocnd round began with Ponzinibbio kicking low, and then Pereira landing legs to the body. Pereira remained hard to hit, while attacking with stinging strikes that Ponzinibbio didn’t seem to expect. As the round grew on, Pereira was coming forward more often, but that was allowing Ponzinibbio to find a home for his punches. Pereira started to regroup and score more strikes, but did give up a late takedown before the bell.
Pereira had a strong start to the third act, landing hard right hands and nasty body kicks. Ponzinibbio started to pump his jab and apply pressure, but it wasn't long before Pereira started to press forward himself. Ponzinibbio went right back, landing a mixture of punches and leg kicks. He even tried for a couple of takedowns, but Pereira was having none of it. The fighters started swinging with empty gas tanks as time dwindled down, showing off tremendous heart in the process.
Chidi Njokuani def. Dusko Todorovic by knockout at 4:48 of round 1: Middleweight
Todorovic shot in for a takedown to get the fight started, and Njokuani sprawled beautifully. Njokuani threatened with an anaconda, but lost position because of it. Todorovic began hanging on Njokuani, forcing him to carry his weight, and neutralizing his offense. Njokuani found his seperation, and then re-entered the clinch on his own terms, lighting up the midsection with knees. On the clinch break, Njokuani delivered a bodacious elbow that slumped Todorovic on impact! WOW!!!!!
Tabatha Ricci def. Polyana Viana by unanimous decision (29-28 x3): Strawweight
Ricci shot in right away, and Viana jumped a guillotine. Ricci quickly escaped and stood back to her feet, and Viana effectively kicked up at her legs until the referee allowed Polyana to stand up. Ricci closed the distance again, and Viana again threatened with a guillotine. Despite being on her back, Viana was the one attacking and being offensive.
The second round spent much more time on the feet. The fighters would collide with strikes, before breaking apart, and the re-crashing into the pocket. Ricci blasted a takedown to get on top, with Viana looking to tie up an arm. Ricci stood above her again to kick at the leg, with Viana looking to up kick. Ricci went back to the takedown in the final round, planting Viana on her back. She then elected to stand over Viana again, kicking at the legs. The referee stood Viana back up, and Ricci immediately shot back in to get on top. Ricci again stood up just to kick at the legs.
Jun Yong Park def. Eryk Anders by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Middleweight
Anders opened the match with a set of left crosses before entering into the clinch. Park defended the takedown with a standing guillotine attempt, but he accidentally kneed Anders in the cup. The foul prompted the referee to restart the fighters in open space. Anders continued to find a home for his left hand, but the longer the round went the more park started to score with his own strikes.
Park came out for round-two attacking with a bunch of leg kicks, but Anders was able to snag a takedown. Park was quick to spring back up to his feet, and went back to his leg attack. Anders responded with a series of punches, getting some respect back and causing Park to fall back a bit. Then Anders landed an unfortunate cup shot to Park, resulting in a break. The referee warned both fighters that another groin shot would result in a point deduction. The fight resumed and Anders continued to be the busier fighter, leading the dance and making Park respond to him.
Park pressed the action to begin the final frame. He went after Anders with pressure and punches, followed by elbows on the inside. Anders would tie up and threaten with takedowns to try and slow down the aggression of Park, and it seemed to prevent him from being completely overwhelmed. Credit to Park for forcing the issue the whole round and leaving it all out there.