The tide in the UFC lightweight division is changing. A new generation of fighters are establishing themselves in the promotion’s 155-pound division. Islam Makhachev and Mateusz Gamrot have placed themselves inside the top-10 of the weight class. Meanwhile, Arman Tsarukyan, Jalin Turner and Damir Ismagulov have worked their way into the top-15.
On Saturday, another of the rising stars in the lightweight division punched his ticket into elite status with a TKO win over former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos. That fighter, Rafael Fiziev, is now on a six-fight winning streak with five straight post-fight bonuses.
Also, making some noise on the main card of UFC Vegas 58, which took place on Saturday at the UFC Apex, was Said Nurmagomedov, who scored his second win of 2022 with a unanimous decision win over Douglas Silva de Andrade.
Fiziev and Nurmagomedov were the big winners on the 11-fight card, read on for the complete list of winner and losers from UFC Vegas 58.
Rafael Fiziev: There were two big questions facing Rafael Fiziev heading into his UFC Vegas 58 matchup opposite former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. He answered both of those queries.
Dos Anjos entered the event as the No. 4 fighter all time in takedowns in the UFC lightweight division with 45. Fiziev stopped 14 of the 16 takedowns the ex-champ attempted and even though he surrendered two takedowns, Dos Anjos did little with those takedowns.
As for the cardio question, Fiziev scored a knockout in the fifth round against an opponent who had been to the championship rounds nine times before Saturday night. I think this fight was a learning experience for Fiziev and his team regarding preparing and competing in five round bouts, which I expect Fiziev will see a lot of in the future.
Rafael dos Anjos: Rafael dos Anjos’ loss to Rafael Fiziev might mark the end of his run as a top-10 lightweight in the UFC. I’m not sure if it will mark the end of his UFC career, but he did remove his gloves after the fight. It’s pretty remarkable that at 37, Dos Anjos is still competing near the top of the 155-pound division. Let’s not forget, Dos Anjos joined the UFC before Donald Cerrone and two months after Jim Miller. In short, he’s been at the top of the game much longer than the average fighters spends competing under the UFC banner.
Said Nurmagomedov: Said Nurmagomedov had finished his past two opponents within the first minute of the first round. He extended his winning streak to three straight, but Douglas Silva de Andrade took him the full 15 minutes in their bantamweight contest.
Nurmagomedov is a spectacular striker who draws from a deep well of techniques and no matter what he throws, he makes it look effortless. Nurmagomedov is a very talented fighter. Had he not gone from October 2020 to January 2022 without stepping into the octagon, there’s a very good chance he would be facing ranked competition. Nurmagomedov is ready to be tested against a top-15 opponent in his next outing.
Chase Sherman: Chase Sherman ended a four-fight losing skid with a late third-round knockout win over Jared Vanderaa. After the win, Sherman told UFC commentator Michael Bisping that he’s had 13 fights in the UFC and that he has accomplished nothing during that time. Sherman added that his plan was to get back in the gym and give Bisping a reason to speak to him in the future. Sherman is 32, which for a UFC heavyweight, leaves him plenty of time to make that wish come true.
Aiemann Zahabi: Following his win over Ricky Turcios, Aiemann Zahabi agreed with UFC commentator Michael Bisping’s assessment that the game plan was to make him miss and then make him pay. Zahabi, the younger brother of coach Firas Zahabi, did that, limiting his opponent to a 11 percent significant striking landing rate, while connecting on 51 percent of his own significant strikes.
Michael Johnson vs. Jamie Mullarkey: Credit to the UFC matchmakers for putting this one together. This lightweight matchup was 15 minutes of high output action that could have gone to either fighter — Mullarkey took the split decision win. Johnson and Mullarkey did not disappoint in the main card opener and they set the bar for the rest of the main card contests, which is, more or less, what the UFC wants from the competitors in that contest.
Cody Brundage: Cody Brundage opened up with some aggressive wrestling and had some success early, but when the fight separated and the two were in the open, Brundage laid back and allowed Gore to lead the dance a little, however, that approach might have been tactical considering how the fight ended.
Gore was leading with a low kick. When he delivered that kick, he left his head open for a counter. With about 80 seconds left in the round, Brundage connected with a counter that dropped Gore and led to the end of the contest,
With the win, his second straight first round finish, Brundage is on the first winning streak of his UFC career.
Kennedy Nzechukwu: In the past, I have criticized Kennedy Nzechukwu for his lack of urgency and his willingness to accept the pace and location his opponent desires in his previous fights. UFC Vegas 58 might have served as a turning point for the 30-year-old. He had a dominant performance in earning a third-round TKO win over Karl Roberson. Nzechukwu dictated everything that took place in the fight and the win, which ended a two-fight losing skid, should give him a huge bump in confidence.
Saidyokub Kakhramonov: Saidyokub Kakhramonov’s first UFC fight came on short notice. He had a full camp for his second bout and he did not disappoint in the least. Kakhramonov dominated Ronnie Lawrence in getting a lopsided decision win at UFC Vegas 58.
Kakhramonov used movement and striking to close distance on Lawrence and once he was in close, he took over the fight. His wrestling was superb and his top game on the ground was active and featured a mix of elbows and strikes. Kakhramonov also set — and largely kept — a high pace throughout the 15-minute bout. If there was a criticism of Kakhramonov’s performance it was that he got hit when the fight was in the open.
UFC commentator Michael Bisping summed this one up when he said that Kakhramonov was bullying Lawrence around the octagon. That he did and if the 26-year-old was not on your radar before UFC Vegas 58, he should be there now.
Armen Petrosyan: Armen Petrosyan found out that he needs a lot of work on takedown defense and defensive grappling in his loss to Caio Borralho.
Ricky Turcios: Ricky Turcios landed 27 significant strikes on 235 attempts, none of which resulted in a knockdown and that is one of the big reasons he was on the wrong end of a decision loss to Aiemann Zahabi. UFC Vegas 58 was a bad showing from the former TUF winner.
Karl Roberson: Karl Roberson gave up a lot of height and reach in his fight opposite Kennedy Nzechukwu: Roberson spent a lot of time on the mat being controlled by his larger opponent. For a fighter who was on a three-fight losing skid heading into Saturday’s event, Roberson did not show any sense of urgency in this fight.
Ronnie Lawrence: Ronnie Lawrence got completely shutdown by Saidyokub Kakhramonov. Lawrence had minor success with his striking, but most of the fight was contested in close quarters against the fence and on the ground and Lawrence, who had not surrendered a single takedown in his previous three UFC fights, had zero answers for the style of his opponent. The one-sided loss ended Lawrence’s five-fight winning streak and exposed a big weakness that he needs to shore up and that is his defensive wrestling and ground game off his back.
Caio Borralho: The positive in Caio Borralho’s performance was that he nullified the striking of his opponent, Armen Petrosyan, via his takedowns and ground control. The negative of the fight was that he did little other than control the fight after he got it to the mat. If Borralho hopes to move up the middleweight rankings with any amount of speed, he’ll need to be more aggressive with his ground game.
David Onama: David Onama moved to 10-1 with ten finishes with a submission win over late replacement Garrett Armfield. Onama is a talented fighter with a bright future, but there were some alarm bells sounding for me in the first round of this fight, as he did not approach those five minutes with much urgency. In fact, UFC commentator Michael Bisping mentioned that Onama’s coach, James Krause, called him out for his “lazy” approach in the first stanza. Onama corrected that issue in the second round.
In a sport where the tide can turn in a millisecond, being “lazy” is not something that should come up during an in-fight conversation.