UFC Vegas 70 is done and we can all move on. Sure, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been after losing the main event, but even as I type those words, my memory of what actually happened grows dim. Brendan Allen planted his flag in the division’s top 15, Tatiana Suarez showed she can still fight, and... I don’t really have a third thing.
So, does Allen get a chance at one of the half dozen bouts he asked for? Can Suarez still cut weight to 115 lbs? Is Trevor Peek our new Mike Perry?
To answer those questions—even that’s a stretch—I’ll be using the classic Silva/Shelby fight booking methodology from the UFC of years past. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent up against one another. Hopefully, by following that model, a few of these bout ideas will actually make it off the page and into the Octagon. Now, let’s get to the fights!
Brendan Allen has had his setbacks in the Octagon, but if his past victories hadn’t already made the point, his win here showed that ‘All In’ clearly still has what it takes to be a top 15 talent at 185. He may always struggle with high-output striking talents that aren’t deterred by his standup (which may forever shut him out of the top 5), but Allen has looked like an unbeatable fighter on the mats. Coupled with a decent chin and a lot of aggression, that’s going to keep him a tough out for a consistent class of opponent. Going into this, I thought Muniz would be just a bit too sharp on the floor. Instead he got dominated there on the way to a round 3 submission.
After the bout, Allen called out rematches with Sean Strickland & Chris Curtis, as well as fights with Jack Hermansson & Dricus Du Plessis. I’m much less interested in the rematches than I am the new fights. Bouts against Marvin Vettori or even Derek Brunson someday also seem like great options. If Du Plessis loses to Brunson, then Allen/Du Plessis is excellent. If he wins, however, the South African is more likely to be fast tracked to bigger names. To that end, I’ll go ahead and say book Allen against Hermansson. ‘The Joker’ is coming off a humiliating defeat against Roman Dolidze, and I’m sure would love to prove his talent against another top-flight submission artist. If it’s an opponent Allen wants, it’s a fight I’d like to see. Otherwise, Du Plessis off a loss (or the loser of Dolidze/Vettori) is an excellent match-up.
It’s not Rodolfo Vieira getting subbed by Andrew Hernandez levels of embarrassment, but I have to imagine that 3rd degree BJJ black belt Andre Muniz is going to hear about this one for quite a long time. The Brazilian has had a few losses over the course of a fourteen year MMA career, but this is the first time he’s ever had to tap out. The worst of it is, he didn’t just get caught in a sudden guillotine or a single magnificent back take in a scramble or something like that; Allen absolutely dominated him on the floor for every second the fight was there. He swept Muniz, he passed his guard, he landed GNP, and Muniz never even created a single submission attempt. He straight-up got out-grappled.
Hopefully that lights a fire for the 33-year-old, because we know he has legit grappling talent, and his striking looked more dangerous than ever on Saturday. He’s still got time to put together another run. I know I suggested Allen fight Hermansson, but if that booking doesn’t happen, that would be a really good option B for Muniz. As would fights with Darren Till, the loser of Curtis vs. Gastelum, or Nassourdine Imavov. Actually, that Imavov fight is right there, front and center, and feels like it’d be a real meaningful win for either man if they could pull it off. Nassourdine Imavov vs. Andre Muniz would provide either man a badly needed bounceback.
It seemed like Tatiana Suarez might be heading for a tough outing by the end of the first round. She got a lot of control time on Montana De La Rosa, but very little else—and had to work super hard for every bit of it. In the second round, Suarez once again found herself working hard to keep MDLR on the mat, to the point that—after a tough scramble—De La Rosa decided to take her own shot at getting her opponent down. That’s when Suarez jumped guillotine and reminded people that she’s had time to work on other parts of her game too these last few years. The submission win keeps her record perfect, and after the victory she announced her intention to drop back down to strawweight. It’s too bad that Mackenzie Dern just got booked against Angela Hill, because Dern/Suarez is clearly THE fight to book. Assuming Dern’s gonna win, Dern vs. Suarez is a must-see top contender’s bout at 115. Otherwise, book her against the Jandiroba/Rodriguez winner.
The questions going into this were all about whether Lainesse would test Malott in a brawl or hang back and try to figure him out. Lainesse chose the latter and the result was a thoroughly one-sided, one-round performance from Malott, who got to do whatever he wanted from range, and then took Lainesse right down at the first sign of trouble. A quick transition to arm triangle and that fight was done. Malott’s been a lot of fun in his UFC career to date, he just has to find a way to get into the cage more often. Philip Rowe’s been making his own waves in the UFC so far, if Rowe doesn’t already have something cooking then a bout against Malott would be perfect. Rowe vs. Malott should be a solid battle of rising welterweight prospects.
After a humiliating loss to Paddy Pimblett, this was something of a gimmie bounce-back booking for Jordan Leavitt; a chance to be the bigger, stronger, more bullying athlete in the cage. All credit to him, however, he took full advantage of the opportunity, tying up with Martinez midway through round 1 to land a barrage of clinch strikes that felled the Team Ferreira fighter. Leavitt’s range game still needs a lot of work, but it’s great to see him being more aggressive standing. Just being able to create meaningful offense on his feet will make getting to his clingy grappling game much much easier. Time to push Leavitt back up into more difficult mid-division fights, to see if he can hang with more well rounded fighters. Bouts with Mike Davis, Fares Ziam, or Jamie Mullarkey wouldn’t be bad. I really like the Mullarkey bout, actually. The Aussie’s wide skill base seems like it could give Jordan fits, or get him cleanly out-grappled. Mullarkey vs. Leavitt is a quality next bout.
Much like Leavitt, this was pure softball territory for Joe Solecki. And once again, if he’s getting a fat pitch over the middle of the plate, it’s all on him to knock it out of the park. Deaton did well for a round to defend the rear naked choke threat with Solecki on his back, but he couldn’t do it for another five minutes. Solecki got the tech sub to reinforce the idea that he’s very much a prospect on the rise. So I want to see him in the cage with another exciting young grappler trying to make his mark at the elite levels of the UFC. Claudio Puelles recently climbed up into the rankings, and failed in his first big challenge, seems like he could use a step back and Solecki a step forward. Solecki vs. Puelles should be a grappler’s delight.
OTHER BOUTS: Augusto Sakai vs. Justin Tafa, Don’Tale Mayes vs. Parker Porter, Yohan Lainesse vs. Mounir Lazzez, Trevor Peek vs. Matt Frevola, Erick Gonzalez vs. Viacheslav Borshchev, Victor Martinez vs. Carl Deaton III, Ode Osbourne vs. Cody Durden, Charles Johnson vs. CJ Vergara, Nurullo Aliev vs. Uros Medic, Rafael Alves vs. Damir Hadzovic