Sanabul Fight News: UFC Vegas 54
For such a lowkey card, there were quite a few big names on UFC Vegas 54, including a couple important divisional women’s fights that many were looking forward to. Jan and Rakic ending off the card in an important, potential, title eliminator was just the icing on the cake.
One of the most exciting matchups of the night was starting the card off with middleweights Andre Petroski and Nick Maximov. Andre is 2-0 in the UFC after competing on TUF last season, and Nick Maximov is an up and coming prospect out of the Diaz brothers camp in California. Maximov has two wins in his first two fights in the UFC via decision, and this was looking like it was going to be an exciting grappling matchup between the two men, with Petroski being the biggest underdog on the card. Andre locked up a front headlock position in the first round, and transitioned to a nasty Anaconda choke which put Maximov out cold to give Petroski his third UFC win, to move his pro record up to 8-2. I look forward to seeing both men back in there and see what Maximov does after his first professional loss.
Tatsuro Taira and Virna Jandiroba each earned themselves decision wins against tough opponents, both showing how much of a threat they are in their respective divisions. Taira is a dangerous prospect in the flyweight division, with some very slick grappling transitions and some sneaky striking, he dominated Carlos Candelario to a decision victory, with the fight ending with some nasty ground and pound from Taira on top. Virna moved her record up to 18-3 in the women’s strawweight division with a decision victory against Angela Hill, getting a statement win against a veteran well-rounded fighter.
Michael Johnson fought in his 24th UFC fight on Saturday night, against another veteran in Alan Patrick. Michael Johnson has fought the absolute best of the best in the UFC since 2010, including Khabib, Tony Ferguson, Joe Lauzon, Beneil Dariush, Nate Diaz, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and the list goes on. His resume speaks for itself, but his record is a little dusty sitting at 21-17, most fans were looking forward to seeing him back in the octagon for the first time in 2022. Johnson absolutely dominated Alan, and ended up knocking him out cold in the second round. The finish was incredible, and there was some controversy on Twitter later Saturday night due to MJ not receiving a bonus after such an incredible finish.
Viviane Araujo ended up earning an impressive decision victory over Andrea Lee as well, showing off her takedowns and grappling abilities to drown Andrea over the three rounds to win a unanimous decision. The women’s flyweight division is looking a little bit more exciting as Valentina has to be a little nervous with the upcoming talent in that division, especially the grapplers.
Up and coming prospect Jake Hadley was matched up with Allan Nascimento, with Nascimento as a huge underdog. Hadley was coming into this fight with a record of 8-0, with Allan having the experience advantage at 19-6, this was sure to be a good fight. Allan ended up earning a decision victory with two more takedowns and double Jake’s strikes, showing off his experience and skill in his second UFC fight after losing to Tagir Ulanbekov in his first. I’m sure Hadley will be back better than ever, and Allan proved himself as a contender in the division after the loss in his debut.
Kaitlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas had a very exciting matchup in the WFlyweight division as well, proving how tough that division is at the top. This fight was extremely close, with Amanda showing off her grappling skills, it seemed to many as though it would come down to how much the judges counted her ground control time compared to Kaitlyn winning on the feet. Kaitlyn ended up winning the decision, and since she’s already ranked first in the division, she might be next up to get a title shot from Valentina. Personally, I’d get Jessica Andrade and Kaitlyn matched up in the meantime for a title eliminator, since I don’t think Kaitlyn has improved enough yet for the outcome against Valentina to be any different than the last time.
Davey Grant and Ryan Spann each earned finishes to lead up to the Main Event, and each of the men made statements in their victories to show the UFC they deserve to be where they are in the division, and continue to make their way up the rankings. Davey Grant got a sweet finish against Louis Smolka, with a knockdown and some vicious ground and pound to put Louis out cold. Ryan Spann ended up brawling with Ion right from the start (surprise surprise, Ion Cutelaba in a brawl) and jumping on a choke to finish Ion immediately, the squeeze was quite obvious and Ryan has obviously worked on some dangerous grappling to be able to finish Ion so fast with a submission like that.
Jan Blachowicz had an extremely important fight on Saturday night against a dark horse in the Light Heavyweight division in Aleksandar Rakic. The first two rounds I would say went in the round of Rakic, the standup was relatively evenly matched and Rakic had quite a bit of ground control time as well as one takedown. In the third round Rakic went to step back and you could see his knee cap pop out of place, potentially a dislocation. The fight was stopped, and Jan Blachowicz was awarded the win. It looked as though Jan was winning the third round for sure, and Rakic looked to be slowing slightly as the fight progressed. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see it play out since Jan does have much more experience in the championship rounds than Rakic, but we will likely see Jan fight for a title eliminator or be next in line for the belt after Glover/Jiri.