Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson battled newcomer Landon Vannata last night (July 13, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 91 inside Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Ferguson was on the cusp of a title shot prior to his title eliminator match up with Khabib Nurmagomedov, but injuries nixed that bout, leaving "The Eagle" to face a relative unknown. In bizarre circumstances, "El Cucuy" found himself in a similar situation against Vannata, as Ferguson looked to impress against his debuting foe.
On the other hand, there were few pressures or expectations on the back of "Groovy Lando." The Jackson-Wink prospect was a massive underdog, but fully intended to leave the Octagon with his arm raised anyway.
He came damn close.
Vannata started quickly, tagging Ferguson with some kicks and combinations. Moments later, Vannata stunned his opponent with a spinning back fist and combination of right hands. Ferguson looked shaky for a minute but recovered well and began landing hard blows of his own.
At about the halfway point in the round, Vannata began to tire a bit and lose steam. Ferguson began connecting more cleanly, tagging his foe with straight punches and low kicks. Just as the tide seemed to be changing, Vannata slammed home a high kick on the break of a grappling exchange.
Ferguson survived until the end of the round, but he was very nearly put out by the newcomer.
Vannata had another strong start to the second round, scoring with more punches and just barely missing on another high kick. Unfortunately for "Groovy Lando," Ferguson absolutely thrives in brawls particularly as his opponent tires.
When Vannata grew tired, his movement began to abandon him. Once that happened, Ferguson connected more cleanly than ever and began to land most of what he threw. This, of course, made Vannata slow even more, and his face soon began to wear the results.
Before long, Ferguson latched onto a guillotine choke when Vannata tried to duck under a punch. He quickly transitioned into a d’arce choke and dragged his foe to the mat. Vannata tried to defend, but he soon had no option but to submit.
This may not have been the ideal result for "El Cucuy" — he took some serious shots — but it was a seriously entertaining finish over a tough opponent. On the heels of his already massive win streak, it should be enough to earn him a title shot.
Ferguson once again proved his toughness and aggression. He simply keeps attacking regardless of what is thrown at him. It disheartens and eventually overwhelms his opponents on a routine basis.
While Vannata never gave up, his brawling style was still on full display here.
Speaking of the Jackson-Wink prospect, Vannata fought incredibly well. He showed off his excellent movement, kicking game, and rolling punches to great effect, rocking Ferguson multiple times and nearly finishing him in the opening round.
He may not have won, but it’s still one of the most impressive debuts on the year.
Following this loss, Vannata will undoubtedly receive any easier fight next time out. However, he definitely proved his worth, so hopefully the UFC gives him someone near the top 15 if not outright in it.
There’s absolutely no doubt: Vannata is a serious fighter to watch moving forward.
Last night, Tony Ferguson submitted Landon Vannata in the second round. Can Ferguson capture the UFC title?
For complete UFC Fight Night 91: "McDonald vs Lineker" results and play-by-play, click HERE!