Last night (Sat., Nov. 21, 2020), UFC remained in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC 255. No one will argue it was the best pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year, but two Flyweight title fights did headline the event ... even if few expected the champions to lose their titles. Fortunately, there were other fun bouts that were more unpredictable, making for a fun night of fights.
Let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:
Figueiredo’s First Defense
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez was shaping up to be a great fight.
Figueiredo came out firing from Southpaw, looking to rip left kicks. Perez kicked right back, and the two wasted little time in exchanging. Figueiredo swung at the body, but it was Perez who landed first to the jawline. Then, the American wrestler ducked into a single-leg takedown and began to elevate the leg.
The underdog seemed to be doing well! Instead, Figueiredo jumped into a scissor sweep. It didn’t work, but as the two scrambled immediately afterward, the Brazilian managed to wrap up his favorite arm-in guillotine. “Daico” is not a man one wants squeezing on their neck, as Perez was forced to desperately tap and abandon his title bid just a couple minutes into the fight.
Figueiredo’s power is well-established at this point, but maybe it’s time we really put some respect on his submission game too. The Flyweight kingpin is a dangerous, dangerous man.
Valentina Shevchenko utterly dominated last night.
However, one bad decision in the second round was held against her. After getting pushed against the fence, Shevchenko tried to force a takedown, and she wound up on her back as a result. Maia didn’t land any significant strikes, but she controlled top position, so she won the round.
That’s it, though. Shevchenko’s face was spotless as the final decision was read. Maia, meanwhile, was soundly outwrestled in every other round, getting slammed repeatedly. In the open, Shevchenko committed more heavily to her left hand, which busted up her opponent’s face. Oh, and “Bullet” also slammed home some brutal kicks.
Yet, that couple minutes that Shevchenko was controlled — even though she nearly hit a triangle choke too! — were the focal point of the commentary for the rest of the night. That’s the reality of being a 20-1 favorite: even dominance isn’t impressive.
Perfection is demanded.
Nothing but love for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but it’s really time to call it quits.
Paul Craig didn’t do anything particularly complicated in the cage. He threw some kicks but didn’t take long to commit to his wrestling, which actually did look a bit better. Almost immediately, the grappling seemed to exhaust Rua, who has never looked slower.
The wrestling continued to take its toll on “Shogun” in the second, resulting in the flattened out back mount. That’s pretty much the worst position in the sport, and Rua tapped to strikes as no way to escape materialized. There’s nothing wrong with admitting defeat — in fact, Rua would be well-advised to take that thoughtful approach regarding his overall career.
A Quality Follow Up
How could Joaquin Buckley possibly live up to the success of arguably the greatest knockout ever?
Of course he couldn’t, it’s an impossible task. As soon as that jumping spin kick landed, certain sections of fans were quick to point out his loss to Kevin Holland and name him a flash in the pan. The fight game is cynical!
Fortunately, Buckley does have a fair bit of talent. I’m not calling him a future contender, but even in his loss to Holland, or the first round of his bout with Impa Kasanganay, Buckley showcased his skill and talent. This is a prospect who can throw serious power punches in good combination for multiple rounds — that’s talent!
He showed those skills again last night. Opposite Jordan Wright, the shorter man did a tremendous job of drawing out the counter shot from his opponent, then fire a ripping combination. He tracked his foe down and made him pay.
As for Buckley’s future? The guy is going to knock out more people in the UFC. If he’s going to become a contender, however, he may need to shed some weight and head to 170 lbs., where his height and reach will be less of an issue.
Antonina Shevchenko has some majorly impressive credentials, but she’s never quite shown the “IT” factor that makes her sister Valentina one of the greatest of all time. Most notably, Antonina has shown some pretty wonky wrestling and grappling in recent fights, and opponents have taken notice.
So to, apparently, has the elder Shevchenko sister. The 36-year-old athlete clearly decided that enough was enough, as her performance last night showcased dramatic improvement on the mat. It wasn’t perfect — no fight with an ugly headlock throw is — but all in all, Shevchenko made far better decisions on the mat.
For example, after that headlock throw, Shevchenko was at risk of giving up her back. Rather than hold on for too long and give up position, she abandoned the hold and spun into top position. In general, Shevchenko also did a very nice job of tying up her opponent’s arms, which allowed her to land lots of ground strikes.
Unlimited training with the current champion probably helps shore up any deficits.
- Brandon Moreno defeats Brandon Royval via first-round TKO (HIGHLIGHTS): A great fight came to an unfortunate early end. Moreno did an admirable job of handling Royval’s wildness, mostly by catching him odd positions to score easy takedowns. He very nearly secured a brutal jaw crank, but when Royval attacked a leg lock, he managed to dislocate his shoulder. Moreno smartly jumped on him with punches to prevent any chance at recovery, but it was still a disappointing end to an otherwise very fun bout.
- Sasha Palatnikov defeats Louis Cosce via third-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): This fight really had it all. Cosce started quickly, battering his opponent from the turtle position and dropping him en route to a near finish. Cosce definitely gassed himself out in the pursuit of yet another first-round knockout, however, as Palatnikov rallied back to end the first with some real damage on his own. The fight devolved from there into a somewhat ugly mess of cage grabs and low blows, but Palatnikov’s technical kickboxing edge saw him pull further and further ahead. When Cosce took a bad shot in the third, Palatnikov sprawled on him hard, leaving Cosce exhausted on the mat and vulnerable to follow up shots that ended the bout.
For complete UFC 255: “Figueiredo vs. Perez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!