Last night (Sat., Nov. 14, 2020), UFC remained in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 16. The recent string of events is among the weakest in UFC history. Even when a strong card is put together, COVID-19 or the injury bug or a vengeful MMA deity does its best to promptly ruin it. This card lost half its main event a week prior to the show and then three more bouts the morning of — that’s just unreasonable!
It made for a relatively short night of action, so let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:
Middleweight Brawl Of The Year
Credit to both Marvin Vettori and Jack Hermansson: they put on a hell of a fight last night.
Vettori was the victor, and that’s largely due to the sharpness of his left hand. Over and over and over across five rounds, Vettori gained a small angle outside Hermansson’s lead leg then shot his cross into the chin. One such cross nearly put “The Joker” down to good in the first, but he showed his grit to battle back into fight. No matter how fatigued or battered the two grew, however, Vettori’s left hand continued to connect.
Vettori also showed off some excellent defensive wrestling. He shut down pretty much all of Hermansson’s takedowns, even reversing one in the second via a switch to take the round. Hermansson timed his takedowns excellent, but Vettori simply proved too strong in that regard.
Finally, a word on Hermansson’s strategy: most everyone agrees he should have kicked more. However, based on how he immediately limped and wobbled around the cage after the fifth round finally came to a close, it doesn’t seem likely that he was able to. Hermansson fired his kicks hard. At one point, Vettori was shaking out his wrist/forearm from the pain of blocking kicks, but he checked kicks too.
All that force seemed to have damaged Hermansson too, which makes his overall performance even gutsier.
A New Light Heavyweight Contender
Ovince Saint Preux is a great gatekeeper.
He’s not a perfect technician, otherwise an athlete of his caliber would be a constant title threat. Instead, “OSP” presents up-and-comers with a simply excellent test of their skills. If a fighter is not physical enough for top-flight competition, Saint Preux will muscle him. If he’s too aggressive, Saint Preux’s counters are tricky and powerful. Iffy wrestling? “OSP” might get rocked first, but he’ll find his way to a takedown and strangle a foe without solid grappling.
29-year-old Jamahal Hill proved himself worthy; he passed the test. Saint Preux kicked his leg perhaps a good dozen times, and had Hill been less prepared, perhaps the would’ve decided the fight. Instead, Hill swung at the body repeatedly to counter, slowing his foe down and further building on his speed advantage.
By the second, that body work was adding up, and when Saint Preux began to set his feet along the fence, head shots followed. Unlike plenty of other prospects, Hill pursued the finish without exposing his neck in the process.
He fully proved himself ready for the Light Heavyweight top 15.
Master Of One Kick
Gabriel Benitez has one of the best left kicks in the business ... and he really doesn’t need much more.
Justin Jaynes came out hard, looking to pressure and throw bricks. Instead, Benitez chopped his lead leg to hell, then when Jaynes started looking to avoid the low kick, Benitez slammed his shin into the other leg!
In a Southpaw vs. Orthodox striking match up, the power kick doesn’t even need much set up. Benitez could fire the kick naked or behind a brief feint with little fear. Jaynes could try to step through the kick, but most likely, he’d get blasted so hard that trying to return fire was hopeless.
After taking away the legs, Benitez opened up. Jaynes was trying to duck forward and wing punches, so Benitez touched him up with uppercuts. The finish came from a hard left knee, which Jaynes very likely — and understandably — misread as another kick attempt.
Instead, the knee slammed into his body, finishing the fight. There’s something to be said for keeping it simple, and Benitez did just that by tearing his foe apart largely with his left leg alone.
There’s nothing to break down here. Jordan Leavitt timed a double leg beautifully, picked Matt Wiman up, and carried him to his corner. As Wiman clung to a closed guard, Leavitt framed his face before slamming him.
As a result, more of the impact when directly to Wiman’s skull, putting him to sleep instantly. Not only did Leavitt basically execute Wiman in less than 30 seconds, but he did it so nonchalantly that it was mildly terrifying.
Brutal Body Work
Ilia Topuria is 23-years-old, and he also might be ready for top 15 Featherweight competition.
Topuria is known for his grappling prowess, and he’s finished most of his wins via submission. Against Damon Jackson, Topuria made his intentions clearly early, feinting often and using every step forward or freeze from Jackson as an opportunity to shred the mid-section. He’d drop his weight low and rip the body with both hands, firing two- and three-punch combinations designed to fold his opponent over.
He walked through some fire to do so, as the rangy Jackson tried to back him off with some crisp straights. Topuria would not be denied, however, and one of his left hooks to the liver really hurt Jackson. He followed it up smartly, immediately slamming an overhand direct to the jaw to finish the fight.
Defeating Youssef Zalal and Damon Jackson is no joke — Ilia Topuria is a big deal!
- Louis Smolka defeats Jose Quinonez via second-round TKO: This Bantamweight clash was a barn-burner! The two went right after it from the first bell, putting together good combinations and going to the mat often in scramble-filled exchanges. Quinonez took the early lead, landing hard calf kicks, clinch knees, and straight punches, but Smolka was always in the mix himself with body shots and a long right hand. Ultimately, the deciding factor seemed to be pace: Quinonez threw a crazy amount of strikes by choice, but it fatigued him. When Smolka gained top position with a nice toss in the second, Quinonez didn’t have the energy to fight out of the back mount, resulting in the stoppage.
For complete UFC Vegas 16: “Vettori vs. Hermansson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!