By and large, UFC Vegas 5 was not a particularly important event. There were only nine fights total, one of them was a draw, and plenty of athletes were newcomers to the promotion. Fortunately, there were severely strong performances from fighters who are not commonly talked about in fan favorite lists. They’re not overly likely to go on a title run or become super stars.
These are the fighters who can slide under the radar, but nights like this are the perfect time to appreciate such athletes.
In the main event, Derek Brunson put a real whooping on Edmen Shahbazyan (watch highlights). Brunson is definitely an athlete who does not get the respect he deserves. In fact, he gets meme’d all the time for his famously reckless offense. Yet, the man has a 12-5 record inside the Octagon. All of those losses came to Top 5-ranked opposition, former and future champions.
As for those 12 victories, there are quality names on Brunson’s resume. Despite the loss, we can count Shahbazyan among them, as “Golden Boy” did show the sharp offensive prowess that had people so excited. Unfortunately for him, Brunson’s patience and improved technical kickboxing — shoutout Henri Hooft! — extended the fight beyond the first five minutes.
Shahbazyan got a little tired, gave up a takedown, and suddenly the fight wasn’t close anymore. Instead, Brunson was elbowing his skull through the canvas and winning his third-straight fight.
Does this mean Brunson is likely to suddenly avenge his losses to Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker? Probably not. Still, Brunson again proved himself no pushover, and his genuinely great performance is worthy of praise.
Coincidentally, the next under-appreciated man of the night is Brunson’s teammate, Vicente Luque. “The Silent Assassin” lives up to his moniker in quietly murdering opponents, failing to make major waves despite his success. Unlike Brunson, Luque is appreciated by hardcore fans, but even so, he tends to fall by the wayside in matchmaking discussions.
Luque has not been given an easy road. He fights the athletes that most ranked Welterweights avoid. No one calls out Belal Muhammad or Niko Price, because there is little to gain and plenty to lose. Luque has wins over them and several similarly hard-nosed 170 pounds, and he tends to finish his opposition brutally. In fact, Luque has now stopped eight of his last nine opponents (watch highlights).
The man fights like a swinging cleaver, stalking his opponents constantly before cutting them down with low kicks, overhand swings, and counter left hooks. He could not be more exciting, and his knockout of Randy Brown was brilliantly precise.
He should be a universal fan favorite.
Unfortunately, Luque does have a pair of losses to men ranked above him. He’s also earned another attempt to climb the ladder. We’ll all be privileged to witness his next try, because it is guaranteed to be incredible action.
Finally, Bobby Green is a longtime veteran of the sport, a pro since 2008. At one point in 2014, Green was an unlikely contender riding a major win streak. Some rough losses and inactivity followed, but recently, the only thing that’s really been holding Green back is the judges.
On my scorecard, Green has won five straight.
Officially, Green picked up his second consecutive victory last night by out-dueling Lando Vannata in a rematch of their 2017 clash. Vannata is a fighter all about offense with an aesthetically pleasing style. He moves real well, has great bravado, and attacks with a sharp sense of timing.
Green outplayed him at his own game. Both men fought with their hands by their hips, but it was Green whose jabs and Southpaw straights bloodied his opponent. Each fighter was happy to chirp at the other while exchanging, but Green’s slips and counters were simply better, as Vannata missed more and ate the harder counters.
It was really brilliant work, a fight plenty deserving of the $50,000 bonus.
Green is not likely to suddenly make a tear towards the title or become a household name, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a remarkably skilled and experienced combatant. While watching him perform, only that talent mattered. The lack of title implications around the bout and generally lackluster nature of the card as a whole were irrelevant.
Skill alone drew the attention and made the bout compelling. Green shined, and perhaps the lack of distractions and hype and “importance” of UFC Vegas 5 made his glow a touch brighter.
For complete UFC Vegas 5: “Shahbazyan vs. Brunson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!