UFC continued its stay in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the UFC APEX last night (Sat., Aug. 22, 2020) for UFC on ESPN 15. As has been the case several times in recent months, COVID-19 complications really ravaged the event, cancelling several fights including the co-main event. Still, 18 fighters put it on the line last night, including Frankie Edgar’s debut trip to 135 lbs. in the main event.
Let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:
Top Five In Three Weight Classes
Fights don’t get much closer than Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz.
Munhoz’s jab and low kick game really worked beautifully. He stabbed Edgar’s nose to stand him up straight then punted the foot right out from beneath him. By the end of the fight, Edgar’s leg was looking anything but stable. However, Edgar’s cross was equally as effective! He snapped Munhoz’s head back several times per round, even wobbling the iron-chinned Brazilian’s knees a bit at one point. In addition, Edgar landed a great deal of punches to the body.
Despite all the damage, both men kept a remarkably high pace for the full 25 minutes.
At the end of the day, however, Edgar’s Bantamweight debut is a success! “The Answer” is now a part of the crowded 135-pound title mix, and while it’s hard to say if he’ll be able to climb any higher, it’s such an incredible accomplishment to find such success in three separate weight classes.
Muay Thai Domination
Mike Rodriguez vs. Marcin Prachnio was supposed to be a somewhat wild exchange of heavy punches. Instead, “Slo” straight up demolished his opponent in the first round.
At range, both men were landing solid kicks. However, when the two clinched up, Rodriguez’s size and strength advantage was made apparent. He secured the double-collar tie and simply trapped Prachnio. His foe tried to fire back body punches, but that did little to discourage Rodriguez from slamming home big knees.
When Prachnio adjusted his defense to the knees, Rodriguez smashed him with an elbow upside the head, and that was that!
Lightweight prospect Joe Solecki took on a very tough up-and-comer in Austin Hubbard, but the New Jersey-native made it look easy.
On the feet, Solecki kicked the leg a few times, but he didn’t waste time in attempting a takedown along the fence. He shucked his way to the back clinch then immediately jumped into standing back. This move put Hubbard into a difficult decision, where he was forced to decide whether or not he wanted to remain standing or head to the mat.
There are pros and cons to either choice. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually more tiring to hold oneself onto the back solely via leg squeeze then it is to carry another person. Several times in past fights, we’ve seen the back-packing fighter gas his legs out by holding the standing position for a full round.
However, there is less scrambling in the standing position too. When Solecki’s arm snaked around Hubbard’s chin, he could not really turn towards the choke hand nor use the mat to scrape Solecki off him. Instead, Solecki squeezed directly through his face, forcing the submission and scoring a solid win without taking any damage.
Size Matters ... But It’s Not Everything
Mariya Agapova is much stronger than Shana Dobson.
Agapova attempted to storm out of the gate, firing big punches in punches and following them with high kicks. Dobson kept her guard high and back off, occasionally clinching. When the two did meet in the clinch, Agapova would muscle her foe to the mat with a big effort. At one point, she did land in back control, and she threatened the choke.
Dobson endured, however. By the second round, Agapova was completely exhausted, an outcome that will occur when one fights with zero regard for technique or energy conservation. Dobson gained top position and promptly secured a stoppage due to strikes, simply overwhelming her fatigued foe.
It’s great to have a physical advantage and try to use it, but Agapova learned the hard way that technique and patience still count.
Daniel Rodriguez was nearly finished just a minute or so into the first round by Dwight Grant.
Grant has massive power in his counter punches, and an early one sent Rodriguez tumbling to the mat. Grant chased the finish hard, throwing dozens of punches. However, Rodriguez managed to keep his arms glued to the side of his heads and keep moving, narrowly avoiding a stoppage loss.
When Rodriguez did regain his footing, Grant was tired. Rodriguez likely wasn’t feeling to well himself on account of all the head blows, but that didn’t stop him from marching forward! Rodriguez went on the offensive, firing in combination and trapping his foe along the fence.
Grant hit the mat after a clean hook, and he fell down once more in the ensuing flurry. Unfortunately, Grant didn’t receive quite as many opportunities to recover as his opponent, but that’s the fight game.
- Jordan Wright defeats Ike Villanueva via first-round TKO: There’s nothing to analyze here. Wright is quick and opened the fight fast, dropping Vallanueve with the first strike he threw, a spinning heel kick! Villanueve managed to recover, but Wright wrapped up a double-collar tie and split his foe open with a knee. Before the fight really got going, it was over, as the Villanueva’s cut was in a terrible location.
- Trevin Jones defeats Timur Valiev via second-round knockout: We have a new front-runner for comeback of the year! Valiev demonstrated why there was so much hype around his debut in the first round, battering his opponent with an array of kicks. The way Valiev built off his feints was really beautiful, as he had Jones largely befuddled. For the final minute of the first, Valiev chased the finish, hurting his opponent with a body kick then absolutely teeing off on the short-notice replacement. The second round seemed to be playing out in similar fashion, until Jones advanced with a right hook, perfectly timing Valiev mid-kick. Valiev went down, and Jones picked up a hard-earned win over a highly touted opponent!
For complete UFC on ESPN 15: “Edgar Vs. Munhoz” results and play-by-play, click HERE!