UFC continued its stay in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the UFC APEX last night (Sat., Sept. 5, 2020) for UFC Vegas 9. I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking yesterday’s fights were ever of particularly grand importance. Solid veteran vs. prospect matchmaking kept things interesting in the main and co-main event, but there was still nothing that really jumped off the page at first glance ... and things only grew worse when a handful of bouts fell off the card at the last minute.
On the bright side, a quick night of fights with little star power can be a great way for lesser known talents to gain exposure. Let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:
The Demolition Man
Alistair Overeem is a legend.
At 40 years of age, Overeem handed a very tough Augusto Sakai his first UFC loss. The two traded back-and-forth in the first three rounds, with each man finding success in different areas. Overeem did consistent work to the mid-section with front kicks and clinch knees, but Sakai also let loose long combinations that pinned Overeem on the cage.
Both men were bloody by the midway point of the fight.
Late in the third, Overeem realized he was a much, much better grappler than Sakai. He began pursuing the takedown more consistently, and though the attempts got sloppy, the outcome was perfect. Overeem landed in top position, where he was able to batter Sakai. The Brazilian offered little defense from his back, which allowed Overeem to eventually force a stoppage in the final round.
It was not a pretty win. Overeem looked real tired at times, slower than normal, and overly reliant on the high guard to keep him safe. A decline is hardly unexpected given his age, but really, this win doesn’t help his title chances much.
At the same time, isn’t it all the more impressive that a slowing Overeem still managed to dig deep and overcome his much younger foe?
Ovince Saint Preux capitalized on a decade of UFC experience last night.
Menifield is young, powerful, and aggressive, but “OSP” realized that Menifield is really only dangerous from close range. Rather than risk exchanging power shots with the Texan, Saint Preux accepted the simple solution: kick. Saint Preux has a powerful left leg, and he made use of it constantly, smacking Menifield with front kicks and round kicks repeatedly.
By the second round, Menifield was getting kicked so often he wasn’t sure how to return. The fight was sliding away from him, so he finally decided to bite down on his mouthpiece and simply go for it. Not a bad decision considering the alternative — a boring decision loss — but “OSP” timed him with a lovely step back counter hook.
Menifield went down hard, and Saint Preux proved there’s still something left in the tank.
A Much Needed Win
Michel Pereira entered the cage with his back to the wall.
Fortunately, Pereira loves having his back to wall, as it allows him to spring off that barrier with Superman punches and “Showtime” kicks. True to his nature, Pereira put on perhaps the best performance of his UFC career to return to the win column in the final fight of his UFC contract.
Pereira simply controlled range so well. Imadaev is a sharp boxer, so Pereira completely destabilized him with stabbing front kicks. Suddenly, Imadaev didn’t look so crisp, allowing Pereira to catch him off-guard with long in-and-out jabs and crosses. In particular, the way Pereira would shift left and right, bait Imadaev forward, then absolutely blast him with a cross was gorgeous.
On the few occasions Pereira was backed into the fence, his head movement was on point! Questionable submission finish aside, Pereira dominated while remaining must-watch TV.
- Andre Muniz defeats Bartosz Fabinski via first-round armbar: When Fabinski scored his first takedown of the fight after roughly two minutes of fence wrestling, most fans experienced with “The Butcher” probably started tuning out. That’s forgivable, as Fabinski excels at pinning opponents to the mat and making fights miserable to watch. Muniz flipped the script, however, immediately pursuing submissions with all his might. Aggressively hunting for the finish from one’s guard is a risky strategy that can often backfire, but Muniz made it work, threatening a triangle to force an instant tap via armbar. Muniz secures his second straight UFC win, and he might be a Middleweight to watch moving forward.
- Brian Kelleher defeats Ray Rodriguez via first-round guillotine: Rodriguez will have to wait until his second UFC fight to show off his talent, because “Boom” was simply too sharp for him. Kelleher handled yet another last-second opponent switch with grace, immediately countering a takedown along the fence with his favorite arm-in guillotine. Kelleher has a hell of a squeeze, and Rodriguez was forced to tap in less than a minute.
For complete UFC Vegas 9: “Overeem vs. Sakai” results and play-by-play, click HERE!