Last night (Sat., Nov. 13, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 42. Though the event could not compare to the previous pair of pay-per-view (PPV) weekends, a stellar main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez promised action, and there were some sneakily great match ups hidden throughout the night.
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
A Blessed Battle
I wrote an entire article on Max Holloway HERE, so for this section, I’d like to instead focus on the defeated man.
Just how good was Yair Rodriguez? Outside of Alexander Volkanovski, he’s the only Featherweight to actually challenge Holloway in the last seven years, and he did so following a two-year layoff. Rodriguez’s kicks, elbows, and counter swings were so vicious — he was clearly chasing the knockout.
Beyond that, Rodriguez once again impressed with his toughness. Not only did he deal with Holloway’s varied offense, but he endured the consequences of his own attacks. Did you see his foot following the fight? Rodriguez was destroying his own legs too with all those kicks, but “Pantera” fought on and won the final round regardless.
He’s a certified gamer just as much as a fancy knockout threat. Here’s hoping Rodriguez heals up and returns to action sooner than later!
A Legendary Chin Cracks
Ben Rothwell hasn’t been knocked out since 2009, but Marcos Rogerio de Lima just got it done with a few huge right hand swings.
De Lima was the faster and young man, and he took advantage to land a lunging right early. Rothwell was stunned, and when he backed into the cage, “Pezao” immediately went after him. A flurry of hooks wobbled the knees a couple more times, and referee Herb Dean called a stop to the action ... sort of.
It wasn’t the cleanest knockout win possible, and maybe “Big Ben” should have been given a few more seconds, but the only way to find flaws in a sub-30 second victory is to nitpick.
Just as Miguel Baeza was pulling momentum into his corner, Khaos Williams put him to sleep.
From start to finish, this was a competitive, entertaining battle. Both men had their moments, as Williams started strong in the first with some heavy ground strikes while defending a heel hook. Baeza started heating up in the second, digging several calf kicks and landing more rangy punches.
By the third, Williams’ lead leg wasn’t feeling great, and it was clearly affecting his ability to throw power shots — the core of his game! Still, Williams managed to capitalize after a pair of Baeza low kicks. His counters off the low kicks themselves didn’t actually land, but Baeza opted to stay in the pocket and exchange, which proved a fatal mistake.
“The Ox Fighter” just hits so damn hard, he’s never out of the fight!
Bantamweight’s Young Killer
Song Yadong is a top-notch talent, but after his upset loss to Kyler Phillips, it seemed like he was a bit forgotten amongst the other talented 135-pounders. Lest we forget, “The Kung Fu Monkey” has a win over Marlon Vera!
Since that aforementioned upset loss, which featured a bit too much head-hunting, Yadong has twice demonstrated smart strategy. Picking apart Casey Kenney is a major feather in his cap, but Kenney is a grappler first and foremost. Last night, Yadong squared off with a really talented boxer — one a bit taller and longer — and still managed to deftly outwork him en route to a knockout stoppage.
At first, both the speed of Yadong and defense of Arce were on display. Yadong won the opening round with his volume, but he was forced to work really had to actually land. When Arce brought great aggression in the second, Yadong was well-prepared, timing a high kick around the guard to stun his opponent before swarming to the finish.
At 23 years of age, Yadong is once again riding a win streak and already has a wealth of high-level Bantamweight experience.
Joel Alvarez is a goddamn killer, but it’s hard to be overly impressed when a fighter misses weight twice in a row and is visibly much larger than their opponent.
Still, Alvarez beat the piss out of Thiago Moises like no one else. He did a fantastic job of immediately taking the center and forcing Moises to fight from his range. Then, he unloaded a diverse series of offense, largely stemming from his right side. Heavy right hands, right body kicks, chopping low kicks to both the front and back legs, jump knees — all from that right side! It was tricky and overwhelming, and it eventually led to a gigantic right elbow to the dome.
19-2 and riding a four-fight UFC win streak, Alvarez is clearly really good. However, it’s more than time for him to either figure out his cut or accept that he’s too big for Lightweight.
A Featherweight Sniper
Sean Woodson is a serious prospect.
Standing at 6’2” and fighting at 145 lbs., Woodson has a deep background in boxing, and his style just really fits the current recipe for success among the smaller weight classes. Long, lanky, and high-volume, Woodson already has developed stout takedown defense and looks like a problem for many Featherweights.
Last night, Woodson secured his third win in four trips to the Octagon. For the first time, he landed a stoppage too, repeatedly digging into the liver to crumble Collin Anglin. Given his potential and strong start, it’s likely time for another moderate step up in competition.
- Andrea Lee defeats Cynthia Calvillo via second-round stoppage: Lee has long been a talented striker for the women’s Flyweight division, but she routinely falls victim to her own strategy by engaging grapplers on the mat. Calvillo seemed likely to take advantage of that flaw, but Lee answered with the most disciplined performance of her career! Right away, she was jamming the jab into Calvillo nose and showing the uppercut to keep Calvillo off her legs. Lee maintained a really high volume, and the damage added up, making it easier to resist the grappling attempts.
- Rafael Alves defeats Marc Diakiese via first-round guillotine: Diakiese is well-known for his explosive starts, but Alves actually stole that move by frantically starting with a low blow and big swings. Just about a minute into the fight, Alves stung the Englishman with a hard jab, and he showcased tremendous kill instinct by immediately jumping into a flying knee. Diakiese tried to convert that knee into a takedown, but Alves wrapped up his neck in the process.
- Da-Un Jung defeats Kennedy Nzechukwu via first-round knockout: Nzechukwu is a strong athlete, but he’s developed a reputation for comeback wins after taking big damage, and well ... sometimes that strategy doesn’t always work out! Neither man was moving all that much, but Nzechukwu was positively stuck in the mud, allowing Jung to get the better of most exchanges. When Jung hurt Nzechukwu with a right, the South Korean athlete followed up with a mean series of elbows to seal the deal.
For complete UFC Vegas 42: “Holloway vs. Rodriguez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
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