Last night (Sat., Dec 18, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 45. The final event of 2021 wasn’t necessarily the most stacked card of the year, but it was filled with finishes and action, a classically great Apex event! Plus, with Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus in the main event, big swinging violence was nearly guaranteed.
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
UFC’s Knockout King
The fact that “The Black Beast” entered last night’s bout as an underdog was absurd.
Daukaus is a solid prospect, sure. But, if we take another look at his record, he’s never beat anyone that great? Aleksei Oleinik is very old, even by Heavyweight standards. Shamil Abdurakhimov is definitely Daukaus’ best win, but it’s not like the Russian has been a world beater in his UFC stint.
On the flip side, yes, Ciryl Gane embarrassed Lewis. Again, we have to look at the circumstances, which paint Gane as perhaps the best Heavyweight technician ever. That loss seemingly forced the general public to forget that Lewis knocked out Curtis Blaydes THIS YEAR!
Last night’s main event was a classic “There’s levels to this” kind of fight. Daukaus circled the outside and landed good low kicks only until Lewis decided he’d had enough. Then, Lewis loaded up big on a hook, flurried afterward, and pretty easily knocked Daukaus senseless.
“The Black Beast” is a flawed fighter, but he doesn’t have the most knockouts in UFC history by accident. Put Lewis in the cage with anything less than an elite talent, and that’s the most likely result!
An Unceremonious End
At 39 years of age, veteran contender Raphael Assuncao suffered his fourth-straight loss opposite Ricky Simon when an overhand sent him to the canvas.
On its own, those results don’t necessarily spell doom for the Brazilian, as he’s fought nothing but excellent Bantamweights. Unfortunately, Assuncao looked really flat here. Simon was immediately bullying him, and Assuncao didn’t offer much in the way of offense outside of a few low kicks. He was hesitant to pull the trigger, and he took big shots as a result. It’s not easy to age at the lower weight classes, but Assuncao held out longer than most.
As for Simon, he’s now won four straight and likely picks up a spot in the rankings. The ever-revolving wheel of UFC turns once more, and at this time, Simon is the beneficiary.
WEC Never Die
Darren Elkins landed a couple solid right hands, but otherwise, it was all “Killer Cub” last night.
Swanson was the quicker man, and he made great use of that attribute. Keeping his hands low and gliding around the cage, Swanson was prepared for any takedown attempts. Between those shots, Swanson was catching his foe off-guard with sudden blitzes, and each landed seemed to hurt.
When Elkins stepped forward in pursuit of another right, Swanson took an angle and landed a couple crushing counter blows. With his opponent stunned, Swanson patiently racked up further power shots, picking up the win in a pretty vintage performance.
Grit And Killer Instinct
Things were not looking good for Gerald Meerschaert.
The submission ace started strong, but when Dustin Stoltzfus managed to reverse him, it became clear that the Brazilian could compete with him on the mat. After a couple minutes beneath Stoltzfus, “GM3” was looking real tired, and he was absolutely dominated in the second round.
Meerschaert has not finished 32 of his 34 wins by accident, however. In the third, Meerschaert finally was able to create a scramble and gain top position. Moments later, the rear naked choke was locked in, a testament to the veteran’s ability to keep trying late into the fight.
Give him a small opportunity, and the fight is done.
Unfortunately, Stoltzfus’ time inside the Octagon is likely done too. He’s shown his talent in three trips to the Octagon, but he’s also lost all three bouts. It’s a case of bad luck, as he’s definitely talented enough to beat a fair percentage of UFC Middleweights.
A New Flyweight Hope
Women’s Flyweight is a pretty dead division. It’s not quite women’s Bantamweight, but still, the hopes of some young upstart flying through the ranks and dethroning Valentina Shevchenko are pretty abysmal.
Brazil’s Melissa Gatto might just be the exception. The 25-year-old is undefeated, and as of last night, 2-0 inside the Octagon via a pair of finishes. She broke her opponent’s arm earlier in the year, but at UFC Vegas 45, Gatto became the first woman to finish Sijara Eubanks.
Gatto struggled early with Eubanks’ size and strength, but she did an admirable job of forcing her opponent to work and defend submissions. With Eubanks a bit more tired in the second, Gatto was able to land a couple sharp 1-2s then score a takedown of her own. The fight was up for grabs in the third, and Gatto took hold in dramatic fashion, sending Eubanks crumbling to the mat following a nasty front kick to the guts.
I’m not betting on her vs. “The Bullet” just yet, but Gatto is definitely one to watch.
- Justin Tafa defeats Harry Hunsucker via first-round knockout: Tafa made history as the first Heavyweight to miss weight in UFC history, and he put every ounce into a left high kick that stopped the outmatched Hunsucker in the first. Hunsucker had both hands up to block, but the impact still sat him down for good!
- Raquel Pennington defeats Macy Chiasson via second-round guillotine choke: This last-second match up resulted in a Chiasson scale fail even after the fight was bumped up a weight division, but the fight started well enough for the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner. Chiasson controlled position well in the clinch, but the two actually really exchanged in the dirty boxing range, keeping a high and entertaining pace. The two kept exchanging into the second, when a single poor takedown attempt from Chiasson allowed Pennington to wrap up an ultra tight ten-finger guillotine. Pennington’s chokes only pop up every so often, but they’re always slick!
- Don’Tale Mayes defeats Josh Parisian via third-round knockout: Two Heavyweight knockout artists collided, and the end result was ... a wrestling match? Mayes was able to consistently impose his will on Parisian, muscling his opponent around to gain top position and methodically beating him down from there. A significant portion of the fight took place from the north-south position, with Mayes sitting on his opponent’s head and dropping punches, so ... that happened. More seriously: Mayes looked far improved from recent efforts, so good on him!
- Jordan Leavitt defeats Matt Sayles via second-round inverted triangle: Remember Ryan Hall vs. Darrick Minner a week ago? How Minner kept diving into his opponent’s world of grappling even as his coach screamed at him? If you liked that fight, this is another classic! Leavitt controlled the early goings with a prolonged front choke attack, but he seemed a bit tired heading into the second. Sayles seemingly had a path to victory as the better striker with a fatigued foe in front of him ... until he went for a takedown of his own and promptly got stuck in a reverse triangle. Leavitt’s striking may be a bit rough, but his grappling flow is very nice.
For complete UFC Vegas 45: “Lewis vs. Daukaus” results and play-by-play, click HERE!