Last night (Sat., Dec 4, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 44. After a rare weekend off, UFC returned with a vengeance, stacking action fights between talented athletes from top-to-bottom. Even a last second cancellation or two couldn’t hurt the night’s momentum, not when Jose Aldo headlined the card in a surefire banger vs. Rob Font.
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
Aldo the Undying
Jose Aldo did it again, dispatching a talented top contender in his prime, one armed with the correct game plan to knock off “The King of Rio.”
Rob Font tried damn hard. He threw dozens and dozens of strikes, mixing in various setups and ranges. When the going got tough, he never gave up on himself. Unfortunately, Aldo’s defense remained very tight, and while Font was so focused on hurting the Brazilian, Aldo found major openings for his own right hand.
It’s tough to overcome three knockdowns regardless of volume.
One interesting angle to consider: can Aldo reconcile his boxing and low kicks? For two rounds, Font extended his lead leg out while jabbing, and Aldo relied solely on boxing counters. Only after his coached pleaded with him to chop the leg did Aldo do so ... and it IMMEDIATELY worked! It was incredible! Font suddenly was far more wary to step forward, even more hesitant than from the previous knockdown.
If he’s to regain the title, Aldo has to fully meld his various striking talents.
At one point or another, both Rafael Fiziev and Brad Riddell have been the head kickboxing coach at Tiger Muay Thai, and they certainly looked the part here!
For two rounds, these two showed off elite kickboxing skills. Their clashes were set up by feints and angles, yet there was still so much explosion and power. Both men were setting traps, putting together complicated combos, and reacting aggressively to whatever the other put forward. It was highly competitive, beautiful striking — some of the best in MMA history!
Fiziev, just a bit faster and looser, seemed to have a small advantage heading into the final frame. He eliminated all doubt with a perfect wheel kick though, putting an amazing exclamation mark on a stellar fight.
The Best Is Yet To Come
I wrote a whole piece about Clay Guida’s badass comeback win over Leonardo Santos, so check that out HERE!
Gone In 48 Seconds
Jimmy Crute tried to start quickly, and it backfired almost immediately.
Trying to kick with a longer man makes sense, but Crute was also stepping into big overhand swings, likely to try to set up future takedowns. Unfortunately for the Aussie, Jamahal Hill needed no time to find his range, scoring a pair of knockdowns off a sharp pair of check hooks.
Just like that, one of Light Heavyweight’s best prospects hit the canvas, and Hill returned to the win column in STYLE!
THE ACTION MAN!
Chris Curtis should have been in the UFC several years ago, but he’s making up for lost time.
Last month, Curtis jumped on a short-notice debut to finally secure his contract, and he just so happened to land a tremendous first-round knockout over Phil Hawes. Hawes is a talented prospect, but he’s shown some durability issues in the past, so it wasn’t a complete shock.
Stopping Brendan Allen was a shock. “All In” is a genuinely top-tier Middleweight prospect, a full-sized and well-rounded for the division, a finishing threat everywhere. Undeterred, Curtis stood toe-to-toe with Allen and traded big shots. Really, the deciding factor was the body shots.
“Action Man” kept ripping left hands to the mid-section. Midway through the second, Allen’s feet started to slow, and the opening for a crushing right hand emerged. Here’s the note to remember: Curtis went 6-0 in 2021!
Manel Kape got off to a pretty terrible start inside the Octagon, losing an uninspired decision to top contender Alexandre Pantoja. He improved in his sophomore performance but still wound up one the wrong end of a debatable split-decision. In short, the former RIZIN champ was on the chopping block, and since then, he’s responded with a pair of spectacular finishes! Last night, Kape battered Zhalgas Zhumagulov for another first round knockout win.
Early on, Kape was letting his foe outwork him a bit. However, after stunning the Russian with a 3-2, Kape swarmed, accurately picking his punches to put his foe down. With 16 finishes in 17 victories, Kape is one of Flyweight’s most exciting contenders.
- Dusko Todorovic defeats Maki Pitolo via first-round knockout: This Middleweight clash began with some interesting striking exchanges, with Pitolo notably landing some nice calf kicks. However, as soon as Todorovic landed a takedown midway through the first and escaped the guillotine, he soon proved himself several levels ahead of the Hawaiian on the mat. Advancing into mount and back mount quickly, Todorovic hammered away until the referee called the contest.
- Claudio Puelles defeats Chris Gruetzemacher via third-round kneebar: Gruetzemacher is a man known for his toughness and comeback wins, but it wasn’t happening this time. “Gritz” looked especially slow this time around, allowing Puelles to pretty easily pull ahead on the scorecard with classic Southpaw weapons that Gruetzmacher just kept walking into. For whatever it was worth, Gruetzemacher seemed to be taking over a bit in the third, working his way into top position. However, Puelles timed a roll from the turtle well, scoring a slick kneebar to avoid any judges!
- Vince Morales defeats Louis Smolka via first-round knockout: I don’t want to encourage a fighter to cut more weight than is healthy, but Smolka appears to be a better Flyweight than Bantamweight. He has a fun style, but the bigger men at 135-pounds are better equipped to deny him his takedowns and punish his high-volume kickboxing style. Even in this fight, Smolka was landing fairly well, but an overhand on the break of a clinch sent him to the canvas face-first.
For complete UFC Vegas 44: “Aldo vs. Font” results and play-by-play, click HERE!