Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to action last night (Sat., Dec. 4, 2021) to stage UFC Vegas 44 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Jose Aldo defeated Rob Font via unanimous decision after 25 minutes of back-and-forth, hard-fought action (highlights). In the co-headlining act, Rafael Fiziev scored a third round knockout win over his former training partner, Brad Riddell (see it here).
Biggest Winner: Jose Aldo
It was far from an easy night at the office for Aldo, but the former WEC and UFC Featherweight champion pulled out a big win over Font in what proved to be a grueling 25-minute battle. Font had several shining moments, but Aldo was able to prevail, using his power and experience to push through and pull out the win, marking the first time he’s won a five-round bout in seven years. With the victory, Aldo improves his win streak to three over very tough opposition. After the fight, the long-time veteran called for a fight against former division champion, T.J. Dillashaw, which makes all the sense in the world. Aldo proved that the still has a ton of fight left in him by taking out one of the best contenders in the stacked 135-pound weight class.
Runner Up: Clay Guida
In fight No. 32 inside the Octagon, Guida picked up a huge come-from-behind win over Leonardo Santos. “The Carpenter” was on the brink of defeat in the opening round after Santos hurt him thanks to an accurate kick to the midsection. Santos pounced on the veteran and delivered one blow after another, pleading to the referee to stop the fight on multiple occasions. And he would’ve been right to stop the fight, but opted to let it go on. Out of nowhere, Guida turned the tide and ended the round in top position. In round two, Guida came out on a mission, taking it to an exhausted Santos, dragging him to the mat and taking his back. And in a finish no one saw coming, Guida latched on a fight-ending rear-naked choke, forcing the seven-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion — who has a fourth-degree black belt in the discipline — to tap for the first time ever in a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. It was Guida’s first submission win in a decade. He also took home a $50,000 post-fight bonus — not a bad way to kick off his birthday week!
Honorable Mention: Jamahal Hill And Rafael Fiziev
With so many great finishes and performances, it was hard not to give credit where credit was due. After suffering the first loss of his professional MMA career in his last outing to Paul Craig, Hill got back in the win column with a vengeance by knocking out Jimmy Crute in the first round. And it was one of the cleanest knockouts you will ever see. After dropping Crute — the No. 13-ranked 205 pounder in the division — with a left hook, Hill dropped him again with the same shot, only this one was a bit more powerful, laying Crute flat on his back. Hill then delivered one final accurate blow to put his foe out for the count. As for Fiziev, he scored a spectacular spinning kick knockout win over his former training partner Brad Riddell after almost three full rounds of action. Fiziev timed the shot perfectly, clipping Riddell, forcing him to freeze in place. Thankfully, Herb Dean stepped in just in time to prevent Fiziev from landing unnecessary punishment. That is now five straight wins for him, who could be eying a spot in the Top 10 pretty soon.
Biggest Loser: Maki Pitolo
As far as wins and losses are concerned, Pitolo takes this spot by a landslide. Coming into the fight, Pitolo was the fighter we picked as the one who needed a win the most. That’s because he was riding a three-fight losing streak. Furthermore, a man who defeated him — Impa Kasanganay — was recently released of his UFC obligations with a decent record of 2-2 inside the Octagon, so to say Pitolo was on the chopping block would be a fair assessment. And it didn’t take long for Pitolo’s night to come to an end in “Sin City,” losing to Dusko Todovoric via strikes in the opening frame, giving him his fourth straight loss. With an overall record of 1-5 inside the Octagon, I’d be shocked if Pitolo makes it through the next round of cuts.
For complete UFC Vegas 44 results and coverage click here.