Last night (Sat., May 22, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 27. Even with a couple bouts falling out or getting switched up in the final hours, 24 athletes stepped into the Octagon last night, making for a full night of action. Plus, at least three of the bouts held significant implications for their division’s title mix, meaning there were real consequences on the line.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
The Jab Wins The Day - Watch Highlights
Rob Font’s six-inch reach advantage could not have been more valuable.
There were numerous times where Font and Cody Garbrandt traded simultaneous jabs. Garbrandt’s speed is often enough to overcome his usual reach disadvantage, but in this case, it was very often Font who landed cleanly. Garbrandt couldn’t comfortably strike from range without his jab, particularly when Font was also firing aggressively after the low kick.
By winning the jab, Font forced Garbrandt to search for the counter. Of course, Garbrandt is nasty off the counter, so that didn’t guarantee a win in itself. Once in the driver’s seat, however, Font further demonstrated his skill and composure. He engaged without overcommitting, smartly working body shots and long right hands into his offense. Font also timed kicks well, catching Garbrandt circling with shins to the thigh and skull.
It was really a masterful performance, one that capitalized upon all of Font’s physical and techncial advantages.
Carla Esparza Dominates - Watch Highlights
Yan Xiaonan’s strategy didn’t make a lick of sense. She immediately came out with a lot of pressure then fired a fairly telegraphed right hand ... against a wrestler looking to take her down? Predictably, Esparza timed her double leg shot very well, blasting Xiaonan off her feet and setting the tone for the rest of the fight.
Esparza was simply levels above her opponent on the mat. Xiaonan did her best to athletically freak out, but Esparza flowed around her, never allowing Xiaonan to actually make any progress towards a stand up or sweep. Xiaonan began to tire from all that explosive work, and Esparza began to work into better and better positions.
At the end of the first round, Esparza threatened a kimura/armbar. When she wound up in a similar position just a few minutes later, Esparza instead opted to trap one of Xiaonan’s arms for the crucifix. There is little chance of athlete’ing one’s self out of that position, though Xiaonan tried her damnedest. Instead, the punches and elbows added up, forcing the referee to make a move.
Esparza is ready for her title rematch with Rose Namajunas.
Big Ben Keeps It Funky - Watch Highlights
It can be easy to write off Ben Rothwell. At 39 years old, “Big Ben” — who has never been the quickest Heavyweight — is more flat-footed than ever. When faced with top-tier opponents like Marcin Tybura, Rothwell can look positively lumbering, a damaged sponge unable to implement his game.
Give him a step back in competition, though? Damn. Rothwell really reminded the fight world what he can do once he picks up steam, as he absolutely bullied a solid regional veteran in Chris Barnett. Walking his shorter foe into the cage, Rothwell kept his head off the center line while timing intercepting uppercuts and off-angle hooks. Then, Rothwell scored a takedown and nearly secured the finish from top position.
When a fatigued, wounded “Huggy Bear” ducked in for a takedown later in the fight, he fell to Rothwell’s nasty guillotine choke. Again, just an all-round great reminder that Rothwell is still a cut above the average Heavyweight, and there’s a reason the veteran has finished 35 bouts.
- Bruno Silva defeats Victor Rodriguez via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Further Flyweight violence! It wasn’t all that long ago that Silva was at serious risk of being released, but the jiu-jitsu black belt has certainly proved that keeping him around was the correct decision. He rebounded from a losing streak with a big knockout last time out, and Silva continued that path in just 60 seconds last night, bombing on Rodriguez immediately with a pair of huge right hands — That’s all she wrote!
- David Dvorak defeats Juancamilo Ronderos via first-round rear-naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): Ronderos accepted this bout at just 4-0 on about 24 hours. The Czech “Undertaker,” meanwhile, has over 20 professional wins, two of which took place in the Octagon prior to last night’s beatdown — and he’s looked like a future contender in both wins! The experience and skill of Dvorak was simply too much for his young foe, who was promptly stunned and strangled.
For complete UFC Vegas 27: “Garbrandt vs. Font” results and play-by-play, click HERE.