Last night (Sat., May 8, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 26. With the main and co-main event crumbling just days out from the event, it’s actually impressive that there were still a handful of high-quality bouts remaining. It may not have been a night to remember forever, but UFC Vegas 26 still proved worth-watching.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
A Good Bit Of Fun
Look, no one asked for a Michelle Waterson vs. Marina Rodriguez main event. The card suffered a lot of hits, and these two ladies stepped up and scrapped for the majority of five rounds. It was entertaining!
Ultimately though, Rodriguez was just too big and strong. Waterson found some success with her side kicks and check hook (probably a bit too much, since she relied on them so often), but whenever Rodriguez continued her combination or punched into the clinch, Waterson was in trouble. “Karate Hottie” could not put any real fear into her opponent, and it’s tough to win a fight in that scenario.
Credit to Waterson though, she did find some success late in the fight to keep things interesting. She may not be a contender, but Waterson is a top-notch gatekeeper to the Strawweight elite.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is a nasty kickboxer, and I’d like to see her throw down with another top-tier striker next.
Donald Cerrone was put down hard by short-notice replacement Alex Morono, and I wrote a bit more about that in-depth HERE!
Magny The Spoiler
Neil Magny knows how to frustrate fighters.
How many younger foes have been favored to handle Magny? Far fewer than have actually gotten past him! Geoff Neal was the latest to suffer the indignity of getting clinched and jabbed up by the awkward lanky man, and he’s also among the best to suffer this fate.
Neal’s major mistake was head-hunting. The Southpaw has ferocious power, certainly, but Magny knew well enough to avoid the left. Had Neal instead worked to break down the body and legs with his kicks first, he may have landed the kill shot. Instead, he over-swung often, which only landed him in the clinch more often.
Magny played the distance — and his opponent — very well to earn the decision nod.
A War Worth Waiting For
Gregor Gillespie vs. Diego Ferreira was always going to be the best fight on the card.
Gillespie pushes an insane pace, but he’s an imperfect fighter defensively. Meanwhile, Ferreira really specializes in countering his opponent’s takedown attempts, and he’s really grown to become a rather puncher too. Barring an early finish, the only potential outcome was a blood-and-guts battle.
In the first round, Ferreira’s craft was enough to overcome Gillespie’s wrestling and pace. He countered takedown attempts with his jiu-jitsu, finishing the round on the back while delivering heavy elbows. He also rocked Gillespie at one point with punches.
At the end of the first five minutes, Gillespie looked absolutely spent. However, four-time All-American and National Champion wrestlers have a different level of “dig deep.” Gillespie still stormed out of the gate in the second, putting Ferreira on his back early and showcasing excellent top control. He floated over the Brazilian’s attempts to scramble and throw up submissions, advancing his position in the process.
Near the end of the round, Gillespie put both hooks in and started dropping unanswered blows, stopping the tremendous contest and returning to the win column in style.
• Phil Hawed defeats Kyle Daukas via unanimous decision: UFC Vegas 26 featured the debut of Hawes 2.0. Previous to last night, Hawes was something of a glass cannon, a tremendous physical talent held back by his durability and gas tank. Daukas — a well-rounded gamer — seemed well-equipped to capitalize upon those issues, and he smartly pushed a very hectic pace. However, Hawes was prepared for that battle, using his foe’s forward pressure to land hard knees and work the body. By the third, it was Hawes who really took over, scoring a 10-8 third round and the biggest win of his young career.
• Carlston Harris defeats Christian Aguilera via first-round anaconda choke: A pair of debuting fighters met to open last night’s preliminary card, and Harris really impressed! Between the two, Aguilera was known as the striker, but he opted to shoot for a takedown in the latter half of the first round. Harris defended and capitalized, shooting his arm deep around the neck and smartly using his knee to momentarily block his opponent’s elbow. As a result of that crafty maneuver, he was able to fully sink in the anaconda choke, putting his foe to sleep.
For complete UFC Vegas 26: “Waterson vs. Rodriguez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!