UFC Vegas 31 went down last night (Sat., July 17, 2021) from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, Islam Makhachev dominated Thiago Moises for three rounds before sinking in a fight-ending rear-naked choke to pick up his eighth straight win (highlights here). In the co-headlining act, Miesha Tate defeated Marion Reneau via third round technical knockout in what was “Cupcake’s” first fight back after a near five-year retirement (see it again here).
Biggest Winner: Islam Makhachev
Makhachev’s latest victory over Moises further helped elevate his stock in the stacked Lightweight division. Makhachev was dominant for the first three rounds of the fight, never letting up from the opening bell before eventually sinking in the fight-ending submission in the fourth round. Once again, he used his wrestling to overpower Moises, which he set up with his ever-improving striking. The win should be good enough to move him up a few spots in the Top 10. It also has to set him up for a bigger fight in his next outing, perhaps against Rafael dos Anjos. Makhachev is the real deal and slowly but surely he is climbing the 155-pound ladder in an attempt to pick up where his mentor and training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, left off.
Runner Up: Mateusz Gamrot
Gamrot added to his winning ways after he ran right over long-time veteran Jeremy Stephens, submitting him in the first round via kimura. Had “Lil’ Heathen” not tapped when he did, he could have been spending some time in the hospital ... it was that tight. For Gamrot, this is his second straight win inside the Octagon after coming up short in his Octagon debut against Guram Kutateladze, which he lost via razor-thin split decision. Aside from picking up perhaps his biggest win against an established veteran, the American Top Team (ATT)-trained fighter also went home with an extra $50,000 in post-fight bonus cash.
Honorable Mention: Miesha Tate
After five years away from action, Tate didn’t skip a beat in her comeback fight against Reneau. After a slow start that was to be expected, Tate started to get her feet under her and found her groove. She went to her roots and used her wrestling to stifle Reneau, who was taking part in the final fight of her combat career. In the third and final round, Tate managed to take down her foe and pound her out to score a technical knockout win. With the victory, Tate snaps her two-fight losing skid and steps on the winner’s podium for the first time since March 2016. Now, she just needs to win two more times in a 12-month span to equal the six-figure salary she left behind to return to the cage.
Biggest Loser: Jeremy Stephens
Coming into the event, Stephens earned our spot on “Who Needs A Win Badly” given the fact that “Lil’ Heathen” hasn’t had his hand raised inside the Octagon in more than three years, losing four of his previous five fights. The other bout was a “No Contest” against Yair Rodriguez. Stephens’ woes only increased last night in “Sin City” because his cold streak was extended after Gamrot submitted the power-packing slugger in just 65 seconds via kimura (see it again here). So to recap: Stephens has lost three in a row and five of his last six inside the Octagon. What the future holds for him is unclear because he is a fan-favorite and always brings it. Whether or not that is good enough to convince UFC officials to keep him on the roster following his numerous setbacks remains to be seen.
For complete UFC Vegas 31 play-by-play updates and results click here.