Last night (Sat., July 31, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 33. It’s been a while since we suffered a truly cursed card! Originally planned at 15 fights, only 18 athletes actually made the walk, as bout after bout and specifically numerous co-main events fell to COVID-19. Fortunately for the fighters, the odds of winning a bonus are rarely better, so there was an extra chance to shine amidst the chaos!
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
The Consistency Of Sean Strickland
Sean Strickland came to the Octagon very prepared last night. For one, he put in the work conditioning-wise. The Californian pushed hard for the full 25 minutes and threw a ton of strikes. Secondly, nothing Uriah Hall did managed to throw him off. Not the stiff jab, incredible speed, or occasional calf kick ... Strickland stuck to his script of pressure boxing regardless of what came back at him.
Even when Strickland was forced to his own backfoot, he kept his jab going until the opportunity materialized to return to his forward march. Hall, meanwhile, is tremendously mentally tough, as evidenced by his ability to rally and fire back from numerous powerful flurries. However, he could not match Strickland’s pace and consistency in the moment-to-moment exchanges, and that’s what earned “Tarzan” the win.
It was a workman-like performance with an extra helping of violence.
COVID Strikes Back
This is not a political column in any way — please do not email me your personal views about masks and vaccines — but it is absolutely undeniable that the virus had a major impact on this event. Though some of the cancellations were related to weight cuts and other issues, a bulk of them came from positive COVID-19 tests.
When all was said and done, more fights were canceled than actually happened!
UFC’s issues with COVID-19 have largely reflected the general state of its home country. As various states began to implement counter measures against the virus, UFC developed its bubble system and increased testing. Step-by-step, fight cancelations/delays grew more infrequent, to the point that it’s been a less pressing concern in the last few months.
The tide has turned in the other direction. As more states return to stricter regulations — including UFC’s home of Las Vegas, Nevada — the promotion once again finds itself nearly overwhelmed by cancelations.
If nothing else, UFC is acting as an interesting microcosm for how rapidly the virus is spreading in the states.
Making The Most Of An Opportunity
Nobody wanted Cheyanne Buys vs. Gloria de Paula as the co-main event, but after all the card shuffling, that’s where the bout landed.
Buys clearly intended to capitalize on that additional publicity, and she made it happen. “Warrior Princess” brought intensity to the cage, landing an early takedown. Then, Buys demonstrated why the technical stand up or standing up in base technique is a Day One martial arts technique in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA classes. As de Paula went to stand, Buys high kick sailed over her hand and connected clean.
As a result, Buys scored a brilliant finish in a more high-profile position than expected. That’s all anyone can ask!
Respect The Grit(z)
I have a tremendous amount of respect for grinders like Chris Gruetzemacher.
Against Rafa Garcia, Gruetzemacher didn’t have many advantages on paper. He was older, slower and at a technical wrestling disadvantage. Worse still, Gruetzemacher was entering following a blistering knockout loss, the type of defeat that can result in a real spiral.
Early on, that looked to be the case. Garcia’s punches couldn’t miss, and his foe was badly hurt. Gruetzemacher survived, however, and immediately went to work, targeting the body constantly with knees and liver hooks. Chipping away at his opponent, Gruetzemacher slowly pulled the contest into his control through sheer force of will.
It won’t always work, but I don’t know that there’s a more badass way to win.
- Jared Gooden defeats Niklas Stolze via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS!): Gone in 68 seconds! Gooden scored his first-ever UFC win in style, getting off to a strong start with his punches and an early takedown. With his left hook landing early and often, Gooden stepped hard into an exchange and simply put his foe down with a gnarly 3-2 combination.
- Melsik Baghdasaryan defeats Collin Anglin via second-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Baghdasaryan made one hell of a debut last night. “The Gun” entered as a little known “Contender Series” pick up, but he’s plenty memorable now. Immediately, Baghdasaryan was ripping left hands and left kicks, doing big damage as his foe tried to time counter shots. In the second, a quick left round kick with no load up connected to the temple, and that was all she wrote.
- Phil Rowe defeats Orion Cosce via second-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Rowe scored the first victory of his UFC career last night, overcoming a strong grappling start from Cosce to overwhelm him via hard knees and punches. However, when a fighter misses weight then capitalizes on a pretty massive size advantage, well ... It’s hard to get too excited. Still, “Philly Fresh” does have some very clear talent, though he’s likely better suited for Middleweight at 6-foot-3-inches.
For complete UFC Vegas 33: “Hall vs. Strickland” results and play-by-play, click HERE!