Last night (Sat., Aug. 21, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 34. As has been the trend this Summer, UFC’s “Fight Night” events inside the Apex have been far from the most stacked, featuring just a few ranked contenders or known veterans. On the bright side, they have been consistently entertaining tonight! The former was definitely on paper, but everyone watching was crossing their fingers for the action to over-deliver once again. Spoiler: IT DID!
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Big Moments Decide The Main Event
From start-to-finish, last night’s 25-minute battle between Kelvin Gastelum and Jared Cannonier was highly competitive.
Both men landed their signature weapons, be it Gastelum’s lunging cross or Cannonier’s shifting hook. Both athletes smartly mixed their targets up, attacking the legs, mid-section, and face at solid rates. Better yet, they switched up their tools, as Cannonier found a home for intercepting elbows while Gastelum switched between pressuring with punches and takedowns.
Ultimately, however, Cannonier hurt his opponent more. In the third, Cannonier landed the sole knockdown of the fight with a shot that would have ended mortal men. Early, his low kicks were sweeping Gastelum’s lead leg across his body. Later, an uppercut appeared to drop Gastelum, even if the replay showed it was more of an off-balance connection.
All the same, Cannonier’s shots landed with slightly more of an impact, and that swayed all three judges.
Pantoja Secures His Title Shot
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval was always going to be a great fight.
Almost immediately, Pantoja was trying to take the back, and Royval was scrambling brilliantly. Both men did really good work, as Pantoja scored some control time while Royval lashed back with elbows and an leg lock attempt. The final 90 seconds or so of the first featured big exchanges, and again, each man had their moments. On the feet, it was Pantoja’s power vs. Royval’s volume and range.
Pantoja looked fatigued heading into the second, but he still managed to attack the back once more. For the first time, he managed to sink both hooks in and really secure the position. The body triangle soon followed, and when Royval tried to keep the scramble going, the choke opened up.
The Brazilian has now won two in a row, but more importantly, he holds a pair of wins (one being on The Ultimate Fighter) over the champion Brandon Moreno. That sounds like a great storyline for a rubber match!
All Aggression KO
Ignacio Bahamondes does not give a f—k about his face, and fight fans are better off for it.
Early on, his clash with Roosevelt Roberts was a competitive affair. To the traded jabs and hard kicks at a reasonably equal rate, and Roberts even seemed to have a grappling edge, coming real close to a couple takedowns. However, Bahamondes simply would not be denied, walking through his foe’s strikes to fire his own combination, and his volume advantage steadily grew.
By the third round, Roberts was taking a licking, and he didn’t seem to be having a ton of fun at the sharp end of Bahamondes many punches and kicks. The Chilean prospect did a good job of mixing his targets, but all night, he had been flinging spinning kicks to no avail.
Well, with about seven seconds remaining, one connected perfectly, and we have a new “Knockout of the Year” contender.
- Saidyokub Kakhramonov defeats Trevin Jones via third-round guillotine: A strange fight, but a quality debut from Kakhramonov. The Uzbekistan-native was pinned along the fence for long portions of the fight, but otherwise, he was largely swarming his foe with big swings and hard body kicks. The scoring was somewhat up in the air with a minute left in the bout, but Kakhramonov countered an ugly takedown attempted with a nasty guillotine, adjusting his hands to the rear naked choke grip. Jones was fully stuck in the choke, and he blacked out along the fence as a result.
- Josiane Nunes defeats Bea Malecki via first-round knockout: This fight was bad from any technical point of view, but it was still fun! Nunes understood the height and reach disadvantage against her, wildly leaping forward with jumping punches and extended combinations. Malecki continually backed herself into the fence but did land slow-motion head kicks and a spinning elbow somehow. It was bizarre and seemed likely to get stranger as the women fatigued, but a lunging overhand from Nunes put her foe down in the closing seconds of the round.
- William Knight defeats Fabio Cherant via first-round knockout: Two stocky Light Heavyweights with obvious punching power threw down! On paper, it was assumed that Cherant — who has mostly won via submission — would be hunting for the takedown, but he was winning the stand up. When he went to press his advantage, however, he ran directly into a brutal (if awkward) check hook that immediately sent him face-first to the canvas.
- Ramiz Brahimaj defeats Sasha Palatnikov via first round rear-naked choke: Brahimaj learned a lesson in his UFC debut. Prior to that bout vs. Max Griffin, Brahimaj had won all eight of his bouts via submission ... than he kickboxed the kickboxer and nearly lost an ear! Brahimaj didn’t make the same mistake twice, immediately relying on his jiu-jitsu background. As a result, he quickly found his foe’s back and put him to sleep with a choke. Smart!
For complete UFC Vegas 34: “Cannonier vs. Gastelum” results and play-by-play, click HERE!