Last night (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 37. In the main event, the Light Heavyweight division hosted a classic prospect vs. veteran match up, featuring “Contenders Series” standout Ryan Spann opposite a former title challenger in Anthony Smith. The rest of the event, regrettably, featured more unknowns than established faces, but there was still some real talent on display if one looked closely.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Smith Strikes From All Angles
I wrote an entire piece on Smith’s excellent performance HERE!
The brief version, however, is that Smith answered just about every move Spann made with a real veteran savvy. When Spann hung back, Smith picked at him with hard range shots. Any time Spann tried to answer, Smith extended the exchanges and hurt his foe with check hooks. On the mat, Smith threw a ton of offense at his opponent, both in the form of elbows and submission threats.
It was really brilliant work!
If Arman Tsarukyan is not the future of the Lightweight division, he’s sure doing a tremendous job acting the part.
Since his debut, the 24-year-old wrestler has been nothing short of exceptional, showcasing plus skills in all areas as well as incredible athleticism. Already ranked inside the Top 15, Tsarukyan continued his rise last night but laying waste to a skilled veteran in Christos Giagos.
Giagos started off well by gaining top position in a scramble, but it wasn’t meant to last. When Giagos tried to fire off a kick, Tsarukyan caught the strike and crushed him with a counter punch. The Russian followed his foe to the mat and continued dropping big shots, forcing the stoppage in another great win.
A Tale Of Two Knockouts
Tony Gravely knocked Nate Manness out at the end of the first round.
He ran out of time, however. The heavy right hand dropped Manness with just two seconds remaining in the round, and while some of his follow up punches landed, his foe was able to survive. Make no mistake though: that fight was OVER!
Prior to the knockdown, Manness had been finding some success with his rangier power punches, and after getting his feet beneath him, his offense picked back up. Gravely was starting to slow down a bit from forcing takedown attempts, and Manness capitalized, touching the body before suddenly coming up with a shovel hook that crashed into the jaw.
It was a stellar comeback knockout, one that improved Manness’ UFC record to 3-0.
Fun But Flawed
Joaquin Buckley is not a tricky fighter to get a read on.
When he debuted on short-notice vs. Kevin Holland, he was largely ignored following the knockout loss, but there was potential on display. While facing a major height and reach disadvantage, Buckley strung together some really good combinations, targeted the body, and maintained a high pace into the third round.
All good signs for a power-punching prospect! However, Buckley’s timing was recognizable, and Holland made him pay.
Nothing has changed. Against a taller man in Antonio Arroyo, Buckley was still timed coming forward with heavy kicks and even a jump knee. When able to close the distance, Buckley let off some dangerous punches. As the final round got underway, the fight was up in the air, with Arroyo likely holding a small advantage. Suddenly, a seemingly insignificant Buckley right hook ended his foe in an instant.
Buckley has a lot of talent, but until he changes weight classes or adjusts his style, inconsistent (but fun) results are likely to remain his future.
- Rongzhu defeats Brandon Jenkins via third-round knockout: 21-year-old Rongzhu put an absolute beating on Jenkins here. The Chinese prospect struggled with his volume in his debut, but that appears to be a case of UFC jitters, as he had no such issues here. Instead. he cruised to the victory, pummeling a smiling, seriously tough Jenkins for the majority of 15 minutes before the referee mercifully called the bout.
- Carlston Harris defeats Impa Kasanganay via first-round knockout: These two did not waste time in trading heavy shots, and between the Welterweights, Kasanganay was throwing with tighter form and perhaps landing a touch more often early. However, experience and power go a long way, and Harris carried both in his awkward, clubbing right hand. One such hook/overhand stunned Kasanganay, and Harris followed up beautifully, securing the far wrist ride and dropping an uncomfortable number of punches direct to the side of the head as Kasanganay tried to recover.
- Hannah Goldy defeats Emily Whitmire via first-round armbar: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a low-level women’s Strawweight fight ends in armbar from guard! Whitmire was doing well with her wrestling and top game for most of the first round, but when Goldy managed to isolate an arm in the closing seconds, well, that was all she wrote! Why does this happen so often? Seemingly, these armbars are the combination of increased flexibility for guard play and relative inexperience on the mat.
For complete UFC Vegas 37: “Smith vs. Spann” results and play-by-play, click HERE!