Last night (Sat., Sept. 4, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 36. In the main event, Middleweight talents Derek Brunson and Darren Till both sought to break into the immediate title picture (watch highlights). Elsewhere on the card, there was a solid mix of established talent and unproven prospects, including the highly anticipated debut of Paddy Pimblett (watch it).
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Weight Classes Matter
Till was a seriously difficult man to take down at 170 pounds. It never really happened, and when it did, Till almost always popped up immediately. In his recent Middleweight bouts vs. fellow former Welterweights Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker, Till was not 100 percent in denying the shot, but he still wasn’t contained for long.
Brunson is a different animal. He’s more than a full-sized Middleweight, majorly strong and credentialed as a wrestler. Till still managed to show some great technique on defense, but without his historic size/strength advantage, Till looked like a fish out of water once actually on the mat.
Simply put, Brunson beat the crap out of him. In the first round, Brunson scored brutal elbows and punches from the half guard. Till was worn after that exchange, and though he still fought valiantly, Brunson landed more heavy shots in the second.
Till just couldn’t escape his foe’s grasp.
“The Gorilla” finally found momentum in his corner in the third, scoring hard lefts and stunning Brunson. When Brunson did lock his hands, however, he pretty easily muscled Till to the mat, this time landing in mount. That was all it took — Till was promptly flattened out, unable to move beneath his physically dominant foe.
That’s a hard-earned lesson on the value of size and strength in wrestling exchanges.
Measured and smooth, Tom Aspinall is a rarity among Heavyweight up-and-comers.
Against a solid prospect in Sergei Spivac, Aspinall proved himself more than a class above his peers. Did Spivac land a single significant strike? If he did, Aspinall didn’t give him many chances, as the English fighter immediately put the Moldovan on his back foot and kept him guessing with fast feints. The looseness and power in Aspinall hands was clear-cut, and he was poking holes through Spivac’s defense.
Spivac wisely tried to mix things up with a takedown attempt, but that decision proved his undoing. After stopping the shot, Aspinall crushed his foe’s temple with a heavy elbow, and it sent Spivac to the mat.
Aspinall called for a slow, measured rise, but he’s already fit to fight Top 10 foes.
Khalil Rountree, Leg Destroyer
It’s been a little while, but does anyone remember the absolute hammering Rountree put on Eryk Anders? He smashed Anders to the head, body, and leg, slamming home punches and kicks to all targets.
A similar version of “The War Horse” walked to the cage last night.
Rountree was immediately aggressive, letting his hands fly and crushing his opponent’s nose quickly. When the early knockout didn’t emerge, however, Rountree returned to his kicks, chopping away at the lead thigh and doing visible damage. He looked calm, collected, and dangerous.
Out of nowhere, Rountree threw a lead leg side kick that missed. A few seconds later, he chambered up and unleashed a second one, which was timed perfectly. In an instant, Modestas Bukauskas crumbled, having very clearly torn something in his knee.
The brilliantly brutal finish was uniquely nasty, but it was perhaps even better to see Rountree put on a solid overall performance after a history of inconsistency.
Paddy The Baddy
Paddy Pimblett made some absurd promises leading up to his UFC debut.
Long-time fans were excited, but wary, of the young Brit’s transition to the Octagon. He’s shown great potential in Cage Warriors, but the former Featherweight champ is not undefeated. He’s shown weaknesses in the past, and at 155 pounds, there is little room for error among his fellow talented peers.
Fortunately, Pimblett gave a great representation of himself, pros and cons alike. On one hand, he did get clipped and stunned. At the same time, Pimblett fought damn hard and rallied back quickly, showcasing his athleticism and toughness in the process.
Defensive technique can improve over time, but “The Baddy” proved he has the intangible assets needed to success inside the Octagon.
- Julian Erosa defeats Charles Jourdain via third-round d’arce choke (HIGHLIGHTS): This was a brilliant fight. Erosa started strong early, mixing together his tricky kickboxing traps and grappling attempts with good success. Jourdain, however, is quite good at taking hard shots then rallying to score his own heavy blows, and that proved true again here when he nearly took Erosa’s head off with a counter left in the second. “Juicy J” survived though, and in the winner-takes-all final frame, he managed to latch onto a sudden d’arce choke as Jourdain worked to stand up! Erosa is a much more effective fighter when able to use both his grappling and kickboxing skill, and he’s 3-1 in his current UFC stretch as a result.
For complete UFC Vegas 36: “Till vs. Brunson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!