Last night (Sat., July 9, 2022), the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stayed at their home-base in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 58. This night the APEX facility saw Rafael Fiziev graduate from interesting prospect to bona fide problem in the stacked lightweight division. He earned that promotion by largely nullifying Rafael dos Anjos for four rounds before scoring a stunning KO victory.
Outside of the main event there wasn’t too much name value on display. Though, there were some nice finishes and interesting story-lines.
Watch your back Nadal
Tonight felt like Fiziev’s coming out party. He had looked great so far in his MMA career, against opponents who were largely happy to stand and trade with him (much to their detriment).
Against dos Anjos, Fiziev was tested in ways he hadn’t felt in either his MMA or kickboxing career. RDA took Fiziev deep into the championship rounds, testing his opponent’s cardio, durability and mental focus. Fiziev, who had out struck and avoided dos Anjos’ takedowns throughout the first three rounds, had a wobble in the fourth. The former champion tagged him with hard strikes and landed an emphatic takedown.
However, after the break between the fourth and fifth rounds Fiziev came out determined to squash dos Anjos’ hopes for a comeback. He did this with a left hook that sent the Brazilian careening to the canvas. Fiziev tried to follow up with ground and pound, but a quick (and appropriate) stoppage saved dos Anjos from further damage.
After the fight Fiziev said he proved he was the most dangerous Rafael in MMA. Now, he said, he wanted to show he was the best Rafael in world sports and called out tennis icon Rafael Nadal.
Jokes aside, Fiziev is now almost certain to take on some of the elites in his weight class. For dos Anjos, the role of gate-keeper beckons.
This Nurmagomedov is not like the other
Said Nurmagomedov, who is not related to Khabib, scored another win in the Octagon last night. However, it wasn’t very Nurmagomedov-ish. Of course it’s unfair to assume everyone with that surname would have the same style as ‘The Eagle’ or be as successful. But you really can’t imagine two fighters more different than Said and Khabib.
The Nurmagomedov we saw last night showed plenty of flash (perhaps over form and function) and was cavalier enough to get hurt (and thoroughly tested) by the 37-year-old Douglas Silva da Andrade. Said is now 5-1 in the UFC and will likely put on more fun fights in the future. But if he makes history as the second Nurmagomedov to win a UFC title — I’ll eat a papakha.
‘We’re Still Here!’
UFC Vegas 58 featured a number of fighters who you can be forgiven for thinking they had left the promotion some time ago. I’m specifically thinking of Chase Sherman, Aiemann Zahabi and Michael Johnson. But each of those fighters showed up and proved they could still hang in the Octagon.
Sherman, who was cut and re-signed by the UFC earlier this year, came through some adversity to finish Jared Vanderaa with a blistering combo. Zahabi, who last fought well over a year ago, kept his cool while recent TUF champ Ricky Turcios yelled and spammed air punches to earn a unanimous decision and Michael Johnson lost a close decision to Jamie Mullarkey.
Johnson, who snapped a four fight losing skid in May, knocked Mullarkey down in the first round and went back and forth with the Aussie in one of the most entertaining bouts on the card. I thought Johnson did enough to win. Hopefully that loss on paper doesn’t cost him his job.
Onama On The Radar
Uganda’s David Onama had a good night in the UFC APEX. He showed off his explosive, albeit sometimes haphazard, style to secure a brutal arm-triangle submission win over Garrett Armfield. There’s no easy road to contendership in the featherweight division and it’s too early to say if Onama has what it takes to go that far. But, he should be good for some entertaining fights over the next little while.
This win over Armfield followed Onama’s thrilling TKO of Gabriel Benitez in February. Onama debuted for the UFC last year, losing a unanimous decision to Mason Jones (in an exciting fight).
- Caio Borralho defeats Armen Petrosyan via unanimous decision. The co-main event was a bit of a dud, with Borralho doing enough on the ground to totally befuddle Petrosyan (which wasn’t much). Neither man came away from this one with too much shine. I wouldn’t expect either of them to be on a main card, let alone a co-main event, any time soon.
- Cody Brumage defeats Tresean Gore via first round knockout. I’m still not sure why the now 3-2 Gore was fighting on a UFC card. Brundage is no world-beater, but he made Gore look like someone the UFC had found walking the Vegas strip. Their fight lasted just under four minutes and ended with Gore being knocked out cold from a right hook and some ground and pound.
- Kennedy Nzechukwu defeats Karl Roberson via fourth round TKO. Karl Roberson looked like a welterweight opposite Nzechukwu in their light heavyweight match-up. He also seemed lost out there and completely unable to combat the wrestling, and sheer strength, of Nzechukwu. After two patient rounds from the Nigerian, Nzechukwu cranked up the intensity in the third, finishing Roberson with a set of vicious elbows on the ground.
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Nina Nunes gets canceled. UFC Vegas 58 lost one of its more intriguing match-ups in the hours leading up to the event when Nina Nunes withdrew due to an illness. The bout between seventh ranked strawweight Nunes and former headliner Calvillo has been moved to UFC San Diego on August 13.
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