Last night (Sat., Aug. 13, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured to Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California, for UFC San Diego. The main event was far and away the most serious attraction, a duel between former champion Dominick Cruz and fast-rising finisher Marlon Vera. Outside of that Bantamweight battle, the divisional consequences for the rest of the card were low, but as last week’s event proved, occasionally these type of under-the-radar events can provide the excitement.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
‘Chito’ Times ‘The Dominator’
Marlon Vera has a system, and it works.
“Chito” starts slow, and everyone criticizes him for it. From the commentary crew to the post-fight analysis team, Vera gets ripped for his slow start habit. On paper, it’s true: Vera’s opponents routinely throw and land more than the Ecuadorian athlete in the first round or two.
The insistence that Vera needs to start upping his early volume is misguided. He’s winning! Dominantly! Violently! Vera is using those early rounds to get reads and time his opponents. Sure, in a perfect world, Vera would immediately match his opponent’s output then still be able to time them with a huge shot, but maybe that’s not possible for “Chito.”
What is clear is that Vera is remarkably talented at picking up on his opponent’s patterns and then walking them into concussive blows. His head kick could not have been more perfect, and if he can so consistently land shots like that, Vera is justified in taking all the time in the world to analyze his opponent.
The man doesn’t have the most finishes in UFC Bantamweight history by accident.
A New Light Heavyweight Contender
Azamat Murzakanov looks very much like the real deal.
“The Professional” is an undefeated Russian with a credential wrestling background — that all sounds promising, right? His UFC debut wasn’t the most impressive, but he overcame a slow start en route to a great knockout finish. Last night, Murzakanov upped the ante by simply battering Devin Clark.
Outside of a single slapping high kick in the first, Clark really found no success. Murzakanov shut down his wrestling and actually won the clinch exchanges, but mostly, Murzakanov lined up his left hand. He arced his left at different angles, repeatedly finding a home on Clark’s chin and rocking “Brown Bear.”
Murzakanov didn’t do the best job of hunting for the finish in the second, opting to wrestle rather than punch after hurting Clark. He made up for it in the third, however, by ripping the body perfectly and ending Clark’s night for good.
‘Zombie Girl’ Given New Life
On paper, nothing about Cachoeira has really improved. She still swings wildly without much strategy, and her ground game is nothing to write home about. Yet, Cachoeira has now won four of her last five after a miserable (0-3) start to her UFC career.
Confidence seems to be the answer. Cachoeira has real power for a female Flyweight, and she’s starting to believe in it. Nowadays, Cachoeira is quite willing to bite down on her mouthpiece and swing with reckless abandon. Ugly as those haymakers may be, a lot of women at 125 lbs. simply cannot take those shots.
I’m still not anticipating a title run, but at least “Zombie Girl” is fun to watch!
The New GM3
Gerald Meerschaert has never looked better than he did last night at UFC San Diego.
Bruno Silva is a genuinely good Middleweight. His swings may be ugly, but they’re hugely powerful. He’s not easy to take or hold down, and if he manages to gain top position, his opponent is going to sleep. The Brazilian gave Alex Pereira — the man next-in-line for a title shot — one hell of a challenge.
“GM3” cruised passed him! It was incredible. Meerschaert has long utilized the smart Southpaw tactic of hammering the liver, but he repeatedly walked Silva into heavy kicks. Then, he’d lean back to avoid any counter and reset his stance, forcing Silva to walk right back into heavy shots.
Over time, Meerschaert pulled further and further ahead of the Brazilian, forcing “Blindado” to get desperate. When he started taking even bigger chances, Meerschaert cracked him with a counter left hook. As soon as Silva hit the mat, Meerschaert jumped on his neck and secured the guillotine finish.
Meerschaert’s move to Sanford MMA appears to have really paid off. He’s never managed to perform so consistently and strike with such composure against a genuine violent kickboxer. Hugely impressive work from the 34 year old veteran!
Chaos From Start To Finish
Gabriel Benitez vs. Charlie Ontiveros was simply awesome.
Standing 6’2” at Lightweight, Ontiveros is a bit of a wild man. His Taekwondo background made itself very apparent, as Ontiveros threw roughly one axe kick per every 30 seconds. To his credit, his flashy kicks were accompanied by more standard (and effective) round kicks, and both were flying through the air with impressive speed.
As the former Featherweight, Benitez had to close the distance. That’s a bit unusual for “Moggly,” who often likes to hang back at distance and blast his opponent with his devastating left kick. He was eating shots in the process, but it soon paid off in the form of a heavy overhand knockdown in the middle of the first.
Ontiveros popped back up, but Benitez threw him back down with a powerful takedown. He then advanced to mount and reigned down punches, forcing a finish to a short, but entertaining, fight.
- Tyson Nam defeats Ode Osbourne via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): This is PEAK Tyson Nam! The experienced counter puncher is well-known to wait for his moments, and sometimes, that backfires when the clock runs out before his perfect shot connects. Nam encountered no such problem last night, timing an Osbourne jump knee perfectly with a massive right hand. Nam has some of the heaviest hands at 125-pounds, so his ability to quickly follow up and force the finish was no surprise. Good win for Nam, who is finally finding some consistency inside the Octagon.
- Josh Quinlan defeats Jason Witt via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): This is how you debut in style! Quinlan may be a jiu-jitsu black belt, but he won his “Contender Series” bout via knockout, and he looked to do the same in a brawl with Witt here. After a slightly shaky start, Quinlan was able to stop Witt with a single strike, a perfectly timed left hook as Witt tried to charge into a kick. Witt’s a fun fighter, but his defense has continued to let him down against heavy-handed opponents.
For complete UFC San Diego: “Cruz vs. Vera” results and play-by-play, click HERE.