Last night (Sat., Aug. 6, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 59. The main event featured a Light Heavyweight banger between knockout artists Jamahal Hill and Thiago Santos, and the co-main featured the similarly electric clash of Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal. Prior to the most high-profile fights of the evening, a pair of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winners were crowned, and two bouts were canceled just hours before the event.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Marreta Returns, But Hill Conquers
Santos’ recent fights have been kind of sad to watch. The aggressive Brazilian slugger has largely refused to engage, doing very little besides occasional big swings and losing the volume game as a result. So, while he may not have won last night, actively trying to take Hill’s head off was a step in the right direction.
Genuinely, Santos landed some heavy punches and powerful kicks last night. The problem, however, was the someone convinced Santos it was a good idea to wrestle Hill. While he did manage to score a few takedowns, Hill is hard to hold down for a non-wrestler like Santos, and it’s exhausting to repeatedly drag someone down over and over again.
Hill did what he’s becoming known for. “Sweet Dreams” marches forward with little fear in his heart, totally willing to trade shots with powerful strikes. As he does so, he remains calm and technical. Even in the face of Santos’ chaos, Hill managed to fire crisp 1-2s down the middle, and his precision made all the difference as the fight wore on.
He’s now riding a stellar win streak and should be considered a major threat at 205 pounds.
The Power Of Geoff Neal
Vicente Luque’s chin is iron. This is well understood. The Brazilian brawls in a huge percentage of his fights, willingly taking shots to return the favor. Even when he’s getting hit more often than he’s landing, Luque tends to win anyway, because he’s so damn durable. It’s almost a cheat code-like quality — he just cannot be put away.
Enter Geoff Neal.
Neal starched Luque last night. He wobbled his knees at least a half-dozen times across three rounds, dropped him multiple times, and eventually scored a genuine knockout over the top-ranked Welterweight. His left hand was perfection, used as a brutal hammer to damage Luque and a smart tool to escape himself off the fence when need be.
It’s becoming clear that Neal’s combination of speed and power is unique. Between Luque and Mike Perry, he’s now decimated two of the most durable Welterweight brawlers of the last decade. Even if you don’t rate those men highly, it’s really proving that Neal has some special gifts.
If he can fight like this consistently, the man is a title threat.
Zac Pauga proved himself a better striker than Mohammad Usman. He was the far sharper man, utilizing his speed and tricky setups to make Usman swing at air repeatedly. Usman whiffed on the same left hook a dozen times in the first round, and he looked very stuck in the mud.
Usman was the bigger man — Pauga has fought at 205 pounds many times — and he clearly hits quite a bit harder. He finally timed that left hook in the second, and the fight was instantly over.
That’s Heavyweight MMA.
A New Women’s Flyweight Prospect
Juliana Miller has the right type of crazy to succeed in mixed martial arts (MMA).
It’s clear from her interviews and fight style that the 26-year-old really believes in herself. Her technique on the feet is far from perfect, but Miller throws with confidence, and as a result, she lands! Of course, having a reach and speed advantage helps too, but it’s very apparent that Miller doesn’t hold herself back under the bright lights.
In the clinch and on the feet, Miller’s technique is much more refined. She scrambled well with her black belt opponent, routinely winding up in good position. Over time, this wore Brogan Walker down, leaving her very vulnerable to a hail of punches and elbows from mount in the third round.
That’s impressive work from an athlete with less than five professional fights.
A More Fearsome Polar Bear
Serghei Spivac has come a long way from his 1-2 start inside the Octagon.
So often, we see Heavyweight prospects show up, struggle, and wash out without any real development. Spivac, on the other hand, has massively developed. He’s always been tricky on the canvas, but those brilliant throws in the clinch? He’s been hitting them more and more often, looking positively elite in the clinch.
On the feet, Spivac’s hand speed was far improved. He’s never had the reputation of a true Heavyweight knockout artist, but it sure looked like his power punches were affecting Augusto Sakai. In fact, his jab looked especially thudding, and he did a great job of mitigating Sakai’s big swings by constantly popping him on the nose.
Just a great overall performance from the 27 year old.
Terrance McKinney fights like he has something more exciting planned later in the evening.
“T-Rex” is a really incredible athlete. He has most of the division outmatched in terms of raw speed and power. He combines those physical gifts with accurate power punches and excellent wrestling skill. Against Erick Gonzalez, McKinney sprinted into the driver’s seat and really never released that position.
Gonzalez landed one good punch, prompting McKinney to stop hammering on the feet and throw him to the floor instead. When Gonzalez tried to stand, McKinney jumped his back and strangled him without issue. Once again, he picked up a UFC win in just a couple minutes.
As he fights now, McKinney is unlikely to ever break into the Top 10, simply because he sprints in an unsustainable fashion. Fortunately, he’ll continue to be a ton of fun to watch!
End Of An Era
Sam Alvey’s response to his loss— MMA mania (@mmamania) August 7, 2022
He says he has lost a step and might have broken a toothpic.twitter.com/mQHZDm1EkZ
Last night had to be the end of Sam Alvey’s UFC career.
Michal Oleksiejczuk was downright disrespectfully of his opponent’s offense and powerful check hook. The younger man was simply far faster, which allowed him to load up and pitch fastballs direct to the jawline before Alvey could even react. The end result was an absolutely brutal finish, one that saw Alvey took heavy, heavy shots before the referee saved him.
In addition to being Alvey’s unpleasant swan song, this bout also marked Oleksiejczuk’s long overdue Middleweight debut. He was a serious knockout threat at 205 pounds while routinely outsized, so it’ll be really fun to watch him try to climb the ranks against foes without a major strength advantage.
- Bryan Battle defeats Takashi Sato via first-round knockout: Battle has been flying under the radar since he was the last pick on TUF. He exceeded expectations back then by winning the show and taking out the top prospect, but it’s hard to take TUF all that seriously. Battle’s Welterweight debut, however, proved a lot more, as he immediately smoked a talented striker in Sato. His cross-kick setup from the open stance was perfect, and sent Sato deep into an instant sleep. The 27 year old is now 3-0 inside the UFC, and he just might be a serious prospect.
- Cory McKenna defeats Miranda Granger via second-round Von Flue choke: The first Von Flue choke in UFC women’s history! The technical breakdown of every Von Flue choke is the same (the fighter attacking the guillotine holds on at least a little too long, and the top fighter counters with shoulder pressure), but overall, McKenna fought very smartly. She was doubling up with her lead hand, targeting the body, and entering in on the takedown whenever possible — a smart strategy for a young woman who will routinely face a major reach disadvantage.
- Mayra Bueno Silva defeats Stephanie Egger via first-round armbar: This was some weird, weird undercard goofiness. Two women known for their armbar prowess threw down, so it’s not exactly surprising that someone’s arm got snatched. What is weird, however, was the actual ending. Silva released the arm as if there was a tap, and Egger would neither confirm nor deny such an event occurred. The camera couldn’t catch a tap, but one of the judges apparently saw tap, so ... we just trust that guy? I guess? Why not! It certainly looked like a locked in armbar, so for now at least, Silva adds a solid quick finish to her resume.
For complete UFC Vegas 59: “Santos vs. Hill” results and play-by-play, click HERE.