Last night (Sat., Nov. 18, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 82. After last week’s star-studded UFC 295 mega-card, it’s important to temper expectations. Back in the Apex, another serviceable selection of Contenders Series talent and the like put on a very entertaining night of combat ... even if only a handful of ranked athletes were competing. Bottom line: a whole bunch of finishes is a whole bunch of finishes!
Let’s take a look at UFC Vegas 82’s best performances and techniques:
Allen All-In On Ground-N-Pound
That was a MISERABLE night at the office for Paul Craig.
The Scottish submission ace had approximately two good offensive moments in about 11 minutes of comments. In the first, he showed off a cool calf slicer transition from his back, but he wasn’t able to convert into top position. In the second, he landed a good check hook ... but Allen hit him way harder at the same moment with a right hand.
Outside of those brief instances, Craig was getting his ass kicked. Allen smacked him around on the feet and attained top position easily, working methodically from within the guard. He was always threatening to pass or sneaking elbows through, allowing him to do significant damage without allowing Craig any sneaky triangle opportunities. The damage and fatigue broke Craig, and Allen only took a handful of shots en route to the submission finish.
Allen has earned a Top Five opponent — let’s see it!
A Straight Up BJJ Match
Jordan Leavitt and Chase Hooper are strong jiu-jitsu players. Rather than force us to watch an okay kickboxing match, the two actually grappler, and it was AWESOME!
A lot of the admittedly short fight was Hooper throwing up offense and Leavitt defending and/or countering. Hooper’s bottom game is no joke, and he put Leavitt in serious danger with armbar, triangle, and footlock attempts. Leavitt kept up with him and maintained top control reasonably well, even landing a heavy elbow that dazed “The Dream.” On the flip side, Hooper also showed off his own grappling defense, reversing off a guillotine choke and back take attempt from Leavitt.
The end came suddenly. Hooper swept his foe with a leg lock and jumped on the back, and his arm was under the chin before Leavitt knew what happened! A quality victory for Hooper, who certainly looks like a much better fighter at 155 lbs.
The Hyped Debut
Payton Talbott shouldn’t have been an 8-1 favorite over Nick Aguirre. Those are Anderson Silva numbers, and even if I’m personally a believer of Talbott’s talent and potential, it’s a little early for all that.
That aside, the fight lived up to my expectations. Aguirre found some early success with his wrestling, but it’s exhausting to hold down a quality athlete and large Bantamweight like Talbott. Talbott turned up the heat early in the second, pressing Aguirre back with combinations and body shots and forcing him to take awful shots. Slowly, the damage built, Aguirre grew more fatigued, and Talbott easily won the second. The third was an onslaught. Talbott poured it on, bloodied his foe up, and locked in a quick strangle.
There’s definitely room for the young fighter to improve, but his gifts were on display last night.
Amanda Ribas wins more often than not, and they’re not usually clean victories. If we’re truthful, the Brazilian relies on grit more than defense. She has a habit of keeping her chin high, and opponents have capitalized on that flaw repeatedly.
Luana Pinheiro tried. She started the first round with wild swings and big overhands, and some of them landed! Ribas’ eye was swollen quickly, and it seemed like her return to Strawweight might end poorly.
Grit counts for a lot though. Ribas bit down on her mouthpiece and upped the volume, throwing more and more kicks since her hands weren’t landing consistently. As Pinheiro fatigued, Ribas opened up more and more, tying together kicks and punches and even landing some spinning shots.
Pinheiro tried to pull the fight back into her favor by wrestling in the third, which created some fun scrambles. As soon as they were back on their feet, however, Pinheiro’s gas tank was empty. Ribas stayed in her face and landed a lovely spinning wheel kick straight to the jaw, which pretty much brought about the end of the fight.
I don’t think Ribas ever fights for the title, but she’s a high-level scrapper, and that’s always a lot of fun.
A Serious Kyrgyzstani Prospect
Myktybek Orolbai stepped up a weight class on just four day’s notice to face Uros Medic, a Welterweight finisher with a 3-1 UFC record. Typically, that’s not a recipe for success, but Orolbai proved himself a special caliber of fighter.
Medic unleashed a nasty combination in the opening seconds, landing several hard knees and elbows from close quarters. Orolbai walked right through those shots undeterred, and he shot a double along the fence. Medic showed off some strong early defense, but Orolbai just worked through him, continually landing mat returns and catching his wrist to land occasional shots.
Medic looked absolutely worked at the start of the second, and the takedown came far easier. Orolbai continued to work methodically towards better and better positions, until he landed in a partial back mount position. Medic’s back was still leaning into the fence despite Orolbai’s single hook — an awkward spot. Orolbai found the solution: grab the neck and crank on it!
Lightweight has yet another quality prospect on its hands. Just for fun, here’s his knockout win from just two weeks ago!
It Pays To Be Dangerous
Jonathan Pearce vs. Joanderson Brito was a lot of fun.
“JSP” is a really top-notch Featherweight wrestler, and Brito is an explosive ball of violence. Surprisingly, it was Brito who landed the first takedown of the evening, a big slam from the clinch. Pearce scrambled into top position before long, however, he really struggled to hold the strong Brazilian down. Brito returned to his feet on a couple occasions, usually immediately blasting Pearce with big swings when he did so.
After the competitive first, Pearce’s wrestling started to wear on Brito a bit, resulting in more control time. He didn’t do much damage, however, the two started to mouth off to make up for the lack of action. Pearce implored his foe to “get up and do something,” and Brito obliged! Brito stood, and when Pearce pressured with his head low, Brito locked up a stunningly quick ninja choke.
There’s no escape from that choke once it’s locked in. Pearce flopped to his back and tried to fight, but it was already check mate. Once again, Brito has demonstrated himself a very special finisher at 145 lbs., likely deserving of a ranking.
- Jose Johnson defeats Chad Anheliger via third-round rear naked choke: Johnson picked up his first UFC win in a fun fight that had a little bit of everything. Anheliger did good work with his clinch takedowns, but Johnson was able to consistently out-scramble him and land in top position. Over time, he was able to gain more dominant positions, eventually sneaking his way to the back and sinking in the choke.
- Christian Leroy Duncan defeats Denis Tiuliulin via second-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Not everyone can be Myktybek Orolbai. It’s rarely easy to make the most of a short-notice UFC debut, and that’s the situation Tiuliulin attempted to overcome. He found some early success with his wrestling and control, but as soon as he couldn’t hold onto Duncan, the punishment began. Duncan’s finishing sequences was vicious, a salvo of heavy uppercuts and elbows from close distance. He improves to 2-1 in the UFC, picking up a highlight reel win at his opponent’s expense.
- Jeka Saragih defeats Lucas Alexander via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Saragih, a Road To UFC pick up, came up short in his UFC debut, but he made up for that loss in his sophomore performance! Saragih blasted Alexander with a nasty right hand early after threatening his foe with a heel hook, knocking him into the fence. He followed up with some savage ground strikes, leaving Alexander unconscious in just about 90 seconds.
For complete UFC Vegas 82: “Allen vs. Craig” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
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