Last night (Sat., March 11, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Las Vegas. However, the promotion ventured a few miles beyond the typical Apex venue, meaning there was a live audience and better fights! The main event featured a collision of Top Five Bantamweights in Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili, which was also an intriguing style clash. Disastrous weigh-ins aside, there was a great deal of talent throughout the card, so it was a lot of fun from top-to-bottom.
Let’s take a look at UFC Las Vegas’ best performances and techniques:
Trapped In ‘The Machine’
Merab Dvalishvili made Petr Yan look very average last night.
After a competitive first round, “The Machine” took over. His wrestling onslaught and overall relentlessness never allowed Yan to get in a word of his own, and the combination of damage and fatigue slowly nullified Yan. By the end of the fight, he was barely throwing shots, and when he did try to swing, he looked off-balanced and simply worn down.
It’s a perfect example of Dvalishvili’s trap, his cycle of constant offense that prevents opponents from doing ... anything really! For a more in-depth read of that process, check out my full article HERE.
Swolkov Smokes Romanov
As it turns out, 20 additional pounds of fat is not the best base for MMA.
Alexander Romanov packed on about that much weight compared to his previous weigh in, and it certainly didn’t look like muscle. Alexander Volkov, meanwhile, stood far taller than his opponent, and he put on some serious muscle just a couple years ago to fill out his frame. The difference was plenty noticeable, and it played out in the fight.
Romanov couldn’t take his opponent down. He tried several times, and it never happened. He found himself stranded on the feet with “Drago,” who promptly stabbed his belly with snap kicks and found big right hand connections at distance. Romanov was forced to take another bad shot, allowing Volkov to get on top and finish with strikes.
Light Heavyweight Grappling Is ... Fun?!?
In the opening seconds of the fight, Nikita Krylov charged forward with heavy swings, showing no respect for his opponent’s vaunted knockout power. Moments later, Ryan Spann jumped on a guillotine choke, showing no respect for his opponent’s vaunted submission grappling!
Neither man fought with any intention of staying in the cage for 15 full minutes. After those initial exchanges, however, there were almost no strikes thrown. Instead. the two big men traded positions and submission threats. Spann surprised with his scrambling ability, managing to stand up and reverse position on several occasions in the short fight.
Unfortunately for “Superman,” Krylov is simply the better submission fighter. After escaping out the back door, he dove into Krylov’s guard straight into a triangle just as his gas tank was starting to feel the insane pace. He didn’t have much left to defend, resulting in a tap that concluded the very fun grappling match.
Au Revoir Assuncao
Outside of hardcore fight fans, Raphael Assuncao is not widely considered a divisional great. That’s a tall task at Bantamweight, where there have been many generations of extremely skilled fighters.
Yet, Assuncao has earned that status. He spent the better part of a decade ranked in the Top 5-10, defeating men like TJ Dillashaw, Aljamain Sterling, and Marlon Moraes in that span. He never found himself in a title shot, not because he never put together a good enough streak, but mainly because he’s never been a huge draw.
To fans of tricky and skilled veterans, however, Assuncao has always been a favorite. Last time out, he managed to upset Victor Henry, another solid name for his resume. At 40 years of age, Assuncao fans were hoping for at least one more classic performance.
They got two rounds of it.
The Brazilian has never been the most athletic man, but his combination of strong wrestling and crafty counter punching has stymied many. For most of the fight, he kept Davey Grant’s landing percentage very low, sticking occasional punches of his own alongside calf kicks and some pivotal top control time.
Unfortunately for Assuncao, Grant is a wild man. He kept throwing massive hooks in the third, and finally, one of those overhands connected. Assuncao wore it well and wrestled to survive, but a spinning backfist later in the round really took away his legs. He again tried to wrestle, but Grant countered with a reverse triangle, quickly locking it deep and going hard with the squeeze. With short time remaining, Assuncao went unconscious, leaving his gloves in the cage afterward.
It was a brutal way to go, typical of MMA.
- Mario Bautista defeats Guido Cannetti via first round rear-naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): This fight didn’t need to happen. Bautista entered this fight having won five of his last six inside the Octagon, mostly via finish. 43-year-old Cannetti, conversely, held an overall UFC record of 4-5. To the surprise of very few, Cannetti came out firing hard but could not keep up with his opponent’s pace and grappling, resulting in the early submission.
- Josh Fremd defeats Sedriques Dumas via second round guillotine choke: “The Big Yinz” scored his first UFC win in three trips to the Octagon last night, and in the process, he showed that Dumas needs a lot more experience to compete at this level. His Contender Series opponent had little answer on the canvas, and he kept willingly grappling anyway. His defensive problems cost him the first round, and in the second, he found himself in a very Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane-esque guillotine. Much like the French athlete, he used NEITHER of his hands to fight the choke, producing a similar outcome.
- Bruno Silva defeats Tyson Nam via second round rear-naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): Nam fought well through the first round. He was slightly more active, and he did good work with his jab to control the distance. Then, Silva landed an absolutely brutal front kick straight to the chin. It’s almost miraculous that Nam managed to survive the shot, but it put him in bad position on the canvas, and he fell to the strangle soon afterward.
For complete UFC Las Vegas: “Yan vs. Dvalishvili” results and play-by-play, click HERE.