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Here’s everything that happened at UFC Vegas 74 last night | Kara-France vs. Albazi

Last night (Sat., June 23, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 74. Though it was far from the most notable event, the latest “Fight Night” offering was a rare showcase of the Flyweight division, as noted finishers Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi headlined the evening. Otherwise, it was the usual mix of Contenders Series newcomers and longtime veterans like Jim Miller — everyone reading should know the deal three years into the seemingly endless Apex era.

Let’s take a look at UFC Vegas 74’s standout performances and techniques:

UFC Fight Night: Kara-France v Albazi Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Did Albazi Earn The Decision?

I’m not convinced that the right man won last night.

That’s not disrespect to Amir Albazi, who fought quite well. He nearly strangled Kara-France outright in the third, and on the whole, he showcased solid kickboxing. For much of the fight, he was successfully able to pressure Kara-France, finding a home for some solid right hands and left hooks.

The problem is that Kara-France threw and landed a whole lot more, and there was only one significant takedown in the entire fight. There’s certainly an argument that Albazi won the first three rounds, but it’s hard to feel so strongly in his favor when the strike counts were so far against him. Meanwhile, Kara-France left zero doubt in the fourth and fifth, walking his foe down and cleanly cracking him with numerous right hands.

It’s not the worst decision I’ve ever seen, but it sure felt like Kara-France had gutted his way to another victory.

UFC Fight Night: Caceres v Pineda Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Veteran Fun

Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda was just a great fight, plain and simple.

Pineda doesn’t know how to do anything with less than full intent. The entire opening round was absolute chaos, as Pineda fired full power low kicks and overhands with murderous intent, but he surprised everyone with his insistence on wrestling. Caceres reversed his way to top position three separate times, but “The Pit” kept him defensive with a nasty array of submission threats.

Were it not for getting badly rocked in the closing 30 seconds, Pineda might have even won the round with his bottom offense. Instead, he did clearly take over with his grappling in the second, leading to a clearcut situation where the final round decided everything.

Credit to “Bruce Leeroy,” he lived up to the moment. Immediately, he started ripping Pineda’s mid-section with left kicks and sneaky punches, sapping much of Pineda’s remaining gas tank. Pineda swung big haymakers to the final bell and did land one late, but he spent most of the third getting his ass-kicked.

I’m sure Pineda would’ve rather secured the second half of his paycheck, but at least his legendary record of ZERO decision wins in 28 victories remains.

UFC Fight Night: Miller v Butler Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

23 Seconds!

Lightweight legend Jim Miller did it again, flattening a short-notice UFC newcomer in less time than it took me to write this blurb. For a longer detailing of Miller’s fearsome old man power, check out my write up HERE!

UFC Fight Night: Silva v Souza Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

A Flyweight Finisher

Karine Silva sure looks like the real deal, having stopped all 16 of her wins via finish. She’s not a one-trick pony either, having finished a nearly equal amount of fights via both knockout and submission.

Admittedly, it’s hard to read too much into this one. Silva easily throw her foe to the canvas — which is great! — and then jumped on a straight foot lock. Specifically, Silva was reaping the knee, which does put a bit of pressure on the knee on its own, but it’s not typically a damaging position without a heel hook submission.

As Silva went to apply pressure to the straight foot lock, the torque from the knee reap popped something in Ketlen Souza’s knee. Likely, that’s the result of a prior injury to Souza’s leg or some other mobility issue, as this position alone shouldn’t be so damaging to the knee.

Does any of that matter though? “Killer” is a finishing machine, an injection of talent women’s Flyweight desperately needs.

UFC Fight Night: Mullarkey v Naimov Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Tajikistan Stand Up!

For the first time in UFC history, consecutive fights featured athletes from Tajikistan.

In the first bout, short-notice newcomer Muhammad Naimov scored the biggest upset of the night, stopping Jamie Mullarkey in the second round. Naimov is typically a Featherweight, but that didn’t stop “Hillman” from holding his own in the stand up exchanges. From the first bell, he was willing to go toe-to-toe with the UFC veteran despite a size disadvantage and serious gap in experience.

Mullarkey was trying to bully Naimov, and the strategy was working to a degree. However, Naimov timed his opponent perfectly in the second by fading away with a right hook that detonated perfectly on the chin of his advancing foe.

The next Tajik athlete was Muin Gafurov, who was debuting against John Castenada. Admittedly, Gafurov did come up short, as Castenada scored his third UFC victory on the strength of great movement, excellent takedown defense, and a fight-changing high kick. Still, it was an all-around great scrap, and Gafurov proved himself worth of his spot on the roster thanks to his relentless offensive barrage.

He’s trained with Merab Dvalishvili previously, and it showed!

UFC Fight Night: Arlovski v Mayes Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Additional Thoughts

  • Don’Tale Mayes defeats Andrei Arlovski via second-round knockout: How much stock do we put in a victory over 44-year-old Arlovski? It’s a difficult question to answer. He still wins more often than not, and he typically beats better fighters than Mayes. The Belarusian legend was finding success early against Mayes, timing his foe coming in with big right hands and counter combinations. However, credit to Mayes, he dug into his bag of tracks and started hurting Arlovski. He stung the former champion in the first with a Superman punch, and in the second, he baited Arlovski into jabbing then timed him with a perfect overhand. It’s probably the best win of Mayes’ career, and this victory inspires some hope that “Kong” can develop further after a fairly pedestrian start to his UFC career.
  • Da’Mon Blackshear defeats Luan Lacerda via second-round knockout: Every once in a while, a fighter makes a decision that baffles everyone watching — it only makes sense to the man in the cage! Such was the case last night, as Lacerda continued trying to roll underneath for a leg lock even as heavy punches continued to land. Those punches added up, and they forced the finish! When fatigue sets in, it can become easier to lose sight of the fight as a whole and get fixated on a certain move or position, but at this level, that habit will get a fighter punished badly.

For complete UFC Vegas 74: “Kara-France vs. Albazi” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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