UFC Vegas 47 had a little bit of everything. Some amazing knockouts, slick submissions, an edge-of-your-seat war, and even a few snoozers. Of course, you couldn’t round out a UFC event without some head-scratching decisions by the judges, either.
In the main event, Sean Strickland extended his winning streak to 6 consecutive victories, placing himself firmly in title-shot contention. It wasn’t exactly a barnburner, with the action relatively contained despite all the colorful trash talk from Strickland in the build up to the fight. Even the biggest moment of the fight was a deke - what looked like a knockdown for Strickland at the end of the second round was actually a slip.
Jack Hermansson was completely unsuccessful in the grappling department, with all of his takedowns getting stuffed. With the bulk of the fight happening on the feet, Strickland was able to use his superior boxing to go into cruise control. Hermansson couldn’t find a home for his shots as Strickland comfortably blocked or evaded the majority of them.
The most memorable moment of the fight actually came after the final bell had rung. Any and everyone who watched that fight was expecting a unanimous decision victory for Strickland - the only round that Hermansson might have edge out being the first. Sal D’Amato had other things in mind, however, scoring the fight 48-47 for Hermansson. Derek Cleary and Junichiro Kumijo both scored the bout 49-46 for Strickland.
It left many fans scratching their heads as the MMA social media scene revisited a familiar topic - the wildly inconsistent (and sometimes egregiously off-base) state of judging in the UFC.
The co-main event of UFC Vegas 47 featured another bout of promising middleweights - Punahele Soriano squared off against Nick Maximov, the 24-year-old protegee of Nate Diaz. With Nate in attendance at the UFC Apex, many view the Nick Diaz Academy product as the future of the UFC’s 185 lbs division.
He faced a tough challenge in the heavy-handed Hawaiin Punahele, who was looking to bounce back after dropping his last fight against another middleweight who fought on the card, Branden Allen.
While it did appear that Soriano had a clear advantage on the feet, landing a few shots that rocked Maximov, the young wrestler was able to neutralize Soriano’s power with a smothering wrestling approach. After eating a shot that looked like it hurt him, Maximov did his best Charles Oliveira impersonation, nearly sinking in a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Going into the third round, many believed that it was tied up at a round a piece. Whoever was going to win had to win it in the third. Maximov did exactly that - in convincing fashion. He smothered his opponent against the cage, showing a masterful display of wrist control and top positioning for a fighter of such a young age. The prospect is currently undefeated, extending his MMA record to 8-0.
The most exhilarating fight of the night came courtesy of the wild Julian Erosa and the tough-as-nails Steven Peterson. Originally scheduled as a featherweight bout, the fight took place at a 149lbs catchweight due to Peterson missing the limit by 3 pounds.
It was an electric fight with a ton of frenetic action. It was the kind of fight where it felt like a wild finish was just waiting to happen, and while it nearly came a few times, it never did.
The second round was particularly crazy. Peterson had Erosa out on his feed and started hunting for the finish, only to get knocked down by a spinning backfist that completely switched the momentum towards Erosa.
The fight ended in a split decision for Erosa, who was granted victory by two scorings of 29-28. Derek Cleary was the odd-judge-out for this fight, giving the nod to Steve Peterson. However, this fight was closely contested and a split-decision was a lot more tolerable given the action.
The fighters were awarded with Fight of the Night honors by the UFC, adding $50,000 to each of their purses. Because he missed weight, Peterson has to surrender 30% of his total purse to Erosa.
These two knockouts were so sweet, we had to include both for this recap. Dana White and the UFC agreed with that sentiment, giving both these guys performance of the night bonuses, adding $50,000 to their purses.
One of the most promising welterweight prospects in the UFC, Shavkat Rakhmonov finished a very talented and very game Carlston Harris in the first round. The undefeated Kazakhstan native didn’t just knock Harris out, though. He knocked him down with a spinning wheel kick before finishing him off with ground and pound. It was such a beautiful flourish, followed by efficient brutality.
Rakhmonov moves to 15-0, with 8 knockouts and 7 submissions. It’s clear that he’s ready for an upgrade in competition, with many fans calling for a showdown against Khamzat Chimaev.
The other spectacular knockout of the night happened in the prelims, when middleweight Chidi Njokuani made swift work of Marc-Andre Barriult. The kickboxing phenom finished the Canadian in only 15 seconds, making a statement to the world that his power is not to be trifled with.
This one is tough for fans of Smilin’ Sam Alvey. He was originally supposed to be fighting at middleweight - first against Ian Heinisch, who had to pull out due to injury. Heinisch was replaced by Phil Hawes, who subsequently pulled out due to injury.
Brendan Allen stepped up to the plate, though the bout moved up to light heavyweight to accommodate taking the fight on such short notice. Sam Alvey desperately needed a win to avoid the dubious distinction of tying BJ Penn for consecutive losses in the UFC at 7.
Unfortunately for Sam, Allen was too good on the night. He knocked Alvey down in the second with a beautiful left hook, swooping in and finding Sam’s back with python-esque efficiency. All there was left to do was tap.
Alvey’s future with the UFC remains unclear, but it would be wholly unsurprising if the organization finally cut ties with the fan favorite. Meanwhile, Allen finds himself back in the win column after being knocked out in his last fight against Chris Curtis.
It was a decent Fight Night with some memorable fights. Hermansson vs. Strickland left a bit to be desired, but there were so many exciting prospects making statements on the night that the card was redeemed. Maximov and Rakhmonov continue to surge within the organization and this night could be the stepping stone used to catapult their UFC careers.
Honorable mentions go to Jailton Almeida, who brutally knocked out Danilo Marques. If you missed that fight, be sure to turn the volume up when Almeida starts raining down the ground and pound. John Castaneda also had a very impressive performance against Miles Johns at bantamweight, finishing the fight with an arm-triangle.
It will be interesting to see whether Strickland’s performance tonight is enough to grant him the title shot against the winner of Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker, which happens next week at UFC 271. After the lackluster showing, many fans feel that Strickland needs one more victory before getting a title shot.