UFC Vegas 63: About Last Night’s Action

Allen Extends Winning Streak to 10

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Arnold Allen of England punches Calvin Kattar in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Arnold Allen is now 10-0 in the UFC after collecting a second-round stoppage win over Calvin Kattar in his first main event of the his career, though it didn’t come the way he had hoped.

The British featherweight did well throughout the opening stanza, finding a home for clean left hands and displaying the more significant power as the two exchanged on the feet. Late in the round, Kattar went for an uncharacteristic flying knee attempt, missed, and landed awkwardly, his knee twisting underneath him. He fell to the canvas and Allen looked to finish, but couldn’t lock up a choke.

Kattar looked to continue, but as soon as Allen blasted home a low kick to start the second, the knee buckled again and the fight was halted.

It’s not the kind of finish the streaking contender was aiming for, obviously, but it’s still 10 straight wins, and at some point, that’s the only thing that matters.

With champion Alexander Volkanovski targeting a move to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev, Allen rightfully lobbied for an interim title opportunity, albeit rather sheepishly. He’s certainly done enough to merit such an opportunity, whether it’s against Yair Rodriguez or Josh Emmett, and if Volkanovski doesn’t face Makhachev, a date with Allen should be next.

We Need to Do Better

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (R-L) Calvin Kattar punches Arnold Allen of England in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It seems like I’m saying this every week — and a couple times on this card — but we have to figure out a better way to end these fights when athletes are clearly injured, and Kattar was clearly injured.

Listen, I get that no fighter wants to admit they can’t continue and would rather “go out on their shield.”

Fine, but isn’t that why we have coaches and corners and teammates and doctors and referees that can make these decisions for them, putting the athlete’s health ahead of their pride.

Kattar clearly looked compromised at the end of the opening round and crumpled the instant he tried to put real weight on his knee in the second, so how did no one rightfully intervene to prevent that fight from ending the way it did?

We need to figure this out because the optics are terrible and one of these times, someone is going to continue and get significantly more injured as a result. No one wants that, so why aren’t we putting steps in place to make sure it doesn’t happen?

Griffin Bounces Back

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Max Griffin punches Tim Means in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

After landing on the wrong side of a close split decision verdict last time out, Max Griffin came out on Saturday and hustled his way to a return to the win column, out-working fellow veteran Tim Means in the penultimate fight of the evening.

Griffin dropped Means in the first and controlled the majority of the round before the two ran fairly level for most of the second, “Pain” getting a slight edge late when a right hand clipped Means behind the ear and momentarily shook his equilibrium. In the third, Griffin turned to his wrestling, putting “The Dirty Bird” on the deck and grinding out the split decision win.

The 36-year-old has now won four of his last five, putting things together a little later than most and making a run towards the Top 15. He clearly made adjustments following his loss to Neil Magny earlier in the year, and should get another chance to chase a number next to his name next time out.

This Is My ‘Pretending to Be Shocked’ Face

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Waldo Cortes-Acosta of the Dominican Republic punches Jared Vanderaa in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Dana White’s Contender Series graduates Waldo Cortes-Acosta and Jared Vanderaa went the full 15 minutes in the middle of Saturday’s main card, with the former edging out the latter on the scorecards.

This was the quintessential low-level heavyweight fight that had no business being on the main card, as Cortes-Acosta still lacks basic defensive fundamentals and Vanderaa entered on a four-fight losing streak. Trying to showcase the Dominican DWCS grad is understandable, but maybe get him a fight or two in order to see what he actually brings to the table before handing him prime real estate.

We’ve got a similar matchup on tap next week and have seen them repeatedly over the last couple years, and one can only hope that at some point, the UFC sees the juice hasn’t been worth the squeeze and hustles these limited heavyweight back to the prelims.

Sleep Well, Fremd

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Tresean Gore punches Josh Fremd in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It was unconventional, but Tresean Gore put Josh Fremd to sleep with a guillotine choke to secure his first UFC victory on Saturday night.

Following a competitive opening stanza, Gore grabbed onto a no-arm guillotine choke early in the second round, initially catching Fremd backwards, before readjusting and torquing on the neck. It looked painful and awkward, but it was effective, as Fremd went to sleep and Gore got his hand raised for the first time in three UFC starts.

A finalist in the middleweight competition on Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter, Gore is still exceptionally young in his career and raw in terms of his tools. But he has quality athleticism and clear upside, and mixing in training with the team at Fortis MMA could help unlock his skills and help him develop.

Competitive Scrap Leads to Split Decision

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Khalil Rountree Jr. punches Dustin Jacoby in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Khalil Rountree Jr. extended his winning streak to three with a split decision victory over Dustin Jacoby in the main card opener.

For three rounds, the tandem kickboxers traded shots, Jacoby landed greater volume, Rountree with greater impact, neither really ever looking to change the terms of engagement, and neither really letting off until the final horn sounded. It was one of those rare bouts where Jacoby earned the 10-9 from two judges in two different rounds, but not from the same judges, and with Rountree sweeping the third on all three cards, he came away with the win.

While this wasn’t as vicious as his two previous wins, beating Jacoby is a major victory for Rountree Jr., who was a little more patient and measured this time around. It was a close, competitive fight that should serve as another learning experience for the former Ultimate Fighter finalist, who continues to make small gains as he works to fulfill the promise he showed early in his career.

Preliminary Card Thoughts

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Roman Dolidze of Georgia punches Phil Hawes in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Roman Dolidze knocked out Phil Hawes in Saturday’s final preliminary card fight, but the greater talking point is that once again, an injured competitor was allowed to continue fighting while compromised.

Midway through the opening round, Dolidze attacked a heel hook and torqued Hawes’ knee to a point where you could feel the pop through your television screen. He let off the hold, Hawes clambered to his feet and staggered backwards, clearly injured, and yet the fight continued. Soon after, Dolidze lit up the compromised Hawes with a series of shots along the fence, putting him into the Shadow Realm.

A week after TJ Dillashaw fought with a dislocated shoulder that had to be returned to its socket between rounds, no one thought to protect Hawes after his knee ligaments were likely shredded. Just as Dillashaw was not going to beat Aljamain Sterling with one arm, Hawes wasn’t beating Dolidze with a wrecked knee, and someone should have ensured he didn’t get flattened the way he did.

Something has to change.

Being able to walk and stay upright isn’t the same as being able to compete, and it’s beyond time for coaches and corners to do a better job of protecting their athletes. And if coaches won’t do it, the referee and doctor need to be able to just step in and stop these fights.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Marcos Rogerio de Lima of Brazil punches Andrei Arlovski of Belarus in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Apparently nobody told Marcos Rogerio de Lima that Andrei Arlovski was everyone’s favourite underdog bet on Saturday’s card as he looked to extend his winning streak to five and tie Jim Miller for the most wins in UFC history.

“Pezao” put the former champion on the deck with a big left hook early in the opening stanza and he never let him back up. The Brazilian chased him to the canvas and patiently worked towards securing a rear-naked choke, twisting and cranking on Arlovski’s neck until his chin came up, the arm went under, and the tap followed.

It’s a good finish and solid win for the 37-year-old Brazilian, who has now won three of his last four.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Junyong Park of South Korea controls the body of Joseph Holmes in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“The Iron Turtle” Junyong Park secured his second consecutive victory and his first UFC finish on Saturday, dragging Joseph Holmes to the canvas multiple times before climbing around to the back, sinking in the rear-naked choke and securing the tap.

This was the kind of effort most expected from the South Korean middleweight, as he was the more seasoned, more skilled competitor of the two, and it showed inside the Octagon. Park came out in the second and instantly dragged Holmes to the canvas, working to his back. While the DWCS graduate escaped the first close choke attempt, he couldn’t avoid the second, and tapped just beyond the midway point of the round.

Park is entrenched in the middle of the middleweight division, but now the question is whether he can turn these consecutive victories into something more and work his way forward in the 185-pound weight class.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Steve Garcia punches Chase Hooper in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Steve Garcia beat the absolute piss out of Chase Hooper on Saturday, dropping “The Dream” four times in the course of 90 seconds, collecting an emphatic first-round stoppage win.

This was a one-sided drubbing, with Garcia banging home left hands that repeatedly landed flush and sat the Washington state native down. Each time Hooper hit the floor, Garcia called him right back up, reset, and dropped him again before forcing referee Herb Dean to finally step in and wave off the action at 1:32 of the opening round.

Just an outstanding showing for Garcia, who was a considerable underdog against this week’s Severe MMA Fighter to Watch.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (L-R) Cody Durden punches Carlos Mota of Brazil in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It was a gritty, savvy win for Cody Durden against short-notice newcomer Carlos Mota on Saturday, as the veteran flyweight used his superior wrestling to grind out the unanimous decision victory.

Mota entered as the betting favourite after an LFA title win, but got clipped early in the first and seemed content to stay on his back, looking for the occasional submission attempt. Durden recognized that, put him back on the canvas in the second and third, and swept the scorecards.

This was a textbook example of not overrating a prospect against a more proven UFC competitor. As unlikeable as Durden can be, he’s proven himself capable of having success at this level, and did well to play to his strengths in securing this upset victory.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 29: (R-L) Christian Rodriguez punches Joshua Weems in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Christian Rodriguez kicked off the night with a first-round submission win over short-notice opponent Joshua Weems, lacing up an anaconda choke towards the end of the round.

The DWCS grad looked good in his debut up in weight, hanging tough against Jonathan Pearce, and delivered the successful return to bantamweight many were expecting. Rodriguez doesn’t turn 25 until December, is now 8-1, and working with a strong team at Fight Ready, all of which makes him an intriguing name to keep tabs on going forward in the 135-pound weight class.

E. Spencer Kyte is a veteran MMA content creator based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He's written for numerous outlets, including FOX Sports and The Province, British Columbia's leading newspaper, and has been a freelance contributor to the UFC website for more than a decade. Follow him on Twitter: @spencerkyte.