UFC Vegas 64: About Last Night’s Action

Taking you through what transpired inside the Octagon on Saturday in Las Vegas, including the results, reactions, and ramifications from the latest event at the UFC APEX

Lemos Makes Case for Title Contention

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Amanda Lemos of Brazil battles Marina Rodriguez of Brazil in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Amanda Lemos finished Marina Rodriguez in the third round of their all-Brazilian main event, establishing herself as a championship contender in the process.

The two were hesitant to engage throughout the first before Lemos used a trip to get the fight to the canvas in the second, controlling the action on the ground for the remainder of the frame. Rodriguez landed the first clean blow of the third, but when Lemos found a home for her right hand, the reaction was clearly different.

Rodriguez froze for a split second, and it was enough to signal to Lemos that she had the chance to finish. She pressed forward, backing her countrywoman into the fence with big, heavy shots, and when Rodriguez didn’t cover up and didn’t respond, referee Jason Herzog had no choice but to step in and halt the action.

This was the kind of effort Lemos needed to vault into contention, and with no clear No. 1 contender in place with the title on the line next weekend, she should be next. She’s now earned consecutive finishes over Top 10 fighters after suffering a first-round submission loss to former champ Jessica Andrade in April, and is 7-1 at strawweight overall.

If I were mapping out the division, I’d have her fighting for the title next.

Magny Rallies, Finishes Rodriguez for Record-Setting Win

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (R-L) Neil Magny kicks Daniel Rodriguez in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Neil Magny has the most wins in the history of the UFC welterweight division. Saturday night, the veteran stalwart rallied to submit Daniel Rodriguez in the third round, registering his 20th UFC victory, breaking a tie with former champion Georges St-Pierre for the most ever in the 170-pound weight class.

While some will want to point to his never fighting for gold or being a Top 5 fighter as reason to diminish his success, Magny’s longevity and persistent presence in the Top 15 speak volumes about his talent, as few have been able to match the success he’s had over the last seven or eight years. What’s more impressive, however, is that he’s showing more grit these days as well.

Rodriguez won the second round after adjusting to combat Magny’s range by crowding him, and seemed to hurt “The Haitian Sensation” early in the final stanza. But Magny recovered well and responded, turning to his grappling, and when the opportunity to finish presented itself, he grabbed it and didn’t let go.

Magny is the kind of “everyman” fighter I would have young competitors study when they’re starting out, because he plays to his strengths, fights within himself, and succeeds as a result. He’s one of those guys that deserves far more recognition and respect than he generally gets, and hopefully he’ll start getting it now that he’s etched his name in the UFC record book again.

Three Straight for ‘The Wolverine’

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Shayilan Nuerdanbieke of China punches Darrick Minner in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke pushed his winning streak to three while picking up his first UFC finish on Saturday.

Darrick Minner appeared to suffer a knee injury on the first kick he threw, but still threw another one moments later, wincing in pain as he backed into the fence. Nuerdanbieke followed and swarmed, attacking with a flying knee that put the American veteran on the deck before smashing out a finish behind a string of unanswered blows.

Say what you will about the injury, but Nuerdanbieke deserves full marks for recognizing the opportunity to attack and making the most of the situation. He’s clearly been making gains since shifting his training camps to Kill Cliff FC and has to be considered a person of interest in the 145-pound weight class now that he’s earned a trio of victories inside the Octagon.

Slick Work from Ulanbekov

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (R-L) Tagir Ulanbekov of Russia battles Nate Maness in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Tagir Ulanbekov waited about 30 seconds before deciding to grapple with Nate Maness, and when the flyweight newcomer tried to work back to his feet, the American Kickboxing Academy fighter snatched up that neck with a nasty high-elbow guillotine choke.

Maness looked sharp on the feet to start, using his range and working the body, prompting Ulanbekov to grab a single and look to wrestle. He easily put Maness on the mat and looked to score, but the American did a good job creating space and finding a way to get back up. Unfortunately, he left his neck exposed and Ulanbekov was all over it, leaving Maness no choice but to tap.

Ulanbekov’s first couple UFC appearances were only okay, but this one was outstanding; this is the one that many expected to see from the jump and showcases the upside the 31-year-old still possesses. Another one of these fighters training under Khabib Nurmagomedov and Javier Mendez, Ulanbekov is back to being someone to keep tabs on in the 125-pound weight class going forward after this impressive finish.

Dawson Dominates Madsen, Calls Out Ferguson

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Grant Dawson punches Mark O. Madsen of Denmark in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Grant Dawson maintained his unbeaten record inside the UFC, collecting a second consecutive third-round submission win on Saturday while handing Mark O. Madsen the first loss of his professional MMA career.

Dawson actually got dropped to begin the fight, but he recovered quickly and spent the rest of the first round on Madsen’s back. He controlled the second on the canvas as well, but shifted to striking in the third, cutting down the Olympic silver medalist with low kicks before quickly lacing the arm under the neck in a transition, forcing Madsen to tap. This was an outstanding performance, especially given that he took the bout on short notice, and establishes Dawson as one of the top emerging fighters in the lightweight division.

Following the official decision, the American Top Team fighter used his time on the mic to call out Tony Ferguson, suggesting that if that fight doesn’t happen, it’s because Ferguson turned him down. The callout itself was great and makes sense as a big name that isn’t as dangerous as he once was, but honestly, I’d like to see Dawson face someone else moving forward, rather than trying to pick off someone like Ferguson that is clearly on the way down.

Regardless of who he faces next, everyone should be watching because this was a tremendous effort and Dawson is definitely a person of interest in the 155-pound weight class.

Preliminary Card Thoughts

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Miranda Maverick kicks Shanna Young in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Although she didn’t get the finish, Miranda Maverick turned in the kind of dominant showing she anticipated in her bout against Shanna Young.

The 25-year-old flyweight hopeful found a serious edge when she took the fight to the canvas late in the opening frame, and played to that advantage the rest of the way, putting Young on the deck earlier and earlier over the final two rounds en route to a runaway decision win. She was hunting for finishes throughout, alternating between unloading shots and searching for chokes, but Young defended well and refused to quit, prompting Maverick to just keep working until the final horn.

Maverick is developing into a well-rounded fighter under the tutelage of Eliot Marshall, and should have a number next to her name again soon. She reiterated her desire to face Molly McCann, who fights next week in New York City, but could very well vault over “Meatball” in the rankings and move on to a more fitting assignment next time out.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (R-L) Mario Bautista punches Benito Lopez in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Bantamweight is loaded, but Mario Bautista is continuing to make a case for a place in the Top 15.

Saturday night, the MMA Lab product dominated the returning Benito Lopez, controlling the action on the feet in the first half of the opening round before taking the fight to the ground and collecting his second straight submission finish. It was one-way traffic from the jump and an incredibly impressive showing from the 29-year-old ascending talent.

Heading into this one, I likened Bautista to Ricky Simon last year as he was working towards breaking into the Top 15, and truthfully, I might have undersold Bautista. His striking was crisp and varied, including beautiful work to the body, and he was fluid and attacking on the canvas, all of which combines to make him a credible threat to those in the lower third of the rankings right now… and he’s only going to keep getting better.

If you throw out his short-notice debut loss to Cory Sandhagen (and you should), Bautista is 5-1 over his last six, with his one setback coming against Trevin Jones where he just got caught. He’s earned consecutive submission wins and looks like someone to continue paying real close attention to in the 135-pound weight class going forward.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Polyana Viana of Brazil punches Jinh Yu Frey in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Polyana Viana uncorked the kind of multi-strike combination that you usually only see in video games to finish Jinh Yu Frey in the opening round of their strawweight clash on Saturday.

Frey looked to have a speed advantage very early on and was pressing forward, but Viana straightened her up with a knee up the middle. From there, the 30-year-old Brazilian connected with a string of punches, with Frey’s ability to defend weakening with each blow. A right hand sent her to the canvas and the coffin nails seemed to wake her back up after being knocked out on the way down.

This was a tremendous showing for Viana, but also one of those “let’s not go making too much of this” situations because — and I know I sound like a jerk saying these things — Viana is only 4-4 inside the Octagon, the first three women she defeated are no longer in the UFC, and Frey is now 2-4 in the UFC and potentially on her way out as well.

Good win, but make sure not to get too excited.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Liudvik Sholinian of Armenia punches Johnny Munoz in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The bantamweight clash between Johnny Munoz Jr. and Liudvik Sholinian only further reiterated my belief that not everyone that jumps into a short-notice fight needs get a second “Thank You” appearance.

Munoz Jr. came out of the gate quickly and held on down the stretch, completely out-striking Sholinian in the first before getting the better of things on the canvas in the second. The TUF 29 alum Sholinian had more success in the third, but it was too little too late, and overall, the fight didn’t give me any reason to believe Sholinian can turn this around and be a factor in the 135-pound weight class.

Munoz Jr. is now 2-2 in the UFC and nothing more than a mid-pack fighter in the talent-rich bantamweight division, and if Sholinian can’t get by him, it has to be okay to admit he’s not UFC caliber and doesn’t need to make a third appearance in the Octagon.

I know folks don’t like people getting cut from the UFC, but not everyone is meant to compete at this level, and Sholinian is one of those people.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Jake Hadley of England punches Carlos Candelario in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

After a disappointing debut, Birmingham’s Jake Hadley turned in a much better performance in his sophomore showing, locking up a second-round submission win over Carlos Candelario.

The two spent the whole of the first round on the feet banging it out, with Hadley offering more variety and volume. In the second, Candelario looked to take the fight to the canvas, and the 26-year-old former Cage Warriors standout quickly threw up a triangle choke, firing off elbows from the bottom while tightening his squeeze. When Candelario finally tried to move and escape, Hadley adjusted, tightened down on the choke, and secured the tap.

This was a far better effort from the confident Briton, who showcased the full extent of his offensive arsenal on Saturday. Hadley has the upside to eventually be a factor in the division, but he needs to take his time, keep gaining experience and reps inside the Octagon, a build step-by-step.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 05: (R-L) Tamires Vidal of Brazil punches Ramona Pascual in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Tamires Vidal didn’t look particularly good on tape heading into her UFC debut, but the Brazilian newcomer collected an impressive finish in her promotional debut on Saturday, kicking off the card with a flying knee finish of Ramona Pascual.

After what felt like the longest walk-out ever at the UFC APEX, Vidal got the night started by elevating and putting a switch knee into Pascual’s liver, causing her to instantly crumble to the canvas. It was a beautiful finish and an impressive way to introduce herself to the UFC audience.

Now, it’s important to not make too much of Vidal’s victory, as Pascual missed weight, is now 0-3 in the Octagon, and is likely headed back to the regional circuit. But it’s a great finish and the kind of effort that should get a few more eyeballs on Vidal’s next appearance.

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.