At the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Dana White’s organization staged an entertaining event capped off by an unforgettable performance. For fight fans, the night featured the right combination of action-packed matches that came down to the scorecards and explosive moves that are sure to make all the highlight shows.
Whether you watched from the local pub, surrounded by a rousing bloodthirsty crowd or from the comfort of your living room, it was hard to be disappointed with the latest instalment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Let’s take a look at the fights that made it a night to remember.
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann
Dvalishvili entered this match as the favourite due to his five-fight win streak. His 3 1/2 inch reach advantage certainly didn’t hurt his chances. Both men came out swinging to start round one. While each was able to score an impressive takedown, Dvalishvili stole the round by being more active with kicks. His ability to show some variety left unbiased observers with the impression that he’d won the round.
Knowing that he needed an impressive round to even the fight, Stamann showed resolve by being able to score a takedown to start round two. However, Dvalishvili was able to counter and eventually landed a total of three takedowns of his own in the round. The look on Stamann’s face was one of frustration and it was evident he knew he’d dug himself a hole on the judge’s scorecards by dropping the first two rounds.
In round three, Stamann earned the respect of his opponent by going all out for the stoppage. Although Dvalishvili was again able to get a takedown in the round, Stamann countered with two of his own. Swinging wildly to end the fight, there was no doubt he’d done all he could; the night simply belonged to Dvalishvili. This was a relatively easy decision for the judges as Merab Dvalishvili was awarded the unanimous decision.
Sean Strickland vs. Krzystof Jotko
A serious motorcycle accident in 2018 caused Sean Strickland to consider retirement. He did not return to the octagon until October of 2020. For his part, Krzystof Jotko entered this match with a three-fight win streak and hopes that another win could garner him a title shot. Unfortunately for Jotko, the night would belong to Strickland.
Strickland went to work as soon as round one began. The strikes and combinations were enough for him to dominate the round, but he capped things off with a beautiful flying knee that landed squarely on the jaw of Jotko. The impact was great enough to cause Jotko to wobble to his corner at the bell, his head obviously still ringing.
In round two, Strickland switched up his strategy and decided to rack up points with calf kicks. This manoeuvre is known to sap the opponent of energy while having the added advantage of racking up points on the judge’s scorecard. A high kick to the face from Strickland caused Jotko to start bleeding from the nose. Jotko was clearly fatigued in round three and one couldn’t help but wonder if he had anything left for round three.
Jotko showed an impressive level of determination in the third and final round by giving an all-out effort to gain a stoppage. For his part, Strickland knew he’d secured the victory so he decided to land a few clean blows and then cruise for the remainder of the round. The judges agreed with him; he was awarded a unanimous decision victory.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby
Cutelaba is known for starting fights at a highly intense pace. He started the fight by savagely slamming Jacoby to the mat, after which he elbowed him to the head repeatedly. In danger of suffering a knockout, Jacoby clung to the cage to give himself leverage. The referee warned him to stop. The best thing that happened for Jacoby in the opening round was the fact that he survived.
During round two, Jacoby looked like a brand new fighter entirely. He landed multiple impressive striking combinations as Cutelaba’s reputation for showing fatigue as a fight drags on came true. His lack of conditioning caused him to become much less active and Jacoby was able to turn the momentum completely around. A couple of minutes ago he was trying to survive; now he was in control of the fight.
Both fighters landed big shots in round three. It was obvious that each man’s camp conveyed that the final round would determine the winner. Ultimately, it looked like Jacoby did enough to walk away with the third and final round in his grasp.
As it turns out, Jacoby’s lacklustre performance in the opening round, cost him the victory. One of the judges gave Cutelaba a two-point margin in round one. After Jacoby took rounds two and three, they were left with a tie. Each fighter had a one-point victory on the other two scorecards. It was a split decision draw. Neither fighter was happy with the results.
Giga Chikadze vs. Cub Swanson
This match was short-lived as Cub Swanson would suffer defeat less than 60 seconds into the fight. A left kick to the liver, affectionately known as the “Giga kick,” sent Swanson crumbling to his knees in pain. The referee immediately called the fight as it was evident Swanson could not continue.
Jiri Prochazka vs. Dominick Reyes
Both men came out aggressive. Prochazka’s unorthodox style did not initially serve him well as having his hands down exposed him to clean shots landed by Reyes. However, he was able to gain some momentum towards the end of the round, landing a combination that sent Reyes sprawling across the octagon.
Near the beginning of round two, it was obvious that Reyes was suffering from a badly broken nose. He was leaking blood all over his chest and Prochazka had clearly taken control. He stalked Reyes around the ring, smelling blood and sensing that the end of the fight was near. As he backed him into the cage, Prochazka hit Reyes with a devastating right elbow, followed by a spinning left elbow that turned his lights out. Reyes fell to the canvas face first and laid there motionless. Prochazka had just won the fight in spectacular fashion.
Overall, this was very entertaining from UFC. Although there were compelling storylines throughout the night, the biggest take away has to be that Jiri Prochazka is for real and Dana White may have very well found his next star. Not only is Prochazka unconventional, but there’s also something warrior-like about his mentality that equates to a frightening charisma. It’s similar to the way Kimbo Slice captivated fans with his larger than life persona, or the intrigue generated by the fierce nature of Brock Lesnar.
Prochazka’s unconventional hairstyle, emphasis on traditional martial arts, and explosive athleticism make him the kind of fighter fans will tune in to see. It was indeed a great night for UFC; congratulations, a star is born.