#6 ranked light-heavyweight contender Anthony Smith snapped a two-fight losing streak in style, beating unranked challenger Devin Clark inside three minutes during their main event matchup at UFC Vegas 15. Beforehand, there were wins for unbeaten welterweight Miguel Baeza while featherweight Bill Algeo earned his first UFC victory too – among others.
upgraded to five-round main event, but Smith efficient vs. Clark
R1, 2:34 – Anthony Smith defeats Devin Clark via submission (triangle choke)
This was billed as Clark’s big moment to assert himself in the light-heavyweight division, against a ranked opponent with plenty of main event pedigree – not least being a former title challenger.
He charged forward, landed a big right hand and applied early pressure but quickly found himself on his back with nowhere to go as Smith’s body lock slam was the beginning of the end.
Being dragged towards the centre of the Octagon didn’t help him defend the position either, though he showed good physical strength to temporarily reverse it eventually. Smith’s attempts to set up a twister submission were met by Clark landing multiple kicks on the ground.
Although they didn’t look particularly impactful, those strikes were certainly bothering Lionheart and the 32-year-old knew as much.
It’s why when Clark did reverse the position, Smith showcased his jiu-jitsu skills with a triangle choke submission from his back and made him pay.
He’s been described as refreshed and rejuvenuated, which seems a little bit premature after a victory he really needed here, but there’s plenty of intrigue on who is next for him in 2021.
He’s won his last three fights all by submission – after rear-naked choke victories against Volkan Oezdemir (2018) and Alexander Gustafsson (2019), earning Performance of the Night bonuses.
Smith keeps his #6 rank and returns to winning ways in his 50th professional fight, with plenty to say afterwards during an interview with Paul Felder.
“It’s been a long road, problem is, you think things are going well but that’s not my life… I’m not going anywhere, so don’t sleep on me.
I owe it to myself, the fans, Dana and the UFC… a couple of bad performances – it’s not my style – I knew for a fact Devin couldn’t keep that pace for three rounds, let alone five, which suited me more. I can wrestle, I just have to do it.
I used to say, whatever gets me closer to the title, but I’ll get back to that and not need to rush. I’ll take the next fight, keep rocking and rolling.”
Baeza beats sato in night’s co-main event, stays undefeated
R2, 4:28 – Miguel Baeza defeats Takashi Sato via submission (arm-triangle choke)
Neither had ever been to a judges’ decision in a combined five Octagon appearances before this matchup and an explosive finish was certainly possible after a patient start early on by both.
Sato, who raced to a TKO win over Jason Witt in late June, found himself stifled by Baeza’s counter-striking and persistent kicks across the Japanese’ body – to the head, legs and midriff.
The action was temporarily stopped after Baeza landed a knee to Sato’s groin area in the clinch but after a minute’s rest, perhaps the 30-year-old should have taken more time to recover.
Baeza narrowly missed with a superman punch but connected with a nasty knee and big right hand which caused some swelling and a cut appearing directly below Sato’s right eye.
Those chopping kicks continued, even as he slipped twice, and Sato needed to do a more efficient job nullifying Baeza’s attack.
Instead, those furious flurries were more intense as he picked his punches and mixed up an offensive game that prompted increased action from Sato.
He landed a nice body kick and showcased his striking speed occasionally, but it was reactive than anything – being outstruck 3-1. Right on cue, Baeza secured a takedown near the fence.
A black belt on the ground, Baeza had never won via submission in his career to date. After landing some strikes to soften Sato up from top position, he completed the manoevure.
Within a few seconds, it was all over. Felder hinted that a top-15 opponent is in his future next year, who had plenty to say during their post-fight interview.
“I get to finally show, people say I can only knock people out… I’m a legitimate black belt. I got my first career submission, that’s awesome.
On who’s next for him: Anyone, anything… I don’t choose, I just fight.”
Rest of the main card
Porter grinds out heavyweight victory, his first in the ufc
Heavyweight Parker Porter beat Josh Parisian via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28) as the 35-year-old finished 2020 in the win column after losing on the Miocic-Cormier 3 prelims.
In fairness, this wasn’t a matchup expected to be high up the card but cancellations provided the pair with an opportunity to impress – similar to Carlos Felipe and Yorgan de Castro last month.
The scorecards are mixed too, one had a 10-8 round, another gave Porter all three, the last one made it seem more evenly-matched than it perhaps was.
Parisian-Porter striking numbers
Porter was more accurate (164 of 275 total strikes, 60%) and completed two-of-four takedown attempts as Parisian found himself outworked by a determined competitor who wanted it more.
“Getting a first-round knockout or a really fast finish is impressive, but to be able to show I can push the pace, go a full three rounds, display the versatility I bring, is an even better way to make a statement.
I showed my striking, the pace I can set – I’m one of the most well-rounded guys in heavyweight. I don’t think Josh’s cardio was prepared for mine. I was able to implement my game plan and take the fight wherever I wanted.”
Algeo calls out Chikadze after stifling carlyle, his first UFC win
As for featherweights, Bill Algeo earned a unanimous decision win over a gamely Spike Carlyle, who simply wasn’t able to get his offense flowing and instead was outstruck throughout.
He landed 43% of his total strikes thrown (65) and significant (53) too, completed four takedowns and looked for a submission attempt in R1. Algeo, who lost via decision against highly-rated veteran Ricardo Lamas three months ago, wasn’t prepared to suffer successive defeats here.
The 31-year-old, making his third Octagon appearance, stuffed nine takedown attempts (69%) and mixed up striking both to the head and body over a taxing 15-minute spell.
He landed 79% of his total strikes (118 of 150), 74% significant (70 of 95) and had a takedown of his own in R2 – showing Senor Perfecto could adapt and reverse positions on the ground too.
He hinted at a potential fight against Giga Chikadze during the media scrum afterwards, revealing some tension between the pair after training together at Kings MMA in California.
“Rafael Cordeiro could not have been more welcoming, such a nice guy. He had one dickhead student – Giga, who tried to take my head off with little gloves. We were going light [sparring] and he wasn’t winning, he was losing.
He’s got some hot blood, was just trying to take my head off after I started tagging him a little bit. After that, I saw him get signed by the UFC and said, perfect, that’s my guy.”
viana misses weight, records win and has dilemma going forward
In a catchweight bout at 139.5lbs, Norma Dumont Viana gave up 30% of her fight purse but cruised to a decision win over Ashlee Evans-Smith – winning 30-26 on all three scorecards.
Coming in as the slight underdog, the Brazilian set the tone in R1 with 36 strikes landed and a takedown for good measure too. The striking numbers in R2 were even more dominant (33-6).
She connected with 40 more strikes and had a knockdown in R3, making it a clear 10-8 round that she was probabbly frustrated not to get a finish with.
Since losing via technical submission (bulldog choke) to Raquel Pennington on her UFC debut six years ago, Evans-Smith is now 3-4 and hasn’t fought regularly either.
This was her bantamweight return and a forgettable one at that, absorbing far too much damage while her striking efficiency (28% success, 169 total strikes thrown) was essentially non-existent.
As for Viana, she’s stuck in an awkward position between two weight classes.
Women’s featherweight simply isn’t stacked with talent and her UFC debut was a humbling R1 loss by future title challenger Megan Anderson.
The top 10 bantamweights are stacked, but she missed weight and that’s never a good sign – win or lose – at a stage of her career where activity and consistency are important for progression.
Pearce embraces underdog role to finish with a flourish
R2, 4:28 – Jonathan Pearce beats Kai Kamaka III with R2 TKO (punches)
In the main card’s opener, featherweight Jonathan Pearce was a significant underdog (+250) against Kai Kamaka III but surprised the odds with an impressive second-round finish.
Leg kicks and jabs aplenty featured heavily through round one, though Pearce’s level change into a takedown during the final minute probably helped him clinch a fairly even R1.
After looking threatening with a few high-flying manoevures, it was more of the same to begin R2 as Pearce scored another takedown and began letting his hands fly with Kamaka trading shots.
Pearce looked at home on the ground and landed a nasty punch in top position, before staying relentless trying to sink a submission in. Kamaka did well to reverse and almost earn a guillotine choke win himself, before their back-and-forth exchanges escalated rather quickly.
Pearce unleashed more ground and pound strikes, which Kamaka didn’t have an answer for, so referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the action before he absorbed any more defenceless damage.
In the bantamweight division, Anderson dos Santos earned a submission win via guillotine choke late in R1 of his duel with Martin Day. As a result, the Brazilian improves to 21-8, snapping a two-fight losing streak that was the longest of his nine-year professional career to date.
As for the women’s flyweights, Gina Mazany bounced back from her 22-second bantamweight TKO defeat by Julia Avila back in June on her divisional debut against Rachel Ostovich.
The latter is now 4-6 and since beating Karine Gevorgyan by armbar on The Ultimate Fighter three years ago, she’s 0-3 in the UFC. Many feel she’s bound to be cut after this latest defeat.
Su Mudaerji needed just 44 seconds to blast past Malcolm Gordon, in a rare scrap where both men had the same record heading into this one. He’s now 13-4 and at 24, looks promising as a future flyweight contender if he’s able to continue developing his game while staying active.
The night’s first fight came at a catchweight (140lbs), where Nathan Maness (13-1) beat Luke Sanders via submission with a rear-naked choke midway through R2 of their exciting duel.
All in all, this was a card missing its main event and the first UFC event for months that was undoubtedly overshadowed by another sporting spectacle elsewhere in the US – Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr in a long overdue exhibition between two over-50s, for a lot of money, on PPV.
The nine-fight card was still a good watch but news of Kevin Holland’s withdrawal midway through the broadcast makes next week’s card another one that won’t appease many casuals.
#4 ranked middleweight Jack Hermansson will now face Marvin Vettori (#13) instead, with Holland replacing the Italian a week later on Dec. 12 to compete against Jacare Souza.
Pictures’ source: Bloody Elbow, Cageside Press, ESPN, MMA Junkie via Zuffa, MMAFighting