UFC Vegas 60: Five Things We Learned
UFC Vegas 60 was a good night of fights in the UFC Apex. Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong delivered an entertaining bout that the doctor eventually stopped due to a cut above Yadong’s eye. In the co-main event, Gregory Rodrigues was nearly finished in the first round, but he came back to finish Chidi Njokuani in the second round. UFC Vegas 60 left us will plenty of lessons. Here are five things we learned at UFC Vegas 60.
1. Cory Sandhagen Is Here To Stay
The UFC bantamweight division is currently one of the best divisions in the sport. At UFC Vegas 60, Cory Sandhagen proved that he is still one of the best fighters in the division. After dropping back-to-back fights against Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw, Sandhagen desperately needed an impressive performance to keep his top five rankings. His bout against the up-and-coming Song Yadong was not an easy task as Yadong is incredibly quick and powerful.
In the fight, Sandhagen fought like the veteran he is. On the feet, Yadong was clearly the powerful striker but Sandhagen used accuracy and activity to stay ahead on the scorecards. He also utilized elbows to counter Yadong’s forward movement. That strategy paid off as Sandhagen landed an elbow in the first round that split Yadong’s eyebrow open. As the fight progressed, the cut got worse. Eventually, the doctor stopped the contest at the end of the fourth round.
This impressive performance proved that Sandhagen is one of the best bantamweights in the world. This was already established, but a loss against the No. 10 ranked fighter in the division would have resulted in Sandhagen sliding down the bantamweight totem pole. Now, his spot in the top five is secured and his next fight should be against a fellow top-five bantamweight.
2. Song Yadong Is An Elite Bantamweight
Song Yadong was unable to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 60, but his stock did not drop. In fact, it probably rose. Despite losing, Yadong showed impressive traits against an elite fighter. Yadong proved that his power and speed will be applicable against the division’s elite. He also showed that he has solid takedown defense.
At just 24 years old, Yadong is not perfect. Sandhagen appeared to be more prepared for a five-round fight. He also could have done a little more to ensure that he was not falling behind on the judges’ scorecards. Those are things that he can fix with more experience. In Vendetta’s UFC Vegas 60 Preview, I mentioned that this fight is likely a little too much, too soon. That seemed to stand true. In the long run, Yadong will be successful.
Yadong is an impressive fighter and he passed the eye test against Cory Sandhagen. It is unclear where he will be ranked on Tuesday when the rankings are updated. After Jose Aldo’s retirement, he will jump up at least one spot. Regardless of what number is next to his name, Yadong is clearly an elite bantamweight.
3. Gregory Rodrigues Is One Of The Toughest Guys On The Roster
Gregory Rodrigues and Chidi Njokuani went to war in the UFC Vegas 60 co-main event. In an early exchange Chidi Njokuani landed a knee that opened a massive cut in between Rodrigues’ eyes. Later in round one, Rodrigues landed a few solid strikes that knocked Njokuani down. After the first round, it seemed like the doctor was going to stop the fight because of Rodrigues’ cut, but he allowed the fight to continue. In the second round, Rodrigues came out hot and finished off his comeback victory as he finished Njokuani with ground-and-pound strikes.
What makes this performance special is that most fighters do not make it out of the first round. The knee that Njokuani landed would have put most fighters out cold. This is even more impressive considering how bad Rodrigues’ cut actually was. After the fight, it was revealed that Rodrigues’ cut was one of the worst cuts (warning: this link to the cut, and is very graphic) in the history of the sport. Needless to say, most fighters do not leave that fight with a win. By fighting through adversity, Gregory “Robocop” Rodrigues lived up to his nickname as he proved to be one of the most durable fighters on the UFC roster.
4. Be Joe Pyfer
Joe Pyfer got a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) after he brutally knocked out his opponent. This led Dana White to say, “Be Joe Pyfer.” At UFC Vegas 60, Pyfer once again showed that more fighters should be Joe Pyfer. Pyfer feinted an uppercut and followed it with a massive right hand that knocked Alen Amedovski out.
At just 26, Pyfer has a lot of potential. Before we get too excited about Pyfer, he needs to get a win or two against tougher competition. Right now, he looks like he can use his tremendous hands to get that done.
5. Anthony Hernandez Continues To Improve
Anthony Hernandez defeated Marc-Andre Barriault at UFC Vegas 60 which was his third consecutive win. In each of these three wins, Hernandez has shown improvements. He is a great grappler that has threatening submissions, but he has continued to round out his game. Most importantly, his striking has looked good. That is not to say he was ever a bad striker, but he has definitely improved. Overall, Hernandez seems to be more confident and more comfortable in the octagon. As a result, he has seen positive results.