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UFC Vegas 74: Five things we learned

UFC Vegas 74 Recap

UFC Vegas 74
(Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

UFC Vegas 74: Five things we learned

UFC Vegas 74 is in the books. The card was an interesting one. We saw a strange decision in the main event, a few highly entertaining bouts, a gruesome injury, and much more. Let’s take a look at the most important events from UFC Vegas 74 and recap all of the important lessons we learned.

MMA judges still cannot score a fight correctly

I hate to start this UFC Vegas 74 recap with a discussion of MMA judging, but it must be done. In the main event, Kai Kara-France lost a controversial decision to Amir Albazi. I am not here to take a deep dive into each round and evaluate who should have won.

After all, it is controversial because of the volume of people that believe Kara France won. The top resources for MMA judging — Verdict MMA and MMA Decisions — scored the fight in favor of Kara-France. Israel Adesanya even took to Twitter to rip the judges.

I also do not want to make it seem like I am attempting to discredit Albazi’s performance. I thought he put together a great performance — which I will discuss in further detail later — I just do not think he did enough to win.

The more important aspect of this discussion is that MMA judging has been a consistent problem. If you are familiar with these UFC recap posts, you would know that I have made similar comments before. In fact, I discussed the poor state of MMA judging after UFC Vegas 58, UFC Austin 2022, and UFC San Antonio. I guess it is time to add UFC Vegas 74 to that list. Needless to say, this has become too frequent of a discussion. Yet, we have not seen steps toward creating a solution.

Amir Albazi is an elite flyweight

With the discussion of judging in the rear-view mirror, it is time to highlight the positives of Amir Albazi’s performance. First of all, Kara-France is not an easy fight. Any flyweight that gets in a close fight with the Australian kickboxer deserves respect. That should not change in lieu of the questionable decision.

The impressive part of Albazi’s performance at UFC Vegas 74 was that he did most of his work with his backup game plan. It was clear that his game plan was to back Kara-France up and attempt takedowns up against the fence. Kara-France stopped and did a great job of countering that attack. Still, Albazi found success with his hands in striking exchanges. In those exchanges, he showed off the power in his straight shots which is a massive positive for any grappler.

The future for Albazi looks insanely bright. In the flyweight division, there are not many fighters that will be able to deal with his elite grappling. If he runs into someone that can, he will, at minimum, have a fighting chance on the feet.

Kai Kara-France has outstanding takedown defense

Despite coming out on the wrong side of the decision, Kara-France looked great at UFC Vegas 74. The key lesson we learned was that he has outstanding takedown defense. Previously, Kara-France has shown solid takedown defense, but I think he reached a new level at UFC Vegas 74.

According to UFC Stats, he defended eight of nine takedowns. That is a great performance against an elite grappler. The only issue was that the sole takedown he conceded resulted in Albazi compiling over three minutes of control while threatening a rear-naked choke. That is not ideal.

At flyweight, takedown defense is required. The division is filled with impressive grapplers like Albazi, Brandon Moreno, Alexandre Pantoja and more. I think it is safe to say Kara-France can manage against grapplers.

Alex Caceres maintains his rank

At UFC Vegas 74, Alex Caceres entered his bout with Daniel Pineda as the No. 15-ranked UFC featherweight, which will remain next to his name when the rankings are updated.

Caceres and Pineda put on a show in the co-main event. On the feet, the pair traded massive shots while the grappling featured slick transitions and submission attempts. Caceres was able to differentiate himself from Pineda with straight punches, massive body shots and a few head kicks. At the end of the day, he put together a strong three rounds.

Caceres has now won seven of his last eight fights. That is a pretty good run. The only loss in that stretch came against a ranked foe in Sodiq Yussuf. The only question left is if Caceres will be able to get a fight against another ranked fighter.

Jim Miller should not fight UFC debutants

The recap for Jim Miller’s fight at UFC Vegas 74 is fairly simple. It only took the UFC veteran 23 seconds to violently finish Jesse Butler.

The math on this one was simple; entering the octagon Miller came with 42 UFC fights worth of experience while Butler was making his UFC debut. That combination resulted in Miller earning the quickest finish of his career.

In the future, let’s avoid booking Miller against UFC debutants. That is not a shot at the UFC either. This bout was made on extremely short notice after Miller’s original opponent, Jared Gordon, was pulled from the fight on June 1. The UFC did not have many options at their disposal.

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