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UFC Vegas 76: Five things we learned

UFC Vegas 76 Recap

(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Vegas 76 Recap
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Vegas 76: Five things we learned

UFC Vegas 76 was a unique card and its results need unpacking. In preparation for the event, there were a ton of questions regarding a handful of fighters on the card. Now that the event is in the books, we are left with answers to several of the questions at hand.

Let’s recap five of the biggest lessons we learned at UFC Vegas 76.

Sean Strickland keeps his spot in the rankings 

In the main event of UFC Vegas 76, Sean Strickland gave Abus Magomedov a veteran lesson and held his spot in the UFC rankings. Strickland, who entered the bout ranked No. 7, knocked out the unranked Magomedov in the second round.

Strickland did exactly what he needed to do to get a win in this fight. In the first round, he stayed defensively sound while Magomedov aggressively hunted a finish. In that initial flurry, Magomedov was only able to land a handful of shots.

Once Strickland made it out of the first round, he took control of the fight. Magomedov was clearly tired and Strickland pressured with boxing combinations. Strickland’s constant action got him the finish before the round ended.

While an unranked win does not advance quickly advance your career, you can only beat the fighter in front of you. That is exactly what Strickland did. As a result, he gets to keep his position in the rankings.

Abus Magomedov is not ready for the rankings

UFC Vegas 76 was not an enjoyable one for Magomedov, who was making his second UFC appearance in a main event against Strickland — a sensational opportunity. The real point of this fight was to see if Magomedov could compete with the division’s elite. Come to find out, he cannot.

Magomedov looked good in the first round. This was mainly because of the kicks that he landed from the outside. In addition, he landed a few solid overhands and a takedown. That was all good work. The problem was that he was out of gas in round two. At that point, the fight was over.

As we move forward, Magomedov will need to find a way to adapt his style to compete with elite fighters. If he can not, he will be stuck in a middle ground where he dominates average fights while losing quality opponents.

Grant Dawson has elite ground control 

At UFC Vegas 76, Grant Dawson earned a decision victory over Damir Ismagulov in the best performance of his career. In that performance, he displayed elite ground control.

In this fight, Dawson did not have a perfect stylistic clash against Imagulov. Typically, Dawson needs to get the fight to the ground and maintain control. Ismagulov is an above-average grappler that works hard on the ground — an interesting challenge for Dawson.

Dawson ended up passing the Ismagulov test with flying colors. In grappling exchanges, he was able to land takedowns and take Ismagulov’s back. Once Dawson had the back, he used the body triangle to control Ismagulov for extended periods of time.

At UFC Vegas 76, Dawson proved that he can control bouts on the ground. In a lightweight division with lethal strikers, that will be a massively important skill for him to utilize.

Michael Morales is the newest welterweight prospect to impress 

The UFC welterweight division has seen its top prospects flourish as of late. At UFC Vegas 76, Michael Morales joined Jack Della Maddalena, Ian Machado Garry and Mike Malott as welterweight prospects that have looked great in recent bouts.

Morales, 24, looked outstanding against UFC veteran Max Griffin. In the striking department, he continuously landed straight shots that did a ton of damage. In grappling, according to UFC stats, he pitched a perfect game defending takedowns as Griffin finished the fight 0-for-8 on his attempts.

The future is bright for Morales. It will be interesting to see how the UFC approaches his career. On one hand, you could push him into the rankings. On the other hand, they could give him another year or two to develop. Either way, Morales is a fighter worth watching.

Nursulton Ruziboev is UFC-caliber

In the UFC Vegas 76 preview, Nursulton Ruziboev was surrounded with question marks. Ruziboev was making his promotional debut against Brunno Ferreira after fighting sub-par competition on the regional scene. This left questions as to whether Ruziboev was ready for the UFC. A first-round knockout answered those questions.

Ruziboev caught a Ferreira kick early and landed a straight that ended the fight. While it is hard to project exactly how good Ruziboev is, it is clear he is UFC-caliber. That is much more information than we previously had.

***

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