UFC Vegas 79: Five things we learned
UFC Vegas 79 was a solid night of fights at the UFC Apex. The card saw entertaining bouts on the prelims before beating up for the main card. Unfortunately, the main event ended in anti-climatic fashion as Rafael Fiziev suffered an injury. Nonetheless, UFC Vegas 79 left us with some significant results and impressive performances. Let’s recap the five biggest lessons we learned from the event.
Mateusz Gamrot moves up the lightweight division
Mateusz Gamrot is poised for a move up the lightweight rankings. Despite not winning in the cleanest fashion, Gamrot was the fighter who got his hand raised.
Prior to FIziev’s injury, Gamrot was looking good. The striking realm was more competitive than expected and he began to get his grappling going in the second round.
Gamrot is now poised to break into the lightweight top 5. That said, the lightweight top-five does not have a ton of available opportunities. Gamrot has lost to Beniel Dariush, Michael Chandler is attempting to fight Conor McGregor, and Justin Gaethje earned a title fight. On top of that, Gamrot trains with Dustin Poirier. The only bout that makes a level of sense is Charles Oliviera. For that to come to fruition, Oliviera would need to lose his UFC 294 main event against Islam Makhachev.
It will be interesting to watch how the lightweight division plays out over the next year. At the moment, Gamrot has limited options to move up the rankings. The same could be said for other talented fighters.
An injury puts Rafael Fiziev’s career on the backburner
At UFC Vegas 79, Rafael Fiziev did not get the result he was hoping for. The talented kickboxer suffered a knee injury while throwing a kick to the body.
Fiziev’s knee injury was a freak injury that we rarely see. While throwing a kick, his plant leg gave out. Thankfully, it was not a gruesome injury. Still, it is far from ideal.
Fiziev will likely be sidelined for a significant period of time. I am not a doctor so I will not speculate on how long he will be out for.
Fiziev’s injury will be a hit to the lightweight division as he will likely be out for a significant period of time. That puts one of the division’s most promising young talents on the shelf and prevents other ranked fighters from getting to fight an elite opponent.
Bryce Mitchell gets back in the win column
In the UFC Vegas 79 co-main event, Bryce Mitchell got back in the win column with a decision win over Dan Ige.
This was the prototypical Mitchell performance. On the feet, Ige landed several damaging shots. In the grappling exchanges, Mitchell put his craft BJJ on display, leading to Mitchell getting enough control time and submission attempts to get the judge’s favor.
This was a solid bounce-back performance for Mitchell. In his last bout, Ilia Topuria beat him badly. That performance is now out of mind and Mitchell can start to put together a win streak.
Marina Rodriguez puts her clinch striking on display
At UFC Vegas 79, Marina Rodriguez looked dominant as she finished Michelle Waterson-Gomez in the second round.
In any fight, Rodriguez’s opponent will look to take her down. That held true in this bout. Waterson-Gomez landed an early takedown; however, Rodriguez was able to work up into a clinch position. In the clinch, Rodriguez used knees and elbows to swing the fight in her favor.
Rodriguez looked outstanding in the clinch. Yes, her takedown defense was still poor. The ability to strike out of the clinch can help patch that concern. It would solve all of her issues, but it’s a positive step.
All things considered, a second-round finish was one of the best results that Rodriguez could have asked for at UFC Vegas 79.
Bryan Battle is gaining traction at welterweight
The UFC welterweight division is filled with elite prospects. The division has promising fighters like Shavkat Rakhmonov, Ian Machado Garry, Jack Della Maddalena, Michael Morales, Mike Mallott, Gabriel Bonfim, Rinat Fakhradinov and more. At UFC Vegas 79, Battle made a case to join the group of elite prospects.
I know it may seem like the barrier for entry to be deemed an elite prospect is low. After all, I listed seven fighters–a testament to all the talent in the welterweight division, however.
Battle showed a lot of things that I love from a young fighter. Most importantly, his game plan was outstanding. On the feet, he utilized his length to kick at Fletcher’s body and he used hammer blocks to defend the big hooks coming his way. Furthermore, Battle’s grappling was effective, he was able to control position, and he eventually found a submission finish.
I do not think Battle is quite as good as the previously mentioned welterweight prospects. I do think he is one of the most promising welterweights sitting outside of that elite group. At a minimum, it is worth paying attention to his career because he is looking better and better each time out.
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