UFC Vegas 82: Five Things We Learned
UFC Vegas 82 is in the history books. The event had some compelling matchups that we now have answers to. Let’s discuss the lessons we learned.
Brendan Allen submits a submission specialist:
The UFC Vegas 82 main event saw Brendan Allen submit Paul Craig. The bout was an outstanding accomplishment for Allen, as Craig is a highly respected BJJ practitioner in his own right.
Allen controlled the large majority of this fight. On the feet, he was the fighter who was landing impactful shots. That created grappling exchanges that favored Allen. In those positions, he landed ground and pound, attacked submissions, and fought off the submission advances coming back his way. Eventually, in the third round, he found a rear-naked choke that earned him the victory.
Allen has quickly established himself as one of the better grapplers in the middleweight division. In his last two bouts, he submitted some of the division’s best BJJ threats. That deserves some recognition.
Michael Morales has yet to hit his peak:
In the UFC Vegas 82 co-main event, Michael Morales picked up a unanimous decision victory over Jake Matthews. The 24-year-old prospect is now 4-0 in the UFC.
This was a good showing for Morales. For all three rounds, he picked Matthews apart from the outside while landing the bigger shots.
Morales is an interesting prospect to evaluate at this point in his career. At 24, he is much more advanced than most fighters his age. Still, he just touching the surface of his potential. The skills are clear and the athleticism is obvious, but he needs to put those two fields together. In recent fights, it feels like he could perform even better than he is.
I am not attempting to be overcritical of Morales. I believe he is an outstanding prospect. At the same time, it should be noted that he still has room to improve, which is impressive considering he has not lost a fight in his professional MMA career.
Chase Hooper flexes his submission skills:
At UFC Vegas 82, Chase Hooper put his submission skills on full display as he earned a first-round armbar submission against Jordan Leavitt.
Hooper and Leavitt quickly took their bout to the grappling realm. This started when Leavitt attempted a takedown after Hooper landed some shots on the feet. Once it got to the ground, Hooper was one step ahead. The BJJ specialist put his submission and sweep arsenal on display. That made it hard for Leavitt to keep up and avoid dangerous situations. Ultimately, that allowed Hooper to catch an arm and land an armbar.
This bout did not teach us much about Hooper. It is well-known that he is a submission threat on the ground. Although, it did buy him time to continue working on the flaws in his skills.
Payton Talbott will struggle against grapplers:
At UFC Vegas 82, Payton Talbott was victorious in his UFC debut as he earned a third-round submission win over Nick Aguirre.
Aguirre used his grappling to make this fight interesting in the opening round. The grappler cleanly won the round as he racked up control time and threatened submission. That did not carry into the later rounds as Talbott used his cardio edge to fight off Aguirre’s takedowns and land big strikes.
This performance highlighted Talbott’s strengths and weaknesses. On a positive note, he will be a competitive striker and has good cardio. On a negative note, his grappling flaws from Dana White’s Contender Series are still clear. Talbott will need to fix those issues before he runs into high-quality grapplers.
Myktybek Orolbai is legit:
UFC Vegas 82 featured the short-notice debut of Myktybek Orolbai. In his fight, he took on Uros Medic. Orolbai quickly used his grappling to dominate the bout.
The biggest question surrounding Orolbai was if his skills would transfer to the UFC level. The answer to that question was a resounding yes. Orolbai is a high-enough grappling. Plus, he did not even show his striking abilities. All we learned in the striking exchanges was that he had a great chin. That is a pretty good box to check.
Orolbai will be a problem in the UFC. Now, he just needs to determine his weight class. Thus far into his career, he has experience at welterweight and lightweight. It is clear he is good enough for welterweight, but he seems to prefer lightweight. If he decides to drop a division, we will have to closely watch how his weight cut goes.
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