The UFC returned to the APEX facility in Las Vegas with another high-octane fight card on Saturday night.
UFC Vegas 19 was headlined by a massive bout between #2 ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes and #4 ranked contender Derrick Lewis. Lewis stole the spotlight in the main event with a stunning second-round KO victory against Blaydes.
In the co-main event, Russian bantamweight Yana Kunitskaya picked up a unanimous decision victory over Ketlen Vieira. Darrick Minner also put on a dominant performance to pick up a lopsided unanimous decision win over Charles Rosa in a featherweight contest.
Rising heavyweight contender Chris Daukaus made the division sit up and take notice after picking up a spectacular TKO victory against veteran Aleksei Oleinik at the event. Phil Hawes also continued his rise in the UFC middleweight division with a majority decision win over Nassourdine Imavov at UFC Vegas 19.
In the opening fight of the main card, Tom Aspinall picked up a brilliant submission victory over former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. While some fighters left the APEX with smiles on their faces, others find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum following UFC Vegas 19.
We look at the three biggest winners and two biggest losers from UFC Vegas 19.
Three biggest winners from UFC Vegas 19
1) Derrick Lewis
There is no stopping 'The Black Beast'. Derrick Lewis overcame adversity to stamp his authority in the heavyweight division by violently knocking out Curtis Blaydes in the main event of the evening.
There is no doubt that Lewis is blessed with genuine knockout power. His KO of Blaydes on Saturday was proof of why Lewis is one of the most dangerous fighters in the business. Blaydes was dominating the fight but all it took was one uppercut from the clinch for Lewis to turn things around. As soon as the uppercut connected, Blaydes was knocked out stiff.
With the win, Lewis is now tied with Vitor Belfort for most knockouts in UFC history. Having beaten the #2 ranked contender in the heavyweight division, it only makes sense for Lewis to go on to challenge for the title against the winner of Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou. If Ngannou were to become champion, fans could witness a firefight between two of the deadliest knockout artists in UFC history.
2) Tom Aspinall
Tom Aspinall is quickly making a mark as a potential title challenger in the UFC heavyweight division. He is 3-0 inside the Octagon and has finished all three of his opponents in the UFC. Going up against a former champion like Arlovski, Aspinall knew he had to bring his A-game.
Aspinall managed to submit Arlovski via rear-naked choke in the second round of their main card opening encounter at UFC Vegas 19. Known for his knockouts, Aspinall showed that he is also adept at using his grappling skills when required.
With all 10 wins in his career coming by way of stoppages and none of them lasting more than two rounds, expect Aspinall to feature in the title conversation down the line.
3) Chris Daukaus
Surging prospect Chris Daukaus impressed the MMA community by picking up a solid TKO victory over heavyweight veteran Aleksei Oleinik at UFC Vegas 19. This was Daukaus' third straight win inside the Octagon and he is undefeated since joining the promotion. Incredibly, all three of his wins in the UFC have come by way of stoppages in the first round.
Getting a win against a veteran like Oleinik in the manner that he did will surely make the heavyweight division take notice of the knockout artist following Saturday's event. Oleinik was ranked #10 in the heavyweight division heading into the fight, so Dakaus' win means that he is likely to fight a top-10 fighter next.
Two biggest losers from UFC Vegas 19
1) Curtis Blaydes
Curtis Blaydes had his course in the division planned out heading into Saturday night's event. The #2 ranked contender would have surely fought for the title next had he beaten Derrick Lewis.
Blaydes previously mentioned he was interested in welcoming former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to the heavyweight division. But after the knockout loss against Lewis on Saturday, both the title shot and the money fight against Jones look like a distant dream for 'Razor'.
However, all isn't lost for Blaydes. He was performing decently before he got slept with an uppercut that connected flush on the chin. Blaydes looked good on the offense, lighter on his feet, and fought a smart fight but ultimately fell to Lewis' knockout power.
On another night, Blaydes might have gotten his hand raised via decision with his performance. He must now go back to the drawing board and put together a run of wins in order to become a legitimate contender for the title again.
2) Aleksei Oleinik
At 43, Aleksei Oleinik is definitely not getting any younger. He has won just two out of his last six fights inside the Octagon. A shot at the heavyweight title isn't in the Ukranian-born Russian fighter's future. Oleinik has been finished in all of the four losses mentioned above.
With 75 professional fights under his belt, a string of losses, and many dangerous up-and-coming fighters in the UFC heavyweight division, maybe it is time for the fight game veteran to finally call it a day.