The UFC returned to the Apex Arena in Las Vegas and once again put on a memorable event. Former champions and newcomers alike put it on the line in what was a spectacular showing for mixed martial arts fans.
Back and forth action, defining performances, and unfortunate stoppages - UFC Fight Night: Rakic vs. Blachowicz really saw it all. Though the night ended on a rather anticlimactic note, the events leading up to this were largely thrilling.
Nothing seems to excite fans more than an emphatic stoppage, and there were many at this Fight Night event. Furious finishes resulted in the Apex sounding more like a packed arena than it ever has. Here, we'll take a better look at the fights that had fans in awe at the talent before them.
Here are the 5 best finishes from UFC Fight Night: Rakic vs. Blachowicz:
#5. Andre Petroski submits Nick Maximov at UFC Vegas 54
The bar was set high as the initial fight on the card began. Nick Maximov of Stockton was hopeful of extending his record and undefeated streak to nine wins, but his opponent Andre Petroski had other plans.
Petroski is amongst a new wave of fighters from Philadelphia. Him and his teammates are undefeated in the UFC, so the pressure of this fact weighed on him. The pressure turned into motivation and worked brilliantly in his favor.
Right as the bout began, Petroski was in his opponent's face. This led to a wrestling scramble that spelt the beginning of the end for the undefeated fighter. The front headlock position quickly turned into an Anaconda choke. Subsequently, Maximov was rendered unconscious just over a minute into this bout. Andre Petroski put the middleweight division on notice and started this Fight Night off in impressive fashion.
#4. Manuel Torres shocks Frank Camacho
Manuel Torres made the most out of his UFC debut as he took on a relatively experienced Frank Camacho. No stranger to a stand-up battle, Camacho was looking to end his two-year hiatus with a knockout victory.
Though a valiant effort was commendable, it simply wasn't enough to defeat the 27-year-old newcomer. 'El Loco' proved to be faster and more powerful. As the fight continued, it seemed that the concluding blow was inevitable.
What really made this knockout so great was the patience shown by Torres. He seemed to have had his opponent hurt multiple times, but didn't force the finish. Camacho waded towards his opponent but was unable to find the target. After evading the attack, Torres caught his already dazed opponent with two punches that floored the opposition and no follow-up shots were needed.
#3. Ryan Spann submits Ion Cutelaba
Ryan Spann entered this fight with a point to prove. Following his defeat to an almost invincible-looking Anthony Smith, 'Superman' decided that he wanted a performance like that for himself.
Ion Cutelaba is a tough challenger and possibly the most intense competition in the sport. He's not an easy fighter and is quite frightening. Spann looked through the fighter and understood that 'The Hulk' was still defeatable.
This was another bout that didn't last very long. After Cutelaba left his neck exposed, Spann was able to secure a guillotine choke and immediately began to suffocate his opponent. 'The Hulk' was forced to tap out and the fight was stopped at 2:22 of the very first round. Ryan Spann demonstrated the quintessential way to rebound from a loss in this performance.
#2. Davey Grant vs. Louis Smolka
Davey Frant refuses to take part in boring fights. With the appropriate nickname of 'Dangerous', he lived up to his moniker this past weekend. He locked horns with Louis Smolka, and for the first stanza of the fight, things went according to plan.
Grant has incredible power and a left hook that frequently wins him fights. These significant strikes landed early and often, although Smolka knew what to look out for. When the second round began, 'Da Last Samurai' was very creative with elbow strikes, tilting the fight towards his favor.
A loss of momentum didn't stop Grant, however. His corner reminded him of his earlier success with the calf kick and he brought that weapon back early in the third and final round. One of these kicks landed and the damage was obvious, forcing Smolka to shoot for a takedown out of desparation. Smolka found himself underneath Grant, who rained down powerful shots that resulted in his third knockout victory in the UFC.
#1. Michael Johnson returns to the win column
Entering his bout against Alan Patrick, Michael Johnson had a lot to prove to the fans, the UFC, and most importantly, himself. He knows the skills that he possesses but just hasn't had any luck in fully displaying them in the octagon as of late. This slump grew until Johnson found himself on a four-fight losing streak.
'The Menace' has always been hot and cold in the promotion. He'd lose two fights in a row and then do something remarkable like knockout Dustin Poirier. He's a very skilled fighter but can't find the consistency to show just how great he is.
With all of this weighing on Johnson, he knew that he'd need to perform against his Brazilian adversary, and perform he did. Johnson reminded everyone watching that his boxing is sharp and his hands are lighting fast. In the second round, Johnson landed four shots by the time his opponent threw one strike. The fourth and final strike of the combination found the chin of Patrick and knocked him unconscious.