After last weekend’s blockbuster UFC 261, it was only natural that UFC Vegas 25 was flying under the radar a little. That probably isn’t the case now.
UFC Vegas 25 was a slow-burner but ended with two of the most memorable knockouts of 2021 thus far and featured a number of high-level contests.
#1 Jiri Prochazka unleashes the KO of the year to claim a UFC title shot
There was plenty at stake in last night’s main event, particularly as UFC president Dana White had reportedly promised the winner a shot at the UFC light-heavyweight title.
And in the end, it was Jiri Prochazka who came out on top in just his second UFC fight, taking out Dominick Reyes in the second round with probably the best knockout of 2021.
Denisa took the fight to the former UFC title challenger in the first round and smacked him around with some heavy strikes despite taking a few in return.
And when Reyes came on strong in the second, it looked like Prochazka might’ve been fading.
He ate a heavy elbow that buckled his legs for a moment, and a poor takedown led to Reyes clamping down on a guillotine.
But the Czech native gutted it out, and when he escaped, he uncorked a ridiculous spinning elbow that knocked Reyes silly, sending him crashing down face-first.
This was a ridiculous knockout – one of the best in UFC history. In fact, given the rarity of the spinning elbow, it should be more than enough to net Denisa a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title.
#2 Giga Chikadze’s GigaKick ends Cub Swanson’s night early
Unbeaten in the UFC at 5-0, Giga Chikadze had plenty of hype around him going into last night’s show.
However, with just one finish to his name, the one knock on him was his ability to put opponents away – particularly higher up the ladder in the UFC’s featherweight division.
But last night, in his toughest test to date, Chikadze finally delivered the goods.
He hit Cub Swanson with a brutal kick to the body just one minute into their fight, causing the veteran to fold like a bad poker hand.
Incredibly, this was the first time Swanson had been finished by strikes of any kind since his famous flying knee knockout at the hands of Jose Aldo in 2009.
With some serious striking skills – as well as no shortage of charisma – if Chikadze can deliver this kind of finish more often, he could end up being a star for the UFC. After a long stretch of decisions last night, this explosive finish was awesome.
#3 Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann in general
Hopes were always high for the bantamweight clash between Merab Dvalishvili and Cody Stamann. And while neither man could deliver a finish, this fight was highly explosive from start to finish.
Both men traded strikes, takedown attempts and scrambles at a ridiculous pace, never slowing down for a single moment.
And while Dvalishvili was the clear-cut winner as he outlanded Stamann on the feet and also hit more takedowns, Stamann probably won’t lose anything in the defeat.
It’d be hard to put a finger on the best moment of the fight, as both men were so aggressive and never backed down for a second.
But overall, it was unfortunate for these two that the main event between Jiri Prochazka and Dominick Reyes was so good because Dvalishvili and Stamann almost certainly deserved a $50k bonus for their efforts.
#4 Ion Cutelaba’s vicious elbows against Dustin Jacoby
The light heavyweight clash between Ion Cutelaba and Dustin Jacoby ended up being declared a split draw, and in all honesty, that was probably the correct result.
The fight saw Cutelaba nearly finish Jacoby in the first round before running out of steam somewhat. And from there, the former Glory kickboxer came back at the Hulk and stole away the final two rounds.
In all honesty, 28-28 was probably the only viable score.
However, had the fight been scored under PRIDE rules – with the entirety of the fight in consideration – then Cutelaba almost certainly would’ve had his hand raised.
That’s because of some seriously brutal elbows that he landed in the first round.
These shots looked pretty unique, too, as Cutelaba had Jacoby caught in a clinch and landed the elbows to the side of his dome while it was almost wedged into the fence.
Quite how Jacoby survived such shots is a massive testament to his toughness, but it’s hard not to feel for Cutelaba. In nine out of 10 UFC fights, shots like that would’ve almost certainly won him the fight.
#5 Sean Strickland’s clean striking summed up by a beautiful flying punch
While UFC Vegas 25 ended with two explosive knockouts, elsewhere finishes were hard to come by on this card.
In fact, of the 11 fights on show, a total of eight went to the judges’ scorecards.
That means explosive moments were a little hard to come by, but thankfully Sean Strickland uncorked one, even if it didn’t finish his opponent Krzysztof Jokto.
The moment came in the later stages of the first round – a round that saw Tarzan largely smack his Polish opponent around.
Strickland lunged forward with what looked like a jumping knee attempt, but at the very last second, switched it into a crisp right hand that landed cleanly.
Jotko looked badly hurt but managed to survive the round as it ended just seconds later.
And while the second and the third rounds went in favor of Strickland, he wasn’t able to pick up his second finish in as many fights.
However, this beautifully-timed right hand was a memorable moment that should make its way onto Strickland’s highlight reel. It was reminiscent of the flying punches that Georges St. Pierre would throw in his heyday.