With just ten fights on tap in the end, UFC Vegas 33 was one of 2021’s more maligned cards from a fan perspective, prompting the UFC themselves to joke about it on Twitter.
In the end though, UFC Vegas 33 produced some surprisingly exciting fights as well as some truly explosive finishes.
With a number of high points to remember, this was actually a decent UFC show in the end, even if it lacked name value.
Here are the five most explosive moments from UFC Vegas 33: Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland.
#5. Sean Strickland lights up Uriah Hall to extend his UFC win streak to five
Last night’s main event between Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland wasn’t the most entertaining main event of 2021 by a long stretch. In fact, the fight dragged on at points, as Strickland largely outclassed ‘Prime Time’, using his pressure striking and stiff jab.
However, the third round did see a downright explosive moment from ‘Tarzan’, as he came remarkably close to finishing Hall off. In fact, the TUF veteran’s impressive durability was probably the only thing that kept him in the fight.
A powerful one-two appeared to buckle Hall’s legs early in the round, but rather than let ‘Prime Time’ hit the deck, Strickland tackled him down, basically running right through him, and then smashed him with punches from the top.
Referee Herb Dean probably could’ve stopped the fight to tell the truth, but Hall had enough about him to scoot back towards the fence and somehow managed to get to his feet. And while he continued to take a beating during the round, he had survived the worst portion of the fight.
Strickland’s lack of explosive finishing ability, he’s gone the distance in eight of his UFC victories, means that he’ll never be considered the most exciting fighter to watch. In fact, it may well hold him back from getting into proper title contention.
However, his win last night was impressive, and had he been faced with a less durable fighter than Hall, he may well have gotten a third-round TKO.
#4. Jason Witt and Bryan Barberena put on a classic
The best fight on offer at UFC Vegas 33 by a mile was the welterweight clash between Jason Witt and Bryan Barberena. This clash was largely flying under the radar coming into the event, but if there’s a better single round in the remainder of 2021 than their third stanza, it’ll be a surprise.
The first two rounds of the fight were largely dominated by Witt, who was beating ‘Bam Bam’ in all areas, even dropping the durable veteran with a left in the second round.
But the third round saw Witt tire somewhat, and that allowed Barberena to drag himself back into the fight with his punching power, dropping ‘The Vanilla Gorilla’ on more than one occasion.
However, Witt had enough about him to fire right back, hurting Barberena on the feet and on the ground in return. And so we were treated to a completely explosive, albeit sloppy, brawl that somehow ended without either man suffering a knockout, with Witt instead taking a decision.
Fans of MMA’s technical side probably would’ve hated this, as both fighters were throwing crude strikes with nothing in the way of defense, and both men looked as exhausted as bar fighters. However, from an entertainment perspective, this was a fantastic UFC bout.
#3. Jared Gooden takes full advantage of a last-minute booking
Sometimes, to succeed in the UFC, a fighter simply has to capitalize on every opportunity given to them, and that’s just what Jared Gooden did with an explosive finish against Niklas Stolze last night.
On Tuesday, ‘Nite Train’ wasn’t even expecting to compete at UFC Vegas 33, before he took a last-minute booking to replace Mounir Lazzez, who was forced out with visa issues. To say this was a risk would be an understatement.
Gooden was coming off two losses in his only two UFC appearances, and a third here, regardless of the late notice, probably would’ve meant his release from the promotion, particularly in today’s cutthroat climate.
But ‘Nite Train’ absolutely threw caution to the wind and brought the fight to Stolze early on, literally chasing him with strikes. And as the first minute of the fight ended, he came good, landing a right hand that sent the German flying, knocking him silly in the process.
This was an incredibly explosive finish and while it didn’t net Gooden a $50k bonus, it probably saved his UFC career, which is more important in the long run.
#2. Cheyanne Buys capitalizes on her co-main event status with an excellent KO
If Jared Gooden took full advantage of an unexpected opportunity at UFC Vegas 33, the exact same thing could be said for Cheyanne Buys.
Her fight with Gloria de Paula was a strange main card choice given the poor UFC records of both strawweights, but somehow it ended up being elevated into the co-main event slot when Kyung Ho Kang’s clash with Rani Yahya was pulled at the last minute.
Thankfully though, Buys made sure that UFC fans would be talking about the fight for a while at least by knocking de Paula out in the first round with a phenomenal head kick and some follow-up shots.
This wasn’t a regular head kick, either. It took expert timing to land, as de Paula was attempting to get to her feet at the time, meaning had Buys caught her at the wrong moment, she probably would’ve been disqualified.
In the end, though, UFC fans were treated to one of the wildest knockouts in recent memory, and Buys came away $50k richer and with her first UFC victory, in the co-main event of a show nonetheless. It doesn’t really get much better than that.
#1. Melsik Baghdasaryan introduces himself to the UFC with a bang
Another fight elevated on the card was the featherweight clash between UFC debutants Melsik Baghdasaryan and Collin Anglin. The clash was initially set for the preliminary card before being shifted up, and UFC fans were definitely glad of that decision.
Baghdasaryan looked incredible from the opening moments of the fight, walking Anglin down and blitzing him with rapid-fire strikes that clearly won him the first round. Anglin hung in there and landed some shots of his own, but it was clear that he was outgunned.
And in the second round, Baghdasaryan made sure everyone knew who the better striker was, landing a genuinely brutal head kick that knocked his fellow UFC debutant completely out cold.
The shot was a seriously explosive one, largely because Baghdasaryan appeared to throw it from nowhere, leaving Anglin with zero time to even attempt a block.
Quite how far this talented prospect can go in such a loaded division is a major question mark, of course. But for now at least, this was a phenomenal way for him to begin his UFC career.