UFC Vegas 20 had a bunch of intriguing fights on its card, but in execution, it turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib. With all but one of its nine fights going to decision, UFC Vegas 20 will probably go down as one of 2021’s most forgettable events.
However, there were at least a handful of explosive moments on the card, and so with that in mind, here are five of them.
#1 Jimmie Rivera vs. Pedro Munhoz in general
Pedro Munhoz’s first clash with Jimmie Rivera, way back in November 2015, was an excellent fight that saw Rivera edge a decision.
Their rematch at UFC Vegas 20 last night went the opposite way, with Munhoz getting his hand raised. In reality, though, this fight was one of those rare ones where neither man came off as a loser.
The two UFC Bantamweight contenders went to war for fifteen minutes, with Rivera landing some excellent punches using his boxing skills. However, it was ‘The Young Punisher’ who did the most damage with his low kicks, chopping Rivera’s legs from under him until he could barely walk.
Quite how Rivera hung in there till the end is anyone’s guess, but he managed it and even busted Munhoz open late on.
Basically, this fight contained more explosive moments than practically the entirety of UFC Vegas 20 as a whole, and the two men clearly deserved their $50k bonus cheques.
#2 Ciryl Gane shows he’s a contender for the UFC Heavyweight title
Up until last night, Ciryl Gane’s UFC career had been explosive in general. And his last fight – a knockout of Junior Dos Santos – marked him out as perhaps the UFC Heavyweight division’s best prospect.
Last night saw the Frenchman move from prospect to genuine UFC title contender, and even if it wasn’t in the most explosive fashion, he still impressed by thoroughly outpointing Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
The best moments from Gane came in the early rounds of the fight. He landed a brutal jab in the first round that snapped Rozenstruik’s head back, and ended the round with a nice takedown that his corner comically labeled a “rugby tackle”.
And in the second round, he came relatively close to a finish by attempting a standing rear-naked choke that Rozenstruik was just about able to defend.
‘Bon Gamin’ didn’t add to his highlight reel last night, but this was still a tremendous win for the Frenchman. And so it’s very likely that he’ll climb up the ladder into the UFC’s top five by next week.
#3 Lawrence scores his first UFC win in the show’s only finish
UFC newcomer Ronnie Lawrence picked up his first Octagon win last night, and it’s safe to say that on an unmemorable card, his performance was a stand-out.
Lawrence pushed a torrid pace from the off against opponent Vince Cachero, and thoroughly dominated him en route to an impressive third-round TKO.
It was clear that Lawrence had a big advantage in grappling, and it showed from the early going. ‘The Heat’ basically threw Cachero around from pillar to post, making him look like a ragdoll at times. He even landed some picture-perfect suplexes, ala Rustam Khabilov or the old-school UFC fighter with whom he shares a nickname, Karo Parisyan.
When Cachero finally gave up the ghost in the third after taking a serious beating, it was only what Lawrence deserved. This was a fantastic debut for him and it’ll be fun to see him fight again soon.
#4 Thiago Moises produces the best showing of his UFC career
Brazilian Lightweight Thiago Moises was faced with an opponent last night who often defines the word ‘explosive’ – Alexander Hernandez.
Hernandez, with his insane speed, punching power, and brutal takedowns, has developed a reputation over his UFC career for an ability to take out any opponent inside the Octagon.
And Moises, a grappler by trade, probably had reason to be concerned for this clash. However, in the end, he produced probably the best showing of his UFC career to take a clear-cut decision win.
Despite Hernandez looking to push the pace, it was Moises who got the better of basically every exchange. He constantly blasted ‘Alexander the Great’ with heavy counterpunches, and while he never dropped or badly hurt him, Moises definitely busted him up.
With this kind of improvement in his striking – to go along with an already venomous grappling game – Moises may well prove to be a dark horse in the UFC Lightweight division.
This performance won’t go down in UFC history, but in years to come, it could well end up being looked upon as a turning point in the Brazilian’s UFC career.
#5 Ankalaev shows why he’s so highly regarded
Okay, so it’d be fair to suggest that in terms of his overall UFC career, Magomed Ankalaev’s win over Nikita Krylov was closer to his dull win over Klidson Abreu than his insane knockout of Dalcha Lungiambula.
Despite this, the Dagestani-based fighter still impressed hugely against a tricky opponent last night.
Krylov actually took the fight to Ankalaev in the first round and appeared to surprise him somewhat. He pushed the pace with his striking, landed the better blows, and even came close to completing a takedown on the Russian at one point.
But in the second and third rounds, Ankalaev found his range and began to land the harder shots. Sure, he didn’t really come close to finishing ‘The Miner’, but he clearly hurt him at points and was also able to work his wrestling into play to land some takedowns too.
Ankalaev probably didn’t gain himself any new fans with this performance. He probably won’t climb the ranks in the UFC’s Light-Heavyweight division any further either.
However, this was still a valuable win for a guy who’s become used to running through his opponents, something he couldn’t pull off last night. Expect him to improve again in his next fight, making him one of the UFC’s most dangerous 205lbers.