UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs. Volkov was one of those rare UFC shows – a slow-burning card that got better and better as the fights went on. The main event saw Alexander Volkov potentially end Alistair Overeem’s UFC career with a second-round knockout, but Cory Sandhagen gave everyone the memorable moment in the co-main event.
Overall, there was some decent stuff on offer from top to bottom here, but realistically, all that anyone will be talking about today will be the top two fights.
Here are the best and worst moments from UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs. Volkov.
#1 Best: Sandhagen scores the best flying knee in UFC history
There have been a number of great flying knee knockouts in UFC history, with names like James Irvin, Carlos Condit, and Jorge Masvidal being responsible for some of the best.
Last night, though, saw Cory Sandhagen score perhaps the best of them all in his fight with Frankie Edgar.
Early on in the UFC Bantamweight clash it looked like Edgar would be the man to turn up the heat in this fight. He backed Sandhagen up towards the fence and looked confident, for about 25 seconds at least.
Moments later, though – on 28 seconds, to be exact – Sandhagen leaped into the air and simply destroyed Edgar with a flying knee, snapping his head sidewards. The former UFC champion collapsed to the ground, looking as stiff as a corpse. Thankfully, The Sandman realized he didn’t need to follow up.
This was point blank, one of the scariest knockouts in UFC history.
Edgar was thankfully fine afterwards, but Sandhagen definitely made his point. He undoubtedly deserves the next UFC Bantamweight title shot, whether it’s Petr Yan or Aljamain Sterling that he faces. Anything else would be simply unfair.
#1 Worst: Time waits for no man, even Alistair Overeem
The writing was always on the wall for UFC Heavyweight legend Alistair Overeem, even when he beat Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai to go 2-0 in 2020.
Overeem is 40 years old now and will turn 41 in a few months. His PRIDE career began almost two decades ago, and his famed Ubereem period that saw him win the K-1 Grand Prix along with the StrikeForce and DREAM Heavyweight titles came a decade ago.
The Dutchman has somehow been in the UFC for nearly 10 years now – showing how fast time flies in the world of MMA.
He came into last night’s fight with Alexander Volkov talking of “one last run” at the UFC Heavyweight title. Minutes into the fight, though, it was clear that sadly, that was a pipe dream.
Overeem looked sluggish and gunshy, and Volkov essentially used him as target practice en route to a second-round TKO.
So, where does The Reem go from here? With his dreams of a UFC title run now in ashes, the next step should probably be retirement.
He’s a true legend and is amongst the greatest Heavyweights in UFC and MMA history – but his time is up now.
#2 Best: Clay Guida somehow stops the clock
UFC Vegas 18 was a stark reminder that MMA is no country for old men, as veterans Frankie Edgar and Alistair Overeem went down badly in the top two fights.
Somehow, though, another veteran – Clay Guida – was able to hold off Father Time for a bit longer to pick up the 16th win of his UFC career.
The Carpenter has now been in the UFC for nearly 15 years, and while he’s never been able to climb to the very top of the mountain, he’s always been one of the promotion’s more popular fighters.
In recent years, however, he’s looked to be at the tail-end of his career. His only win since 2017 had come over the even more shot BJ Penn, and he’d lost three of his last four.
Last night, though, Guida looked excellent – outstriking and outgrappling Michael Johnson en route to a clear-cut decision victory. Considering he turned 39 years old in December and has taken a lifetime’s worth of damage, it was a remarkable win.
With the UFC continually cutting past-their-prime veterans in recent months, this win may well have rescued Guida’s UFC career.
#2 Worst: The undercard was largely dull
There have been plenty of examples in UFC history where the preliminary card of an event overshadows the main card thanks to many fun fights. UFC Vegas 18 wasn’t one of them.
The show’s opening fight – a 26-second knockout of Jerome Rivera by Ode Osbourne – wasn’t televised. And then the four fights that followed were largely dull, lulling viewers into a slump before Devonte Smith’s fun fight with Justin Jaynes woke them back up.
Timur Valiev, Seung Woo Choi, Lara Procopio, and Karol Rosa all picked up solid enough wins last night and will advance in the UFC rankings.
But as we’ve seen time after time in the UFC, just winning isn’t enough – you have to do it with style, or more importantly, with serious violence.
None of those four fighters were able to do that last night, and thus, their wins may well be seen as missed opportunities.
#3 Best: Dariush and Ferreira put on a show
When Lightweight prospects Beneil Dariush and Diego Ferreira faced off in 2014 at UFC 179, the result was a largely dull decision win for Dariush.
Well, the two men rematched last night, and while the result was the same – a decision win for Dariush – the fight certainly was not.
These two Lightweight veterans went to war, exchanging huge shots on the feet, with Dariush in particular looking more than willing to brawl. In fact, Ferreira’s corner seemed to catch onto it – yelling at their fighter that Dariush was using the brawling sequences to set up his takedowns.
On the ground, meanwhile, while Dariush was largely responsible for the takedowns, the two men exchanged positions and reversals and never stopped working.
In the end, the two men were handed a $50k bonus cheque each for the Fight of the Night – and they more than deserved it. Dariush might not reach UFC title contention any time soon, but fighting like this, he’ll always be a staple for UFC main cards.