*This was originally published on February 6, 2022*

I’ve been saying this about ‘sleeper cards’ since I started doing BLÜ-FC, they’re always the best cards! This one was no different. It had incredible action all night long. We saw a broken arm, amazing debut performances, 3 Canadian wins, a Brawl of the Month contender and the TUF finale that we were promised. All of the bouts from UFC Vegas 47 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.

Prelim. Action

Fight #1

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1

Malcolm Gordon vs. Denys Bondar

In the opening prelim. of the night, we had the first of four Canadian fighters: Malcolm Gordon. He’s had a rough start to his UFC career with two 1st Round losses and tried to turn it around last year with a decision win over Francisco Figueiredo. On the other side was a newcomer to the UFC: Denys Bondar. He may have been new to the UFC but sat at a record of 16-3 with a 10 fight win streak. There was a difference-maker here and it was Bondar’s weight. He’s used to fighting at bantamweight but moved down to flyweight for this bout. Because of his momentum and because of the fact that Bondar usually competes in the heavier division, I gave him the edge. Finally, because these guys are flyweight, I said we were likely going to see a decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Bondar by Decision

Right from the first bell, Gordon was a man on a mission, rocking Bondar with a huge punch. They then slipped into some scrambles on the ground where Gordon was sinking in some deep armbar attempts. It was likely here where Bondar’s arm was compromised. As they stood up and clinched along the fence, Gordon put all his weight on Bondar and ended up snapping his arm in half for an early technical submission win.

Result

Malcolm Gordon def. Denys Bondar by Submission in the 1st Round

Fight #2

Phil Rowe def. Jason Witt by TKO in the 2nd Round

As expected with such a wide reach differential (10.5 inches), the shorter fighter, Witt, aimed to take Rowe down while Rowe worked to keep the fight on the feet. In the first round it was all Witt; he was on top the whole round and Rowe had no answer for him. In the second it was looking to be more of the same, but Rowe got out of the clinch and used that huge reach to his advantage. He ended up landing a crisp combo to get a nice 2nd Round TKO victory.

Fight #3

Jailton Almeida def. Danilo Marques by TKO in the 1st Round

This was just a dominant debut performance by Almeida. He pushed Marques to the fence right away, got the takedown and that was already the beginning of the end. He threw down some of the heaviest, loudest ground and pound I’ve ever seen to get an easy 1st Round TKO win. If he can keep this up, this massive light heavyweight will be a dangerous addition, especially in a division that isn’t quite as stacked and well-developed as the others.

Fight #4

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2

Alexis Davis vs. Julija Stoliarenko

Although Davis has been in the UFC for a long time, recently her career has been on a downward trajectory with a record of 1-4 in the past 4 years. All 4 of those losses were by decision to top contenders Kianzad, Araujo, Maia and Chookagian. Julija has also had a rough time with both of her UFC appearances ending in a loss. This was a complete coin toss; both women were on a rough streak leading up to this fight. Physically, they’re almost identical; the only difference is that Davis is a fairly significant 9 years older. Only because of the fact that she’s had decision losses to four tough competitors recently, I gave the edge to Davis.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Davis by Decision

It was looking bad for Davis a couple of times in the first after getting stuck in some deep armbar attempts, one of which looked like her arm was about to get snapped, but thanks to all that time on top she likely won the round. After getting controlled in the first, Julija came back with some great striking, likely balancing the scorecard 1-1. Thanks to her wealth of experience, Davis knew that all she had to do was control Julija on the ground for the final round to win the decision. Interestingly, all 3 judges saw the final round as a 10-8 for Davis.

Result

Alexis Davis def. Julija Stoliarenko by Unanimous Decision

Fight #5

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3

Marc-André Barriault vs. Chidi Njokuani

The third Canadian of the night, Barriault, made his return here after getting 2 wins last year in the Octagon. On the other side, Chidi Njokuani made his first UFC appearance after getting a win on the Contender Series in September. While Barriault may have gotten two wins last year, they were against virtual unknowns, plus his first 4 fights in the UFC (just before those 2 wins) were 3 losses and a No Contest. On paper, this really could have gone either way. There seemed to be one difference between the two men: their size. Both of them are large middleweights, but Chidi came into this fight with a 7 inch reach advantage. In a matchup this tight, this could have been what made the difference. As for how he would get it done, neither man usually gets finished and tend to get late finishes. That meant we were likely to see either a decision or a very late finish. But since Barriault had never been finished in his career, I went with the decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Njokuani by Decision

There’s not really much you can say about a fight that short. Njokuani came in, landed a beautiful combo to knock Barriault down and used a few more hooks to get the quick 1st Round TKO win. Another incredible debut tonight and another HUGE addition to the UFC. When you’ve got such a massive reach and big power, you’re going to be a problem in any division.

Result

Chidi Njokuani def. Marc-André Barriault by TKO in the 1st Round

Fight #6

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #4

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Mike Trizano

For the final Canadian appearance of the night we had Hakeem Dawodu taking on another tough fighter in Mike Trizano. Both men only had 1 loss in the UFC going into this fight and both had some wins. Surprisingly, most of their wins have also come by split decision: the shakiest of all wins. Because of that, it was extremely tough to tell who had the edge coming in. To make it tougher, they’re also the same age and have an almost identical reach. This was dead even for me. Neither man seemed to have an edge, so I went with the man who had a bit more UFC experience, who may have fought the slightly tougher fighters: Hakeem Dawodu. Of course, since both men find themselves in so many decisions, it seemed only natural to expect this again.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Dawodu by Decision

Just as expected, this one was spent almost entirely on the feet and was a close fight the whole way through. Although neither man at any point really looked like they were about to be finished, there seemed to be a clear winner in Dawodu. All 3 rounds he used his more diverse set of striking skills to edge ahead in the numbers. Thanks to all those kicks, the Canadians ended the night with a 3-1 record.

Result

Hakeem Dawodu def. Mike Trizano by Unanimous Decision

Fight #7

John Castaneda def. Miles Johns by Submission in the 3rd Round

Another tight standup affair for this fight. The first half of the fight it was hard to tell who was ahead on the cards. That all changed after Castaneda landed a head kick. After that, Johns started to back up, got hit a couple more times and ended up finding himself on the ground to lose the 2nd Round. Still clearly not fully recovered, Johns was hit with a bunch of shots at the start of the 3rd Round and found himself on the ground again. For the first time in his career, Johns was then put to sleep after getting stuck in an arm triangle.

Main Card Action

Fight #8

Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson

Erosa had a terrible start to his UFC career; after winning a contract on DWCS, he got 3 losses in a row and ended up leaving the UFC. But, after regaining his spot, he went 3-1 with a recent submission win over Charles Jourdain. Peterson has also had a rocky career in the UFC with a record of 3-3. However, he won his last two fights to Chase Hooper and Martin Bravo. I said this should have been a tightly contested bout, but I thought Erosa held a slight edge in this matchup. He had a better record recently, he’s got a 4 inch reach advantage and seemed to hold a slight advantage on the ground as well. Peterson has only been finished once in his career, so it seemed likely we’d see a decision. But because his 3 UFC wins have all been by finish, I leaned towards a finish here for Erosa.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Erosa by Finish

Both fighters took it a little slow to start the fight but by the end of the first these two were SWINGING! In spite of the blood pouring out of his nose, Peterson started to edge ahead on the cards and gave Erosa spaghetti legs after rocking him with a huge hook. Then, out of nowhere, Erosa landed a WILD spinning backfist that dropped Peterson. After two rounds, this fight could have been going in either direction. By the end of the fight there was blood everywhere, both men were exhausted and either could have won the decision. It was likely thanks to the final round and his ground control that led to Erosa’s split decision win.

Result

Julian Erosa def. Steven Peterson by Split Decision

Fight #9

Bryan Battle vs. Tresean Gore

Here we had the matchup that was originally scheduled for the final of The Ultimate Fighter. In the end, Gore had to pull out of that fight due to an injury and Battle ended up beating Urbina to win the finale. In the original matchup, Gore was rated as the favourite. Honestly, it’s impossible to really separate the two because of their lack of experience; Battle was 6-1 while Gore was 3-0. The one point that I raised was that all 3 of Gore’s wins outside TUF were in the light heavyweight division instead of middleweight. Because he’s the bigger man and has finishes at 205 pounds, I gave the advantage to Gore. Being that these two are young in their careers and Gore had finishes at light heavyweight, I believed we’d likely see a Gore finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Gore by Finish

A very one-sided affair at the start of this fight as Battle almost tripled Gore’s output in the 1st Round. The output continued for Battle in the next round… until Gore started to unload and land some bombs. At this point Battle turned towards clinching and takedowns to avoid Gore’s power. After an even 1-1 after the first two rounds and a dead-even 3rd Round, no idea who deserved the win in this one.

Result

Bryan Battle def. Tresean Gore by Unanimous Decision

Fight #10

Sam Alvey vs. Brendan Allen

We just saw Allen in December where he lost to the surging new contender, Chris Curtis. Before that loss he had done well in his UFC career with wins over Kevin Holland, Kyle Daukaus and Tom Breese. His only loss in the UFC before that was to one of the headliners this weekend: Sean Strickland. As for Sam Alvey, one could say he’s on a bit of a slide in his career; he had 6 losses and a draw in his last 7 fights in the UFC. I said that while Alvey would likely be able to make this a somewhat close fight, when you haven’t won in your last 7 fights… that’s not promising. Allen is 9 years younger, was ranked just a couple months ago and has only lost twice in his UFC career. The safe bet was clearly Brendan Allen. Since Allen had a few submission wins in the UFC and Alvey had some submission losses, I said we could certainly see Allen chase a submission finish here. We also had to consider the fact that Allen isn’t used to losing and that he’d want to prove a point in this bout.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Allen by Finish

The 1st Round was tight as both men landed some good combos. Alvey looked good while Allen looked somewhat uncomfortable. This all changed at the end of the first as Allen landed a HUGE shot just before the bell rang. Using that confidence, Allen started to land a bunch more shots in the second, dropped Alvey and ended up getting a submission win.

Result

Brendan Allen def. Sam Alvey by Submission in the 2nd Round

Fight #11

Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Carlston Harris

In this one we had an exciting matchup at welterweight between the undefeated Rakhmonov and the man who got two 1st Round submission wins in his UFC rookie year last year: Carlston Harris. These two are VERY evenly matched and have very similar styles. Both won their first two UFC fights, both by submission and they have a similar reach. In this case, you’ve got to lean towards the undefeated fighter; he’s also 7 years younger and seemed to be more dangerous on the feet. Because both of these men are lethal on the ground, I said we’d likely see their differences on the feet. Plus, because both of them are finishers, I said we were likely to see a finish here.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Rakhmonov by Finish

On paper this seemed like a tight, even matchup, but it was anything but close. Harris had more output but just wasn’t landing. On the other side, Shavkat was landing almost everything that he threw. Out of nowhere he ended up throwing a flashy spinning heel kick that dropped Harris. Shavkat then took advantage, landed some incredible ground and pound and actually ended up putting Carlston to sleep with a clean KO.

Result

Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Carlston Harris by KO in the 1st Round

The Future

When you’re undefeated and put on a performance like that against another tough fighter, you’re an easy candidate for a ranked fighter in your next bout. This is especially true when we’re talking about the welterweight division which isn’t quite as stacked as most of the other divisions. Someone like Chiesa, Neal or Li would be an interesting matchup for him.

Co-Main Event

Punahele Soriano vs. Nick Maximov

Soriano’s only loss was actually to Brendan Allen. Other than that he had got two 1st Round wins in the UFC before this fight, one of which was over Dusko Todorovic. As for Maximov, he only had one fight here: a win over Cody Brundage in September. But, if you’re a fan of UFC Fight Pass and watch Submission Underground, he’s been on there 9 times already! Although he’s lost a couple of those grappling matches, the fact that he’s competed that often should tell you that he likely held a very clear advantage on the ground, especially over a striker like Punahele. This was a tough one and Punahele seemed to be the favourite in this matchup, but I couldn’t help but think that the style favoured Maximov. Maximov is 5 years younger, has a slight reach advantage and is fantastic on the ground. Using that extra length and those ground skills, I said in the lead-up that I could certainly see Maximov grinding Soriano along the fence and landing some takedowns to get a decision win. It could have gone either way and I could have seen Soriano landing a couple of bombs to stumble Maximov, but I leaned towards the underdog on this one.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Maximov by Decision

The first two rounds went pretty much exactly as we thought with Maximov using relentless pressure along the fence and on the ground to rack up control time. Meanwhile, Soriano used his striking to open up a cut and also land a HUGE knee to drop Nick. As the fight went into the third, Maximov started to really steal the momentum of the fight. Soriano never even really got any offence going; Nick pushed him against the fence and landed takedown after takedown. In the end, Maximov landed in the double digits for takedowns and used all that control time to edge ahead in the decision.

Result

Nick Maximov def. Punahele Soriano by Split Decision

Main Event

Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland

In the main event, it seemed like a classic matchup between grappler and striker. Hermansson has been in the UFC since 2016 and has fought his way to the top of the rankings by beating top contenders like Gastelum and Shahbazyan. Sadly, he’s also got recent losses to other top contenders Cannonier and Vettori. As for the brazen trash-talker Strickland, he’s been on a tear since he returned to the UFC (after a terrible accident) in 2020 winning 4 straight including a recent win over Uriah Hall which put him near the top of the rankings. Normally in this situation, I’d tend to side with the grappler but in this case I went with Strickland. Hermansson tends to struggle with heavy, active strikers like him. As I mentioned, he lost to Vettori and Cannonier; both of these men utilized a similar forward-pushing striking style that Strickland is known for.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Strickland by Decision

On paper this seemed like a grappler vs. striker matchup; in reality, this turned into a striking matchup fairly quick after Strickland easily brushed off all of Hermansson’s takedown attempts. The first round was tight and may have gone to Jack, but Rounds 2-4 were all Strickland. He wasn’t necessarily doing the most damage, he was just landing his jabs and some combos and making Jack miss. By the end of the fight, thanks to that strategy, Sean had landed around 5 times as many strikes to the head. The 5th Round you could tell Hermansson was really pushing to get a finish because he knew he had already lost the fight; he tried to land a couple takedowns but failed again. Overall, Strickland cruised to a clear decision win; I would have said 48-47 or even 49-46. Somehow, defying all logic and reason, one of the judges scored the bout 48-47 for Hermansson… the analysts, the entire internet and even Hermansson himself shared a look of complete confusion.

Result

Sean Strickland def. Jack Hermansson by Split Decision

The Future

At middleweight there seems to be a fairly clear course of action right now. We’re going to see Adesanya and Whittaker next week as well as Cannonier and Brunson. The next logical step would be to have the winner of Cannonier and Brunson fight for the belt. That leaves Marvin Vettori or the loser of the title fight to fight Sean Strickland. Personally, I’d love to see Vettori and Strickland. The buildup, the trashtalk and the fight would be incredible. That being said, Sean said that he wouldn’t really want to fight him because they train together (unless he was paid well for it). So, really, that only leaves the loser of next week’s title fight. You could also go with the loser of Cannonier or Brunson but that won’t look as impressive for a title shot. All that aside, Strickland has said many times (and proved it) that he’s a company man and he’ll fight anyone anytime, so we could see him fight anyone. All I know is, he wasn’t even trying very hard in this fight and quite easily won; he didn’t even look tired while Hermansson looked like he had just run a marathon.

BLÜ’s Record for the Night

Prelims: 3-1

Gordon (L)

Davis (W)

Njokuani (W)

Dawodu (W)

Main Card: 5-1

Erosa (W)

Gore (L)

Allen (W)

Rakhmonov (W)

Maximov (W)

Strickland (W)

BLÜ BONUSES

KO of the Night: Chidi Njokuani

Sub. of the Night: John Castaneda

Brawl of the Night: Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson

Most Valuable Fighter

Jailton Almeida

In an incredible UFC debut, he absolutely dismantled his opponent. He used his incredible power and strength to push Marques to the fence right away and land some hellish ground and pound. The light heavyweight division is fairly light in competition right now and only has a couple of fighters as athletic and as skilled as Almeida. He’ll be a serious contender over the next couple years.

Shavkat Rakhmonov

Very similar to Almeida, he dominated a tough opponent and looked calm… almost bored while doing it. The welterweight division is also fairly light in talent; with power and a skillset like this, he’ll be growing his undefeated record and becoming a ranked contender very soon.

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