I mentioned last week that this was the sleeper card of all sleeper cards… meaning this was the one sleeper card that I wasn’t sure would produce. I’m happy to say I was VERY wrong! From start to finish this card brought the action. We saw 2 highlight reel KOs from David Onama and the main event winner Jamahal Hill. We saw a late win by our Canadian of the night: Chad Anheliger. There were close, exciting decisions all over the card AND we saw another record-tying win from the UFC veteran Jim Miller. All of the bouts from UFC Vegas 48 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
Mario Bautista def. Jay Perrin by Unanimous Decision
The night opened up with a striker’s delight. Both men were throwing everything from kicks, to elbows, to knees all the way to the newly popular shoulder strikes. While the first two rounds were relatively close, it seemed as though Bautista was in control the whole time. Although he landed slightly less strikes than Perrin, Bautista was landing the much harder strikes with HUGE elbows in the clinch and flying knees that were landing clean almost every time. Not only was his striking on another level, he was also defending Perrin’s takedowns with ease and using takedowns of his own and clinch control along the fence. No surprise with the decision as Bautista nabbed a dominant decision win.
Jonathan Pearce def. Christian Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision
From a striking-heavy matchup straight into a grappling match. Pearce’s gameplan was evident right from the start. With around 4 minutes of control time in the 1st Round alone, the difference in experience on the ground was evident. That being said, Rodriguez almost finished him at one point with a deep… DEEP guillotine attempt that had Pearce gargling for air. The 2nd Round started with some crisp combos from Rodriguez but, ultimately, Pearce smothered him again with his overwhelming wrestling. Things started to get a little dicey for Pearce in the 3rd after getting SMOKED with a big elbow and a couple combos. This led to him stumbling and shooting for a desperate takedown. From there though, it was the same as the other two rounds with some dominant ground control.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Jesse Strader vs. Chad Anheliger
I had to include this one because we had a new Canadian addition to the UFC here: Chad Anheliger. He’s not new to the hardcore UFC fans after appearing on the Contender Series back in September. He was sitting at a record of 11-5 before this fight but, in spite of that, he had a 9 fight win streak going. He won his contract after winning a tight split decision win over Muin Gafurov. Just before that he actually finished Brady Hiestand in the 3rd Round in Rise FC. If that name sounds familiar it may be because he lost in the final of the Ultimate Fighter this season against Ricky Turcios. On the other side was a fairly recent addition to the UFC: Jesse Strader. He only had one appearance before this bout and it was against a tough competitor in Montel Jackson. Physically speaking, Strader held an advantage with his 6 inch edge in reach and the fact that he’s 5 years younger at the age of 30. It seemed as though that would be an obstacle for Anheliger to overcome, but there still seemed to be more momentum leaning in his direction. Given that Strader had lost his only UFC bout by 1st Round KO and Anheliger’s record had been filled with 1st Round KOs, it just seemed likely that Strader would have a problem with Chad’s power and stand-up skill.
Anheliger by Finish
This fight was easily the closest of the night up to this point. Both of the first 2 rounds were back and forth with neither man having a huge moment. Just based on the numbers and how the exchanges were looking, I would have said Strader won the 1st Round and Anheliger won the 2nd. The 3rd was just as close with both men landing some combos but that all changed with Chad landing a BIG hook to drop Strader. Knowing those cards could have gone either way, he jumped on Strader and let the ground and pound go until the ref stopped the fight with just a minute and a half left in the 3rd Round.
Chad Anheliger def. Jesse Strader by TKO in the 3rd Round
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Diana Belbita vs. Gloria de Paula
We had an honorary Canadian and fan favourite featured here as Diana Belbita returned to the Octagon. I say honorary because she trains and lives in Canada but comes from Romania. She had a rough start to her UFC career with a 1-2 record with losses to Molly McCann and Liana Jojua. She managed to turn that momentum around with a win over Hannah Goldy last year leaving her with a career record of 14-6. Gloria de Paula is much less experienced with a record of 5-4 heading into this bout. After winning her contract on the Contender Series she lost her first two UFC bouts to Jinh Yu Frey in a decision and was the victim of a highlight reel 1st Round KO from Cheyanne Vlismas last year. These two are the same age and have an almost identical reach so this matchup seemed to come down to their experience and their fight style. Being that de Paula is from Brazil, I figured she would try to try and utilize that ground game while Belbita would likely try and keep the fight on the feet. The style matchup had me leaning towards de Paula, but Belbita’s record just seemed so much more impressive than de Paula’s. This was a true coin toss and depended on who showed up to fight on the night. Because of her record and deeper pool of experience, I gave the slightest edge to Belbita.
Belbita by Decision
As expected, this one started off dead even. Both women were throwing out some good crisp combos and kicks. As the fight went on, it still stayed razor thin, but there may have been slightly more momentum in favour of de Paula with her control along the fence. After the 3 rounds, I honestly couldn’t tell you how any of those rounds were going to be scored by the judges. In the end, the judges all had it 29-28 for Gloria de Paula.
Gloria de Paula def. Diana Belbita by Unanimous Decision
Chas Skelly def. Mark Striegl by TKO in the 2nd Round
Both these guys came in hot with some heavy grappling exchanges to open the fight. The exchanges on the feet and along the fence were fairly even, but with his extra strength and technique, Skelly seemed to control the narrative. Skelly continued his control in the 2nd Round but it ended up being his standup skills that got him the win with a nice ground and pound win to (possibly) cap off his career as he mentioned this could have been his final MMA fight.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Stephanie Egger
Since we’ve got two women on the edge of the rankings, Clark is a fan favourite and we haven’t seen too many women’s fights lately, this seemed like a great fight to watch. Clark has had a decent record since she joined the UFC back in 2017 with 4 wins and 2 losses. It should be noted that those 2 losses are to two of the top bantamweight contenders, Kianzad and Eye. Egger is much newer to the UFC as she joined in 2020 where she lost to Tracy Cortez. Since then she’s bounced back with a finish over Shanna Young. Unless you’re at the top of the division, a lot of these women’s fights are probably going to be fairly close and either woman could win. The slight edge in this case had to be given to Jessica-Rose Clark; with her experience of fighting top contenders, she held a slight edge, especially when it seemed highly likely we were going to see a decision. Also, just from watching her last bout, it was clear that she’s been improving quite a bit in all aspects of her game.
Clark by Decision
On the feet this seemed to be pretty even, but after getting taken down with a slick judo throw, Clark found herself in trouble after getting stuck in an armbar. She got out of it the first time but ended up getting stuck in another one and that was it.
Stephanie Egger def. Jessica-Rose Clark by Submission in the 1st Round
As I mentioned leading up to this bout, both these women were on the edge of these rankings. Also, other than women’s featherweight (where there are no rankings), this is likely the weakest division in the UFC. Due to that, we need more talent here; we need people like Egger AND Clark to break into those rankings and shake up the division. After this kind of performance, Egger is clearly deserving of a bigger challenge. With her display here, she could likely even challenge someone like Tate or Chiasson. Most likely though we’ll see her face Dumont, Rosa or Avila: someone ranked between 10-15.
David Onama def. Gabriel Benitez by KO in the 1st Round
If you weren’t awake before this fight, you were when it started; it was electric for every second with both men landing HUGE combos. Benitez was shredding up Onama’s legs and landing quick combos while Onama kept moving forward to try and land his own offence. Just as it looked like Benitez was going to take the TKO win after stumbling Onama, David rallied back, landed over 10 punches in a wild combo and knocked Benitez out cold. To make it more impressive, he landed that fight-ending combination with almost no vision because of the punches to his eye earlier in the round.
Main Card Action
Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Both of these men are KO machines with all of their UFC wins coming by finish. Buckley is a fairly recent addition to the UFC after being added to the roster in 2020. But since losing his debut to Kevin Holland, he’s gone on to have a record of 3-1 including his KO of the year over Impa Kasanganay in 2020. Alhassan has been around the UFC since 2016. Although he started off in the UFC undefeated at 6-0, he’s fallen down to 11-4 after a 3 fight losing streak that ended after getting a 17-second head kick KO in his last outing. With 2 knockout artists like these guys, it seemed hard to imagine not seeing a finish in this fight. Both of these men are very close in talent and have a similar level of experience. That told me that this fight was going to go to whoever landed that KO shot first. Given that Buckley has a slightly longer reach, plus he’s 9 years younger and seemed like he was going to be faster, I gave the slight edge to him.
Buckley by Finish
Just as everyone expected, these two came out SWINGING. Neither man seemed to edge ahead in striking with both landing some good ones, but thanks to some well-timed takedowns, Buckley likely took the 1st Round. As the fight went on, the gap started to get more obvious with Buckley wildly out-striking Alhassan while controlling him on the fence and on the ground. After it looked like Alhassan was just trying to get through the fight, he came back in the final round and gave it everything he had left. He landed some takedowns and used the fence to get some control time and easily won the closing round. After that close battle, the judges could have seen this either way. It ended up being 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 for Joaquin Buckley.
Joaquin Buckley def. Abdul Razak Alhassan by Split Decision
Jim Miller vs. Nikolas Motta
In this one we had a clash between the cagey veteran (Jim Miller) and the young gun (Nikolas Motta). We talked about Jim Miller back before his last fight in October; he’s one of the most active fighters in UFC history regardless of weight class and has fought almost everyone since he joined all the way back in 2008. Things have been a little rough since the start of 2020 with 3 losses in 5 fights, but that tends to be expected near the end of one’s career at 38 years of age. That being said, he turned around that narrative in his last fight where he got a KO finish for the first time since 2016. Nikolas Motta, of course, is just starting his career as he won his contract on the Contender Series back in late 2020. In spite of the obvious advantage in youth that Motta has, this matchup could have gone either way. The thing that stuck out to me was that Miller is known for his ground game due to his many submission wins. Motta on the other hand has never had any submission wins and has lost twice on the ground. We’ve talked a lot about these kinds of matchups before and the smart way to go tends to be towards the grappler and I stuck with that trend. I thought Miller would be able to use his experience to minimize Motta’s offence and win on the cards or MAYBE get a submission win.
Miller by Decision
Another close fight here with both men choosing to showcase their standup skills early on in the fight. It was tight but it seemed as though Miller may have edged ahead with a bit of extra activity and his use of leg kicks. It was looking as though he would just keep that momentum going to win a decision… until Miller landed a BOMB to drop Motta and get ANOTHER TKO victory! With this he now ties ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone for the most wins in UFC history.
Jim Miller def. Nikolas Motta by TKO in the 2nd Round
Parker Porter vs. Alan Baudot
Parker Porter had a rough start with a 1st Round KO loss to Chris Daukaus in his debut. Since then he’s gone on to win his last two against Josh Parisian and Chase Sherman. On the other side, Alan Boudot had an even worse start after getting matched up with the rising heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall and Rodrigo Nascimento. He ended up getting finished by both although the Nascimento bout was changed to a ‘No Contest’ after his opponent tested positive for PEDs. It’s tough to tell because Baudot fought two absolute killers in his first two fights, but I said the momentum clearly favoured Parker Porter in this matchup. Outside of their records, it should also be said that Baudot has a 5 inch reach advantage while Porter tends to carry in an extra 15-20 pounds more than him. Due to the glaring fact that Baudot has been finished in his only 2 UFC bouts and because Porter weighs more, I leaned towards a Porter finish. I also mentioned that Porter ends in a lot of decisions, so that certainly seemed well within the realm of possibility.
Porter by Finish
Another extremely even fight between the heavyweights here. Neither man really landed anything huge throughout the fight but they both had their moments on the feet. The difference-maker here seemed to be Porter’s slight edge in activity and his ground control that very clearly won him the final round. In the end, all the judges saw it as 29-28 for Porter.
Parker Porter def. Alan Baudot by Unanimous Decision
Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett
Just before we finished off the night, we were treated to an intriguing middleweight bout between the rising contender Kyle Daukaus and Jamie Pickett who just fought a month ago! Daukaus’ last fight was a strange one against Kevin Holland. It was a fantastic fight until the men accidentally clashed heads, leaving Holland momentarily unconscious. Before that happened though, Daukaus was looking VERY good. Pickett, as I just mentioned, last fought just a month ago where he got a decision win over Joseph Holmes. Based on the brief glimpse of Daukaus that we had in his last fight, that’s all we needed to see to know that he should likely be ranked right now and held an advantage in this bout. I wasn’t sure if we’d see a finish since both men end in decisions quite often, but I thought we’d see a fairly clear decision win for Daukaus.
Daukaus by Decision
Right after the first exchange there was a clear advantage in favour of Daukaus both on the feet and in grappling. Right away he landed a slick combo and pushed him along the fence. He used those skills throughout the round to get some ground control and light Pickett up on his feet. Just as we thought we were going to see the next round with Pickett barely pushing through to not be submitted, Daukaus ended up squeezing tight and stole the win with a D’arce choke with ONE second left in the round.
Kyle Daukaus def. Jamie Pickett by Submission in the 1st Round
It’s crazy to me that he wasn’t fighting someone ranked in this matchup and wasn’t even maybe ranked 15th or so himself after his performance with Holland. This just solidified how good people should have already known he is. I’d still like to see that rematch; Holland will be fighting at UFC 272 against Alex Oliveira, so, when he wins that (which he probably will), that would still be a matchup that makes a lot of sense. Daukaus mentioned Ferguson in his post-fight interview; while that’s funny and could be entertaining, it just would never happen because of the fact that Ferguson fights 30 pounds down and his contract situation with the UFC is running out. If it’s not Holland, Weidman, Muniz or Gastelum could all be options that would make sense for everyone. As I mentioned last week, the top of the division is pretty much separate from everyone else right now because of their domination over the rest of the division.
Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill
We finished off the night with two ranked light heavyweights: Walker who was ranked number 10 and Hill at number 12. Walker’s last fight was a few short months ago against Thiago Santos. I remember it vividly after thinking that Santos won a decision after doing almost nothing the whole fight… because Walker did even less and was torn to shreds by Twitter for it. Hill had the exact opposite result in his last bout as he knocked out Jimmy Crute in less than a minute last November. Even though Walker looked terrible in this last fight, I said this was going to be a tough one for Hill. Walker is still an awkward person to fight and has a slight 3 inch reach advantage. But, thanks to those last appearances by both men, it was hard not to favour Hill in this matchup. I predicted Walker would come in with something to prove after his last fight, but that Hill would be able to overcome that and likely get another finish.
Hill by Finish
As I predicted, Walker came out trying to prove a point, that he’s not the boring fighter that he was in his last fight against Santos. It was looking like either man could take the win with some slick combos from both sides. In the end,it was Jamahal Hill who landed the big shot first, knocking Walker back, stiff as a board and landed that one extra punch to put him to sleep.
Jamahal Hill def. Johnny Walker by KO in the 1st Round
After these last two performances, it’s very clear that Jamahal Hill is the real deal and deserves someone higher up in the rankings. I’d actually very much enjoy seeing Walker’s last opponent, Thiago Santos, in the Octagon here. I think Walker was just hesitant to stand and bang against Santos so he ended up losing that fight by not creating offence. I don’t think Hill is the kind of fighter that does that; this matchup might finally bring out the Santos that fans used to love watching. Another matchup that people have been mentioning is Dominick Reyes; this fight would either catapult Hill’s career or it would finally give Reyes the win he needs to get back into it. Either way, we finally have something interesting (besides Prochazka) happening in the Light Heavyweight rankingBLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 5-0
KO of the Night: Jamahal Hill
Sub. of the Night: Kyle Daukaus
Brawl of the Night: Gabriel Benitez vs. David Onama
Most Valuable Fighter
After fighting in the UFC for over a decade, he’s once again tied for the most wins in UFC history. Not only that, he didn’t just cruise to a decision win like we thought he would; he ended up getting his second TKO finish in a row! All that after not getting a TKO for 6 years. It’s just incredible and inspiring to see someone this far into their career string together some wins, especially over fighters that are just starting their career. Since he said he’s not stopping until UFC 300, we’ve still got a lot more Jim Miller to see!