It was a bit of a strange night in the UFC with a slew of underdog winners and a live audience uniquely comprised of only Mark Zuckerberg, his wife and a few others.

That didn’t stop the fighters from bringing the action, producing no less than FOUR 1st Round finishes. The night opened with three of those in a row, coming from Guido Cannetti, Chelsea Chandler and Brendan Allen. The most impressive of the group, however, had to be Sodiq Yusuff who earned one of the fastest submissions in UFC featherweight history at 30 seconds!

We also saw some impressive performances put on by Joaquim Silva, Randy Brown and, of course, Yan Xiaonan who pulled off the upset in the main event. All of the bouts from UFC Vegas 61 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.

Prelim. Action

Fight #1
Guido Cannetti def. Randy Costa by Submission in the 1st Round

Costa started pressuring early, walking Cannetti down. Cannetti was standing his ground though, slamming kicks straight into the shins of Costa. One of the kicks made Costa stumble backwards. From there, Cannetti jumped on him and locked in a DEEP choke. It was in so deep, so quickly that Costa had no time to defend and was forced to tap.

Fight #2
Chelsea Chandler def. Julija Stoliarenko by TKO in the 1st Round

Stoliarenko pressured HARD early, but Chandler stood her ground with some big shots. As expected, Stoliarenko followed that up with a heavy takedown. She briefly locked up one of her classic armbars, but was reversed by Chandler. After some heavy ground and pound from Chandler, interestingly, she chose to move the fight back to the feet. Back on the feet, Chandler ROCKED Stoliarenko with heavy combos. At that point, Stoliarenko really started to struggle with the size of Chandler. After a couple of takedowns from Stoliarenko, Chandler found herself on top, slamming down more ground and pound. She kept that going until the ref called the fight to an end in the 1st Round.

Fight #3
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Brendan Allen vs. Krzysztof Jotko

Neither of these men is all that reliable, so anything was possible in this matchup. Based on their last few fights, Jotko is the better looking pick with recent wins over Meerschaert and Cirkunov. Meanwhile, Allen has been less than impressive, barely beating Malkoun. With mostly decisions in their recent fights, the most likely outcome seemed like Jotko by decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Jotko by Decision

Allen opened with a kick that rang through the empty APEX centre. Sadly, the next kick led to him on his back with Jotko on top. Allen briefly threatened a pretty nasty submission, but then started to get smothered by Jotko. After a bit of waiting, Allen exploded and found himself on top. The next couple minutes were all Allen, overwhelming Jotko with his strength. Eventually he ended up taking his back, slipping in the rear naked choke and quickly making him tap.

Result
Brendan Allen def. Krzysztof Jotko by Submission in the 1st Round

Fight #4
Joaquim Silva def. Jesse Ronson by TKO in the 2nd Round

The action was a little slow and tentative to start. As the round went on, it was still anyone’s round to take, but the pressure of Ronson may have had him up on the cards. With a couple of heavy combos landed, it looked like Ronson was taking the lead… and then Silva closed the round with a knockdown! If it weren’t for the last 10 seconds, I’d have given it to Ronson, but Silva had probably stolen it with that late exchange.

Ronson aimed to grab that momentum back in the second round, throwing out some heavy combos at Silva. Just like the opening round, it was dead-even for the first couple minutes. The stance switches from Silva seemed to be slowing down Ronson. Using those switches, Silva ended up disguising a knee that landed CLEAN, dropping Ronson on his back. From there he let loose his ground and pound, clinching the 2nd Round finish.

Fight #5
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Ilir Latifi

This is the THIRD time we’ve talked about this UFC matchup due to multiple cancellations. I still stand by what I’ve said in the past. Oleinik may be 6 years older than Latifi at 45, but he hasn’t been slowing down. He’s still grabbing finishes and competing at a high level, while Latifi has only grabbed a (questionable) split decision against Boser since 2018. Anything can happen at heavyweight, but Oleinik seems like the safer bet.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Oleinik by Finish

After a couple of awkward exchanges, Latifi pushed Oleinik to the canvas. Of course, this is exactly what Oleinik wanted, being a submission expert. Latifi was on top, trying to get some ground and pound going, but Oleinik was doing an incredible job of shutting it all down. With all that top position and the chippy shots from on top, Latifi had clearly won the opening round on the cards.

Oleinik was the one pressuring forward at the start of the second round, landing shots from a distance and searching for a takedown whenever he got the chance. He was doing well, then Latifi threw him into the canvas again. This time he managed to land much harder ground and pound to finish the round. With that, he was clearly up 2-0. Once again, Oleinik opened up by walking forward, but was getting clipped by quick shots. The fight then moved over the fence where Latifi continued his control. Absolutely no question who had won the decision by the time the clock had run out.

Result
Ilir Latifi def. Aleksei Oleinik by Unanimous Decision

Fight #6
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
John Castañeda vs. Daniel Santos

Either man could have taken this UFC fight, but it was pretty clear that Castañeda held an edge with his strength of competition. He’s earned multiple finishes in the UFC while Santos had lost his lone appearance before this one. Santos had also never been finished, so a decision seemed likely.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Castañeda by Decision

Unlike the last couple UFC Vegas 61 fights, both of the guys went right at it, throwing out some WILD combos. Castañeda was pressuring, but Santos was responding with some HUGE shots. Then it got interesting with Castañeda putting Santos on his back with a HUGE shot. Santos seemed to recover, but was then dropped for a second time. In spite of those knockdowns, Santos was still looking dangerous. Castañeda then started to get his grappling going on top of Santos. They moved back to their feet where Castañeda landed a MASSIVE head kick that rocked Santos. Castañeda knew he had him on the ropes and started to pressure even harder. Amazingly, even after all that, Santos made it out of the round.

Santos knew he needed to make some moves and brought the pressure early in the second round. After an accidental groin strike though, Castañeda ran in and grabbed another takedown. He didn’t hold Santos down long, allowing Santos to really push froward with his striking. Interestingly, then it was Santos that started to grapple. He didn’t find success on the ground either, but really turned up the heat as the round was going on, shredding Castañeda apart on the feet. It looked as though we were going to see a final round, but Santos was relentless with his striking and eventually dropped Castañeda to his knees for a 2nd Round finish.

Result
Daniel Santos def. John Castaneda by TKO in the 2nd Round

Main Card Action

Fight #7
Mike Davis vs. Viacheslav Borshchev

Borshchev is a talented UFC prospect, but that loss to Diakiese showed the path to victory for Davis. Davis has fought the tougher fighters and is more well-versed in grappling. He’s also proven to be dangerous and dominant over the entire 15 minutes, while Borshchev slowed down quite a bit. With that, I predicted he should be able to control Borshchev and edge ahead in a decision victory.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Davis by Decision

Both men were throwing some heavy combos early and both men were landing well. Then the momentum shifted with Davis grabbing the takedown. As expected, this was an effective strategy against the striker, Borshchev. Borshchev was defending fairly well, but was still getting thrown around the Octagon for the rest of the round. Davis used these positions to land some decent ground and pound. Borshchev was getting lit up with all that ground and pound, but still made it through to the next round.

Knowing he lost the first round, Borshchev turned up the heat, not letting Davis get any of his striking going. After a couple of minutes of dominant striking, he was then dragged to the ground by Davis a couple of times. Instead of ground and pound, Davis focused on a DEEP submission this time. Davis was clear winner of the second half of the round, but Borshchev may have evened the score 1-1 thanks to his early striking exchanges.

You’d think Davis would try and shoot for another takedown, but he was letting Borshchev get his striking going. This led to Davis’ sight getting annihilated by a possible broken orbital. In response, Davis wisely dragged Borshchev down to the ground, smothering him with wrestling. He threatened a couple of submissions and ground and pound, but never got the finish. It was still pretty clear that Davis had won the decision. The judges agreed, scoring it 29-28, 29-26 and 29-26 for Davis.

Result
Mike Davis def. Viacheslav Borshchev by Unanimous Decision

Fight #8
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Don Shainis

After suffering a fight cancellation a couple weeks ago by Giga Chikadze, Yusuff found himself fighting… a debuting UFC fighter with minimal elite experience. With Yusuff being one of the most dangerous strikers at featherweight, losing by decision to Arnold Allen and knocking out Gabriel Benitez, this looked to be a dominant win for him.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Yusuff by Finish

Shainis walked forward straight into Yusuff, but was getting lit up by knees. In an interesting turn of events, Yusuff went for a submission. He locked it in and less than 30 seconds into the fight Shainis tapped, giving Yusuff his FIRST submission win. Not only was it his first, it was also the 2nd fastest submission in UFC featherweight history.

Result
Sodiq Yusuff def. Don Shainis by Submission in the 1st Round

Fight #9
Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones

On paper, this was one of the best matchups of the UFC Vegas 61. With high-profile performances on both sides, either man could’ve grabbed the win here. Diving deeper into their recent performances though, it looked like Barcelos held an edge thanks to his relentless offence. With that aggressive strategy and endless cardio, I predicted a decision win for Barcelos.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Barcelos by Decision

It was a slow pace to start, but it heated up when Barcelos went in for a takedown. He didn’t get the first one, but after some decent combos, Barcelos finally landed his takedown. From there, he was working hard for a submission. He was close, but took the round on the cards instead.

Barcelos kept his pressure going into the second round, landing combos at will. Jones just wasn’t throwing anything out there to slow him down. Halfway into the round and Jones had only landed 9 strikes in the fight. Barcelos then landed a BOMB, dropping Jones to the canvas. Instead of going for submissions, Barcelos was landing heavy ground and pound. Jones was shredded apart by all that ground and pound, but still made it through to the final round.

Just like the other rounds, Barcelos took the action to Jones, hitting him with some nasty combos. Then, once again, he dragged Jones down to the ground. With another dominant round on the cards, Barcelos cruised to an easy win on the cards.

Result
Raoni Barcelos def. Trevin Jones by Unanimous Decision

Co-Main Event

Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo

If this was Trinaldo from years ago, I may have gone in the opposite direction, but Brown carried a decisive advantage into this matchup. He’s younger, taller and has been performing at a MUCH higher level in the UFC lately. Trinaldo is VERY tough to finish, instead, I predicted a dominant decision win for Brown.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Brown by Decision

Trinaldo wasn’t thrown off by the length of Brown, pressuring him with his kicks. A couple of them swept the legs of Brown, but he wasn’t phased. Brown finally landed a good one, putting Trinaldo flat on his back. Strangely, Brown didn’t follow up with anything,he was just standing there looking at his knockdown. This allowed Trinaldo to go for a takedown, wrapping his entire body around him. Brown finished the round with a beautiful submission attempt of his own, but the fight continued to the next round with Brown likely ahead.

Brown turned up the pace in the second, throwing out a flurry of jabs and kicks. Trinaldo was quite noticeably starting to struggle with the length of Brown. He was landing some good ones, but was getting brutally countered by Brown. With all those issues on the feet, Trinaldo then resorted to going for a takedown. He never quite got it, instead racking up some control time. With this round being much closer, it could’ve gone either way on the cards this round.

Brown kept his pace going into the third round, but was eventually dropped to his back by a devastating leg kick. With that, Trinaldo found himself on top and started to dominate Brown on the canvas. He opened with quite a bit of ground and pound, then moved to some submission attempts. This was a clear round for Trinaldo. With the 2nd Round being so close, the judges could have gone either way. In the end, they ended up scoring it 29-28 for Brown.

Result
Randy Brown def. Francisco Trinaldo by Unanimous Decision

Main Event

Mackenzie Dern vs. Yan Xiaonan

Both of these women are top-tier UFC strawweights on the edge of a title shot; that means anything could have happened here. There seemed like a clear path to victory for both women. Dern will always try and move the fight to the ground while Yan focuses mostly on striking, especially in this kind of matchup. That being said, all fights start on the feet and I felt confident that Yan could shut down most of Dern’s takedowns. Yan also had more success against Rodriguez than Dern had in her matchup. With all that in mind, I predicted that Yan would probably get taken down at some point, but that she should be able to win the decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Yan by Decision

Yan was overwhelming Dern with her striking early, but was being VERY careful not to get too close. Dern was rushing in with her combos, trying to get in close for a takedown. Eventually, Dern finally got close enough to clinch up for a takedown. She was VERY close to dragging Yan down, but Yan defended perfectly. As the round was closing, somehow Yan was the one who found herself briefly taking the dominant position. Rounds like that can go either way on the scorecards, I’d have given it to Yan, but some judges would reward the aggressive takedown attempts of Dern.

Yan opened the next round with a possible knockdown and was backing away, avoiding the grappling of Dern. Sadly for her, Dern grabbed her legs and dragged her down. Of course, Dern started to fight for submissions, but Yan was still on top and defending well. Then Dern locked in a NASTY submission, cranking Yan’s arm behind her back. She then switched into a DEEP arm triangle. It was looking rough for Yan, but she was doing very well to defend. Without a finish, the score appeared to be tied 1-1.

Dern managed to pull guard and drag Yan to the ground again, but, this time, Yan managed to get back to her feet quickly. That being said, Yan looked to be slowing down quite a bit. Then Yan had her first big moment since the first round, wobbling the legs of Dern with a HUGE shot to the chin. With all that damage from Yan, she clearly took the round on the cards.

Hoping that Yan had slowed down, Dern started the 4th Round with another takedown attempt. Still fresh, Yan shut it down and went back to striking, picking Dern apart. Dern was relentless with her takedown attempts, but was shut down almost every time. She finally dragged Yan down near the end of the round, but had her back on the canvas. Sadly for Dern, she likely dropped that round and was down 3-1.

Dern came in with a vengeance the final round, throwing out a WILD combo, pushing Yan into the fence. This time, she found herself on top of Yan, working for submissions with 4 minutes left on the clock. Yan was defending well, but Dern was relentless with ground and pound and submission attempts. With 15 seconds left, Yan’s arm slipped into a bad spot, deep into an armbar. It looked like it was about to get bad, but Yan slipped out and survived the round. With that dominant of a round, I may have even scored it 10-8 for Dern. On my cards, that meant a 47-47 draw. The judges saw it the same way, scoring it 48-47, 48-47 and 47-47 for Yan.

Result
Yan Xiaonan def. Mackenzie Dern by Majority Decision

The Future
It still seems likely that Rodriguez will be getting the next title shot, being that she’s beaten both of these top UFC fighters. That could potentially mean a fight between Rose and Yan in the meantime. As for Dern, she’s still clearly a top UFC contender, but will likely get tested by a rising contender in her next matchup.

BLÜ’s Record for the Night

Prelims: 0-3
Jotko (L)
Oleinik (L)
Castañeda (L)

Main Card: 5-0
Davis (W)
Yusuff (W)
Barcelos (W)
Brown (W)
Yan (W)

BLÜ BONUSES

KO of the Night: Daniel Santos

Sub. of the Night: Sodiq Yusuff

Brawl of the Night: John Castañeda vs. Daniel Santos

Most Valuable Fighter
Guido Cannetti

For the second UFC fight in a row, he’s come in as a significant underdog. Now, for the second time in a row, he’s proven everyone wrong and grabbed a 1st Round finish while doing it. Not only that, he’s done it all at 42! He’s proving to everyone that he’s still someone to watch.

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