*This was originally posted on December 20, 2021
The final card of the year was sensational with 10 finishes in 13 fights, all capped off with a record-breaking KO victory from one of the most entertaining heavyweights in combat sports, the Black Beast, Derrick Lewis. We also saw the defeat of a beloved legend, ‘Wonderboy’, as well as the resurrection of another, Cub Swanson. All of the bouts from UFC Vegas 45 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES. As a special bonus, Unified MMA 42 (as seen on UFC Fight Pass) is also covered below.
Jordan Leavitt def. Matt Sayles by Submission in the 1st Round
The fight started off with Sayles showing an edge in striking, utilising his advantage on the feet. As the round went on, Leavitt worked hard and got the takedown. The difference on the ground was clear with Leavitt threatening submissions for the rest of the round. In the second we saw Leavitt get the fight to the ground again where he ended up getting a rare inverted triangle submission, only the 3rd time in UFC history that’s happened.
Don’tale Mayes def. Josh Parisian by TKO in the 3rd Round
This whole fight was all Mayes as he dominated Parisian on the ground for all 3 rounds, even getting into a brutal crucifix position in the 1st round. Parisian had a bit of a moment at the start of the 3rd with a great spinning backfist; it landed but wasn’t quite enough to drop Mayes. As time was running out, Mayes got back into the crucifix position and landed some heavy elbows until the ref was forced to step in.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Raquel Pennington vs. Macy Chiasson
This one was early in the prelims but it featured two of the top women in the bantamweight division. The veteran Raquel Pennington was ranked 8th before this bout while the up-and-coming talent, Macy Chiasson, sat in 10th. Pennington has been in the UFC since all the way back in 2013. Since then she’s fought Holm twice, Andrade twice, Tate, de Randamie and Nunes. Those bouts were all losses BUT they were all decisions (except a 5th round loss to Nunes). As for Chiasson, she’s spent almost her entire career in the UFC since she got here in 2018. She had only lost once (to Lina Lansberg), but her only fairly high profile win was in her last fight against Marion Reneau. In terms of experience, the obvious choice was Pennington, but Chiasson had a lot going for her. The one difference that certainly favoured Chiasson was her reach; she had an almost 5 inch reach advantage. I flipped back and forth on this one, but, in the end, Pennington doesn’t tend to do well against lengthy strikers. I think that could be the difference, plus the momentum right now is certainly favouring Chiasson. Always keep in mind though that Pennington has a wealth of experience.
Chiasson by Decision
As expected, Chiasson’s reach was a problem for Pennington. The fight started completely even, but with a couple of extra lands and a takedown, Macy likely led after the 1st round. Raquel came back strong in the 2nd round with some extra pressure. After landing some crisp striking, Pennington ended up slipping in a front choke and got a surprising submission win.
Raquel Pennington def. Macy Chiasson by Submission in the 2nd Round
Both of these women looked fairly impressive tonight and are strong contenders at bantamweight. Miesha Tate would be a great matchup for either one of them, especially since it’d be a rematch for Pennington. If she’s going to fight someone a bit higher than Tate, I think Ladd would be a fantastic matchup for her too. Regardless of what happened, we certainly haven’t seen the last of Chiasson.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Charles Jourdain vs. Andre Ewell
Jourdain’s had a bit of an iffy record recently with a 2-2-1 record in his last 5 outings in the UFC, but each time he fights he looks amazing. He’s quick, powerful and creative with his striking. As for Ewell, he’s also a bit iffy with a 2-3 record in his last 5. There was one significant difference and that was Ewell’s substantial 6 inch reach advantage. I was conflicted once again on this one. I wanted Jourdain to win, he was the favourite to win…but there was something telling me he was going to lose again. Maybe it was because he’d had terrible luck, maybe it was Ewell’s reach advantage, but I thought Ewell was going to edge ahead in a decision.
Ewell by Decision
The fight started off just as even as we thought it would. Ewell was ahead early with some extra speed and pressure to get some good strikes in. As the fight went on, the momentum shifted towards Jourdain; he used some HEAVY kicks and precise striking to wear Ewell down. He almost got a finish at the end of the 2nd round, but Ewell held on to make it to the final round. Andre landed a couple of great strikes in the final round, but it wasn’t enough as Jourdain cruised to an impressive decision win.
Charles Jourdain def. Andre Ewell by Unanimous Decision
Sijara Eubanks vs. Melissa Gatto
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #3
We had another exciting women’s matchup here with the experienced Eubanks and the newcomer Gatto. Eubanks has had a bit of a questionable record in the UFC sitting at 5-4, but all of her fights before this had ended by decision. Also, all of her losses had been to top contenders Ladd, Correia, Vieira and Kianzad. Gatto, on the other hand, was new to the UFC with a win just a few months ago in her debut. On paper, this matchup likely favoured Eubanks thanks to all that experience. But since she’d lost to the top contenders on their way up, we had to consider whether or not Gatto has the potential to be a top contender soon. Since she was undefeated at 6-0-2, she broke the arm of her last opponent, she had a slight edge in reach and she’s 11 years younger, I had to give the edge to Gatto getting a decision win on her way up the rankings.
Gatto by Decision
The beginning of the fight was all Eubanks as she spent the entire opening round on the ground on top of Gatto. The 2nd round started off the same, with Sarj on top, then Gatto ended up reversing the position and likely took the round. With an even score on the cards, Gatto came in heavy, landed an absolutely murderous front kick to the body that left Eubanks a crumpled mess on the canvas. An impressive body shot TKO win for Gatto.
Melissa Gatto def. Sijara Eubanks by TKO in the 3rd Round
As I mentioned, ‘Sarj’ has only lost to the top contenders on their run up the division; I think Gatto will do the same. Someone like Barber would be great. There are also a couple of great options outside the rankings. We just saw Miranda Maverick and Eric Blanchfield fight last week; I think either of those would make for an exciting fight on the main card of any event.
Justin Tafa def. Harry Hunsucker by TKO in the 1st Round
Not too much to say other than Tafa’s power was fully on display. He landed some big shots but it all came to an end with an unbelievable head kick that knocked Hunsucker on his butt even though he blocked it with both of his arms up.
Gerald Meerschaert def. Dustin Stoltzfus by Submission in the 3rd Round
The final prelim of the night started pretty even with both men having a decent amount of control on the ground. In the second round, the momentum started to shift towards Stoltzfus as he controlled Gerald on the ground for almost the whole round. In the 3rd round it was back and forth until Gerald got behind Stoltzfus’ back and ended up sinking in the rear naked choke to get a late submission win.
Main Card Action
Darren Elkins vs. Cub Swanson
The main card opened up with two UFC legends clashing in the featherweight division. Elkins started his UFC career all the way back in 2010. He’s had a lot of success since then but went through a 4 fight losing streak from 2018-2020 which just recently ended with 2 wins in the past 13 months. Swanson was actually part of the WEC before it merged with the UFC and fought there since 2007. He’s also had a lot of success, but just like Elkins, he found himself on a 4 fight losing streak that ended with a couple wins. Sadly, he lost his last one out to Giga Chikadze after getting a nasty kick to the body a minute into the fight. This was a tough one to choose since they both had the same experience, a similar record, similar age and similar reach. I’m a fan of Cub, but because Elkins was on that 2 fight win streak and his last one was to Minner (who we saw last week), I gave a slight edge to Elkins.
Elkins by Decision
Swanson came in like a man on a mission; he jumped right in, made Elkins look like an amateur with some unreal footwork and striking. Elkins was dropped a couple of times and was so rocked he didn’t even know where Swanson was. After almost landing a WILD wheel kick, Cub swarmed him and ended up getting an impressive 1st round TKO victory.
Cub Swanson def. Darren Elkins by TKO in the 1st Round
Diego Ferreira vs. Mateusz Gamrot
In this thrilling lightweight matchup, an exciting new contender, Gamrot, made an attempt to crack into the lightweight rankings against the number 12 ranked Ferreira. Diego may have been on a 2 fight losing streak, but those were to other top contenders Gillespie and Dariush; before that he had a 6 fight win streak including one over Anthony Pettis. Gamrot, however, was on his way up with only 1 loss in his career: his opening bout in the UFC which he lost by split decision. Since then he had won two; both were early finishes, including a 1st round win over Jeremy Stephens. You can’t underestimate a ranked fighter like Ferreira, but there seemed to be a lot of momentum going towards Gamrot. Just like the fight before this, this was set up to be quite the entertaining matchup. Because of his recent record, I sided with Gamrot. We were likely to see a decision here, but because Gamrot had finished his last two opponents, we could have certainly seen a finish.
Gamrot by Finish
This fight was on pace to be fight of the night as both men were doing everything to get an advantage; they both showed great standup and work on the ground. In the second we had a bizarre ending as Ferreira stopped the fight. After some video analysis from Bisping, Felder and Fitzgerald, it seemed as though Gamrot got the win with a strong knee to the ribs of Diego.
Mateusz Gamrot def. Diego Ferreira by TKO in the 2nd Round
Now that Gamrot is in the rankings, that opens up a slew of brand new opponents for him. The lightweights are so close in skill that he could really fight anyone from Hooker to Gillespie to Riddell and we’d see a great fight.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Ricky Simon
After his 3rd loss in a row, Assuncao sat in 12th in the bantamweight division. Meanwhile, Simon was on a 3 fight win streak, his last one being a decision win over Brian Kelleher earlier this year. Assuncao’s 3 losses were to top bantamweight contenders Moraes, Sandhagen and, most recently, Cody Garbrandt; remember, bantamweight is the most stacked division in the UFC right now. All that being said, when one man is 3 fights up and the other is 3 fights down, you’ve probably gotta give the edge to the guy on the win streak. This, plus the fact that Simon was 10 years younger and had a slightly longer reach, led me to believe that Simon had an edge in this matchup.
Simon by Decision
Right from the start, the grappling advantage was very clear for Simon as he dominated the entire first round. Assuncao looked better in the 2nd… until Simon dropped him with a huge right hook. It was just an absolutely dominant performance from Ricky Simon.
Ricky Simon def. Raphael Assuncao by TKO in the 2nd Round
Similar to Gamrot, Simon has a whole new group of opponents to fight. As I’ve mentioned many times in previous articles and streams, the bantamweight division is the most stacked division in the UFC right now. Yadong, Edgar, Stamann, Munhoz would all be fantastic matchups that could produce a fight of the night. It’s unreal how good that division has become.
Amanda Lemos vs. Angela Hill
In the final women’s bout of the night we had the return of another veteran: Angela Hill. Before the fight, she was ranked 12th while Lemos was number 11. Although they were ranked closely, this matchup didn’t seem to be all that close. Hill has had a rough time recently with 3 decision losses in 4 fights; two of those really could have gone either way. Those losses were to the Karate Hottie (Waterson), Gadelha and Torres. On the other side we had Amanda Lemos who was sitting at 10-1-1 with 3 first round finishes in her last 4 fights. Although that all very clearly favoured Lemos, I believed Hill was strong enough that she wouldn’t be finished as easily as Lemos’ other recent opponents. I saw a possible late finish for Lemos or, more likely, a decision win.
Lemos by Decision
At the start it looked as though Lemos was going to run away with this fight; she landed a HUGE front kick that had Hill wobbling. But then after getting back up, Hill landed a couple shots of her own. In the second, Hill came back and likely won the round with her ground control. The third round seemed to be dead even with both women showing some great skills. In the end it came down to how the judges saw it. Too bad for Hill, she lost yet another close fight to a split decision. Once again we saw another strange judge’s card with Dana White even mentioning it in the press conference as one judge had it 30-27 for Lemos.
Amanda Lemos def. Angela Hill by Split Decision
Both women looked great in this bout and shouldn’t move in the rankings. For Lemos it would make sense to go for Waterson now because that was Hill’s last fight and it was also extremely close. Otherwise, it might be interesting to put the two Amandas together: Ribas and Lemos. For Hill, as I mentioned, her stock didn’t drop here, she could even fight Ribas. Most likely though, she’ll be fighting someone unranked like ‘Loopy’ who we talked about a couple weeks ago.
Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad
Yet another UFC legend returned as ‘Wonderboy’ himself, the 5th ranked Stephen Thompson, faced number 10, Belal Muhammad. His last time out, ‘Wonderboy’ had a perplexing loss to Gilbert Burns. Normally we see him bouncing all over the octagon with an incredible display of striking. He seemed to just have an off night last time out. It was one of those fights where Burns didn’t necessarily WIN the fight, Thompson just lost it by not bringing it. As for Belal, he was on a 5 fight win streak… kind of. Two fights ago he was losing to Edwards but got eye-poked so bad that the fight was stopped and ruled a ‘no contest’. After that he won a decision win over the legendary Demian Maia. It should also be noted that Thompson carried in a small edge in reach; this was important being that he was a striker facing a grappler. If we saw vintage ‘Wonderboy’ in this fight, I believed we would see a convincing decision win for Thompson. Belal’s clear advantage was in grappling and taking the fight to the ground; this has been historically difficult to do against Thompson. I thought we’d see ‘Wonderboy’ come back strong with another decision win.
Thompson by Decision
The first couple minutes of the fight we saw classic ‘Wonderboy’ bouncing around, landing some great kicks and even controlling a bit along the fence. Then it all turned around after Belal took him to the ground and unloaded some ground and pound for the entire last minute of the round. The second round was just more dominance on the ground from Belal as Thompson was stuck in a kimura attempt for over half the round. After all 3 rounds were done, there was no doubt Belal had won an easy unanimous decision.
Belal Muhammad def. Stephen Thompson by Unanimous Decision
Burns just did the same thing to Thompson last time out; Luque is also pretty similar. All 3 of these guys fight in a similar style so any of those matchups would make sense next. As for Thompson, he’s in a tough spot now. As a huge ‘Wonderboy’ fan, it crushes me to say this, but he’s gotta get a win soon or he’ll be on the chopping block. The UFC has been slaughtering him with grapplers, the fans wanna see him fight a striker. Give him someone like Magny or Neal. Maybe even throw Chiesa into the conversation; he’s a grappler but he’s down to strike to give the fans more of a show.
Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus
In this explosive main event we saw two HUGE, power-punching heavyweights. The Black Beast, Derrick Lewis was fresh off his loss to the interim champ, Gane, while Daukaus was on a 5 fight win streak with 4 first round KOs and 1 in the second round. There was absolutely no secret or surprise to what the strategy was for both men here; land a big punch to get a highlight KO. When you see that kind of matchup, you can pretty much only look at their physical stats. Lewis is always on the edge of the weight limit at 265 pounds while Daukaus is frequently under. Lewis also had a slight edge in reach. Also, Lewis has a pretty good chin so I thought he’d be able to stand up to Daukaus’ power a little bit better than Chris would for him. Again, you’ve gotta remember that this was dead even and one of these men was almost guaranteed to get KO’d, especially considering this was a 5 round fight.
Lewis by Finish
As expected, it was a slow start to the fight with both men waiting each other out. Then, just as the first round was about to end, Lewis swarmed Daukaus against the fence and got another one of those classic Lewis KOs. Of course, as always, we were blessed with another legendary post-fight interview and press conference from Derrick Lewis.
Derrick Lewis def. Chris Daukaus by KO in the 1st Round
Lewis is in a unique situation; he’s clearly a top contender but has no intention of ever being in a 5 round fight ever again as he said a dozen times in his interviews after the fight. Stipe would make a lot of sense if this were a co-main or a late main card bout on a PPV. He might also have to fight someone lower in the rankings like Aspinall or Tuivasa if he wants a 3-rounder. Otherwise, he’s going to have to either make a deal with the UFC to change his title fight to 3 rounds or suck it up and take a 5-rounder. He could also wait for the loser of the title unification and do that in a co-main PPV slot.
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 4-2
KO of the Night: Melissa Gatto
Sub. of the Night: Jordan Leavitt
Brawl of the Night: Lemos vs. Hill
Most Valuable Fighter: Cub Swanson
He’s been a pro fighter for over a decade and he just put on a performance for the ages, slipping shots, landing huge strikes and even a wheel kick to get a 1st Round TKO. We haven’t seen the last of this living legend.
Other Fight News
Unified MMA 42
Thanks to UFC Fight Pass and Unified MMA we saw another fantastic night of Canadian MMA. Sadly, Fight Pass didn’t show the early fights so I couldn’t watch the amateur fights and give out my Amateur of the Night BLÜ BONUS, but it was still quite the show. All the fights, along with the BLÜ BONUSES are described below.
Ramil Kamilov def. Tyrell Giselbrecht by TKO in the 1st Round
It didn’t take long for the action to start here as Kamilov dropped Giselbrecht right away. He controlled the next couple of exchanges but then Tyrell came back and stumbled Kamilov with his own strikes. Just as it started to look like Tyrell had taken back the round, Kamilov came back AGAIN and got an incredible first round TKO victory in his pro debut.
Jett Grande def. Steven Thomas by TKO in the 1st Round
The first minute of the fight was even with both fighters taking their time, but then, out of nowhere, Grande landed a BOMB of a hook which dropped Thomas like a sack of potatoes. The ref then jumped in and stopped the fight immediately.
Cole Campbell def. Chris Chapman by Unanimous Decision
Finally we’ve got a fight that made it out of the first round. Both fighters had their moments in the 1st with a takedown for each of them, some ground control and some decent ground and pound, but Campbell may have pulled ahead as he was in top position by the end of the round. In the second, Campbell continued that momentum, got to the ground early and started to slip in some deep, slick submission attempts. Chapman reversed positions for a bit but Campbell regained control and ended the round on top again. Chapman showed a glimmer of hope in the final round with some moments on the ground, but it just wasn’t enough as Campbell won an easy unanimous decision.
Simon Marcus def. Anton Tokarchuk by Technical Decision (in the 3rd Round)
In this one we had the MMA debut of a former world champion kickboxer, not only that, a man who beat Adesanya in kickboxing. In terms of matchups, this was a bit bizarre. Normally, Marcus would be competing at middleweight; here he was 10 pounds up. Not only that, Tokarchuk normally fights at 205 and looked about a foot taller than Marcus. There was a pretty clear difference in striking ability with Marcus being way faster with devastating kicks and huge punches. As for Tokarchuk, he was moving forward constantly but didn’t really do much damage. I think if he were in his regular middleweight division, Simon would be incredible and he’d be a dangerous fighter for anyone, BUT he’d have problems fighting someone big like this if they had skills. Sadly, the fight finished unceremoniously with an “accidental eye poke” (it just looked like the knuckles of his glove hit it during a jab) and an easy unanimous decision win for Marcus.
KB Bhullar def. Brandt Dewsbery by TKO in the 1st Round
It was a dead even fight for as long as it lasted. After a back and forth round, right near the end of the first, Bhullar landed a HUGE head kick and dropped Dewsbery to get a 1st round TKO win.
Shane Campbell def. Hubert Geven by TKO in the 2nd Round
All we saw here was why Campbell is the double champ right now. He was a step ahead in every department; he beat him in the striking and dominated him on the ground. In the end, he cruised to an easy 2nd round TKO victory.
Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz def. Graham Park by TKO in the 1st Round
Both fighters were weary of the power coming back at them at the start of the fight. As soon as the action started it was all over; Mariusz landed an absolute cannon of a punch to get a 1st round TKO win to get the 195 pound belt.
KO of the Night: Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz
Brawl of the Night: Ramil Kamilov vs. Tyrell Giselbrecht
Most Valuable Fighter: Simon Marcus
It was his first MMA fight, he was up a division at 195 and fighting someone who normally fights at 205. His opponent was walking him down the entire fight in spite of some HUGE shots from Marcus. We’ll be seeing BIG things from Marcus in the future, especially back at his normal middleweight division.