Derrick Lewis admitted that he was close to tapping to the “bulldog choke” of Aleksei Oleinik in the main event of Saturday’s UFC fight card, but after some thought, he decided that he couldn’t go out like that. With that, he made it through the first round.
Lewis then took some inspiration from when he saw Oleinik on his back with his feet against the cage during the break before the second stanza. Seemingly convinced that his opponent was no longer in the fight, Lewis opened the second stanza with a flying knee and a flurry of strikes that brought the contest to an end. The TKO victory gave Lewis the most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history with 11 and tied him with four others for most all-time in UFC history.
More thoughts on the winners and losers from the UFC Las Vegas 6 fight card can be found below.
Derrick Lewis: Lewis now holds the UFC record for heavyweight knockouts thanks to his second-round stoppage of Aleksei Oleinik. He did say he came close to submitting to the scarf choke in the first stanza, but he did not and he came out in the second stanza with a flying knee and strikes to end the contest.
Another positive for Lewis was that he said he wants to lose 15-20 pounds so he can better compete in the heavyweight division. Lewis might be 35, but he seems to be taking the fight game more seriously with each outing. The UFC should give him the opportunity to lose that weight before it calls him for another contest.
Darren Stewart: Stewart said his plan was to get the win on Saturday against Maki Pitolo and stay in Las Vegas and book another fight as soon as possible. He accomplished the first part of that plan with a first-round submission win.
Stewart had never won a fight by submission before Saturday and that might have been why Pitolo felt a takedown attempt was safe. It wasn’t as Stewart defended that attempt with a slick guillotine choke that ended the contest in the first stanza.
If Stewart adds a submission game to his skill set, that will be nothing but a good thing for his development.
Yana Kunitskaya: Kunitskaya was smart in the early going of her fight against Julija Stoliarenko. Kunitskaya did everything she could to keep her opponent against the cage and work her clinch fighting. Kunitskaya might have had the opportunity to take the fight to the mat, but she decided that was the not the best decision since Stoliarenko had eight armbar victories on her record prior to Saturday night.
It was not the most exciting fight, but Kunitskaya used an effective game plan to get the win and sometimes that’s all that matters.
Beneil Dariush: Dariush has become quite the dual threat. Once known as a grappler, Dariush is getting it done in a big way with his striking in 2020. He knocked out Drakkar Klose in March and on Saturday he stopped Scott Holtzman. Dariush hurt Holtzman with a knee early in the first round. As time ticked down in that stanza, Dariush uncorked a spinning back fist. Dariush’s fist did not connect, but his forearm did and Holtzman was down and out at the 4:38 mark of the first round. Dariush is on a five fight winning streak. During that run he has two knockouts and two submissions. At 31, Dariush is on the rise in the lightweight division.
Tim Means: It was a good Saturday night for Means. Not only did he get the win, he also got a percentage of Laureano Staropoli’s pay when Staropoli came in heavy for the lightweight scrap.
Means put on a workmanlike performance to get the win. He did well with his striking, but it was his wrestling that made the difference in this one as he scored two takedowns on his way to the decision.
Means was calm and focused on his way to victory.
Kevin Holland: Holland did not get to fight last week because his opponent, Trevin Giles, passed out before he made the walk to the octagon. Holland got a matchup on Saturday against UFC newcomer, Joaquin Buckley, and he made the most of it. Holland was calm and relaxed as Buckley set a relentless pace. Holland avoided taking much damage and when he found an opening, Holland threw a fast right cross that blew the mouthpiece out of Buckley’s mouth as he fell to the mat. Holland needed no additional strikes for the third-round stoppage. Holland has fast hands and an overabundance of confidence and he will be a fighter that fans either love or hate as he climbs the ladder at middleweight.
Nasrat Haqparast: Haqparast was coming off a knockout loss to Drew Dober when he faced Alexander Munoz on Saturday. If Haqparast’s confidence was shook after that loss to Dober, he rebuilt it with his decision victory over the outmatched Munoz. Haqparast landed 104 significant strikes to Munoz’s 37 and stopped seven of eight takedown attempts. A good rebound performance from Haqparast.
Andrew Sanchez: A mullet sporting Sanchez showed he is more than a wrestler when he scored a nasty knockout over the favored Wellington Turman on Saturday night. Using a karate style striking approach, Sanchez showed he had power and quickness with his first-round stoppage. Sanchez is working with Tristar in Montreal and that seems to have paid off for him.
Gavin Tucker: Tucker missed nearly two years after his first year in the UFC and then missed over a year before he faced Justin Jaynes on Saturday. He did not look like a fighter who had that much time out of the octagon.
Jaynes nearly finished the fight early in the first round with an uppercut and a follow up choke, but once Tucker slipped out of the submission attempt — and his shorts — he took control of the bout.
Tucker’s offense was exceptional and his ability to get Jaynes thinking high kick and then delivering body kicks paid off as Jaynes’ cardio failed him. This bout was an excellent reminder of why there was hype around Tucker when he made his UFC debut in 2017. If he can stay active, Tucker could do some damage in the featherweight division
Youssef Zalal: The 23-year-old Zalal became the first UFC fighter to hit 3-0 in 2020 when he scored a dominant unanimous decision win over Peter Barrett. Zalal displayed fluid footwork as he bopped around the cage on his toes from the start of the fight. That movement enabled him to nearly finish the contest when he caught Barrett with a nasty spinning back kick early in the contest. When the finish did not come, Zalal showed good awareness and backed off to conserve energy. Zalal had great octagon control and did a good job of dominating on the ground. If there was one knock, it was Zalal’s striking defense, but that should be something he will become aware of as he progresses up the featherweight ranks.
Irwin Rivera and Ali Al Qaisi: The opening fight was an exciting bantamweight scrap that could have gone either way, but Rivera got the split decision nod. Rivera was perhaps about over aggressive in his jiu-jitsu game, but with a black belt from the Burns brothers, he probably had a reason for his confidence. Rivera also showed he has powerful striking to go with his ground abilities.
Al Qaisi opened his MMA career at 2-0, then went 8-1 before his UFC debut on Saturday. He looked calm, confident and relaxed. Despite his opponent’s ground skills, Al Qaisi was unafraid to tangle with Rivera on the mat. As the fight progressed, he loosened up.
Both men still have some growing to do, but this was an excellent scrap that showed that Rivera and Al Qaisi could be fighters to watch at 135 pounds.
Aleksei Oleinik: For the fourth time in his UFC career, Oleinik lost a fight after winning two straight. Oleinik was close to finishing Derrick Lewis with a scarf choke in the first stanza, but he could not force the tap from Lewis. At 43, Oleinik is still a fighter to be reckoned with. As long as he has an opportunity to secure a choke, Oleinik has the opportunity to win. By no means is he done, especially at heavyweight.
Chris Weidman: After his win over Omari Akhmedov said that he was back and gunning for the top of the middleweight division. I understand why Weidman would feel that way, but no. The Weidman we saw on Saturday was a shadow of the fighter who stopped Anderson Silva in 2013.
Weidman ran out of gas early in this fight and his striking was slow and not very effective. Weidman’s saving grace was that Akhmedov’s cardio was even worse.
I can’t see this victory setting Weidman up for anything but disappointment, especially if the matchmakers book him against the top of the 185-pound division.
Omari Akhmedov: Akhmedov was ranked inside the top-15 of the middleweight division heading into the co-main event. I find it hard to believe he will stay there after his loss to a shadow of Chris Weidman. Akhmedov ran out of gas in the second round and did not refill that tank in the minute he had before the start of the third stanza.
Maki Pitolo: It’s understandable why Pitolo felt safe trying to take Darren Stewart to the mat. Stewart had zero submission wins on his record heading into Saturday. Pitolo learned a valuable lesson after he tapped to a guillotine choke, never assume something about a UFC caliber fighter.
Julija Stoliarenko: Yana Kunitskaya knew that Stoliarenko wanted the fight on the mat and she avoided going there until late in the second round. Not long after the fight hit the ground, Stoliarenko attempted to lock up that technique without success.
If Stoliarenko wants to succeed in the UFC, she needs to either find a way to get the fight to the mat or add more to her overall game.
Scott Holtzman: Holtzman’s two-fight winning streak came to an abrupt end when he Beneil Dariush knocked him out with a spinning back forearm on Saturday. Holtzman landed nine significant strikes on 18 attempts. Dariush landed 36 significant strikes on 64 attempts. Those numbers do a good job of telling the tale of the fight as Holtzman was outmatched by Dariush.
Laureano Staropoli: Staropoli did a good job of matching the striking of Tim Means, but his overreliance on spinning techniques might have cost him as he tried and failed to catch Means more than once. Staropoli also gets points off for coming in heavy for the lightweight scrap.
Alexander Munoz: To be blunt, this fight seemed designed to give Munoz’s opponent, Nasrat Haqparast a win. The UFC did Munoz no favors in booking him opposite Haqparast for his UFC debut. With that said, the decision loss will be a lesson for Munoz. He now knows what he needs to work on to find success inside the octagon.
Wellington Turman: Turman just did not have the speed to hang with the striking of Andrew Sanchez even though Sanchez left himself open by using a hands down striking style. Perhaps Turman expected Sanchez would use his wrestling. Whatever the case, Turman was knocked out by Sanchez.
Justin Jaynes: Jaynes scored a 41-second knockout in his UFC debut in June. Things did not go as well for him in his second UFC contest when Gavin Tucker submitted him in the third round of their featherweight contest. Jaynes had his moment when he knocked Tucker down and then worked a choke, but his cardio failed him in the second round. Power is a good thing in MMA, but it can’t be the only thing a fighter relies on and that might be the takeaway from this fight for Jaynes.
Peter Barrett: Barrett showed he is a tough fighter, but outside of that he didn’t have much to offer during his matchup against Youssef Zalal. Barrett is tough, but that alone doesn’t make for a UFC fighter. He needs to add something to his game if he wants to last with the promotion.
Joaquin Buckley: Buckley took his fight against Kevin Holland on short notice and he fought like he wanted to end the contest in a short amount of time. He was ultra-aggressive and looked to work the body as much as possible. However, Holland did a good job of avoiding damage. The upside of this fight for Buckley was that he did not seem to fade all the much even though he set an incredible pace. I’m interested to see what Buckley has to offer with a full camp.
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