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UFC Vegas 72 was another ESPN+ streaming card that did not promise much on paper. Outside the main event battle between two fighters ranked inside the top 10 of the UFC’s bantamweight division, Saturday’s event was low on name recognition.
In the aftermath of the card, it’s doubtful that anyone other than the main event winner, Yadong Song, will see their standing rise. However, a few fighters gained momentum thanks to their performances at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Before Song picked up a fifth-round knockout win over Ricky Simon, rising middleweight Caio Borralho earned his first UFC stoppage with a second-round submission win over Michal Oleksiejczuk. Also notable were Rodolfo Vieira’s submission victory and Fernando Padilla’s knockout win in his UFC debut.
Read on for the complete list of winners and losers from UFC Vegas 72, which took place at UFC Apex and streamed on ESPN+.
UFC Vegas 72 Winners
Yadong Song: One of the concerns about Yadong Song heading into his UFC Vegas 72 main event fight opposite Ricky Simon was that Song’s propensity to throw every strike attempt with full power would open him up to Simon’s takedowns. While Simon did stick two takedowns, he could not capitalize once he got the fight to the mat. Meanwhile, Song’s striking earned him one knockdown and a comfortable lead on the scorecards heading into the fifth round of the 135-pound scrap.
Song, perhaps looking to make a statement and set himself up to face a foe ranked higher than him, didn’t rest on that lead. Instead, the 25-year-old went out in the fifth round and scored a second knockdown and a finish at 1:11 of the final stanza.
With the win, Song has knockout victories in his last three UFC wins. With how he handled Simon, Song should get a matchup against a top-five opponent in his next outing.
Caio Borralho: Following his win at UFC 280, I had the following to say about Caio Borralho “…made some incremental improvements at UFC 280. In his previous fight, a July decision victory over Armen Petrosyan, he seemed content to gain top control and stall. Borralho was a little busier in that position during this fight. If he hopes to move forward, Borralho needs to up his aggression and output.”
Well, mission accomplished at UFC Vegas 72. With a 3-0 UFC record heading into Saturday, Borralho had three decision wins. He picked up his first stoppage under the UFC banner with a second-round submission win over Michal Oleksiejczuk.
The 30-year-old Borralho, who made his UFC debut in 2022, looks ready to challenge a ranked opponent in his next outing. Following his win over Oleksiejczuk, Borralho called out the No. 8 ranked Derek Brunson, who is on a two-fight losing skid and looking for his first win since he defeated Darren Till in September 2021.
Rodolfo Vieira: Rodolfo Vieira picked up his first win in nearly a year by capitalizing on an enormous mistake from his opponent, Cody Brundage. If there’s a lesson to be learned from Saturday’s middleweight scrap between Vieira and Brundage, it’s that willingly going to the ground with Vieira is the type of unforced error that will have dire consequences.
Fernando Padilla: Fernando Padilla scored a big win in his UFC debut with a quick first-round knockout of Julian Erosa, who has been with the UFC since 2018.
There will be grumblings about the stoppage from referee Chris Tognoni. Still, Padilla’s powerful strikes had Erosa in bad shape, and given a choice between a questionably “early” stoppage and a late halt to a fight, I’ll always side with the fight being stopped sooner rather than later.
At 26, Padilla has close to 20 professional fights on his resume, and the UFC would be wise to get him back into the octagon as soon as possible after he spent fewer than two minutes in the cage on Saturday.
While Waters picked up the unanimous decision win, he is still a work in progress. Waters needs to be aware that more experienced fighters will be able to figure out his timing and exploit his low guard and how he carries a lot of his weight on his front foot.
Waters did a nice job fighting behind his jab at points, but he should be more active in using that strike and a bit less reliant on his ability to counter or catch his shorter foes when they look to close the distance on him.
Cody Durden: Cody Durden picked up a third straight win under the UFC banner with an upset victory over the favored Charles Johnson. Durden used his wrestling and ground control to pick up the win. However, the most impressive part of Durden’s performance was his willingness and ability to push himself in the third round, even though he seemed to be fading, to pick up late takedowns to secure the win.
Irina Alekseeva: First, Irina Alekseeva missed weight by five pounds for her UFC debut against Stephanie Egger. The second thing that stood out about Alekseeva was that she did not employ much, if any, striking defense. With those negatives out of the way, Alekseeva’s kneebar submission win over Egger was impressive.
There are many questions the woman with the unfortunate nickname of “The Russian Ronda” needs to answer, but her win at UFC Vegas 72 will put some eyeballs on Alekseeva heading into her next UFC scrap.
Marcus McGhee: Marcus McGhee had a good week. On three days’ notice, the former LFA bantamweight stepped in to face Journey Newson and walked out of the UFC Apex with the first submission win of his professional career. The 32-year-old product of the MMA Lab took advantage of the opportunity the UFC gave him and made a big statement with the upset win.
Jamey-Lyn Horth: Former LFA flyweight champion Jamey-Lyn Horth opened her 137.5-pound catchweight fight opposite the more experienced Hailey Cowan by landing nice body kicks. Later in the first round, with her foe keeping her guard low, Horth uncorked a
head kick that scored. With that, Horth gave Cowan more to think about going forward.
Horth won the fight via decision, and despite her inexperience, the now 6-0 Horth seems like a coachable fighter who should be on your radar, especially since all her previous bouts came at 125.
UFC Vegas 72 Losers
ESPN: The UFC delivered another clunker of a card to ESPN. UFC Vegas 72, which was incredibly weak on paper, had one meaningful fight, which was the main event. The UFC once again sent the message to its fans, current broadcast partner, and potential future broadcast partners that it does not care to put much effort into its nearly weekly ESPN+ streaming cards outside of providing content.
Ricky Simon: Heading into his UFC Vegas 72 main event matchup opposite Song Yadong, Ricky Simon had two takedowns in each of his previous fights. As a result of his wrestling skills, Simon turned those takedowns into more than four minutes of control time in each of those fights, both f which Simon ended via stoppage before the end of the second stanza. Simon had two takedowns against Yadong. However, his control time for the fight, which Yadong won via knockout at 1:11 of the fifth round, was just 51 seconds.
With the loss, Simon’s five-fight winning streak came to an end, as did his hopes of breaking into the top of the UFC bantamweight rankings.
Cody Brundage: It’s hard to understand why Cody Brundage would pull guard against an accomplished, and that’s an understatement, grappler like Rodolfo Vieira, but he did. Not long after he did so, Brundage found himself tapping out.
Josh Quinlan: UFC Vegas 72 should be a learning experience for Josh Quinlan. Quinlan was slow to adjust his offense when facing an opponent in the long and lengthy Trey Waters he struggled to get close to.
When Quinlan found he could land calf kicks, he had success, but Quinlan seemed to lack the knowledge of how to capitalize on the calf kicks or use them to set up more offense.
Journey Newsom: Initially booked to face Brian Kelleher at UFC Vegas 72, Journey Newsom instead faced a short-notice opponent in the UFC debuting Marcus McGhee. Newsom lost the fight via second-round submission. The loss dropped Newsom’s UFC record to 1-4 with one no-contest. It would not be a surprise to see Newsom’s run with the promotion, which began in 2019, come to an end in the coming days.
Hailey Cowan: That the UFC had Hailey Cowan go through three weight cuts in a seven week span, her previous two fights were scratched, shows that fighter health and safety are, at best, an afterthought.
Dominick Cruz: If you read the “Winners and Losers” column regularly, then you know I’m not a fan of the fact that the former WEC/UFC champion Dominick Cruz refuses to learn, or maybe its understand, the scoring criteria of an MMA fight. Cruz once again showed his ignorance, wondering aloud during the night’s first fight if a takedown that didn’t lead to any damage might outweigh the several head kicks that landed before the takedown occurred. Thankfully, his co-commentator, Daniel Cormier, set him straight, pointing out, “It’s just a takedown unless she does something with it.”
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