It was going to be tough to top the card from last weekend when we saw every fight end in a finish, but this card came pretty close, and the San Diego crowd was treated to an excellent event. The main event saw two top ten Bantamweight contenders, Marlon Vera and Dominick Cruz engage in a back and forth war, with Vera scoring a brutal head kick knockout in the fourth round. Yet another fantastic card set forth by the UFC, with stand-out performances, debuts to remember, and some fantastic finishes.
Let’s recap what went down.
What a fight between Marlon Vera and Dominick Cruz to cap off an amazing night at the Pechanga Arena. Early on in the fight, the veteran Cruz sure looked like his old self, with beautiful boxing, slick footwork, and two takedowns. It was certain that Cruz would mix in the takedown against the strong striker that is Vera, but Dominick seemed to score the early advantage on the feet as well. Intense pressure, volume, and speed likely won Cruz the early rounds, despite getting knocked down twice. As the fight went on, Vera started to pick up the pace, and in the fourth round, he landed a flush head kick that put Cruz out. Prior to the fight, Dominick Cruz was 17-0 in non-title fights, and this loss will certainly sting. On the other hand, Vera extends his winning streak to four and is certainly deserving of a title shot or a number one contender fight next.
Nate Landwehr is a different breed of toughness, and that showed in a violent win over David Onama. From the get-go, Landwehr put it on Onama, and the two engaged in one of the fights of the year. These two showed why mixed martial arts is the best sport on the planet, and both men went home with an extra $50,000, courtesy of Dana White. Onama clearly got the edge in the first round and came very close to finishing the fight. In the second, Landwehr put a beating on David Onama, with all three judges giving him a 10-8 round. Landwehr also took the third round on two of the judges’ scorecards, which gave him the majority decision win. Judge Michael Bell scored the fight 28-28, with Junichiro Kamigo and Derek Cleary scoring the fight 29-27 for Landwehr. Both fighters showed extreme toughness and resilience, in what was no doubt, one of the best fights of 2022.
Azamat Murzakanov extended his record to an impressive 12-0 with a dominant win over Devin Clark. Murzakanov controlled this fight on the feet, and on the ground, and picked up the TKO win in the third round. Murzakanov has been so impressive inside the octagon, picking up a come-from-behind win against Tafon Nchukwi, and now picking up a win over Devin Clark who is certainly no slouch. Murzakanov also owns wins over top Middleweight contender Andre Muniz, and top PFL talent Mattheus Scheffel. It’s clear that this guy is going to be a problem, whether he decides to move back down to Middleweight or stay with Light Heavyweight. He’s worth keeping an eye on.
The prelims delivered, again, and there were several fights on the card that deserved some recognition. Josh Quinlan made his UFC debut on the second fight of the night, and KO’ed Jason Witt out cold with a flush left hook. After Witt went down, it was clear that he was unconscious, and so Quinlan made the classy decision to not follow up with another shot, which the commentary team appreciated.
Returning to the octagon after over a year and a half away from the sport, Tyson Nam picked up a fantastic knockout over Ode Osbourne. Osbourne tried to throw a very “nonchalant” flying knee, but he was met with a vicious right hand that put him down. Nam followed up with some brutal punches on the ground, and the referee stopped the fight.
Finally, Gabriel Benitez snapped a two-fight losing streak with a first-round knockout against Charlie Ontiveros. Ontiveros really started the fight out at a very high pace, throwing a whole arsenal of strikes against Moggly, but Benitez was able to withstand the massive height and reach disadvantage, and get the first-round finish.
Finally, it was also worth noting that Nina Nunes announced her retirement from mixed martial arts, following her split decision win over Cynthia Calvillo. The wife of UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes made her Flyweight debut this past weekend and looked phenomenal at that weight. Nunes has also been in her wife’s corner for most of her fights and has fought the best the Strawweight division has to offer. She retires at the age of 36 and owns wins over Calvillo, Claudia Gadhela, Randa Markos, and Angela Hill. Happy retirement to Nina Nunes!
Following a fantastic card in San Diego, the UFC will be traveling to Salt Lake City for a stacked UFC 278 card, headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman, and top contender Leon Edwards.