UFC Vegas 54 flies under the radar but delivers

UFC Vegas 54 flies under the radar but delivers

By ROUNDHOUSE MMA
Sunday, May 15th 2022, 10:44PM, 7 months ago

UFC Vegas 54 was a card that flew under the radar but ended up delivering. The UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada featured a main event between the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz taking on surging contender Aleksandar Rakic. Let’s recap what went down.

Aleksandar Rakic blows out his knee

Aleksander Rakic grabbing his damaged knee. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images
Aleksander Rakic grabbing his damaged knee. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images

The main event ended under unfortunate circumstances as Aleksandar Rakic blew out his knee in the 3rd round which resulted in a TKO win for Jan Blachowicz. The judges and the Verdict Community both had Blachowicz and Rakic tied at 1-1 heading into the 3rd round, with an advantage leaning towards Rakic. After the fight, Rakic revealed that he suffered a significant knee injury three weeks prior to his fight against Blachowicz. It was evident that he was having a lot of trouble managing his knee prior to the stoppage. It looks like a torn ACL, as you could visibily see Rakic's knee separating in the replay. Many expected the winner of this fight to be the next challenger for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. It looks like Blachowicz will be next.

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“Superman” Defeats “The Hulk”

Ryan Spann getting his hand raised. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images
Ryan Spann getting his hand raised. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images

In a fight where a lot of people expected Ion Cutelaba to crack his way into the UFC Light Heavyweight rankings, Ryan Spann scored a quick submission win against Cutelaba in the 1st round. Cutelaba was controlling the 1st round with three takedowns, but an aggressive overhand right led to a stumble by Cutelana that Ryan Spann capitalized on and finished the fight with a guillotine choke. Spann was a +190 underdog compared to Cutelaba who was a significant -235 favorite. Only 1.57% of The Verdict Community predicted this fight perfectly, and it was the first time in ten years that Cutelaba has lost a fight by submission. Spann will be looking for a big fight next in the Light Heavyweight division.

Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas put on a show

Katlyn Chookagian earns a close split decision win against Amanda Ribas. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images
Katlyn Chookagian earns a close split decision win against Amanda Ribas. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images

Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas put on a show at the UFC APEX as they competed to a split decision in a bout that earned fight of the night honors. Ribas showed up to fight, but it appeared that Chookagian did more damage with significant strikes, despite Ribas having a lot of success with the leg kicks, takedowns, and top control. The Verdict Community had Ribas winning the 1st and 3rd rounds, with Chookagian winning the 2nd. The fight was close, but Chookagian earned her 18th professional win and her 15th by decision. Despite not being a finisher, Katlyn knows how to win, even if it means going to the judges’ scorecards.

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Tatsuro Taira Shines In His UFC Debut

Tatsuro Taira about to enter the Octagon for the first time. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images
Tatsuro Taira about to enter the Octagon for the first time. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images

There was a lot of buzz around 22-year-old Tatsuro Taira from Japan who made his UFC debut against Carlos Candelario. Taira, who dominated the Japanese regional scene, competing in Shooto, got the call from the UFC to make his first appearance this weekend. Despite not getting the finish, which he is certainly known for, Taira scored a knockdown and controlled the fight. Taira was impressive and won all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards with one judge giving a 10-8. This young fighter has a very bright future and has the potential to become the next big star out of Japan.

Underdogs Spoil The Party

Andre Petroski celebrates his win against Nick Maximov. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images
Andre Petroski celebrates his win against Nick Maximov. Credits to: Jeff Bottari-Getty Images

It was quite the night for a lot of underdogs this weekend, as multiple parlays were ruined due to some surprising performances. Jan Blachowicz and Ryan Spann were +150 and +175 odds according to DraftKings, but Allan Nascimento (+170) and Andre Petroski (+330) also scored very impressive wins over Jake Hadley and Nick Maximov, respectively, who both suffered their first career losses. Jake Hadley was a Dana White’s Contender Series standout, and earned a contract with a 2nd round submission win against Mitch Raposo, but suffered defeat to the more experienced submission specialist in Nascimento.

On the other hand, Nick Maximov, who is famously known for training with the Diaz brothers, suffered defeat to the TUF 29 Semifinalist Andre Petroski. These two met on the first fight of the card, but Andre scored a slick anaconda choke only one minute and sixteen seconds into the fight.

It was an eventful Saturday night at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, where we saw finishes, standout performances, upsets, and more. The UFC is back at the APEX next weekend for a women’s Bantamweight showcase featuring Holly Holm and Ketlen Vieira.

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