UFC Fight Night Report: Derrick Lewis Knocks Out Curtis Blaydes in Round 2
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, the UFC held their third card of the month at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas Nevada. The event was headlined by a heavyweight matchup between two of the top-ranked heavyweights in the UFC, Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. This fight was originally scheduled for November of 2020, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID 19 a day before the event, and the bout was rescheduled. Blaydes has been locked in a strange place in the division, riding an impressive four-fight win streak, but two stoppage losses to Francis Ngannou have kept Blaydes from the front of the logjammed line of contenders at heavyweight. Derrick Lewis came into this fight on a three-fight win streak, and a win over Curtis Blaydes would certainly reinsert Lewis into the title picture as well. In the co-main event, Ketlen Viera faced former UFC Women’s Featherweight title challenger, Yana Kunitskaya.
Rafael Alves was scheduled to face Pat Sabatini in a featherweight bout on this card, but at the official weigh-ins on Friday, Alves came in at 157.5lbs, an astounding 11.5lbs over the featherweight limit. This was the heaviest weight miss in UFC history, and the fight was scrapped from the card. Additionally, a fight between Luis Pena and Drakkar Klose fell apart about an hour before the card, after a member of Klose’s team tested positive for COVID-19. A featherweight fight between Chas Kelley and Jamall Emmers was later canceled as well, as Emmers suffered from back spasms before walking out to the cage.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Derrick Lewis, Aiemann Zahabi, Tom Aspinall, and Chris Daukaus
*Sergey Spivak def. Jared Vanderaa by TKO at 4:32 of Round 2
*Aiemann Zahabi def. Drako Rodriguez by KO at 3:05 of Round 1
*Casey O’Neill def. Shana Dobson by TKO at 3:41 of Round 2
*Julian Erosa def. Nate Landwehr by TKO at 0:56 of Round 1
*John Castañeda def. Eddie Wineland by TKO at 4:44 of Round 1
*Jared Gordon def. Danny Chavez by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 29–28)
*Tom Aspinall def. Andrei Arlovski by rear-naked choke at 1:09 of Round 2
*Phil Hawes def. Nassourdine Imavov by Majority Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
*Chris Daukaus def. Alexey Oleinik by TKO at 1:55 of Round 1
*Darrick Minner def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
*Yana Kunitskaya def. Ketlen Vieira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Derrick Lewis def. Curtis Blaydes by KO at 1:26 of Round 2
SERGEY SPIVAK (11-2, 245) VS JARED VANDERAA (11-4, 265) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Vanderaa landed a pair of heavy leg kicks early, but was promptly taken down. Spivak racked up a great deal of control time throughout the round, although to his credit, Vanderaa did a good job of keeping Spivak from progressing into a more dangerous position. This was a very dominant round for Spivak, and the commentary team speculated that it may have been a 10-8 round.
Spivak brought him right back down in the opening thirty seconds of the next round. He cut Vanderaa open badly with ground and pound strikes, and eventually, Vanderaa began to cover up and stopped fighting the position. Spivac knew that Vanderaa was in trouble, and he threw down constant ground and pound strikes until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Sergey Spivak by TKO at 4:32 of Round 2
Spivak dominated every second of this fight, and this was one of his better UFC performances. Vanderaa called out Spivak, and unfortunately for him, it seemed as though he bit off a bit more than he could chew in his UFC debut against Spivak here. With this win, Spivak improved to 3-2 in the UFC.
AIEMANN ZAHABI (7-2, 136) VS DRAKO RODRIGUEZ (7-1, 140.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Rodriguez missed weight by 4.5lbs, and he was fined 30% of his purse.
Rodriguez landed a right cross, as well as a lead uppercut early. He landed a calf kick, as well as a strong right hand, but later in the round, he closed the distance in an attempt to land an uppercut, but Zahabi countered with a right hand that knocked Rodriguez out cold.
WINNER: Aiemann Zahabi by KO at 3:05 of Round 1
Rodriguez started off the fight well, but Zahabi finished things early with that beautiful countershot. Zahabi has been largely inactive these last few years, and this was actually his first win since his UFC debut in early 2017. This was a much-needed highlight-reel knockout victory, and he is now 2-2 in the UFC.
As we moved on to the next fight, Chas Kelly walked out to the octagon, awaiting the arrival of his opponent Jamall Emmers. As Kelly warmed up in the cage, we were informed that Emmers was suffering from major back spasms in the back, and he was unable to compete. Joe Martinez came out and announced that the fight had been canceled, and Bisping interviewed Kelley on his thoughts regarding the cancellation (Kelley was very classy and understanding).
SHANA DOBSON (4-4, 126) VS CASEY O’NEILL (5-0, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
O’Neil was aggressive early, and Dobson responded in kind. They traded some heavy shots before O’Neil locked her up in the clinch against the cage. Dobson reversed the position and landed some solid elbows and a knee to the body, but O’Neil tripped her down to the ground. Dobson eventually got back to her feet, and they traded again momentarily, but O’Neil took her right back down to the ground near the cage. O’Neil went for a heel hook late in the round, but time expired.
O’Neil began the round with another takedown, and she quickly transitioned to Dobson’s back. She couldn’t find a choke, but she moved into full mount, and she began to throw down some vicious ground and pound shots. Dobson was trying to move out of danger, but she just couldn’t get back to her feet, and no matter the position on the ground, O’Neil kept looking to do the damage necessary for a stoppage, and eventually, she was successful.
WINNER: Casey O’Neil by TKO at 3:41 of Round 2
I thought this was a great debut for Casey O’Neil, who showed off a well-rounded game, finishing ability, and solid cardio, as she pushed a heavy pace for two rounds. She has had prior five-round experience (in EMMA- Eternal MMA), and I have to imagine that will greatly benefit her this early in her career. She is a prospect that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future.
NATE LANDWEHR (14-3, 146) VS JULIAN EROSA (24-8, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Less than a minute into the first round, Erosa swarmed Landwehr with strikes after stumbling him with a right hand, and Erosa dropped him with a flying knee against the cage. Referee Mark Smith jumped in and stopped the fight, and Erosa picked up the first-round finish.
WINNER: Julian Erosa by TKO at 0:56 of Round 1
This was a wild minute-long fight, complete with a flying knee to end things. There is never too much to break down in a fight that ends this quickly, but this was a great highlight win for Erosa, who is now on a three-fight win streak. Erosa is 2-3 in the UFC.
EDDIE WINELAND (24-14-1, 135.5) VS JOHN CASTANEDA (17-5, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Winelands’ right hand was finding its home early in the first. Castaneda went for a head kick at one point, and Wineland tripped him to the ground, but Castaneda scrambled right up. With less than thirty seconds remaining in the round, Castaneda landed a right hand that hurt Wineland, and Castaneda rushed him with strikes until Wineland went down, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: John Castañeda by TKO at 4:44 of Round 1
This was a fun fight while it lasted. Wineland was fighting aggressively, as you would expect, but the second Castaneda noticed he was hurt, he gave him absolutely no room to recover. Wineland seemed to disagree with the stoppage, but I had no qualms with it. Castaneda looked solid in his short-notice debut against a tough opponent, but he painted a clearer picture of what he’s capable of here.
JARED GORDON (16-4, 150) VS DANNY CHAVEZ (11-3, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Gordon missed weight by 4lbs, and he was fined 30% of his purse.
Both fighters traded heavy shots in short flurries. Chavez landed a solid cup shot, which brought a pause to the action as Gordon recovered. Chavez landed a solid straight to the body as the action resumed, and he followed it up with a strong leg kick. Gordon cracked him with a counter right hand late in the round, and he piled up a solid number of low kicks. Gordon ended the round with a strong combination, and I thought he narrowly took this opening round.
Chavez began the second round with a takedown, but Gordon quickly made his way back to his feet. Gordon continued to attack the legs, and he mixed in a takedown attempt to bring the fight to the ground. He landed some strong ground and pound shots, and Gordon controlled the remainder of the round. Bisping was certain that this was a 10-8 round, but I went with a 10-9 myself. 20-18 Gordon.
Gordon landed a solid counter hook and shot for a takedown, but Chavez defended it well and advanced. They traded hands momentarily, which prompted Gordon to attempt another takedown, and this time he was successful. Gordon racked up some more control time, and when Chavez finally managed to escape, Gordon immediately re-engaged him in the clinch against the cage, giving him no room to work. 30-27 Gordon.
WINNER: Jared Gordon by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 29–28)
This broke the streak of the finishes to start the night, and it wasn’t the most entertaining fight on the card, but Gordon did what he needed to do to get the win after a bad weight miss. I was a fan of the way he mixed up his attack throughout the fight, and he capitalized on his advantage in the wrestling department as the fight progressed. Gordon is now 5-3 in the UFC.
ANDREI ARLOVSKI (30-19, 2 NC, 249.5) VS TOM ASPINALL (9-2, 244.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Aspinall cracked Arlovski with a right hand in the opening minute of the first round. Not long after, he swarmed Arlovski with a quick and vicious barrage of punches against the cage, and it looked as though the fight was close to being stopped, but Arlovski swung back and wrapped Aspinall up to keep referee Mark Smith from stopping things. They spent the majority of the remainder of the round against the cage, although they traded hands in the middle of the cage to end the round.
A minute into the second round, Aspinall took Arlovski down with a double leg, and Aspinall almost immediately sunk in a rear-naked choke, and Arlovski tapped out (and swore loudly).
WINNER: Tom Aspinall by rear-naked choke at 1:09 of Round 2
Andrei Arlovski has found himself in a sort of gatekeeper role for the top fifteen of the division these past six years, and Aspinall passed his test with flying colors here. Arlovski is far from the easiest fighter to submit, and Aspinall got it done mere seconds after taking him down. Aspinall had had an impressive trio of fights to begin his run in the UFC, and I would have to imagine he will be facing ranked competition the next time he finds himself in the octagon.
PHIL HAWES (9-2, 185) VS NASSOURDINE IMAVOV (9-2, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Hawes was the aggressor early, backing Imavov up, and attacking his lead leg. Hawes pressed Imavov against the cage, and he tried to take Imavov down with a body lock, but they ended up in a bit of a stalemate. They weren’t separated though, and late in the round, Hawes succeeded in bringing Imavov to the ground. Hawes ended the round on top, and this was a pretty easy round to score in his favor.
Imavov got tagged by another solid leg kick when the second round began, and soon found himself back against the cage. Imavov created some separation, and he landed a pair of 1-2’s that looked as though they hurt Hawes. Unfortunately for Imavov, Hawes managed to take him down once more and quelled his momentum. Hawes rode out the remainder of the round on top, and I had him up 20-18 on the scorecards going into the final round.
Hawes took Imavov back down seconds into the third round, and while Imavov was able to get back to his feet quickly, he once more found himself pressed against the cage. It was not the most entertaining start to the round, but Imavov created a bit of separation late in the round, and he just started teeing off on Hawes. Much like the second round, Hawes looked hurt, but he still managed to wrap Imavov up and prevent him from getting the finish. As time was running out, Imavov landed a big knee that had had Hawes wobbling yet again, but time expired. I scored this fight 29-28 Hawes.
WINNER: Phil Hawes by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Hawes looked great in the first round, but he was tired by the halfway point of the second, and he was getting hurt by everything Imavov was landing. Regardless, he always found a way to take Imavov down when he was in trouble, and this was a solid performance. In his post-fight interview, Phil Hawes spoke about his interest in being a short-notice replacement for the Chris Weidman/Uriah Hall fight, if one of them were to fall out. Hawes is now 2-0 in the UFC.
ALEXEY OLEINIK (59-14-1, 240) VS CHRIS DAUKAUS (10-3, 234) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Oleinik tried to pull Daukaus down into an Ezekiel choke, but he was unsuccessful, and Daukaus punished him with strikes as he picked himself up. Oleinik backed him up momentarily, but Daukaus knew he had the advantage on the feet, and he landed a clean straight right that Oleinik reacted poorly to. Daukaus saw his opportunity, and he swarmed Oleinik with strikes against the cage. Oleinik never went down, but he wasn’t defending himself either, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Chris Daukaus by TKO at 1:55 of Round 1
With this win, Daukaus improved to an impressive 3-0 in the UFC, with three first-round knockouts. He will likely find himself ranked after this latest performance, and in his post-fight interview, he called for a top ten ranked opponent next. Michael Bisping pushed him for an answer, and Daukaus went with Stipe Miocic. That’s obviously not going to be his next fight, and he’s aware of that, but I do expect his next fight to be against one of the bigger names in the heavyweight rankings.
CHARLES ROSA (13-4, 146) VS DARRICK MINNER (25-11, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Minner partially connected with a standing knee to the head of Rosa early. Minner repeatedly found success on the feet with short flurries, and he took Rosa down with a trip near the cage. Minner moved into full mount, and he looked for an arm triangle, but Rosa defended it well and rolled for Minner’s leg. The round ended with neither man in an advantageous position on the ground, but I thought this was a clear 10-9 round for Minner regardless.
Seconds into the next round, Minner dropped Rosa with a right hand, and he followed him down to the ground, moving right back into full mount. Rosa rolled out of it, and he was searching for a triangle from his back, but Minner just sliced right through his guard and reassumed full mount. He climbed up Rosa’s back as Rosa picked himself up against the cage, and when Rosa jumped down in an attempt to shake Minner off of him, Minner got right back on top, and he tried to lock in the arm triangle once more. Rosa escaped the submission and threatened an armbar, but Minner avoided it, and time expired in the round. 20-18 Minner.
Once again, it took Minner almost no time to take the fight back to the ground. Rosa was cut open badly from Minner’s ground and pound, but he was still able to threaten submissions on occasion to keep Minner from getting too comfortable. Minner took his back with a minute remaining in the round and ended the fight in this position. 30-27 Minner.
WINNER: Darrick Minner by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
I was very surprised to hear that a judge gave Rosa a round. This was a great performance from Minner, who dominated the fight on the ground as well as on the feet. He is now 2-1 in the UFC, and while he didn’t get a quick finish like his like fight, this was certainly his most complete performance yet.
KETLEN VIEIRA (11-1, 138) VS YANA KUNITSKAYA (13-5, 1 NC, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Vieira missed weight by 2lbs, and she was fined 20% of her purse.
Vieira wasted no time in searching for a takedown, as she immediately closed the distance and brought Kunitskaya against the cage. She eventually managed to get her down in the middle of the cage, and quickly moved into half guard. Kunitskaya did a good job of keeping Vieira from advancing and landed a sizeable amount of strikes off of her back, but she was unable to get back to her feet, and I thought Vieira took the first round.
Vieira pursued another takedown to begin the second round, but it was Kunitskaya who managed to bring Vieira down to the ground. Vieira was very active off of her back, but Kunitskaya avoided her submission attempts and racked a solid amount of control time. Vieira tried to pick herself up against the cage, but Kunitskaya brought her right back down, and she landed some strong elbows to the back of Vieira, as well as a head kick to end the round. 19-19.
Once again, Vieira began the third round by attempting a takedown, and she was successful this time, as she began to work from half guard. With roughly two minutes remaining in the round, Vieira was able to take Kunitskaya’s back, and she searched for the rear-naked choke. While she was unable to get the finish, I did think she won the round, despite a solid final twenty seconds from Kunitskaya, who reversed her way on top and rained down some heavy ground and pound to end the fight. I scored the fight 29-28 Vieira.
WINNER: Yana Kunitskaya by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a very close fight, and while I gave the edge to Vieira, I thought the judge’s decision here was completely fair. While Vieira had the control time on her side, the striking numbers were so lopsided in Kunitskaya’s favor, that you would be hard-pressed to call this a “robbery” of any sort. I actually think this fight is a great example of the evolution in judging over the years, as this fight would almost certainly have been scored for Vieira in years past. Regardless, this was Kunitskaya’s biggest win in the UFC thus far, and she is now an impressive 4-2 in the promotion.
CURTIS BLAYDES (14-2, 1 NC, 259) VS DERRICK LEWIS (24-7, 1 NC, 263) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Lewis caught Blaydes with a hard right hand as Blaydes moved in for a takedown early. It backed Blaydes off momentarily, but he recovered quickly. Blaydes connected with a right cross and got the better of a wild exchange in the pocket not long after. Blaydes was looking very sharp on the feet as the round progressed, and he began to really beat up the lead leg of Lewis. Blaydes landed a hard elbow and a solid left hand, but he followed it up with an accidental poke to the eye that paused things momentarily before the round concluded.
Blaydes went for a single leg to begin the second round, but Lewis defended it well and he created some distance. Blaydes went for another one, but this time Lewis caught him with a brutal short right uppercut, and Blaydes was out cold. Lewis landed two more powerful ground and pound shots before Herb Dean jumped in to separate them.
WINNER: Derrick Lewis by KO at 1:26 of Round 2
This was about as brutal of a finish as you’ll see in MMA. The follow-up shots were uncomfortable to watch, not unlike Dan Henderson’s famous knockout of Michael Bisping. Blaydes looked fantastic in the first round, but Lewis had his takedowns well scouted, and when he went to the same well twice in rapid succession, he paid the price. In his post-fight interview, Derrick Lewis mentioned Jon Jones, but ultimately stated he would prefer a fight with Stipe Miocic if given a choice. There is such a logjam at the top of the heavyweight division, that I don’t think he’ll be next in line for a title shot (or even second inline), but with this win, he’s back in the conversation, and Derrick Lewis’s next fight will be a big one regardless of his opponent. Later in the night, he called out Alistair Overeem, and while I’m not sure that’s the most sensible fight considering the result of both fighters’ last respective bouts, it is a fresh matchup, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. With this win, Lewis is tied for the most knockouts in UFC history (12), with Vitor Belfort.