The highly unofficial UFC.com best-of season continues with the best submissions of 2020 and how we called them on fight night…
One of MMA’s top strikers showed off her submission game in impressive style, as No. 1-ranked bantamweight contender Germaine de Randamie finished Julianna Pena in the third round.
After a tactical opening, de Randamie jarred Pena with a right hand, letting her opponent know that getting close for a takedown would come with a price. There were more rights to follow, but Pena did get “The Iron Lady” down to the mat just before the horn.
A wild exchange allowed Pena to get into a clinch with de Randamie as round two began, and she put her foe on the deck in the second minute. The two traded strikes on the mat for a spell until Pena began working for a choke, but then suddenly it was de Randamie trying to sink in her own choke, wrapping up a good action round.
Pena scored with some good punches to begin the final round, keeping GDR off balance until the Netherlands native got her feet back under her and let her own shots go. Pena initiated a clinch, but as she shot in for a takedown, de Randamie locked in a guillotine choke, and that was the end of the fight, with Jason Herzog stopping it at the 3:25 mark of round three.
A new UFC flyweight champion was crowned Saturday night on Fight Island, as Deiveson Figueiredo scored his second consecutive finish of Joseph Benavidez, and this time there was no controversy, as the Brazilian scored three knockdowns of the perennial contender before submitting him in the first round.
The bout was a rematch of a February bout won by Figueiredo, but he was ineligible to win the title vacated by Henry Cejudo because he didn’t make weight. Add in controversy surrounding Figueiredo’s second-round stoppage win due to an earlier clash of heads, and a rematch was a natural. But while the first bout was competitive, this one was a devastating display of power by “Deus da Guerra.”
After a brief feeling out process, Figueriedo drilled Benavidez with a right hand that put the New Mexico native on the canvas. It looked like the fight was over, but Benavidez weathered the storm and got out of a number of rear naked choke attempts from the Brazilian. Midway through the round, Benavidez got off the mat and went back to work, his head apparently clear. With 90 seconds left, Benavidez was knocked down a second time but he bounced back to his feet, ready to jump back into the fray. But after a third knockdown, Figueiredo would not be denied, and this time, the rear naked choke ended the fight, with the official time of referee Marc Goddard’s stoppage 4:48 of round one.
Thiago Moises made a major statement in his lightweight bout against Michael Johnson, bouncing back from a rough first round to submit “The Menace” in the second frame.
Johnson dominated the first five minutes, tossing aside Moises’ two takedown attempts while peppering his foe with a busy striking attack that saw him landing with punches and kicks upstairs and downstairs. It was a different story in the second, though, as Moises went all-in for a takedown. And when he didn’t get it initially, he kept pushing and pulled guard, locking up Johnson’s leg and producing a tap out due to a heel hook 25 seconds into round two.
The assumption heading into the Fight Island 2 co-main event was that Kelvin Gastelum was on point mentally and physically to snap a two-fight losing streak, but fellow middleweight contender Jack Hermansson put an emphatic end to the Arizonan’s plans, submitting him in the first round.
Hermansson was on his way to an early takedown, but Gastelum reversed the move, apparently putting himself in control. Hermansson had other ideas, and within seconds he locked in the heel hook that ended the fight at 1:18 of the opening stanza.
UFC Vegas 17: Jimmy Flick Post-Fight Interview
UFC Vegas 17: Jimmy Flick Post-Fight Interview
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jimmy Flick put a stamp on his UFC debut, submitting Cody Durden in the first round of their flyweight matchup.
Durden got Flick to the mat early, showing his foe that he was ready to perform wherever the fight went. Flick rebounded nicely when they stood, as he landed a head kick then jumped and pulled Durden into a triangle choke that forced a tap out at the 3:19 mark.
Now tied with Donald Cerrone for the most finishes in UFC history with 16, lightweight contender Charles Oliveira continued to impress in the main event at Ginasio Nilson Nelson on Saturday, extending his current winning streak to seven with a third-round submission of Kevin Lee.
Oliveira went airborne with several of his attacks in the early going, but once Lee started getting into his rhythm, the Brazilian took the fight to the mat and began working for a submission. Lee defended well and tried to scramble his way into a position of control, and he ultimately got there with a minute left. Yet while Lee was now on top, Oliveira kept seeking the finish. Lee did land some hard strikes in the closing 30 seconds, though, capping an interesting five minutes.
Lee’s striking was sharp as the second round began, but Oliveira kept marching forward with his own strikes, landing an uppercut that slowed the Michigan native down. With a little over three minutes left, Lee switched things up with a takedown, nearly getting caught in an armbar in the process. Lee got loose while Oliveira rose to his feet, but another Lee takedown followed. Able to slow things down from the top position, Lee stayed busy enough to avoid a restart, and he remained in control until the horn.
Using his striking to set up a takedown, Lee shot in to start the third round, but Oliveira locked in a guillotine choke. Lee tapped out 28 seconds into the frame, and while he later protested, the replays told the tale.
After a brutal year that saw him lose his father and see a high-profile fight scrapped by the COVID-19 pandemic, Khabib Nurmagomedov could finally exhale, as the UFC lightweight champion successfully defended his title with a second-round submission of Justin Gaethje.
But his victory in the UFC 254 main event on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, one which lifted his perfect record to 29-0, was followed by a shocking announcement, as he announced his retirement at the age of 32.
“Today I want to say it was my last fight,” said Nurmagomedov, whose father Abdulmanap passed away in July. “In no way am I gonna come here without my father. After what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin, I talked with my mother for three days. She didn’t want me to go fight without my father, but I promised her it’s gonna be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this.”
After a brief feeling-out process, a fight broke out, with Numagomedov looking to close the distance while Gaethje landed some solid shots before getting out of grappling range. Nurmagomedov kept the pressure on, landing knees, kicks and punches. With a little over a minute to go, Gaethje scored with a hard combination, but moments later, Nurmagomedov had his takedown with 40 seconds left. The champion quickly moved into the mount position and almost caught his foe’s arm, but the horn intervened.
Gaethje focused on kicking Nurmagomedov’s leg early in round two, but Nurmagomedov responded with a fast takedown and an even faster move to the mount, where he locked in the triangle choke that ended the bout at 1:34 of the second stanza.
It was the perfect end to a perfect career for “The Eagle.”
Aljamain Sterling left no doubt in making his case for a shot at the bantamweight title, as he finished Cory Sandhagen in spectacular fashion, ending the bout via submission in the first round.
Sterling tore after Sandhagen as the fight began and quickly got him to the mat and took his back. The New Yorker’s first rear naked choke attempt didn’t hit the mark, but the second did, with the end coming at 1:28 of round one.
Mackenzie Dern got a spirited effort out of Hannah Cifers in the main card opener, but once Dern got her hands on her opponent on the canvas, it was no surprise that a first-round submission victory followed for the strawweight up and comer.
Cifers went on the attack immediately, bulling Dern into the fence where she scored with knees and punches. Dern got free and showed off some fast hands before the fight hit the mat in the third minute, and once there, it was Dern’s world. Moments later, Dern had a kneebar and Cifers tapped. The official time of the finish was 2:36 of round one.
Brazilian flyweight prospects Ariane Lipski and Luana Carolina were both known for their standup game, but it was Lipski taking the victory via first-round submission, marking the first UFC finish for the “Queen of Violence.”
Lipski scored a knockdown in the first 30 seconds of the fight, putting the ensuing action on the canvas. Carolina looked to lock up a leg, but Lipski calmly worked for a kneebar and she got it, producing a tap out at the 1:28 mark of round one.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES - Figueiredo-Perez, Hooper-Barrett, Ferreira-Pettis, Chimaev-Phillips, Greene-Villante, Royval-Kara-France, Ribas-VanZant, Hansen-Frey, Romanov-De Lima, Oleinik-Greene, Miller-Roberts, Kelleher-Osbourne, Amirkhani-Henry, Perez-Espinosa
VOTERS – Thomas Gerbasi, Christoph Goessing, Cory Kamerschak, E. Spencer Kyte, Steve Latrell, Zac Pacleb, Gavin Porter