Saturday’s UFC Vegas 19 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at the UFC APEX.
1 – Derrick Lewis
Everybody loves heavyweights. Why? Because fighters weighing 220 to 265 pounds and wearing four-ounce gloves can end a fight with one punch. That’s every heavyweight. But then there’s Derrick Lewis, who has a fastball with a little something extra on it. So while Curtis Blaydes looked good for around six minutes and 20 seconds against Lewis, when “The Black Beast” struck with a flush right hand, it was a reminder that when you face the Texan, you have to be perfect for 15 or 25 minutes, while he only has to be perfect for a split second. That’s a beautiful thing to have in your back pocket if you’re a professional fighter.
2 – Chris Daukaus
Chris Daukaus doesn’t have an easy go of things, juggling fighting, police work and family life. He doesn’t complain about it, and he’s made it work to the tune of a 3-0 UFC record with three knockouts. Which makes you wonder, after a Performance of the Night finish of Aleksei Oleinik, how good can the Philadelphian be if he doesn’t have to work 6pm to 2am shifts in the City of Brotherly Love? He does hit 10 years on the force this summer, so maybe we’ll find out sooner rather than later.
3 – Tom Aspinall
As soon as Tom Aspinall debuted in the Octagon with a 45-second finish of Jake Collier, it was clear that he was going to be a problem for the other big men in the UFC, and his Saturday win over former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski did nothing to change that opinion. The only question is, how far can he go and how fast? My two cents? Very far and very fast.
4 – Yana Kunitskaya
Yana Kunitskaya can fight. You don’t get to this level and win four bouts if you can’t. But in recent bouts, Kunitskaya wasn’t fighting the way she was capable of. She played it safe, focused on tactics and point scoring, and while she got a couple wins out of it, it wasn’t anything that got the fight world excited. That changed in 15 minutes last night, as Kunitskaya fought Ketlen Vieira for all three rounds, made it gritty, and the result was a close, but unanimous, decision win. That Yana Kunitskaya we saw on Saturday? I can’t wait to see her fight again.
5 – Julian Erosa
Julian Erosa has been a pro since 2010. That’s a long time to do anything, let alone be a prizefighter. So as he won on the regional scene but lost in the UFC, you had to feel for him because some fighters never get to succeed in the big show. But after a short-notice win over Sean Woodson last year, Erosa had his fresh start in the Octagon, and he made the most of it on Saturday as he halted Nate Landwehr in less than a minute. It took a bit, but Julian Erosa has arrived.