Updated: Feb 21, 2021
Derrick Lewis defeated Curtis Blaydes with an emphatic KO in the second round of their Heavyweight contest. Lewis was the underdog coming into the fight, but his stoppage now ties him to the joint most UFC knockouts in history alongside Vitor Belfort with 12.
Within the opening 30 seconds of round one, Lewis showcased his power immediately when a counter overhand right caught Blaydes on the chin which hurt him momentarily. Blaydes reacted well thereafter with leg kicks and body feints to slow the pace of the fight down. The number two ranked Heavyweight was winning a lot of the striking exchanges, landing counter hooks and leg kick combinations which had Lewis on the back foot at times.
Two swift jabs to the head had Lewis troubled in the final minute of the round, who covered up while still standing but pushed his opponent away just in time to recover. Blaydes continued to chop down the leg and do damage through his counter striking, where Lewis looked vulnerable despite connecting early on and with the knowledge he has vicious one-punch knockout power.
After the first round, Blaydes won the majority of the exchanges and was in control in the striking department. The sequence of fighting we saw was surprising with Blaydes yet to attempt a takedown even though he has a superior wrestling background. Nevertheless, Blaydes game plan was working thus far in the opening round.
At the start of the second round, the wrestling of Blaydes was finally on show as he attempted a single leg takedown which was defended well by Lewis to keep the fight standing. Blaydes landed another rapid counter combination soon after which had been working well on his opponent up until that point.
Although just 90 seconds into the second, Blaydes attempted another takedown which was met with a brutal right uppercut by Lewis and sent Blaydes unconscious to the canvas. With the flip of a switch, Lewis turned the contest on its head to secure a fourth straight win for the 36 year old.
With Jon Jones looking likely to fight the winner of next month’s title fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, the win for Lewis means a title shot may still be a while away but did no harm in making a statement of himself yet again in the Heavyweight division.
In the co-main event of the evening, Yana Kunitskaya beat Ketlen Vieira via unanimous decision (29-28×3) in a Catchweight bout of 138 pounds after Vieira missed weight. That is now the Russian’s fourth win in five fights since her return to Bantamweight.
Vieira started the fight with a takedown attempt that Kunitskaya defended but had her pushed against the fence. Within a matter of moments, Vieira secured the takedown and turned the fight into a grappling contest. Kunitskaya was able to reverse position and execute strikes to the body before Vieira performed another takedown towards the centre of the mat. Vieira was locked into full mount for the remaining minutes on the ground, looking the take the head but her opponent was aware and defended appropriately until the sound of the horn. It was a big first round for the Brazilian Vieira.
The roles were reversed at the start of the second round when Kunitskaya herself pushed Vieira towards the fence, before dragging her towards the ground and into mount. The Russian began to fire shots into the body whilst Vieira was unsuccessfully looking to submit her opponent. Kunitskaya utilised the ground and pound perfectly throughout the course of the round to ware down Vieira after the storm she brought in the first, and evened the scoring with it all to play for in the final round.
Vieira began round three with yet another takedown before taking control in full mount which resulted in taking the back of Kunitskaya to look for a choke. The 31 year old retaliated in back position with some clever reverse strikes to the head of Vieira that allowed her to go to full mount herself and go to work with the ground and pound. Kunitskaya executed multiple vicious elbows in the final seconds of the bout which led to a narrow win in a closely contested fight.
Rest of the card
In another Heavyweight bout on the main card, Chris Daukaus defeated Aleksei Oleinik via TKO less than two minutes into round number one for his third successive first-round win since his UFC debut. It came when a counter right hand and combination had his opponent hurt, before a flying knee and more punch combinations against the fence gave referee Herb Dean no choice but to end the contest quickly. Oleinik has won an incredible 46 fights via submission in his MMA career but was unable to get the fight to the ground in the short space of time before the stoppage.
Meanwhile, British Heavyweight Tom Aspinall beat UFC veteran Andrei Arlovski via a second-round submission for his sixth successive MMA victory. Most of the fight was contested on the feet until Aspinall went for a double leg takedown and had Arlovski squirming to get back to his feet. In doing so, the Belarus native gave up his back where Aspinall took advantage to execute a rear naked choke to end the fight within an instance. It was just the nineteenth rear naked choke in UFC Heavyweight history, and the impressive win continues to show that the 27 year old is one to look out for in the near future.
Five of the six prelim fights finished in knockout victories, with the pick of the bunch being Aiemann Zahabi defeating Drako Rodriguez a few minutes into the first round. At a Catchweight of 140 pounds, after Rodriguez missed weight, the Canadian caught him with an overhand right, connecting cleanly to leave Rodriguez stiff as a board and unconscious in the centre of the octagon. It was Zahabi’s first win since 2017 and a big one to break a two fight losing streak.
Another sensational knockout victory came in the Featherweight division when Julian Erosa defeated Nate Landwehr via a flying knee just 56 seconds into the first. Erosa had Landwehr in trouble moments before the stoppage with a flurry of hook combinations, until the flying knee connected straight onto the jaw to end the fight early. That is now Erosa’s third straight win after going on a three-fight skid prior.