Published on 1 May 2022 4:14 pm (UK Time)
On Friday, Bantamweight contender Rob Font uncharacteristically missed weight by 2 1/2 lbs. His opponent, Marlon Vera, shrugged it off and agreed to take the fight regardless of the failed weigh-in. While 2 1/2 lbs. may not seem like a lot, those who’ve been following combat sports for years, know that a seasoned veteran like Font should know better. The missed weigh-in seemed to signal a lack of focus and preparation, especially with a team of knowledgeable trainers and sparring partners surrounding him. With that build up leading up to the fight, the two men stepped into the octagon on contentious terms. Needless to say, this was another entertaining edition of UFC Fight Night from the Apex Center in Las Vegas. There’s a lot to unpack here; without further ado, let’s get into it!
Font vs. Vera
In round one, it looked as if Rob Font was going to be the more aggressive of the two fighters the entire evening. He applied pressure early and often and use the jab surprisingly well. He also cleverly mixed in uppercuts and calf kicks to throw Marlon Vera off of his game. At the beginning of round two, Font’s pressure continued to affect Vera. However, a huge left hook by Vera with 45 seconds to go in the round changed the course of the fight permanently. Font went crashing to the mat; Vera pounced on him and began showering him with vicious elbows. Font was saved by the bell and lucky to survive.
In round three, Vera landed a knee to Font’s face late in the round and Font again went spiraling on impact. After barely surviving again, Font was knocked down for the third consecutive period in round four. Vera missed an opportunity to get a stoppage; Font was clearly helpless, but Vera’s lack of aggression prompted the referee to order Font to his feet. Round five was relatively uneventful as Vera switched to cruise control, knowing he’d already won the fight.
Marlon Vera was awarded the unanimous decision victory. In the post-fight interview he did not call out a specific fighter. Instead he said he was ready to fight the rest of the top five contenders in the bantamweight division; Rob Font was ranked fifth before tonight’s bout. Regardless of who he faces next, Marlon Vera’s next opponent is going to have their hands full.
Arlovski vs. Collier
Several months ago, Jake Collier stated in a post-fight interview that the heavyweight opponent he wanted to take on in the octagon was Andrei Arlovski. As the saying goes “Be careful what you wish for…”
After an early takedown attempt by Collier, he and Arlovski grappled against the cage in a clinch that seemed as if it would never end. The two giants were looking for an opening to strike, but their tug-of-war style prevented either man from having enough room to operate. Near the end of round one, Arlovski finally broke free and unleashed a nice striking combo that alerted Collier to the caliber of his opponent.
In round two, both men landed heavy handed strikes that clearly made an impact. Collier made a nice maneuver, incorporating a slip-of-the-foot trip to use Arlovski’s momentum against him and score a takedown. However, Arlovski was undiscouraged and fought to his feet right away. He landed several big strikes to end the round. In round three, Arlovski landed a high kick to the side of Collier’s head. Simultaneously, the pro-Arlovski crowd began chanting “Andrei, Andrei…” Both fighters looked fatigued, but Collier was able to score one last takedown with ten seconds left in the final round.
Arlovski was awarded a split decision victory. I must say that, while I respect Arlovski’s status as a legend in the sport, I feel the judges got this decision wrong. This was a close fight and I had it even at one round apiece going into the final round. Both men were tired in round three, but Collier’s takedown in the last minute swayed me to give the round to him, thus making him the winner of the fight. Both men fought admirably, but Collier was visibly upset by the decision, and I understand his grievance.
Fili vs. Brito
Featherweight prospect Joanderson Brito only needed 41 seconds to dismantle his opponent, Andre Fili, tonight. After an overhand right sent Fili sprawling to the mat, Brito pounced on him, continued to pummel him with strikes, and rendered him defenseless. Referee Herb Dean was left with no choice but to stop the fight. It was a dramatic victory for Brito and a bitterly disappointing defeat for Fili.
Gordon vs. Dawson
Heading into their Fight Night showdown, lightweight Jared Dawson was expected to continue his win streak versus Grant Dawson. Unfortunately for Gordon, Dawson had other plans…
In round one, Dawson scored a takedown at the 1:45 mark. He proceeded to put Gordon in a body triangle and pummel him with strikes. Gordon did a good job of avoiding the submission, but Dawson’s ground control time was humiliating. In round two Dawson scored two takedowns; the first occurred early in the round, and the second occurred with just 30 seconds to go. Finally, with just one minute left in round three, Dawson scored a takedown, secured an anaconda chokehold and forced Gordon to tap out.
Dawson was a highly recruited wrestler coming out of high school, and was offered a scholarship by several universities to join their wrestling programs. He turned them all down, choosing instead to train full time for a mixed martial arts career. He is now climbing the ranks in the lightweight division and is trending in the direction of a legitimate contender. Sometimes the unconventional path is the best way forwards.
Elkins vs. Connelly
Tonight, Darren Elkins competed on the final fight of his UFC contract. That means he was literally auditioning for a job. Who knows if the organization will decide to offer him an extension, but he certainly justified the case for doing so. He started off with an overhand right that sent his opponent, Tristan Connelly, crashing to the mat in round one. He followed that up with a takedown later in the round, followed by dominant ground control time.
In round two, Elkins put his grappling skills on display once again, this time by utilizing a takedown, back mount, body lock combination that made it difficult for Connelly to go on the offensive. The beginning of round three was the most entertaining segment of the fight, as both men landed impressive strikes in the best exchange of their bout. With just under two minutes left in the round, Elkins secured a final takedown, established a body triangle and came dangerously close to forcing Connelly into submission.
Elkins was awarded a unanimous decision victory for his efforts. Its hard to imagine the UFC declining to offer him another contract after tonight’s performance; he is a great addition to their stable of featherweight fighters.
Jotko vs. Meerschaert
Middleweight prospect Krzysztof Jotko was impressive in a dominant victory against Gerald Meerschaert tonight. In the first round, he used a right-side-step, right hook, left jab, combination repeatedly. It would seem that Meerschaert would understand that Jotko was countering his missed punches with the same “one, two, three,” but he never caught on and Jotko never relented.
In round two, Meerschaert showed resolve by attempting takedowns to counter Jotko’s tactics. His first attempts were unsuccessful, but he was able to secure the desired result halfway through the round. However, Jotko was able to quickly fight to his feet and scored a takedown of his own with one minute left in the round. In round three, Jotko scored an early takedown and dominated the rest of the round with ground control. He was awarded a unanimous decision victory for his efforts.
Going against a fighter with the crowd on his side is never an easy task. Tonight, Jake Collier took on a man with a cult-like following in Andrei Arlovski. The fans in the Apex Center remember his reign as the champion of the UFC’s heavyweight division in the early 2000’s. They’ve also seen him in action films and commercials. However, Collier should not be discourage by tonight’s performance. He fought well enough to win the fight, but when you leave the decision in the hands of the judges, sometimes things don’t go your way. If there’s a lesson for Collier to learn from tonight’s fight its best to come in the octagon in great cardiovascular conditioning; that way he can go for the knockout in the third round, instead of settling for one last takedown.
Next week’s pay-per-view event features lightweight champion Charles Oliveira putting his belt on the line against highly touted challenger Justin Gaethje. Gaethje has a large fan base and he is from metropolitan Phoenix, where the event is scheduled to take place. The arena will be packed and the atmosphere will be electric. As always, we’ll have all the latest updates about the outcomes of the fights, as well as in depth analysis available right here at World in Sport!
Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.