During Black History Month, “The Black Beast,” Derrick Lewis (25-7), made some of his own tying Vitor Belfort for the most wins by knockouts in UFC history with 12.
The victory came against the No. 2 ranked heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes (14-3), shaking up the heavyweight rankings in a big way. Blaydes had won eight of his previous nine fights with his only other loss being to top ranked contender, Francis Ngannou (15-3).
The first round featured both fighters letting the hands go, with Blaydes landing a much wider variety of strikes. But it only takes one punch for Lewis to cut someone’s lights off and that was the case early in the second.
Lewis caught a lunging Blaydes with a deep uppercut, ending the fight and leaving his opponent unconscious for several minutes.
Blaydes is known for his wrestling prowess and it appears Lewis had that part of his opponent well scouted. This outcome was the largest main event betting upset in the last five years.
These are the kind of finishes Lewis is famous for. After losing a championship bout against Daniel Cormier in 2018, he has won his last four fights and could find himself in the championship picture again by year’s end.
Chris Daukus Puts Away Aleksei Oleinik
Staying in the heavyweight division, Chris Daukus (11-3) steamrolled through Aleksei Oleinik (59-15-1) with a first-round TKO finish.
Still in the fight’s early goings, Oleinik failed with a standing submission attempt before Daukus unloaded nonstop strikes to the head that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight.
Audible chants of, “Fight back,” could be heard in the final moments, but they were to no avail.
Oleinik was outmatched by Daukus on the feet and the 31-year-old earned his third victory in six months since joining the UFC, all of which by KO or TKO.
This decisive victory will likely vault Daukus from unranked to the No. 10 contender in the heavyweight division. There is a good list of opponents to choose from for his next clash as we wait to see if he is indeed, the real deal.
One recommendation fought in the main card’s opener.
Tom Aspinall Chokes Out a Legend
This was a good showcase for Englishman Tom Aspinall (10-2), as he dominated the veteran Andrei Arlovski, (30-20) winning via rear-naked choke in the second round.
A flurry of strikes in the opening minutes nearly finished Arlovski, busting his nose in the process. Aspinall then blitzed Arlovski with a double-leg takedown, applied the choke forcing an immediate tap.
It was an overall impressive showing for the 27-year-old Aspinall, who is now 3-0 in the UFC and hasn’t lost a professional fight since 2016. He has great size, quick hands, knockout power, and the finish of this fight showcased his potential as a grappler.
Matching up with a staple of the division such as Arlovski was a great litmus test for Aspinall who appears ready to take on some tougher competition.
Judges’ Decisions Round Out the Undercard
In the co-main event, Yana Kunitskaya (14-5) defeated Ketlen Vieira (11-2), with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28.
This contest featured a lot of wrestling throughout, before the Russian Kunitskaya unleashed significant strikes from her opponent’s guard in the closing seconds that very well could’ve decided the fight.
Vieira threatened a few submissions in the third, signaling she was in control, but she never did as much damage to her opponent as Kunitskaya did in the final minute.
However, some heavy elbows left her bloodied and swollen, likely influencing the judges’ decision.
The women’s Bantamweight Division is always looking for challengers for champion Amanda Nunes and Kunitskaya displayed the kind of heart and aggression that could one day land her in that spot.
Featherweight Darrick Minner (26-11) added a win to his record in a one-sided affair against Charles Rosa (13-5).
Minner dominated this fight from the early going and never lost the advantage. He thwarted Rosa’s offense with four takedowns, combining for over 12 minutes of control in this 15-minute fight.
The two submission specialists suggested we would see a lot of grappling, but it was a remarkable effort from Minner that Rosa never had the advantage.
Though he’s nearing 40 professional fights, the 30-year-old Minner said after the fight that he is just now hitting his prime.
At 2-1 in the UFC, we’ll see how his career pans out.
Lastly, in the middleweight division, Phil “Megatron” Hawes (10-2) defeated the French Nassourdine Imavov (9-3) via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28).
Staying on their feet in the first round, Imavov caught Hawes near the end of the round, leaving him visibly rocked.
Switching gameplan in the latter rounds, Hawes relied on his wrestling to win over the judges, scoring four massive takedowns.
Hawes’ athleticism kept him in the fight, however, Imavov appeared to be the more technically advanced fighter thanks to numerous successful combinations.
If these two fought again, chances are Imavov would be able to finish the fight at some point, but on this evening his success was too scarce to win the fight in the Judges eyes.
Next Saturday, February 27th, UFC Fight Night returns with another Heavyweight headline, as titans Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Cyril Gane are set to do battle.