UFC Vegas 66: Cannonier vs. Strickland – Winners and Losers

The UFC’s final fight card for 2022 took place Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. In the first match of the event, UFC Vegas 66, Jared Cannonier bounced back from his loss in July to then-middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Cannonier scored a split win over Shawn Strickland in that contest. With this setback, Strickland was in the first losing skid of his professional career. Strickland entered UFC Vegas 66 after losing a knockout in July to Alex Pereira.

In the UFC Vegas 66 co-main event, Arman Tsarukyan showed he deserved a fight against an elite lightweight. The 26-year-old handed opponent Damir Ismagulov his first loss since 2015.

Also on the card, Alex Caceres and Michal Oleksiejczuk each received $50,000 bonuses for their first-round knockout victories, while Drew Dawber and Bobby Green presented “Fight of the Night.”

Read on for the full list of winners and losers from UFC Vegas 66, which aired on ESPN+.


Jared Canonier: Before Jared Cannonier faced Shawn Strickland in the main event of UFC Vegas 66, the UFC commentary team noted that Cannonier knew he needed to ramp up his stunt production. Cannonier did just that, attempting a 310 big and landing 141 in a split decision win over Strickland. This increase in production was likely one of the reasons Cannonier nodded Strickland in the scorecards.

I’m not sure Cannonier’s win will put him in conversation for a middleweight title, but he should, at the very least, retain his #3 ranking in the UFC with his win.

Arman Tsarukyan: Arman Tsarukyan has lost twice during his UFC career. In his promotional debut, which took place in 2019, he dropped a decision in a “Fight of the Night” bonus match to current UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. Tsarukyan then went 5-0 before losing a decision to Mathieuze Jamrot, a No. 7 fighter in the official flyweight rankings. On Saturday, Tsarukyan returned to the winning list with a dominant win over No. 12 seed Damir Ismagulov.

Tsarukyan put a technically sound performance to edge Ismagulov, using cardio, grappling and control to seal the 30-27x 3 win.

Tsarukyan isn’t the biggest name in the lightweight class, but he deserves a fight against one of the big name fighters for the top spot in the weight class in 2023.

Amir Albazi: Amir Elbazy had two high-profile opponents pull out of him prior to UFC Vegas 66. A fighter ranked No. 8 in the official UFC flyweight rankings, Elbazy saw Alex Perez (No. 6) and Brandon Royval (No. 4) slip out of a fight with him on the card of the day. Saturday. Thanks to Alessandro Costa getting the better of him, Albazzi fought at UFC Vegas 66. Albazzi earned the win, which would put him up against Perez, Royval, or any other fighter ranked higher than him.

Alex Caceres: Alex Caceres scored his first stunning knockout win since 2010 with a beautiful headbutt that knocked Julián Erosa through his defenses. The knockout put the 34-year-old back in the winning column after March’s loss to Siddig Youssef ended his five-match winning streak.

Caceres’ knockout was a glimpse of how he combined balance, technique and fighting smarts to end the fight in an abrupt fashion.

Drew Dawber: Drew Dawber has two things in his favour, a strong chin and strong hands. He used both of them to score a nasty knockdown on Bobby Green, who touched Dawber through his speed. The 3-0 win gave Dauber a UFC record in 2022 with three knockout victories.

A second round knockout between Dauber and Dustin Poirier tied for the most knockouts in UFC lightweight history with eight.

Michel Oleksczuk: Cody Brundage scored an early defeat of Michal Oleksieczuk, but Oleksieczuk refused to accept the position (helped by at least one fence). The scramble allowed Oleksieczuk to take first place. From there, Brundage’s inability to keep his opponent tight cost him, as Oleksiejczuk scored with powerful jabs, ending the fight in the first round.

The win gave the former light heavyweight two straight first-round knockout wins at middleweight.

Corey McKenna: Any fighter who is pitted against Corey McKenna needs to practice his takedown defense and standing digs. The 23-year-old is a strong wrestler and still developing. However, McKenna doesn’t compete in the deepest teams, so she needs to pick up her great game.

Matthew Semmelsberger: Matthew Simmelsberger used his power to score three knockdowns and win over Jake Matthews. The 30-year-old Semmelsberger is a limited fighter in that he relies on the aforementioned strength, but as long as he takes on suspect opponents defensively, he will succeed.

Said Nurmagomedov: Said Nurmagomedov was having a rough day in the office for most of the bantamweight bout against Sedokop Kkhromonov, but his awareness and fighting IQ allowed him to find the opening he needed to score the guillotine choke in the second clip.

Nurmagomedov is now on a four-way winning streak.

Rafa Garcia: Rafa Garcia overcame a height, weight, and weight disadvantage to score a win over Maheshate at UFC Vegas 66. Maheshate checked the 2.5-pound heavyweight for the lightweight junk.

Garcia lost a fair amount of blood during the contest, limiting his opponent to a 16 percent drop rate on uppercuts.

Rinat Fakhritdinov: Two fights in his UFC career, Rinat Vokhretdinov has 12 takedowns and 27:11 in control time. The UFC commentary team stated that the matchmakers will be fighting to get more fights for this man. I don’t doubt it for a second.

Manel Capy: After being out of the octagon for over a year, Manel Capy returned to action at UFC Vegas 66. While the former Rizin bantamweight champion didn’t win his third straight first-round knockout, he showed that despite his absence, he retained his No. 12 spot in the octagon. The official UFC flyweight rankings during his absence. Kape could potentially jump into the top 10 in the division after his dominant win over David Dvorak, who entered Saturday as the No. 9 seed at the UFC 125-pounder.

Kape is rightly known for his striking tackle, which effectively put Dvorak on deck in the second round and kept Dvorak down for most of the fight, but what Kape showed in this bout is that he also has some ground skills. The kimura he applied at the end of the first round seemed close to hitting Dvorak and/or hitting the tap.

Keith Peterson: Referee Keith Peterson called in a doctor to check David Dvorak’s left arm after it appeared Manel Capy had inflicted some damage on that limb with a bad kimura at the end of their flyweight fight.

Many fans, media, and pundits wonder when and why referees bring doctors into the cage, but the referee’s job is safety. Still, calling Peterson a check on Dvorak was the right move to make.

Sergey Morozov: Sergey Morozov used a forward pressing and jab to set up takedowns against Journey Newson. This approach helped him well in getting a 30-27×3 win over Journey Newson.

Morozov went 6-for-13 on takedown attempts and racked up nearly seven minutes of controlling time in the decision win. With the win at the UFC Vegas 66 curtain call jerker, Morozov was on his first winning streak since signing with the UFC in 2020 after winning and defending the M-1 world bantamweight crown in 2019.

Paul Fielder: Paul Felder did his best to show that he had read the MMA fight scoring criteria. However, try as he might, Felder did not make up for partner Dominic Cruz’s trust and error when interpreting these criteria.


Sean Strickland: Sean Strickland has the most amazing defending percentage in UFC middleweight history. He also has one of the most amazing spreads in the history of the UFC’s 185-pound weight class. However, he doesn’t throw punches too hard nor fight too hard. His inability to land his blows hard and his reluctance to move forward will always hurt him in fights as his opponents connect with more power. This is what happened at UFC Vegas 66.

UFC: It must come as a surprise when a UFC ranked fighter asks for a fight night bonus because they’re having a hard time, but it happens so often that it’s no longer a shock. What makes it worse is that the UFC is no less embarrassed because it has fighters like Amir Elbazy, asking for some extra scrapes because their car broke down during fight week. The UFC has a shameful salary structure and revenue breakdown.

Bobby Green: At 36, Bobby Green still has a great deal of speed. However, as Drew Dawber showed, he can be pushed over the fence and kicked out. I understand that Green is an entertainment fighter first and it will keep him on the UFC roster for quite some time, but as he gets older, Green might consider using some amazing defense.

Sedyukub Kkhromonov: Pressure, control and dynamism were the name of Sedokop Kkhromonov’s match against Said Nurmagomedov.

I’m not sure if Kharmonov made a blueprint for how to beat Nurmagomedov because the pace he set seemed unsustainable over the full three rounds and because Nurmagomedov introduced him in the second segment.

Brian fight: Bryan Battle took a big chance by accepting the fight against Rinat Fakhretdinovon on short notice. Battle deserves props for accepting the match, which ended his three-win streak in the UFC.

The one-sided loss should provide 28-year-old Patel with a list of things he needs to work on to succeed in the UFC. Battle’s upcoming fight against a top-heavy wrestler will let us see if he learned anything from his defeat at UFC Vegas 66.

David Dvorak: David Dvorak showed a lot of toughness and flexibility in not tapping the kimura Manel Kape applied to him at the end of the first round of his flyweight bout. What Dvorak doesn’t have is an answer to Kape’s amazing arsenal.

Dvorak opened his UFC career with a 3-0 streak, but went 0-2 with the promotion in 2022 and is now in the first losing streak of his 15 professional career.

Newson’s trip: Newson’s flight strike isn’t bad, but his ability to stop takedowns and get back on his feet is sorely lacking. It cost him greatly at UFC Vegas 66.

Dominic Cruz: I’ll give Dominic Cruz credit for being confident. Even when he’s off-topic and talking nonsense, he delivers his bullshit with sincerity and complete conviction. Such was the case during the UFC Vegas 66 broadcast when he did his best to convince everyone who was watching that the cut might steal a round – or a fight – from the fighter who landed the blow that caused the cut.

For example, after Maheshat opened a cut on the side of Rafa Garcia’s head in the second round of their preliminary bout, Cruz said, “What do we know about damage? That wins a lot of these fights. Damage is scored. That’s how they score a fight, not Necessarily whoever looks like they win the scorecards, per se. That damage is going to be massive on the scorecards in this fight.”

Sadly, that cut was meaningless on the scorecards because, despite seeing García bleed all over the octagon in the last 3:30 of that round, he won the round and swept his opponent on the scorecards by three nods 30-27. And you know why? Because Garcia was more effective in that round, which is the number one criterion by which judges score an MMA fight.

It’s frustrating when the commentary team — and a former UFC champion — skews the scoring, but it happens — a lot.

#UFC #Vegas #Cannonier #Strickland #Winners #Losers

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