The heavyweights were featured this week as UFC Fight Night 174 went down in Las Vegas at the UFC Apex. That main event featured former title challenger Derrick Lewis as he faced submission specialist Aleksei Oleinik. After losing his title shot against Daniel Cormier, Lewis went on to lose a second straight to Junior dos Santos. He rebounded from his two losses by putting together a two fight win streak when he returned. The first win came at UFC 244, defeating Blagoy Ivanov by split decision. Lewis then went on to defeat Ilir Latifi by unanimous decision at UFC 247. As for Oleinik, he was also coming off two straight losses in 2019. Those losses came against Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris. He then would also rebound with two straight wins, defeating Maurice Greene and former champion Fabricio Werdum.
In the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 174, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman returned to the division. After a previous light heavyweight outing, Weidman moved back down to 185 to face Omari Akhmedov. Akhmedov entered the fight on a six fight unbeaten streak with a draw coming against Marvin Vettori. Since the draw, he had won three straight decisions over Tim Boetsch, Zak Cummings and Ian Heinisch. He would be taking on Weidman who was returning from a main event loss to Dominick Reyes. Weidman had moved up to light heavyweight for that fight following a loss to Ronaldo Souza. He would lose to Reyes in the first round of their main event by knockout. He rebounded in a big way as he ground out a unanimous decision win over Akhmedov, scoring a 10-8 on a couple of scorecards in the third round.
UFC Fight Night 174 Standout Performances
UFC Fight Night 174 featured plenty of action. There were entertaining fights from start to finish, but the eye-catching finishes stole the show. With that being said, it is time to take a look at UFC Fight Night 174’s Standout Performances. In order for a fighter to make this list, their performance must stand out among their peers. This could be quick finishes, flashy knockouts, great submissions, dismantling an opponent, or providing an all-around exciting fight. Along with every performance will be a look at what could potentially come next for each fighter.
#1 Beneil Dariush
def. Scott Holtzman via TKO (Spinning Backfist) at 4:38 of Round One
In his last four fights entering UFC Fight Night 174, Beneil Dariush had put together four straight wins. The first of those happened at UFC Fight Night 139 when he defeated Thiago Moises by unanimous decision. In his next outing, Dariush faced off against Drew Dober at UFC Fight Night 146. He defeated Dober for his second straight win as he submitted Dober with a triangle armbar in round two. His third straight win came at UFC Fight Night 162 when he submitted Frank Camacho by rear naked choke. In his most recent outing, he faced off against Drakkar Klose at UFC 248. After a back and forth start to the fight, Dariush won in the second round by knockout. He looked to pick up his fifth straight as he entered his fight with Scott Holtzman.
Holtzman entered the night a winner of his last two straight. The first of those wins came last August when he took on Dong Hyun Ma at UFC on ESPN 5. He won the fight at the end of the second round by TKO due to a doctor stoppage. In his most recent outing, he faced off against UFC veteran Jim Miller at UFC Fight Night 167. He picked up his second straight win that night, defeating Miller by unanimous decision. Holtzman looked to snap Dariush’s win streak and extend his own to three with a big win at UFC Fight Night 174.
Early on in round one, Holtzman connected with two eye pokes that caused short delays during the first minute. After the second poke, Dariush pressured forward, eating shots as he closed the distance looking for a takedown. Holtzman defended the takedown well and the two worked in the clinch for a little over a minute. As they broke apart, Dariush landed a hard knee that stunned Holtzman. Dariush moved forward and connected a left hand before landing another knee. Holtzman stayed on his feet and remained out of range as Dariush walked forward swinging.
After a few moments, Dariush started walking Holtzman down again landing left hand after left hand forcing Holtzman to look for a takedown. Dariush defended the takedown and was able to circle around and take Holtzman’s back. He was quick to give it up as Dariush then looked for a takedown, but could not get him down. The two met in the center again soon after and Dariush pressured forward, connecting multiple shots and wobbling Holtzman. As they circled around and reset, Dariush stepped forward and landed the fight ending spinning back fist.
After five straight wins, it is time that Dariush be matched up with an opponent ranked above him in his next outing. One name that comes to mind is former interim title challenger Kevin Lee. However, Lee is nursing injuries at the moment and will not be back for quite some time. So with Lee out, another possibility could be a match up with Islam Makhachev. Makhachev has won his last six straight fights, finishing two of them. During that time, Makhachev knocked out Gleison Tibau and submitted Kajan Johnson both in the first round. After the submission win over Johnson, he went on to face off against Arman Tsarukyan at UFC Fight Night 149. He would go on to win the fight by unanimous decision. In his most recent outing, Makhachev defeated Davi Ramos by unanimous decision at UFC 242. Both men have proved their worth in the division and a fight between them would be very interesting as someone’s win streak would be snapped.
#2 Kevin Holland
def. Joaquin Buckley via TKO (Punch) at 0:32 of Round Three
In Kevin Holland‘s last five fights entering UFC Fight Night 174, he has put together a record of 4-1. He started off by winning three straight fights beginning with a third round rear naked choke win over John Phillips. He then defeated Gerald Meerschaert by split decision and Alessio Di Chirico by unanimous decision. Holland’s win streak would be snapped in his next outing as he faced Brendan Allen at UFC on ESPN 6. Allen defeated Holland in the second round, submitting him by rear naked choke. Holland bounced back in his most recent outing as he faced Anthony Hernandez at UFC on ESPN 8. He finished the fight in less than a minute, winning by TKO. Holland was scheduled to fight last week at UFC Fight Night 173, but after a health scare with his opponent, he got a short notice replacement for this week instead.
Stepping on in short notice to make his UFC debut and face off against Holland was Joaquin Buckley. Buckley entered the octagon coming off two straight wins with LFA in his last two outings. Both those wins were finished by TKO, one in the first round and one in the second. The first of those wins happened at LFA 76 as he defeated Chris Harris by first round TKO. Buckley would then go on to defeat Jackie Gosh by second round TKO at LFA 87, just a week before UFC Fight Night 174.
The fight started as the two quickly met in the middle and ended up on the mat before immediately getting back to their feet. About thirty seconds later, Holland closed the distance and threw a knee which Buckley caught and used to sit him down. Instead of following him down, Buckley stepped back and let Holland back to his feet. Buckley spent the majority of the round closing distance and unloading shots to Holland’s body. There were a couple times he connected low and caused short breaks in the action. With about a minute and twenty seconds left, Holland landed a hard right hand that dropped Buckley. Holland quickly jumped on him and started looking for the finish. However, Buckley recovered quickly and was able to suddenly get back to his feet. There was not much action during the last minute until the last ten seconds when they closed the distance and started exchanging. Holland landed a good elbow before backing Buckley up to the fence and landing a couple hard punches as the round came to a close.
Rounds Two & Three
As round one started, Buckley was the aggressor again as he kept up his fast pace from round one. About thirty seconds into the round, he grabbed Holland and was able to throw him down but let him right back up. Both fighters continued landing their own shots as they circled the center of the cage. About halfway through the round was another short break in action after Holland connected with a combination that knocked Buckley’s mouthpiece out. Buckley began to slow down during this round as Holland began increasing the total strike differential between the two. As the round came to a close, Holland had out struck Buckley 46-18, likely moving up to 2-0 on the judge’s scorecards.
Holland opened round three with a couple of body kicks as Buckley moved forward. They continued to circle and land some shots for a few moments before meeting in the center again. Once there, Holland landed a good combination before resetting and landing the fight ending right hand that knocked Buckley down and sent his mouthpiece flying.
After the win, Holland began calling out a certain fighter. That fighter was welterweight fighter Mike Perry. Whether that means Perry moves up or Holland attempts to cut down, that is the fight Holland wants next. Holland has fought at welterweight in his career before so it is likely he could do so again but he has not made the cut in over three years.
In Mike Perry’s last five fights, he has gone 2-3. The first of those five fights came against Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 139, as he lost in the first round by armbar. Perry then went on to pick up a unanimous decision win against Alex Oliveira in his next fight at UFC Fight Night 150. After that win, Perry dropped his next two straight fights, losing the first by split decision to Vicente Luque. The next loss came against Geoff Neal as Neal defeated Perry by first round TKO at UFC 245. In Perry’s most recent outing, he faced off against Mickey Gall at UFC on ESPN 12. He snapped his losing streak that night, defeating Gall by unanimous decision. Either at welterweight or middleweight, a fight between Perry and Holland would surely be entertaining.
#3 Derrick Lewis
def. Aleksei Oleinik via TKO (Punches) at 0:21 of Round Two
After the loss to Daniel Cormier in his first UFC title shot, Derrick Lewis would go on to lose a second straight to Junior dos Santos. This was the first time Lewis had lost back to back fights in his career. Lewis looked to rebound with a win in his next outing as he faced off against Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244. He snapped his losing streak that night, defeating Ivanov by split decision. In his next appearance, he fought in his hometown of Houston as he faced Ilir Latifi at UFC 247. Lewis won his second straight fight at UFC 247 as he defeated Latifi by unanimous decision. Lewis looked to put together another three fight win streak by picking up a big win at UFC Fight Night 174.
His opponent would be submission specialist and MMA veteran Aleksei Oleinik. Coming into his main event against Lewis, Oleinik had gone 2-2 in his last four outings. The first two fights over that time were two straight losses. The first of those came against Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night 149 as he lost by TKO in the first round. The next loss also came by TKO as Oleinik lost to Walt Harris in 12 seconds as UFC on ESPN 4. In his next outing, Oleinik snapped his losing streak, kicking off a two fight win streak. His first win came at UFC 246 as he submitted Maurice Greene by armbar. In his most recent outing, he defeated former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum by split decision at UFC 249. Oleinik looked to pick up his sixtieth win as he took on Lewis at UFC Fight Night 174.
Lewis began the fight by throwing a hard left head kick followed up by a couple quick punches. He then quickly closed the distance and clinched with Oleinik along the fence. Oleinik had nearly reversed the position and would have had Lewis on the fence but Lewis threw Oleinik to the mat to counter. Lewis instantly had Oleinik’s back and he began pouring down ground and pound. Oleinik remained on his back for just over a minute before he was able to grab a hold of Lewis’ leg and reverse the position, putting Lewis on his back. Oleinik started looking for some submissions but Lewis was able to defend them well and escape, ending up back on top in the process. It did not last long this time as Oleinik used the body-lock to put himself back on top of Lewis. During the last minute, Oleinik continued looking for a couple of submissions until the horn sounded.
The second round started, and just about ten seconds in, Lewis rushed forward with a flying knee that played more as a distraction as it did not land. Following up the knee, he landed a perfect right hand that dropped Oleinik. After Oleinik was knocked down, Lewis unleashed his ferocious ground and pound, forcing the fight to be stopped seconds later.
That is now three in a row for Derrick Lewis in a light heavyweight division that should be moving forward soon. After the fight, Lewis had already planted the seed for his next fight. During a post fight interview of his, Lewis stated that he is “going to take Curtis Blaydes down and finish him”. Blaydes was quick to respond as he tweeted out, “Lol Challenge Accepted”.
Blaydes currently sits one spot ahead of Lewis in the rankings at number three. He has gone 8-1 in his last nine fights, winning his last four straight. He had won four straight before suffering the one loss in 2018 in his rematch with former title challenger Francis Ngannou. Since the loss, he has won another four straight, starting with a unanimous decision win over Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night 148. His next two wins both came by second round TKO, defeating Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC 242and finishing former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC Fight Night 166. In Blaydes’ last fight, he faced off against Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC on ESPN 11. He won his fourth straight that night, defeating Volkov by unanimous decision.
#4 Darren Stewart
def. Maki Pitolo via Submission (Guillotine) at 3:41 of Round One
After a win on Dana White’s Contender Series last summer, Maki Pitolo earned himself a UFC contract. He would make his debut last October as he took on Callan Potter at UFC 243. Pitolo lost in his debut as Potter defeated him by unanimous decision. In his next outing, Pitolo picked up his first UFC win as he faced Charles Byrd at UFC 250. He won the fight in the second round, defeating Byrd by TKO. Pitolo looked to put together his first win streak in the UFC by picking up a big win over Darren Stewart at UFC Fight Night 174.
In his last three fights before taking on Pitolo at UFC Fight Night 174, Darren Stewart had put together a record of 2-1. He started off by putting together a two fight win streak, winning both his appearances in 2019. The first of those happened at UFC 238 as he faced off against Bevon Lewis. Stewart would go on to win the fight by unanimous decision. In his next appearance, Stewart took on Deron Winn at UFC on ESPN 6, defeating him by split decision. The win streak earned him a fight with Marvin Vettori at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Edwards. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that card never happened and Stewart’s fight was specially move to Cage Warriors 113. The fight served as the main event, but instead he faced Bartosz Fabinski. Stewart would end up losing the fight by unanimous decision.
The fight started as they met in the center with an exchange of punches, Pitolo landing a knee as they broke apart. The two fighters circled the cage as they exchanged some good shots. With just under three minutes left, Pitolo landed a hard right hand that sent Stewart staggering back for a second. Stewart seemed to recover quickly, but Pitolo also seemed to be landing more now. Pitolo attempted to land a spinning back fist but Stewart dipped under it and grabbed ahold of Pitolo forcing him back to the fence. Moments later, Pitolo was able to turn Stewart around, pushing Stewart’s back against the fence, where he would start to look to take Stewart down. But Stewart was a step ahead of Pitolo as he wrapped up a tight guillotine choke, forcing a tap seconds later.
Stewart mentioned two names he would possibly like to face in his next outing, Edmen Shahbazyan and Marvin Vettori. When Shahbazyan made his UFC debut, he defeated Stewart by split decision. It is no question that Stewart wants that loss back, but a match up with Vettori would be much more interesting. Vettori and Stewart were originally supposed to take each other on earlier this year in London. However when the pandemic started, the event was cancelled and the two were never rescheduled. Now seems like a good time to reschedule the pairing as Vettori claims top fighters are turning him down.
Since he lost to then prospect and now current champion Israel Adesanya, Vettori has won his last three straight. After the loss to Adesanya he faced off against Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night 155. He would go on to win the fight by unanimous decision. Vettori won again by unanimous decision in his next outing, defeating Andrew Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 161. In Vettori’s most recent fight, he faced off against Karl Roberson at UFC on ESPN 10. He won his third straight that night, picking up a finish as he submitted Roberson by rear naked choke.
#5 Andrew Sanchez
def. Wellington Turman via Knockout (Punches) at 4:14 of Round One
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter 23 light heavyweight tournament, Andrew Sanchezhas put together a UFC record of 4-3. In his last five fights entering UFC Fight Night 174, he had gone 2-3. The first two fights during that time were both losses coming by KO/TKO. Those losses came against former Anthony Smith and Ryan Janes. He would then go on to win two straight starting with a unanimous decision over Markus Perez at UFC Fight Night 135. Sanchez’s next win occurred at UFC Fight Night 151 as he defeated Marc-Andre Barriault by unanimous decision. In his most recent fight, Sanchez faced Marvin Vettori at UFC Fight Night 161. His win streak was broken that night as Vettori defeated him by unanimous decision.
Facing off against Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 174 was Brazil‘s Wellington Turman. Turman made his UFC debut last summer as he fought Khalil Rountree at UFC Fight Night 155. He ended up losing the fight as Rountree defeated him by split decision. Turman picked up his first UFC win in his next outing as he faced Markus Perez at UFC Fight Night 164. After three rounds, the judges gave the win to Turman by unanimous decision. Turman looked to pick up his second straight win as he entered his fight at UFC Fight Night 174 against Sanchez.
As the fight started, the two quickly clinched along the cage. They broke apart after about a minute as Turman landed a right hand as they separated. They met in the center again where they began exchanging punches. As Turman moved in a one point, Sanchez landed a good counter left hand. As the round went on, Sanchez continued connecting that hard left hand. Turman was having some success with his striking, wobbling Sanchez for a second with just over a minute left, landing a right hand. But Sanchez was quick to return with a couple of lefts. With just under a minute left, Turman moved in looking for a kick but Sanchez clocked him with a counter right. He then move forward and landed a one-two to the stunned Turman. Sanchez walked him down and landed another one that dropped Turman. After two hammer fists, the ref stepped in awarding Sanchez the TKO win.
With the win over Turman, Sanchez now sits at 3-1 in his last four fights. While he may not deserve a ranked opponent just yet, a fight with fifteenth ranked Antonio Carlos Junior seems interesting. Carlos Junior has lost his last two straight fights. The first of those losses came at UFC Fight Night 152 when he lost to Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision. His next loss came four months later as he took on Uriah Hall at UFC Fight Night 158. After another hard fought three rounds, the win was given to Hall by split decision. A fight win Sanchez gives Carlos Junior that chance to remain among the top fifteen with a rebounding win. As for Sanchez, a win over Carlos Junior would start to earn him much higher ranked opponents.
Next week the UFC is back on pay per view for the end of a trilogy at UFC 252. UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic looks to silence Daniel Cormier once again as the two take each other on for a third time. Their first fight happened at UFC 226 in July 2018 as Cormier finished Miocic by first round knockout to become the UFC heavyweight champion. Both fighters met again in a rematch at UFC 241 last year as Miocic looked to win his title back. Miocic would do just that as he finished Cormier in the fourth round by TKO, finding major success with strikes to Cormier’s body. Now, in what will very likely be Cormier’s last fight, they finish off the trilogy to see who the greatest heavyweight of all time is.
In the co-main event, Sean O’Malley faces a tough task in the bantamweight division. With a brand new ranking next to his name, O’Malley will look to keep his momentum going after a knockout win over Eddie Wineland at UFC 250. Looking to spoil O’Malley’s perfect record will be Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. In his last six fights, Vera has gone 5-1 as he put together a five fight win streak over Wuliji Buren, Guido Cannetti, Frankie Saenz, Nohelin Hernandez and Andre Ewell. In his most recent outing, that win streak was snapped as Vera lost to Song Yadong by unanimous decision. O’Malley looks to climb closer to the top five while Vera tries to get a ranking back on his name. So do not forget to check back here next week for UFC 252’s Standout Performances.
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