Leading into UFC Fight Night 176, the card was plagued by multiple fight cancellations. For the first time since 2005, the UFC would be holding a card with seven fights or fewer. UFC Fight Night 176 featured no prelims due to the short amount of fights as a seven fight main card was showcased. In the night’s main event, Alistair Overeem looked for his second straight win against quick rising heavyweight contender Augusto Sakai. Had it not been for a last second loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Overeem would have been on a four fight win streak. Prior to that loss, he had put together two straight first round TKO wins over Sergei Pavlovich and Alexey Oleinik. After his loss to Rozenstruik, before meeting with Sakai, Overeem defeated Walt Harris by TKO at UFC on ESPN 8. As for Sakai, he entered the fight on a six fight winning streak.
In the co-main event, a light heavyweight bout that was scheduled for UFC on ESPN 15 went down at UFC Fight Night 176. That fight featured former UFC interim light heavyweight title challenger Ovince Saint Preux as he faced Alonzo Menifield. OSP was entering the fight coming off his first appearance at heavyweight in his last outing. As for Menifield, he looked to bounce back from the first loss of his pro career.
UFC Fight Night 176 Standout Performances
Even though the fight card featured only seven fights, there was still plenty of action. The card still provided some great finishes as the last five fights all ended before the final horn. With that being said, it is time to take a look at the five standout performances from UFC Fight Night 176. 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 Ovince Saint Preux
def. Alonzo Menifield via Knockout (Punch) at 4:07 of Round Two
After putting together three straight wins back in 2017, Ovince Saint Preux has had a tough time putting together consecutive wins again. The loss that snapped that win streak was in 2018 at UFC on Fox 28 as Ilir Latifi defeated him by submission. He followed that up with win over Tyson Pedro in his next fight at UFC Fight Night 132. After defeating Pedro, OSP would lose his next two straight fights to Dominick Reyes and Nikita Krylov. Following the back-to-back losses, OSP picked up a win against Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC Fight Night 150 using his signature “Von Preux Choke”. Finally, before UFC Fight Night 176, OSP made his heavyweight debut in his last fight. That fight took place at UFC Fight Night 171 as Ben Rothwell defeated him by split decision. He hoped to get back in the win column in this co-main event against Menifield.
As for Menifield, he started his professional career 3-0 before getting an opportunity on Dana White’s Contender Series. He appeared for the first time during week three of the first season, defeating Daniel Jolly by TKO. Unfortunately, Menifield would not earn a contract with the win and he would appear again the following summer after two straight wins outside the octagon. His second appearance was during the first week of season two as he finished Dashawn Boatwright by TKO in eight seconds. That win earned him a contract and in his debut he defeated Vinicius Moreira by TKO at UFC Fight Night 143. He followed that up with another finish in his next fight as he knocked out Paul Craig at UFC on ESPN 3. In his most recent outing, Menifield’s perfect record was ruined after a unanimous decision loss to Devin Clark.
Menifield started the fight off by quickly closing distance and landing a good right hand. As the round continued, each fighter landed their own shots as OSP found some success with his jab and Menifield with his left hook. About a minute and a half into the round, Menifield clinched with OSP on the fence. They broke apart about thirty seconds later as Menifield landed a good combination on the break before OSP landed a body kick. For the remainder of the round, each fighter traded some good shots before the round came to an end. During the closing seconds of the first round, Menifield landed his hardest punch yet as he landed a clean left hook just before the horn.
OSP opened up round two with a couple of body kicks as Menifield landed some good shots. Menifield seemed to slow down a little bit during this round as he did not seem as active. Meanwhile, OSP kept the pressure on Menifield landing good body kicks. With just about a minute left in the round, Menifield moved forward, landing a good punch that knocked OSP off balance but did not stun him. It seemed OSP slipped as he was perfectly fine just seconds later as Menifield moved forward throwing punches. OSP stayed out of the way and landed a perfect counter left that dropped Menifield face first onto the canvas.
The win over Menifield puts OSP back in the win column at light heavyweight. Now, it is time to figure out what is next for the former interim title challenger. A majority of the lower half of the top fifteen at 205 pounds is booked already. But there is one fighter available that would seem to be an interesting option for OSP’s next outing. That option would be against former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith. After three straight finishes over Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua and Volkan Oezdemir, Smith earned himself a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 235. He would end up losing that fight by unanimous decision after lasting all five rounds.
Following that loss, Smith went on to face multi-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 153. Smith would add another big finish to his record as he submitted Gustafsson in the fourth round by rear naked choke. After the big win, Smith earned another main event slot against another former title challenger as he faced Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 171. Smith would end up losing that night as Teixeira finished him in the fifth round by TKO. In his most recent fight, Smith appeared in another main event as he faced Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Fight Night 175. He would lose his second straight that night as Rakic defeated him by unanimous decision.
#2 Alistair Overeem
def. Augusto Sakai via TKO (Strikes) at 0:26 of Round Five
Heading into UFC Fight Night 176, Alistair Overeem had won three of his last four fights. He would have entered his main event against Sakai on a four fight win streak had it not been for a last second loss in a fight he was winning. That fight was against Jairzinho Rozenstruikin the main event of UFC on ESPN 7. Overeem was winning on every scorecard going into the final round but Rozenstruik finished him in the last ten seconds. As for his wins, Overeem put together two straight TKO wins over Sergei Pavlovich and Alexey Oleinik before his loss to Rozenstruik. In his most recent fight, Overeem appeared in the main event of UFC on ESPN 8 against Walt Harris, winning by round two TKO. Overeem looked to continue his rise to the one belt that has eluded him as he faced Sakai.
Augusto Sakai had put together a career record of 10-1-1 before getting a chance to appear on the Contender Series Brazil during its first season. He appeared during the first week as he defeated Marcos Conrado by TKO in round two. He would earn a contract and make his debut the following month as he fought Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 137. Sakai picked up a big win in his UFC debut as he defeated Sherman by TKO in round three. That win earned him a fight against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 150. He picked up another big win in that one, defeating the former champion by split decision. Sakai followed that up with a knockout win over Marcin Tybura in less than a minute before defeating Blagoy Ivanov by UD in his last outing.
The first couple minutes of the round were a little slow as each fighter circled the octagon landing a few good shots here and there. About two minutes into the round, Sakai landed a nice body kick and then followed it up with a flurry of punches. Once he caused Overeem to cover up and protect himself from the punches, Sakai then landed a couple of good knees. Now the two fighters were in the clinch on the fence, trading hard knees to the body. After spending just under a minute in the clinch, they broke apart as Sakai landed an elbow, followed by a knee and a good right hand.
There was not much action for the remainder of the round until about the thirty second mark when Sakai moved forward landing an uppercut, a knee and a couple right hands. Round one was close but with Sakai seeming to be more aggressive it seemed to be 10-9 Sakai heading into round two.
Less than a minute into round one, Sakai once again moved forward with a wild flurry of punches as Overeem covered up. He started it off with an uppercut, followed by a series of hooks, capping it off with a knee. But Overeem ate it well and started walking forward again. After a couple minutes of action, Sakai started landing again as he pinned Overeem on the fence and landed many uppercuts to the body followed by a knee. They would then spend a while in the clinch, trading big knees, elbows and punches before breaking apart with just under a minute left. After another close round, it seemed Sakai may have had a two round advantage going into round three.
To start off round three, Overeem landed a nice outside leg kick followed by a right hook. Moments later, Sakai got Overeem against the fence where he landed a few hard hooks. About a minute and a half into the round, Overeem moved in to initiate the clinch and he ate a nice uppercut from Sakai before the two clinched along the fence for a few moments. Seconds after the broke apart, Sakai backed Overeem across the octagon, landing hooks before punctuating it with a body kick. Following the kick, Sakai got in close where he unleashed loads of punches before clinching.
It was not long before they broke apart, but it was not long before they were back in the clinch either as they clinched again at about the two minute mark. About thirty seconds later, Overeem got his first takedown of the night as he tripped Sakai down. Once on top, Overeem started landing some good ground and pound before Sakai pushed him off. However, Sakai did not get back to his feet just yet as Overeem stood over him attempting to pass Sakai’s legs. As he tried getting back on top, Sakai landed a perfect upkick but Overeem ate it and pushed forward. Overeem was able to get back into his guard with about thirty seconds left as he finished the round on top with ground and pound and some knees to the body. Going into the championship rounds, Overeem could be climbing back at 2-1.
Rounds Four & Five:
As round four began, Sakai seemed to be slowing down. He looked a little slow at the beginning of the round until he backed Overeem up with another flurry of punches. This time, however, it would not last nearly as long as the other times. He would land another series of shots about forty seconds later including a nice elbow. With just over three minutes to go, Sakai backed Overeem up to the fence and lunged forward with an elbow that cut the top of Overeem’s forehead.
Just over halfway into the round, there was a pause in action after a low blow after Overeem attempted a spinning body kick. About twenty seconds later, Overeem grabbed hold of a single leg and pulled Sakai back down to the mat with about two minutes to work. As Overeem spent the remainder of the round on top, he landed huge elbows and hammerfists almost causing the ref to stop the fight, but Sakai survived. After a dominant fourth round, Overeem could have grabbed a 10-8. It could have come down to the fifth and final round as the score seemed to be 2-2.
Overeem got the same exact takedown just seconds into round five. The end came seconds later after Overeem landed three hard elbows and a couple hammerfists.
The big win now puts Overeem at 4-1 in his last five fights with the one loss being the close one to Rozenstruik. Overeem has faced a lot of fighters in the UFC heavyweight’s top ten which makes options for his next opponent a little tough. Throughout the fight, Derrick Lewis was tweeting his round-by-round scores and gave every round to Sakai. Clearly, Lewis may have a problem with Overeem and could want a fight with him soon. However, Lewis has also been linked to a November match up with Curtis Blaydes. If Lewis were to win that fight, then that would be a good option for Overeem. Another option for Overeem could be a rematch with Rozenstruik. He made it very clear after his win over Sakai that he felt he had already beaten Rozenstruik as he won 24+ minutes and would be open to a rematch.
After Rozenstruik defeated Overeem, he would earn a match up with former title challenger Francis Ngannou at UFC 249. He suffered his first loss in that fight after Ngannou finished him by knockout in just twenty seconds. Just three months later, in his most recent fight, Rozenstruik faced former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 252. He bounced back from his loss to Ngannou by beating dos Santos in the second round by TKO.
#3 Michel Pereira
def. Zelim Imadaev via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:39 of Round Three
Before making his UFC debut last year, Michel Pereira had already made a name for himself with his wild and exciting style. This could include him doing backflips onto grounded opponents or jumping off the fence with a wild strike. He made his debut at UFC Fight Night 152 as he faced Danny Roberts. Showing off his flashy style, Pereira made quick work of Roberts as he finished him in the first round with a flying knee followed by the knockout punch. After the win in his debut, Pereira would end up losing his next two fights. The first of those was a loss to Tristan Connelly at UFC Fight Night 158 by unanimous decision. The next loss was against Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 167 as he was disqualified for an illegal knee. He looked to snap the losing streak with a win at UFC Fight Night 176.
Facing off against Pereira at UFC Fight Night 167 was Zelim Imadaev. Imadaev started off his career with an undefeated record of 8-0. This would earn him a shot with the UFC as he made his debut against Max Griffin at UFC 236. Imadaev ended up losing in his debut as Griffin defeated him by majority decision. Following the loss to Griffin, Imadaev faced Danny Roberts in his most recent fight at UFC Fight Night 163. He would end up losing again as Roberts defeated him by knockout in the second round. Imadaev looked to avoid a third straight loos and the possibility of being cut as he faced Pereira.
The first half of round one was a bit slow as they were each feeling each other out and landing their own good shots every now and then. About halfway into the round, Pereira landed a nice superman punch followed by a huge knee. Moments later, Imadaev was backing Pereira up before Pereira cracked him with a hard right hand. And then he tried to run off the fence and kick Imadaev, “Showtime” style. With just over a minute left, Pereira moved forward and landed a combination that sent Imadaev staggering backwards. Thirty seconds later, Pereira landed the same combination, cracking Imadaev with a right hand. As the round came to a close, Pereira closed the distance and landed another big knee. Going into round two, it seemed Pereira had a clear one round lead.
At the beginning of the round, Pereira backed Imadaev up to the fence as he tried landing a combination but Imadaev countered back with a hard right hand. As the round went on, they continued trading shots as Pereira kept landing hard body kicks. With about three minutes left, Pereira showed some more of his flashiness by attempting to land a summersault kick.
About halfway through the round, Pereira began slapping Imadaev. With about two minutes left, both fighters clinched along the fence where Pereira landed a good knee and Imadaev landed a good uppercut to the body as they broke apart. About a minute later, Pereira landed a nice combination that wobbled Imadaev. Pereira finished off the last minute of the round throwing all sorts of strikes such as leg kicks, body kicks, flying knees and more. It seemed to be clear that Pereira had the two round advantage going into round three.
Just under a minute into the round, Pereira leaped off the cage and landed a superman punch. He followed it up with a flying knee and a hard right hook as Imadaev seemed dazed. Thirty seconds later, Pereira threw another superman punch followed by an open handed smack. He would then follow that up by kissing his hand and delivering another smack. As the round continued, Pereira kept toying with Imadaev as he began moving around in all sorts of directions before landing a hard right hand. With about a minute left, Pereira started inviting Imadaev to stand and trade, trying to get him to engage. Seconds later he moved forward and landed a hard right hand.
As the thirty second mark neared, Imadaev moved forward trying to land a combination. But Pereira caught him on the way in and got a hold of his back. After that, he suplexed Imadaev down to the mat where he quickly locked up the rear naked choke for the finish. The finish may have been a little controversial as it did not appear like Imadaev tapped but regardless, Pereira would have easily won by unanimous decision.
Now that Pereira has picked up another win in the octagon, it is time to take a look at what is next. After his fight, Pereira said he wanted a shot at the BMF belt in a fight against former title challenger Jorge Masvidal. Coming off just one win over someone that had lost his last two straight does not earn Pereira that fight. With that being said, he is not nearly at the point to start fighting ranked contenders just yet. So, now that that is cleared up, a more realistic option for Pereira’s next opponent would be Mike Perry.
Perry made his debut in 2016 and has since appeared in the octagon a total of thirteen times since. Over that time, he has put together a record of 7-6 but has made a name for himself because of his style and personality. Some notable wins on his record include wins over Jake Ellenberger, Paul Felder and Alex Oliveira. In his last three fights, Perry has put together a record of 1-2. The first of those losses came against Vicente Luque at UFC Fight Night 156 by split decision. Following that loss, he dropped his second straight after being finished by TKO against Geoff Neal at UFC 245. In his most recent outing, Perry fought Mickey Gall at UFC on ESPN 12. He snapped his losing streak that night, defeating Gall by unanimous decision.
#4 Brian Kelleher
def. Ray Rodriguez via Submission (Guillotine) at 0:39 of Round One
Heading into UFC Fight Night 176, Brian Kelleher went through a number of opponent changes. At the beginning of fight week, Kelleher was expected to face Ricky Simon. But after one of Simon’s cornermen tested positive for COVID, Simon was removed. He was replaced by Kevin Natividad. However, Natividad would be forced out of the fight as well as he pulled out on fight day due to undisclosed reasons. Finally, he would end up facing Ray Rodriguez. Heading into the fight, Kelleher had won two of his last three. Those two wins came back-to-back as he finished both Ode Osbourne and Hunter Azure. In his last fight, Kelleher lost to Cody Stamann by unanimous decision at UFC 250. He looked to bounce back with a win over UFC newcomer Rodriguez.
Rodriguez made an appearance of season three of the Contender Series as he took on Tony Gravely. Unfortunately he would end up losing that fight by TKO in round three. After that loss , he took on Andrew Perez at Combate Americas – San Antonio. He would end up winning the fight that night as he defeated Perez by submission the third round. The win would earn him the short notice opportunity in the UFC. He looked to pull off the massive upset as he met Kelleher at UFC Fight Night 176.
To open up the fight, Rodriguez landed some good kicks before backing Kelleher up the fence with punches. Once they were on the fence, Rodriguez quickly shot in for a double leg. And just like that, Kelleher locked up the guillotine and forced the tap seconds later.
After the big win, Kelleher called for a match up against Pedro Munhoz in what he believed would be a guillotine battle. Munhoz is in need of a win after dropping his last two straight fights. Those losses came after he had put together a three fight win streak with wins over Brett Johns, Bryan Caraway, and Cody Garbrandt. After his big win over Garbrandt, Munhoz faced Aljamain Sterling at UFC 238. Munhoz’s win streak was snapped in that fight as Sterling defeated Munhoz by unanimous decision. After that, Munhoz would lose his second straight fight as he welcomed Frankie Edgar to bantamweight. Edgar defeated him in their UFC on ESPN 15 main event, winning by split decision.
Munhoz needs a win to bounce back from those losses and a fight with Kelleher gives him a good chance to do that. On the other hand, it gives Kelleher the chance to add a huge win to his record and jump into the top ten at 135.
#5 Andre Muniz
def. Bartosz Fabinski via Submission (Armbar) at 2:42 of Round One
Yet another product of the Contender Series, Andre Muniz made his appearance during season one of Brazil’s edition against Bruno Assis. He would go on to win that fight, defeating Assis by unanimous decision. However the win would not earn him a contract as he appeared on the main edition of the Contender Series the following year against Taylor Johnson. Muniz picked up another win in that one, defeating Johnson in the first round by submission. That win would earn him a contract as he made his UFC debut a few months later at UFC Fight Night 164. In that fight, Muniz faced off against Antonio Arroyo as he won by unanimous decision. He looked to pick up his second win in the octagon at UFC Fight Night 176.
Facing off against Muniz at UFC Fight Night 176 would be Poland’s Bartosz Fabinski. Fabinski made his UFC debut in 2015 and put together a record of 3-0 over the course of three years. Among those wins was a unanimous decision win over Emil Meek at UFC Fight Night 134. His next fight took place at UFC Fight Night 140 as Michel Prazeres snapped his win streak with a submission win. In his most recent outing, he faced Darren Stewart in a UFC bout that took place at Cage Warriors 113. In that fight, Fabinski defeated Stewart by unanimous decision. He looked to make it two in a row with a win over Muniz at UFC Fight Night 167.
Soon after the fight began, both fighters clinched along the fence where they worked for a couple minutes. Each guy was landing some good shots in the clinch before Muniz pulled Fabinksi down into his guard with about three minutes left. As Muniz pulled him to the mat, he quickly locked up a guillotine but Fabinski was able to escape moments later. Since the guillotine did not work, Muniz began looking to lock up a triangle choke. But he quickly switched over to an armbar and immediately forced Fabinski to tap.
The win over Fabinski now puts Muniz at six in a row. After the win, he made a call out of Omari Akhmedov saying that he feels that is a logical next step. After two impressive wins to start off his UFC career, it is not much of a stretch.
While Akhmedov may be in the top fifteen, he just recently came off a unanimous decision loss to Chris Weidman who had lost five of his last six before that fight. Before he lost to Weidman, Akhmedov was on a six fight unbeaten streak with a draw against Marvin Vettori. Before the draw, Akhmedov had put together two straight wins over Kyle Noke and Abdul Razak Alhassan. After the draw, he put together another three straight wins against Tim Boetsch, Zak Cummings and Ian Heinisch. A win over Akhmedov would give Muniz the opportunity for a top ten opponent. Meanwhile it gives Akhmedov the chance to bounce back from his recent loss over Weidman against a lower ranked opponent.
Next week, UFC Fight Night 177 was supposed to be headlined by a key match up in the light heavyweight division between former title challengers Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira. Unfortunately Teixeria tested positive for COVID and the fight has been pushed back a few weeks to UFC Fight Night 179.
Now, UFC Fight Night 177 will be headlined by women’s strawweight main event between Michelle Waterson and Angela Hill. Waterson enters the fight having won three of her last five fights. Those three wins were part of a win streak that would earn her a main event against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That fight took place at UFC Fight Night 161 as Waterson lost by unanimous decision. Her most recent outing was a split decision loss to another former champion Carla Esparza.
As for Hill, she enters the fight having won four of her last six fights. Back at UFC Fight Night 150, Hill picked up a win over Jodie Esquibel by unanimous decision. Following that win, she would go on to lose to Yan Xiaonan by UD at UFC 238. After that loss, Hill put together three straight wins with finishes over Ariane Carnelossi, Hannah Cifers and a UD win over Loma Lookboonmee. In her last outing, Hill lost a close split decision to former title challenger Claudia Gadelha. Both ladies look to bounce back from their recent losses and pick up a big win. So check back here next week for UFC Fight Night 177’s standout performances.
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