UFC Vegas 65 underwent a significant change mid-way through the event, losing its original headliner between Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivac to illness. We were still given an OK offering, with the newly minted headliner ending in devastating fashion.
The preliminary portion of the card got off to a great start as Natália Silva spun her way to a third-round TKO win over Tereza Bleda. The Brazilian hit a well-timed spinning back kick to the chin of Bleda, which sent her to the canvas immediately. Silva followed up with several punches before the referee called it. What a TKO! Brady Hiestand survived one hell of a right hand from Fernie Garcia and rallied for a unanimous decision. ‘Bam Bam’ used his grappling to control Garcia for the rest of the fight, sweeping the judges’ scorecards for his first UFC win. Vanessa Demopoulos mauled Maria Oliveira on the ground. Once the ‘Lil Monster’ closed the distance and scored her takedowns, she went all-in on punches and elbows for a few near-finishes on the ‘Spider Girl’. Oliveira tried to get more aggressive in the third and final round, but it was too little, too late. Demopoulos left the Octagon with her third consecutive win. And yes, she did her signature post-fight celebration with UFC color commentator Michael Bisping (the jump in arms and pose)! Ricky Turcios eked out a split decision over Kevin Natividad in one of the most chaotic fights of the night. ‘Pretty’ and ‘Quicksand’ gave us nothing but fun exchanges and scrambles, but the former Ultimate Fighter winner did just enough in the eyes of the judges. Oh, and he delivered an awesome post-fight interview. Miles Johns turned in a well-rounded performance against Vince Morales. Though a bit chippy before the fight started, both men were fairly measured in their respective approaches, but Johns did better mixing his striking and wrestling. Jennifer Maia snapped a two-fight losing streak and returned to the win column with a unanimous decision over Maryna Moroz. This was close. Both women were content with exchanging strikes, but Maia got the better of Moroz throughout the fight.
The main portion of the card began with the weirdest fight between Charles Johnson and Zhalgas Zhumagulov. There were so many fouls (eye pokes and low blows) in this one! But ‘InnerG’ did enough for the split decision. Jack Della Maddalena earned his third straight first-round KO. Maddalena hurt Danny Roberts early, working the head and body with a barrage of punches before knocking him down. The Australian fighter mentioned going home and fighting in Perth, where the promotion expects to return with UFC 284 next year. He should definitely be added to that event. Muslim Salikhov did Muslim Salikhov things, as the ‘King of Kung Fu’ had Andre Fialho out on his feet with a spinning wheel kick. After getting his eye closed early, Salikhov returned fire with several spinning attacks to the head and body. The final one saw Fialho stand still against the cage, prompting the referee to step in and stop the fight. Waldo Cortes-Acosta kept his undefeated record intact after being awarded a unanimous decision over Chase Sherman. ’Salsa Boy’ threw everything at the ‘Vanilla Gorilla,’ who refused to go down but was outmatched by the recent Contender Series graduate.
Kennedy Nzechukwu turned the tide against Ion Cutelaba and scored a second-round TKO in our main event. After being outwrestled by the ‘Hulk,’ Nzechukwu staved off any other takedown attempts by blasting Cutelaba with brutal knees up the middle. A stunned Cutelaba went down and the ‘African Savage’ finished with follow-up punches. Great way to close the show!
Performance of the Night: Natália Silva, Jack Della Maddalena, Muslim Salikhov and Kennedy Nzechukwu
Natália Silva def. Tereza Bleda by TKO (spinning back kick) at 1:27 of Round 3
Jack Della Maddalena def. Danny Roberts by TKO (punches) at 3:24 of Round 1
Muslim Salikhov def. Andre Fialho by TKO (strikes) at 1:03 of Round 3
Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Ion Cutelaba by TKO (knees and punches) at 1:02 of Round 2
Fight of the Night: No FOTN
Brady Hiestand def. Fernie Garcia by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Vanessa Demopoulos def. Maria Oliveira by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Ricky Turcios def. Kevin Natividad by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Miles Johns def. Vince Morales by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Jennifer Maia def. Maryna Moroz by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Charles Johnson def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta def. Chase Sherman by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)