The MMA world leader returned to ESPN+ with UFC Vegas 50 on Saturday night. The card featured several interesting matches, but none better than the light heavyweight main event pitting former title challenger Thiago Santos versus fast-rising Russian Magomed Ankalaev.
At the end of the night, the Eastern European was victorious by unanimous decision following a highly tactical five-round battle that was decided over the final two rounds. Ankalaev extended his win streak to eight straight inside the Octagon.
The event also included action fighters and Octagon veterans Drew Dober, Khalil Rountree, Alex Caceres, and champion kickboxer turned MMA fighter, Alex Pereira. Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers from a night of cage-fighting violence at the UFC APEX.
Winner: Magomed Ankalaev
Ankalaev did not dominate at UFC Vegas 50 but he won, and at the highest levels of the sport that is all that matters. Not every fight will be a resounding victory and Santos made Ankalaev work for every bit of his victory. But when it came time to show he had savvy and elite fight IQ the Russian delivered when he needed to.
Loser: Marlon Moraes
It is downright stunning how far Marlon Moraes has fallen over the last few years. Following his TKO loss to Song Yadong on Saturday, he has now lost four straight fights by KO. And five of his last six bouts have been KO defeats. It was not that long ago he was an elite bantamweight and title contender in the UFC. However, after UFC Vegas 50 he may be looking for a new fighting home.
Loser: Alex Pereira
Even though Alex Pereira got the W at UFC Vegas 50, it was far from an impressive performance. He entered the fight as a -220 favorite and was expected to be a far better striker, yet Bruno Silva gave the former kickboxing star a great deal of trouble over a three-round fight with a lot of striking.
As the man that has a kickboxing KO over middleweight king Israel Adesanya, and has boasted that the champ is scared of a rematch, he did not look like a fighter that would be able to seriously challenge Adesanya in the Octagon.
Winner: Drew Dober
Drew Dober was on the brink of defeat a couple of times on Saturday night. The power of Terrance McKinney is a serious thing and the 33-year-old admitted as much after the fight. However, the 35-fight veteran weathered that early storm and showed his younger foe why experience is such a valuable tool. He gathered his wits, fought back, and ended up scoring a TKO win later in the round. It was a borderline must-win scenario for Dober, after losing his last two, and he got it done in a destructive fashion.
Loser: Gillian Robertson
It was not that long ago that Gillian Robertson seemed primed to be a flyweight contender, after winning four of five fights and scoring finishes in three of those victories. However, since that hot streak, she has now lost three of four, including her latest setback at UFC Vegas 50 to JJ Aldrich. “The Savage” is a fantastic grappler, but if that part of her game can be suppressed, the weaknesses in her skillset start to show. She must become a threat on the feet in the near future if she hopes to progress to a meaningful level in the UFC.
Winner: Miranda Maverick
Last year was a rough one for Miranda Maverick. She started 2021 as one of the best young talents in the UFC’s women’s flyweight division and ended it with the first losing streak of her career. If she wanted to deliver on the promise she showed to start her Octagon run, she needed to beat Sabina Mazo at UFC Vegas 50. Maverick did that, and definitively with a second-round submission.
Loser: Kris Moutinho
Kris Moutinho’s UFC career has gotten off to a pretty terrible start. In July, he was a short-notice sacrificial lamb to fan-favorite Sean O’Malley, and he took an absolute drubbing. Which was to be expected at the time. On Saturday, he entered his fight with Guido Canetti as the betting favorite, and he took a drubbing once again. However, it wasn’t to a fast-rising superstar. It was against a 42-year-old that was 2-5 in the Octagon entering the night. With performances like that Moutinho’s days in the UFC may not last much longer.
Winner: Azamat Murzakanov
Azamat Murzakanov had an outstanding start to his Octagon career at UFC Vegas 50. He opened the preliminary portion of the card against Tafon Nchukwi and showed why oddsmakers had him as a solid betting favorite heading into the bout. The Russian only needed 44 seconds to dispatch his foe with a highlight-reel flying knee. The strike landed on the button and stiffened up Nchukwi immediately. The victory was “The Professional’s” eighth knockout in 11 career wins.