Islam Makhachev didn't seem bothered by the bright lights as he picked up a third-round TKO win over Thiago Moises in his first main event at UFC on Vegas 26.
Makhachev put in a very working man's performance. He plied his signature ground control at various spots throughout the fight. He also utilized just enough boxing to hold his own on the feet and open takedown opportunities.
As usual with Makharchev, Moises didn't have much opportunity to mount his own offense. He did manage to take down the Dagestan-native once but turned it into next to nothing.
Moises' resistance continued to dwindle after showing signs of life in the third round. Makhachev went to work patiently trying to set his sights on a submission and finally got what he wanted.
He locked in the choke and forced the tap to extend his current winning streak to eight. After the fight he used the opportunity to call out the division, specifically Rafael dos Anjos.
If the 29-year-old can stay healthy he's beginning to look like someone the entire lightweight division is going to want to avoid.
- Islam Makhachev def. Thiago Moises via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38 of Round 4
- Miesha Tate def. Marion Reneau via TKO at 1:53 of Round 3
- Mateusz Gamrot def. Jeremy Stephens via submission (kimura) at 1:05 of Round 1
- Rodolfo Vieira def. Dustin Stoltzfus via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:54 of Round 3
- Billy Quarantillo def. Gabriel Benitez via TKO at 3:40 of Round 3
- Daniel Rodriguez def. Preston Parsons via TKO at 3:47 of Round 1
- Amanda Lemos def. Montserrat Ruiz via KO at 0:35 of Round 1
- Sergey Morozov def. Khalid Taha via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Malcolm Gordon def. Francisco Figueiredo via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
- Rodrigo Nascimento def. Alan Baudot via TKO at 1:29 of Round 2
Miesha Tate def. Marion Reneau
Former champion Miesha Tate's retirement is now a thing of the past. With a third-round TKO win over Marion Reneau, Cupcake is back.
She fought for the first time since walking away from the sport in 2016. That happened to be the year that she captured the bantamweight championship before losing to Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington.
The layoff didn't appear to hurt her too much. She worked behind a solid jab in the striking game but went to her bread and butter with her ground game for the majority of the fight. She utilized that to set up the opportunity to drown her opponent in strikes until she got the stoppage.
Tate may have sat out for five years, but she isn't over the hill by any stretch. She's 34 years old with several years of rest to rejuvenate her. In a division desperate for threats to Nunes, it wouldn't be surprising if she's in the title picture soon.
Mateusz Gamrot def. Jeremy Stephens
Mateusz Gamrot did his best to put the lightweight division on notice in his main card fight with Jeremy Stephens.
The 30-year-old didn't waste any time in dispatching of the UFC veteran with a first-round submission that took just over a minute to lock in. While Gamrot is known for his striking and picked up his first UFC win by knockout, he showed off his submission game with a kimura:
Michael Carroll of UFC Stats noted that it was just the 12th kimura in the organization since 2015.
Gamrot was a two-division champion in KSW before coming over to the UFC. His combination of kickboxing and submission makes him an exciting finisher. That alone is enough to make him a fighter worth keeping tabs on.
Given his spot here against an aging veteran, the promotion seems to believe he could take advantage of opportunities down the line.
Rodolfo Vieira def. Dustin Stoltzfus
Former world champion jiu-jitsu practitioner Rodolfo Vieira revealed some serious flaws the last time we saw him in the cage. Against Dustin Stoltzfus, he did a lot to address those concerns in a third-round submission win.
In a submission loss to Anthony Hernandez, Vieira's conditioning was challenged. He completely gassed out before ultimately tapping to someone who is an inferior pure grappler. He has also struggled to this point to show any striking game.
Against his opponent Saturday night, he established a strong jab, more than held his own in the stand-up and had plenty of gas to lock in a rear-naked choke in the third and final round.
With those questions somewhat answered, Vieira is once again an intriguing prospect in the middleweight division.
Billy Quarantillo def. Gabriel Benitez
Billy Quarantillo and Gabriel Benitez looked like a close matchup on paper, but once the cage door shut, it was far from close. Quarantillo got the stoppage win in the third round, but it was long over before it was officially stopped.
Quarantillo landed a big right hand that floored Benitez and punctuated it with a slam off a Benitez submission attempt in the first round. It was just the beginning of a thorough performance for the 32-year-old.
After winning his first three UFC fights, Quarantillo suffered his first defeat at the hands of Gavin Tucker in December 2020. Benitez appeared to be a game opponent on paper, having picked up finishes in 18 of his 22 wins.
Instead, Quarantillo established that he's still worth watching. His well-rounded game could get him on a hot streak soon.