UFC Vegas 8 Recap: Aleksandar Rakic chops down Anthony Smith

The UFC returned tonight for their eighth Fight Night since hosting events at their APEX. In the main event of the evening, top eight light heavyweights went to war as Anthony Smith (33-15) took on Aleksandar Rakic (12-2).

Rakic chops down Lionheart

The main event saw former UFC title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith, taking on top contender, Aleksandar Rakic. Both men entered the cage coming off of a loss and looking to bounce back.

The main event started with a touch of the gloves. Rakic immediately opened up with a few powerful leg kicks. Smith countered with some of his own, but Rakic’s had a lot of pop on them. Rakic dropped Smith with back to back massive leg kicks.

Once on top, Rakic landed some good body shots. Smith was able to use a scramble to get to Rakic’s back, but Rakic was able to shake him off. Rakic was able to get top position with about two minutes left in the round.

Rakic displayed really good top control over the final couple of minutes. Smith looked like he was going to go for a triangle at one point, but he seemed more content to ride out the round. Clear first round for Rakic.

Smith moved forward to start round two, but Rakic continued to pepper him with kicks. Lionheart used a big right to engage the grappling. However, Rakic used his superior strength to just throw Smith to his back.

Rakic landed right in Smith’s guard and started working on ground and pound. Smith looked for butterflies to try and sweep, but Rakic did a good job maintaining top control. Smith did do a good job of working slowly back to the fence.

Once the action was there, Smith did try and throw up a couple of submissions, but Rakic did a good job defending. The final minute didn’t contain a ton of action which led to another clear round for Rakic.

The final round opened with another massive leg kick from Rakic. Rakic landed a couple of big kicks that seemingly rocked Smith for a second. Smith show in for a takedown, but again, Rakic was able to use his strength to throw Smith down.

After being on his back for over a minute, Smith used the cage to try to get back to his feet. Rakic did a fantastic job of controlling Smith from the back. Finally Smith got back to his feet for two seconds with a minute left, but was dragged right back down. There was really no more action in the final minute.

The final round was another clear round for Rakic. I gave him the fight 30-27. The judges gave the fight unanimously to Rakic (30-26, 30-27, 30-27). A very solid bounce back win

Magny hands Robbie Lawler fourth straight loss

The co-main event of the evening featured the former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC), taking on Neil Magny (23-7). Lawler was looking to snap the longest losing streak of his career.

As the first round started, Magny looked to strike from distance with his kicks. Lawler was able to back up Magny while throwing big shots. Lawler tried to get a takedown, but Magny defended well. Magny was able to drag Lawler down with a headlock before transitioning to the back.

Lawler was able to get back to his feet, but Magny maintained control. Magny got to Lawler’s back and almost locked up a rear-naked choke before Lawler fought out of it. Magny dragged Lawler down, but a scramble found Lawler on top.

After taking some good shots, Magny was able to get back to his feet. Once the fight was back on the feet, Magny landed a takedown. Lawler got back to his feet, but Magny snapped him back down with a headlock. Round ended and a clear first for Neil Magny.

As the second round started, Lawler showed some urgency on his feet. Magny threw a big headkick which was blocked, but he used that momentum to shoot in for a takedown. Magny was able to drag Lawler down.

Once the fight was on the ground, Magny was able to get Lawler’s back again. After controlling Lawler for a few minutes, Magny lost the top position. Lawler got to his feet with about a minute left in the round. However, he wasn’t able to land anything significant. Another clear round for Magny.

Both men touched gloves as the final round began. Lawler looked light on his feet to start the final round. Lawler landed a big right hand and Magny pulled guard. It wasn’t clear on if the shot actually hurt Magny or not.

Magny just hugged Lawler on the ground with no action so the referee stood them up. Lawler really started pressing forward landing good shots, but Magny reengaged the grappling and got Lawler down.

Lawler was able to work his way back to the feet with about two minutes left in the round. Magny started doing a good job landing from distance. Lawler was plotting forward, but Magny was just peppering him.

Magny’s boxing looked incredibly crisp as he continued to pepper Lawler with straight shots as Lawler came forward. The round ended with Magny landing over and over. Another clear round for Magny and I give him the fight 30-27.

The judges agreed unanimously giving the fight to Neil Magny (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). The third win of 2020 for Magny. The former UFC champion, Lawler, has now lost four fights in a row.

Alexa Grasso makes successful UFC flyweight debut

The second fight on the main card featured a women’s flyweight contest between Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) and Alexa Grasso (11-3). Grasso was moving up from strawweight for her UFC flyweight debut.

Both ladies touched gloves as the first round started. Grasso opened the action with a very solid overhand right. Kim seemed extremely calm early on just trying to find her rhythm. Grasso kept trying to press forward, but was having a little trouble with the reach.

Kim owned a six inch reach advantage, and it was playing a factor early. Every time Grasso would push forward, Kim would land one solid counter on Grasso’s exit. Both women landed in a big exchange with about two minutes left in the round.

Grasso was pushing forward and throwing more in the first. Kim was staying patient and landing good counters, but Grasso was landing more while being aggressive. Solid first round that I’ll give to Grasso.

Grasso opened up the second round with a very solid body kick. She followed that with a very big leg kick. Kim wasn’t displaying great defense as she continued to get hit with solid shots from Grasso.

Grasso continued to push forward with combinations as Kim looked for counters. A big three punch combination landed for Grasso halfway through the round. Kim started throwing some combinations after that.

Urgency started setting it for Kim as she was getting peppered by Grasso. Kim’s nose was really bothering her as she continued to take big combinations from Grasso. Kim landed some decent shots late in the round, but this is another round for Grasso.

The final round opened with both ladies throwing combinations. Grasso was staying very busy, but Kim was pushing forward more early in the round. Kim pushed forward, but Grasso was still getting the better of the exchanges.

It was very evident in the third that Kim sensed that she needed a finish. The problem was that Grasso was just quicker on the feet. Halfway through the round the two women engaged in some grappling. Both exchanged the controlling position against the cage.

Grasso was able to land a takedown with about a minute into the round. Grasso stayed in half guard the full final minute landing big shots on Kim. Another round for Grasso and I give her the fight 30-27.

The judges unanimously agreed giving Grasso the fight (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). A very solid UFC flyweight debut for Alexa Grasso.

Lamas defeats Algeo in a war

Kicking off the main card on ESPN+ was a featherweight contest between Ricardo Lamas (19-8) and Bill Algeo (13-4). Algeo who has appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series was making his UFC debut against Lamas.

Algeo opened the first round in a side stance looking to kick. After Lamas landed a good leg kick, Algeo responded with big body shots. Algeo was really pushing the pace early on looking for big shots. Lamas engaged in some grappling to try to get the fight to the ground, but wasn’t successful.

When they separated, Lamas really started to find his range. He was doing a good job of landing calf kicks and straight shots. These two men started throwing caution to the wind throwing massive shots at the other.

Just as Lamas started taking control, Algeo was able to find his range with some big shots. Lamas landed a couple of big calf kicks, but Algeo seemingly rocked Lamas right as the round entered. Incredible round that I slightly lean towards Algeo.

As the second round started, Algeo was really pushing the pace. Looked to be trying to build off the momentum of the way round one ended. Lamas shot in for a takedown and was able to get Algeo’s back. However, Algeo created a nice scramble to get up.

Both men again engaged in landing massive shots in close quarters. Algeo backed Lamas up landing big shots, and the moment he stopped, Lamas fired back. Lamas again tried to get the fight back to the ground halfway through the round.

Algeo was doing a very good job of defending the takedown while landing big elbows. Lamas got wobbled by a big knee up the middle. Algeo shot in for a takedown and took Lamas down. Lamas was then able to reverse the position and get on top. Algeo immediately got back to his feet.

Algeo started showboating a little in the final minute of the round. Lamas landed a pretty good calf kick, but Algeo appeared to be having fun. Clear second round for Bill Algeo.

The third and final round began with three solid kicks from Lamas. Seemed to be much more urgency with Lamas entering the final round. Algeo was doing a really good job of staying calm. Lamas tried to get a takedown a minute into the round, but Algeo defended well.

After working on the takedown for about 20 seconds, Lamas was able to get Algeo down. Algeo kept trying to scramble, but Lamas did a really good job of keeping top position. Lamas was landing very solid shots while Algeo kept trying to scramble.

Algeo was able to get up, but Lamas dragged him right back down. Algeo seemed to be very tired from all the grappling. After working his way back up, Algeo was slammed back down by Lamas. Lamas transitioned immediately to his back.

Lamas was able to get the mount with about thirty seconds left. Algeo wasn’t doing much to defend. Lamas was raining down massive elbows as the round ended. By far the most dominant round of the fight. I will give Lamas a 10-8 round which would make the fight a 28-28 draw.

In the end, all three judges gave the fight to Ricardo Lamas (29-27, 29-27, 29-27). An incredible fight and despite the loss, a very impressive UFC debut for Bill Algeo.

UFC Vegas 8 Takeaways

UFC on Vegas 8 delivered with a very solid night of fights. The four fight main was entertaining from start to finish. Aleksandar Rakic was able to get back on track in the main event. Robbie Lawler suffered his fourth consecutive loss in the co-main. The UFC returns next week for Alistair Overeem – Augusto Sakai.

UFC Vegas 8 Preview: Can Anthony Smith bounce back against Aleksandar Rakic?

Anthony Smith

Tomorrow night the UFC returns with action from the APEX as light heavyweights take center stage for a solid main event. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-15) will be taking on Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) in the main event of the evening. A very solid night of fights are ahead so let’s dive into the main card.

Top Eight UFC light heavyweights battle

The main event is a really solid one between two top eight UFC light heavyweights. Both Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic are looking to bounce back after suffering losses in their last time out. Due to the short notice main event slot, this is a three round fight.

For Smith, he’s coming off of a really tough loss to Glover Teixeira back in May. Smith looked really good in the first couple of rounds, but about halfway through the fight there was a massive change. Teixeira was hurting Smith badly, and finished him in the fifth.

It was the second loss in three fights for Lionheart, granted the other came to Jon Jones at UFC 235. Smith is one of the top contenders at light heavyweight for a reason. He entered the division with three consecutive finishes before getting the Jones fight. Then he submitted Alexander Gustafsson after the Jones loss.

Smith possesses solid ground and striking skills. Lionheart has a wealth of experience, and he does have the skills to pose some interesting challenges for Rakic.

Rakic came into the UFC back in 2017 and he’s looked incredibly impressive. He did lose a close split decision in his last fight, but outside of that, he’s 4-0 with two incredible finishes. One of those finishes was a highlight reel headkick against Jimi Manuwa.

Rakic is explosive in his striking, and he’s incredibly efficient on his feet. He’s a very exciting fighter for the light heavyweight division. In his 12 victories, nine of them have come by knockout.

In going through this fight, I think the three round nature is going to play a big factor. If this was a five round main event, I think I would lean a little towards Smith given the experience. I think the fight is going to go the distance in this one.

Rakic is extremely explosive, but I really would like to see him go five rounds. Smith has fought into the fifth round a couple of times in his career. With it being three rounds, I like Rakic to land some really clean shots and pick up a decision. Don’t count out Lionheart, but I think Rakic takes this one.

Prediction: Aleksandar Rakic by Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler vs Neil Magny

In the co-main event of the evening you have the former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC), taking on the Haitian Sensation Neil Magny (23-7). This is a little bit of a do or die fight for the former champion.

After his stint with Strikeforce, Lawler returned to the UFC back in 2013. Ruthless went on a 8-1 run that saw him become the welterweight champion and defend the title successfully twice. He then was knocked out by Tyron Woodley to lose that title.

Since losing the title, Lawler really hasn’t been the same. He won a decision against Cowboy Cerrone, but then he’s lost three in a row. The Askren loss is still questionable, but he was dominated by Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington over five rounds.

With Lawler, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a guy who is always looking to finish the fight with his striking. In the past, he would be very aggressive, but we haven’t seen that guy in a few fights. Maybe he returns Saturday.

Magny is looking to have the best year of his professional career. After an 18 month layoff, Magny has won two fights in 2020. A third over a former champion would be huge for Magny. The Haitian Sensation is also looking to pick up another win over a former UFC champion.

Magny is not going to really wow you with any of his skills, but he’s incredible efficient. He’s put together a resume that includes wins over Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks, and Carlos Condit. Magny is incredible long, and he’s got very good grappling skills.

This is a tough fight for me to pick. A few years ago, I would have said Magny has no chance. However, I’m not sure Robbie Lawler is the same guy he used to be. To win this fight he needs to fight how Santiago Ponzinibbo fought Neil Magny.

Lawler needs to move forward and throw big shots. Magny is at a striking disadvantage here so you might see him try to wrestle more in this one. Maybe I’m going with my heart a little, but I think Lawler will land bigger shots over three rounds. I’m not picking a finish, but I think the bigger shots outweigh the volume in a very close fight.

Prediction: Robbie Lawler by Split Decision

Alexa Grasso vs Ji Yeon Kim

The third fight on the main card is a really good women’s flyweight weight contest as Alexa Grasso (11-3) moves up in weight to take on Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2). Both of these women are ranked in their respected UFC divisions.

Grasso comes into this contest at 3-3 in her last six fights. She has incredibly good striking, but she’s ran into a problem in her three losses. Grasso does not fair well against fighters with good grappling backgrounds.

In her three losses, Grasso has shown that when she gets taken down, she’s more of the fighter who hopes for a stand up from the referee. When in striking range, she can compete with anyone, and this is a fight that can let her shine.

Kim entered the UFC with a decent amount of hype given her pedigree. She is well-versed in many martial arts and had some amateur boxing and kickboxing experience. Kim also entered the octagon for the first time at 6-0-2.

She did have an impressive win in her last outing, but outside of that, the results have been very underwhelming. Kim is 3-2 in the octagon but two of those wins came via split decision. If those judges sided the other way we’d be looking at a fighter who is 1-4.

I think this fight is going to stay on the feet over the course of three rounds. Kim has plenty of skill to be able to win this fight, but I just can’t have any confidence in her based on what I’ve seen.

I think Grasso will have the speed and technique advantage moving up from 115. Look for Grasso to use some crisp combinations in this one. If Kim can keep the fight at distance, she might be able to get the decision, but I’m going with Grasso on this one.

Prediction: Alexa Grasso by Unanimous Decision

Ricardo Lamas vs Bill Algeo

The second fight on the main card features former featherweight title challenger, Ricardo Lamas (19-8), taking on UFC newcomer Bill Algeo (13-4). Lamas was supposed to fight Ryan Hall, but Hall was forced to pull out due to injury.

Lamas is at an interesting stage in his career. He’s 38 years old and he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. However, one was a split decision loss and the other two came against Josh Emmett and Calvin Kattar. No shame in those losses. In between the losses was a TKO win over Darren Elkins.

With Lamas, you’re going to get a guy who is comfortable everywhere. He has really good striking, and he’s got great submissions. He even submitted Charles Oliveira back in 2016.

This is a really tough draw for Algeo in his first fight with the promotion. Algeo is a veteran of the Contender Series, but lost a decision in his fight. He did come away giving off a good impression which is why the UFC is willing to give him the short notice fight here.

Algeo has very good striking, and he hits with good power. He does a really good job of mixing up his strikes going up top and to the body. Algeo definitely has the skills to make this an interesting matchup.

Yes, Lamas on paper is just 3-4 in his last seven fights. However, those four losses are all to top competition. This is just a little too much to ask of Algeo in his debut. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going with experience here and I’m picking Ricardo Lamas to pick up the victory.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas by Unanimous Decision

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

Kicking off the UFC Vegas 8 main card on ESPN+ is a light heavyweight rematch between Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) and Ion Cutelaba (15-5, 1 NC). This fight was originally supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago, but a positive COVID test pushed it back.

These two fought back in February and the results was nothing short of controversial. Nothing of significance seemed to land from Ankalaev, but Cutelaba was acting rocked. You could tell he was acting just by his movements. Maybe some shots landed for Ankalaev, but nothing damaging.

During his acting, you could tell Cutelaba was trying to time a big shot. Maybe not the brightest strategy, but he did have Ankalaev going after him pretty open. Nevertheless, the referee stopped the fight believing Cutelaba was out on his feet during his cherade.

Now, the two men will run the fight back. Ankalaev will try to make it five wins in a row in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Ankalaev has diverse striking and very good power in his shots. Magomed Ankalaev is really good wherever the fight goes.

In the early stages of any fight, Cutelaba is extremely dangerous. He’s got fantastic hand speed and really good power. Just ask Khalil Rountree about the power that Cutelaba possesses. However, his skills are more geared towards a fast start.

If this fight gets out of the first round, I’m not sure how well I think Cutelaba will do against Ankalaev over three rounds. I think the diversity in the striking is really going to play to Ankalaev’s advantage. While not the sexiest fight picks, I’m going with another main card decision in this one.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 8 Outlook

On paper, this is a fantastic card from the UFC. MMA fans should be excited for tomorrow night. I expect the card to deliver some great fights that will have everyone talking about it next week.