The UFC Vegas 29 prelims produced some exciting finishes, along with some back-and-forth close decisions. In this article, we take a look at the three fighters that stood out during the UFC Vegas 29 prelims. Their performances were extremely impressive, but what their future could hold is what has everyone eagerly watching their next step.
In a fight between two rising prospects in the women’s flyweight division, Casey O’Neill earned herself a submission victory over Lara Procopio. The undefeated O’Neill was faced with the toughest challenge in her career thus far, in a bout with a highly-skilled fighter in Procopio. The first round was tough for O’Neill, forfeiting over a minute and a half of control time and getting doubled up on in total strikes. O’Neill fought through the adversity in the first and responded with a strong second round while Procopio was seemingly fading as the fight went on. O’Neill continued her success on the mat in the third and was able to finish Procopio with a rear-naked choke.
O’Neill showed just how good her grappling was, submitting a high-level grappler in Procopio. O’Neill also appeared to have great cardio and kept a high pace throughout the fight, which contributed to her finishing the fight as Procopio looked to be fatigued. This was a big win for O’Neill that should set her up for a big fight in her next outing. If she can continue this success, it will not be a surprise to see her in the top 15 of the division with one or two more victories.
Virna Jandiroba was able to defend her top 15 ranking with a remarkable performance against the surging Kanko Murata during the UFC Vegas 29 prelims. This was a crucial moment in the career of Virna Jandiroba, as she had just lost to Mackenzie Dern, and with back-to-back losses, her road to the top would have become much more difficult. Jandiroba started the fight off quickly landing a big right hand in the first thirty seconds that seemed to stun Murata. Jandiroba used her reach extremely well, landing long straight punches while keeping the shorter Murata out of range.
Jandiroba attempted to set up a flying triangle but it was unsuccessful and ended up giving Murata top position in full guard. Although she landed herself in a poor position Jandiroba did not panic in this situation, quickly attempting an armbar that looked to be very close to getting the stoppage. This was ultimately the beginning of the end, as even though Murata did not tap, the armbar did apparent damage to her arm. Murata was able to tough it out and fought through the second round before the doctor had to step in and call the fight due to the injury.
A complete performance from Jandiroba, who also showed improvements in her striking that were evident after her last fight. Jandiroba should be positioned to get another crack at the straw-weight top 10 in her next fight, which will be a crucial moment if she is looking to get into title contention.
Khaos Williams out-pointed Matt Semelsberger in a back-and-forth bout to earn a unanimous decision victory during the UFC Vegas 29 prelims. Khaos Williams’ knockout streak in the UFC came to a halt in December after losing a close decision to Michel Pereira. Williams needed a win here if he was going to continue to scale up the welterweight division against a tough out in Semelsberger who was coming off back-to-back wins since making his UFC debut. Both fighters brought heavy hands to the table but it was Williams’ volume that secured him the victory.
Williams was consistently throwing and landing extended combinations, while Semelsberger was only throwing one or two in return. The durability of both fighters was very impressive, as both were landing big shots but never seemed to be in much danger. It is clear that Williams is a quality striker with strong power and good output, but he will need to round out his game if he wants to compete with the top of the heap at 170 pounds. Especially his striking defense, considering the high-level strikers that are at the top of the division who will capitalize on the holes in Williams’ defense.
There seems to be plenty of options for whom Williams should fight next in the shark tank that is the UFC welterweight division. It will be very interesting to see who the UFC decides to match him up with because there is clear star potential in Williams that could be tapped into if he is allowed to sharpen his tools and not climb up the rankings too quickly.
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