The UFC Vegas 31 card was stacked with high-level talent and exciting matchups. The prelims did not disappoint, filled with impressive finishes and performances.
Take a look into the three fighters that stood out the most with their highlight reel finishes and overall spectacular showings.
UFC Vegas 31 Prelims: Morozov, Lemos, Rodriguez Shine In Victory
Sergey Morozov employed a grapple-heavy gameplan to secure his first win in the UFC octagon against Khalid Taha on the UFC Vegas 31 prelims. Morozov had a very tough matchup in his UFC debut, facing Umar Nurmagomedov. Morozov had high expectations coming into the UFC from M-1 Global where he was the bantamweight champion. Going into this fight, Morozov was matched up against another tough out in Taha. Although it did seem that stylistically, Morozov would fare better against Taha than he did against Nurmagomedov.
The consensus was that a grapple-heavy game plan would be the most successful path to victory for Morozov. This would turn out to be true, as Morozov went on to land 6 of 16 takedowns on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Morozov did utilize his grappling effectively, but he also showed some good striking defense, avoiding the majority of Taha’s power shots. Morozov used an effective body lock on Taha against the cage to secure the majority of his takedowns and control Taha on the cage.
Morozov made an interesting callout in his post-fight press conference, calling out Raulian Paiva. He said that this callout was based on the fact that Paiva had missed weight for his bout against Morozov’s teammate Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Paiva is booked to fight Kyler Phillips on July 24th, but if he can get a win over Phillips then maybe a matchup between him and Morozov could follow.
Amanda Lemos showed why she is someone to watch out for in the strawweight division, producing yet another first-round finish on the UFC Vegas 31 prelims. Since moving down to 115 pounds, Lemos has been on an absolute tear, rattling off four straight wins since losing her UFC debut at 135 pounds. Not only has Lemos won her last four fights, but she’s finished three of them in the first round. It took Lemos only 35 seconds to finish Montserrat Ruiz at UFC Vegas 31.
Lemos landed a crisp counter right that hurt Ruiz, followed up by two more punches that would drop Ruiz, forcing the referee to step in. There was some discussion about whether the stoppage was too early, but just by looking at Ruiz, you could tell that she was out of it and would only have taken more damage before the inevitable finish. Lemos has a unique power in her shots that you don’t see too often at strawweight. When she lands cleanly, it seems to affect her opponent in a way that is uncommon in this weight class, making Lemos a scary matchup for the top of the division.
After this statement win, Lemos announced to the UFC world in her post-fight interview that she will be UFC champion shortly, also including that two fighters in the top five turned down a fight with her. Her interpreter, Wallid Ismail said that she is ready to fight in October on Fight Island and she wants to fight someone in the top five. At the least, she deserves an opponent ranked inside the top 10, whether or not anyone in the top 10 will accept the fight is the question to be asked.
Daniel Rodriguez was faced with short-notice replacement Preston Parson in the last bout on the UFC Vegas 31 prelims. Rodriguez has been on quite the run since making his UFC debut in February of 2020, having a 3-1 record since joining the promotion. Rodriguez could arguably be 4-0, as many thought he actually won his fight with Nicolas Dalby but the judges did not see it this way. Taking on Parsons on short notice was not a huge difficulty for Rodriguez, as he said the game plan stayed the same because he thought Parsons would try to implement a similar strategy to Nurmagomedov.
Rodriguez looked sharp to start the fight, throwing straight punches to maintain distance and successfully defending Parsons’ early takedown attempts. Both fighters traded big shots for a majority of the round, but it would be Rodriguez who landed the most impactful shot that would hurt Parsons. This punch got an immediate reaction from Parsons, whose eye was also affected by what looked like a knuckle that landed on his eye. This was the beginning of the end for Parsons, forced to shell up against the cage.
Parsons survived for another minute but was eventually finished by an onslaught of punches followed up by ground and pound from Rodriguez. Parsons’ toughness was on display, but Rodriguez proved to be too much for the short-notice replacement. Rodriguez has a fun style that guarantees to produce exciting fights each time out, it"s unclear where he goes from here but be sure to not miss his next fight because there’s no doubt it will deliver.
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