Alexander Volkov avoided the first losing slip in two games of his UFC career and took a TKO win in the main event UFC Vegas 56Jairzinho Rozenstruik stood before halfway through the heavyweight competition.
Volkov, who was on the wrong end of a first-round loss to Tom Aspinal in March, will likely salvage his place in the UFC Heavyweight Championship among the top ten with a win. I don’t think the rating committee will see Rosenstruck as suitable for inclusion in that group at the next official ranking update.
Speaking of the ratings, it would be remarkable if Movsar Evloev didn’t jump into the top ten of the official 145-pound UFC ratings after his one-sided victory over Dan Egg in Saturday’s Fight Tag Team main event. Evloev made his victory over the tough-nosed Ige seem easy.
Read on to find out the winners and losers at UFC Vegas 56, which took place at the UFC Apex and was broadcast on ESPN+.
Alexander Volkov: Alexander Volkov scored an incredibly important win in the main event of UFC Vegas 56 and did so in a way that makes him relevant in the UFC heavyweight division.
Volkov entered his match against Jairzinho Rozenstruik as the No. 7 ranked fighter in the official UFC rankings. I doubt his first-round knockout on his 8th-ranked opponent would take him anywhere in those rankings, but it should put him up against a fighter a higher rank than him.
Volkov needed that win.
Movsar Evloev: It would be a real surprise if Movsar Evloev wasn’t in the top 10 of the official UFC featherweight rankings after UFC Vegas 56. He entered the bout as the 13th-ranked fighter and over a 15-minute scrap period against Dan Egg, took a prolonged beating on his opponent, who was in Rank ten, by the time the fight was over, Egg needed several repairs.
Evloev moved to 6-0 in the UFC with the win. He’s steadily climbed the rankings and faces tougher opponents in each of his UFC matches. On top of that, he looked better on both of those trips. Evloev may not be ready to compete among the top 5 competitors at 145 pounds, but he deserves a shot at an opponent within the top 10.
Lucas Almeida: Former Jungle Fight Lightweight Champion Lucas Almeida looked really good on his UFC debut. The 31-year-old Brazilian showed astonishing technical ability in winning the third stoppage-time win over Michael Trizzano. Almeida’s combinations were great, especially when he went head-to-head to finish the leg kick.
Karen Silva: Karen Silva had an amazing UFC appearance on Saturday. The 28-year-old Brazilian used a knockout turn to take control of Poliana Botelho on the carpet and rode that to claim a stifling win at D’Arce in the closing seconds of the first round.
Audi Osborne: Oddy Osborne returned to his final career in a big way with a timely response against Zarukh Adashev. The fight lasted 61 seconds and gave Osborne the opportunity to call in Jeff Molina, which looks like it would be a fun scrap in flyweight if it pays off.
Alonzo Minifield: If the UFC wanted to cut ties with a fighter who made the promotion look a bit ridiculous, Alonzo Menifield goes along with at least a letter of thanks from the promotion. Menifield scored a first-round knockout win over Askar Mozharov in the opening match of the UFC Vegas 56 main card.
Carolina Kolkewicz: Carolina Kowalkiewicz ended a five-game losing streak with an impressive win over Phyllis Herrig in the iconic playoffs. Kowalkiewicz, a former UFC strawweight title challenger, was aggressive in hitting and assertive in her pursuit of the finish once the fight hit the mat.
The win ended a slip that began in September 2018, and Koalkiewicz’s sense of relief at the victory was evident in the way she celebrated after the finish.
With this win – and the way she performed – it would be great to see how she moves forward with the confidence that this victory will provide.
Phyllis Herrig: MMA retirements tend to be less than permanent, but from what I heard from Phyllis Herrig after her loss to Carolina Kowalkiewicz, I think her retirement has a chance of survival.
Herrig had been out of action for nearly two years prior to Saturday’s event. During an emotional post-fight interview with UFC commentator Paul Felder, Herrig stated that she has had two ACL surgeries and that she doesn’t want to come out with a loss. However, she said that if she “wasn’t feeling it in the cage,” this would be her last fight and that now was the time to move on to something else.
Damon Jackson: Damon Jackson moved his winning streak to three in a row with a dominant victory over Daniel Argueta. What was notable in Jackson’s victory was his aggression in bringing the fight to a position in his favour and then employing patience and composure to work from the position, which was on the carpet, in rear control and searching for bottlenecks.
Benoit Saint-Denis: Benoit St-Denis had a huge knee that left him with a cut to his cheek in the first moment of his fight against Niklas Stolz, but the blow didn’t bother him, as he finished the takedown and then did a great job controlling the fight against the fence. With that, Saint-Denis reminded us all that he’s a tough customer.
Saint-Denis nearly ended the fight at the end of the first round by choking, but had to wait until the second round to get that finish. Saint-Denis was impressive on his second UFC outing.
Tony Gravli: Tony Gravley scored an impressive first-round knockout over Johnny Munoz Jr. With Munoz falling for a takedown attempt, Gravely came up with a short, right-handed knockout that caught his opponent right on the button. It was then unloaded with ground strikes to end the fight at the 1:08 mark of the first clip.
Jeff Molina vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov: The flyweight match between Jeff Molina and Zhalgas Zhumagulov was an entertaining fight.
Zhumagulov showed more aggressiveness than usual, at least in the first moments of the competition, while Molina performed well with his high productivity. However, it should be noted that Zhumagulov caught Molina with an average of 37 percent of his significant hits, which was a low percentage in the UFC for Molina.
The only negative in this fight seemed to be a mistake by Zhumagulov in the second round. Molina wobbled with one hit and instead of seeking more damage or stopping, he went to stop him with less than a minute left in the round.
Rinat Fakhretdinov: Rinat Fakhretdinov used a very strong match and strong wrestling on his way to victory over Andreas Michaelides.
Fkhridinov gave a brilliant performance. He may not get a lot of fans from his “swangin and bangin” squad, but he was impressive in forcing Michailidis to bend to his will over the course of their 15-minute welterweight fight. He was patient, didn’t overestimate his energy, and as we saw when he was Fighting in his corner, he is a very adaptable fighter.
If I can offer one criticism of Fakhretdinov, it is that he could have been more aggressive in his search for the end point in the third clip when his opponent was injured, tired, and bloodshot.
Erin Blanchfield: Erin Blanchfield was the fighter to watch ahead of this event, thanks to her victories that closed out her Invicta FC career and started her UFC career with a score of 2-0. On Saturday, the 23-year-old flyweight went 3-0 in the UFC and took her first achievement with the promotion, scoring a bad guillotine choke on JJ Aldrich — who called up Blanchfield.
What stood out about Blanchfield on this outing was how she responded to the first ordeal of her UFC career. There was no panic in her game which indicated her confidence and maturity.
Blanchfield isn’t a rank fighter, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time. Blanchfield is still learning and still making progress, but she’s a fighter who should be on your radar.
Chris Tognoni: Referee Chris Tognoni earned a point from Alex da Silva for grabbing a fence with his toes during the second round of his fight with Joe Solecki. Tognoni gave plenty of warnings to my taste buds, but he took a point and did it in a way that didn’t stop the action or bring Solecki out of his dominant position.
Jerzinho Rosenstrwick: Jairzinho Rozenstruik opened his UFC career with four consecutive knockouts. With his loss to Alexander Volkov at UFC Vegas 56, he’s now 2-4 in the race. With his setback to Volkov, the only thing keeping Rozenstruik in the official UFC rankings is the lack of depth in the heavyweight division.
Dan Egg: Dan Ige has fallen to 1-4 in his past five matches with a one-sided loss to Movsar Evloev in the UFC Vegas 56 co-main event. Ige is a solid fighter, but that toughness was the only thing he had in this setback.
Askar Mosharov: When the pre-event talk about a fighter focuses on his record and how much of those gains and losses were real, well, that doesn’t bode well for that fighter. When that fighter goes out and gets stopped in the first round, that’s not good either. I don’t expect Askar Mozharov to get a second UFC fight after making the UFC look bad and then knocking out Alonzo Menifield.
Daniel Argueta: After dominating the mat for most of the first 10 minutes of his fight against Damon Jackson, Danielle Argueta had some success on his feet in the third round. Instead of taking advantage of this advantage, Argueta went on a takedown, reversed and taken control.
Niklas Stolz: Niklas Stolz fought a short but incredibly tough fight against Benoit Saint-Denis. The moment Saint-Denis fought a chokehold attempt in the second round and then put the fight on the carpet, Stolze visibly dulled. Not long after that, he pressed down on Saint Donnie’s choke.
John Anik: Knowing that scoring and refereeing were such a hot topic, it was a bit disappointing to hear Jon Annick’s comment about “the all-important control time” when it came to Rinat Fakhrettinov’s match against Andreas Mikhalides.
As I – and others have shown – controlling time per se is not something to come into play when recording a fight. It is not the primary registration criteria. Effective hitting and conflict is the primary criterion. Fakhretdinov used this control to score with his shot and grapple, and Annik would have been better off adding this context to his mention of “the all-important control time”.
Mark Smith: I lost count of the number of times referee Mark Smith warned Andreas Michaelides to grab the cage in the first half of the first round of Michaelides’ fight against Rinat Fakhretdinov, but it was at least five times. Smith needed to take a point. he did not do. He failed.
UFC commentators: Despite focusing on refereeing and scoring goals over the past few weeks, UFC commentators John Annick and Paul Felder have abused scoring standards multiple times during the event. I stand by my assertion that the commentary team needs improvement when they discuss scoring and refereeing.