The UFC Vegas 54 prelims are in the books, and aside from three decisions, two fighters went to sleep tonight – one by way of knockout, and the other by technical submission.
Closing out the preliminary portion of the event, the UFC’s # 8 ranked women’s flyweight, Viviane Araujo, won an unanimous decision over the # 9 ranked women’s, Andrea Lee. This fight started hot, with both fighters doing damage and hurting the other in a wild opening act. Then as the round grew on, the wrestling of Araujo began to win out. She was finding the dominant positions, forcing Lee to constantly find a way out of bad positions. Araujo has now won three of her last four.
Before that, Michael Johnson showed up big tonight by unleashing a nasty combo on Alan Patrick to sit him down, and then he finished him off with some savage ground strikes. He did get tagged himself a couple of times, but was able to showcase some resolve to keep his head in the fight. This highlight reel knockout snaps a four-fight losing slump, marks the first win for “The Menace” since 2018, and is his first finish since Dustin Poirier in 2016.
The UFC’s # 12 ranked strawweight, Virna Jandiroba, won a grapple-heavy decision over the # 13 ranked, Angela Hill, earning three points of 30-27. Also on the prelims, 22-year-old flyweight prospect Tatsuro Taira earned an unanimous decision in his UFC debut against Carlos Candelario. Taira dropped his opponent with a right hand, but it was his grappling that really stood out tonight.
We got a technical submission to open up the UFC Vegas 54 card! Andre Petroski managed to lock up a sweet Anaconda in a scramble, and Nick Maximov passed out instead of tapping out. All of this happened at just 1:16 into the match. In his post-fight interview, Petroski called for a quick turnaround against Gerald Meerschaert in Singapore in three weeks.
** See complete results below
Viviane Araujo def. Andrea Lee by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27 x2): (W) Flyweight
This fight started with a bang! Araujo dropped Lee with a leg kick to get things going, and then Lee scored a knockdown with a nasty left hook. As Araujo stood up, Lee cracked her with a well-timed head kick. Lee followed her down with strikes, but Araujo was able to recover, stand up, and hit a lifting takedown. Lee used a Kimura attempt to prompt Araujo to stand back up, and that’s where the striking battle continued. Back and forth they went, landing clean punches on both sides. The most noticeable difference was the head kicks of Lee. Araujo snagged a double leg and was able to stay on top until the bell.
Araujo pressed the action in the second act with hefty punches, while Lee was sneaking in standing elbows. Lee shot in for the takedown, but Araujo sprawled and went right to the back. She briefly warned with an arm triangle, but bailed on it to maintain control. She went to the back again, and Lee tried to tripod to shuck her off, but Araujo did a fantastic job of not allowing it. Araujo went for another arm triangle, but Lee defended it well enough to survive the round.
The fighters came out trading blows in the third, before Araujo scored another takedown. It took awhile, but Lee eventually worked back to her feet and began unleashing long punches and straight kicks. An ill-advised hook kick resulted in Araujo coming up with top position yet again. Lee just wasn’t able to do anything to switch the momentum back in her favor.
Michael Johnson def. Alan Patrick by KO at 3:22 of round 2: Lightweight
Johnson let his hands go early, catching Patrick with some stinging punches. Patrick looked to get the fight down, but got staggered by a strong counter left hand. After being unable to get the takedown, Patrick was able to wobble Johnson with a punch of his own. Things sowed down a little after both men tasted the power of the other. Patrick snuck in a spinning backfist that seemed to bother Johnson, but instantly gave up a takedown. From the top of full guard, Johnson was dropping some angry elbows, and remained safe from any subs.
Johnson was throwing his hands some more to start the second stanza. He was landing the better punches, catching Patrick by throwing in combination. Patrick shot in for a double leg, but Johnson hit a gorgeous sprawl and circled out to avoid it. Patrick moved on the inside again, but Johnson uncorked a vicious combo that sent Patrick crashing to the canvas. One follow up ground strike put him out, and then one landed for good measure.
Virna Jandiroba def. Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27 x3): Strawweight
It wasn’t long before Jandiroba closed the distance looking for the takedown. Hill was hip to it, but Jandiroba dropped down to attack a leg. Hill fought smart to avoid a kneebar and work back to her feet, but she was still in the clinch. Jandiroba was the one throwing knees to the body before they broke off into open space.
Hill was much more active to begin the second act. She was throwing more volume and wasn’t allowing Jandiroba to dictate the pace. The fight kept drifting into the clinch, with both fighters scoring knees to the midsection. Around the midpoint of the round, Jandiroba snagged a takedown to put Hill on her back in the center of the Octagon. From top position, Jandiroba dropped back and went for an armbar, but hill stacked her and put her knee on the face to wait out the clock.
Hill came out aggressive for the third round with her punches. She was catching Jandiroba on the outside, but ended up conceding a takedown. Hill was working to improve her position, but Jandiroba’s positional control was just too strong. It wasn’t until the very end of the round that Hill was actually able to scramble on top, but no meaningful damage came from it.
Tatsuro Taira def. Carlos Candelario by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x2): Flyweight
Candelario shot in for an early takedown, but Taira was able to stuff it and circle back to open space. Taira then clinched up and started working his own takedown, but he too struggled to get the fight tot he floor. On the feet, Taira landed a crisp right hand that snapped back the head of Candelario, and was able to out-strike him at range. With about 30-seconds to go, Candelario turned the corner on a single leg to finally get Taira down.
Candelario went right back to the takedown to begin the second stanza, but Taira fought hard to prevent. Then a stiff right hand dropped Candelario, and Taira jumped right to his back. He attacked with an RNC, but bailed on it in lieu of strikes. Taira went back to the rear-naked choke, but Candelario was able to remain safe, although it took him forever to improve his position. He did end the round on top, but didn’t do anything with it.
A cup kick to Candelario paused the opening round before it really got going. Upon the restart, Candelario earned himself a takedown and it wasn’t long before he locked up an arm-in guillotine. Taira rolled to his back in order to create some space and escape, and then when Candelario jumped the guill again he lost position. Taira locked up a triangle, but bailed on it to maintain top position, and even scrambled to the back. Taira transitioned to full mount and delivered some solid ground and pound before the bell.
Andre Petroski def. Nick Maximov by Anaconda at 1:16 of round 1: Middleweight
This one didn’t last very long. The fighters met in the middle to exchange combinations, but it was Maximov who changed levels for a single leg. Petroski defended well and spun around to the back, and as Maximov scrambled around he fell right into an Anaconda choke. Petroski made a couple of adjustments, and Maximov went to sleep before tapping out.