UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs. Spann results and post-fight analysis
Dayne Fox gives instant analysis to UFC Vegas 37, topped by Anthony Smith extending his win streak to three in a heated affair over Ryan Spann.
Y’all remember when Anthony Smith looked like his career was near the end after his one-sided loss to Aleksander Rakic? Well, those proclamations were proven to be premature as Smith has stormed back with three straight wins, all of them finishes in the first round. His win at UFC Vegas 37 over Ryan Spann appears to be the most impressive of the three as Spann put up a competitive fight without suffering a freakish injury ala Jimmy Crute. It was a back-and-forth contest that saw Spann hurt Smith at times too, but it was Smith’s experience that allowed him to weather the storm from Spann and put him away with a consistent swarm that put him down before the end of the round.
In an emotional post-fight interview, Smith called for a rematch with Rakic. I don’t know whether that will actually happen — Rakic has to agree to it and I don’t think he will — but Smith’s dominance in his current win streak is impossible to ignore. If he doesn’t get a fight with Rakic, a top five opponent feels very appropriate. Perhaps he can get Magomed Ankalaev should he emerge victorious over Volkan Oezdemir....
As for Spann, this is a setback, but not a big one. The division is still desperate for new blood near the top and there’s a dearth of newcomers making their way in that direction. All it will take is another win or two against lower leveled opponents before he gets another opportunity against someone on the level of Smith.
As for the rest of the card....
- I doubt Devin Clark is going to recommend Ion Cutelaba as a dentist to anyone, but Cutelaba proved he can win outside the first round with as complete of a performance he’s ever had. Cutelaba did fade somewhat down the stretch, but it wasn’t to the level that he has in the past. If the native of Moldova can continue to mature, he could begin fulfilling the potential his physical skills indicate he has.
- It’s wonderful to have the Queen of Violence return. It appeared an imposter had been walking around in the body of Ariane Lipski since she arrived in the UFC, but she looked like the fighter she was hyped to be prior to her UFC debut. Of course, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt as the debuting Mandy Bohm is still without a notable victory, but Lipski needed to start somewhere.
- All the hype around Arman Tsarukyan has been in regards to his wrestling and grappling, but he showed there’s more depth to his arsenal than a dominant ground attack. He only needed about two minutes to do it too. A Tsarukyan counter left sent Christos Giagos sprawling backwards to the mat, a series of punches finishing off the job. Hard to believe the Armenian won’t be ranked after this performance.
- Anyone else get the feeling Tony Gravely might be in favor of the Gracie’s rules for a fight? Nate Maness was saved by the bell after Gravely floored him at the end of the opening round. Even though it looked like he was unlikely to fully recover in between rounds, he did and found a finish of his own, dropping Gravely with a hard counter uppercut to get the win. It’s fights like this that continue to bring fight fans back time and again.
- Antonio Arroyo wanted to keep his job. Joquin Buckley wanted him to keep his job too, but not enough that he wasn’t willing to put him away in the third after likely falling behind on the scorecards. Up until the KO, Arroyo had the bigger moments of the fight – the flying knee Buckley ate was impressive – but they didn’t end the fight. Buckley did, adding another highlight to his growing reel.
- Height and reach don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to take advantage of it. Lanky Mike Rodriguez found that out the hard way as the squat Tafon Nchukwi continually closed the distance and landed bombs in the clinch. Turns out Nchukwi can push a hell of a pace if he isn’t dehydrating himself down to 185. At light heavyweight, he’s a very scary man.
- In a razor-thin decision, it looks like body language was the deciding factor of Raquel Pennington’s win over Pannie Kianzad. The fighter who was moving forward for most of the contest went home with the W as Kianzad continually backed herself against the fence. That isn’t to say she didn’t land some effective offense, but when a fight is that close, judges will go with the aggressor, spoiling Kianzad’s win streak.
- Sometimes, all it takes is knowing what you’re getting into. That appears to be the case for Zhu Rong. The native of China appeared far more focused against Brandon Jenkins than he did in his UFC debut, maintaining his pace rather than letting off the gas. Jenkins had a couple of flashes of effective offense, but the short notice nature of the fight appeared to doom him as he faded badly down the stretch, giving Rong a late stoppage.
- While JP Buys turned in a better performance than many believed, he still came out on the wrong side of a one-sided beatdown against Montel Jackson. The size discrepancy between the two was too much for Buys to overcome, Jackson teeing off on his smaller opponent as Buys energy levels declined. Look for the UFC to begin pushing Jackson into tougher contests as he’s now seven fights into his UFC career.
- If you didn’t know who Erin Blanchfield was before, you should now. The 22-year old put in a dominant performance over a slimmed down Sarah Alpar, beating her up on the feet and the mat. Not getting a finish was more a testament to Alpar’s toughness than anything else, but a 10-8 round could have reasonably been argued in favor of Blanchfield for every round. There’s a reason many have called Blanchfield one of the best prospects in the sport.
- Carlston Harris reminded everyone of two things: he’s just as dangerous on the feet as he is on the mat and Impa Kasanganay has yet to complete his third full year as a professional fighter. It didn’t take Harris long to get a feel for Kasanganay, hitting the prospect with a series of hooks before finishing off the job on the mat. Just how high can the 34-year old Harris climb before Father Time does his thing?
- The consensus is referees are reluctant to take points since they don’t want to be responsible for fighters losing. Well, referee Keith Peterson emerged the big winner of the fight between Heili Alateng and Gustavo Lopez, taking a point from Alateng’s blatant fence grabbing, resulting in a draw in a very close contest.
- It was a strong start for Emily Whitmire, showing improvement on the feet and getting the fight to the mat which has always been where she’s at her best. Unfortunately, she was overconfident operating in the guard of Hannah Goldy, allowing the striker to find an armbar in the first round, allowing Goldy to hold onto her job.