Saturday night’s prospects had a fairly good night and kept up the excitement behind them. The night was topped with a thrilling main event. Gustavo Lopez picked up his first UFC win with a rear naked choke less than three minutes into the first round. Alexander Romanov rendered his opponent unconscious with an unusual choke that involved him putting his weight on top of Marcos Rogerio de Lima’s neck. After dropping round one, Yan Xiaonan took the final two frames to earn a unanimous decision win, her 11th straight win, and likely a top five spot in the rankings. Unfortunately, the fight between Ian Heinisch and Brendan Allen was cancelled on fight day after Heinisch tested positive for COVID-19.
Wow, what a main event! Thiago Santos and Connecticut’s own Glover Teixeira were eager to get things started. Santos came out throwing heavy leather while Teixeira looked for an opportunity for a level change. Several big shots landed from Santos and it was looking like it might be a quick ending to Teixeira’s title run. A compromised Teixeira then got a hold of Santos’ hips but a series of elbows sent Teixeira momentarily to his knees. However, Teixeira had still maintained his grasp around his opponent, and beyond all belief he stood back up and picked Santos off the ground. Teixeira slammed Santos to the canvas and maintained this position for the rest of the round.
Teixeira had a much easier time securing a takedown in the second stanza. He threw the first punch of the round and used it to perfectly mask a takedown attempt. Teixeira quickly transitioned into full mount and held a dominant position for the entirety of the round. Teixeira landed consistent ground and pound to the body and head of Santos, who looked in awful shape on his stool at the end of the round. Teixeira sank in a submission late in the round, but Santos was saved by the bell.
At the start of the third round, Santos reversed the momentum of the fight and floored Teixeira. After dominating in the first two rounds, it would be even more heartbreaking if this was how Teixeira’s title run came to an end. Santos landed heavy ground and pound, which Teixeira later described as feeling like a sledgehammer, but Teixeira remained calm and did everything he could to maintain a defensive position while absorbing the occasional bomb. When Santos postured for the victory and began raining down hammerfists with both hands, Teixeira saw his opening and latched onto Santos’ hips. Teixeira took the back of his opponent and 15 seconds later, he had won by rear naked choke.
The fight had several extreme turns, but when the dust had settled, Teixeira had put on an impressive performance that turned the heads of fellow fighters. The result makes for an interesting title situation. UFC President Dana White has already announced that Israel Adesanya is moving up in weight to fight champ Jan Blachowicz, but a few days after, Blachowicz said he does not want to fight until March. Following his big win, Teixeira, who is now on a five-fight win streak, called for a title shot. In the post-fight press conference, White said, “It’s something we need to figure out. But I heard him, I agree with him and I’m taking him serious. I’m not going to doubt this guy anymore.” Let’s hope this means that Teixeira’s next fight will be for the title shot, and there’s a small chance that Blachowicz’s timeline will let him step in front of Adesanya and fight Blachowicz in March.