LAS VEGAS — One of the most iconic chapters in mixed martial arts history will likely come to an end as Anderson Silva makes his final walk to the UFC’s Octagon.
Silva (34-10), who faces Uriah Hall (15-9) at UFC Fight Night, has been noncommittal as to whether he will officially retire at the promotion’s Apex facility on Saturday night, but he has acknowledged it will likely be his final fight in the UFC. UFC president Dana White has promoted the 185-pound contest as Silva’s swan song with the promotion.
The 45-year-old Brazilian has enjoyed a legendary career, particularly in the UFC. He signed with the company in 2006 and won his first 16 bouts. He held the middleweight title from 2006 to 2013 and was widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet during much of that stretch.
Emotions figure to run high as the UFC potentially closes the door on the Silva Era. Silva will be seeking his first win since February 2017.
Hall has had multiple fights canceled since his last bout in last September. He moved into the Fortis MMA gym on April 10 and was scheduled to fight on April 18, but his bout was canceled when Jacare Souza tested positive for COVID-19. Hall has won three of his last four fights.
Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim provide recaps and analysis of all the action in Las Vegas.
Fight in progress:
Yanez finished Rodriguez via knockout with a left head kick at 2:46 of the first round.
“I want to do something with this. I want to be here for a very, very long time,” Yanez said. … “I’m fired up. I want to keep going, man.”
I think thats 50k!#ufcvegas12
— Jamahal Sweet Dreams Hill (@JamahalH) October 31, 2020
Leading into the finish, Yanez landed a two-punch combination against the cage. Rodriguez attempted to escape to his right. Yanez stopped him dead in his tracks with a left kick to the head that put Rodriguez out.
“I’ve been telling my training partner, ‘I’m gonna get him with the head kick,'” Yanez said.
Indeed, he did. Rodriguez landed a hard right hand early. But Yanez started getting his rhythm in striking quickly. He nailed Rodriguez with a nice counter right hand, then a 1-2 combination shortly after that rocked Yanez a bit. Seconds later, Yanez dropped Rodriguez with a right hand and it was off to the races. Yanez was clearly loose and confident after that, which resulted in the finish.
Yanez, 26, has won five straight. The Texas native earned his way into the UFC off a 39-second knockout of Brady Huang on Dana White’s Contender Series on Aug. 11. Rodriguez, a 28-year-old Alaska native, had a four-fight winning streak snapped.
It was Strickland’s first appearance since a motorcycle accident threatened to end his career in 2018.
Strickland cruised to 30-27 scores on all three judges’ cards, as he peppered Marshman with punches to the body and head. Strickland looked so comfortable in the matchup, he began yelling at Marshman, playfully, to fall down, so he could collect a fight night bonus. Ultimately, Strickland couldn’t get the finish, but he did pick up his first win since October 2018.
— Charles Rosa (@CharlesRosaMMA) October 31, 2020
The 29-year-old Strickland thought he might never fight again after the motorcycle accident left him with a mangled knee. He defied all odds by returning to boxing drills just 12 weeks after the injury, although it was a long road to return to the Octagon.
The layoff did little to hinder Strickland’s performance, as he out-landed Marshman in total strikes 88 to 50. Even those stats are probably misleading, as Strickland’s punches caused far more damage than anything Marshman landed. He opened cuts under both of Marshman’s eyes, and routinely mixed in work to the body.
Both fighters were in their second UFC bouts. Each had lost his debut in the very first round. What separated them was that Witt wasted no time before showing a determination — and a plan — to change his fortunes in the Octagon.
Witt, a 33-year-old from Kansas City, came out of his corner at the start and immediately took Williams to the canvas, where he beat him up for the entirety of the first round and the start of Round 2 as well before finishing the fight at 2:09 with an arm triangle choke.
That was a mauling! #Vegas12
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 31, 2020
For Witt, who had dropped his UFC debut in June by TKO to Takashi Sato, it was his eighth career submission — but his first that was not a rear-naked choke.
Williams, who is 36 and from Madison, Wisconsin, simply had no answers. He was taken down at the start of both rounds, and he had no escape. He absorbed a series of first-round elbows, one of which opened a large gash over his left eye. And when Witt went for the choke in Round 2, Williams had no counter.
The bout was fought at a catchweight after Williams badly missed the welterweight limit at Friday’s weigh-ins, stepping on the scale at 175.5 pounds, which is 4.5 pounds over the limit. It was his second weight miss in two UFC appearances. He came in heavy for his debut in August 2019 before losing to Claudio Silva by first-round submission.
“It’s been a long road,” Witt said. “It really has. I’ve had a lot of support throughout my career. I missed a lot of stuff in my career. I know it’s cliché to say I missed relationships, parties and stuff like that –that’s part of life. Getting this first win really proves that it’s worth it.
“This is where I belong and I think I proved that tonight.”
Nearly a decade later, Jacoby is back in the UFC in a big way.
Jacoby smashed Ledet via TKO at 2:38 of the first round in a light heavyweight bout. Jacoby initially dropped Ledet with hard kicks to the left leg. Ledet was able to get back to his feet, but then Ledet put him back down with a punching combination. Referee Chris Tognoni stepped in and that was it.
Man that guys violent
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) October 31, 2020
“I knew I could get him with some low kicks,” Jacoby said. “I was just going to deposit checks — kicks to the legs and the midsection. … I believe in my standup, I’m one of the best strikers in the world.”
Jacoby, 32, went 0-2 in the UFC back in 2011 and 2012. He was released thereafter. Since then, the Colorado native evolved his game, going to Glory Kickboxing and honing his skills in the standup aspect of MMA. He won a Glory one-night tournament in 2016. Jacoby took a four-year break from MMA, but won two straight to get back into the UFC. On Dana White’s Contender Series, Jacoby beat Ty Flores by unanimous decision on Aug. 4.
“I’m emotional, but I love this s—, man,” Jacoby said. … “I’m officially a UFC fighter. It feels awesome.”
Ledet, a 32-year-old Texan, has lost four straight after starting his UFC run at 3-0.
Miles Johns lands a big right hand that sends Kevin Natividad flying to the mat in Round 3.
It was jab, jab, jab, jab … and then an uppercut to finish the job.
After controlling distance for two-plus rounds with a crisp left jab that his opponent simply could not get inside, Johns broke out of a clinch with a right uppercut that sent Natividad to his back, unconscious before his wayward mouthpiece hit the canvas.
Ouch! What a knock out 👏🏻
— Mallory Martin (@MalloryyMartin) October 31, 2020
The one-punch knockout came at 2:51 for Johns, a 26-year-old former LFA champion fighting out of Fortis MMA in Dallas. He was coming off his only career loss, a first-round flying-knee knockout by Mario Bautista in February. This time he was on the positive side of a highlight finish — his first knockout since 2016.
Natividad, who is 27 and from Tempe, Arizona, continually stalked Johns but received jabs to his face for his trouble. He did manage to fend off every takedown attempt, but the final time he did so he left himself open to the big uppercut.
He came into his Octagon debut having won five straight.
“It means the world to me to get the win and get those checks for my kids,” Johns said. “In between rounds I was smiling and talking to him. I just had a good time in there tonight and that’s when I’m at my best. Getting that last one out of the way and shaking that off, I just felt like a whole different fighter. I really did feel free in there. That’s the most fun I’ve had and I think the best performance.
“A lot of people talk about the motivation after a loss, but they don’t realize you can be demotivated. You ask if you really want to do this and if it’s really for you. It takes that extra little bit to get up and go train.”
Still to come:
Middleweight: Uriah Hall (16-9, 8-7 UFC, -230) vs. Anderson Silva (34-10 1 NC, 17-6 1 NC UFC, +190))
Men’s featherweight: Andre Fili (21-7, 9-6 UFC, +125) vs. Bryce Mitchell (13-1, 4-0 UFC, -145)
Middleweight: Kevin Holland (19-5, 6-2 UFC) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (11-6, 0-0 UFC)
Heavyweight: Maurice Greene (9-5, 4-2 UFC, +260) vs. Greg Hardy (6-2 1 NC, 3-2 1 NC UFC, -320)
Lightweight: Bobby Green (27-10-1, 8-5-1 UFC, -320) vs. Thiago Moisés (13-4, 2-2 UFC, +260)