Source: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Despite some changes and cancellations, UFC Vegas 18 was full of big fights and top contenders across the five weight divisions.
In the era of COVID-19, no fight is a guarantee until the gate to the Octagon closes. One of the biggest victims of fight cancellations has been Bantamweight Cody Stamann.
About a week before UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov, his original opponent, Andre Ewell, tested positive for COVID-19. The UFC gave the call to Askar Askar to make his organizational debut on just a few day's notice.
With only hours before the event was set to kick off, Askar was pulled due to not passing the UFC’s health exam. Despite enduring the preparation of fight camp and two opponent changes, Stamann was left without an opponent and without a fight.
Despite the issues, the event still hosted some fantastic bouts with one, in particular, that stood out above the rest. No. 2 Bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen made an early entry for “Knockout of the Year” by sleeping No. 4 Bantamweight and UFC veteran Frankie Edgar.
Sandhagen knocked his opponent out cold in a way few had been able to before. Just under the 30-second mark, Sandhagen managed the knockout with the second-fastest flying knee in UFC history.
The stunning knockout put an exclamation mark on Sandhagen’s campaign toward the title. It's hard to see a legend like Edgar goes down in such a hard way, but that performance was all about Sandhagen; even he knew the magnitude of what happened and felt for Edgar on a human level.
“I think I finally get the hype I deserve,” Sandhagen said in the post-fight interview. “You watch that highlight...I got a lot of opportunity now. Highlights last forever. Afterwards, it was a little emotional. I don’t want to see someone crawling up off the canvas. That was a little sad…”
Only time will tell if Sandhagen will get a title shot in the coming months, but it is looking good for the bustling contender.
Although that bout definitely felt like the main event, the actual final fight came between No. 5 Heavyweight Alistair Overeem and No. 6 Alexander Volkov. This did not carry the same fireworks as the prior, but it did show that Volkov’s campaign for the title is gaining steam.
Volkov’s reach and heavy hands kept Overeem at bay with ease. Right from the start, Overeem looked a little off. He didn’t shoot for a takedown and Volkov put him on his heels right away. Although he survived the first round, Volkov picked his shots carefully and had a devastating delivery.
Overeem's face was pouring blood by the time it was over. The two shared a nice moment of sportsmanship after the conclusion, but it was all Volkov right away.
The UFC will be back in action next Saturday for UFC 258 when Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will look to defend the strap against No. contender Gilbert Burns on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View.
UFC Vegas 18 results:
Heavyweight bout- Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov: 2:07 Rd 2-KO/TKO
Bantamweight bout- Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar: 28 Rd 1-KO/TKO
Lightweight bout- Michael Johnson vs. Clay Guida: DEC
Flyweight bout- Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape: DEC
Lightweight bout- Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush: DEC