In the fight card that was destined not to happen, UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Dos Anjos had a UFC debut victory, four underdog wins, a huge knockout, and a dogfight of a main event that wasn’t scheduled until five days ago.
Islam Makhachev had to pull out of the main event against No. 12 Welterweight Rafael Dos Anjos due to a staph infection, which left fans wondering if there would be a main event at all. RDA had planned on a move down to Lightweight, which was supposed to be Saturday’s final bout.
On Monday, No. 7 Lightweight Paul Felder received a call from the UFC and agreed to step in and save the main event. Felder was supposed to be a commentator on Saturday’s broadcast, but the sudden change of plans derailed that job and led to another.
On Monday, Felder weighed over 170 pounds; by Friday, he had managed to drop to 155.75 by weigh-ins. This is a feat not for the faint of heart, and goes to show how much this opportunity means for Felder.
“Hats off for Paul Felder for jumping in and we had a great fight for the fans,” Dos Anjos said in the post-fight interview with Michael Bisping. “This has been a crazy rollercoaster. I was training for a wrestler. We needed to make this show happen, so I took the fight.”
Right from the start, Dos Anjos produced combinations that led to takedowns. On the feet, the fight started very even as both stood up and exchanged heavy shots. However, it was Dos Anjos’ grappling that gave him the edge.
Dos Anjos’ return to Lightweight was a successful one, as he defeated Felder via split decision. However, this was a win-win for Felder. If he wins the bout, he pulls a huge upset on short notice. If he loses, he gets paid for a fight he wasn’t expected to win anyway.
“This was for my dad,” Felder said in the post-fight interview. “This was for my family. This was for you guys. I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad. I can tell you I’m not done. I might lose my ranking a little bit, but what I have learned in this sport is none of that matters.What matters is going out there, showing up, and showing who you are inside.”
The co-main event brought the fireworks as knockout artist Abdul Razak Alhassan was put to sleep by Khaos Williams in just 31 seconds.
“I’ve been waiting to get on TV and do this,” Williams told Michael Bisping in the post-fight interview. “I’m here. It’s just hard work and dedication. I’ve been doing this a long time. This was no fluke.”
Williams landed four shots before a straight right connected with Alhassan’s chin. Alhassan was completely knocked out and didn’t get up for several minutes after the fight concluded.
This was the underdog’s eighth straight victory and made a huge statement on Saturday night.
The main card kicked off with a UFC debut win from Strawweight Cory McKenna against Kay Hansen. McKenna came off a Dana White Contender Series victory in August and entered the Octagon as a +175 underdog, tied for the highest odds of the evening.
The opening fight was followed by two more underdog victories from Catchweight Sean Strickland and Strawweight Ashley Yoder. Strickland tallied his second UFC victory in just two weeks after defeating Jack Marshman on Halloween. After taking a two-year break due to a personal injury, Strickland is now bursting back onto the scene with two very quick wins.
The matchup between Yoder and Miranda Granger was a pure grappling match and gave Yoder a unanimous decision victory.
The UFC will be back in action with Dana White’s Contender Series next Tuesday and UFC 255 on Saturday.
UFC Vegas 14 results:
No. 7 Paul Felder vs. No. 12 Rafael Dos Anjos: Lightweight: Split Decision
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Khaos Williams: Welterweight: KO/ 0:31 1st Rd
Ashley Yoder vs. Miranda Granger: Strawweight: Unanimous Decision
Brendan Allen vs. Sean Strickland: Catchweight: TKO/1:32 2nd Rd
Kay Hansen vs. Cory McKenna: Strawweight: Unanimous Decision
Italicized denotes victory