Light heavyweight contenders Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic headlined Saturday’s UFC Vegas 8 fight card at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Both fighters were looking to rebound from loses in their previous outings.
Smith, a former title challenger, lost to No. 4 ranked Glover Teixeira in May while Rakic had a 12-fight winning streak come to an end when he was narrowly defeated by No. 7 ranked Volkan Oezdemir in December. Both men were trying to move a step closer to the 205-pound title recently vacated by former champion Jon Jones.
Rakic set the tone of the fight early with his kicking game. He delivered leg kick after leg kick. After targeting the legs of Smith, Rakic began connecting with kicks to the body. Early in the opening round, Rakic landed two hard leg kicks that forced Smith to fall to the canvas. Rakic gained top position and spent the remained of the round peppering Smith with punches to the body and head.
In the second frame, Rakic went back to targeting Smith’s damaged leg. Smith fired back with a right hand and clinched but ended up being taken down. The rest of the round looked like the first round with Rakic employing ground and pound.
Rakic opened the third frame with a hard leg kick and then stunned Smith with a right hand. They briefly clinched before Smith found himself beneath Rakic again. Rakic dominated Smith the entire fight. Smith only landed 20 total strikes while Rakic connected with 136. All three judges scored the bout for the Serbian with one scorecard reading 20-26.
“I had a lot of pressure because many people from my home watching and supporting me. A lot of pressure is now off of my shoulders, but I’m happy with my performance against a former title challenger,” Rakic said following the win.
Rakic entered the bout on Saturday ranked No. 8 in the light heavyweight division. With a one-sided win over No. 5 Smith, Rakic expects to debut in the top five rankings on Monday. He also wants a title shot in his next outing.
“These guys need to take me serious now because I’m in the top five right now,” said Rakic before calling for a title shot. “The belt is next… It’s me, the next one. This is next for Aleksander Rakic.”
TRENDING > UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs. Rakic Live Results
Former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler faced Neil Magny in the co-main event bout. Magny was looking to extend his winning streak and move up the 170-pound rankings while Lawler wanted to stop a three-fight skid.
The former champion came out aggressive and pressed forward. After unloading a combination, Lawler changed levels and looked to get Magny to the ground. Magny made Lawler pay for that decision. Magny quickly worked to lock on a d’arce choke. He gave up on the submission attempt and took Lawler down. Lawler reversed the position bout couldn’t keep Magny grounded. Magny closed the distance and secured another takedown. From top position, Magny delivered short shots to Lawler’s body. Lawler didn’t have an answer for Magny’s grappling.
In the second frame, Magny connected with a kick to the body, changed levels and took Lawler to the canvas early in the round. He controlled Lawler while scoring points with punches to the body and head. When Lawler worked his way back to his feet later in the frame, Magny punished him with knees to the body and combinations.
Lawler came out of his corner in the final round with a sense of urgency. He connected with a combination that made Magny decide to pull guard. With little action going on with Lawler on top, the referee stood the fighters back up. Magny beat Lawler to the punch in the exchanges on his way to a dominating victory. Throughout the 15 minutes of fighting, Lawler only landed 17 strikes.
“It’s definitely a feather in the cap beating a legend like Robbie Lawler. This guy has done amazing things in the sport throughout his time here. It was literally an honor for me to go in there and face him tonight. It feels good to be able to actually implement a game plan and come out victorious over a guy like Robbie Lawler,” Magny said following the fight.
“The game plan was to stay real active on the outside, force him to throw heavy shots, miss, and as soon as he does clinch him up, get him to the ground and look for the submission to finish,” said Magny.
With the win over Lawler behind him, Magny wants another fight this year and wants it to be against someone ranked in the top ten.
“I’m right there for top ten. Any one of those guys that are ready to go. Let’s not waste a lot of time here. We have plenty more months left in the year. Let’s get me another fight this year and make a run for that title,” he said.