UFC Vegas 14 underwent a flurry of changes during fight week. Though three bouts slipped through the cracks between Friday and Saturday, the biggest shift was to the main event.
Paul Felder stepped into the UFC Vegas 14 headliner opposite Rafael dos Anjos after Islam Makhachev withdrew because of a staph infection early in the week.
Felder gave it his all, but it wasn’t enough on short notice to upset dos Anjos, the former UFC lightweight champion who returned to the 155 pound division for the first time in more than three years.
Rafael dos Anjos wins baffling split decision over Paul Felder
dos Anjos struck first with a hard punch to the body, which he followed with a heavy kick to the mid-section. Felder struck back with some well-timed combinations, but dos Anjos shot the double-leg takedown and planted Felder on the canvas.
Felder worked his way up to his feet, but dos Anjos remained heavy, working for a standing head-and-arm choke. Felder slipped out and cracked dos Anjos, but the Brazilian again landed that blistering body kick.
They traded throughout the final couple minutes of the frame, Felder landing several punches and knees, but dos Anjos kept attacking and scoring to the body, looking to exhaust some of the triathlon training that Felder had been doing before accepting this fight.
Round two began with more dos Anjos body attacks, though his follow-up takedown attempt was thwarted. The two traded hard, standing elbows and a few punch combinations, but dos Anjos again shot, having to settle for pressing Felder to the fence, which worked into his strategy of trying to exhaust him.
The former lightweight champion kept up his bodywork, kneeing Felder to the midsection. They separated and traded more punch combinations, but dos Anjos again rocked him with a kick to the belly.
Felder returned fire with a couple sharp standing elbows, but dos Anjos again went with a hard left hand to the body before clinching and sweeping Felder to the canvas. They regained their feet, dos Anjos staying heavy, but they separated and traded a couple more hard shots just before the horn.
The pace throughout the first two rounds was incredibly high, but it was clear that dos Anjos was using all his tools to try and deplete Felder’s gas tank.
Felder’s striking was as quick as ever, but dos Anjos’s pace was also at its peak. Felder kept landing stinging shots, but dos Anjos was more in control of the bout with his takedown attempts and seemed to be landing the more powerful strikes.
Felder kept firing, but dos Anjos again shot and planted him on the floor with three minutes remaining in the third frame. dos Anjos put all his weight on Felder. He couldn’t find an opening for a submission, but made Felder labor intensely to regain his feet.
dos Anjos kept the pressure on as they stood. When they separated, Felder landed a couple hard knees, but dos Anjos snapped his head back and shot again, scooping Felder up and slamming him to the canvas.
Felder’s corner told him between rounds three and four that he had to take dos Anjos out to win. Felder responded with a fast opening to the fourth frame, trying to overwhelm dos Anjos, but the former champion adjusted well and again attacked with a heavy body kick before going high with a kick that clipped Felder’s temple.
His gas tank starting to fade, Felder kept throwing, but dos Anjos kept shooting and pressing him into the cage. Felder eventually reversed position, but instead of separating and getting back to firing range, he remained in the clinch until dos Anjos turned it back to his favor.
Returning to the center of the Octagon, dos Anjos snapped Felder’s head with a stiff jab. Felder kept moving forward, throwing every punch and knee with knockout power. Just as he appeared committed to striking, Felder shot and surprisingly planted dos Anjos on the canvas.
dos Anjos quickly escaped the position on the ground and landed a couple punches and a knee to the body on the way up.
Felder’s face was a bloody mess after the forth frame courtesy of a left hand from dos Anjos during the latter part of the round.
Again, Felder began firing from the opening seconds of the fifth and final frame. dos Anjos deftly avoided many of the blows, returning fire with harder shots before again pressing Felder to the fence.
Stepping away, dos Anjos blistered Felder’s face with stinging punches and then took him to the floor once more. Felder fought from his back, blood streaming every direction down his face. dos Anjos went to work from top position in the half guard, peppering Felder with punches.
Felder scrambled, but dos Anjos moved to north-south position, pressing him up against the fence and driving knees into his thigh and ribs. Felder eventually returned to his feet, but dos Anjos held his grip, forcing Felder into the fence. He again drug Felder to the floor, but couldn’t finish the fight before the final horn.
Neither man jumped up to claim victory, though it was clear that dos Anjos controlled the entirety of the fight. They instead hugged each other, dos Anjos showing Felder the respect he deserved for fighting such a tough bout on short notice, Felder taking pride in having gone five rounds with the former champion with only a few days to prepare.
Surprisingly, one judge scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Felder, but dos Anjos earned the split decision victory when the other two judges scored it 50-45 in favor of the former UFC lightweight champion.
“I’m not too happy with my performance. I wish I could do better. My first fight back in the lightweight division. I feel like I have more adjustments to make,” dos Anjos said after what really was a rather dominating performance against a sharp Paul Felder.
After taking out Felder and with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announcing his retirement after his last fight and thus far not rescinding that statement, dos Anjos believes his pedigree puts him in the running to fill the vacant title slot if Khabib remains retired.
“I think I wanna face whoever is on the line for that belt. At 36 years old, tonight was my 30th appearance. If Khabib is really retired, it will leave the division wide open. If you look at the division, me and Conor, we are the only champions in that division. I think if the championship is open, me and Conor is the fight to make.”
Khaos Williams lands 30-second knockout
Khaos Williams looked ready to take Abdul Razak Alhassan’s head off just before the fight got underway. He nearly did just that.
Alhassan opened with several heavy leg kicks, but Williams ate them and then with one punch floored Alhassan. He sent a right hand straight up the middle, connecting with Alhassan’s chin, putting out the lights, and laying him down flat on his back.
Two fights into his UFC tenure and Williams has spent less one minute in the cage. He won his promotional debut with a 27-second knockout of Alex Moron, then followed that with this 30-second knockout of Alhassan.
Ashley Yoder takes the not over Miranda Granger
Ashley Yoder and Miranda Granger each had their moments in rounds one and two, but neither really took advantage of advantageous positions to try and win the fight.
They opened the third frame swinging, but Yoder took control with a takedown into side control. She moved to full mount, trying to set up an armbar. Granger fought it off, but Yoder punched until Granger gave up her back. Yoder locked on a body triangle. She punched and punched until Granger gave up her neck. Yoder sank the rear-naked choke, but Granger lasted until the final horn.
After three rounds, the judges awarded the unanimous decision to Yoder.
Sean Strickland wins second fight in two weeks
Sean Strickland was out of the fight game for nearly two years, but he seems to be quickly making up for lost time.
Strickland stepped in at the last minute to keep Brendan Allen on the UFC Vegas 14 fight card, but he didn’t let him remain in the fight for long. Though Strickland wasn’t exactly swinging for the fences, he dropped Allen with a punch combination early in round two and quickly finished him off with a series of right hands at 1:32 of round two.
It was Strickland’s second win inside of a two-week span. He was sidelined because of a motorcycle accident following his fight in October of 2018. Strickland returned at UFC Vegas 12 on Oct. 31 to score a unanimous decision victory over Jack Marshman.
With back-to-back wins in his comeback, Strickland has announced himself as a threat in the middleweight division.
UFC Vegas 14: Felder vs. dos Anjos results
UFC Vegas 14 Main Card
- Main Event: Rafael dos Anjos def. Paul Felder by split decision (47-48, 50-45, 50-45)
- Co-Main Event: Khaos Williams def. Abdul Razak Alhassan by KO (punch) at 0:30, R1
Julian Marquez vs. Saparbek Safarov— CANCELED AT WEIGH-IN
- Ashley Yoder def. Miranda Granger by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 27-26)
- Sean Strickland def. Brendan Allen by TKO (punches) at 1:32, R2
- Cory McKenna def. Kay Hansen by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Eryk Anders vs. Antonio Arroyo–– CANCELED ON FIGHT DAY Jose Quinonez vs. Louis Smolka—- CANCELED Smolka medically unfit
UFC Vegas 14 Preliminary Card
- Kanako Murata def. Randa Markos by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Tony Gravely def. Geraldo de Freitas by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)m
- Alex Morono def. Rhys McKee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Don’Tale Mayes def. Roque Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)