Jeremy Stephens has been one of the hardest outs at lightweight and featherweight over the past decade. If you can beat Stephens, you're a legitimate contender.
Well, Mateusz Gamrot didn't just beat Stephens; he finished Stephens with flair.
Gamrot stopped Stephens via submission with a nasty kimura at 1 minute, 5 seconds of the first round on Saturday on the UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moises main card in Las Vegas. It was the first kimura finish in the UFC this year and the first pulled off since September 2020.
"I am ready for everybody," Gamrot said in his postfight interview.
Gamrot attacked Stephens from the opening bell, taking him down. From there, Gamrot got dominant position, grabbed ahold of Stephens' left arm and applied the kimura -- one of the nastiest-looking submissions in MMA.
Afterward, Gamrot said he wanted a top-15 opponent, and he has likely earned such an opportunity.
Gamrot (19-1, 1 NC) has won two in a row since dropping his UFC debut -- his lone career loss -- to Guram Kutateladze via split decision last October. The Poland native is the former KSW lightweight champion. Gamrot, 30, finished Scott Holtzman via second-round finish in April.
Stephens (28-19, 1 NC) is winless in his past six fights. The San Diego resident had not fought since a second-round knockout loss to Calvin Kattar in May 2020. Stephens, 35, has the second-most knockdowns in UFC history at 18, tied with all-time great Anderson Silva.
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Islam Makhachev's toughest task moving forward might be finding someone willing to fight him.
Makhachev completely dominated Thiago Moises in the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday in Las Vegas. Moises mounted almost no offense at all, and Makhachev was able to finish him with a submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:38 of the fourth round. This was Makhachev's first UFC main event and his first time going past the third round in a bout. It was the first submission loss of Moises' career.
Miesha Tate is back -- and she just might actually be better than ever.
Competing for the first time since 2016, Tate (19-7) dominated Marion Reneau in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. The former champion -- and mother of two -- finished Reneau (9-8-1) via TKO at 1:53 of the third round. It marks Tate's first victory since she won the 135-pound title in March 2016.
Rodolfo Vieira lands the incredibly fast back take on Dustin Stoltzfus to win the bout late at UFC Fight Night.
Vieira needed only a sliver of an opportunity to secure his third UFC win, as the 31-year-old middleweight submitted Stoltzfus via rear-naked choke at 1:54 of the third round.
For two rounds, Stoltzfus, of Pennsylvania, did a terrific job denying Vieira's grappling. He defended takedown attempts and fought Vieira's hands anytime the submission ace corralled him into a clinch. Vieira finally got his way in the third, however, when he jumped to Stoltzfus' back as he stood along the fence.
Talk about getting over the "hump" for Viera...composed the whole time, didn't rush, pounced when he needed to. Great performance. #ufcvegas31— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) July 18, 2021
The finish, which is Vieira's third win by submission in the Octagon, came shortly after. It's a nice rebound for Vieira, who suffered a major upset against Anthony Hernandez in his most recent appearance in February. Stoltzfus, who out-landed Vieira in total strikes 68 to 45 prior to the stoppage, drops to 0-2 in the UFC.
Quarantillo stopped Benitez with strikes from back control with the finish coming at 3:40 of the third round. Benitez was incredibly tough, but the first two rounds were mostly one-way traffic in favor of Quarantillo. Benitez mounted a brief third-round comeback, but Quarantillo took him down, got back control and the stoppage.
The pace and pressure of Quarantillo were really the difference in the bout. He crowded Benitez and landed over and over again. Quarantillo also used his wrestling and grappling effectively, getting Benitez down and landing ground-and-pound, which blooded Benitez's face. By the second round, Benitez was a bloody mess and his left eye was swelling severely.
Benitez dropped Quarantillo with a left hand in the opening seconds of the third round. But Quarantillo was able to stymie Benitez's rally with a trip takedown, then took his back, before ultimately getting the finish with strikes.
"I've got that dog in me," Quarantillo said in his postfight interview. "We made it an ugly, dirty, grimy fight and got the W."
Quarantillo, 32, has won four of his past five fights. The New York native has won nine of 10 overall. Benitez, a 33-year-old Mexico native, has lost three of four.
Rodriguez has been must-watch TV since signing with the UFC last year, and that was once again the case on Saturday.
Rodriguez, of Alhambra, California, earned a first-round TKO against Parsons at 3:47 of the opening round. The finish came after Rodriguez hurt Parsons with a counter left hand to his left eye and then swarmed him with punches along the fence.
D-Rod vs Ponzinibbio would be must see TV. #UFCVegas31— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) July 18, 2021
Parsons, who filled in on short notice for Rodriguez's original opponent, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, looked comfortable early, as he went for an early takedown and landed some straight punches on the feet. Rodriguez is known for his power, however, and needed only the one shot to swing momentum heavily in his favor.
The 34-year-old Rodriguez is now 5-1 in the UFC with three finishes. He is also 11-1 in his past 12 bouts going back to 2017.
Amanda Lemos drops Montserrat Conejo in the first round of their bout at UFC Fight Night.
It's time for a step up in competition for Lemos.
One of the top up-and-coming women's strawweight fighters in the world, Lemos blasted Conejo with a right hand, followed by a left that sent Conejo crashing to the canvas. Lemos followed with a hammerfist on the ground, and referee Chris Tognoni stepped in to call it. The finish came at 35 seconds of the first round -- the second-fastest finish in UFC women's strawweight history.
Awesome!!! That was beautiful striking! 🙌🏽 #UFCVegas31— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) July 18, 2021
The stoppage did seem to come a bit early. Conejo popped up after the Lemos blows. But Lemos has arguably the most dangerous power in the division and it might not have gone much longer.
"My name is Amanda Lemos," she said through her manager, Wallid Ismail. "I'm gonna be UFC champion."
Lemos, 34, has won four straight, three of which came by first-round finish. The Brazil native has just one career loss -- at bantamweight to Leslie Smith in 2017 in Lemos' UFC debut. Conejo, a 28-year-old Mexico native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.
Morozov showed his opponent on Saturday what it means to be dragged into deep waters.
Morozov, 32, of Kazakhstan, never came close to a finish against Taha, but he thoroughly dominated him over the course of their three-round bantamweight fight. Taha simply couldn't break free of Morozov's grappling once he closed distance. All three judges scored it a sweep for Morozov, 30-27.
Some of Morozov's best work came in the first round, when he took Taha down and landed some strong left hands from the top. He controlled Taha in the clinch and on the ground in the second and third rounds as well.
Gordon might have been fighting for his UFC career -- and he responded impressively.
In a back-and-forth fight, Gordon was able to outpoint Figueiredo via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) to earn his first UFC victory.
"That keeps me in the UFC." Gordon said in his postfight interview. "... This is what I deserve. This is where I belong."
Gordon was able to land some hard right hands on the feet and outscramble Figueiredo on the ground. He finished the first round with ground-and-pound and landed a takedown at the end of the second. In the third, Gordon had further success on the ground until Figueiredo managed to briefly get into mount.
Gordon, 31, snapped a two-fight UFC losing streak with the victory. The Canada native is the former TKO flyweight champion. Figueiredo, the 31-year-old brother of former UFC flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo, is now 1-1 in the UFC. He fights out of Brazil.
Nascimento survived an ugly first round against Baudot before taking advantage of his opponent's fading gas tank.
Nascimento, 28, of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, knocked out Baudot with punches along the fence at 1:29 of the second round. The finish came after Nascimento found himself in several tough spots in the opening frame, including fighting off ground-and-pound from his back after pulling guard.
Baudot, from France, had it all working in the first five minutes, as he beat up Nascimento on the feet and made him pay for his efforts to get the fight to the ground. He looked like a different fighter in the second round, though, as Nascimento walked him down and landed shots at will.
Nascimento has recorded finishes in both of his wins inside the Octagon.