We had an incredible day of fights this past weekend (Sat. August 3, 2019) at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The event featured an epic welterweight showdown between two of the best on the planet in Colby “Chaos” Covington and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. We had an even mix of results, with four decisions, three knockouts, and five submissions within the twelve fights. Of those five submissions, three were technical submissions, as three fighters were choked unconscious.
This event showed great performances all around from tons of fighters, and we’ve compiled a list of five fights to make after their showings. Where do the winners go from here? Where do the losers go from here? There were so many great showings yesterday it’s hard to pick just five, as it usually is.
We at LowKickMMA have decided on the five best matchups to make after this great evening of fights.
Scott Holtzman (13-3) vs. Lando Vannata (10-3-2)
Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman had a great performance last night, as he picked up a victory over Dong Hyun Ma. At the end of round one, Ma’s eye was starting to swell shut, and by the end of round two, it was completely shut, thus resulting in the TKO win for Holtzman. This was a very entertaining fight that showed each fighter hurting the other, but more so Holtzman imposing his will on Ma. After tripling up on strikes against the Korean and showing his great striking skills, Holtzman was declared the winner via doctor stoppage.
Holtzman showed off a great top game as well after dropping Ma in round one. The way he feints into a level change and then comes up with an uppercut is reminiscent of the way Chad Mendes used to do the same thing. He’s really come into his own in his mid-30’s. A fight between himself and Lando “Groovy” Vannata would be very interesting.
Vannata is a very, very good striker himself. He’s great at switching stances and throwing any strike at any time, kind of like TJ Dillashaw without the wrestling pedigree. Vannata had a bit of a rough start to his UFC career. He made his UFC debut filling in for Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice against Tony Ferguson with an 8-0 record. After almost finishing “El Cucuy” and showcasing how talented he really is, he ended up getting choked out by the Eddie Bravo black belt.
After this, he knocked out John “The Bull” Makdessi with a spinning wheel kick, which is incredible considering how good of a striker Makdessi is. “The Bull” is 22-0 in kickboxing and holds black belts in both Shotokan karate and taekwondo. To knock someone like that out in 100 seconds exactly, and with a wheel kick at that, it was astounding.
Despite a rough record early on in his career, however, the UFC saw how talented he was and kept him. Vannata ended up winning his last fight via first-round submission (kimura) and is back on the winning track. A fight between talented strikers like these two gentlemen would be very exciting to watch, and within the placement of both of them at lightweight, it makes sense. Their dimensions are also almost identical, with both standing at 5’9”, and Holtzman having a 70” reach to Vannata’s 71”.
Danny Roberts (16-5) vs. Mickey Gall (6-2)
It was a little harder finding a good matchup that’d get fans excited for Gall that makes sense. Most of the guys it’d make sense for him to fight are booked, but how about Danny Roberts? He’s shown to be a well-rounded fighter and has been getting knocked out a bit lately. For a little while, people were expected big things from Roberts. After making his UFC debut with an 11-1 record, and submitting Nathan Coy with a triangle choke in round one, fans thought he could be a pretty big deal in the coming years.
For a former professional boxer to submit a guy like Coy was impressive. Not that Coy’s one of the best grapplers out there, because he isn’t, but he is very good on the ground. Coy’s quite seasoned in the experience aspect and is an NCAA Division I wrestler. Roberts followed that win up with a unanimous decision victory, before having a fight for the ages against Mike Perry. What a back and forth war that was, but unfortunately for Roberts, he got knocked out with just 20 seconds left in the third and final round.
We all knew Perry was a savage at this point so no one really knocked on Roberts for it. He rebounded with a KO win in his next outing, improving to 14-2, and we thought he was on track again. Since then, he’s gone 2-3, one of those wins coming via split decision which could have easily gone the other way against former Cage Warriors champion David Zawada.
Roberts has been KO’d three times in the UFC, but Gall isn’t really one to starch his opponents. That’s why this is a great matchup. Gall was recently promoted to black belt in BJJ, and his stand up has gotten better as well. This is a typical striker versus grappler matchup, but the striker knows some grappling, and the grappler knows some striking.
Both have a 74” reach with Gall having a two-inch height advantage. It’d be interesting to see if Gall can tie up with Roberts and get the fight to the ground. If he cant, it’s going to be interesting to see if he can survive on the feet.
Nasrat Haqparast (11-2) vs. Drew Dober (21-9) 1 NC
This would be such a great fight to see. Both guys are great strikers that like to stay on the feet at all costs. Neither really look for their own takedowns. Dober can wrestle and has shown that he can, but mostly only against opponents that initiate it first. It’s doubtful that Haqparast would do that. Haqparast had a beautiful performance Saturday, improving his UFC record to 3-1 and scoring the first finish of his UFC career.
Haqparast’s timing and placement of his strikes is really a work of art. His punches and round kicks are particularly impressive, and at only 23-years-old (24 this month), he’s definitely one to watch. Drew Dober is coming off a great performance against knockout artist Marco Polo Reyes, who he knocked out in 67 seconds. Dober had a little bit of a rough start to his UFC career. After debuting with a 14-4 record, he lost his first two fights, both to guys he’d most likely beat quite handily now, before defeating an over-the-hill Jamie Varner via submission (rear-naked choke).
Dober’s next fight would end in controversy, as he’d lose via submission (guillotine choke) due to a referee error, which would then be overturned. He then fought Efrain Escudero and lost via submission (guillotine choke) in his very next fight in less than a minute. With a new record of 15-7 (1 NC), things weren’t looking too great for him, but the UFC gave him another shot and he won his next two fights; a unanimous decision over Scott Holtzman, and a KO over Jason Gonzalez.
Dober then lost to Olivier Aubin-Mercier via submission (rear-naked choke), before starching Josh Burkman with an overhand left. He then won two unanimous decisions before losing via submission (triangle armbar) to Beneil Dariush, a fight he was looking great in. Then, his most recent win over Reyes in his last fight. Dober’s 4-1 in his last five, and before he started a career in MMA, he was a two-time amateur champion in Muay Thai.
It’s probably safe to say that if Haqparast had taken that route, he would’ve been too. Haqparast’s parents wanted him to take up kickboxing in order to combat his weight issues at 14-years-old, but he decided on trying MMA instead.
There’s been a bit of a pattern in Dober’s fights, he either knocks his opponent senseless, wins a decision against them, or gets submitted. That’s the way it’s been since his first couple of fights in the UFC. That’s not to say he’s bad on the ground, because he’s not. There have been steady improvements, all three of the guys that have submitted him are high-level BJJ guys, especially the most recent two.
Dober is two inches shorter at 5’8”, and has a two-inch reach disadvantage at 70”. He’s a bit stockier than Haqparast as well, and both have shown that they have endurance. Who would win this stellar matchup and perhaps crack into the top 15 in the UFC’s most stacked division?
Jim Miller (31-13) 1 NC vs. Luis Pena (7-1)
“Violent Bob Ross” is certainly less experienced than “A-10,” but that doesn’t always mean what you’d think it would. Pena’s last two opponents were way more experienced than him as well, and he won both fights quite handily, and his only loss was via very close split decision to TUF 27 winner Mike Trizano. He’s much bigger than Miller and has some very, very slick striking, as well as underrated grappling. Pena holds a 3-1 record in the UFC and is coming off a great performance over TUF 5 veteran Matt Wiman, who he defeated via TKO in round three.
Miller is coming off another great performance, a performance in which he choked Clay Guida out in 58 seconds to get his second first-round finish in a row. The fight started off with Guida stunning Miller with either a right hand, before pushing forward and getting stunned with an overhand left by Miller right after.
Seconds after getting stunned, Guida changed his level, and within milliseconds of that, Miller jumped on a guillotine choke and pulled guard. It seemed like a dangerous idea considering Guida’s top game, and the fact that Miller simultaneously jumped guard while he grabbed the guillotine. It wasn’t like he wrapped Guida’s neck up, then jumped guard, he did it at the same time. The BJJ black belt knows what he’s doing, however, and “The Carpenter” was unconscious seconds later.
This wouldn’t be the first time Miller had someone pulled off of him that he’d just choked out. It was a beautiful sight to see him win like that in front of his home crowd.
A fight with Pena would be very interesting and good to witness, because it’d be telling to see where each guy is at. Fights like that are important. With a guy as seasoned, well rounded, and opportunistic anywhere the fight goes like Miller to fight a guy that’s so fluent and seamless on the feet, with good grappling himself, it’d be fun to watch. Not to mention their dimensions; Miller’s 5’8” with a 71” reach, and Pena’s 6’3” with a 76” reach.
The experience is different, yes, but only at the highest level. Miller’s just fought at the highest level for longer, that’s all. Pena still has a wealth of experience. When one guy is close to retirement, and the other’s on his way up, fights like this make sense. Not to mention, Pena is 15-2 in amateur MMA and has boxing and kickboxing experience as well. This would be such a great fight between two elite lightweights. How do you think it’d go?
Kamaru Usman (15-1) vs. Colby Covington (15-1)
Again, of course, this fight would be the last one on the list, it needs to happen next. There’s not another fight in the world that needs to be made as badly as this one. Maybe Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson, but that’s it. These two are both so good at fighting, and they’re both so similar, it’s insane.
Covington had the performance of his life yesterday against a former UFC welterweight champion in Robbie Lawler, and broke a couple of records. He now has more attempted strikes than any man or woman ever in UFC history at 541, and he’s only the third man or woman to land 10+ takedowns and 100+ significant strikes in a single fight; the other two being Kamaru Usman and Cain Velasquez. All three were done against a current or former UFC champion, and all three that did it are current or former UFC champions.
That being said, these two are almost identical in the way they fight. Both of them have some of the most insane pressure you’ll ever see in any combat sport, which takes an unreal amount of endurance, something both of them have a wealth of. We have a 2010 NCAA Division II National Champion (Usman) against the NCAA Division I wrestler, 2010 and 2011 Pac-10 Champion (Covington). Both are All-Americans, and both have quite lengthy wrestling credentials. They both strike primarily to get into range so they can attempt a takedown, but both are still very skilled on the feet.
Usman is a little more of a boxing heavy game on the feet, whereas Covington throws kicks more often, but they’re almost the same fighter. The only difference is that Usman is more physically imposing, standing at 6′ rather than 5’11”, and having a 76” reach rather than 72” like Covington. Aside from that, they’re mirror images of each other. The only man each of them lost to, the other beat as well, which is pretty interesting.
Jose Caceres defeated Usman via submission (rear-naked choke) while Covington defeated Caceres via unanimous decision, each fight before they were in the UFC. Warlley Alves defeated Colby Covington via submission (guillotine choke), while Usman then defeated Alves via unanimous decision, each fight while they were in the UFC.
They’re both in their early 30’s, and both are 15-1 now too with their only losses via submission. There are so many similarities it’s hard to believe, it’s almost like someone wrote this as a story and it’s playing out right in front of us. Colby Covington won the UFC interim welterweight championship in his second to last fight, no one ever beat him and took it from him. Kamaru Usman is the undisputed UFC welterweight champion. It’s time to make this fight happen.