UFC Fight Night Report: Rafael Fiziev knocks out Rafael dos Anjos in the fifth round

Originally published at UFC Fight Night Report: Rafael Fiziev knocks out Rafael dos Anjos in the fifth round - POST Wrestling | WWE NXT AEW NJPW UFC Podcasts, News, Reviews

UFC Fight Night Report: Rafael Fiziev knocks out Rafael dos Anjos in the fifth round

By: Eric Marcotte

On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a bout between ranked lightweight fighters, Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev. This bout was scheduled to take place twice previously, but both times the fight was canceled, which ultimately led to dos Anjos fighting Renato Moicano on short notice, a fight that dos Anjos won in dominant fashion. Fiziev was finished quickly in his UFC debut back in April of 2019, but since then, he has won five consecutive fights and entered this fight as the tenth-ranked fighter at lightweight, following a stoppage win over Brad Riddell in his last bout. Rafael dos Anjos certainly marked Fiziev’s toughest test to date, but if Fiziev was able to defeat the former UFC Lightweight Champion here, he would establish himself as a legitimate contender at 155lbs. This card also featured a notable bantamweight bout between Douglas Silva de Andrade and Said Nurmagomedov.

Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Rafael Fiziev and Chase Sherman. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Michael Johnson and Jamie Mullarkey.



*Saidyokub Kakhramonov def. Ronnie Lawrence by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

*Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Karl Roberson by TKO at 2:19 of Round 3

*David Onama def. Garrett Armfield by arm triangle at 3:13 of Round 2

*Antonina Shevchenko def. Cortney Casey by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Cody Brundage def. Tresean Gore by KO at 3:50 of Round 1


*Jamie Mullarkey def. Michael Johnson by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Aiemann Zahabi def. Ricky Turcios by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Chase Sherman def. Jared Vanderaa by TKO at 3:10 of Round 3

*Said Nurmagomedov def. Douglas Silva de Andrade by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

*Caio Borralho def. Armen Petrosyan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Rafael Fiziev def. Rafael dos Anjos by KO at 0:18 of Round 5


Lawrence initiated the first grappling sequence of the bout, however it was Kakhramonov who quickly spun his way onto Lawrence’s back, where he proceeded to drag him to the ground. Kakhramonov repeatedly returned Lawrence to the ground whenever Lawrence attempted to make his way back to the feet and racked up a great deal of control time early in this fight. Kakhramonov was not terribly active from top position, but he was able to maintain it for the vast majority of the round. 10-9 Kakhramonov.

Lawrence found success on the feet throughout the opening minute of round two, but eventually, Kakhramonov opted to change levels, and he successfully took Lawrence back to the ground. Kakhramonov’s short elbows and right hands from half guard were effective, and Lawrence was having trouble getting himself out of this position. Lawrence was finally able to escape in the final minute of the round, and nearly secured a takedown of his own, but ultimately, Kakhramonov stayed on his feet, and this was another round in his favor. 20-18 Kakhramonov.

Kakhramonov did not make any changes to his strategy in the third round, quickly taking Lawrence back down, while avoiding an attempted Omoplata in the process. Much like the previous two rounds, Kakhramonov was able to take Lawrence down at will and just smothered him from top position. Kakhramonov did enough damage from top position to keep the fight from being stood up, and the bout went the distance. 30-27 Kakhramonov.

WINNER: Saidyokub Kakhramonov by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

Lawrence had no answers for Kakhramonov on the ground throughout this bout, and as a result, this was a rather one-sided fight. Kakhramonov’s grappling was especially impressive here, as Ronnie Lawrence is far from the easiest fighter to employ a wrestling-heavy gameplan against. Kakhramonov took his first UFC fight on short notice, and while he did look impressive in that bout (despite missing weight), he looked much better here. Kakhramonov is now 2-0 in the UFC following this win.


Roberson began the fight with a heavy kick to the body. Nzechukwu responded with a knee that caught Roberson low, however, Roberson did not take much time to recover. Roberson shot for a takedown as the fight resumed, however, Nzechukwu defended the attempt well and began to hunt for a takedown of his own as he pressed Roberson against the cage. Nzechukwu managed to get Roberson down with three and a half minutes to work, and he was quickly able to take the back of Roberson. Roberson managed to avoid multiple rear-naked choke attempts; however, he could not shake Nzechukwu from his back until the final seconds of the round.

Roberson told his corner that he was exhausted going into the second round. Nzechukwu wasted little time in returning Roberson to the round, and once again, Nzechukwu attempted to take the back of his opponent. While Roberson was able to keep Nzechukwu off of his back, he was unable to stop Nzechukwu from moving into top mount. Roberson’s back was pressed to the cage, which was actually advantageous to him in the sense that the positioning kept Nzechukwu from doing any significant damage with ground and pound strikes, however, he was unable to improve his position until late in the round, and this was another dominant round for Nzechukwu.

Nzechukwu backed Roberson into the fence early in the third round and proceeded to bring him right back to the ground. Nzechukwu attempted an arm triangle, and while he was unable to complete the submission, he eventually postured up, and just threw down brutal elbows until the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Kennedy Nzechukwu by TKO at 2:19 of Round 3

After a pair of tough losses, this was exactly the type of win that Nzechukwu was in need of to get back on track. I was very impressed with his wrestling in this fight, which is an element of Nzechukwu’s game that he has rarely showcased throughout his run in the UFC. I would go as far as to say that this was Nzechukwu’s best performance to date, and if he continues to incorporate this grappling into his future gameplans, I can see Nzechukwu’s ceiling in the division being drastically raised. Nzechukwu’s UFC record now stands at 4-3.


The fighters wrestled in the clinch early, with Onama briefly getting Armfield to the ground. Armfield immediately popped back to his feet and started looking for a takedown of his own. Onama attempted to catch Armfield wit an armbar, but was unsuccessful, and was taken down as a result. Regardless, Onama quickly made it back to his feet, where the fighters traded jabs. A left hook from Armfield seemed to stumble Onama, but if he was hurt, he recovered quickly. Both men landed numerous strikes on the feet throughout the final two minutes, but it was Onama who was connecting with the harder shots towards the end of the round.

Armfield was throwing strikes in combination to begin round two, however, he opted to shoot for a takedown, and Onama took top position after stuffing the attempt. Onama began to work for an arm triangle, and eventually, he locked the submission in tightly, choking Armfield unconscious.

WINNER: David Onama by arm triangle at 3:13 of Round 2

Interestingly, this was actually a rematch, as Onama and Armfield fought previously on the amateur scene, a fight that Onama won by decision. Onama was originally scheduled to face Austin Lingo on this card, but Lingo was forced to withdraw from the fight earlier in the week, and Armfield stepped up to face Onama on short notice, making his promotional debut in the process. Considering the circumstances, I thought Armfield looked pretty good, especially on the feet, however, Onama eventually secured the finish, and he is now 2-1 in the UFC.


Shevchenko was the slightly busier fighter on the feet in the first round. Her body kicks were especially effective, although Casey seemed to have the advantage in power. Shevchenko defended a few takedown attempts and eventually took top position after a slip from Casey. Casey was active off of her back, however, I did not think she did enough here to steal back this round. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Shevchenko worked her jab early in the second round, as the fighters traded leg kicks. Casey caught Shevchenko with a number of heavy right hooks, that were perhaps the most significant strikes that had landed by the halfway point of the round. Casey eventually closed the distance and looked to take Shevchenko to the ground, but the attempt was defended. Casey slipped to the ground late in the round, and partially ate a head kick on her way up. 20-18 Shevchenko.

In the final seconds of the previous round, Casey found success while pressuring forward, and she continued to press forward in round three. Shevchenko was not responding well to Casey’s pressure, and her offensive output had really diminished as a result. Casey took Shevchenko to the ground with just under three minutes to work, where she landed heavy elbows from top position. Shevchenko made it back to her feet, but Casey continued to land the heavier strikes and recorded two more takedowns before the end of the round. 29-28 Shevchenko.

WINNER: Antonina Shevchenko by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was a very close fight, and I was not surprised to see it result in a split decision. The second and third rounds seemed fairly clear to me, with Shevchenko out landing Casey in the second round, and Casey dominating the third, but round one was very tough to score. Shevchenko was slightly more effective on the feet and secured the takedown, however once she was taken down, Casey outlanded Shevchenko from her back, and arguably landed the most damaging shot of the round on the feet as well. I gave the edge to Shevchenko, as did two of the three judges, and her arm was ultimately raised here as a result. Shevchenko is now 4-4 in the UFC.


Brundage got Gore to the ground early, and he attempted to take Gore’s back as Gore picked himself up along the cage. Gore successfully broke away from Brundage, but ate a big elbow on the break. Both fighters worked their jab, while looking to land big looping right hands. A counter right hook from Brundage dropped Gore, and he followed Gore to the ground, where Brundage knocked Gore unconscious with ground and pound strikes.

WINNER: Cody Brundage by KO at 3:50 of Round 1

Brundage’s game plan going into the fight was to wrestle with Gore and tire him out, but the game plan changed after Brundage felt as though he was getting the better of Gore on the feet, and he was able to secure the quick knockout finish here as a result. Gore is still very inexperienced professionally, and while his potential is evident, he may need a bit more time before he reaches that next level as a fighter. Brundage is now 2-1 in the UFC, and he has finished his last two fights in the first round.


Johnson’s hand speed was giving Mullarkey trouble early in the fight, as Johnson was consistently able to tag him as Mullarkey closed the distance. Still, Mullarkey found success attacking the lead leg of Johnson, and found a home for his left hand around Johnson’s guard as well. Johnson dropped Mullarkey with a quick left hand, and he followed Mullarkey to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight, but Mullarkey was able to recover and return to his feet with a minute remaining in the round. A left hand from Mullarkey staggered Johnson late in the round, and he caught Johnson with several elbows as Johnson recovered from the shot. Both fighters had big moments towards the end of this round, making this a particularly tough one to score. 10-9 Johnson.

The fighters exchanged jabs to the body throughout the opening minutes of round two. Mullarkey pressures forward, landing big strikes, and Johnson was looking somewhat overwhelmed at times. Mullarkey was landing heavy knees to the head, and he mixed in numerous elbows whenever he engaged Johnson in the clinch. Johnson was cut near his right eye, and that eye was giving him problems as the round progressed. A head kick from Mullarkey seemed to rock Johnson in the final minute of the round, but Johnson fired back, and he seemed to have recovered before the rounds’ end. 19-19.

Johnson landed the first big shot of the third round, a lunging right hook. Johnson continued to fire his right hand, and he was tagging Mullarkey repeatedly. The fighters traded hooks before Mullarkey went to the body with a heavy kick. Johnson seemed to have a bit more left in the tank for this final round, and was seemingly doing slightly more damage whenever he landed. Johnson defended a takedown attempt from Mullarkey, and the fight ended on the feet, as the fighters traded wild shots. 29-28 Johnson.

WINNER: Jamie Mullarkey by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Mullarkey clearly took the second round of this fight, while Johnson fired back to win round three, so this fight very much came down to the first five minutes, or specifically, the final ninety seconds of round one. In that span of time, Johnson knocked Mullarkey down, before being rocked himself, and seemingly in trouble before time expired. Personally, I weighed Johnson’s knockdown heavier, however, the argument could certainly be made for scoring the round in favor of Mullarkey. Regardless, Mullarkey’s arm was raised at the end of the bout, and this was arguably the biggest win of his career to this point. Mullarkey is now 3-3 in the UFC.


Neither fighter was overly aggressive in the first round. Turcios was constantly feinting and throwing out feelers, however, he was far enough away from Zahabi, that Zahabi did not have much of a reason to bite on the feints. A right hand from Zahabi caused visible reddening on the left side of Turcios’s face, and a shot from Turcios opened up a cut under the right eye of Zahabi. This was a close round in terms of activity, but I thought Zahabi landed the more impactful shots. 10-9 Zahabi.

Turcios asked the crowd to give him their energy between rounds. Zahabi seemed to have a read on Turcios and was able to avoid the vast majority of Turcios’s attacks, which were often out of range regardless. Zahabi picked his shots throughout the round, and while he was not terribly active, he was certainly the more effective fighter. Turcios really got aggressive in the final seconds of the round, but he was still catching air more often than Zahabi with his flurries. 20-18 Zahabi.

The broadcast stated that Turcios had landed roughly ten percent of all the strikes he had thrown throughout the bout as the third round began. The fight continued to play out in similar fashion, as Turcios pressured forward, while largely being unable to find his target. Turcios was talking to Zahabi, however, Zahabi remained composed, stuck to his gameplan, and attacked the lead leg of Turcios while landing the occasional overhand right. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Aiemann Zahabi.

WINNER: Aiemann Zahabi by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Ricky Turcios is an entertaining character, and from what we’ve seen on the Ultimate Fighter, an entertaining fighter, however, this was a rough fifteen minutes for him. Turcios was constantly feinting, taunting, and yelling, however, Zahabi refused to bite on any of this, and easily outpointed him from the backfoot. It was a strange fight to watch, and honestly, not a particularly entertaining one at that. Zahabi’s UFC record now stands at 3-2.


Sherman began the fight with a jab to the body, as well as a number of hard leg kicks. Sherman was looking sharp early in this fight and seemed to be the quicker fighter as well. Vanderaa was trying to time his counter left hook, and he was able to find a home for it as Sherman began to fight somewhat recklessly later in the round. Sherman dug into the body before landing a pair of big right hands to end the round.

Vanderaa worked his jab to a great deal of success throughout the early minutes of the second round. Both fighters were throwing heavy looping hooks, and it was tough to determine who was landing with more power. Vanderaa was certainly doing a good job of controlling the range of the fight with his jab; however, the fighters would often engage in quick, chaotic, exchanges in the pocket, and these were the most impactful moments of the round for both fighters.

Going into the final round, Vanderaa’s corner told him that he was in need of a finish if he wanted to win this fight. He was certainly throwing his punches with fight-ending intent in the third round, and for a moment, he seemed to be overwhelming Sherman. Sherman eventually landed a right hook that rocked Vanderaa, and he just went on the attack, teeing off on Vanderaa against the cage until Vanderaa finally went down.

WINNER: Chase Sherman by TKO at 3:10 of Round 3

This was a rather entertaining fight, as two fighters in desperate need of a win really left it all in the octagon. Sherman started off the fight strongly, but Vanderaa eventually found his range, and just as it looked as though Vanderaa was starting to pull away with things, Sherman rocked him and finished the fight soon thereafter. Sherman ended a four-fight losing streak with this win, and his UFC record now stands at 4-9.


Silva de Andrade was hunting for a takedown early but was unable to get Nurmagomedov to the ground. Nurmagomedov landed a knee as they broke from the clinch, and controlled the distance with a number of kicks. Silva de Andrade was having trouble closing the distance, and he was falling behind in the fight in terms of activity. Nurmagomedov opened up a cut near the left eye of Silva de Andrade, and partially caught him with a jumping kick to the head in the final minute of the round. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov began the second round with a spinning head kick. Silva de Andrade was pressing forward and was really loading up on his shots, looking to land a fight-ending blow. They traded strikes to the body, with Nurmagomedov seemingly landing the heavier blow. Nurmagomedov connected with a right hand before shooting for a takedown, however, Silva de Andrade was able to defend the attempt. Silva de Andrade landed a heavy spinning back fist in the final seconds of the round, which was the biggest moment of the fight for either fighter to that point. 19-19.

Silva de Andrade took Nurmagomedov down in the opening minute of the final round, but Nurmagomedov immediately popped back to his feet. A spinning back kick from Silva de Andrade landed low, and the fight was paused momentarily while he was given time to recover. Nurmagomedov brought Silva de Andrade to the ground with a single leg, however, he was unable to keep Silva de Andrade down for any significant amount of time. Silva de Andrade pushed Nurmagomedov to the ground as he attempted one of his spinning attacks, however, he did not follow Nurmagomedov to the ground. Nurmagomedov landed numerous up kicks until the fighters were eventually separated, and they traded kicks to end the fight. Close round. 29-28 Nurmagomedov.

WINNER: Said Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Throughout the first half of the bout, Douglas Silva de Andrade seemed to be having difficulties closing the distance, but as the fight progressed, he was able to create opportunities for himself, and I ultimately thought this was a very close fight. Nurmagomedov utilized a kick-heavy offense to control the range, and his strategy was largely effective, even later in the fight when Silva de Andrade was finding more success with his powerful flurries. After the fight, Nurmagomedov asked for a top fifteen opponent. In any other division, a 5-1 UFC record would likely be enough to get that opportunity, but the UFC’s men’s bantamweight division is arguably the deepest division in all of MMA, and it’s entirely possible that Nurmagomedov may still be a win away from ranked competition.


Borralho landed a pair of quick strikes before taking Petrosyan down near the cage. Borralho worked his way to the back of Petrosyan, where Borralho was able to control his opponent for the remainder of the round. He never really committed to a rear-naked choke attempt, instead choosing to focus on maintaining his position for the entirety of the round. 10-9 Borralho.

Borralho was able to take Petrosyan back to the ground roughly a minute into the second round. Petrosyan turned into top position, avoided a guillotine attempt, and returned to his feet. Neither fighter was terribly active upon returning to the feet, and Borralho successfully took the fight back to the ground, where he took the back of Petrosyan once again. Borralho spent the remainder of the round on Petrosyan’s back and likely took this round as well. 20-18 Borralho.

Petrosyan successfully defended Borralho’s first takedown attempt in the final round. They wrestled against the cage for quite some time, until Borralho effectively pulled guard. Petrosyan did not follow Borralho to the ground and kicked him in the legs a few times instead. They eventually stood up, and nothing of note happened until time expired in the fight. 29-28 Borralho.

WINNER: Caio Borralho by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

On paper, this seemed like a very entertaining fight, however, this turned out to be a very long fifteen minutes. Borralho took the first two rounds on control time, doing no significant damage while never threatening to submit Petrosyan. So little happened in the final round, that I actually gave the edge to Petrosyan based on his leg kicks to the grounded Borralho. Still, despite the lack of entertainment value in this particular fight, Borralho remains one of the top prospects at middleweight, and his “position over submission” approach to grappling in MMA is very similar to that of Demian Maia. In his post-fight interview, Borralho called out Dricus du Plessis.


The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. RDA shot for an early takedown, however, Fiziev defended the attempt well, and eventually broke away from dos Anjos against the cage, landing a jumping knee moments later. Fiziev caught dos Anjos with a body kick before the fighters exchanged short combinations. Fiziev defended another takedown attempt late in the round, and he landed a powerful left hand before time expired.

RDA began the second round with a strong body kick, and Fiziev responded with a quick pair of leg kicks, before inadvertently grazing the right eye of dos Anjos with a finger, resulting in a quick pause in the action. RDA shot for another takedown as the fight resumed, but Fiziev’s defense continued to hold up. Both fighters were doing a good job of attacking the legs and body as well as the head. Fiziev was peppering dos Anjos with quick combinations, and while dos Anjos was landing some solid shots himself, Fiziev appeared to be slightly ahead in terms of damage and activity.

Once again, Fiziev was able to defend a dos Anjos takedown defense to begin round three. RDA continued to press Fiziev against the cage, and technically took him down at one point, however, he was unable to do much damage with the position. Fiziev broke away with three minutes to work, where he landed a solid left hand before dos Anjos pressed him back against the cage. Fiziev reversed the positioning and started looking for one of his own, however, he was unable to take RDA to the ground. Fiziev landed a straight right hand before the fighters traded body kicks. Another jumping knee from Fiziev partially found its target. I thought this was the closest round of the fight to this point, but still gave the edge to Fiziev.

Into the fourth round, RDA continued to press Fiziev against the cage in search of a takedown. The takedowns were not coming for dos Anjos, and they were not a viable gameplan for Fiziev either, who tried to take dos Anjos down to no success. RDA landed a jumping knee of his own, before connecting with a straight left hand. Fiziev seemed to be slowing down, but he was still throwing heavy shots, and his takedown defense continued to hold up as well. RDA was finally able to take Fiziev down properly after a heavy body shot, and he was able to keep Fiziev down until time expired in the round. This was a good round for dos Anjos.

Just seconds into the final round, Fiziev dropped dos Anjos with a left hook, and he immediately followed him to the ground, finishing dos Anjos with a pair of follow-up right hands.

WINNER: Rafael Fiziev by KO at 0:18 of Round 5

RDA’s game plan was clearly to wrestle with Fiziev, however, Fiziev showcased some very impressive takedown defense, and he was just a step ahead of dos Anjos on the feet. One of the big questions coming into this fight was regarding Fiziev’s cardio, and whether he would be able to pace himself for a twenty-five-minute fight, and while he certainly slowed down a bit in the fourth round, he was still throwing heavy shots, and ultimately got the finish in round five. There was a bit of debate coming out of the fight regarding the stoppage, which seemed to be a bit quick live, however, the replays show just how out of it RDA was following Fiziev’s first follow-up shot on the ground, and dos Anjos took absolutely no issues with the stoppage himself. Fiziev jokingly called out Rafael Nadal in his post-fight interview, but he would legitimately call out Justin Gaethje later that night.

1 Like