UFC Vegas 31 turned out to be an exciting and action-packed event. Of the ten total fights on the card, eight of them ended via finish and three of those were in the first round. The stars shined as they put on a show, while some promising prospects, such as Mateusz Gamrot who scored a dominant victory over long-time veteran Jeremy Stephens, demonstrated that the future of the UFC is as bright as the present. There were many headlines, but none bigger than these three takeaways.
1. Meisha Tate is Back!
Not only is Meisha Tate back, but she looked as good as she ever has at UFC Vegas 31. The former Strikeforce and UFC Bantamweight Champion returned after a long four-and-a-half-year layoff and didn’t miss a beat. Her performance was beyond impressive, to say the least. Impressively, she achieved the first TKO victory of her UFC career.
Additionally, she is the only person to score a finish against Marion Renau in her 11-year career. The striking from Tate was crisp and actually looked like it improved since her last appearance. As usual, her signature takedowns and ground attack were on point as well.
The women in the UFC Bantamweight division will definitely take notice of the strong comeback of Tate. She is a legend and a pioneer of the sport who is clearly not done yet. Interestingly, she is still only 34 years old so there is plenty of time for her to make another run at the title.
Amanda Nunes actually won the belt from Tate back in 2016 and has been the Bantamweight champion ever since. Tate would need to string together a couple more wins first, but that is a rematch that would be very exciting. This division needed another contender and they just might have it with the return of Meisha Tate.
2. Islam Makhachev is the Real Deal
Those who follow the MMA world closely have known for a while now that Islam Makhachev has astronomical potential, but now the whole world is aware of his talent. In his first main event at UFC Vegas 31, Makhachev put on a show against a dangerous and ranked opponent in Thiago Moises.
In the striking department, Makhachev landed 148 total strikes to the only 18 of Moises and he was even more dominant in the grappling game. Makhachev demonstrated that he is the total package. He scored a submission victory in the 4th round to bring his winning streak to eight consecutive fights while finishing four of them.
There have already been rumors that some of the top fighters in the UFC Lightweight division have been avoiding Makhachev. Interestingly, the same thing happened during the rise of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is now a coach and cornerman for Makhachev. This is probably not a coincidence, considering how good both of them are.
Regardless, they can’t hide for much longer now that he is knocking on the door of a title shot. He will likely need at least one more victory before that happens but he is well on his way. After the victory, he called out two veterans in Rafael Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson as his potential next opponent. According to Dana White, another option would be Beneil Dariush. Any of these would be incredible matchups and definite main events.
3. Daniel Rodriguez is on the Rise
Daniel Rodriguez is a UFC Welterweight that looks ready to take the next step. He continued to impress at UFC Vegas 31 with another finishing victory by scoring a first-round TKO over Preston Parsons. Since entering the UFC, Rodriguez has won five of his six fights and finished three of them. His only loss was by a curious decision to Nicolas Dalby that he really could have won. Rodriguez landed 105 strikes to the 58 of Dalby and there were no takedowns in the fight. Regardless, his UFC career to this point has been very impressive.
Rodriguez has already earned victories against some highly experienced quality opponents like Mike Perry and Tim Means. He is a versatile fighter who can win in a variety of ways, as demonstrated by his combination of both knock-out wins and submissions. Additionally, he has never been finished in his professional MMA career but has finished 12 of his 15 total victories.
He made an interesting call out after his match of a top ten UFC Welterweight in Belal Muhammad. It would be a huge opportunity for Rodriguez to get that fight, but that’s far from a sure thing. Muhammad just earned a dominant win over Demian Maia so he will probably be looking to fight someone ranked higher. On the other hand, if Muhammad does accept the Rodriguez challenge, that would be a very intriguing matchup.