UFC Vegas 8 kicked off with four straight submission finishes. Meaning once again, a card hit hard by the coronavirus and other injuries managed to punch up in weight. A big comeback from Mallory Martin, and equally impressive finishes from Polyana Viana, Sean Brady, and Alex Caceres got things started.
So it was easy enough to overlook the loss of Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev 2, which dropped off the event Saturday after Cutelaba tested positive for COVID-19. Not the mention the absence of names like Giga Chikadze and Geoff Neal.
In fact, Neal’s health troubles created an arguably bigger opportunity for co-main event welterweight Neil Magny, with Robbie Lawler stepping in on short notice. The former 170lb champion hadn’t been heard from in a year, and fans were no doubt eagerly awaiting the return of the hard-hitting “Ruthless.”
In the main event, meanwhile, Anthony Smith returned, looking to shake off what many feel was one of the worst drubbings in recent memory. Smith lost a one-sided fight to Glover Teixeira back in May. On Saturday at UFC Vegas 8, with the light heavyweight landscape completely changed thanks to the absence of Jon Jones, Smith was set to take on Aleksandar Rakic. Rakic was trying to bounce back from a loss as well, to Volkan Oezdemir — a razor-thin split decision that halted a 12-fight win streak.
A big win from either could insert them right back into the title picture.
Following UFC Vegas 8, tune in for the post-fight press conference. The live stream is available above.