Imagine fighting your way into the UFC on the Contender Series with a show-stopping finish, and being saddled with a savvy veteran in your debut. That was the case for Ignacio Bahamondes, who was paired up with Canadian John Makdessi at UFC Vegas 23 on Saturday.
The pairing was, in reality, a statement on the high expectations the promotion has for Bahamondes. And though he stumbled at weigh-in, missing weight by less than a pound, a big finish in the preliminary card lightweight (sorry, catchweight) fight could easily remedy that.
That, however, was not in the cards. What did play out was a potential Fight of the Night that would have had fans on their feet, were any in the arena.
Bahamondes showed plenty of stance switches early in the bout Saturday afternoon — an approach that seemed to catch Makdessi off-guard. With his height and reach advantage, Bahamondes was able to keep Makdessi on the outside and build up his numbers. But when Makdessi did connect, he clipped Bahamondes, rocking him. Makdessi, very much like the bull he’s named for, moved in and followed up, landing several right hands. Bahamondes opted to clinch, trying to shake off the cobwebs, which allowed Makdessi to land some short punches. Next, Bahamondes opted to look for a takedown — anything to get him through to the end of the round.
— UFC (@ufc) April 10, 2021
Entering the second, whether Bahamondes was still compromised was the question at hand. Makdessi continued to walk down his opponent — but the newcomer was able to use his jab and inside/outside leg kicks to keep busy. Incredibly, Makdessi was able to find success with his own jab, despite the reach disadvantage. The difference maker to the midway point of the fight was essentially the significance of the strikes landed: Makdessi was doing more damage, and Bahamondes was wearing the evidence all over his face.
What had been a very entertaining fight through two rounds saw the final frame open with Makdessi throwing some kicks upstairs. Bahamondes fired a spinning kick that sailed over Makdessi’s head. Makdessi’s own kicks to the body and legs were connecting, and as the round progressed, Bahamondes was falling further behind. Looking to change tracks, Bahamondes shot for a takedown, but the Canadian’s takedown defense was up to snuff. In his favor, Bahamondes did land a number of uppercuts in a brief clinch. Time, however, had become a factor. Bahamondes did turn things up in the later half of the final frame. Makdessi was still landing, and by the end of the fight, Ignacio Bahamondes’ face was a mask of blood. Which left little question as to who won the Fight of the Night caliber contest. Except, apparently, in the mind of one judge.
Official Result: John Makdessi def. Ignacio Bahamondes by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)