Kicking off the main card at UFC Vegas 31, Billy Quarantillo was looking to bounce back from a loss, while Gabriel Benitez was looking to bounce back from a fight that never even happened.
Benitez’s loss came at the scales back in May, when he missed weight for a bout with Jonathan Pearce. Although Peace appeared to have accepted a catchweight fight, he ultimately rejected to match-up, and the fight was called off. Quarantillo, meanwhile, had suffered his first UFC loss back in December, to Gavin Tucker.
Kicks were the appetizer in the first round of this one. Both guys were not just using them to feel one another out, but to do damage. Quarantillo then opened up a bit with the hands and the two got cracking. Both men landed sporadically, but Quarantillo landed the first big one and put Benitez on the seat of his pants. Quarantillo followed up quickly and landed some big shots. He fended off a arm bar attempt from Benitez with a nice slam. As Benitez tried to work up, Quarantillo took the back with three and a half minutes left. He spent the next two and a half minutes softening Benitez up with strikes and looking for rear naked chokes. With a minute left Benitez spun out and worked back to his feet. After trading for a second they wound up in another scramble, both looking for leg locks. The round ended with Quarantillo getting the back again.
Quarantillo looked to keep that momentum going in the second. He hit a flying knee just ten seconds in and then followed up with an emphatic takedown. In no time at all, Quarantillo had worked right to Benitez’s back again. He spent only about ninety seconds there this time before they wound up back on the feet. Quarantillo got the better of the action there again and then another takedown. Referee Mark Smith threatened to stop the fight due to elbows from Quarantillo and that was enough to get Benitez to work back to the feet. More big trading and with barely forty seconds left, they called for the doctor to take a look at the eye of Benitez, which was nearly closed. They allow him to continue and he ended the round eating haymakers from Quarantillo.
The third round began with a warning from Mark Smith that Benitez needed to protect his eye, or he would have the fight stopped. Benitez then landed a big left hand and floored Quarantillo. He went to try to finish it, which would have made for one hell of a comeback, but Quarantillo nearly latched onto a triangle choke and they returned to standing. After some trading Quarantillo got another takedown and worked right back to the back. Despite likely being way up on the cards, Quarantillo worked desperately for the finish. Mark Smith warned Benitez to defend himself as Quarantillo landed strikes from the back. That seemed to light a fire in Quarantillo and he unloaded to get the stoppage from the unconventional position.
BILLY Q 😤
— UFC (@ufc) July 18, 2021
Fight of the Night? Almost certainly. Fight of the Year? It’s in the running.
Official Result: Billy Quarantillo def. Gabriel Benitez by TKO (Strikes), Round 3, 3:40