UFC Vegas 37 was a big night for the light heavyweight division, with both the main and co-main events comprised of 205 pound notables. The weight class was also featured atop the preliminary card, however, with Mike Rodriguez taking on Tafon Nchukwi in the featured prelim fight.
Both fighters entered the octagon coming off losses, though Rodriguez was in a tighter spot, having lost two straight and three of his last four. The saving grace in that was likely his controversial loss to Ed Herman in which Herman was awarded recovery time for a low blow that wasn’t actually low.
Both men took the center of the octagon after a glove touch. Rodriguez started with a jab to get some distance. Rodriguez landed a front kick which made Nchukwi charge him and end up in a clinch. Nchukwi put Rodriguez against the fence and landed a few nasty elbows. Nchukwi landed a knee from the Thai clinch. They broke from the clinch, and Rodriguez landed a heavy punch. Nchukwi landed a combo that backed Rodriguez up and then landed a takedown. Nchukwi landed some nasty ground and pound and took the back of Rodriguez. Rodriguez eventually got up with less than 90 seconds left in the round but was still against the fence. 30 seconds left, and Nchukwi was landing some heavy hooks. Rodriguez finally got free to end the round.
The second round started with both fighters in the center of the octagon. Rodriguez landed a right hand, and Nchukwi countered with a left hand. Rodriguez landed a beautiful 1-2, and that ate a left hand. Nchukwi blitzed forward, landing some punches, and put Rodriguez against the fence again. Rodriguez ate a hook and then circled out to escape the clinch. Nchukwi landed a heavy combo, and Rodriguez landed a knee. Nchukwi kept landing hooks that backed Rodriguez up. Rodriguez started landing some kicks towards the end of the round.
Rodriguez started popping his jab to start round three and ate a left hand from Nchukwi. Nchukwi landed a knee and heavy leg kick. Nchukwi wobbled Rodriguez with a leg hand, but he survived. A few more combos by Nchukwi and Rodriguez clinched him-Nchukwi immediately reversed the clinch. 2:30 left in the fight, and they returned to the center of the octagon. They exchanged leg kicks, and then Nchukwi landed a left-hand bomb. Less than 90 seconds, and Nchukwi put Rodriguez against the fence again. Nchukwi landed a takedown to end the fight.
Beautiful bounce-back performance by Nchukwi.
Tafon Nchukwi defeated Mike Rodriguez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)