The main card opener for UFC Vegas 61 between Mike “Beast Boy” Davis and Viacheslav Borshchev was electric on paper. Borshchev, a.k.a. Slava Claus, had stepped in for Uros Medic on two weeks notice to keep this fight on the card and the former kickboxing champion had a stiff test in former boxer Mike Davis.
Mike Davis is perhaps best known for his FOTY contender vs Mason Jones in his last fight, early in 2021, while Slava Claus started off 2022 with the first KO of the year with a vicious body hook. However, Slava Claus had issues in his last fight when Mark Diakiese wrestled him for three rounds, so a big question in this fight was whether Mike Davis would look to wrestle. Both men have a primarily volume and action-heavy striking style with many knockouts to their name, so fans were looking forward to this one.
The first heavy strike of the fight was an uppercut from Davis that snapped his foe’s head back about a minute in. Slava returned fire with a liver shot and the pair started to open up. Thirty seconds later, Mike Davis charged forward and shot a takedown that he landed with apparent ease. Slava was able to get back to his feet but Mike Davis mat returned him and shucked to his back. Slava stood back up and Davis soon landed a legal knee that dropped Slava. Slava Claus survived however and eventually extricated himself from the grappling exchange to get back to striking. When Slava charged forward himself, Mike Davis ducked under, took his opponent down, and got right into full mount immediately. Ground and pound rained down and Slava Claus was unable to do anything about it except turn to give up his back and turn back into the full mount. The referee looked close to stopping it at points but with only seconds left Slava somehow escaped and got back to his feet as the bell rang. Beast Boy clearly won the round, with perhaps a 10-8 being on the cards.
Slava Claus began the second round with constant volume and feints but few significant lands. Eventually he landed a few big body shots and a leg kick that buckled Davis’ leg. After two minutes a massive overhand right landed from Slava but Mike Davis ate it. The lack of volume from Davis was puzzling early on until halfway through the round he finally shot a takedown, landed it, and settled in full guard. He soon passed to north south but lost the position when trying to take the back. However he shot another takedown when getting back to the feet and passed right to the mount. Mike Davis attempted an arm triangle that appeared as tight as could be but he let it go, apparently feeling he could not get the finish with it, and returned to the full mount. With thirty seconds left Slava Claus gave up his back and Davis fell over the top, but was able to get up, land another takedown immediately, and close the round out with ground and pound. The round was close as it was about evenly split between striking success from Slava and ground success for Davis, both of which included significant amounts of damage.
The beginning of the third round was similar to the beginning of the second. Slava Claus began to find the range again and land some good strikes, including one that swelled up the right eye of Mike Davis badly. Soon after, he made the decision to take the fight to the ground and was successful at landing in half guard. Slava Claus regained full guard but was unable to do much to get up against the heavy top pressure of Davis despite his constantly struggling. On a scramble Slava was able to begin to stand up but from his knees Mike Davis was able to grab Slava’s legs and drag him back to the mat. At the very end of the fight Davis passed to full mount and tried one last choke before the bell rang.
When Bruce Buffer read the scorecards it was Mike Davis, predictably, who had got the decision unanimously. In his post-fight interview Davis discussed seeing four of his opponent after his eye was struck, feeling like he is not where he needs to be, the changes he has made in his camp, and the game plan of taking down his striking-based opponent.
Official Result: Mike Davis def. Vlacheslav Borshchev by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)