Former GLORY kickboxer Dustin Jacoby came into his UFC Vegas 63 fight with Khalil Rountree having not lost an MMA fight since 2015. An 8-0-1 record in that period, including six wins and a draw in his second stint with the UFC, had brought him to the rank of thirteenth in the world. Rountree, a Muay Thai specialist known for his brutal knockouts, had knocked out both of the GLORY kickboxing veterans he has faced previously, Karl Roberson and the legendary Gökhan Saki, making for an interesting bit of trivia that MMA fans could tell their friends to try and seem knowledgeable.
Regardless, this fight had all the makings of a striking war on paper. It did not disappoint.
Jacoby came out switching stances against the southpaw Rountree, who opened by swinging for the fences as usual. A clean lead right hook landed for him early but Jacoby ate it with no issues and targeted Khalil’s legs with kicks. Jacoby then began to find his range with the hands as well, landing some solid jabs and mostly making Rountree miss with his wild hooks. Rountree was trying to counter Jacoby’s entries with the lead hook on a hair trigger, but Dustin was able to draw the counter out and then punish it once he got the timing down. A checked kick and a big body shot punished Khalil for over-swinging with about a minute left in the first. Khalil landed some shots of his own down the stretch, however.
Dustin Jacoby ended the round with a failed takedown attempt and a flying knee, which Rountree punished him for right before the bell.
The striking flow at the start of the second stanza was similar to most of the first. Rountree began to have some success with his jab and started going to it consistently, but Jacoby adjusted and began to slip it with perfect head movement. Dustin Jacoby then started to pick up the pace, pouring on the pressure and volume towards Rountree, trying to make him wilt. Rountree began to retreat from the pace. Although he was far from wilting, the pressure of Jacoby was too much for him to not get on his bicycle at times.
The stance switches, off-tempo entries, and diversity of attacks consistently let Jacoby get to Khalil while avoiding eating most big shots in return. Jacoby almost never threw with all his power, just touching his opponent up, while Rountree hardly threw anything but full power. Late in the round Khalil began to land with a big more regularity, but when the bell rang it still seemed to be comfortably Dustin Jacoby’s round after a competitive first.
Jacoby opened the third round with a few good body shots but ate some solid counters from Rountree and then a straight left which made him stumble, one minute in. The leg kicks from Jacoby were a consistent tool. The give and take of the fight was beautiful to watch, both men were giving and eating shots but Khalil had started the round better off. He consistently landed left hands and Jacoby’s face looked battered and bruised, with his left eye particularly swelled up.
A big knee to the head and then a left hand staggered Jacoby once more with two minutes left. Jacoby no longer was using his head movement and footwork to avoid shots, he was staying in the pocket and doing a bit of ‘technical brawling’ with Khalil. Despite landing more volume, the bigger pop on every shot came from Rountree. A big left overhand made Jacoby wobble with thirty seconds left but he somehow stayed up and the pair traded back and forth, giving and receiving powerful shots until the buzzer of a fight that emerged as a clear frontrunner for fight of the night.
Khalil Rountree had likely won the third round, but was it enough? When the scorecards were read by Joe Martinez the judges were split. One judge gave it to Rountree, two rounds to one. One judge gave it to Jacoby, two rounds to one. And when the third judge’s scorecard was read, the fight was scored for the underdog, Khalil Rountree Jr. One heckler in the limited Apex audience did not like the decision; he yelled at Rountree and booed until Rountree and Bisping offered a concise and well-deserved, “Shut up.”
Official Result: Khalil Rountree Jr. def. Dustin Jacoby by split decision (29–28, 28–29, 29–28)