UFC Vegas 66: Bad Blood Boils Over, Rafa García Bloodied but Victorious Against Maheshate

Rafa Garcia and Maheshate, UFC Vegas 66
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 17: (L-R) Rafa Garcia punches Maheshate of China in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 17, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The lone fighter to miss weight for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 66 was China’s Maheshate, coming in 2.5lbs heavy for his lightweight fight with Rafa Garcia.

That cost him 20% of his purse; whether the weight cut had any adverse effects on Maheshate remained to be seen.

Garcia opened the fight holding center, and grabbed a knee with Maheshate stepped in with it. Maheshate fought off the ensuing takedown attempt, however, and circled around Garcia, using his length to keep “Gifted” Garcia on the outside.

Another takedown attempt for Garcia saw Maheshate backed up against the fence, but he stuffed it, circled out, and fired a jump knee. Garcia landed a solid left hook moments later, in his best strike of the first half-round. As the round wore on, Garcia targeted the body while navigating right hands, teep kicks and step-in knees. A low blow barely halted the action, with Garcia opting to fight on. A right hand followed by a left saw both strikes landing in the final 30 seconds for Garcia, who seemed to get better as the round continued.

Early in the second, Garcia ate a knee in pursuit of a takedown, and while he stayed on the attempt, he couldn’t complete it. A front kick and elbow follwed for Maheshate and suddenly, blood was pouring down the head and face of Rafa Garcia. Garcia, however, answered by trapping Maheshate against the fence, landing several hard punches and harder foot stomps.

Maheshate fought his way free from that spot, only to be taken down at center. Garcia had the neck, but was slick with blood and Maheshate was able to escape up and out. Moments later, Garcia cinched a body lock and landed a trip, taking Maheshate down once again. This time, he poured on with ground n’ pound, hammering away with elbows. Again, Maheshate would escape the position; they finished the round on the feet. And had to be separated by the ref before going back to their respective corners.

Both, and both bad blood appeared to be flowing heading into the third. Garcia scooped up Maheshate a minute in and landed another big takedown. He again looked for a choke, but didn’t have it. Maheshate worked to the fence, with Garcia still on him. Some grappling and grinding ensued before Maheshate broke free. Ninety seconds remained; Garcia was potentially ahead, despite the blood. Maheshate connected with another knee, which Garcia ate. Garcia then drove Maheshate into the fence before hoisting him up and slamming him down. Garcia had thirty seconds to work from inside half-guard and made it count, dropping some bombs to the final buzzer — with the pair again having to be separated in the cage.

Garcia would take it on the scorecards, making amends with Maheshate as he exited the cage.

Official Result: Rafa Garcia def. Maheshate by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)