Kicking off the UFC Vegas 71 card on Saturday, which saw the promotion back in the UFC Apex for the first time in six consecutive events, was a bantamweight showdown between Ultimate Fighter alum Brady Hiestand, and Mongolian Danaa Batgerel.
Hiestand had bounced back with a win over Fernie Garcia after losing in the TUF 29 finale, while Batgerel had lost two straight, putting his back firmly against the wall.
Early on, it was Danaa Batgerel leading the dance. He was a step ahead on the feet, and when Hiestand predictably shot for a takedown, it was Danaa proving his defense was up to snuff. The pair tied up for a bit along the fence, trading knees, before Batgerel found himself stuffing another takedown attempt.
The Mongolian would clip Hiestand late in the round; Brady recovered at returned fire just prior to the horn.
Round two saw Danaa Batgerel come out hot, dropping Hiestand with a left hook. In response, Hiestand shot for a takedown, and determined, stayed on the attempt. But he ate a lot of punishment in the form of some nasty elbows for his efforts. Hiestand was soon opened up, bloodied, and painting the canvas red.
Despite the damage, Hiestand would take the back, and lock up a body triangle. But Danaa reversed, getting on top in guard. They’d finish the round on the feet, then head to the third with Batgerel clearly in control.
The third round, however, saw Brady Hiestand snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Danaa appeared to have slowed, and Hiestand had an opportunity to land an outside kick or two. Hiestand then found a home for his left hand, and landed a key takedown inside of the final 90 seconds. With the fight on the line, Hiestand dropped just enough ground n’ pound to bring in the ref! Quite the comeback for Hiestand, who proceeded to call out Christian Rodriguez.
“Christian Rodriguez, I see you’re done beating up a high schooler now, let’s try to fight the next youngest person in the division. I’m 23, and I’m ready to go,” Hiestand exclaimed with the callout, suggesting UFC 289 in Vancouver as a landing spot. “I want you, and I want you all night long!”
Official Result: Brady Hiestand def. Danaa Batgerel by TKO, Round 3, 4:21