UFC Vegas 28 wasn’t garnering much hype going in, largely because it was being overshadowed by next weekend’s UFC 263. But overall, the card was a solid one.
With a number of fighters shining and some violent finishes on tap, UFC Vegas 28 delivered about as well as could’ve been expected.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest winners from UFC Vegas 28: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Augusto Sakai.
#1 Jairzinho Rozenstruik – defeated Augusto Sakai in UFC Vegas 28 main event
Last night’s biggest winner was clearly Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Coming off a pretty bad loss at the hands of Ciryl Gane, ‘Bigi Boy’ really needed to win here in order to preserve his status as a potential contender for the UFC heavyweight title.
But Rozenstruik didn’t just need to win – he needed to win in style. His dull showing against Gane had threatened to ruin his reputation as an exciting fighter, and if he’d come to his fight with Augusto Sakai in counter-mode, it might not have helped his cause.
Thankfully though, Bigi Boy looked fantastic, using some much improved footwork to force Sakai onto his backfoot throughout the fight. And when he finally corralled the Brazilian late in the first round, he capitalised big time and knocked him out with a violent combination.
Rozenstruik probably needs another two wins at least to get into proper UFC title contention, but based on this showing, he’s still improving – which makes him a fighter to keep an eye on going forward.
#2 Marcin Tybura – defeated Walt Harris
Another fighter at UFC Vegas 28 who picked up a big win and looked much improved in doing so was Marcin Tybura.
The Polish fighter came into his clash with Walt Harris on a four-fight win streak, but early on, it looked like that streak would be in jeopardy.
Harris took the fight to Tybura with some heavy strikes. But despite a reputation for folding under pressure, Tybura ate everything that was thrown at him before turning the tables and finishing Harris violently on the ground.
Is Tybura now a contender for the UFC heavyweight title? Probably not. He still lacks the explosiveness to really challenge Francis Ngannou or even the fighters underneath him like Ciryl Gane and Stipe Miocic.
But a five-fight win streak in the UFC is nothing to be sneezed at either, making Tybura undoubtedly one of last night’s biggest winners.
#3 Santiago Ponzinibbio – defeated Miguel Baeza
The best fight on offer at UFC Vegas 28 was definitely Santiago Ponzinibbio’s crazy war with Miguel Baeza.
The two welterweights threw everything they had at one another for fifteen minutes, with Baeza doing the early damage with his low kicks and Ponzinibbio coming back with his combination work to take a tight decision.
For Ponzinibbio, it’s hard to play down the importance of this win. ‘The Argentine Dagger’ was coming off a knockout loss to Li Jingliang, and could well have fallen into irrelevance with a loss here – especially as his last win came in 2018.
But he’s now proven he’s very relevant at the top of the welterweight division, and should probably be matched with a top-ten fighter next time out.
#4 Miguel Baeza – lost to Santiago Ponzinibbio
It seems counterintuitive to name a fighter who lost his fight amongst UFC Vegas 28’s biggest winners, but the war between Miguel Baeza and Santiago Ponzinibbio wasn’t your run-of-the-mill fight.
Both men landed some tremendous strikes on the other and on another night, Baeza’s brutal low kicks could well have ended Ponzinibbio’s night. And sure, ‘Caramel Thunder’ is no longer an unbeaten prospect, but if anything, he gained more here than he would’ve done with a quick KO win.
Baeza hung in there with one of the UFC’s toughest 170lbers, looked excellent in doing so, and didn’t suffer a knockout or anything too nasty in his first career loss.
There can be no doubt that he’ll be back at some point in the near future, and judging by this fight, he’s ready to go up against the best welterweights in the UFC – making him a winner even though he lost.
#5 Gregory Rodrigues – defeated Dusko Todorovic
It’s never easy to make a mark in your UFC debut, and it’s even harder to do it on late notice. But Gregory Rodrigues managed it last night, and made it look easy too.
After fighting on the regional circuit just two weeks ago – picking up a KO win – Rodrigues came into the UFC to face Dusko Todorovic, replacing the injured Maki Pitolo. And the noted grappler looked excellent in all areas, clearly outpointing Todorovic thanks to his heavy hands and powerful takedowns.
Sure, Rodrigues didn’t get a finish, but any fighter who can win a UFC fight in one-sided fashion after taking it on late notice deserves to be seen as a big winner. And following the win, Rodrigues should become a prospect to watch in the UFC’s middleweight division.