UFC Vegas 50 took place March 12 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Light heavyweight contenders Magomed Ankalaev (17-1) and Thiago Santos (22-10) collided in the main event, which aired live on ESPN+.
Catch the video highlights below.
For more on Ankalaev vs. Santos, check out the live blog by MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew.
Round 1: Ankalaev comes out in southpaw, Santos in orthodox. Both men being very patient to start, with neither making any substantive moves for the first minute of the bout.
Ankalaev beings to take the initiative, coming forward cautiously and Santos lands a couple of calf kicks to the lead leg. Tons of feints from Santos and Ankalaev is just trying to find his way in.
Santos throws a heater to back Ankalaev off and Ankalaev slips and lands a cheeky counter that stumbles Santos momentarily. He backs off and resets.
Ankalaev really takins his time here and Santos is waiting for him to commit to something so he can counter. Ankalaev lands a front kick. Moments later, Santos comes charging forward with a big combo and Ankalaev ducks under and wobbles Santos again with a counter. That’s twice now that Ankalaev has baited Santos in and the countered him.
More slow pressure from Ankalaev and the round is slowly ticking away without much of consequence happening. Ankalaev is getting Santos back to the fence but at this point it’s clear he wants to draw offense from Santos and then counter, not lead with his own.
So many feints.
Nothing of note happens before the horn sounds. Yeesh. Hope things pick up.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Ankalaev.
Round 2: Quicker pressure out of the gate from Ankalaev and more motion from Santos but still low on offense. Santos trying to keep his back off the fence more this round but he’s still getting backed up.Santos is upping his kicking volume and he’s landed a couple of good low kicks. Those have been his best weapon by far.
Ankalaev is quickly becoming infuriating to watch. He is getting what he wants from a positioning standpoint but he is absolutely refusing to throw anything until Santos throws. Santos is not biting so this is basically a staring contest halfway through the round.
Santos is occasionally throwing kicks, Ankalaev only throwing feints. For the love of all things, someone do something.
FINALLY, Santos steps in for a kick and Ankalaev responds with a counter and then catches Santos with a head kick as Santos backs off. Santos gets an arm up but it still lands.
Again nothing happens for a full minute. With short time, Santos lands a left hook over the top that drops Ankalaev! He seems okay but definitely got caught and Santos ends the round on top.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Santos, 19-19 overall.
Round 3: Well, at least something happened finally but Ankalaev appears fine at the start of this round. Perhaps it will put a fire under Ankalaev to actually try and win the fight.
Ankalaev again with the pressure and he lands a glancing head kick when Santos gets back to the cage. Santos is fine though and he’s working leg kicks and movement, waiting for a big counter.
Good teep from Ankalaev to the body gets Santos moving again but another leg kick lands on Ankalaev. He is doing nothing to stop those. I mean, Ankalaev is mostly doing nothing in general, but he’s really do nothing to defend the leg kicks.
Santos appears to have a speed advantage and that might be what is flummoxing Ankalaev but three minutes in and he finally decides to start throwing stuff and the two exchange some combinations that just miss landing, including a spinning back kick from Ankalaev.
Ankalaev lands another good body kick. He’s had a couple of those this round. Santos still going with leg kicks and honestly, it’s probably winning him the fight. Ankalaev checks a leg kick that opens up a cut on his shin. Short time in the round and Santos tries to get something going but Ankalaev counters back and they both come close to almost actually hitting one another.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Santos, 29-28 Santos overall.
Round 4: Round 3 could have gone either way but I refuse to score a round for someone who seems actively disinterested in putting forth offense.
Not the problem for either man this round though. Both Santos and Ankalaev come out swinging this round and very quickly a brawl erupts! Santos backs up Ankalaev and goes for a jump knee! Ankalaev returns fire! After the exchange Ankalaev appears to have won because Santos abandons his new aggressive tactic and starts backing up again and again, Ankalaev seems content to oblige. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Uh oh. Santos just took a DEEP breath and there are still 3 minutes left in this round. That is not good. And he then decides to go for it and eats a clean counter from Ankalaev. If Ankalaev simply committed to offense, he could probably start breaking Santos right now but he is still being very cautious. He does land another body shot though. He’s hit a few of those this fight and it may be paying dividends.
Santos starting to really try to land big shots now and every time he does, Ankalaev makes him pay for it.
With a minute left, Ankalaev ducks a punch and gets a bodylock on Santos, driving him to the cage and landing some knees. As Santos tries to rotate off the fence, Ankalaev gets an easy takedown and he’s in top half, landing some elbows until the horn sounds.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Ankalaev, 38-38 overall.
Round 5: By my card, this round will determine the winner and it appears that Ankalaev is the fresher fighter. But honestly, these have all been close rounds and the scores could be nearly anything. Both men should try to finish this.
A lot of motion with no real action to start. That’s from both men. Leg kicks from both sides after nearly a minute of feinting. Neither man looking particularly intent on making a statement here. This very much looks like two men who don’t won’t to lose.
Honestly, nothing much has happened through half the round. Some strikes but nothing major and all in singles. Ankalaev finally comes in and gets a body lock, forcing Santos to the fence where he starts kneeing the thighs. If Ankalaev has designs on a light heavyweight title shot, this ain’t the way.
Santos can’t get off the fence and Ankalaev appears happy to try and ride out a win here. Lots of pummeling and Ankalaev almost gets a trip takedown but Santos is able to fend it off. 40 seconds left and we are wall-and-stalling . So many baby knees. This fight is awful.
Mercifully, the final horn sounds.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Ankalaev, 48-47 Ankalaev overall.
Official decision: Magomed Ankalaev defeats Thiago Santos by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).