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Heading into their fight at UFC 218, Yancy Medeiros and Alex 'Cowboy' Oliveira were riding a combined 5-fight finishing streak. Two sluggers with pretty high levels of durability. As Jon Anik proclaimed on the microphone seconds before the fight started, this was matchmaking at its finest.
Medeiros entered the fight as a moderate underdog (+200) against the #15 ranked Oliveira. Within the space of 40 seconds of the opening round, Medeiros knocked Oliveira down. Odds, ranking numbers, and predictions went right out the window. A dogfight was about to ensue.
Oliveira did well to recover, returning the favour and knocking Medeiros down inside two minutes. Medeiros got back to his feet only to get dropped again. Oliveira swarmed the Hawaiian brawler with successive strikes to the chin and hooks to the body. Most fighters would have crumbled but Medeiros returned fire with some elbows in the clinch to keep Oliveira's volume at bay.
The rhythm and pace of the fight was not to be disrupted by the bell as the second round offered just as much excitement as the first. Medeiros started to take over with massive left hooks to the body that visibly slowed Oliveira down. At one point, Medeiros wobbled Oliveira whose immediate reaction was to stun his opponent with a step-in jab while on wobbly legs. Nothing summed up the chaos of this fight more than that moment.
Oliveira kept the round competitive with a flurry of kicks to the body.
Even when the fight looked set for some sloppy and exhausting grappling, the two managed to make it exciting. Going for a trip takedown on Medeiros, Oliveira found his attempt reversed and ended up on his back. Had there been a few more seconds left on the clock, the fight might have ended. Medeiros landed a couple of hellacious elbows on Oliveira - the type that shaves a few years off your life at the very minimum.
Round three saw Oliveira attempt some more grappling exchanges, most notably a rear-naked choke attempt. Medeiros expertly reversed the position to get the fight back to the feet. In this sequence, Medeiros hurts Oliveira with a few left hooks to the body that push him to the fence. A big knee to the head in the clinch spelled the beginning of the end for the Brazilian. Medeiros bookended his flurry of strikes with a devastating right hook that drops Oliveira and draws a stoppage from the referee.
By the end of the night, Medeiros and Oliveira were awarded $50k bonuses for Fight of the Night - that may not mean much to you, dear reader, but they fought on the same card as Eddie Alvarez x Justin Gaethje. That should tell you just how incredible the fight was.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/61095/yancy-medeiros-vs-alex-oliveira-ufc-218
The fight is also available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GovBt1RE-xQ