The lone heavyweight fight on the UFC Vegas 73 card found Swedish “Sledgehammer” Ilir Latifi paired up with hard-hitting Brazilian Rodrigo Nascimento.
Latifi entered UFC fight #17 on a two-fight win streak. In comparison, Brazil’s Nascimento was making just his fifth walk to the octagon.
With the obvious size advantage against Latifi, a former light heavyweight, Nascimento stayed in front of Latifi early, connecting with a combo about a minute in. Latifi looked for a takedown attempt, then another, but his entry on both attempts was painfully slow. His left hand, however, did connect with Nascimento, backing the bigger man up momentarily.
Latifi began using that left hand to punch his way in, but the takedown still wasn’t there for Ilir Latifi. Nascimento, meanwhile, landed a hard left hook of his own.
Despite some big swings by both parties throughout the opening frame, Latifi and Nascimento would head to the second round. The heavy exchanges continued early in the second stanza, with Nascimento mixing in a kick to the body. Nascimento would have a decent amount of success on the feet — but Latifi managed to get the fight down towards the end of the round, finishing by dropping elbows while on top, in guard.
Nascimento pressed the action early in the third, walking Latifi down, using his jab, and backing the Swede up against the fence. Latifi circled out, with Nascimento walking him to the other side of the octagon. Latifi fired his left hand, a big shot answered by a bigger one from Nascimento, that appeared to stagger Latifi for just a moment.
Latifi went after a takedown near the midway mark of the round, but the action was halted as ref Herb Dean took away the position after Latifi grabbed his opponent’s shorts. Dean also warned Latifi that a point would be taken the next time it happened. Regardless, Latifi landed a takedown moments later, only for Nascimento to quickly wall-walk up. Latifi stayed on him, pressing the larger man into the fence. Nascimento would free himself with about 15 seconds left in the frame; they’d finish at center, with the third round like in favor of the Swede.
Come the scorecards, two judges had it for Rodrigo Nascimento. That’s his second straight split decision win, following a victory over Tanner Boser last year.
Official Result: Rodrigo Nascimento def. Ilir Latifi by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)