Maheshate suffered the first loss of his UFC career in Las Vegas on Saturday night (local time). The Chinese lightweight dropped a decision to Rafa Garcia at the Apex Centre.
UFC Vegas 66 was Maheshate’s second appearance inside the octagon. The first could not have gone much better as he knocked out Steve Garcia (no relation) in the opening round in Singapore, picking up a $50,000 USD bonus for his efforts.
But after getting off to the perfect start he suffered a series of setbacks this week. First of all the 23 year old missed weight, coming in 3.5lbs over the lightweight limit and forfeiting 20% of his fight purse as a result.
These two lightweights are looking to make a statement tonight 😤
Rafa Garcia takes on Maheshate NEXT
— UFC (@ufc) December 17, 2022
Maheshate came out looking for the first finish and attempted no fewer than three flying knees in the opening round. But Garcia was scoring more consistently, landing jabs and straight rights upstairs and downstairs.
At the start of the second round Maheshate finally scored with a flying knee. A standing elbow from the Chinese fighter connected with the side of Garcia’s head and opened up a huge cut.
Blood was pouring out of the wound but it was nowhere near the eye so Garcia’s vision was not affected and the fight was allowed to continue. Maheshate appeared to be in the ascendancy but the Mexican was able to stall his progress with two takedowns and some ground and pound.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 17, 2022
Room for improvement
Maheshate landed another knee early in the third round but Garcia caught it and took him down. The Chinese fighter looked to land another flying knee but flew straight into a body lock.
Garcia picked him up, carried him halfway across the octagon and slammed him to the canvass before landing some ground and pound to finish the fight with a flurry. Maheshate had done the most damage but that single elbow was not enough to cancel out three rounds of dominance from the Mexican.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Garcia who improves to 15-3 but won’t be fighting for a while after sustaining that huge cut. Meanwhile Maheshate drops to 9-2 and has plenty of room for improvement in terms of both his weight cutting and his overall performance.
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Best of the rest
In the main event Jared Cannonier (16-6) beat Sean Strickland (25-5) by split decision. The winner was ranked #3 heading into this contest and could be in line for a shot at the middleweight title next.