UFC Vegas 89, The Morning After: Payton Talbott delivers star-making knockout, but did anyone see it?

Two talented young Bantamweights met in the Octagon last night (Sat. March 23, 2024) at UFC Vegas 89 when Payton Talbott and Cameron Saaiman collided on the main card. One walked away with a sensational knockout win, while the other was left struggling to walk at all.

The short summary of the fight is that it’s nearly impossible to overstate Talbott’s dominance.

At no point in the six or so minutes of the fight did Talbott seem remotely concerned about his opponent’s offense. That’s generally true of his style and approach to combat, but he seemed especially zoned in. From the literal first bell, he was lancing Cameron Saaiman with powerful combinations, walking him into the fence, then lining up powerful counters when Saaiman gamely tried to swing back.

There was nowhere for Saaiman to go. He couldn’t stand and trade with Talbott, who clearly him him outgunned in fluidity and power. Nor could he circle the cage, as Talbott kept trapping him and unleashing varied attacks. When Saaiman tried to wrestle, he ran directly into vicious knees that should’ve turned his lights off.

It’s only because of Saaiman’s remarkable toughness and durability that the fight saw the second, and that’s part of what’s important here: Saaiman is a good prospect. The 23-year-old South African started his UFC career with a three-fight win streak, and he gave another talented and more experienced prospect in Christian Rodriguez a tough fight in his most recent appearance. He’s got good technique and good athleticism and Payton Talbott made him look helpless anyway.

It’s exactly the type of win that elevates Talbott from the ranks of any other Contender Series product or just another Bantamweight contender. At least, it should be the kind of victory that raises Talbott’s profile significantly, but it’s hard to be sure if anyone is really going to take note.

UFC Vegas 89 was not a star-studded event. It delivered a ton of finishes, but it wasn’t a must-watch show. Hardly any ranked fighters were on the card, and outside of Talbott, there weren’t many standout prospects filling up the evening either. There were quite a few names even hardcore fans would be hard-pressed to remember.

How many people say Talbott’s masterpiece?

In a real venue filled with fans, the building would’ve been electric. It should’ve been a victory akin to Sean O’Malley stopping José Alberto Quiñónez, the kind of knockout that forces the fanbase to recognize a young fighter coming into his own. Statement-making performances only matter if anyone is around to hear them!

That’s my purpose behind this article, to implore fans to remember this performance or make a note to go back and watch it if they skipped the event. Talbott delivered on every level last night, and the victory should have a major impact on his career.

The silver lining is a slow rise is probably healthy for Talbott, who didn’t perform so flawlessly in his UFC debut. If UFC wants to book another opponent or two at the same level, more cage time would only benefit Talbott’s development.

Just make sure those fights take place in front of a live crowd.

For complete UFC Vegas 89 results, coverage, and highlights, click HERE.

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