Kay Hansen v. Jasmine Jasudavicius
The opening round of this bout showed Hansen trying to utilize her usual grappling dominance. However, she was met with more resistance than she is used to being that she is now in a higher weight class with bigger and stronger opponents. After Hansen was unsuccessful with several takedown attempts it was eventually Jasudavicius who was actually the one to complete the only takedown. By the end of the round it was a close one to call and could’ve gone to either fighter in the judges eyes. In round two Hansen finally completes her first takedown and she does it almost immediately as the round starts. Unfortunately for her, Jasudavicius is able to reverse her very quickly and is once again the fighter on top and in control. She spends about a minute or so in that position but is eventually stood back up by referee Jason Herzog. Later in the round though, Jasudavicius is able to complete another takedown and once again finishes the round in top control. A clear cut round in the favor of Jasudavicius. Coming out in round 3, it is possible that Hansen could need a finish to get the win. In this final round there was no more grappling and it all played out on the feet with striking exchanges. Surprisingly, this appeared to be Hansen’s best round as she may have edged it out slightly with the striking. In the end however, it was not enough and the win was given to the newcomer making her UFC debut. Jasudavicius by unanimous decision.
Vanessa Demopoulos v. Silvana Gomez Juarez
This fight was short lived but highly entertaining. Juarez came out looking exceptionally precise and lethal with the striking. She landed a couple of brutal leg kicks and some sniper punches and eventually the shot came that brought everyone out of their seat. Juarez lands a full power, fully extended punch that landed 100% flush and dropped Demopoulos instantly. The fight looked like it would immediately be over but somehow Demopoulos survives and is able to scramble and evade the follow up punches enough to survive. Then out of nowhere, Demopoulos gets ahold of the arm of Juarez and pulls it between her legs deep while still on her back. Juarez scrambles and tries to escape but her elbow is well past the hips and she is in extreme danger. As Juarez squirms and tries one last desperate attempt to improve her position she lunges to another side and the arm is ultimately in more danger than ever. Juarez is forced to tap immediately because it was only a matter of seconds before the arm would’ve snapped if she didn’t. Demopoulos by first round submission.
Matt Frevola v. Genaro Valdez
This fight was absolutely insane. It’s quite possible that the round of the year for 2022 might’ve taken place in the very first month of this year. Both fighters came out swinging instantly and were throwing with full power. The crowd immediately started to erupt and as the exchanges continued both would land heavy shots but Frevola started getting the better of the exchanges. Eventually Frevola lands a nasty flush shot that drops Valdez instantly. Frevola follows up and continues to rain down shots but Valdez somehow survives and scrambles back to his feet. Valdez begins to throw back and they begin trading again but once more Valdez is dropped. Frevola chases him to the ground again with more vicious shots to get the finish but Valdez is able to survive and get back to his feet once more. At this point the entire arena is on their feet and screaming. The fighters continue to throw with reckless abandon and Valdez gets dropped again. Each time he drops it’s more and more violent. And each time it feels like the referee is going to step in and stop the fight. But Valdez is like a machine and is able to somehow survive and endure all this punishment. Once again he crawls his way back to his feet while still taking relentless shots. The announcers are losing their minds right along with the crowd. They continue trading punches and Valdez gets dropped AGAIN. He still is not out though and continues to scramble. After nonstop punches and a submission attempt followed by full mount, Frevola finally has Valdez pinned down enough to maybe get this fight finished. Valdez refuses to give up though and continues to scramble while taking punishment. Although Valdez still does not give up and continues to show the heart of a lion, this was one of those cases where the referee needed to step in and save the fighter from himself. The fight is finally stopped and an unforgettable round has just taken place. The crowd and announcers are still losing their minds. What a fight. Frevola by first round TKO.
Tony Gravely v. Saimon Oliveira
Although the opening round of this fight had a lot of action it was hard to follow the opening round of the fight that preceded it. In the opening part of the round Oliveira is taken down but is able to hang on to a whizzer for a long period of time which eventually results in him taking the top position. Gravely quickly reverses though but his neck is quickly snatched up and Gravely looks to be in serious danger as the guillotine looks to be in very deep. The choke looked so deep that all the announcers thought the fight would soon be over, especially since it was so early in the fight and both fighters are not yet sweaty or slippery. Gravely somehow remains composed though and is eventually able to get his head out of this vicious looking choke. From there he starts to take over the momentum and begins landing punches and submission attempts of his own. For the later part of the round Gravely remains in top control and is likely to have won the round in the judges eyes. In round two the grappling picks up again quickly and somewhat continues on the same path. It is Gravely who is getting the better of the grappling and landing the takedowns but it is Oliveira who continues to threaten with repeated guillotine chokes. Gravely remains calm every time though and is able to survive, escape and remain in top control. Another closely contested round but it may have gone to Gravely once again. As round three plays out is more of the exact same. Gravely with the takedown, Oliveira with the guillotine threats and Gravely escaping while keeping top control. Halfway through the round the fighters end up back on their feet but once again it is Gravely who initiates the clinch. From there it’s the same formula. Oliveira attempting a guillotine choke and falling to the ground. Gravely escapes and ends up back in top control. By the end of the fight it was a pretty exciting bout despite the fact that it was a rinse and repeat process throughout. In the end though, it was Gravely who had done more than enough. Gravely by unanimous decision.
Jack Della Maddalena v. Pete Rodriguez
Both of these fighters waste no time in getting started furiously. Both begin exchanging immediately and are mostly content to throw all punching attacks. Each fighter has their moments and take turns landing flush shots but it is Maddalena that begins to find his rhythm quicker. His smooth jab begins to take over and he starts putting together beautiful combinations. Rodriguez hangs tough though and continues to land his own hard shots but it doesn’t take long before the face of Rodriguez begins showing some serious damage. His nose is busted up badly and leaking blood profusely. Maddalena continues his pressure and continues landing heavy flush shots and eventually lands the big one. Rodriguez drops to the ground and Maddalena follows up with two more hard shots while Rodriguez is on the ground. The referee has seen enough and is forced to step in and stop the fight. A very impressive debut performance. Maddalena by first round TKO.
Raoni Barcelos v. Victor Henry
This fight brought yet another action packed opening round. The fight stayed on the feet for 99% of the round with both fighters exchanging nonstop heavy punching flurries. For the first four minutes it was Barcelos who was getting the clear advantage in the striking exchanges. He landed flush several times but Henry displayed his toughness as none of the shots ever seemed to truly phase him or discourage him. In the final minute of the round it is Henry that starts picking up momentum of his own. He rocks Barcelos a little bit and even has him looking a little fatigued while slightly wobbled. Barcelos clinches though and is able to hang on and finish the round. When the fighters come back out in round two they pick up right where they left off. The fight continues to play out on the feet and both fighters take turns having momentum changes as they continue to trade punching combinations. Henry is making an unbelievable account of himself for making his UFC debut against such a high class and experienced UFC veteran. In fact, as razor close as the fight is being contested, it might even by Henry who is edging it out. To make it even crazier, Henry is not only making his debut but he took the fight on short notice. As the final round plays out both fighters continue to impress. Barcelos still continues to have his moments but overall it always just feels like Henry is slightly edging him out with volume, damage and pressure. When the final buzzer sounds Barcelos is clearly tired and fairly busted up in the face. Henry makes one of the best UFC debuts we have ever seen considering who he fought and how short of a notice that he took the fight on. Although the fight was action packed and closely contested, the judges thought Henry had done enough for the clean sweep. Henry by unanimous decision.
Michael Morales v. Trevin Giles
Trevin Giles makes his welterweight debut in this fight after moving down from middleweight. He comes in looking fit and well prepared as if the new weight cut was a successful one. He starts off looking deadly landing a couple of very heavy leg strikes and then a blistering punch that lands flush with full power. Morales drops instantly but tries to hop up quickly as Giles rushes him towards the cage and clinches. This is always such a frustrating thing to see. Fighters hurt their opponent and instead of staying disengaged and continuing to work with strikes they clinch and allow their injured opponent time to recover. Once Morales recovers he begins to do his own work. He eventually lands a shot that hurts Giles and begins to build momentum. What he does differently than Giles is continue to pressure with strikes rather than clinching and allowing Giles time to recover. Giles tries to scramble and survive but he makes another common mistake. He is able to dodge some of the follow up strikes which is good, but where he messes up is trying to throw back while wobbled and off balance. This never works out for the injured fighter. Not only are the shots slower than they think, they are usually off target and when they miss the fighter is once again out of position and able to be blasted once again. This is exactly what happened. Giles throws wild desperate shots, misses, and is hit several more times flush to drop him again. The referee is left no choice but to step in and stop the fight. Morales by first round TKO.
Cody Stamann v. Said Nurmagomedov
This fight was completely one sided and short lived. Stamann comes out aggressive with pressure and walks down Nurmagomedov. But every time he enters he gets hit with blistering shots and from different limbs and angles every time. He’s getting hit flush and extremely hard every time. He rushes in and grabs a body lock but as he takes Nurmagomedov down aggressively his neck is snatched up instantly. Nurmagomedov locks it up tight and within seconds Stamann is forced to tap out. An absolutely dominant and horrifying performance by Nurmagomedov. Nobody has ever treated Stamann in that way and made such short work of him. It was completely one sided. Nurmagomedov by first round submission.
Michel Pereira v. Andre Fialho
As per usual with a Michel Pereira fight, the opening round was very exciting. He came out doing wild movements, lightning kicks and flying punches from jumping off of the cage. But Fialho was not phased by any of this and knew that patience and pressure was the key to break down a wild and dynamic fighter like Pereira. Fialho eventually starts landing hard shots of his own and not only begins to wobble Pereira but the pressure also begins to fatigue him as well. As the first round comes to a close it is Fialho who appears to have done enough to edge it out. In round two however, Pereira comes out like a lightning bolt. He hurts Fialho immediately and blitzes him with follow up shots. Fialho survives but he is hurt several more times throughout the round. The expression of Fialho’s face begins to change as he begins to accrue more and more damage. He hangs tough though and still finds his own moments to not only throw back but to also sting Pereira occasionally as well. Round two ends up being an incredibly fun round to watch and a true momentum change in the favor of Pereira. Going into the third round the fight may now be tied up at one round a piece. To start the third round Fialho begins to walk down Pereira and get on the inside which is how he found success in the first round. Pereira starts addressing it though and begins to evade and sting again. The round remains competitive and it appears that in the last minute the fight is still up for grabs. Both throw their final flurries to end a very exciting fight and it is anyone’s guess as to who the judges will grant the victory to. In the end though, it was Pereira who had done enough. Pereira by unanimous decision.
Brandon Moreno v. Deiveson Figueiredo
Brandon Moreno has never looked more focused before a fight. The light hearted character is no longer there as Bruce Buffer is announcing his name. He looks angry and possessed. As the first round starts Figueiredo immediately starts working on the calf kicks. He lands a couple of flush ones on Moreno that have a serious impact. Moreno shakes them off but we all know that fighters can only take so many of those. Moreno lands the better punches throughout the round but Figueiredo continues the leg kicks and is clearly trying to make an investment in them for later in the fight. By the end of the second round Moreno may have done enough to edge it out. Going into the third round both fighters still seem fresh and locked in. But the most notable storyline that is developing is the continued leg kicks that Figueiredo is landing which Moreno does not seem to ever address. They slowly become money in the bank and Moreno’s mobility slowly begins to decrease. This allows the punches for Figueiredo to start landing more. Round three appears to subtly start to turn in the favor of Figueiredo. Moreno is incredibly tough but the leg kicks are never about the toughness of the fighter. They are always about the leg stiffening up and no longer working properly. Round four was very close but it may have gone in the favor of Figueiredo as well. It’s a very tough fight to call and it could easily be tied going into the final round. It’s like these fighters were born to fight each other. In the beginning of the fifth Moreno lands a quick takedown. The crowd erupts but it is short lived. Figueiredo waits for his moment and beautifully scrambles back to his feet. A clear display that his cardio is in tact for this title fight. Both fighters continue to trade strikes throughout the round and as the final buzzer ends it is unclear who the winner is. A beautiful performance by both fighters. It feels like another draw could be possible but in the end, the judges thought that Figueiredo had done just enough. Will we perhaps see these two men fight for the fourth time? Figueiredo by unanimous decision.
Francis Ngannou v. Ciryl Gane
The opening round of this main event title fight was one where you hold your breath. Anytime Francis Ngannou fights however, you hold your breath. Especially in the first round. Ciryl Gane knew he had to be perfect in this fight. No single shot can land flush. Even a grazing shot can injure you when you fight Francis Ngannou. Ngannou stalks Gane the entire first round as Gane circles the outside and occasionally throws shots to keep Ngannou at bay. Every time he throws, Gane moves frantically to stay just out of the way enough. He even shoots a partial takedown attempt just to give Ngannou extra things to think about as well as making his muscles expend that much more energy. After the first round Gane may have done just enough due to a bit more volume than Ngannou. In the second round Ngannou continues to stalk but the fighters are starting to settle in and the pace is a little more slowed. The crowd begins to get restless but they may be forgetting what high stakes chess is taking place in front of them. Zero mistakes can happen with these two fighters. You have to be perfect. One minute into the third round Gane throws a kick and Ngannou catches it and slams Gane onto his back. It is the first time Gane has ever been on his back in his entire 8 fight UFC career. He finally has a tiny ding in his 100% takedown defense stat. With everyone holding their breath Gane is able to defend all the scary shots raining down on him and somehow scramble back to his feet with the crowd now fully engaged. Gane clinches Ngannou against the cage and chips away at him. The fighters then work back to the center of the cage and in the last 30 seconds Ngannou gets yet another surprising takedown. A very impressive new wrinkle in the game of the champion. As round four begins to play out Gane continues to pick Ngannou apart from the outside as Ngannou walks forward and marches him down. Then out of nowhere Ngannou lands another shocking takedown. We have never seen this approach from the champion. Gane seems just as surprised as all of the spectators. Going into the final round Ngannou may be up strictly off of his wrestling success. Something we never thought we would ever see. In the final round we finally see Gane get a takedown of his own. Unfortunately for him he eventually makes a wrong move and the position is reversed. We once again see Ngannou in top control. Unbelievable. He spends the remainder of the final round on top and appears to be coasting the final minutes feeling like he is sitting on a lead. We may have just witnessed one of the most dominant heavyweight knockout artists in history win a fight off of his new wrestling game. Something nobody was prepared for. When the judges score cards are finally in, they saw it the same way. And still… Ngannou by unanimous decision.