Azamat Murzakanov v. Tafon Nchukwi
The opening round of this bout saw Murzakanov swinging extremely heavy shots with what appeared to be a decent speed advantage. Nchukwi threw shots with slightly less power but with a wider variety of different strikes. In the later part of the round Murzakanov appeared to be slowing down slightly which could be due to him usually ending his fights in the first round. As the second round began to unfold it was now very clear that Murzakanov was definitely slowing down. Every time he tried wrestling it was clear that Nchukwi was just too big and strong to ever budge. This contributed to the slowing down of Murzakanov. As the round progressed Nchukwi started picking up steam and was clearly out landing Murzakanov. Although the first round was close, the fight could’ve easily been two rounds to zero in favor of Nchukwi going into the third round. To start the third it appeared that all the momentum was in favor of Nchukwi. The third round starting unfolding similarly to how the second round did with Murzakanov still seeming fatigued and trying to survive. Then out of nowhere, Murzakanov lands a punch that wobbles Nchukwi backwards. Murzakanov chases after and lands another flush shot. After that he then leaps in with a flying knee and catches a wobbled Nchukwi flush on the chin as he was trying to duck and evade. This knee was so devastating and was one of the more violent knockout blows that we have seen in a while. A very exciting and dramatic comeback for Murzakanov in an extremely violent fashion. Murzakanov by third round KO.
Guido Cannetti v. Kris Moutinho
This fight was short lived. Moutinho was coming into this fight after making his UFC debut in a high profile fight against Sean O’Malley. Although Moutinho did not get the win in that fight, his toughness was shocking and had the whole MMA world talking highly of him. Cannetti came into this fight needing a win pretty badly. The opening round started with Moutinho walking forward with no regard, as per usual in his fights. Moutinho started landing a couple of punches and a kick or two but from there on out it was all downhill. Cannetti starts landing flush punches and then starts pressing forward with blitzes once he senses that he has Moutinho hurt. Cannetti lands punch after punch with flush power and once again Moutinho’s toughness is showing as he somehow doesn’t fall. Unfortunately for him though, the punches are landing with too much power and consistency that leave referee Herb Dean no choice but to step in and stop the fight. An impressive performance by the 42 year old Cannetti to help him get back on track in dramatic fashion. Cannetti by first round TKO.
Cody Brundage v. Dalcha Lungiambula
This fight was another short lived fight but was filled with action. As with any Lungiambula fight, the opening round against him is by far the most dangerous. Brundage started off okay and was able to evade the big explosive shots from Lungiambula that always come with huge power in the first round. However, once Brundage started to wrestle he was getting hit with hard shots while holding on to a single leg. He then attempted to switch to a double leg and was still getting hit with more hard shots while struggling to complete the takedown. After taking several hard shots, even one that appeared to rock him, he’s forced to let go of the grappling attempts which is when Lungiambula really starts to pour on the extremely intense barrage of shots. Brundage with his back against the cage and on shaky legs, continues to get hit with very violent attacks but is somehow able to evade the one final shot each time that probably would’ve stopped the fight. As the spectators hold their breath, Brundage keeps rocking back and forth and is somehow able to keep surviving the barrage. The referee was right there the whole time and was very close to stopping the fight. Brundage continues to evade the finishing shots and eventually Lungiambula goes for a takedown of his own. This proved to be his fatal mistake. As he’s attempting the takedown, Brundage quickly grabs onto the neck and locks in a very tight guillotine with lightning speed. Lungiambula tries to escape for a few seconds before he realizes there is no hope. He is forced to tap out fairly quickly. A very intense trial of fire for Brundage but he’s able to come back with success on the other side. Brundage by first round submission.
Sabina Mazo v. Miranda Maverick
Maverick comes into this fight needing a win after suffering a decision robbery in a fight she clearly won against Maycee Barber then losing fairly to Erin Blanchfield. Mazo, the much taller and longer fighter is most dangerous with her head kicks. Maverick’s easiest path to victory in this fight would be the grappling approach. In the opening round Maverick comes out aggressive as she usually does. She trades a few punches with Mazo and throws a kick or two for good measure. Once she has Mazo sitting down on her strikes Maverick ducks under and quickly gets the smart takedown. Mazo is able to eventually get back to her feet but Maverick quickly takes her back down again. For the most part Maverick spends a majority of the round in top control which helps her to clearly win the first round. In the second round the fighters began trading strikes on the feet again and Maverick, although shorter, is getting the better of the exchanges. She waits just long enough to take Mazo’s mind off the grappling before she quickly ducks under again and is able to land another very convincing takedown. From there she is able to take the back and lock in a tight rear naked choke. Mazo tries to fight it off but it doesn’t take long before Mazo sees there is no escape. She is forced to tap out. A very nice win for Maverick to get back on track. Maverick by second round submission.
Damon Jackson v. Kamuela Kirk
This fight was a very good fight between two highly valued prospects. Both have very good grappling skills but Jackson has also been known for relentless cardio and the ability to hang in there to find victory late, even if he’s losing the entire time. As the fight starts, Jackson blitzes forward aggressively taking zero time to feel out the range. He starts throwing punching combinations immediately and walking Kirk down. Kirk is a slick striker so for the most part he was able to evade but Jackson was catching him occasionally. Later in the round Jackson lands a shot that slightly wobbles Kirk on two separate occasions. Then in the final minute, Jackson grabs a body lock and is able to take Kirk down fairly easily. He then is able to manhandle Kirk on the ground and quickly improve his positions. A clear cut round for Jackson. In the second round Jackson comes out and immediately sprints in for the takedown. He later said that after the grappling exchange in the first round, he felt he had a very clear advantage there so his plan after the first was all grappling. He once again has his way with Kirk on the ground and is constantly landing strikes and rotating between different positions. He spends almost the entire round in top control but in the final minute he is able to quickly lock in a head and arm choke. Kirk, a blackbelt in BJJ tries to hang on and survive the choke is tight. Kirk is left no choice but to tap out. A very impressive win for Jackson. Jackson by second round submission.
Trevin Jones v. Javid Basharat
The opening round in this fight was evenly matched to start. But as the round progressed it began to turn into a striking clinic by Basharat. He throws some devastating body kicks and later lands a punch that hurts Jones, wobbling him backwards. Basharat then starts a flurry where he continues to land consecutive full power strikes that continue to obliterate Jones. The injured jones begins to wilt while leaning against the cage and taking repeated powerful attacks. He somehow is able to remain on his feet though and is surprisingly able to make it to the end of the round. A very clear cut winning round for Basharat. In the second round Jones comes back out looking recovered. They continue to trade strikes and this round ends up being a much more competitive round. Both fighters trade and have their moments and by the end of the round it was a tough one to call. The round could have gone to either fighter in the judges eyes. In the final round, both fighters come out knowing that it could possibly be tied in the judges eyes. However, it could also be two rounds to zero in favor of Basharat. As the final round begins to unfold it is once again a closely contested striking battle. In the final couple of minutes Jones begins to pick up his intensity and take some risks knowing that he was probably down in the fight. Basharat is able to evade and stay safe while still landing shots of his own. Another close round but in the end the judges felt that it was Basharat who had done enough. Two of the judges had given him all three rounds while the other judge gave him two out of three. Basharat by unanimous decision.
Gillian Robertson v. JJ Aldrich
This fight was more or less a tale of the grappler versus the striker. Although Robertson is known for her grappling, she was smart to come out and engage in the striking for a while in order to look for grappling opportunities. When Robertson finally did attempt any kind of a takedown, Aldrich was far too wise to it and was able to evade. Robertson never came close to completing a takedown in the opening round. In fact, it was Aldrich who was the only one to complete a takedown although it was in the final five seconds of the round. A close first round but it appeared to be in the favor of Aldrich. In the second round the fighters start off in the same rhythms but eventually Robertson is finally able to get Aldrich to the ground and take her back. Unfortunately for Robertson it is short lived and Aldrich is able to reverse and end up being the one on top and in control. The fight resumes on the feet and although close, it always seemed to be Aldrich to get the slight edge in the striking exchanges. Going into the third round Aldrich is clearly ahead two rounds to zero. Robertson comes out knowing she needs a finish but once again Aldrich is too wise to Robertson’s game plan. Robertson is never able to get the takedowns and be in control on the ground like she wanted to. Aldrich continues to edge her out in the striking and just always seemed to be a step ahead in the fight. All three judges gave her every round. Aldrich by unanimous decision.
Matt Semelsberger v. AJ Fletcher
The opening round of this fight was all Fletcher. He comes out aggressive and throws some hard strikes but it doesn’t take long before he does a powerful blast double and takes Semelsberger down with authority. From there he controls the entire round in top control. He goes back and forth between landing ground strikes and putting Semelsberger in submissions that he has to scramble out of with urgency. Some of the submission attempts looked to be very close as was evident by the urgency on the face of Semelsberger and the scrambling intensity of his body to escape. A clear cut winning round for Fletcher. In the second round Semelsberger is once again dominated early in the round by the sheer power of Fletcher. Another few hard strikes are landed by Fletcher followed by another very powerful takedown. This time Semelsberger does not settle though and is able to quickly scramble back to his feet. He then fights off one more takedown attempt by Fletcher and later in the round is able to get a takedown of his own. From there Semelsberger is able to remain in top control and land some very good ground strikes. He may even have done enough to steal the round considering he opened a pretty significant cut on the side of the head of Fletcher. In the final round it is more extremely competitive back and forth exchanges. Fletcher once again lands another good takedown but Semelsberger is able to get back up with minimal damage. Then later in the round Semelsberger is able to land his most dominant takedown of the fight where he picks up Fletcher off of the ground and slams him down violently. From there he controls a good amount of time and even opens up a big cut on the face of Fletcher now. Fletcher gets back up in the final minute and they have a huge flurry to end the very exciting dog fight. A very close fight but in the end the judges thought that it was Semelsberger who had done just enough to come back after losing a dominant first round for Fletcher. Semelsberger by unanimous decision.
Alex Pereira v. Bruno Silva
Pereira comes into this fight being one of the hottest new topics in the UFC. A world renowned kickboxer who has actually beat the UFC middleweight champion in the past twice at kickboxing, even knocking him out once. In his UFC debut he looked great showing good grappling defense and obviously elite level striking. He comes into this fight and matches up against a BJJ black belt who has won his last three fights by knockout. In the opening round Silva engages in the striking exchanges and although he holds his own he finally elects to go for a takedown late in the round after tasting the power of Pereira. The round finishes after being close but it seemed that Pereira might have edged it out on the scorecards. In the second round Silva once again engages in the striking but he once again is not getting the better of the exchanges. He lands another takedown but Pereira once again displays great ability at getting back up. The round is close again but at its conclusion it feels like Pereira is now up two rounds to zero. In the third round Silva continues to engage in the striking but this time he is rocked several times. Pereira hits him flush at least twenty times in the final round and although Silva is clearly hurt, he never goes down and displays his insane toughness. The fight was a very exciting contest but Pereira once again displays his elite level striking and continues on his march to find his way up to the champion who he has already beat twice in the past. Silva by unanimous decision.
Terrance McKinney v. Drew Dober
This fight was all action and one you forget to breathe in. McKinney comes in like a missile and immediately lands flush dropping Dober instantly. He follows with non stop flurries and although Dober is able to get back up while under an insane attack, he once again gets hit flush an dropped again. McKinney continues to pour on the barrage and there were several moments where the referee was about to stop the fight. It seemed like there was only one more unanswered punch needed to stop the fight on several different moments. But each time Dober would show the slightest sign of life and still trying to survive. In miraculous fashion, Dober is somehow able to survive and then get back to his feet and start fighting back. By this point McKinney has completely emptied his gas tank and is clearly exhausted. Dober then drops McKinney and lands a few follow up shots while McKinney is on the ground. Although Dober only landed a few follow up shots compared to the thirty or forty that McKinney had landed previously, it was the difference in body language that led the referee to make his decision. McKinney was completely out of gas and may not even have had the energy to get back to his feet even if he wasn’t being punched. An absolutely insane fight. Dober showing his toughness and veteran smarts. McKinney showing that he’s not just hype and is an absolute terror. He will learn from this and be better. Which is an absolutely terrifying thought for the rest of the division. Dober by first round TKO.
Khalil Rountree v. Karl Roberson
The first round of this fight was an all striking affair. Both fighters are lightning fast and hit with unbelievable power. Both fighters have their moments but it is Rountree who is the aggressor walking forward and who also lands the better strikes in the round. Roberson chose to spend a decent amount of time with his back to the cage where he could counter strike. He appeared to be most comfortable with that approach. In the second round however, Rountree comes out like an absolute assassin. He lands flush and hurts Roberson. What follows after that is one of the most violent and aggressive follow up attacks that you will ever see in the UFC. Like one of the announcers said, “he beat him down like Roberson owed him money”. It was absolutely dominant, aggressive and terrifying. What a performance by Khalil Rountree. Rountree by second round TKO.
Alex Caceres v. Sodiq Yusuff
The opening round of this fight was closely contested. Caceres is known to be the better grappler of the two but he was holding his own in the standup just fine. He landed some brilliant strikes on Yusuff and also was able to have some good grappling moments as well. Yusuff had his own moments though in the striking making it a very close round. However, with the grappling moments considered, it appeared that Caceres may have done just enough to edge out the first round. In the second round Yusuff started picking up momentum and having a lot better moments. Part of his success was due to the investment he had been making in the leg kicks. Caceres is very well known for his extreme movement and evasiveness. Yusuff was smart to chip away at the legs of Caceres taking away some of the mobility and making him a slightly more stationary target. Another close round but the second may have gone to Yusuff. Going into the third round it could very well be tied up at one round a piece. In the third Yusuff was still reaping the benefits of his early investment in the leg kicks. Yusuff not only was able to keep landing punches but he also continued to chip away at the leg. Caceres, although compromised, still was able to have his moments as well and showed his toughness. The round was close but it felt like Yusuff may have done enough to edge out the final round. The judges agreed and it was just enough to edge out the fight for him as well. Yusuff by unanimous decision.
Yadong Song v. Marlon Moraes
This was another short lived fight. Both fighters are known for being very precise and deadly strikers. Song comes out being the aggressor early and takes no time feeling out the distance. He stings Moraes early with a couple of good shots. Moraes throws back and although his strikes come close, he rarely lands much of anything. Song continues to be the aggressor and throw better strikes in higher numbers. It doesn’t take long before he lands flush and wobbles Moraes. He follows up with a flurry and Moraes tries to evade and survive. Moraes lasts briefly and tries to counter but eventually Song lands the devastating knock out blow. The referee rushes in to stop the fight before Song can even throw any follow up shots. A devastating KO in a very impressive and beautiful performance for Song against a very dangerous Marlon Moraes. Song by first round KO.
Magomed Ankalaev v. Thiago Santos
The opening round of this fight starts off somewhat tentative which can be expected in a five round main event with two extremely destructive strikers. When the two fighters do come together and trade they throw with full blast just barely missing. Later in the round though, Ankalaev does land occasionally and clearly wobbles Santos although nothing too extreme. Santos tries to be evasive and counter strike when he sees openings but for the most part he is unable to find his target other than some occasional leg kicks. A close first round but it appeared pretty clear cut for Ankalaev. In the second round Ankalaev stalks with a little more intensity and is backing Santos up against the cage like a coiled snake waiting to counter. The action is limited but when they do exchange it is still Ankalaev getting the better of the exchanges. However, towards the very end of the round Santos throws a counter overhand left that catches Akalaev on top of the head and drops him. Santos rushes to follow up but only has a few seconds before the round expires. This may have been enough to steal the round for Santos. In the third round Ankalaev comes out with what appears to be a little more respect for the striking of Santos. Both fighters remain very cautious throughout the round and only opening up at very specific moments that they see fit. When they throw it is still at one hundred percent power and usually comes within inches of landing. Santos continues to invest in the leg kicks and by the end of the third round he has now landed twenty total leg kicks. In the fourth round it is Santos who has the best striking moment as he hurts Ankalaev briefly and has a follow up flurry while Ankalaev is wobbled against the cage. However, late in the round Ankalaev lands a takedown which can be huge in a fight with such limited striking exchanges. The takedown is short lived as the round expires very quickly after. In the fifth and final round the fight could be up in the air. Ankalaev comes out with his thigh completely battered and showing different colors of pink and purple from the leg kicks of Santos. Both fighters continue to throw at full force in hopes of taking this fight out of the judges hands. At exactly halfway through the round Ankalaev clinches and starts to throw knees to the thigh of Santos. A smart tactic to try and edge out the final round. He spends the remainder of the round with Santos clinched up and taking shots from inside the clinch. This shuts down the offense of Santos and forces him to play defense. Although not the most fan friendly tactic, it appeared to be enough to win him the final round. This also proved to be enough to win him the fight. A mild main event but a chess match nonetheless. Ankalaev by unanimous decision.
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