Category: UFC reviews

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 3

THE COSCE brothers each earned a UFC berth as Season 4 of the Contender Series rolled on into Week 3, accounting for half of the total contracts handed out. Josh Parisian and Cheyanne Buys were the other worthy prospects to impress Dana White, while Kenneth Cross was the sole winner to leave without his signature required.


The younger of two brothers to enter the UFC APEX octagon, Louis Cosce impressed in the night’s featured bout, making quick work of the experienced Victor Reyna. Despite an age gap of 10 years and the fact that Reyna had not been finished by opponents such as Kevin Holland, Daniel Rodriguez, and Miguel Baeza, the 24-year-old required just over a minute to get the job done.

The Round 1 TKO finish means Cosce improves to 7-0 as a professional, with all of his wins coming via first round stoppages. He rushed in with thunder from the get-go, with a huge overhand left dropping Reyna, before punishing unanswered blows from the side forced the referee to step in.

His older sibling, Orion Cosce boasts a virtually identical record at 7-0, all by way of stoppages and topped by his Round 3 TKO victory on the night. The 26-year-old faced tough opposition in formerly undefeated ace Matt Dixon, and was the biggest underdog on the card.

After Round 1, that status seemed justified as Dixon imposed his wrestling will on Cosce. But the Team Alpha Male product made some terrific adjustments across the following periods, forcing his opponent to desperately shoot for takedowns and eventually ending the fight in brutal fashion as he reigned down blows from the crucifix position.

The only other finish of the night came via the fists of heavyweight prospect Josh Parisian (13-3), took just under four minutes to put away Chad Johnson by TKO. It was Parisian’s second Contender Series dig after a winning debut in 2018, but the TUF veteran did enough this time to extend his finishing streak to six.

Parisian was the much bigger man at 50lbs heavier than his opponent, making it count with hefty leg kicks and strength to keep the fight standing. A knee and punch on the clinch break spelled the beginning of the end, as Parisian followed Johnson to the mat and eventually closed the show with some nasty ground-and-pound.

In the sole women’s matchup of the night, Cheyanne Buys brought a bit of gangster to the cage, despite requiring all three rounds to get the nod over Hilarie Rose. Both strawweight were 4-1 and looked virtually identical on the tale-of-the-tape, but Buys proved much to powerful on the feet for her quicker opponent.

Buys, whose husband is also a budding MMA prospect, controlled the fight in the clinch and had more answers up top, while managing to escape the tricky grappling prowess of Rose with an emphatic early slam. She now enters a division in need of some fresh contenders, and should bring some good flair with her well-rounded style.

Kenneth Cross was the unfortunate winner not to earn a contract, having edged Kevin Syler via decision in the night’s opening bout. Cross, now 11-3 and on a five-fight win streak simply didn’t do enough to earn his shot, and seemed to gas out late in the grappling-heavy bout.

CONTRACTS: Josh Parisian, Orion Cosce, Cheyanne Buys, Louis Cosce


Louis Cosce def. Victor Reyna | TKO (punches) 1:12 Rd 1

Cheyanne Buys def. Hilarie Rose | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Orion Cosce def. Matt Dixon | TKO (punches) 4:42 Rd 3

Josh Parisian def. Chad Johnson | TKO (punches) 3:43 Rd 1

Kenneth Cross def. Kevin Syler | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

RESULTS | UFC 252 – Miocic seals status as the heavyweight GOAT

STIPE Miocic confirmed his status as the consensus UFC heavyweight GOAT, after edging Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision in their epic trilogy decider at UFC 252. The Ohio native (20-3), who fought in his seventh-straight UFC title bout now has four successful defences to his name, and improves his ledger against Cormier to 2-1.

Having battled Miocic three-consecutive times, ‘DC’ conceded that this may be the end of his legendary career, with another championship opportunity unlikely to present. Two of his three professional losses have come at the hands of Miocic, with the third part of the former double-champs’ other famous rivalry with Jon Jones.

The ‘and still’ champion was made to endure a raft of sneaky right-hand punches from Cormier throughout, but managed to remain upright through all of his adversary’s power while landing some heavy boxing combinations of his own. After being stunned at the end of Round 1, Miocic got his own back in the closing stages of Round 2, with a significant eye poke closing up Cormier’s left side in the third.

While Cormier looked to push the pace across the championship rounds, he was controlled well by the bigger man, Miocic in clinch engagements, which proved vital in nullifying the Olympian’s wrestling. Almost every five-minute period was as tight as they come, though Miocic’s diversity of strikes and control of position ultimately earned him the nod.

What’s next? It has to be number one contender, Francis Ngannou. Although, light heavyweight champion, Jones has also put his hat in the ring for a potential move up to heavyweight.


Jairzinho Rozenstruik could also be back on track for a shot at the heavyweight strap, after dispatching of former champion, Junior dos Santos in Round 2. ‘Bigi Boy’ was patient and respectful in his approach, but only required one clean combination to change the course of the fight.

The Suriname native swarmed on his seasoned opponent after dropping him with an uppercut and right hook, allowing him no time to recover as the referee duly stepped in. That’s now three-straight losses for ‘JDS’, while Rozenstruik (11-1) gains redemption for his punishing defeat to Ngannou in May.

The co-main event produced another banger, albeit if one of the competitors seemed to come away seriously compromised. Sean O’Malley was transported to hospital after potentially re-aggravating an old leg injury, which saw him stumble a couple of times during his fateful fight with Marlon Vera.

A clear underdog coming into the bout, Vera required just under five minutes to get the job done via TKO, pouncing on his flailing opponent and ending the show with some brutal elbows from top position. It remains unknown as to what exactly caused O’Malley’s leg to fail, as he was seen rolling his right ankle in the early stages. Despite that, the Ecuadorian pointed to his checking of O’Malley’s low kicks when queried in the post-fight interview.

Daniel Pineda was another to impress on the main card, halting the hype train of Herbert Burns with a second-round TKO victory. After six years out of the UFC octagon, Pineda made good on his return with an impressive performance on the mat against a renowned grappler. He ended the bout with some punishing elbows from the crucifix position, having proven much more active from top position than Burns.



Stipe Miocic [C] Daniel Cormier [1] | Decision (unanimous) 49-46, 49-46, 48-47
Marlon Vera def. Sean O’Malley [14] | TKO (elbows) 4:40 Rd 1
Jairzinho Rozenstruik [6] def. Junior dos Santos [5] | TKO (punches) 3:47 Rd 2
Daniel Pineda def. Herbert Burns | TKO (elbows) 4:37 Rd 2
Merab Dvalishvili [15] def. John Dodson [12] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27


Vinc Pichel def. Jim Miller | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-27
Virna Jandiroba def. Felice Herrig [15] | Submission (armbar) 1:44 Rd 1
Daniel Chavez def. TJ Brown | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Livia Renata Souza def. Ashley Yoder | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 30-27


Chris Daukaus def. Parker Porter | TKO (punches and knee) 1:28 Rd 1
Kai Kamaka III def. Tony Kelley | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28


RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 2

UFC president Dana White‘s recent vacation put him in a generous mood, as he handed out a record-equalling five contracts on the latest Contender Series instalment. Each winner on the five-fight card was awarded a shot in the elite MMA promotion, with Impa Kasanganay offered a bout in just 11 days.


26-year-old Kasanganay again made good in his second Contender Series dig, earning another decision victory to move to 6-0 as a professional. The Congolese-American was forced to make some adjustments after falling behind in Round 1, taking the fight to the ground over the next two periods where he would dominate with vicious strikes from the top and back.

His opponent, Anthony Adams has now lost twice on the UFC feeder show, and boasts an 8-2 record. At 32 years of age, time sadly appears to be running out for the promising American to get his shot at the bigtime.

The first finish of the night came via another dominant showing of ground-and-pound in the very next fight, as Canadian TJ Laramie laid enough damage on Daniel Swain to warrant a doctor’s stoppage at the end of Round 1. White was impressed with his savage nature on the mat.

While it is yet to be confirmed, Swain appeared to have injured his ribs throughout the first five minutes, most likely due to Laramie’s attacks to his midsection from top position. Laramie, now 12-3 with four-straight wins, was the biggest favourite on the card despite his opponent’s notable 30-fight professional career.

The youngest fighter to grace the octagon on the night, Cory McKenna put on her own grappling showcase, edging highly-touted BJJ practitioner, Vanessa Demopoulos via decision. The 21-year-old’s win was made even more impressive by the fact that most of bout was fought on the mat, where the Welsh native’s strength and well-rounded game came to the fore.

McKenna seemed unfazed by the submission threats that Demopoulos posed, savvy to each as she dominated from the top and survived a late triangle attempt. She looked comfortable on the feet too, landing a couple of big head kicks in the face of Demopoulous’ wild aggression. McKenna is now 5-1 with plenty of time to develop, while Demopoulos is likely to remain around the mark having been crowned the LFA strawweight champion in July.

There may have been a couple of TKO’s due to injury on the night, but Adrian Yanez made no doubt about his first round stoppage of Brady Huang with a perfectly executed performance. His 39-second finish was the fifth-quickest in Contender Series history, and ensured he was a lock for a UFC contract.

Yanez also earned comparisons to Jorge Masvidal for his movement and boxing style, which is exactly how he got the job done. He initially slipped out to land a right hand and dropped Huang with the following left hook, before closing the show with an accurate four-punch combo to showcase his killer instinct.

Fans won’t be forgetting his name in a hurry, especially after hearing of his heartbreaking journey to the top, and a tongue-in-cheek plea to his new boss: “help me quit my day job… that was me on part-time”. The 26-year-old is now 11-3 with eight finishes, and riding a four-fight win streak.

In the night’s featured bout, Joe Pyfer‘s unfortunate elbow dislocation brought an early end to his battle against UFC newcomer, Dustin Stoltzfus. Pyfer looked the much larger man and landed a nice single-leg takedown amid the first round action, before Stoltzfus broke free via some submission attempts from bottom.

That was where the beginning of the end ensued, as Stoltzfus shot in for his own takedown with a big lift which saw Pyfer brace for impact, but his arm gave way. It happened just as the fight was heating up, but Stoltzfus had done enough in White’s eyes to earn a contract. At 12-1 with 10-straight wins, he seems to be entering his prime as a fighter.

CONTRACTS: Impa Kasanganay, TJ Laramie, Cory McKenna, Adrian Yanez, Dustin Stoltzfus


Dustin Stoltzfus def. Joe Pyfer | TKO (injury) 4:21 Rd 1

Adrian Yanez def. Brady Huang | TKO (punches) 0:39 Rd 1

Cory McKenna def. Vanessa Demopoulos | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

TJ Laramie def. Daniel Swain | TKO (doctor stoppage) 5:00 Rd 1

Impa Kasanganay def. Anthony Adams | Decision (unanimous) 29-27, 29-27, 29-27

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 1

THREE fresh faces are set to enter the UFC after earning contracts on Dana White’s Contender Series, which returned for Season 4 this week. Jordan Leavitt and Uros Medic captured the attention of their new boss with first round finishes, while Dustin Jacoby is set to make his UFC return after taking out a unanimous decision victory.

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While the card was stripped down to four fights due to a late scrapping, those in action took full advantage of their spots to earn passage to the elite MMA promotion. As is often the case, the setting of a smaller UFC APEX octagon made for a bunch of high-pace action, kicked off by Leavitt’s Round 1 submission of Luke Flores.

Having fought as recently as July 17, Leavitt kept his momentum going to improve to 7-0 as a professional and take the next step in his MMA journey. The 25-year-old grappling ace wasted no time in securing a takedown – albeit unconventionally – and got to work with a series of transitions on the mat.

No slouch on the ground himself, Flores looked to stay busy from the bottom, but a poorly judged decision to pull guard spelt the beginning of the end for him. Leavitt snatched up the arm triangle in quick time, and celebrated with his now patented split.

Flores is now 0-2 in his Contender Series digs, which remain the only two losses on his professional record. At 32-years-old, time may be running out on any hopes of a UFC berth.

MMA judging again came under fire after Jerome Rivera got the unanimous nod over Luis Rodriguez, with the former’s volume of kicks and perennial forward movement perhaps sticking in the judges’ minds. Most significantly, two of the judges had him taking out all three rounds, totally discarding Rodriguez’s dominance in Round 2.

It was an incredibly close fight nonetheless, and the LFA vet is now 10-2 as a pro, but still yearns for his UFC contract. 22-year-old Rodriguez, who is now 11-2, was impressive on his flyweight debut and looked strong across each discipline. His wicked hooks, leg kicks, and takedowns all took toll across the bout, but his seven-fight win streak was ultimately broken.

It seems inevitable that we may see both men in the UFC someday though, and there was plenty to like about their well-rounded skillsets.

Arguably the performance of the night belonged to Serbian prospect, Medic, who lays claim to one of the great MMA nicknames – ‘The Doctor’. He put on a clinic too, taking out Mikey Gonzalez via TKO in Round 1 to send a resounding message to all UFC lightweights and welterweights.

As Nick Diaz would put it, Gonzalez began to throw ‘spinning shit’ early, but it proved ineffective in the face of Medic’s slamming body kicks. Medic had him folded with one early, but he snapped up one of his opponent’s legs to survive the incoming onslaught.

It took just a few more moments for Medic to land another though, with the referee stepping in as Gonzalez could only cover up against the fence. Unsurprisingly, the quick and nasty work warranted a ‘Goddamn’ from Uncle Dana.

Now 6-0, Medic has five first round finishes to his name, and a 100 per cent stoppage rate in his fledgling professional career. The rise to the top looks a steep one for the 27-year-old.

After eight years away from the promotion, Jacoby secured the final contract of the night in the featured bout, but required all three rounds to do so against a tough a durable Ty Flores. Having cut his teeth of late in Glory Kickboxing, Jacoby showed a clear striking advantage as he lit up Flores on the feet in Rounds 1 and 2.

The 32-year-old’s punishing straight punches and flurries with Flores backed up against the fence almost had the fight stopped in Round 2, with knees and elbows also thrown into the masterful striking display.

Jacoby seemed to have emptied the tank looking for an early finish though, with both men looking gassed as the pace completely slowed during the ultimate period. It mattered little for White as he granted Jacoby a second shot in the UFC, and he looks poised to make a mark at 205lbs as he enters his fighting prime.


Contracts: Jordan Leavitt, Uros Medic, Dustin Jacoby

Dustin Jacoby def. Ty Flores | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 29-27, 29-27

Uros Medic def. Mikey Gonzalez | TKO (punches) 2:12 Rd 1

Jerome Rivera def. Luis Rodriguez | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27

Jordan Leavitt def. Luke Flores | Submission (arm-triangle) 4:15 Rd 1

RESULTS | UFC Vegas 5 – Brunson derails Shahbazyan hype train

THE UFC returned to Las Vegas this weekend after a successful venture out to Fight Island, with plenty of news for fans to wrap their heads around after the latest Fight Night. Once again hosted out of the promotion’s APEX Centre, UFC Vegas 5 boasted just eight fights across a compromised card.

The late scratchings of Timur Valiev, Ray Borg, and Eric Spicely had already sent matchmaking into a spin, before Gerald Meerschaert was pulled due to a positive Covid-19 test, and Trevin Giles was deemed medically unfit to fight after fainting right before he was due to make the walk.

It meant fans would go from being treated to a record 15-fight card last time out, to the lowest amount of scheduled bouts since UFC 177 in 2014. Adding to the apparent curse surrounding the event, a bizarre trend of groin strikes piled up into double digits, and led to one very costly point deduction.

There was still plenty of fun to be had, and we bring you the best of the action in our top-to-bottom card recap.

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#UFCVegas5 #UFCFightNight #UFCFightPass


FOTN: Vannata vs. Green
POTN: Vicente Luque, Jennifer Maia

KO/TKOs: 3
Submissions: 1
Decisions: 4


Experience counted for plenty as Derek Brunson handed rising middleweight prospect Edmen Shahbazyan his first professional loss. Ranked number eight at 185lbs, the American shrugged his gatekeeper tag and proved he was on a surge of his own, putting the 22-year-old away in Round 3.

Herb Dean and the ringside doctor took a good look at Shahbazyan come the end of Round 2, right after Brunson had very nearly put him out with some vicious ground-and-pound. The Armenian’s body language was telling, as Dean brought a merciful stop to the contest right as Brunson readied to unleash once again.

While all the hype surrounding this matchup spawned from either man’s ability to finish fast, a more reserved and patient Brunson would wear on his younger opponent with terrific chain wrestling pressure, combined with heavy hands both up top and on the mat.

The result may see Brunson, 21-7 push for top five status once more, but more significantly brings an abrupt end to the undefeated run of one of the UFC’s brightest up-and-comers. Now 11-1, Shahbazyan has plenty of time yet to regroup and rise to the top.

Shahbazyan wasn’t the only fighter whose plans were foiled, as Jennifer Maia snatched a title shot off Joanne Calderwood in the co-main event. Taking a fight in between her slated meeting with flyweight champ, Valentina Shevchenko was always deemed risky for ‘JoJo’, and proved an unnecessary one as she was submitted in Round 1.

Former Invicta champion, Maia looked dangerous in all departments, first landing good shots on the feet before getting to work as the fight hit the floor. After initially searching for a triangle, Maia transitioned to an armbar attempt, snatching up Calderwood’s arm and making the right adjustments as her opponent looked to scramble out, eventually yielding a tap.

Vicente Luque was another big winner in his main card dig, accounting for the unranked Randy Brown within two rounds. In what was Brown’s toughest test yet, matching the 11th ranked Brazilian proved a step too far as he fell victim to some nasty calf kicks, before Luque put him away in a beautiful finishing sequence.

Brown looked to be reaching for the mat to claim downed status, but was held up just enough to ensure his grasp would evade the floor and allow Luque to land a big knee to the head. Having crumbled his opponent, the Brazilian finished the job with punches and called out Nate Diaz post-fight.

Bobby Green and Lando Vannata produced a fight of the night performance to open the show, but it was mainly one-way traffic in favour of Green. The two men fought to a split draw in 2017, but there was no doubting this result as Green looked one step ahead on the feet to claim a dominant decision victory, his second-straight.


Derek Brunson [8] def. Edmen Shahbazyan [9] | TKO (punches) 0:26 Rd 3
Jennifer Maia [6] def. Joanne Calderwood [3] | Submission (armbar) 4:29 Rd 1
Vicente Luque [11] def. Randy Brown | KO (knee and punches) 4:55 Rd 2
Bobby Green def. Lando Vannata | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 30-27


Prospects emerged on the preliminary card, headlined by a slick performance from Jonathan Martinez in the featured bout. Against a tough veteran in Frankie Saenz, Martinez got his patented kicking game going with an awesome mix of strikes to the legs, midsection, and head. A beautifully timed knee going backwards got the job done in Round 3, after Martinez dropped Saenz multiple times with his left high kick.

At the opposite end of the card, Martinez’s teammate Chris Gutierrez fought to a unanimous draw against UFC debutant Cody Durden. The 28-28 scorecards told the story of Gutierrez being dominated on the ground through Round 1, but edging out Rounds 2 and 3. Despite taking two rounds to Durden’s one, Gutierrez’s early complacency cost him dearly.

Nate Maness and Jamall Emmers both ground out solid unanimous decision victories, with Maness’ win marred by a point deduction to his opponent, Johnny Munoz for illegal low blows. Emmers took on a late notice replacement in Vince Cachero, who looks like being a game bantamweight prospect having survived some big shots at featherweight.


Jonathan Martinez def. Frankie Saenz | TKO (knee and punches) 0:56 Rd 3
Nate Maness def. Johnny Munoz | Decision (unanimous) 29-27, 29-27, 29-27
Jamall Emmers def. Vince Cachero | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
Chris Gutierrez drew w/ Cody Durden | Decision (unanimous) 28-28, 28-28, 28-28

RESULTS | UFC Fight Island 3 – Whittaker edges Till in tense five-rounder

FIGHT ISLAND hosted its third and final UFC Fight Night on the weekend, with former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker taking out his headline dig against Darren Till via unanimous decision. The Australian returned to the winners list and halted Till’s run to the title all in one fell swoop, maintaining his number one contendership status in a tense main event which went the distance.

The 15-fight card equalled the promotion’s record for most bouts in a single event, matching the numbers put up all the way back in 1994 at UFC 2. Fearsome welterweight prospect Khamzat Chimaev ensured the records would keep on tumbling, as he completed the quickest turnaround victory in UFC history, defeating Rhys McKee just 10 days after his last outing in Abu Dhabi.

Catch up on all the results and more in our breakdown of the main card.


POTN Bonuses: Fabrício Werdum, Paul Craig, Khamzat Chimaev, Jesse Ronson, Tom Aspinall, Tanner Boser

Decisions: 8
KO/TKOs: 4
Submissions: 3


Robert Whittaker [1] def. Darren Till [6] | Decision (unanimous) 48-47, 48-47, 48-47

Whittaker and Till ensured their war would live up to the hype, as the two delivered a high-level, strategic striking battle across what was a gripping 25 minutes. Nine months after he relinquished his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya, the Australian staked his claim for a rematch having earned the nod over his English counterpart.

The number one ranked contender came out looking relaxed, landing his jab well as Till entered within range. But it wouldn’t take long for the fan favourite Englishman to find his own range, dropping Whittaker with a nasty elbow in one of many powerful exchanges amid the early goings.

Whittaker would see out the first period, before scoring a knockdown of his own in the second stanza via a big overhand right. He would follow Till to the mat and land some punishing elbows from top position, with the damage not only worn on Till’s face, but also on the lead leg that Whittaker was chopping up.

With respect earned on either side, both men took a touch more caution in their respective approaches. Till had recovered and Whittaker began to look a little wild as his adversary slipped out of range with aplomb, but his work on Till’s compromised limb and ability to change levels had him ahead in terms of points.

That kind of work in terms of volume played a significant factor in Whittaker gaining the upper hand, as he managed to land a greater amount of blows in response to Till’s heavy, but sparing combinations and left-hand missiles.

Needing to up his output, the enigmatic scouser began to push the pace, fighting Round 5 on his terms. While he managed to open up a big cut on Whittaker’s ear, his efforts were met by a couple of late and definitive takedowns to see out proceedings, as the Australian simply found a way to win.

Shogun Rua def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira | Decision (split) 29-28, 28-29, 29-28

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua inflicted a shutout in his trilogy fight against fellow Brazilian legend, Antonio Rogeria Nogueira, sending the 44-year-old into retirement on an unfortunately sad note. The two men know each other incredibly well, and the respect between them was evident amid a patient start.

But as the pair found their rhythm, Little Nog’s powerful left hand emerged and Shogun’s brutal kicking game also came to the fore. The bout became more of a brawl as the action wore on, with both fighters looking dangerous on the feet.

Rua seemed to finish the better of the two as they mixed some grappling into the show, with the 38-year-old landing some heavy shots up top and collecting a 27th career victory.

Fabricio Werdum [14] def. Alexander Gustafsson | Submission (armbar) 2:30 Rd 1

The theme of Brazilian stalwarts turning back the clock neither started nor ended in the co-main event, with Fabricio Werdum defying odds and age to take out Alexander Gustafsson in Round 1.

Much was made of a small rivalry between the two which extended back to a sparring session around a decade ago, but former champion, Werdum ensured Gustafsson’s entrance to the heavyweight realm would be a quick and fruitless one.

The Swede looked light on his feet and pumped his jab early, but it took one desperate chain of takedown attempts for Werdum to spell the beginning of the end. Having dragged Gustafsson down to the mat via his back, the 14th ranked Brazilian stepped over and looked to snatch up an armbar in transition, working on the grip with his belly down.

It took some adjustment, but Werdum was able to roll, extend his leg across Gustafsson’s face, pry his arm free and yield the tap in an impressive 2:30 performance. He’s simply world class on the ground.

Carla Esparza [7] def. Marina Rodriguez [9] | Decision (split) 28-29, 29-28, 30-27

Another former champion, Carla Esparza got the nod over Marina Rodriguez in their ranked strawweight bout, enforcing her strong wrestling game on the Brazilian to push further towards the top five.

Rodriguez looked the more potent of the pair on the feet, prompting Esparza to quickly shoot in on a beautiful takedown entry and eventually land in top position. While she could not quite find the distance to land damaging ground-and-pound, the American remained busy as her opponent looked to throw her legs up from guard.

Esparza made the near-costly mistake of looking for a submission late in the first two rounds having controlled them both, with Rodriguez using the scramble to get on top and cut her up with some nasty elbows.

The seventh-ranked contender survived, managing to frustrate and tire Rodriguez with her smothering grappling to see out another tight decision victory.

Paul Craig def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov | Submission (triangle choke) 2:06 Rd 1

Journeyman Scot Paul Craig made a claim for ranked status at light heavyweight, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov in just over two minutes. Craig managed to suck the Russian into his realm, accepting an early takedown and immediately getting to work from the bottom.

The 32-year-old threw up a triangle and despite eating some big shots for his trouble, managed to inch the choke in tighter and eventually yield the tap. It was a case of Antigulov opting to punch his way out, rather than fighting the position.

Alex Oliveira def. Peter Sobotta | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira looked as good as ever in his unanimous decision victory over Peter Sobotta, putting on a ruthless kicking display to dominate the three rounds. The Brazilian veteran landed repeated blows to his opponent’s body, turning his midsection red as the colour of his glove tape.

With Oliveira working so well at kicking distance, Sobotta could not quite muster up the right form of attack to get within range, with the 32-year-old controlling the action on the feet. He would drop Sobotta right before the Round 2 bell, and looked sharp across the full 15 minutes.

Khamzat Chimaev def. Rhys McKee | TKO (punches) 3:09 Rd 1

The UFC’s quickest turnaround victory was earned in brutal fashion, as Chimaev made it two wins in 10 days to improve to 2-0 in the UFC. Having made his debut at middleweight, the Swedish representative cut back down to the welterweight limit and put a swift beating on promotional newcomer, McKee.

McKee came in as Europe’s top prospect outside the UFC and was game to the task, but simply has no answer to Chimaev’s blanketing grappling and strength on the mat. The Northern Irishman struggled between full mount and back mount as his opponent reigned down unanswered hammer fists, eventually having the referee intervene at just over three minutes in to the bout.

Now at 8-0, Chimaev again took no damage en route to landing 68 total strikes to nil, taking his overall differential to 192-2 in his first two UFC digs. Welterweights beware.


Francisco Trinaldo def. Jai Herbert | TKO (punches) 1:30 Rd 3
Jesse Ronson def. Nicolas Dalby | Submission (rear-naked choke) 2:48 Rd 1
Tom Aspinall def. Jake Collier | TKO (punches) 0:45 Rd 1
Movsar Evloev def. Mike Grundy | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Tanner Boser def. Raphael Pessoa | TKO (punches) 2:36 Rd 2
Pannie Kianzad def. Bethe Correia | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Ramazan Emeev def. Niklas Stolze | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Nathaniel Wood def. John Castaneda | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 20-27

RESULTS | UFC Fight Island 2 – Figueiredo sleeps Benavidez to claim vacant flyweight title

IF there was any doubting it before, there can be no questioning now that Deiveson Figueiredo is the undisputed flyweight king, after defeating Joseph Benavidez for a second time at UFC Fight Island 2 this weekend.

It was the Brazilian’s fourth-consecutive win, and came just five months after putting the perennial American contender away via TKO, but being deprived of the belt having missed weight.

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He filed his name under the vacant championship rank this time, with the result now seeing Benavidez hold an 0-4 record in UFC title fights, and making it three champions he boasts two losses against, after Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz.

The quick, powerful, and accurate Brazilian again made light work of his veteran opponent, dropping him three times within an action-packed first round, and getting the job done via rear-naked choke after a series of submission attempts.

To the credit of Benavidez, he fought the position valiantly and made Houdini-like escapes from some incredibly compromising chokes, but could only withstand the onslaught for so long.

It made for difficult viewing as his eyes rolled back upon falling into unconsciousness, but only cemented his status as a true fighter with enormous heart.

Jack Hermansson was another to make quick work of his ranked adversary, submitting former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum in Round 1 via heel hook.

‘The Joker’, now 21-5 returned to the winners list in emphatic style, ducking under a flurry of Gastelum punches to land a takedown, before getting to work on the American’s legs.

After Gastelum survived an initial entanglement, Hermansson would not let slip on his second attempt, snatching up the hold once again to yield a tap from his opponent.

There were six decisions scattered across the card, and one of the more impressive distance victories came from Rafael Fiziev, who put on a striking clinic against the dangerous Marc Diakiese.

Fiziev, a coach at the famed Tiger Muay Thai, put his range of kicking skills on full show with some brutal shots to the body of his English adversary, all of which echoed through the empty Fight Island arena.

The 27-year-old easily took the first two rounds and withstood a late Diakiese surge, now improving to 2-1 in the UFC and 8-1 overall after going down in his promotional debut.

In the sole women’s matchup on the main card, Ariane Lipski lived up to her ‘Queen of Violence’ moniker with a brilliant kneebar finish of compatriot, Luana Carolina.

The Brazilian flyweight was on the hunt early, stalking her opponent before putting her down with power, resisting a calf slicer to eventually wrench up a savage kneebar and have Carolina reeling in pain.

The result sees Lipski improve to 2-2 in the UFC after a 0-2 start, with perhaps the weight of her legend prior to entering the promotion slowly lightening.

Rounding out the main card, Askar Askarov edged fellow flyweight contender and title fight back-up Alexandre Pantoja in a razor thin decision full of eye-catching scrambles.

Still undefeated, it was Askarov’s 12th professional win, and was earned though rallying in Round 2 and 3.

The accomplished grappler used his chain wrestling to wear of Pantoja, surviving an onslaught of early submission attempts to go on to tire the Brazilian and leave him with no real options on offence.


Deiveson Figueiredo [1] def. Joseph Benavidez [2] | Technical submission (rear-naked choke) 4:48 Rd 1
Jack Hermansson [6] def. Kelvin Gastelum [7] | Submission (heel hook) 1:18 Rd 1
Rafael Fiziev def. Marc Diakiese | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28
Ariane Lipski def. Luana Carolina | Submission (kneebar) 1:28 Rd 1
Askar Askarov [7] def. Alexandre Pantoja [4] | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28


Roman Dolidze def. Khadis Ibragimov | TKO (knee and punches) 4:15 Rd 1
Grant Dawson def. Nad Narimani | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 29-27
Joel Alvarez def. Joe Duffy | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:25 Rd 1
Brett Johns def. Montel Jackson | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Amir Albazi def. Malcolm Gordon | Submission (triangle choke) 4:42 Rd 1
Arman Tsarukyan def. Davi Ramos | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Serghei Spivac def. Carlos Felipe | Decision (majority) 28-28, 29-27, 29-27


KO/TKO – 1
SUB – 4
DEC – 6

FOTN: Fiziev vs. Diakiese
POTN: Figueiredo, Lipski

RESULTS | UFC Fight Island 1 – Prospects rise as Kattar remains in title hunt

FIGHT ISLAND played host to its first midweek UFC Fight Night event on Thursday, headlined by Calvin Kattar‘s unanimous decision victory over Dan Ige in a closely contested main event. All five fights on the main card went the distance after all-bar one of the preliminary matchups lasted less than three rounds.

Lerone Murphy, Khamzat Chimaev, and Modestas Bukauskas all earned performance bonuses for their stoppages, while Mounir Lazzez and Abdul Razak Alhassan produced the fight of the night. However, Alhassan was not awarded his bonus after missing weight earlier in the week, rubbing salt into the wound of his first career loss.

>> SCROLL for the full results.

The headline bout was a tight one, but showcased all of Kattar’s championship credentials as he strengthened heading into the fourth and fifth rounds. Two judges scored the bout 49-46 for the sixth-ranked featherweight, handing him four rounds to Ige’s one, with the consensus being that the Hawaiian stole Round 2.

Kattar is now the only fighter to have earned two wins since the leading promotion’s restart in May, spoiling Ige’s party as the first Contender Series graduate to headline a UFC event. He improves to 22-4 with a fourth win in five outings, snapping Ige’s six-fight win streak in the process.

While Ige’s volume and durability tested his opponent, Kattar boasted the superior power on the feet and was able to land heavily up top in between stuffing all of Ige’s seven takedown attempts. The victor’s jab dictated the pace and direction of the fight, as Ige visibly wore the damage of Kattar’s precise shots on his face.

In the co-main event slot, Tim Elliott showed why he is one of the promotion’s favourites in his high-paced decision victory over Ryan Benoit, who was less than pleased with the outcome. While the nod went unanimously in Elliott’s favour by two rounds to one, there could have been an argument to suggest Benoit had credit in the bank over the first two periods.

Nonetheless, Elliott’s greater time in mount, more active finish, and ability to ride out a tight kneebar attempt in Round 2 earned him a spot back on the winners list. Speaking of, Jimmie Rivera‘s year-long layoff was cut emphatically in his win over Cody Stamann, albeit up at featherweight.

Both men were slightly tentative in pulling the trigger while standing, perhaps due to the short notice and high stakes nature of the bout, but Rivera would land the bigger and more effective shots over the course of three rounds. It was a tight and technical battle, but Rivera had all the answers against an opponent he respected highly.

Two of the more impressive performances of the night belonged to Taila Santos and Lazzez, who jerked the curtain for the main card with respective decision wins. Santos looked a much improved fighter compared to her last bout, where she suffered a maiden professional loss.

The Brazilian dominated Molly McCann in every facet, using her length to advantage while punishing the advancing Englishwoman with brutal knees from the clinch and superb grappling technique. Her skillset was much too diverse in the end, and may well earn her a number come next week.

Lazzez showcased a similarly brilliant and well-rounded skillset in his enthralling bout with Alhassan, made to resist an early onslaught by the Ghanaian in order to get his own game going. In taking the early punishment, Lazzez was able to bring Alhassan into unknown territory past Round 1, while picking him apart with a clinical array of strikes to arguably take out all three rounds.


Calvin Kattar [6] def. Dan Ige [10] | Decision (unanimous) 49-46, 49-46, 48-47

Tim Elliott [13] def. Ryan Benoit | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Jimmie Rivera [8] def. Cody Stamann [9] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

Taila Santos def. Molly McCann [15] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Mounir Lazzez def. Abdul Razak Alhassan | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28


Khamzat Chimaev def. John Phillips | Submission (D’Arce choke) 1:12 Rd 2

Lerone Murphy def. Ricardo Ramos | TKO (punches) 4:18 Rd 1

Modestes Bukauskas def. Andreas Michailidis | TKO (elbows) 5:00 Rd 1

Jared Gordon def. Chris Fishgold | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-26, 30-26

Liana Jojua def. Diana Belbita | Submission (armbar) 2:43 Rd 1

Jack Shore def. Aaron Phillips | Submission (rear-naked choke) 2:29 Rd 2

RESULTS | UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal – Aussie Volk ends the Blessed era

IF you forgot how tense the atmosphere during just one UFC title fight is, allow us to remind you of the feeling with three in one night. That was exactly what was delivered at UFC 251, as Kamaru Usman and Alexander Volkanovski retained their titles, while Petr Yan joined the club at bantamweight with his late stoppage of Jose Aldo.

In a night which saw plenty of octagon time chewed up, all three title bouts entered the championship rounds, with a further six going the distance over 15 minutes. A TKO and submission stoppage buoyed the main card, but performance of the night honours went to two fighters from the undercard, who boasted the only KO’s of the event.

We recap all the main card action from the UFC’s first venture out to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, including our immediate reactions and own scorecards.

>> SCROLL for full results.

FOTN: Andrade vs. Namajunas
POTN: Jiri Prochazka, Davey Grant


Kamaru Usman [C] def. Jorge Masvidal [3] | Decision (unanimous) 50-45, 50-45, 49-46

Reaction: Street Jesus endures a Nigerian Nightmare.

If you didn’t like it, I don’t care. Kamaru Usman‘s list of five round dominations now includes the name of one Jorge Masvidal, who put in a valiant effort against the undisputed champ, but had little in the way of answers on just six days notice.

Usman simply did what was required to win against a dangerous, experienced, and hungry opponent, grinding out the five rounds with a wealth of clinch control and chain wrestling to blanket Gamebred’s offence.

While Usman seldom concedes rounds, he may well have done so in this fight as Masvidal came out aggressively, throwing quick boxing combinations and showing no fear for his opponent’s wrestling credentials with a bunch of body kicks.

The frenetic pace was only momentarily slowed by Usman as he caught a kick early and later leant on Masvidal against the fence, but the Cuban-American had made his intentions very clear in Round 1.

That was where Masvidal’s momentum stopped, as Usman got to work in wearing on his opponent’s ability to defend takedowns, adjusting his advances and staying active in the clinch with knees, foot stomps, body shots, and shoulder strikes.

Two accidental head clashes saw Masvidal cut open on his forehead and eye, but in living up to his moniker, the former street fighter waded through the pressure with a psychopathic smile.

While his expression wouldn’t give as much away, Masvidal seemed to be slowing as Usman continued to go to work. His takedown entries were beautifully timed and while Masvidal was often able to power his way out of initial trouble, he could not withstand the second, third, and fourth attempts.

It became clear that Usman would be successful in enforcing his will once again, moving right back into the clinch for Round 4, and later laying on some heavy ground-and-pound to finish the fight.

Masvidal looked dangerous on the break and in space throughout, but had most weapons in his arsenal thwarted by an irresistible adversary.

We had it: 49-46 Usman – a straightforward one, Masvidal takes the first but it was all Usman from there, on.

What’s next: There are few challengers who look like matching Usman at the moment. Nonetheless, Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards have earned their shots, while Colby Covington remains a worthy opponent for either man down the line.

Alexander Volkanovski [C] def. Max Holloway [1] | Decision (split) 48-47, 47-48, 48-47

Reaction: Vintage Max, but Volk belongs.

Not even a vintage Max Holloway performance could help the Blessed Express steamroll Alexander Volkanovski in their featherweight championship rematch, with the Australian retaining his title in a razor thin split decision nod.

Round 3 proved a pivot point for scoring, with Holloway winning out ever so slightly in significant strikes, but Volkanovski getting the points according to two judges.

The result spawned shades of the two-fight Holloway-Aldo rivalry, which saw the incoming champion forced to prove his initial victory was no fluke against one of the all-time greats.

Volkanovski did exactly as his predecessor had, ensuring Australia would still lay claim to a UFC champion despite facing heavy adversity.

The Hawaiian looked focussed and sharp from the off, utilising a more narrow stance and throwing his own leg kicks in response to those of Volkanovski. If you didn’t already know, Volkanovski used to be a 700-pound rugby player, but was again the clearly smaller man in terms of height, which Holloway used to his advantage in landing sweet uppercuts.

It seemed as if the Blessed Express was well en route to reclaiming the featherweight crown, with typically sharp striking seeing him drop the Australian twice across two decisive opening rounds – once with a head kick, and later with that aforementioned uppercut.

After the flip-of-a-coin third round, Volkanovski began to up the volume and get into range to inflict his desired style of fight. As was the case in the pair’s first meeting, Volkanovski’s leg kicks were beginning to take toll, and he added another element to the bout with grappling exchanges.

While Holloway managed to get back to his feet on almost every occasion, Volkanovski’s point scoring and octagon control saw him turn the tide in his favour.

The fight was poised at either 2-2, or 3-1 to Holloway depending on how you scored it, so Volkanovski was always going to be the aggressor in Round 5.

It proved a vital factor, as the remaining champion continued to up his output and land a big takedown late to clearly take out the final period.

Some thought the takedowns counted for too much, and that Holloway’s two knockdowns should have meant a hell of a lot more, but this fight was far from a robbery.

We had it: 48-47 Volkanovski – Round 3 was the key pivot point, we had Volkanovski edging it, and the final two periods. Holloway took 1 and 2 decisively.

What’s next: There are some killers at 145-pounds awaiting Volkanovski. Let’s see which of the top three (Zabit Magomedsharipov, Brian Ortega, and Chan Sung Jung) puts their hand up highest.

Petr Yan [3] def. Jose Aldo [6] | TKO (punches) 3:24 Rd 5

Reaction: Champion at 27? He might be there for a long time yet.

Petr Yan is the new, undisputed bantamweight champion after outlasting the legendary Jose Aldo across just over 23 minutes. The Russian boxing phenom simply got better as the fight wore on, eventually wilting his opponent in a brutal fight-ending sequence.

Aldo, the much more experienced man in terms of title fights looked sharp to begin with, matching the speed and power of Yan as the two stood toe-to-toe within boxing range.

The Brazilian’s trademark leg kicks and a slick jab proved his weapon of choice, while Yan’s right hand looked ominous across an evenly contested opening two rounds.

Some late ground-and-pound in Round 1 appeared to hurt Aldo, but he came out strongly after the fact to force the Russian into switching stances with those punishing kicks – one of which swept Yan off his feet.

After Round 3 returned another incredibly close period, the championship rounds were ironically where Yan began to take over.

The technical battle saw Aldo rip shots to the body and take no backwards steps, with either man responding to the other’s attacks instantly – racking up career bests for significant strikes landed.

But the pace is eventually what took toll on Aldo, as Yan continued to find his range with uppercuts, and inflict some hard ground-and-pound to send an ominous message heading into the final five minutes.

A big 1-2 stunned Aldo, with an advancing Yan sending him to the mat and hunting for the finish. Hard elbows and short, powerful punches looked to be breaking the Brazilian, who was in a terrible position and could only cover up.

In form reminiscent of Mario Yamasaki, the referee allowed Aldo to take a hell of an unnecessary beating as Yan poured on the unanswered shots, with the fight finally ended to hand the bantamweight boogeyman his deserved belt.

What’s next: Two words, Aljamain Sterling.

Rose Namajunas [2] def. Jessica Andrade [1] | Decision (split) 29-28, 28-29, 29-28


Thug Rose Namajunas exacted revenge on Jessica Andrade in what felt like a fourth title fight for the evening, edging out the Brazilian in yet another tight decision.

The former champion looked slick as the taller and longer woman, giving Andrade trouble with her intelligent distance management and footwork from the outset.

She had the credit in the bank across Rounds 1 and 2 on account of a greater volume of strikes and more effective offence, despite Andrade’s heavy hands threatening to again end the fight in a flash.

The Brazilian clearly took out Round 3, eventually catching up with Namajunas’ evasiveness to land cracking hooks and bloody up her nose. A hip toss late in the piece put Andrade on top as the American began to fade, but she hung in there for the win and even threw up some late submission attempts.

We had it: 29-28 Namajunas – a very close call, Namajunas pieced Andrade up on the feet to bank Rounds 1 and 2, but clearly gave up the third.

What’s next: For Rose, a title shot awaits.

Amanda Ribas [14 SW] def. Paige VanZant | Submission (armbar) 2:21 Rd 1

Reaction: So much for keeping away from the clinch. Ouft.

Amanda Ribas made quick work of Paige VanZant in their main card slot, submitting the fan favourite American within the first round.

The main story to come out of the result may unfortunately be VanZant’s lack of free agency leverage, having lost convincingly in what was the final fight on her UFC contract.

But the attention should be set firmly on Ribas, who put on a clinic in her one-off move up to flyweight to improve to 4-0 in the UFC, and 10-1 overall on the back of a five-fight win streak.

VanZant had made it clear she would look to stay away from Ribas’ clinch, but her attempts proved futile as the Brazilian popped some nice knees from that exact position, before landing a beautiful judo throw to bring the fight to the mat.

From there, she would step over as VanZant looked to slip out the back, snatching up an armbar and going bell-down to finish the job as the American tapped.

What’s next: Let’s get Ribas a top 10 opponent at strawweight, VanZant’s future is far less clear.


A mixed bag of preliminary card matchups saw two bouts finish early, and two go the distance as a couple of sleepers delivered on entertainment factor. UFC newcomer Jiri Prochazka headlined the finishes in his featured bout against former light heavyweight title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir, taking the seventh ranked fighter out in Round 2.

The fight promised not to go the distance and Prochazka ensured it wouldn’t, producing a clinical fight-ending sequence. The Czech native went low to high with his kick and wobbled Oezdemir, before hunting him down towards the fence and landing a massive right hand on the end of a jab to put ‘No Time’ out.

The newcomer’s mannerisms may take some getting used to, and his lack of a guard may be questionable to some, but there is no doubting his finishing ability with 24 KO/TKO victories across his 27 career wins.

In a bout which was also pitted as a potential barn-burner, Muslim Salikhov earned a tight split decision nod over Elizeu dos Santos at welterweight. In what was an incredibly technical battle fought almost exclusively on the feet, the ‘King of Kung Fu’ got the better of ‘Capoeira’ with his sharp counters, spinning kicks, and power punches.

Both corners believed their man was up 2-0 heading into the third round, and you could have flipped a coin for the result of this one. dos Santos had arguably the bigger moments as two nasty right hands seemed to wobble Salikhov, and even landed more strikes overall, but failed to claim the points.

The first submission of the night belonged to exciting Finnish prospect Makwan Amirkhani, who slept Danny Henry with his patented anaconda choke in the first round. The now 16-4 fighter out of SBG Ireland was methodical in his approach, downloading all the reads he needed before closing in with a flying knee, securing a takedown, and moving into submission territory.

The first and only venture to the mat saw Amirkhani almost immediately lock in an arm-in guillotine, before transitioning to that slick anaconda choke to yield the tap from Scotland’s Henry. He was all-class after the fact too, helping raise his unconscious opponent’s legs to bring him back.

The preliminary card curtain jerker made for one of the more frustrating 15-minute viewing experiences one could ask for, but Leonardo Santos would have no qualms about it having earned a unanimous decision victory.
His opponent, Roman Bogatov, went very close to having the bout stopped via DQ with two illegal groin shots and a knee to his grounded adversary. While the second groin shot looked to actually land on Santos’ midsection, the flagrant knee to his head while grounded saw Bogatov deducted two points.

Marc Goddard scolded him like a child and was rightly unhappy, although the deduction would have done little to change the final result as all three judges saw Santos winning two rounds to one.


Jiri Prochazka def. Volkan Oezdemir [7] | KO (punch) 0:49 Rd 2

Muslim Salikhov def. Elizeu dos Santos | Decision (split) 30-27, 28-29, 29-28

Makwan Amirkhani def. Danny Henry | Submission (anaconda choke) 3:15 Rd 1

Leonardo Santos def. Roman Bogatov | Decision (unanimous) 29-26, 29-26, 29-26


Marcin Tybura def. Alexander Romanov | Decision (unanimous)

Raulian Paiva [14] def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov | Decision (unanimous)

Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo | Decision (unanimous)

Davey Grant def. Martin Day | KO (punch) 2:38 Rd 3

RESULTS | UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker – Poirier takes out another FOTY contender

THE FINAL event hosted at the UFC Apex Centre before heading over to Fight Island delivered on action, headlined by an incredible main event bout between world class lightweights, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. ‘The Diamond’ took home his fifth win in six fights after a lengthy layoff, capping a card which boasted six finishes; including four by third round submission and two via first round knockout.

‘Platinum’ Mike Perry was another to impress in his co-main event nod, with twists and turns as crazy as the man’s personality littered down an incredibly entertaining Fight Night.

>> SCROLL for the full results.


Dustin Poirier [3] def. Dan Hooker [5] | Decision (unanimous) 48-47, 48-47, 48-46

We are struggling to find the right words and superlatives to describe just how insane this fight was. Just trust us, it was nuts. The words of Dustin Poirier perhaps sum it up best; “a fight isn’t a fight until you’re forced to overcome something”. What a perfect look into the mindset of the former interim lightweight champ, who made an emphatic return to the octagon with a grinding decision victory over fifth-ranked contender, Dan Hooker.

It came on the back of the longest break of Poirier’s career, nearly 10 months removed from his title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov. He was truly made to work, down two rounds to nil on all three judges’ scorecards despite throwing his all into putting Hooker away early. The longer, calmer New Zealander worked well to absorb Poirier’s punishing combinations while also chopping at the lead leg with nasty calf kicks.

The back and forth contest was fought at a crazy pace, with Poirier winging wild hooks with his back to the fence proving successful within boxing range, with Hooker desperate to find distance. A more methodical and much slower third round saw Hooker take Poirier down, but he fell right into the American’s patented guillotine and had to resist a triangle attempt to make it into the championship rounds.

While Hooker has proven time and time again that he is much more than just a kickboxer, Poirier showcased his superior diversity by faring better in grappling exchanges. Hooker would often initiate the wrestling with takedown attempts, but Poirier continued to turn out from bottom and snatch up guillotines to get back to his feet. Poirier took out the fourth round after landing a takedown of his own, trapping Hooker’s legs and looking for late submissions.

It was all on the line in Round 5 with the ledger locked at 2-2, and Poirier put his championship calibre skills on full display as he finished the much stronger fighter, picking off Hooker with single shots and resisting each takedown attempt with that defensive guillotine option. In a true show of grit, ‘The Diamond’ sent a message to his fellow 155-pound elites – he is here to stay.

We had it: 48-47 Poirier – a bunch of tight rounds but we can agree with the judges that Poirier finished the stronger of the two. Round 5 could have been a 10-8 to Poirier, with one judge instead opting for that exact score in the fourth.

Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

No coaches, no problem. Mike Perry turned in a tremendous performance against Mickey Gall in their co-main event dig, taking out two rounds to one in all three judges’ scorecards. Cornered by his other half, Perry showcased confidence in his heavy hands, walking Gall down while also working his strong takedown defence, and dominating each grappling position.

There was no doubting that the two came to scrap, and Gall looked quite comfortable early with his longer, straight punches landing in exchanges on the feet. Gall’s early success may have seen him take out Round 1 despite a big slam from Perry, but the second and third periods belonged to the latter.

Perry landed takedowns of his own while remaining savvy to all of Gall’s transitions on the mat, he went very close to getting a finish after dropping his opponent with a couple of nicely placed right hands. He was simply the fresher fighter after three rounds and proved much more effective, improving his record to 14-6 with over four minutes of top control.

Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante | Submission (arm-triangle) 3:44 Rd 3

This one meant a lot to ‘The Crochet Boss’ Maurice Greene, who arrested a two-fight skid with his incredible clutch submission of heavyweight debutant, Gian Villante. While Greene could well have been up by two rounds, it seemed the fight was still up for grabs in Round 3, and Villante was running away with it having dropped the 6’7 American.

Villante’s corner lauded him to let his hands go after punishing Greene with leg kicks, while the latter pushed a decent pace throughout. Greene showed his heart after being skittled by a heavy counter left punch from Villante, followed by some mean ground-and-pound elbows which very nearly ended the fight.

But Villante seemed to have emptied the tank in searching for the finish, falling into an arm-triangle choke and tapping with just over a minute left in the bout. Exhaustion surely played a factor, with the submission from bottom coming somewhat as a surprise as Greene looked to simply be stalling in the position.

Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-27, 30-27

Two Contender Series graduates with incredible grappling prowess put it all on the line in their main card slot, with Brendan Allen doing enough to get the nod over Kyle Daukaus after three brutal rounds of action. It was Allen’s seventh-straight win, and his third in the UFC.

Fans ultimately got what they were promised out of these two with some wonderfully technical exchanges on the mat, punishing ground-and-pound, and free-flowing submission work. While a finish was not achieved, Allen left the formerly undefeated prospect a bloody mess and earned a nice shiner of his own in the process.

While Daukaus looked more comfortable on the feet with his sharp boxing combinations, he was crumbled by a huge Allen knee up the middle in Round 1, who then looked to secure the neck before laying heavy ground-and-pound.

Daukaus seemed unfazed and returned to his boxing-to-wrestling gameplan in the second, but Allen’s ability to use the guillotine to reverse position and end up on top allowed him to again control proceedings. A shot slightly after the bell dropped Daukaus, who displayed incredible toughness in the face of a potential 10-8 period against him.

The third round arguably belonged to Daukaus, who dropped some big elbows of his own and threatened the rear-naked choke multiple times, but could not quite break down Allen’s defence. The latter eventually broke the body triangle late and finished with a flurry, escaping another potential 10-8 result – only this time, not in his favour.

We had it: 29-27 Allen – Allen takes Round 1 10-9 and the second 10-8, before relinquishing Round 3 10-9. He had done more than enough.

Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt | TKO (punches) 0:48 Rd 1

The night’s theme of short notice success ended via the straight left hand of Takashi Sato, as he took out late replacement Jason Witt within the first round. It was a swift display from the Japanese welterweight, who dropped Witt with a beautiful left hand to follow the jab, and chased his opponent down to the ground.

Witt seemed to still have his bearings about him as he looked to grab a single leg and recover on the mat, but Sato continued to head hunt and left the referee no choice but to save the American from some nasty ground-and-pound.

Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson | Submission (D’Arce choke) 2:44 Rd 3

What a way to kick off the main card. Julian Erosa would not be denied in his late notice call-up to face formerly undefeated prospect Sean Woodson, eating everything the former boxer threw over 13 minutes to submit him via D’Arce choke in Round 3.

Woodson looked so impressive in the early goings, flowing in his striking game with quick, long shots and a range of looks to keep Arosa at distance. Lauded for his toughness, Erosa would continue to march forward through Woodson’s barrages, smothering his length and turning the tide with nice body shots in Round 2.

It was an odd fight to call, with plenty to be made of Erosa’s pressure and durability, but Woodson’s precision ultimately seeing him remain on top. Erosa ensured a call would not be required despite being dropped with a big left hand in the third, and jumped on his opportunity to sink in the decisive submission having constantly remained in Woodson’s face.

The win not only snapped a three-fight losing skid for Erosa, but also marked an incredible turnaround from being cut from the promotion, to clutching a return win on five days’ notice after looking down and out.


Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:53 Rd 3

Talk about taking the judges out of the equation. Khama Worthy finished his tight three-round war with Luis Pena at the death, marking a seventh-straight win and his second in the UFC. A modified guillotine choke did the job against a worthy, educated grappler in Pena as he looked to chain his takedown attempts in Round 3.

The result was up in the air at that point, with Worthy arguably taking out Round 1, and Pena dominating Round 2. Worthy’s beautiful counter striking, punishing body kicks, and lingering right hand got him going early, but Pena reigned it back with a dominant five minutes of grappling in the second. Multiple submission attempts were survived by Worthy, and a question of cardio would arise in the deciding third round.

Worthy was up to the task though, getting that right hand to land once again and stuffing most of Pena’s entries before shrewdly taking advantage of his opponent’s position to lock up a tight choke.

Khama Note Worthy.

Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins | KO (punches) 2:41 Rd 1

Tanner Boser put an exclamation mark on his return to the UFC winners list, viciously accounting for Philipe Lins in the first round. It was the Canadian’s ninth win via knockout and boy, was it mean.

Having initially impressed with his movement and accuracy on the feet, Boser landed his patented overhand right in a good spot to stun Lins. He pounced immediately to spell the end of the boutl; landing every shot in a quick and precise combination to send Lins to the mat, and following up with a brutal hammer fist for good measure.

It was the first KO of the night, and a belter at that. 

Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey | Submission (armbar) 2:26 Rd 3

The Ronda Rousey generation is here. 20-year-old Kay Hansen picked up a massive win in her maiden UFC bout, defeating fellow debutant and former Invicta atomweight champion, Jinh Yu Frey. It was only fitting that the win would come via armbar submission too, Rousey’s trademark move.

Frey, 15 years her opponent’s elder started the stronger of the two, able to lean on her experience and calmly pick off some nice counter left hooks as her fast hands got to work. She seemed to have answers in all departments until she was taken down and controlled in Round 2, with Hansen dominating from half guard.

The fight was up for grabs in the third, and Hansen kept her momentum rolling despite eating some more left hands for her trouble. While Frey repeatedly did well to remain upright from Hansen’s initial entries, the youngster’s chain grappling allowed her to spell the beginning of the end.

An improvised series of throw and trip attempts saw Hansen transition the move to an armbar position, rolling with Frey’s escapes and eventually being able to sit up with Frey on her back, and extend the arm to yield a tap. This was a big scalp on debut for the youngest female on the UFC roster, no doubt about it.

Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Do judges score defence? That was somewhat a question which arose as Youssef Zalal got the unanimous nod over Jordan Griffin, pushing his record out to 9-2 with a third-consecutive victory.

The clear striking advantage belonged to Zalal, who picked off the better shots in the face of Griffin’s perennial forward movement and kickboxing combinations. The Moroccan was able to stuff nearly all of his opponent’s grappling advances, while looking the much fresher fighter in the late exchanges.

We had it: 29-28 Zalal – a close fight with two close rounds; we gave Griffin the first for his late takedown, but Zalal easily took the third and narrowly claimed Round 2.