LAS VEGAS – MMA Junkie was on scene and reported from Saturday’s UFC 272 event, which took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
In the main event, former friends, roommates and training partners Colby Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) and Jorge Masvidal (35-16 MMA, 12-9 UFC) met in a highly anticipated welterweight grudge match. In the co-feature, former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (31-13 MMA, 20-11 UFC) took on short-notice replacement opponent Renato Moicano (16-5-1 MMA, 8-5 UFC).
To discuss the show, be sure to check out our UFC 272 discussion thread. You can also get behind-the-scenes coverage and other event notes from on-site reporter Ken Hathaway (@kenshathaway) on Twitter.
Round 1 – Alright, gang. Let’s have some freaking fun tonight, why don’t we?! Fist fights are underway. Dustin Jacoby up first, who I feel like has fought two dozen times since the pandemic began. Stiff test in Michal Oleksiejczuk. I’d like to think someone is going down. Oleksiejczuk with the blue tape. Jacoby has red. Oleksiejczuk lands a nice punch, but Jacoby connects with a combination. A pair of punches land for Oleksiejczuk. He appears to be the quicker, more accurate fighter. Both guys seem like they can’t catch the appropriate rhythm. It’s a bit all over the place right now. Anddd just as I say that, Jacoby thumbs Oleksiejczuk in the eye. He gets a warning. The action is paused. After a minute, Oleksiejczuk is ready to go. The action resume and Jacoby connects with a short jab. Oleksiejczuk cracks a left. He’s finding his range here. Jacoby miscalculates a strike and stumbles. Oleksiejczuk drags him to the canvas briefly, but Jacoby slips away. Jacoby lands a nice punch. There’s some damage near the right eye of Oleksiejczuk. I’ve got to assume that is from the errant thumb. Jacoby, a high-level kickboxer, shoots for a takedown. No dice. That doesn’t seem like a great sign for him. Oleksiejczuk rips him in the body with a punch. Jacoby still struggling to gauge timing. Oleksiejczuk continues to consistently find his left hand on the face of Jacoby. The round ends. 10-9 Oleksiejczuk.
Round 2 – Jacoby comes out super aggressive. He lands a combination and tries to follow it up with a head kick. Jacoby clips him! He’s swarming now. Oh, and tags Oleksiejczuk again. Oleksiejczuk falls to the canvas. Jacoby pounces but Oleksiejczuk survives – at least for now. Jacoby traps him up against the cage and lands some dirty boxing. Oleksiejczuk weathers the storm and circles away. Jacoby came close to ending that, but I have to wonder how much energy he expended. Jacoby shoots for a single-leg takedown and he gets it. Oleksiejczuk tries for a triangle. He doesn’t get the submission, but uses it to stand up. After a brief clinch, they separate. Jacoby takes a big breath. His hands are low. Jacoby shoots again, but there’s not much strength behind it. Oleksiejczuk reverses him and shoves him against the fence. The two awkwardly fight for wrist control and separate. The pace has slowed. A sneaky left hand lands for Oleksiejczuk. He follows it with a two-punch combination. They tie up against the fence as the round ends. 19-19.
Round 3 – It’s anyone’s fight, in my estimation. Pretty clear-cut-scored rounds thus far. A lot of footwork, not a lot of volume thus far. Jabs from both guys. Jacoby misses. Oleksiejczuk connects and is poked in the eye again seconds later. Referee Mark Smith emphatically calls timeout. Another warning is issued to Jacoby, but no point deduction. The action resumes and Jacoby comes out firing. Oleksiejczuk hurls a left hand back. That was powerful, but I don’t think it connected. Both men miss. Oleksiejczuk feints. Jacoby bites, but lands a big punch simultaneously. Jacoby shoots and presses Oleksiejczuk against the fence. Not much going on here. Visibly tired athletes. The round finishes with a pair of knees and an elbow from Jacoby. Round over. Fight over. 29-28 Jacoby.
Result: Dustin Jacoby def. Michal Oleksiejczuk via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Photos: Dustin Jacoby def. Michael Oleksiejczuk
Records: Dustin Jacoby (17-5-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC), Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Referee: Mark Smith
Judging: Mike Bell, Eric Colon, Chris Lee (scoring Round 1 for Oleksiejczuk)
Round 1 – Alright, I like this one a lot. Both guys are usually fun, so together they could amplify the entertainment – or I could’ve just jinxed it. Regardless, we’re off. Klein goes over the top with a punch and then rips a body kick. Smith pauses, and rips one of his own. That was loud. Both men are patient. Head kicks are blocked from both. Klein lands the first big shot of the fight. A left hand down the pipe stuns Smith, who covers up. Smith retreats and when his back hits the cage, he smartly grabs hold of his surging European foe. Smith is bleeding from his mouth. Klein leaning on his against the fence. I’m surprised he didn’t separate and throw. Smith was really hurt there. Smith has his hands clasped despite his back being against the fence. Klein tries to break the grip. He does so with a few quick knees to the body. They’re in a 50-50 clinch now. Referee Marc Goddard separates them. Back in the center, Smith lands a short leg kick. Klein rips a two-punch combination and cracks a head kick. That was beautiful. He hid the big boot behind the hands. Great way to end the round, which he clearly wins on my scorecard. 10-9 Klein.
Round 2 – Smith lands a body kick and then one to the head. He doubles up with two more. Those are powerful, but more importantly, they’re landing. He needs offense after a tough first round. Klein shuts down the momentum quickly, though. He ties Smith up against the fence with double underhooks. They separate and Klein lands a left. Smith answers with a leg kick. Mixing up the levels of strikes is a working recipe for Smith, it seems. Smith shoots for a takedown but Klein reverses and walks him to the fence. Lots of stalling ensues. Goddard separates them again. Smith shoots and appears to be deep on a takedown. Wow. What balance from Klein. He somehow defended a seemingly sure-thing takedown. Klein times him up and lands some “Conor McGregor on Donald Cerrone” shoulders in the clinch. The round ends. 20-18 Klein.
Round 3 – The two fighters come out aggressive. Klein hurts him with a kick to the midsection! Smith tries his best poker face but there’s only so much you can do. Klein senses he’s hurt and chases him down with more body kicks. Ouch. But Klein elects to clinch again. Man, he’s winning this fight but I can’t help but think he should be going for the kill here. Smith shoves him off. Klein cracks an overhand left. They trade body kicks. Klein nearly knocks Smith off-balance with a leg kick. Smith ties Klein up, but is reversed once again. Smith lands a beautiful combination. Klein definitely felt that one. He connects again. There’s about 90 seconds left and this is what Smith needs. Another combination lands followed by a knee and an elbow. Smith is finally finding success. Klein tries to fight him off with a body kick, but is visibly tired. He shoots for a labored takedown but Smith defends until his back hits the cage. Klein just leaning on him again. Klein lands a spinning elbow as Smith breaks away. Klein connects on a combination. He lands a leg kick. They both fling wild punches. The bell rings. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Klein.
Result: Ludovit Klein def. Devonte Smith via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Records: Ludovit Klein (18-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Devonte Smith (11-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Referee: Marc Goddard
Judging: Sal D’Amato (30-27); Tony Weeks (29-28 Smith, scoring Round 1 for Klein); Doug Crosby (29-28 Klein, scoring Round 3 for Smith)
Round 1 – Things are about to get funky. As expected, Tim Elliott comes out with all sorts of weirdness. After a few exchanges and some posing, Elliott drags Ulanbekov to the canvas. Elliott lands some frantic ground-and-pound but Ulanbekov gets up. Elliott screams at him. The two fighters jab. The pace of this fight is really testing my play-by-play skills here. These guys are flying. Elliott may have heard my prayers and tries to tie up Ulanbekov. They separate. Elliott lands a leg kick and then a punch. Ulanbekov jabs. Elliott shoots for a double leg. He elevates and plants Ulanbekov, who rolls immediately to his feet. Ulanbekov connects over the top. Elliott shoots and Ulanbekov makes an error that results in him landing on his back. After a couple seconds of top control, Ulanbekov scoots right to his feet. Referee Chris Tognoni calls timeout and warns Elliott about his fingers. Elliott argues but Tognoni doesn’t want to hear it. The action resumes. Elliott connects on a combination. Ulanbekov misses on a combination. Elliott postures and then lands a wicked left hand that drops Ulanbekov to the canvas. Ulanbekov scrambles in an attempt to survive. On the way up, Ulanbekov eats a big knee. Was that legal? Tough to tell, but Tognoni deems it such. They clinch and Ulanbekov says something to his corner. Perhaps, he’s unhappy with that knee. The round ends after they separate. 10-9 Elliott.
Round 2 – Elliott hurls an over hand, then a leg kick. He retreats as Ulanbekov comes forward. It’s cliche, but Elliott is a miserable puzzle to decipher for any fighter at any level. Ulanbekov connects on a right hand. They tie up and separate. Elliott walks straight into a hard Ulanbekov punch. His head bounces off like it was nothing. They tie up and Elliott drags Ulanbekov to the canvas. Ulanbekov gets up and they separate. Elliott strolls away before he flips a switch and shoots again. Ulanbekov defends and gets Elliott down. But Elliott reverses. They separate after some dirty boxing on the feet. Ulanbekov grabs double underhooks and pushes Elliott against the fence. Ulanbekov elevates Elliott a few inches off his feet but the American won’t go down. Ulanbekov shoots for a double leg but Elliott defends until the final bell. 19-19.
Round 3 – A replay shows Elliott clearly grabbing the inside of the glove of Ulanbekov in Round 2. That went unnoticed by Tognoni. That’s in the past now as the final round begins. They move forward and clunk heads. Ulanbekov is bleeding above his left eye. Elliott ducks in and throws. Both men trade. Elliott throws a half-dozen leg kicks in a row. Ulanbekov ducks down and shoots. Once again, he pushes Elliott against the fence with a single-leg takedown attempt. He dumps Elliott to the canvas. Elliott instantly pops up. Ulanbekov circles to the back. He hops up and grabs a body triangle. He squeezes and pulls Elliott to the canvas. Ulanbekov works for a rear-naked choke but Elliott defends. That body triangle is tight, though. The blood from Ulanbekov is dripping onto the back of the head of Elliott as the Russian searches for that elusive choke. Ulanbekov doesn’t find it before time expires, but that was a big round for the Khabib Nurmagomedov protege. 29-28 Ulanbekov.
Result: Tim Elliott def. Tagir Ulanbekov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Photos: Tim Elliott def. Tagir Ulanbekov
Records: Tim Elliott (18-12-1 MMA, 7-10 UFC), Tagir Ulanbekov (13-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Judging: Junichiro Kumijo, Derek Cleary, Ron McCarthy (scoring Round 3 for Ulanbekov)
Round 1 – Alright. Let’s see if Team Khabib can rebound from that (controversial) loss in the previous bout on this card. Cousin Umar is up and he lands a kick to Brian Kelleher’s midsection. A leg kick lands. Kelleher answers with one of his own. Nurmagomedov goes high with a kick, then a punch. In the opening minutes, the Dagestani has shown a lot of different weapons. Kelleher flies in with a combination and grabs hold of Nurmagomedov. Before long, however, Kelleher finds his back up against the canvas. Nurmagomedov knees him and tries for a takedown. Kelleher defends and shoves Nurmagomedov off. Kelleher gets aggressive and Nurmagomedov drops down for a takedown. Kelleher fights it off but this is a Nurmagomedov we’re talking about. Nurmagomedov works to the back. The arm is under the chin. Kelleher is in trouble. Nurmagomedov gets the tap via rear-naked choke. Man, the savagery runs in the family!
Result: Umar Nurmagomedov def. Brian Kelleher via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:15
Recap: Umar Nurmagomedov chokes out Brian Kelleher, moves to 14-0
Photos: Umar Nurmagomedov def. Brian Kelleher
Records: Brian Kelleher (24-13 MMA, 8-6 UFC), Umar Nurmagomedov (14-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC)
Referee: Marc Goddard
Round 1 – Ukraine’s Maryna Moroz gets a big pop from the Las Vegas crowd on introductions as she poses with her country’s flag. She’s facing a bitter rival and former training partner in Mariya Agapova. Let’s see how this goes. Moroz goes for a takedown early and ties Agapova against the fence. That’s been a theme tonight. She eventually dumps Agapova to the canvas. Agapova might be in trouble. Moroz is on her back seeking a rear-naked choke. She lets go and adjusts. Now seeking for it again, she pulls Agapova back into her. Moroz looks like she’s going to fall off the back but it’s causing an awkward torque on Agapova’s neck. Agapova leans back into the choke. Not sure if that was smart. Moroz lets go and Agapova pops through into top position. Moroz shoots up for an armbar, but Agapova pops out. She’s now on Moroz’s back. Uh oh for Moroz. What a momentum shift. Moroz stands up with Agapova in the backpack position. Moroz wiggles Agapova off her back and shoots again against the fence. The round ends. 10-9 Moroz.
Round 2 – Deja vu. Moroz ties up Agapova to start the round. Moroz dumps Agapova to the mat. Moroz works her way to mount and lands some big elbows. Agapova remains calm and rolls to her back. Moroz continues to rain down punches. Agapova slides backward and right into an arm-triangle choke from Moroz. She’s struggling and straining. It feels like a tap is imminent – and there it is! Moroz holds a little past the referee interception, whether purposeful or not. But what a performance by Moroz, despite everything going on in her home country in the lead-up to this one.
Result: Maryna Moroz def. Mariya Agapova via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:27
Recap: Ukraine’s Maryna Moroz victorious at UFC 272, delivers emotional speech on Russian invasion
Photos: Maryna Moroz def. Mariya Agapova
Records: Mariya Agapova (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Maryna Moroz (11-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Referee: Herb Dean
Round 1 – Tall boys on deck. These are some lengthy light heavyweights, folks. A brief touch of gloves and we’re off. Nzechukwu is wearing green for Nigeria. Negumereanu in black for Romania. There’s a lot of feeling out going on, but not much throwing. Nzechukwu stalks Negumereanu, still yet to throw a significant combination. Nzechukwu lands a nice jab. Negumereanu isn’t really throwing either. This is definitely the slowest-paced fight of the night thus far. The fans are booing. Nzechukwu lands a pair of punches. Negumereanu responds. He throws a superman punch that misses. Round ends. Largely uneventful. 10-9 Nzechukwu.
Round 2 – Negumereanu is repeatedly throwing one-punch combinations, where he loops in with a right hand. They aren’t really landing, though. Negumereanu shoots for a takedown and almost eats a massive knee from Nzechukwu. Tied up with his back against the fence, Nzechukwu absorbs knees to the thigh but defends the takedown. Lots of cage-squishing right now. Referee Mark Smith has seen enough. He separates the fighters after some complaints from Nzechukwu. Both men land. Negumereanu doubles up on power right-hands. Nzechukwu snaps Negumereanu’s head back with a wicked jab. Negumereanu is bleeding from his nose. Negumereanu ties him up and the round ends. 20-18 Nzechukwu.
Round 3 – After a couple jabs, Nzechukwu pokes Negumereanu in the eye. Negumereanu screams in pain. Oh boy. This doesn’t look good, no pun intended. Medical personnel and a translator are called in. Negumereanu seems worried, but says he can see despite frequent blinking. Referee Mark Smith takes a point. Good call. That clearly will effect the fight. The fight resumes and a brawl begins. Nzechukwu lands a big knee. Negumereanu swings away and dives forward for a takedown. Nzechukwu tries a flying knee counter but Negumereanu tackles him. Nzechukwu gets back up. They clinch and separate. Negumereanu whiffs on a punch and Nzechukwu connects with one right on the temple. Negumereanu pushes forward but Nzechukwu continues to land. Negumereanu charges forward with a combination that lands. His sense of urgency is palpable. A straight left jab snaps Negumereanu’s head back. Thirty seconds left. Nzechukwu jabs at the charging Negumereanu, who won’t give up. He’s clearly giving it his all. The round and fight ends at the sound of a siren. With the point deduction, MMA Junkie scores it 29-27 Nzechukwu.
Result: Nicolae Negumereanu def. Kennedy Nzechukwu via split decision (27-29, 29-27, 29-27)
Photos: Nicolae Negumereanu def. Kennedy Nzechukwu
Records: Nicolae Negumereanu (12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Referee: Mark Smith
Judging: Tony Weeks, Doug Crosby (29-27 Negumereanu, giving Round 3 to Nzechukwu – with point deduction); Sal D’Amato (29-27 Nzechukwu – with point deduction)
Round 1 – This is a big one for the women’s strawweight division, especially for Rodriguez. If she wins, you have to think she’s next for the winner of the yet-to-be-finalized Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza bout. Yan Xiaonan didn’t get the memo, though. She comes out aggressive and lands a combination on the chin of Rodriguez. Xiaonan looks so comfortable out there. Her footwork looks great. She lands another combo. Rodriguez throws but misses. Xiaonan slaps a leg kick on the outside of Rodriguez’s lead calf. They both throw and Rodriguez lands. Right back in the pocket, they trade again and Xiaonan connects. This is both technical and exciting thus far. Rodriguez lands a combination but throws a low knee. Xiaonan yells out in pain. Referee Chris Tognoni calls timeout. The doctor is in there talking to Xiaonan and a translator. If this fight is waived off due to a low blow, this will be a UFC first for the women’s division. Xiaonan is OK though it appears, so history will have to wait. The action resumes. With 10 seconds left, Xiaonan dumps Rodriguez to the canvas. Rodriguez shoots for a submission, but the round ends. 10-9 Xiaonan.
Round 2 – Rodriguez is going to her leg kicks early and it’s working. She charges forward and nearly eats a massive right hand from Rodriguez. They tie up and break. Again, they come together. Rodriguez throws an off-balance knee and Xiaonan dumps her to the canvas. Rodriguez wall-walks to her feet, but Xionan still has hold of her back, standing. Xiaonan strains for a takedown but Rodriguez nicely defends. Now facing up in the clinch, Xiaonan pushes Rodriguez against the fence. They break and Rodriguez throws a right hand. Rodriguez dips in with two punches and grabs hold of a plum clinch. Rodriguez rips a knee to the body. The two tumble to the canvas but Xiaonan gains control when they scramble to the feet. Against the fence, they separate again. As the clock winds down, Rodriguez lands perhaps her best punch of the fight thus far. The crowd oohs and the round ends. 19-19.
Round 3 – Both fighters bite down on their mouthpieces and chuck hard power-hand punches. Rodriguez continues to move forward. Xiaonan lets out a, “Hey,” as she punches air. Lots of air punching from both women right now. Rodriguez seems to be leading the dance at this point, though. She’s cutting off Xiaonan’s footwork. Rodriguez misses on a two-punch combination and eats a jab. Jabs from both women. A great left lands from Xiaonan. They exchange. Rodriguez is busted. Rodriguez lands a punch and plays to the crowd. Xioanan mirrors her and points to the ceiling. They trade. This is getting good in the final minute. Rodriguez ties up Xioanan against the fence and unleashes a vicious muay thai combination. Rodriguez connects again as she runs after Xioanan. The horn sounds. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Rodriguez.
Result: Marina Rodriguez def. Yan Xiaonan via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Photos: Marina Rodriguez def. Yan Xiaonan
Records: Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2 MMA, 6-1-2 UFC), Yan Xiaonan (13-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
Division: Women’s strawweight
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Judging: Mike Bell, Ron McCarthy (29-28 Rodriguez, scoring Round 1 for Xiaonan); Derek Cleary (29-28 Xiaonan, scoring Round 3 for Rodriguez)
Round 1 – I talked about lanky light heavyweights earlier. Well, Jalin Turner is one lanky lightweight at 6’3″. And damn can he pack a punch. But so can Mullarkey. Don’t sleep on either of these men, although someone may be sleeping soon. Both men come out a bit overzealous, off-balance and awkward. But they’re landing. Turner cracks Mullarkey with a punch. Wobbled, Mullarkey shoots for a leg and eats some more strikes for his efforts. On the backpedal, Mullarkey lands a good one on Turner, which pauses his momentum. This is crazy already. Mullarkey ties up Turner. On the break, Turner connects with a kick. Mullarkey is out of sorts. He needs to regain himself, because Turner has him flustered with heavy shots. Mullarkey does just that. He takes a few steps back, breathes, and smiles. Moments later, Turner cracks him again. Mullarkey is busted from the bridge of his nose. Both men land. Mullarkey lands a head kick but falls over. Lefts land from both men. This is going off the rails a bit – in a good way! Mullarkey lands a combo. Turner sends him back with another punch. Mullarkey is breathing heavily out of his mouth. That nose is giving him issues. Mullarkey shoots for a powerful takedown and gets it. That was beautiful. In side control, Mullarkey attempts to pass to mount but Turner shoves him into his half guard. The horn sounds. That was the best action of the night thus far. 10-9 Turner.
Round 2 – Turner lands early with a punch and follows with a kick. Mullarkey circles but Turner cuts him off and connects again. Mullarkey covers up and Turner pummels away. Mullarkey crumples. This might be it – and it is. Referee Herb Dean waives it off. “The Tarantula” keeps on rolling with the TKO win! That was exciting.
Result: Jalin Turner def. Jamie Mullarkey via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:46
Photos: Jalin Turner def. Jamie Mullarkey
Records: Jamie Mullarkey (14-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Jalin Turner (12-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC)
Referee: Herb Dean
Round 1 – The biggest dudes on the card kick off the pay-per-view main card portion. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is in the corner of Greg Hardy, who looked as comfortable as ever in the pre-fight walkout and announcement. Serghei Spivac is all business though. They touch gloves. Hardy throws haymakers but hits air. They tie up and Spivac hip-tosses Hardy to the canvas. That was quite the sight – and quite the sound as the former NFL standout crashed to the canvas. Spivac moves to half-guard. Hardy is doing a nice job controlling Spivac’s wrist as he scoots toward the fence. Hardy scrambles up to his feet but Spivac still has hold of his back. Spivac mat-returns Hardy twice and falls into mount where he pounds away. Spivac is going off. Punch after punch lands down on Hardy. That’s it. Spivac rolls through Hardy, who now has fought out his contract.
Result: Serghei Spivac def. Greg Hardy via TKO (ground-and-pound) – Round 1, 2:16
Recap: Serghei Spivac hands Greg Hardy third straight loss with quick TKO
Photos: Serghei Spivac def. Greg Hardy
Records: Greg Hardy (7-5 MMA, 4-5 UFC), Serghei Spivac (14-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Referee: Marc Goddard
Round 1 – Here we go. This should be a lot of fun. They touch gloves. Kevin Holland tries a high kick that misses. They trade low kicks, though. “Let’s go, Holland,” is the chant from the Las Vegas crowd. Lots of quick leg kicks from both guys. Oliveira catches a Holland kick. Holland falls back and pops up. Oliveira lands a right hand. They trade right hands. Oliveira catches another Holland kick. Oliveira connects on an overhand right, then sweeps Holland’s leg with a kick. Holland tries a leg lock, but uses it to scramble to his feet. Oliveira slams him to the canvas. Holland pops back up and rocks Oliveira, who stumbles backward. Oliveira slugs him back. That hurt Holland, too. Holland slaps his own head and the two exchange. Oliveira connects with another nice leg kick. Holland rips the body and Oliveira lands a right hand. Both fighters land kicks. Holland misses on a strike and Oliveira pounces on his back. The two fighters roll. Oliveira goes for a choke, but Holland hilariously gives two thumbs up as time expires. 10-9 Oliveira.
Round 2 – The two fighters exchange and Holland floors Oliveira with a punch. Oliveira flies backward into the cage and Holland rains down a bonanza of brutal punches and elbows until referee Chris Tognoni dives in. Unreal rally! And the crowd loves it!
Result: Kevin Holland def. Alex Oliveira via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 0:38
Recap: Kevin Holland stops Alex Oliveira in welterweight return
Photos: Kevin Holland def. Alex Oliveira
Records: Kevin Holland (22-7 MMA, 9-4 UFC), Alex Oliveira (22-12-1 MMA, 11-10 UFC)
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Round 1 – A real intriguing one here. Can Edson Barboza hold his standing or is Bryce Mitchell truly elite? We’ll see. Mitchell comes out aggressive. He’s moving straight toward Barboza, who bounces around on the retreat. After some circling and leg-kick fighting, Mitchell tags him with a left hand! Down goes Barboza. Mitchell pounces but Barboza grabs hold and gets up. Mitchell drags him back down, though. This isn’t good for Barboza with three minutes left in the opening round. Mitchell is in his guard, punching the Brazilian’s midsection. After some maneuvering from Mitchell on the ground that didn’t really get anywhere, Barboza sees his chance and explodes to his feet with about 40 seconds left in the round. He tries a spinning back-kick to the body, which misses. On the next exchange, Barboza sends Mitchell backward with a right hand. He leaps for a flying knee that misses. Round is over. 10-9 Mitchell.
Round 2 – Barboza goes to his vintage leg kick immediately. Mitchell throws and Barboza lands another low kick. However, Mitchell half-catches it and drags Barboza to the canvas. Thirty seconds in, Barboza is flat on his back with Mitchell in his guard. Mitchell’s left eye is swollen, though. Mitchell remains active enough where referee Mark Smith isn’t standing them up, but he’s not really doing any damage. Just as I write that, he connects on a sneaky elbow upon the verbal warning of Smith. Moments later, Barboza works his way to the feet. But only for a moment. Mitchell drags him back down. He’s in half guard. Mitchell creeps up and is nearly in mount. Mitchell lands some short shots but gets yelled at for grabbing the cage. Barboza is bleeding. Mitchell continues to work. Barboza shoves him off, but too little too late. The round ends. 20-18 Mitchell.
Round 3 – Barboza cracks a solid combination on Mitchell. Sensing he probably doesn’t want to risk things and strike with Barboza, Mitchell drags the fight back into his world on the ground. In Barboza’s guard, Mitchell posts up and Barboza shoots up a triangle attempt. Mitchell elevates him and gravity pulls Barboza away and back to the canvas. Needing to do something with the clock ticking away, Barboza tries to grab Mitchell’s leg. That was risky and it did not pay off. Mitchell grabs a gift-wrap and pounds away. Mitchell inches toward mount but never gets there. Elbows rain down from half guard. This was complete, utter, total domination from the Arkansas native. Cooked ’em to the bone, as he says. MMA Junkie scores it 30-26 Mitchell.
Result: Bryce Mitchell def. Edson Barboza via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
Recap: Bryce Mitchell grounds and pounds his way to dominant win over Edson Barboza
Photos: Bryce Mitchell def. Edson Barboza
Records: Edson Barboza (22-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC), Bryce Mitchell (15-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC)
Referee: Mark Smith
Judging: Derek Cleary (30-25, scoring 10-8s in Round 2 and 3); Doug Crosby (30-26, scoring 10-8 in Round 2); Sal D’Amato (30-27)
Round 1 – Remember, this a five-round fight. I’m not saying we’ll need 25 minutes, but these guys have them. Renato Moicano taking this 160-pound catchweight fight on four days’ notice. Let’s see how the tank holds up. The two fighters tie up and separate. They tie up and separate again. On the third tie-up, Rafael dos Anjos gets Moicano down. But only briefly. Moicano sneaks out and slips under a heavy head kick. Moicano shoots. No dice. It seems like he wants this fight to the mat early. The fight gets there – but not of his own doing. Dos Anjos slams him to the canvas with a double-leg takedown. In side control against the fence, dos Anjos tries to create separation but Moicano is itching to explode upward. Moicano shoves dos Anjos off, but only briefly. Dos Anjos lands a massive diving left-hand from the standing position as he moves back into the guard. In half guard, dos Anjos postures up and lands a few elbows. Moicano shifts dos Anjos back into full guard. The round is over. 10-9 dos Anjos.
Round 2 – They tie up and separate. Both fighters land. Dos Anjos comes over the top with two straight left hands. Moicano looks tired already. That’s not a good sign. Dos Anjos jabs and jabs. He briefly shoots for a single-leg but lets go. Dos Anjos connects on a big left hand but Moicano returns. Dos Anjos shoots but ends up on the back in the clinch against the cage. Dos Anjos lands a punch on the break. Moicano starting to give off “sitting duck” vibes. Dos Anjos punches the body. Moicano lands an uppercut. They tie up and dos Anjos lands a knee to the body. The fighters trade body kick. Dos Anjos dips under a wild punch from Moicano and gets another takedown. Moicano is sitting up against the fence. Dos Anjos moves to half guard where he finishes the round. 20-18 dos Anjos.
Round 3 – Dos Anjos targets the body with a kick. The two fighters oddly bump into each other and dos Anjos almost goes down. Moicano lands a combination and dos Anjos hurls a cracking head kick. Moicano is swollen but tells dos Anjos to bring it before he stuffs a takedown. Dos Anjos lands a leg kick. Moicano dodges in Anderson Silva-fashion but I think it’s more because he’s tired. Dos Anjos goes high again and this time Moicano is severely hurt! Moicano stumbles across the canvas and falls. Dos Anjos pounces. Moicano eating a ton of shots but doing just enough to survive. Referee Marc Goddard is getting close. Moicano’s head bounces off the canvas but somehow he’s able to tie dos Anjos up. I can’t believe he survived that, even if it’s just for now. That did not look good. After a quick breather, dos Anjos moves to side control. Moicano works the former champion back into half guard. Moicano’s left eye is all screwed up and swollen. Moicano wipes his face as time expires and slowly moves over to his corner. 30-26 dos Anjos.
Round 4 – Referee Marc Goddard has the cage-side physician come in and look at Moicano’s eye. The doctor performs a vision test and Moicano passes. So tough. Badass. Moicano lands a one-two punch down the pipe. So there’s still life. Another big combination lands. Moicano is opening up. But once again, dos Anjos drags him down. Moicano shoves dos Anjos off and lands an up-kick. Dos Anjos moves back into half guard and attempts a brief guillotine. Dos Anjos looks to mount but Moicano again doing just enough to avoid his demise. A short elbow from dos Anjos split Moicano open. There is blood spurting out of his head all over everything. Dos Anjos pounds away but Moicano gets back up. Dos Anjos misses on a head kick but lands a punch. The round ends and Moicano stumbles into the cage. 40-35 dos Anjos.
Round 5 – The doctor is called in a second time to examine Moicano, who is all sorts of messed up. Goddard takes a quick look after Moicano passes another eye examination, then tells the fighter he has 30 seconds to show him that he has some fight left in him or he’s going to stop it. Weird. Maybe it was because it was mic’d up, but that’s an unusual conversation and/or stipulation. After a few punches from both men, dos Anjos takes Moicano down. Moicano works his way back up and lands some punches. Dos Anjos shoots again and Moicano stuffs it. Moicano stuffs another one. Dos Anjos lands another left. Moicano connects on an uppercut. Moicano connects on a combination and another. What a warrior. Moicano tags dos Anjos as the crowd goes nuts. Moicano walks forward and whiffs on what would’ve been a homerun punch. Dos Anjos shoots as time expires. 49-44 dos Anjos.
Result: Rafael dos Anjos def. Renato Moicano via unanimous decision (49-45, 50-44, 49-44)
Recap: Rafael dos Anjos batters Renato Moicano in dominant decision win
Photos: Rafael dos Anjos def. Renato Moicano
Records: Rafael dos Anjos (31-13 MMA, 20-11 UFC), Renato Moicano (16-5-1 MMA, 8-5 UFC)
Referee: Marc Goddard
Judging: Mike Bell (49-44, scoring Round 3 and 4 as 10-8s for dos Anjos and Round 5 for Moicano); Chris Lee (50-44, scoring Round 3 a 10-8); Ron McCarthy (scoring Round 3 a 10-8 for dos Anjos and Round 5 for Moicano)
Round 1 – All right, folks. The bad blood matchup years in the making is about to begin. There’s a lot of security in the cage for this one. No touch of gloves after referee Herb Dean reads his instructions. Masvidal tries his flying knee, which looks sloppy and was more of a kick. After a couple strikes from both men, Covington ties Masvidal up. Against the cage, Covington shoves Masvidal. He dumps Masvidal to the canvas and is already seeking a rear-naked choke. We’re halfway through Round 1. Masvidal doesn’t appear to be in trouble. Covington is more on his side than on the back. Only one hook is in. Masvidal is a tough guy to submit. He hasn’t been submitted since 2009. Masvidal staying put as Covington lands some strikes. Referee Herb Dean warns Covington about strikes to the back of the head as he briefly mounts Masvidal. Somehow, Masvidal shimmies to his feet. They separate and Masvidal lands two leg kicks. Covington lands a three-punch combination and sticks his tongue out at Masvidal. 10-9 Covington.
Round 2 – Referee Herb Dean warns Covington before the round starts about eye pokes. Covington argues but Dean said he watched it on replay in between rounds. Covington throws a head kick to start things off but falls over. Masvidal lands a hard leg kick. Covington tries another head kick. It misses. Both men kick the legs simultaneously. Masvidal kicks the body and jabs. Both men jab. Covington dives in for a single leg and Masvidal makes him pay with some short elbows and punches. Covington pushing Masvidal against the fence. Covington lands a sneaky elbow. Covington knees Masvidal in the groin. Referee Herb Dean calls timeout. The action resumes and Masvidal lands a combination. Covington muscles Masvidal to the canvas again. Masvidal gets up and shoves Covington off. Covington lands three left hands and a left high kick. He’s jabbing the head off Masvidal right now. Covington shoves Masvidal against the fence again. Masvidal lands a knee to the body. Covington comes back with a hard combination and shoves Masvidal against the fence. The round ends. 20-18 Covington.
Round 3 – Masvidal cracks a head kick in the opening seconds. Covington returns with a head kick, punch, punch combination. Covington shoots for a single-leg but Masvidal defends and circles away. Covington’s output has been a level above in this fight. It’s not quite his Robbie Lawler fight pacing, but it’s definitely more of a cardio-heavy attack than in the Tyron Woodley fight or the Kamaru Usman rematch. Right on cue, Covington drags Masvidal to the canvas where he proceeds to land big elbows from guard. Covington, who is somehow bleeding now, lands short punches to the body and head. The crowd boos. Masvidal tries to get up but ends up giving up side control to Covington, who then rotates into side control in seek of mount. Covington rotates into a similar position as he was in during much of Round 1, seeking a rear-naked choke with only one hook in. He torques Masvidal’s neck but has no hooks in. Masvidal reverses him, but Covington reverses the reversal. Covington is now on Masvidal’s back. No hooks are in, but Masvidal is crouched facing downward with Covington on top of him. They get to the feet where Masvidal lands two punches before the round ends. 30-27 Covington.
Round 4 – Into the championship rounds we go and it’s been all Covington. His first takedown attempt in this round is shoved away by Masvidal. Relentless, Covington shoots again. Against the fence, Covington works. They separate and Covington lands a cracking uppercut. That might’ve been his best punch of the fight. He immediately shoots for another takedown. Masvidal is warned about grabbing the shorts. They separate and Covington begins pounding away. He lands probably close to 15 or so punches to Masvidal’s head. Masvidal leans back on the cage and weathers the storm. Covington clinches and Masvidal sticks out his tongue. He shoves Covington away. Ohhh! Masvidal rocks Covington with a huge counter left hand. Covington drops to a knee. And again! Covington is hurt. The crowd is going bonkers – as is Masvidal’s team. Masvidal doesn’t pursue much further, however. Covington seems OK for now. He clinches Masvidal against the fence again, resuming the dance that’s occurred for 90 percent of the fight thus far. Masvidal sticks his tongue out at the end of the round. Both fighters posture to the crowd. 39-37 Covington.
Round 5 – The fans are on their feet to start Round 5. But Covington quickly puts a damper on their parade. He takes Masvidal down again and threatens a choke. Masvidal continually gets to his feet, only to be dumped to his knees again and again. Covington is a wet blanket, but now he’s a wet blanket looking for both hooks. Masvidal defends it, but can’t escape Covington’s dominant ground game. Covington pads the stats with some short shots from the top. Masvidal spins and grabs hold of Covington’s leg. Covington seemingly effortlessly gets back to Masvidal’s back. Man, Covington is damn good. There’s no way around it, even though the crowd is booing. Covington finally moves into a low mount. Covington briefly works for a guillotine but lets go. Covington continues to look for a neck crank. Masvidal gives up mount and Covington pounds away. Masvidal rolls and Covington throws some punches as time expires. Masvidal shoves Covington with his feet after the horn. Covington taunts him as security gets in between. They’re still posturing. Covington is having a field day. 49-46 Covington.
Result: Colby Covington def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-44, 50-45)
Recap: Colby Covington mauls Jorge Masvidal to earn lopsided win in grudge match
Photos: Colby Covington def. Jorge Masvidal
Records: Colby Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC), Jorge Masvidal (35-16 MMA, 12-9 UFC)
Referee: Herb Dean
Judging: Junichiro Kumijo (49-46, scoring Round 2 for Masvidal); Derek Cleary (50-44, scoring Round 5 as a 10-8); Sal D’Amato (50-45)
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