LAS VEGAS – MMA Junkie wass on scene and reported from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 215 event, and you can join us for live play-by-play and official results.
UFC Fight Night 215 took place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.
Former title challenger Derrick Lewis (26-10 MMA, 17-8 UFC) and Serghei Spivac (15-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) were supposed to meet in the heavyweight main event. However, the bout was canceled mid-card after Lewis fell ill.
Ion Cutelaba (16-9-1 MMA, 5-8-1 UFC) took on Kennedy Nzechukwu (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the new light heavyweight main event.
To discuss the show, be sure to check out our UFC Fight Night 215 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 – Good morning, good afternoon… or maybe even good evening, depending on where you’re reading from! We have some fistfights on our hands. First up, Tereza Bleda vs. Natalia Silva. Bleda making her UFC debut, while Silva trying to build on her momentum from her debut. Silva comes out with some leg kicks. They tie up against the fence. The struggle for position is real. They move away from the cage and Bleda gets a takedown in the center of the canvas. Bleda on top in half guard. Silva reverses position and ends up on top in Bleda’s guard. Bleda shoots for a triangle from the bottom. Silva isn’t fighting properly. She looks a bit lost. Bleda tries to transition to a straight armbar. Silva properly defends that by stepping over, but she’s still in the triangle. We’ve got a human pretzel on the ground right now. The round ends. Clear 10-9 Bleda.
Round 2 – Silva comes out flinging hands. Bleda smartly grabs hold of her tad-to-wild opponent and pushes her against the fence. Silva nicely circles away and out of Bleda’s clutches, only to be shot on again. Silva stuffs Bleda, but Bleda continues to hold on and once again drives the Brazilian into the fence. Bleda yanks Silva’s legs out and briefly gets a takedown. Silva uses the cage to rise up again. Bleda still clinching, driving into the fence. Silva escapes. Back in the center, Bleda looks tired. Silva has much more energy, as she displays with a speedy spinning back kick to the body. Bleda takes a deep breath as Silva tags her with a two-punch combination. Bleda walks into a big left hand by Silva, whose confidence is building each second. Silva walks forward and Bleda shoots. Once again, Bleda is shoving Silva against the fence. The horn sounds. Silva ties it up on the scorecards. It should now be even 19-19.
Round 3 – Silva catches a Bleda kick and tries to take the fight to the ground. Bleda pulls a Tony Ferguson and somersaults out of danger toward the cage. Bleda pushes Silva and they separate. Silva lands a head kick and then three punches. Bleda is pretty gassed. Bleda dives in for a takedown at the EXACT moment Silva throws a spinning back kick to the body. The kick implants directly on the chin and neck of Bleda, who goes down. She tries to get back up but Silva blasts her with a few more punches. Bleda flails around and referee Chris Tognoni saves the semi-conscious fighter.
Result: Natalia Silva def. Tereza Bleda via TKO (spinning kick and punches) – Round 3, 1:27
Recap: Natalia Silva rocks Tereza Bleda with spinning back kick finish
Records: Tereza Bleda (6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), Natalia Silva (14-5-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Round 1 – Both 0-1 in the UFC, these two men could have their backs up agains the wall here, you never know. And they come out firing like it! Garcia drops Hiestand on the first punch landed, a right hand. Hiestand tries to grab hold but Garcia grabs hold of Hiestand’s neck. He’s got a choke in from the back. It’s like a cross between a rear-naked choke and a bulldog choke. This is very odd, but Hiestand is flattened out and is cringing. Hiestand pops out! He’s now in side control on top. Garcia bucks him off and Hiestand pulls for a D’Arce choke. That was a mistake. Garcia gains top control, then tries to transition to the back. Hiestand reverses again and now has Garcia’s back as he scoots toward the cage. This is a WIlD fight already. Momentum shifts everywhere. Garcia turns into Hiestand and is now on top on guard. Hiestand briefly threatens a submission from the bottom and uses it to get up. Then he takes Garcia down! Man. Garcia gets up as Hiestand tries to backpack him. Hiestand leans down on Garcia, who sits on the canvas. Hiestand working for a choke, but he doesn’t have hooks in. Hiestand pulls Garcia back into him and now has the body lock. Hand-fighting commences. Hiestand struggling to get a proper grip. Garcia escapes and moves more toward center canvas, but Hiestand remains on top of him in guard. Garcia wiggles away and the two get up. They fire shots, but nothing lands. Hiestand shoots for a takedown, but Garcia dodges it. Hiestand gets back up as the round ends. What a pace! An early candidate for “Fight of the Night.” 10-9 Hiestand.
Round 2 – Garcia and Hiestand come out a tad more measured. Garcia lands a high kick as he moves foward. Hiestand on the slow retreat. Garcia lands a nice punch. Hiestand shoots. Garcia denies him and lands a leg kick. Both men are orthodox. Garcia really targeting the lead leg of Hiestand now, as another leg kick lands. Hiestand shoots again. Garcia initially looks OK, but when they hit the cage, Hiestand finishes off the takedown. Hiestand in side control, now North South. Hiestand goes around the world and ends up in side control on the other side. Back to North South. Too much movement from Hiestand. Garcia bucks him off and sneaks away. Back up, Garcia throws some big punches and shoots for a single leg against the fence. They separate. Garcia shoots for a double leg. Hiestand tries to use his opponent’s momentum against him and slams his own back against the canvas. It looked like an old school WWE piledriver, but Garcia landed on top of him. Garcia flurries some punches on Hiestand, who gets up. Hiestand shoots as the round ends. 19-19.
Round 3 – It’s anyone’s fight. Garcia lands a leg kick. Hiestand shoots again and shoves Garcia against the fence. Garcia tries to pull a switch, but the risk does not reward him. Hiestand follows through with his takedown and takes the back. One hook is in. Now the body lock is in. Hand-fighting commences. Some rabbit punches from Hiestand. They’re not really damaging, but certainly annoying. Garcia tries to turn into Hiestand. No dice because that body lock is tight. Hiestand is cranking the neck, but he doesn’t have the proper grip. Hiestand adjusts and now it’s a bit tighter. But Garcia escapes. Garcia throwing blind punches over his head. Hiestand returns with some blows of his own. The round ends with wild punches from both men. Fun fight. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Hiestand.
Result: Brady Hiestand def. Fernie Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Records: Fernie Garcia (10-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC), Brady Hiestand (6-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC)
Referee: Jacob Montalvo
Judging: Derek Cleary, Junichiro Kamijo, Anthony Maness (29-28, scoring Round 1 for Garcia)
Round 1 – Onto the next. Oliviera already the noticeably quicker fighter. Demopoulos is leading the dance, but Oliveira making her pay with counterstrikes. Oliveira tries a flying knee that misses. Demopoulos semi-shoots, but gives up. Oliveira uses her length with a punching combination. Oliveira’s jab is doing a good job of maintaining distance. Demopoulos perhaps senses this. She rushes in for a takedown and gets it. Demopoulos is in side control, but Oliveira returns her into side control. Demopolous postures up and then threatens a guillotine from top. Oliveira pulls her head out. Demopoulos is high up, nearly in mount. Demopoulos sneaks her second leg out and enters mount. Demopoulos lands some big elbows. Oliveira stops the onslaught momentarily, but Demopolous moments later finishes the round with some big strikes. Perhaps Oliveira was saved by the bell there. 10-9 Demopoulos.
Round 2 – Every round starts standing. Here’s Oliveira’s chance to muster up some offense. I’m not sure she can afford to get taken down again. There’s a fairly big gap there. Oliveira knocks Demopoulos off balance with a push kick to the stomach. Demopoulos gets up. Despite her success on the canvas, Demopoulos shows no indication she is uncomfortable in striking. They exchange. A massive, looping overhand right from Demopoulos drops Oliveira! Demopoulos pounces. Oliveira grabs her and eventually halts the flurry, but Demopoulos is on top of her again in a near-mount half guard. Demopoulos moves to mount. Oliveira is long and is doing a good job of breaking Demopoulos’ posture. Demopolous lands some big ground-and-pound as the round ends. 20-17 Demopoulos.
Round 3 – Oliveira comes out flying with a clear sense of urgency. Demopoulos on the retreat. Oliveira spams the front kick to the body, then lands a nice punching combination. Oliveira tags Demopoulos again. Demopoulos smartly shoots for a takedown. Oliveira hinders the initial push, but Demopoulos continues to drive and gets the takedown. Demopoulos is in, you guess it, half guard. Demopoulos nearly creeps into mount with some big strikes. Oliveira pushes her legs back into half guard. Demopoulos tries a submission but Oliveira escapes out the back door, gets to her feet, and marches toward Demopoulos. Oliveira lands a combination and eats one. Demopoulos is noticeably tired, but is fearless. Oliveira runs at her with a punching combination. Demopoulos throws back but misses. Oliveira charges forward with another combination but eats a punch in return. The horn sounds and the two fighters embrace. 30-26 Demopoulos.
Result: Vanessa Demopoulos def. Maria Oliveira via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Records: Vanessa Demopoulos (9-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Maria Oliveira (13-6 MMA, 1-2 UFC)
Division: Women’s strawweight
Referee: Keith Peterson
Judging: Mike Bell, Adalaide Byrd, Sal D’Amato (29-28, scoring Round 3 for Oliveira)
Round 1 – Turcios comes out with a heavy head kick. Natividad scores a takedown seconds later. Turcios fires punches off his back and grabs Natividad by the waist. Turcios reverses Natividad and drives him into the fence. Tucios yanks Natividad’s legs. Natividad gets up and away. Back on the feet, Natividad shoots again. Tucios meets him with some heavy Travis Browne elbows. Natividad sticks to the attempt and drags Tucios down. Natividad works to the back. They scramble and Turcios ends up nearly taking Natividad’s back. Natividad fends that off with a kneebar submission attempt. Turcios escapes and front headlocks Natividad, who gets up and lands an elbow on the break. Natividad lands a leg kick followed by a big knee to the head. Turcios takes a step backward, then shoots for a takedown, which he gets. Natividad scoots to the cage, gets up, and drives Turcios into the fence. Turcios spins Nativiad back toward the center of the cage. The fighters stumble to the canvas. Natividad drives Turcios into the canvas. They separate. Natividad nearly lands another big knee. Turcios takes him down and moves to the back but has no hooks. Natividad senses this and gets up. They separate as the round ends. Based on damage, 10-9 Natividad.
Round 2 – They trade kicks. Turcios shoots. Natividad threatens a kimura on the attempt, spins Turcios around, and lands on top. Turcios briefly gets up, only to be taken down again. Turcios gets up and drives Natividad into the fence. They separate, but Turcios lets his guard down on the break. Big mistake. Natividad drills him with a sneaky left hand and Turcios is on invisible roller skates. The punch connected right behind the ear. Turcios wildly shoots. Natividad punches him a bunch before Turcios works back up. They separate. Turcios appears to be recovered. Turcios shoots and gets a takedown. Turcios nearly moves into mount, but Natividad grabs a high crotch. Natividad elevates and drives Turcios into the fence. That man is strong. Turcios threatens a guillotine choke, then pulls a switch on Natividad. Turcios shoves Natividad into the cage. They separate and exchange as the round ends. 20-18 Natividad.
Round 3 – They trade. Natividad bowls Turcios over with a takedown, then grabs hold of the beck. Natividad working for a guillotine, but Turcios fights out of it. They rise back to the feet. Simultaneous jabs lands. Natividad throws a flying knee and Turcios walks right into it. The blow folds Turcios down, but he grabs a leg and drives Natividad to the fence. They separate. Natividad lands another flying knee, then a front kick to the face. Turcios eats it, presses forward, and lands a combination of his own. Turcios shoves Natividad into the fence. With his back against the cage, Natividad somehow drags Turcios to the canvas with a single leg. Turcios reverses and drives Natividad into the cage. They separate. Natividad whiffs on a big punch, as Turcios ducks under and tries another takedown. After some more wall-and-stall, they separate. Natividad shoots for a takedown. Turcios pulls a switch and gets Natividad’s back. He’s pounding away from back mount. Natividad shifts and Turcios grabs a rear-naked choke. There’s about 30 seconds left. What a come back this would be. Natividad looks OK for now – and he’s out! Wow. Turcios pummeling away from the back as the clock ticks away. There’s the horn. Close fight. Could go either way. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Natividad.
Result: Ricky Turcios def. Kevin Natividad via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Records: Kevin Natividad (9-4 MMA, 0-3 UFC), Ricky Turcios (12-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
Referee: Mark Smith
Judging: Derek Cleary, Sal D’Amato (29-28 Turcios, scoring Round 2 for Natividad); Anthony Maness (29-28 Natividad, scoring Round 3 for Turcios)
Round 1 – The two fighters are separated prior to the fighter introductions. There’s a little heat on this one. Johns shifted gyms from Fortis MMA to Glory MMA and Fitness for this camp, but James Krause is not in his corner. The fight starts. Technical boxing and feeling out to start. Neither man has really pulled trigger on anything and we’re already halfway through the round. More and more feeling out. Morales lands a nice one-two, as the round ends. I guess 10-9 Morales.
Round 2 – Morales jabs. Johns is bleeding from his mouth. Both men jab. Johns lands an inside leg kick. Lots of feints and pump-fakes from both men. They throw. Johns pokes Morales in the eye. Referee Chris Tognoni calls timeout. Morales has five minutes to recover. Tognoni warns Johns as Morales blinks it out. The doctor comes in to examine Morales. “That felt worse than anything else,” Morales says with a chuckle. After approximately a one minute break, the action resumes. More feeling out. There’s been lots of that in this one. Morales lands a combination and Johns returns with a better one. Johns misses on a big overhand right. He’s tried that a few times now. Johns shoots for a takedown and drives Morales into the fence. Morales lands some Travis Browne elbows. Johns elevates Morales and takes him down about one-and-a-half seconds before the horn. 19-19.
Round 3 – A jab lands from each man. Johns pressures Morales, who lands a nice punch. Johns shoots for a takedown. Morales hits the canvas, but pops up and separates. Morales jabs, then lands a nice body kick. Morales looks a little fresher. They’re finally opening up a tad. Lots of misses, but at least they’re throwing. Johns shoots for a takedown. Morales denies and lands a body kick. Johns finally lands that big overhand right he’s sought all fight. Johns shoots again. Morales evades. Morales lands a couple of teep kicks and a jab to the body. Johns shoots again. Morales largely defends. He briefly hit the canvas, but popped back up. Man, this is a really difficult fight to score in that there wasn’t much that happened over the course of the 15 minutes. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Morales.
Result: Miles Johns def. Vince Morales via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Records: Miles Johns (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Vince Morales (11-7 MMA, 3-5 UFC)
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Judging: Mike Bell, Adalaide Byrd (29-28, scoring Round 3 for Morales); Douglas Crosby (30-27)
Following the Miles Johns vs. Vince Morales decision, the promotion announces Derrick Lewis vs. Serghei Spivac has been canceled due to an illness with Lewis.
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Ion Cutelaba will serve as the new main event.
Round 1 – Maia comes out firing. Moroz jabs the body. Maia goes body head. Her striking is looking good. The right hand is working. Moroz is moving her feet well, but the moment she stops she eats a Maia punch. Each punch is accompanied with a verbal yell. Maia grabs hold of Moroz and drives her into the fence. Maia seeks a single leg. Moroz remains strong and fights off the attempt until the end-of-round horn sounds. 10-9 Maia.
Round 2 – Maia lands another slick combination. She radiates confidence right now. Moroz doesn’t look fazed though, as she moves forward. They both land punches. The volume has slowed, but each fighter is still moving well. They each miss on an exchange. Maia lands a cracking overhand right. Moroz returns with a combination, though she doesn’t appear to possess the same power. Moroz lands a slick jab as Maia moves forward. Lots of punches landing now. Moroz lands a good one. Maia returns, then front kicks Moroz in the mouth. Moroz just eats it. The round ends. 20-18 Maia.
Round 3 – Both women pick up where they left off. After a few exchanges, Moroz lands the first significant strike of the fight. A punch sends Maia backward stumbling, though it didn’t appear to really rock her as much as it knocked her off balance. Maia’s head movement is making a difference. They both have decent footwork, but Moroz seems to be on a bit of a straight line whereas Maia uses lateral movement. Maia lands another nice combination. When Moroz closes the distance, Maia ties her up and pushes her into the cage. They separate just prior to the horn sounding. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Maia.
Result: Jennifer Maia def. Maryna Moroz via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Records: Jennifer Maia (19-9-1 MMA, 4-5 UFC), Maryna Moroz (11-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Referee: Jacob Montalvo
Judging: Sal D’Amato (30-27); Derek Cleary, Junichiro Kamijo (29-28, scoring Round 3 for Moroz)
Round 1 – Zhumagulov throws a leg kick, and another, and another. Johnson s known for his movement, so perhaps Zhumagulov is trying to take that advantage away right off the bat. Johnson uses his front kick to the midsection. Zhumagulov throws an overhand but gets poked in the eye. Timeout. After a brief pause, the action resumes. Johnson throws a pair of body kicks. Zhumagulov comes over the top and shoots for a takedown. Johnson shoves him away. Johnson throws a kick. Zhumagulov catches it and comes over the top with a right hand. Zhumagulov moves forward with a combination. Johnson tries to use Anderson Silva-like head movement to dip and dodge away from danger, but Zhumagulov clips him. Johnson lands, then drills Zhumagulov in the groin. Timeout. The action resumes shortly thereafter. Zhumagulov lands a nice punch and moves forward. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown. He briefly gets Johnson down. Johnson gets up and fires a series of kicks. Zhumagulov counters with a hard punch. Johnson whiffs on a hook and weirdly stumbles on his right foot. He pauses. I wonder if he hurt something there. Zhumagulov lands another solid punch. The round ends. 10-9 Zhumagulov.
Round 2 – Zhumagulov comes out hard with a series of punches. Zhumagulov lands a low kick. His striking looks great thus far. He has a variety of weapons that are successful. Johnson punches the body. Zhumagulov complains of an eye poke. Referee Keith Peterson rules it a punch and tells them to fight on. Moments later, Johnson is hit in the groin. He crumples to the canvas. Peterson calls timeout. Johnson is given sufficient time to recover and the action resumes. Johnson comes out with a kick-heavy, stance switching attack. Perhaps he went to the well one time too many, however. Zhumagulov catches a kick and takes him down. Johnson gets up and presses Zhumagulov against the fence. Johnson lands a knee, and another. They both land punches upon separation. The horn sounds. 20-18 Zhumagulov.
Round 3 – Oh my god. In the opening seconds, Johnson both kicks Zhumagulov in the groin. I am not kidding. After a two minute break, the action resumes. Johnson stomps his back foot emphatically – over and over. This is bizarre. He then does high knees toward Zhumagulov. OK. Johnson with a lot of pressure and a lot of showboating. He just needs some actually successful offense and he’ll be golden. He tags Zhumagulov with a nice punch. That’s a start. Johnson lands another combination. Zhumagulov looks a bit tired. A hard left hand lands for Johnson. Zhumagulov swings wildly and almost falls over. Johnson shoots for a takedown, clinches agains the cage, and lands a nice combination on the break. Johnson standing nearly totally sideways, like an exaggerated karate stance. Johnson jumps in and Zhumagulov tries to tie him up. Johnson evades and finishes strong as the horn sounds. MMA Junkie scores it 29-28 Zhumagulov.
Result: Charles Johnson def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Records: Charles Johnson (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-8 MMA, 1-5 UFC)
Referee: Keith Peterson
Judging: Derek Cleary, Sal D’Amato (29-28 Johnson, scoring Round 1 for Zhumagulov); Douglas Crosby (29-28 Zhumagulov, scoring Round 3 for Johnson)
Round 1 – Della Maddalena comes out firing. After he sees Roberts’ initial reaction to his power, Della Maddalena swarms. He lands a dozen-plus punches to the head and body of Roberts, who covers up along the cage. Despite his lack of offense, Roberts survives the swarm without noticeable damage. They reset. Maddalena hits Roberts with another brutal, continuous combination. A punch drops Roberts to the canvas. Della Maddalena follows him to the canvas. Roberts ties him up. They get back to the feet. Della Maddalena is a measured killer. He resets again and lands another hard series of strikes. His knees are working, in particular. Roberts shoots for a takedown. Della Maddalena defends successfully. Della Maddalena lands a lead hook to the body that drops Roberts’ guard. As Roberts struggles to stay upright, Della Maddalena sends him down with three or four more punches. That’s it! Della Maddalena made that look easy. He’s scary. Three-for-three in the UFC. All by knockout.
Result: Jack Della Maddalena def. Danny Roberts via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:24
Recap: Jack Della Maddalena overwhelms Danny Roberts for first-round TKO
Records: Jack Della Maddalena (13-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC), Danny Roberts (18-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC)
Referee: Mark Smith
Round 1 – All righty. We could be in for some real violence with this one. The paper metrics would indicate someone is going to sleep. They exchange kicks early. A measuring process ensues. Salikhov breaks the stalemate with a slapping leg kick. Salikhov tries a lashing spinning wheel kick. It whiffs and Fialho is lucky it did. That had some serious torque. Fialho lands an uppercut, then a few more strikes. Salikhov cracks Fialho in the midsection with a spin kick. That’s his thing. Fialho continues to move forward. Salikhov shoots and gets Fialho down. Unexpected. Fialho works his way back up. Salikhov lands another spin kick. Fialho immediately answers with a hard left. That noticeably hurt Salikhov. His eye is injured. He keeps touching it and it’s swelling shut. Salikhov essentially welcomes Fialho to clinch him against the fence, but then reverses position. They swing as the buzzer sounds. Let’s see if Salikhov’s eye allows him to fight beyond the break. For now, 10-9 Fialho.
Round 2 – Salikhov’s eye isn’t good, but the swelling acceleration has halted. His eye is still open, with the damage below it. He fights on. Salikhov lands a punching combination and a good body kick. Another loud spin kick by Salikhov to the body of Fialho connects. Moments later, a spinning backfist cracks Fialho. Salikhov smells blood. Fialho backs up and Salikhov rips a few more shots. Salikhov tries a wheel kick to the head, but it whiffs. Salikhov is having his way with Fialho all of a sudden, much different than Round 1. Salikhov rocks Fialho, who is all sorts of off balance. Stumbling, Fialho throws a combination and wipes out. His brain is clearly trying to figure out which direction up is and which direction down is. Salikhov pounces and lands a barrage of ground-and-pound shots, referee Chris Tognoni tells Fialho to fight back. Fialho absorbs a bunch of punches, but does just enough to keep Tognoni at bay. Salikhov finishes the round on top in guard. 19-18 Salikhov.
Round 3 – Fialho’s corner asks him if he’s all right in between rounds. Apparently he is, because the fight resumes. Fialho throws a combination. Just when we all forgot about the spin kick, Salikhov loudly reminds us. The spinning kick cracks Fialho in the gut. Fialho squats and grimaces, but stands up. Salikhov lands a series of strikes. Salikhov resets and spins with another kick – only this time to the head. Fialho clutches his own skull as Salikhov lands a few follow-up punches. That’s it. Tognoni jumps in. Fialho was still standing and didn’t love the stoppage, but it’s hard to argue given the context of the situation and his reaction to that kick. Violence reigns supreme once again. This time in the form of Muslim Salikhov.
Result: Muslim Salikhov def. Andre Fialho via TKO (wheel kick and punches) – Round 3, 1:03
Recap: Muslim Salikhov finishes Andre Fialho with spinning back kick, punches
Records: Andre Fialho (16-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Muslim Salikhov (19-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
Referee: Chris Tognoni
Round 1 – Big boys up next. Sherman was supposed to fight a few weeks ago, but the bout was canceled after weigh-ins. Meanwhile, Cortes-Acosta did fight a few weeks ago. He won his UFC debut. Let’s see how long this lasts. Sherman lands a punch and follows it with a big leg kick. That got a massive reaction out of Cortes-Acosta, who moments later jabs the body. Sherman returns to leg kicks, then lands a two-punch combination. Cortes-Acosta charges in but Sherman evades. Lots of misses. Cortes-Acosta lands a combination. Sherman lands another leg kick. Cortes-Acosta catches his kick on the return and walks Sherman to the fence. Sherman breaks the clinch and lands more leg kicks. Cortes-Acosta gets a little reckless and Sherman grabs hold of him. Sherman turns him into the fence. After brief stalling, Cortes-Acosta moves away. They reset. Sherman trips Cortes-Acosta over. Sherman on top in side control. The round ends. 10-9 Sherman.
Round 2 – Cortes-Acosta lands a few punches. His hands look sharp. Cortes-Acosta appears to stun Sherman with a combination. Sherman retreats as Cortes-Acosta flings fists at him. Sherman recovers, but Cortes-Acosta’s confidence has multiplied. Sherman jumps in with a combination. A right hand tags Cortes-Acosta. He didn’t like that. Back in the center, Cortes-Acosta connects on an overhand right. I’m not sure where Sherman’s leg kicks went. As soon as they disappeared, so did his overall success. Cortes-Acosta lands another punch. Sherman shoots. Cortes-Acosta shoves him away. Cortes-Acosta checks a leg kick and yells at Sherman, who smiles. Cortes-Acosta fires a combination, as Sherman retreats. Cortes-Acosta catches Sherman’s kick and lands a body shot. Sherman complains a groin shot, but referee Jacob Montalvo says to fight on. Cortes-Acosta goes back to work. Cortes-Acosta lands a punch that stuns Sherman, who backpedals. Cortes-Acosta lands a ton of punches. Sherman flees in an attempt to escape but Cortes-Acosta stays on him. Montalvo gets closer. He’s close to a stoppage. Sherman throws a few slow punches and a knee, then ties up Cortes-Acosta. They separate. The round ends. 19-18 Cortes-Acosta.
Round 3 – Sherman clatters a leg kick. He needs more of those, to say the least. The break in between rounds seemed to serve Cortes-Acosta well. He looks slightly rejuvenated. A jab snaps Sherman’s head back. Sherman tries a teep to the stomach, but Cortes-Acosta returns with a hard combination. A reset is followed by another Cortes-Acosta combination. Sherman is showing some real toughness here, but offense is needed not just defense. A left hand lands for Sherman, then a leg kick. Cortes-Acosta jabs. Cortes-Acosta lands a short left check-hook. Both fighters land. They jab. Sherman spams the leg kick. Not a bad idea. Cortes-Acosta with a little pep in his step as he shuffles. Sherman gets aggressive and Cortes-Acosta buries a right hand in his face. They trade kicks. Time expires. MMA Junkie scores it 29-27 Cortes-Acosta.
Result: Waldo Cortes-Acosta def. Chase Sherman via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Records: Waldo Cortes-Acosta (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Chase Sherman (16-11 MMA, 4-10 UFC)
Referee: Jacob Montalvo.
Judging: Anthony Maness (30-27); Sal D’Amato, Junichiro Kamijo (29-28, scoring Round 1 for Sherman)
Round 1 – The semi-impromptu main event is upon us. Cutelaba and Nzechukwu get the extended walkout treatment, walking from the bowels of the UFC Apex to the cage. Remember this is still three rounds, not five. We’re off. Cutelaba comes out swinging, as he normally does. He lands some good shots on Nzechukwu, who covers up. Cutelaba grabs hold of Nzechukwu and after a brief struggle drags him to the ground. Cutelaba is in half guard. Nzechukwu blocks mount attempts, then moves Cutelaba into his guard. Nzechukwu shoves Cutelaba off and scrambles up. Cutelaba clinches him against the fence. Cutelaba head-and-arm throws him to the canvas. Cutelaba has a headlock on Nzechukwu and lands some short punches. Nzechukwu slips out the back and clinches Cutelaba against the fence. Cutelaba uses a kimura threat as a defense. Nzechukwu tries to elevate Cutelaba. No luck. Cutelaba stomps hard on Nzechukwu’s foot – over and over again. Ouch. The round ends. 10-9 Cutelaba.
Round 2 – Cutelaba lands a leg kick. They trade punches and they’re getting a little wild. Cutelaba shoots for a takedown and Nzechukwu lands a beautiful knee that stuns him. Nzechukwu charges and gets hit in the groin. Referee Keith Peterson calls timeout, but Nzechukwu realizes that’ll give Cutelaba the opportunity to continue. He instructs Peterson to keep the fight going. The action resumes and Nzechukwu lands another knee. Cutelaba stumbles backward and bounces off the cage. Nzechukwu pummels away. Cutelaba tries to get up but is put back down. In steps Keith Peterson. That’s it. What a high IQ finish from Nzechukwu. Beautiful comeback.
Result: Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Ion Cutelaba via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:02
Recap: Kennedy Nzechukwu throttles Ion Cutelaba in makeshift main event
Records: Ion Cutelaba (16-9-1 MMA, 5-8-1 UFC), Kennedy Nzechukwu (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Division: Light heavyweight
Referee: Keith Peterson
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