UFC returns to Columbus, Ohio for the first time in 13 years with a thrilling heavyweight contenders’ battle that will see No. 4 ranked Curtis Blaydes take on No. 9 ranked Chris Daukaus. In a clash of top flyweights, No. 2 ranked contender Askar Askarov faces No. 6 Kai Kara-France in a matchup with title implications.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT: BLAYDES vs DAUKAUS will take place Saturday, March 26 from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. All bouts will be available exclusively on ESPN+ (English and Spanish), with the main card beginning at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. The prelims will kick off at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.
*The main event is scheduled for five rounds. The remaining bouts are scheduled for three rounds. | Official Scorecards
In the featherweight opener, Luis Saldana scored a close, but unanimous, decision over Bruno Souza
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Saldana, now 16-7. Souza falls to 10-3.
Souza and Saldana traded strikes on the feet for much of the first round, Souza scoring with a big right hand while Saldana landed a series of leg kicks, but it was a pair of late takedowns by Saldana that may have earned him the frame.
Souza picked up the pace in the second, and outside of another Saldana takedown, he clearly held the edge. In a competitive third stanza, Saldana finally began landing the better shots, and that proved to be the difference in the fight.
Matheus Nicolau snapped David Dvorak’s 16-fight winning streak in their clash of flyweight contenders, defeating his foe via unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for the No.7-ranked Nicolau, now 18-3-1. The No.10-ranked Dvorak falls to 20-4.
It was a slow first round, with Dvorak chasing Nicolau throughout, but it was the Brazilian who scored with a few counters that momentarily stopped the boos coming from the crowd.
There was more of the same in the second until a left hook to the head by Nicolau in the closing minute dropped and nearly stopped Dvorak. Dvorak made it to the end of the round, but he got wobbled again early in the final frame. Again, he recovered and made a fight out of it, but the damage had already been done on the scorecards.
France’s Manon Fiorot scored an important victory over Top Five ranked flyweight contender Jennifer Maia, defeating the Brazilian via unanimous decision.
All three judges saw it 30-27 for the No.13-ranked Fiorot, now 9-1. The No.4-ranked Maia falls to 19-9-1.
Fiorot largely controlled the first frame from long range thanks to her body kicks, but when the shorter Maia did get within striking distance, she got her opponent’s attention and made it a close round.
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Maia got close to start round two and looked to be on the verge of getting a takedown, but it was Fiorot who threw the Brazilian to the mat and got into her guard. On the way up, Fiorot almost got her leg caught, but she escaped, only to get taken down by Maia. Fiorot quickly reversed position, though, and again settled into the top position. With two minutes to go, the pair were back on their feet. With a little over a minute to go, Maia nailed Fiorot with a head kick, but the France native took it well and the bout headed to a third round, where Maia continued to be game in chasing victory, but just came up short.
Highly touted Aliaskhab Khizriev impressed in his UFC debut, as he submitted fellow newcomer Denis Tiuliulin in the second round in a clash of Russian middleweights.
The pair traded hard shots on the feet until a takedown by Khizriev a minute into the bout, and the “Black Wolf” kept Tiuliulin there until under two minutes remained. Back on the feet, a firefight broke out, with Tiuliulin holding a slight edge until the horn.
Khizriev appeared to be the fresher of the two as the second round began, and after some solid standup work, he took Tiuliulin down, took his back, and then sunk in the rear naked choke that forced a tap out at 1:58 of round two.
With the win, Khizriev moves to 14-0. Tiuliulin, who stepped in for Abus Magomedov on short notice, falls to 10-6.
Bantamweight up and comer Chris Gutierrez extended his unbeaten streak to seven with a second-round stoppage of Batgerel Danaa.
Danaa’s right hand was on target in the first round, but it was the left that did most of the damage when the fight went to the mat in the closing moments of the frame. And while Gutierrez had success in the opening stanza, he upped the ante in the second, and the spinning move that got him taken down a round earlier now hit the mark, dropping Danaa hard to the mat. A follow-up barrage of elbows then ended matters, with referee Herb Dean halting the bout at 2:34 of round two.
Gutierrez moves to 18-3-2 with the win. Danaa falls to 10-3.
Veteran bantamweight contender Sara McMann held off a late rally from Karol Rosa to win a three-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for the No.9-ranked McMann, now 13-6. The No.12-ranked Rosa falls to 15-4.
McMann got the fight to the mat in the second minute of the fight, and she kept Rosa grounded for the rest of the frame, cementing a dominant round for the former Olympic silver medalist. There was more of the same in the second stanza, and this time McMann took Rosa’s back as they went to the canvas. After the action stalled, McMann went for an armbar in the final minute, but Rosa was able to survive and make it out of the round.
Knowing she was down two rounds, Rosa came out swinging in the final frame, only to get taken down by McMann once more. The Brazilian worked back to her feet twice, and after the second time, she put McMann on her back. The two rose once more with less than a minute to go, and while Rosa took the round, it was McMann’s night.
Noted lightweight striker Marc Diakiese turned the tables on Viacheslav Borshchev, using his grappling attack to defeat his foe via unanimous decision
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Diakiese, now 15-5. Borshchev falls to 6-2.
Diakiese was intent on getting the fight to the mat in the opening stages of the fight, and two minutes in, he got the takedown he was looking for. Borshchev defended well and stayed out of serious danger, but Diakiese remained in control in the grappling exchanges.
Borshchev fired off kicks to Diakiese’s legs to start round two, but the Brit easily responded with a takedown of his tiring foe and he once again locked up another frame on the scorecards. The third was a carbon copy of the previous two, making it a dominant win for the “Bonecrusher.”
Neil Magny gutted out a three-round split decision over Max Griffin, tying Georges St-Pierre for most wins in UFC welterweight history with 19 in the process.
Scores were 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 for the No.9-ranked Magny, now 26-9. Griffin falls to 18-9.
After teasing his power early on, a right hand by Griffin landed and dropped Magny just before the middle of round one, but the Coloradan got back to his feet and recovered well, as he led the action the rest of the way. “Pain” remained the busier striker in the second stanza, but this time, the cleaner shots were landed by Magny, who was able to goad Griffin into a brawl at opportune times. The Californian came out swinging to start the third, but Magny locked him up against the fence and dragged him to the mat 90 seconds in. Magny worked for the finish, only for Griffin to escape and get upright with a little over a minute to go. But Magny was relentless in his attack, dropping Griffin on his head as the final seconds ticked away.
Kai Kara-France made his case for a shot at the flyweight title as he handed Askar Askarov his first pro loss via unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for the No.6-ranked Kara-France, now 24-9, 1 NC. The No.2-ranked Askarov falls to 14-1-1.
Askarov put Kara-France on his back in the second minute, and he quickly too his foe’s back. Kara-France rose to his feet with two minutes left, but Askarov remained on his back and worked for the rear naked choke. The Kiwi made it out of the round, though, and in the second it was a different story, as Kara-France successfully defended Askarov’s takedowns and began tagging and stunning him with big shots upstairs in the final 90 seconds of the frame.
Askarov went all-in for the takedown in the final round, but again, Kara-France defended well and was able to separate and go back to looking for the strikes that would end the fight. And though Askarov took those shots well, there were enough of them to secure the win for the birthday boy from New Zealand.
Expected to deliver a thriller, welterweights Matt Brown and Bryan Barberena did just that for three rounds, with Barberena edging Columbus’ Brown via split decision.
Scores in the welterweight bout were 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 for Barberena, now 17-8. Brown falls to 25-19.
After a sweep in the second minute, Brown locked up with Barberena and then took the fight to the canvas, but Barberena found his way upright with two minutes to go. Down the stretch, both fighters had their moments in a close round.
Brown opened the second with a thudding kick to the body, and followed it up a minute later with a takedown. Barberena didn’t stay there long, but Brown’s striking at close range remained effective. An elbow by Barberena appeared to turn the tide, but it was a Brown takedown that allowed him to clear his head. After slipping free on the mat, Barberena got into the top position before the two stood, and it was Barberena closing strong on the bloodied Ohio native.
The foot sweep worked a third time early in round three, allowing Brown to get in some shots on his foe before the two battled it out against the fence. Now both fighters were bloodied and still throwing, battling fatigue as the crowd roared. With less than two minutes left, Brown scored a takedown that Barberena rose from immediately, and “Bam Bam” went on the attack, only to be greeted by return fire from Brown. And if they hadn’t given the fans enough, Brown and Barberena slugged it out for the final 30 seconds, capping off a memorable 15 minutes.
In the UFC Fight Night co-main event, Alexa Grasso scored the first submission win of her career, as she defeated fellow flyweight contender Joanne Wood in the opening round.
The expected striking battle went to the mat in the first minute of the bout, with Grasso landing in Wood’s guard. After a spell on the canvas, the two rose, and Wood was busy and sharp with her strikes until the fight went back to the mat. This time, it was Grasso taking Wood’s back and sinking in the rear naked choke that forced the tap out at 3:57 of the opening round.
With the win, the No.9 ranked Grasso moves to 14-3. The No.7-ranked Wood falls to 15-8.
Top Five heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes looked to make a statement in his UFC Fight Night main event against Chris Daukaus and it was mission accomplished, as he stopped his foe in the second round and kept his name prominent in the hunt for a world title shot.
Daukaus landed a couple right hands early and Blaydes evened the score a minute later, each getting a taste of the other’s power. As the round progressed, Blaydes was the slightly sharper of the two, offensively and defensively, and he left Daukaus with a cut over the left eye as the round ended.
As round two began, the combatants traded, and Blaydes’ right hand hit the mark first, dropping Daukaus to the canvas. The Philadelphia native tried to recover, but Blaydes wasn’t having it, and after a barrage of follow-up shots, referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the fight at :17 of round two.
With the win, the No.4-ranked Blaydes moves to 16-3, 1 NC. The No.9-ranked Daukaus falls to 12-5.
UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus took place on Saturday, March 26, 2022, live from a sold out Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.
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