ANSAROFF vs GADELHA
Strawweight contender Nina Ansaroff’s fourth consecutive win was the biggest of her career, as she defeated former world title challenger Claudia Gadelha via unanimous decision in UFC 231 prelim action at Scotiabank Arena.
Gadelha’s striking was sharp and fast in the early going, and she used it well until getting the fight to the mat in the second minute. After eating some ground strikes, Ansaroff got back to her feet with a little over two minutes left, and she went on to land a nice side kick and some hard shots down the stretch.
Ansaroff’s standup attack kept her in control through much of the second round before a Gadelha takedown with under two minutes left. Ansaroff stayed busy off her back, though, not allowing Gadelha to take control.
With a stiff jab that was marking up Gadelha’s face, Ansaroff was able to keep the Brazilian at bay in the third round, wrapping up a dominant frame for the Floridian, who took the bout via three identical scores of 29-28.
The No. 11-ranked Ansaroff moves to 10-5 with the win. The No. 3-ranked Gadelha falls to 16-4.
BURNS vs AUBIN-MERCIER
Gilbert Burns delivered a well-rounded effort in his lightweight bout against Olivier Aubin-Mercier en route to a three-round unanimous decision victory.
Aubin-Mercier (12-4) got off to an aggressive start on the feet, a start slowed down by a Burns slam in the second minute. Aubin-Mercier eventually worked his way back up, only to get dropped by a left hook with a little over 90 seconds left. Burns (14-3) went in for the finish with his fists and his grappling, but the Canadian was able to survive.
OAM again played the aggressor through much of round two, but Burns’ counters were doing more damage and his defense was tight. Add in a late takedown, and it was a solid round for the Brazilian, who had another convincing frame in the third, making his victory by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28 a clear-cut one.
EYE vs CHOOKAGIAN
Cleveland’s Jessica Eye made her case for a shot at the women’s flyweight title with a razor-close three-round split decision win over Katlyn Chookagian.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for the No. 9-ranked Eye, now 14-6, 1 NC. The No. 3-ranked Chookagian falls to 11-2.
The first two rounds were tough to score, with Eye the aggressor and Chookagian effective with her counters. Strike totals were nearly even as well, making the final round an important one. In the second minute of the third, the two went to the mat, with both trading control until getting back to the feet. Chookagian upped her work rate in the second half of the round, but just when it looked like she was starting to pull ahead, Eye would roar back, reflecting the closeness of the bout.
THEODOROU vs ANDERS
Fighting for the first time in his hometown of Toronto, middleweight contender Elias Theodorou picked up an important victory over up and comer Eryk Anders via split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for the No. 14-ranked Theodorou, now 17-2. Anders falls to 11-3.
Anders was the aggressor throughout the opening round. That was the good news for the Alabama product. The bad news was that Theodorou used a stick and move strategy to perfection as he got in and out with little difficulty against his foe over the first five minutes.
The pattern continued in round two, but Theodorou was slowing down and beginning to look at the clock. Anders got close with under two minutes left and rocked the Canadian, and he did the same thing with less than a minute remaining, changing the complexion of the fight. With less than 20 seconds to go, Anders scored a knockdown, but Theodorou got up quickly and made it to the end of the frame.
By the third, Theodorou had his legs back, and while the round was close, the Canadian’s work rate allowed him to eke out the win, his third in a row.
KATONA vs LOPEZ
Ultimate Fighter winner Brad Katona made a successful return to bantamweight, outpointing tough veteran Matthew Lopez over three rounds.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Winnipeg’s Katona, now 9-0. Lopez falls to 10-4.
The first round was filled with crisp exchanges on the feet, with both fighters having moments of success. And while Lopez appeared to pull ahead with a late takedown, once the fighters hit the deck, it was Katona landing several elbows from his back.
Katona kept the pace high in the second, outworking Lopez throughout the frame, leading to quite the pep talk from Trevor Wittman to Lopez between rounds two and three. Lopez responded in the third, but as the round progressed, the Coloradan slowed down and Katona surged, not just on the feet, but on the mat, nearly getting a rear naked choke submission as the fight ended.
LIMA vs LAPRISE
Two-time TUF finalist Dhiego Lima won his first UFC bout 2014, knocking out Chad Laprise in the first round of their welterweight bout.
Laprise got into Lima’s face as the bout commenced, putting steady pressure on in the early going. But Lima stayed calm, and as soon as he stepped in with a left hook, it was game over, as Laprise caught the shot flush and fell hard to the mat. Lima didn’t even need to follow up, with referee Graham Bettes halting the bout at 1:37 of round one.
Atlanta’s Lima moves to 15-7 with the win. Chatham’s Laprise falls to 14-4.
FERREIRA vs NELSON
Lightweight standout Diego Ferreira made it three wins in a row, halting late replacement Kyle Nelson in two rounds.
Ontario’s Nelson came out throwing bombs, rattling the Brazilian early. Ferreira got off some strikes in response, but the Canadian kept marching forward. Just past the midway point of the round, Ferreira got a takedown and began working for Nelson’s arm. Nelson was able to get free, but Ferreira adjusted well and fired off hard strikes from the top position. With less than 30 seconds left, Ferreira looked to be close to a finish, but the horn intervened.
Ferreira took it right back to the mat to start round two, and he quickly got into the mount. From there another series of unanswered blows followed, and referee Ivan Svec stopped the fight at 1:23 of the second stanza.
With the win, Ferreira moves to 14-2. Nelson, who replaced Jesse Ronson, falls to 12-2.
RAKIC vs CLARK
Austrian light heavyweight Aleksandar Rakic survived some rocky moments against Devin Clark to roar back and stop his opponent late in the first round of the UFC 231 opener.
Clark (9-3) opened the show with a right hand that scored a flash knockdown of Rakic (11-1), who bounced right back up. Moments later, it was the left hand that put Rakic down, and this time he was rocked. As he rose, Clark landed several knees, some of which were illegal, as Rakic’s hands were on the canvas. Rakic again shook off the effects of the blows and he was able to get free, where he began digging into Clark’s legs with kicks. Then, with slightly over a minute left, a right backfist rattled Clark and sent him stumbling to the mat. There, Rakic unloaded with ground strikes until referee Brian Beauchamp called a halt to the fight at 4:05 of the first round.