Read on for results from the preliminary card of UFC 170, held February 22 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas....
Two undefeated newcomers kept their perfect records intact and two bantamweights built cases for title shots, but the highlight of the UFC 170 prelims aired on UFC Fight Pass, as Erik Koch made a devastating lightweight debut.
Oliveira vs. Koch
After dropping his last two bouts at featherweight, Erik Koch made a triumphant lightweight debut, using his TKD base to easily TKO Rafello Oliveira in the first round.
Both fighters started out light on their feet, with the southpaw Koch lobbing a high left head kick and Oliveira missing a flying knee. Oliveira did land a kick to Koch’s trunk, but Koch quickly threw a sharp left. It was the next left hand from Koch that sent Oliveira backward onto the mat and from there, Koch swarmed in and postured up with relentless ground-and-pound. The BJJ black belt “Tractor” tried to tie up but couldn’t even close his guard, and at 1:24, the ref had seen enough and waved things off.
The 25-year-old Roufusport product rises to 14-3 with the win, as Brazilian Oliveira slides to 15-7.
Davis vs. Eye
Fifth-ranked bantamweight Jessica Eye and third-ranked Alexis Davis duked it out for a potential title shot, and after three rounds, Davis inched closer up the rankings, winning a close split decision in the featured bout on FOX Sports 1
Action was instantaneous, with Eye opening with a punches in bunches that bullied Davis backward onto the links. A few foot stompsand uppercuts later, she broke and went back to center. After trading shots again, Davis threw a kick and Eye again pushed things back to the fence. This time, the ref had to break things up. The next clinch came in the center of the mat, with Eye relentlessly firing but Davis throwing knees. The struggle for position ended in Davis pushing Eye against the cageand throwing knees. Davis then scored a late-round takedown and ended the round in a dominant position.
Eye threw more leather in the second, but Davis soon got a takedown off a trip and hammerfisted from half-guard when she could escape Eye’s arm control. It was workmanlike but effective as Eye twisted, briefly giving up her back, and eating punches the entire time.
Round three was more punches from Eye and kicks from Davis, with Davis’ swelling eyes showing the effects of Eye’s range. Eye tossed off Davis’ best takedown attempt and continued to frustrate the wearying Davis by staying just out of her range. With two minutes left, Eye stayed sharp, with Davis eating a hard left from close quarters, a few straights, several big rights and a series of leg kicks.
The crowd disagreed with the judges’ scores for the Canadian, which were 29-28 twice and 28-29. Davis’ record improves to 16-5, while Eye’s loss moves her to 10-2 and snaps an eight-fight unbeaten streak.
Assuncao vs. Munhoz
Injury replacement Pedro Munhoz showed a heavyweight-sized heart, but proved to be outmatched and outsized by third-ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao, who picked up the unanimous decision win.
The Brazilian-born BJJ black belts slugged it out in the first, with the larger Assuncao picking his combinations and shots throughout the round. Munhoz’ best weapons were his leg kicks, although he did start to find his range as the clock ticked on. Assuncao pushed Munhoz backward with a spinning back kick, but it was bread-and-butter boxing that did the job.
Assuncao got things to the mat in round two off a caught kick, but Munhoz nearly heelhooked him. After eating vicious ground and pound from Assuncao on top, Munhoz scrambled to his feet like a cat and the crowd screamed its delight. Munhoz came forward with kicks, but each attack was met with powerful counters. A second caught kick put him back on the mat, and this time he tried to tangle Asssuncao in his guard, with Assuncao trying to slam his hand free.
Assuncao scored big in the third with two body kicks and a crushing left hand. With Munhoz pawing at his eye, Assuncao kept boxing his way toward the win, even as the game Munhoz continued to come forward. The pace slowed as the minutes waned, with Assuncao punctuating the fight with a late takedown and ground-and-pound.
The win (30-27x3) was Assuncao’s sixth straight, bumping his record to 21-4 and furthering his case for a title shot. Munhoz’ defeat, coming less than a month after his 41-second RFA title defense, was the first for the LA-based fighter (10-1).
Gibson vs. Sterling
Team Serra Longo bantamweight Aljamain Sterling stayed undefeated in his UFC debut, outworking fellow newcomer Cody Gibson (and fellow injury replacement, as the bout was originally slated to go down between Bryan Caraway and Lucas Martins) two rounds to one.
Sterling started wild, lobbing high kicks like jabs, until a wide left opened him for a takedown from Gibson. Sterling scooted to the fence and threw punches around Gibson, then getting back to the feet. Sterling then took hings to the mat but couldn’t do much from Gibson’s guard, so he backed up and positioned for a front choke as Gibson got to his knees. As soon as Gibson stood, Sterling threw knees and punches to his opponent’s body. When Gibson swung wide, Sterling got the body lock. He didn’t get the takedown, but he did trap Gibson against the fence for the rest of the round.
After a brief period with both bantamweights swinging for the fences, Gibson locked up, throwing body shots as Sterling threw knees. Gibson got the bodylock and belabored the takedown, then sprawled and instantly got another one. Gibson got Sterling’s back as Sterling stood, but didn’t work for the choke and Sterling was able to reverse, pushing Gibson intothe fence. After a slick scramble, college wrestler Gibson positioned for a guillotine and pulled guard. The choke seemed tight, but Sterling
used gravity to defend, standing until Gibson slid off.
Sterling backed up Gibson in three and landed a hard left and then his own takedown, where he stayed heavy on top before trying for an anaconda that let Gibson back to his feet. Gibson scored a big kick and gestured. Whether he was clipped or slipped, Gibson landed on his back, and Sterling dove on top, trapping one of Gibson’s arms and relentlessly punching the body as the crowd booed its impatience. Eventually Gibson rolled, giving up his back and likely the round, as Sterling finished the round with a leg triangle and an arm working under Gibson’s neck.
Sterling, a SUNY All-American wrestler, improves his record to 9-0, while Gibson slips to 11-4.
Makovsky vs. Sampo
Two college wrestlers with BJJ purple belts (and biology degrees) put on a busy ground war for much of three rounds, with 10th-ranked flyweight Zach Makovsky earning the unanimous decision over Josh Sampo in the first UFC 170 prelim that aired on FOX Sports 1.
Nearly identical in height and stature, the two started by trading kicks, both fighters launching high and low with their legs. The southpaw Maokovsky got an early, high-altitude takedown, but landed with his neck trapped. “Fun Size” escaped, and wound up in guard. Sampo stayed busy from his back, but was unable to lock in anything against his fellow wrestler. Makovsky stood and dove with two left hands, but Sampo landed a nice heel to the head from the ground. It was a busy scramble from both fighters, and the round ended back on the feet.
Makovsky tagged Sampo early in the second, but Sampo took the center of the Octagon and kept the pressure on. Makovsky missed his first takedown attempt but got the second, then the two quickly stood. Makovsky planted a foot to Sampo’s face, then drove things back to the mat. This time he managed to get to side control before Sampo slipped out and again worked for upkicks. In a scramble, Makovsky almost got a front choke, and back on the feet, his speed and power were on point. He mixed up attacks with his hands and kicks before landing another takedown, as Sampo struggled to find an effective offense.
Sampo opened aggressively in three, pushing forward with combinations, but Makovsky was still fresh enough to evade. A collision as both fighters came forward put Makovsky on his back for the first time, and Sampo threw punches from top position as he tried to pass. Back on the feet, Makovsky seemed content to make Sampo chase him, easily evading his punches and landing counters when he got too close. One more takedown from Makovsky with just over a minute left put the round’s scoring in question.
Philadelphia’s Makovsky improves to 18-4 with the win in his sophomore UFC bout, while Sampo’s drops to 11-3 in his. Scores for Fun Size were 30-27 twice and 29-28. “Josh and I are very similar in terms of body type, skills, and training background, so it was just going to be a matter of who can implement their game better," he said. "I was making him miss throughout the fight but I wasn’t able to counter as effectively as I should’ve."
Chavez vs. Cedeno
Two UFC newcomers took advantage of a short-notice opportunity to fight in the big show, with Ernest Chavez defeating Yosdenis “The Pink Panther” Cedeno by split decision in a lightweight bout booked just over two weeks ago.
Cuban-born striker Cedeno appeared to take the early lead, popping off leg kicks and big right hands from his spot in the center of the Octagon. Chavez found his own leg kicks, but struggled to close the distance with his hands against the taller, faster fighter. Chavez changed the tide in the second half, however, when Cedeno misfired a spinning back kick. Chavez grabbed the leg and turned it into a takedown, throwing ground-and-pound from side control and mount before taking Cedeno’s back.
Cedeno opened the second with big rights, but after eating a counter, the standup game slowed. Cedeno whiffed another high kick and as he turned with the kick, Chavez got back control and slammed things back to the canvas. Again he stayed in a side high control for most of the exchange, before a scramble back to the feet. Cedeno tried to repay the takedown from back control, but was unable to and found himself pinned against the fence. Referee Chris Tognoni re-started the two in the center, where Chavez stalked for the rest of the round.
Chavez seemed in charge at the beginning of the third, stalking Cedeno around the mat and forcing him to switch stances as his leg kicks started to add up. Chavez clinched against the cage with Cedeno being warned by Tognoni to not grab the fence. Cedeno surged to land a pair of head kicks, but Chavez was unimpressed and threw two hard jabs. With less than a minute left, Cedeno bounced on his feet before pushing forward with one last set of strikes, but Chavez easily clinched and pushed things into the links as the bell sounded.
Judges scored it 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27 for the Californian, who stays undefeated at 8-0 in the bout, which aired along with Oliveira vs. Koch on UFC Fight Pass. “The Pink Panther” slips to 9-3 and sees his six-fight winning streak snapped.