Highly-touted bantamweight newcomer Julia Avila delivered an impressive victory in her Octagon debut, winning a three-round unanimous decision over Pannie Kianzad.
Scores were 30-27 and 30-26 twice for Avila, now 7-1. Kianzad, who replaced the injured Melissa Gatto, falls to 12-5.
There were some excellent back and forth action in the opening round, particularly in the clinch, where Avila scored with short elbows and flush knees while Kianzad largely controlled the location of the fight.
The fight remained nip and tuck in the second, but the biggest scoring blows came from the bloodied Avila, who staggered Kianzad with a combination with less than 90 seconds left.
In the second minute of the final round, Avila dropped Kianzad with another accurate punch and then took over on the mat when the Swede survived the initial striking assault, keeping her foe there until the final horn.
Welterweight up and comer Chance Rencountre pulled off the upset in his bout with Ismail Naurdiev, winning a clear-cut three-round unanimous decision over “The Austrian Wonderboy.”
Scores were 29-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Oklahoma’s Rencountre, now 14-3. Austria’s Naurdiev falls to 18-3.
Naurdiev came out blasting with kicks and punches, but Rencountre walked through the shots and got the fight to the mat with three minutes left in the round and that’s where he kept it until the horn sounded.
After another kick by Naurdiev to start the second, Rencountre again dragged his foe to the mat and took his back. After a brief spell of being flattened out, Naurdiev got his back on the mat, but he remained grounded. It was much the same story in the final frame, as Rencountre’s pressure and grappling nullified any of Naurdiev’s attacks.
Middleweight phenom Edmen Shahbazyan continued to impress, as he submitted veteran Jack Marshman in just 72 seconds.
After a couple solid standup exchanges, the 21-year-old Shahbazyan took the fight to the mat and unleashed some hard ground strikes. Marshman survived the strikes, but the Californian moved to a rear naked choke and forced the Welshman to tap out at 1:12 of the opening frame.
With the win, Shahbazyan moves to 10-0. Marshman falls to 23-9.
Chinese up and comer Song Yadong made it 4-0 in the UFC with a blistering first-round knockout of Mexican bantamweight contender Alejandro Perez.
The two took their time getting acclimated to the Octagon and each other, but then Song unleashed a perfect right hand to the jaw that put Perez down and out, with referee Herb Dean making it official at the 2:04 mark.
With the win, the 21-year-old Song moves to 15-4 with 1 NC. The No. 13-ranked Perez falls to 22-8-1.
Brazilian strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha got back in the win column with a shutout decision win over Canada’s Randa Markos.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for the No. 5-ranked Gadelha, now 17-4. The No. 14-ranked Markos falls to 9-8-1.
The first round was a war of nerves as the two searched for openings on the feet. There were a couple significant exchanges in the final minute, but neither fighter was in any danger.
Markos got a little busier in the second, and her ability to land some more shots and even turn back a late Gadelha takedown attempt gave her some momentum heading into the final frame. The third returned to the pattern established in the first, with Gadelha in control and content to outbox Markos, even though the crowd wasn’t happy with the lack of consistent action.
Bantamweight standout Marlon Vera held off a strong charge from late replacement opponent Nohelin Hernandez to submit the newcomer in the second round and extend his winning streak to four.
After some even work on the feet to start the bout, Vera caught a kick in the second minute and then took Hernandez’ back as the fight went to the mat. Vera transitioned to an armbar with a little over a minute left, but Hernandez used ground strikes to break free and end the round strong.
Hernandez kept the momentum going into the second round with some strong strikes and a takedown. Vera was starting to show fatigue, but as the two got back to their feet, “Chito” got a second wind, and after landing a knee, the fight went to the mat and Vera sunk in the rear naked choke that ended the bout at 3:25 of round two.
With the win, Vera moves to 14-5-1. Hernandez, who replaced Sean O’Malley, falls to 10-3.
Featherweight up and comer Arnold Allen likely stamped his ticket to the top 15 with a dominant three-round decision win over veteran contender Gilbert Melendez.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Allen, now 15-1. Melendez, who was fighting for the first time since September 2017, falls to 22-8.
Allen was sharp throughout the first five minutes, as he outworked Melendez and landed the more significant shots, particularly to the body, and it was more of the same in the second, as “El Nino” was willing but he was one step behind the Brit all night.
In the opening minute of the third, Allen took the fight to the mat, and while he didn’t keep it there, it was more of a statement than anything else as he surged down the stretch, battering Melendez’ leg as he capped off a clear-cut victory over the Californian, who has now lost five straight.
Michael Chiesa made it 2-0 in the welterweight division in the main card opener, as he defeated another veteran contender in Diego Sanchez.
Sanchez (31-12) shot in for a takedown almost immediately and got it. Chiesa defended well, though, and got back to his feet, where he began to take control against the fence. Sanchez reversed position and tried to wear Chiesa down, but it was Chiesa with the takedown. “Maverick” went on to take Sanchez’ back and it looked like he was going to sink in a rear naked choke, but Sanchez escaped. Chiesa quickly got back into the dominant position, and finished strong.
Chiesa (16-4) opened the second with a takedown and after good work on the mat, he continued his dominance on the feet before another trip to the canvas. With a little over two minutes left, Chiesa unloaded with ground strikes and nearly got the choke, but Sanchez again found a way to get loose and to his feet.
Nothing changed for Sanchez in the third, as Chiesa continued to dominate en route to 30-26 tallies on all three judges’ scorecards.
Poland’s Jan Blachowicz spoiled the light heavyweight debut of Luke Rockhold, knocking out the former middleweight champion in the second round.
Both fighters traded kicks to begin the fight, with Rockhold subsequently seeking a takedown. He wasn’t able to get it, and in a long spell against the fence, Blachowicz landed a couple hard elbows. Once separated, Rockhold stayed busy with the kicks, but Blachowicz fired back and even rocked the Californian at the horn.
Rockhold came out aggressively to begin round two, but Blachowicz answered with his own blows that forced his foe to back off. Moments later, Blachowicz landed a flush left hand in the midst of an exchange and Rockhold fell hard to the canvas. Referee Herb Dean moved in to halt the bout, with the official time of the stoppage 1:39 of the second round.
With the win, the No. 6-ranked Blachowicz moves to 24-8. Rockhold falls to 16-5.
Jorge Masvidal scored the fastest knockout in UFC history, taking just five seconds to end his rivalry with fellow welterweight contender Ben Askren in emphatic fashion.
Cool, calm and collected before the bout began, Masvidal raced out of his corner as soon as they were waved into battle, and as Askren leaned over to seek a takedown, “Gamebred” landed a flush flying right knee that knocked the former Olympian out on impact.
The No. 4-ranked Masvidal moves to 34-13 with the win. The No. 5-ranked Askren falls to 19-1 with 1 NC.
Double-champ Amanda Nunes continued to cement her place as the greatest fighter in women’s MMA history, as she successfully defended her bantamweight title with a first-round knockout of former champion Holly Holm in the UFC 239 co-main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight was shaping up to be an interesting one, as Holm stayed busy and took whatever thunder was coming her way from Nunes well. But that thunder kept coming, and as Holm lifted her leg to set up a kick, the champion unleashed a right kick of her own that landed flush. Holm fell to the canvas and Nunes closed the show, with follow-up strikes bringing in referee Marc Goddard to call the bout off at 4:10 of the opening round.
Nunes moves to 18-4. The No. 2-ranked Holm falls to 12-5.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was pushed to the limit in the UFC 239 main event Saturday night, but he still escaped T-Mobile Arena with his belt intact, as he took a razor-thin split decision over Brazil’s Thiago Santos.
“Oh my goodness,” said Jones. “Boy, was he tough. His best chance was to win by knockout, I played it smart.”
Scores were 48-47 twice and 47-48 for Jones, now 25-1 with 1 NC. The No. 2-ranked Santos falls to 21-7.
Santos knocked Jones off balance with an early leg kick, drawing a reaction from the crowd and more kicks in response from the champion. Santos was busy with his strikes, busier than most Jones’ opponents, but the New Yorker kept his cool as he moved forward. With less than two minutes to go, Jones got his mouthpiece knocked out, but he was unhurt. Santos didn’t care, though, as he kept firing bombs at Jones until the horn sounded.
Early in round two, Santos appeared to hurt himself while landing a kick to Jones’ leg, but he apparently recovered quickly. Jones kept the pressure on, but he wasn’t producing much offensively, as it was Santos who kept throwing. Midway through the round, a Jones kick landed as Santos stumbled to the mat, again bringing up the possibility that the Brazilian’s left leg was injured. That didn’t stop the offense of “Marreta” who was throwing each punch and kick with fight-ending intentions.
Jones picked up his pace in the third round, but Santos was still letting bombs go, remaining dangerous. In the second minute, Jones went high with a flying knee and wound up hitting the deck himself, but Santos wasn’t able to capitalize. Soon, Santos was cut and Jones was bringing the heat for his best round of the fight thus far.
Santos went on the attack to begin round four, but Jones weathered the storm and reset himself at range. There were still momentary stumbles from Santos on his left leg, but he was still throwing it. Jones began attacking the right leg, and it was affecting Santos, whose output was dropping. And while Jones wasn’t setting the world on fire with his own offense, he was landing enough to keep the challenger at bay.
With five minutes remaining, Santos was back to throwing hard, and while Jones was unmoved, the Brazilian was scoring in a pivotal final round. Santos’ leg was visibly giving him more issues as the time ticked away, and these moments gave Jones the openings he needed to go back into the aggressor’s role. That was enough for two of the three judges, and that was all “Bones” needed to retain his title.