UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS
Sabina Mazo (30-24, 30-25, 30-25) def Shana Dobson by Unanimous Decision
Colombian flyweight Sabina Mazo didn’t get the victory in her first visit to the Octagon, but the second time around, she lived up to all the hype surrounding her as she pounded out a shutout three-round decision over Shana Dobson.
Scores were 30-24 and 30-25 twice for Mazo, now 7-1. Dobson falls to 3-3.
Mazo dominated the opening round thanks to a kick to the body that hurt Dobson, followed by a steady ground-and-pound attack for the rest of the frame.
There was more of the same from Mazo in round two, both on the ground and in the clinch, and in round three, she began firing off a ferocious series of knees at close range, drawing a close look from referee Frank Trigg. With under two minutes left, Mazo scored another takedown, and the ground-and-pound kept coming until the final horn, capping off an impressive sophomore appearance.
Kyung Ho Kang (29-28, (29-28) def Brandon Davis (29-28) by Split Decision
Kyung Ho Kang made it two straight wins in bantamweight action, taking a three-round split decision over Brandon Davis.
Kang’s jab was on target from the start, but Davis responded with several low kicks that bruised up his foe’s leg. But with a little over a minute left in the opening round, it was Kang surprising Davis with a right hand that sent “Killer B” to the mat, where the South Korean controlled matters until the horn.
The two bantamweights traded control on the mat in the first half of the second round, and in the second half it was good back and forth action on the feet from both, wrapping up a close five minutes.
Davis (10-6) came out fast for the final round, and while a slip allowed Kang (16-8, 1 NC) to get the fight to the mat, referee George Allen quickly restarted the action. Kang took Davis back down, but again slowed the action down from the top position. Davis got up and broke free, allowing him to fire off combinations before getting taken down, but the takedowns played a big part in Kang emerging victorious via scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29.
Hannah Cifers (30-28, 30-27, 30-27) def Jodie Esquibel by Unanimous Decision
Strawweight prospect Hannah Cifers earned her second UFC victory, outpointing veteran Jodie Esquibel over three rounds.
30-28 and 30-27 twice for Cifers, now 10-3. Esquibel falls to 6-6.
Cifers held the edge striking in the first round and that success continued into round two until Esquibel got hurt by a leg kick and took the North Carolina product to the mat. Midway through the round, referee Jason Herzog restarted the action, and once standing, it was Cifers scoring a takedown that Esquibel rose quickly from, allowing her to get the fight back to the mat. Cifers sought a submission, but came up empty, with the two ending the second stanza on their feet. Esquibel did score a pair of takedowns in the final frame, but Cifers’ standup attack was enough to dilute the effect of those visits to the mat.
Casey Kenney (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) def Manny Bermudez by Unanimous Decision
In a bout held at a catchweight of 140 pounds, Casey Kenney removed Manny Bermudez from the ranks of the unbeaten as he won a close, but unanimous, decision over the New Englander.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Kenney, now 13-1-1. Bermudez falls to 14-1.
The bout hit the mat in the second minute, Bermudez controlling matters from the top position. Midway through the round, the two scrambled back to their feet, but Kenney sent it right back to the canvas with a slick throw. With under a minute left, the fight went back to the feet, with Kenney landing some good shots before the horn.
Bermudez got the fight to the mat early in round two, but it was Kenney who worked his way onto his opponent’s back, where he nearly sunk in a rear naked choke. By the end of the round, Kenney looked to be tiring, but he was still able to escape a Bermudez submission attempt and land some ground strikes as the round closed.
Battling it out on the mat again in round three, Bermudez nearly locked in a guillotine choke, but he wasn’t able to get the finish, allowing Kenney to get to the final horn and take the victory.
Drakkar Klose (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) def Christos Giagos by Unanimous Decision
Drakkar Klose spoiled the homecoming for Hawthorne’s Christos Giagos, with the lightweight prospect winning a hard-fought three-round unanimous decision.
All three judges saw it 29-28 for Klose, now 11-1-1. Giagos falls to 17-8.
Klose was busy on the feet in the opening round, landing some good blows while also getting hit with crisp counters by Giagos during exchanges. Giagos appeared to take over in the second with a pair of takedowns, the second of which led to a near submission of his foe via rear naked choke, but when Klose got loose, he went on the attack, ending the round with a series of ground strikes that bloodied the hometown favorite.
The third round was close, but a big slam with a minute left by Klose punctuated the round for the Michigan native, who picked up an important win in his first fight of 2019.
MORE UFC 241: UFC 241 Embedded – All Episodes | Weigh-In Results | Countdown | Pettis vs Diaz: Settle The Score | Top 5 Nate Diaz Finishes | Order UFC 241 | On The Rise | UFC 241 SoCal Public Events | Inside The Octagon: Cormier vs Miocic | Free Fight: Cormier vs Miocic 1 | Free Fight: Pettis vs Thompson
Cory Sandhagen (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) def Raphael Assuncao by Unanimous Decision
Colorado bantamweight Cory Sandhagen scored the biggest win of his career, as he toppled top five contender Raphael Assuncao via unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for the No. 9-ranked Sandhagen, who improves to 12-1. The No. 3-ranked Assuncao falls to 27-7.
Sandhagen had his foot on the gas from the start, and he didn’t take it off throughout a fast-paced first round that saw his high-volume striking attack keep Assuncao from mounting any significant offense. In the second, a caught kick allowed Assuncao to do some work on the mat, but Sandhagen stayed cool under pressure and he won some ensuing scrambles, keeping it interesting with the Brazilian.
Assuncao got a takedown in the second minute of round three, but was unable to keep the fight there, as Sandhagen jumped up immediately and went back to his striking, where he was dominating the action. But when the two grappled, Assuncao kept it close, with a big slam drawing a roar from the crowd. Ultimately, though, it was Sandhagen’s night, and impressively so.
Khama Worthy def Devonte Smith by TKO, 4:15, Round 1
On less than a week’s notice, Khama Worthy made quite the impression in his UFC debut, as he knocked out top lightweight prospect Devonte Smith in the first round.
The friends and former training partners were cagey with each other in the early going, but when the punches started flying, it was Worthy who struck, landing a short left hand that dropped Smith to the mat. A follow-up attack by Worthy ended matters, with referee Jason Herzog stepping in at the 4:15 mark of the opening round.
With the win, Pittsburgh’s Worthy, who replaced Clay Collard in this matchup, ups his record to 15-6. Cleveland’s Smith falls to 10-2.
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Derek Brunson (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) def Ian Heinisch by Unanimous Decision
Veteran middleweight contender Derek Brunson used his veteran experience to repel the charge of rising star Ian Heinisch, as he scored a unanimous decision win in the main card opener.
Seconds into the fight, Heinisch scored a flash knockdown of Brunson with a kick to the head, but the North Carolina native shook it off and locked up with his foe, bulling him into the fence. After the two broke, Heinisch continued to get Brunson’s attention with his strikes, but the longtime middleweight contender stayed just a step behind throughout the frame.
Brunson landed several hard shots throughout round two, and his patience was starting to pay dividends as the bout progressed, and that success carried into the final round, as Brunson was able to hold off Heinisch and take the win via three scores of 29-28.
With the win, the No. 8-ranked Brunson moves to 20-7. The No. 10-ranked Heinisch falls to 13-2.
Sodiq Yusuff def Gabriel Benitez by TKO, Round 1, 4:14
Rising featherweight star Sodiq Yusuff continued to impress as he extended his current winning streak to five with a first-round stoppage of Gabriel Benitez.
Yusuff marched forward throwing punches to begin the bout, quickly cutting Benitez and gaining the upper hand. Benitez slowly but surely got back into the fight, scoring a flash knockdown with a left hand just past the midway point of the frame. But with under a minute left in the round, a counter right hand from Yusuff landed on the button and dropped Benitez. Moments later, the fight was over, with referee Herb Dean stopping the fight at 4:14 of round one.
With the win, Maryland’s Yusuff moves to 10-1. Tijuana’s Benitez falls to 21-8.
Paulo Costa (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) def Yoel Romero by Unanimous Decision
As expected, middleweight contenders Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero threw bomb after bomb in their highly anticipated showdown. What wasn’t expected was that the two would go three rounds in the process, but that’s just what they did, with Costa emerging victorious via unanimous decision in a memorable bout.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for the No. 7-ranked Costa, who ups his record to 13-0. The No. 2-ranked Romero falls to 13-4.
More active than he has been in the early going, Cuba’s Romero was on the offensive from the start, landing a kick to the head before getting turned away on a takedown attempt. Moments later, Brazil’s Costa dropped Romero with a left punch upstairs before Romero returned the favor by scoring a flash knockdown of his own. Costa rose and smiled, going back on the offensive as Romero took shots against the fence. A Romero knee drilled Costa, but a return knee from “The Eraser” put the Cuban down and brought a momentary stop to the action. When the bout resumed, the wild exchanges kept coming, with Romero firing back just when it seemed that Costa was taking over.
Throwing everything with bad intentions, Costa continued to pressure Romero in round two, with the Cuban appearing to have difficulty dealing with the work rate of his opponent. Yet as the pace dipped, it allowed Romero to jump back into the fray, and with Costa tiring, it was “The Soldier of God” rallying with his strikes and finishing the round with a takedown.
Even though it was late in the fight, Costa was still investing in body work, with several hard kicks landing to the midsection of Romero, who took the shots well and began landing with more punches upstairs down the stretch. A takedown by Romero in the closing minute was an important one, but it wasn’t enough to get him the win, as the decision went to Costa, a verdict unpopular with the fans in attendance.
Nate Diaz (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) def Anthony Pettis by Unanimous Decision
Back in action for the first time since a rematch loss to Conor McGregor in 2016, welterweight star Nate Diaz showed no signs of ring rust as he scored an impressive three-round unanimous decision over Anthony Pettis in the UFC 241 co-main event at Honda Center in Anaheim.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Diaz, now 21-11. The No. 7-ranked Pettis falls to 22-9.
Diaz began the fight as the aggressor, yet while he was busy, he was getting countered well by Pettis, who began to take an early lead. But with 1:35 to go, Diaz got the fight to the mat and controlled matters there for the rest of the round, making it a tough one to score.
Pettis’ counterstriking continued to impress in the second, but just past the midway point, Diaz surged, getting the fight to the mat once more. The combatants didn’t stay there long, and when they rose, it was Diaz keeping the pressure on as Pettis slowed down. Pettis was able to open a cut over the eye of Diaz, but it was the Stockton standout landing the more telling blows as the round concluded.
Diaz got right in the face of Pettis to start round three, and the two slugged it out until getting back to range. That break didn’t last long, as Diaz kept the heat on and hurt Pettis with knees, sending the fight to the mat. Pettis tried to stay in the fight, eventually scrambling his way into Diaz’ guard, but Diaz’ stayed busy from the bottom and then took his opponent’s back. Pettis reversed position in the final seconds, but even before the scorecards were read, it was clear that Diaz had done enough to get the victory.
Stipe Miocic def Daniel Cormier by TKO, Round 4, 4:09
Stipe Miocic had to walk through fire in the UFC 241 main event at Honda Center in Anaheim, but after a tough battle with Daniel Cormier, he regained the UFC heavyweight title, halting “DC” in the fourth round of their rematch.
With the win, Miocic becomes the fourth fighter to regain the heavyweight crown, joining Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia and Cain Velasquez in the record books.
The 40-year-old Cormier, who took the title from Miocic in July 2018, got off to a fast start, landing several hard punches before slamming his foe to the mat just before the midway point of the opening frame. Cormier controlled matters on the ground, capping off the round with a series of unanswered hammer fists.
Miocic got more aggressive in round two and he had success with his striking from long distance. But as soon Cormier got within punching range, he continued to tag the Ohio native. With three minutes left, the exchanges got more intense, with each getting their shots in. Remarkably, both fighters took the flush shots well and kept throwing, but Cormier was landing more, as Miocic wasn’t dealing well with the champion’s hand speed.
The drama continued to heighten in round three thanks to plenty of hard shots landed by both fighters at close range, as well as a takedown by Miocic with a little over 90 seconds remaining. Cormier rose immediately, and he stunned Miocic with a right hand in the closing minute, refusing to let up with his pressure.
Miocic played the role of aggressor in round four and his 1-2s were sharp, particularly when followed by body shots that kept Cormier at bay. Cormier kept throwing, but the body shots were taking their toll, and when Miocic went upstairs with a right hand, it stunned “DC” and put him in immediate trouble. Miocic sensed the end was near and he went on the attack, with a series of unanswered blows prompting referee Herb Dean to stop the fight at 4:09 of the fourth round.
Miocic moves to 23-1 with 1 NC. Cormier falls to 18-4.