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WINELAND vs SAENZ
Back in the win column for the first time since January of 2014, veteran bantamweight contender Eddie Wineland did it in impressive fashion at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, halting Frankie Saenz in the third and final round of their featured prelim bout.
Fighting it out on even terms for the first half of the opening round, Wineland broke into the lead when he drilled Saenz with a right hand that wobbled the Arizonan. Saenz shook off the blow and scored a takedown with 90 seconds left, but Wineland fought well off the bottom before giving up his back in the closing moments.
Wineland continued to show his best form in years, his right hand finding the mark with regularity in the second frame. Saenz was neck and neck with the former WEC champion, but without getting the fight to the mat, he was playing Wineland’s game.
With a little over three minutes left in the fight, Saenz was dropped again with the right, and while he rose quickly, the follow up shots from the Chesterton native prompted referee Robert Madrigal to halt the bout at the 1:54 mark of round three.
With the win, the No. 15-ranked Wineland moves to 22-11-1; the No. 12-ranked Saenz falls to 11-4.
More from Fight Night Chicago: Final results | Postfight bonus recap | Talking Points after Chicago | Shevchenko stuns Holm | Barboza, Ngannou, Herrig claim big wins | Wineland returns to Octagon with TKO win | Oliveira, Knight, Henrique claim victories | Backstage interviews: Valentina Shevchenko, Edson Barboza, Francis Ngannou, Felice Herrig, Eddie Wineland | Octagon interviews: Shevchenko and Holm, Edson Barboza | Watch the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims on-demand | Best images from Fight Night
ELKINS vs. PEPEY
No. 11-ranked featherweight contender Darren Elkins spoiled the U.S. debut of Brazil’s Godofredo Pepey, winning a three-round unanimous decision by scores of 29-27 twice and 30-26.
Not surprisingly, Pepey kicked things off with a spinning back kick that immediately got Elkins’ attention, but “The Damage” responded with a takedown. Pepey worked for Elkins’ arm from the bottom and scrambled his way into the top position. In another scramble, Elkins escaped, got back to his feet, and put Pepey on his back again. On this trip, Elkins got off several hard shots while Pepey kept searching for a submission.
Pepey’s aggression cost him in the second minute of round two when he tagged Elkins with an illegal knee that prompted a point deduction from referee Herb Dean, and a subsequent takedown from the Indiana native added to his woes. The two went on to trade strikes on the ground, but it was Elkins maintaining control from top position.
The third was Elkins’ most dominant frame, as he grounded and pounded his way through the final five minutes, leaving no question on the judges’ scorecards as he wrapped up his third consecutive win, moving to 22-5. Pepey falls to 13-4.
USMAN vs. YAKOVLEV
Former Ultimate Fighter standout Kamaru Usman remained unbeaten in the Octagon, taking his third straight victory via unanimous decision over Russia’s Alexander Yakovlev.
Scores were 30-25 on all three scorecards.
A bad situation got worse for Yakovlev in the first round, as a dominant grappling-heavy frame by Usman turned into a two-point deficit on the scorecards when the Russian was docked a point by referee John McCarthy for grabbing the fence.
There was more of the same in rounds two and three, Usman completely controlling the action on the mat, with Yakovlev having no answers for the former college wrestling star.
With the win, Usman moves to 8-1; Yakovlev falls to 23-7-1.
PRAZERES vs. COTTRELL
Brazil’s Michel Prazeres held off the charge of gutsy newcomer JC Cottrell in lightweight action, winning a three-round unanimous decision over the late replacement from Oklahoma City.
Prazeres dominated the first round, taking the fight to the mat, where he not only controlled position, but went hunting for submissions throughout the opening five minutes.
Cottrell was able to stay out of serious trouble over the next two rounds, but he wasn’t able to stop Prazeres’ takedowns or hard shots at close range, making the 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 verdict no surprise.
With the win, Belem’s Prazeres moves to 20-2; Cottrell, who took the bout on 12 days’ notice, falls to 17-4.
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