By Daniel Rebain – Content Strategist
It was another exciting weekend of fights headlined by Whittaker vs Till and there were plenty of knockouts to go around. Keep reading to find out the details of each fight…
Nathaniel Wood (17-4) def John Castaneda (17-5) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nathaniel Wood who is coming off a KO loss to former title challenger John Dodson takes on UFC rookie John Castaneda. With the fight beginning we saw the battle of leg kicks, both starting off firing off major leg kicks. Wood seems to have more control of the octagon, punching and advancing more than his opponent. Wood fires off a major right hand which puts wood down and against the fence. Fight gets back to the feet with more fury of major leg kicks and amazing striking. Fighters come out the corners aggressive, but with Castaneda with some left hands with wood firing back more of those leg kicks. Wood picks up with those leg kicks seeming to have fazed Castaneda in which Wood goes for a takedown, which ends up just having the two fighters just meet and square off again, mostly with Wood being the aggressor. Last round for the fighter, having Castaneda mostly down two rounds. Castaneda comes out looking for that finds, but wood doing what he did all fight and just chopping down on those legs. Wood ends getting taken to the ground having Castaneda look for the guillotine, but with time running out, Wood gets out of it and ends up getting his 17th Win.
Ramazan Emeev (19-4) def Niklas Stolze (12-4) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Ramazan Emeev, another fighter from the region of Dagestan in Russia, was coming off a loss last November which snapped a seven-fight winning streak. He was facing Niklas Stolze, a German who was making his debut in the UFC and he had his moments in the fight. In the first Emeev took Stolze down trying to put him away in the first but Stolze defended well and got back up. To put insult to injury to Emeev, right before the horn Stolze dropped him with a booming knee, that if there was more time would have resulted in a loss for Emeev. But Emeev seized back control and other than taking an occasional low kick, jab, or knee, Emeev kept the Stolze on the back foot. Emeev used four takedowns and several spells of forward pressure to control the fight. After the third round two judges scored the bout 30-27, and the other had it 29-28 in favor of Emeev as he gets back on track, now winning eight of his last nine. “I felt very confident that I could finish him a couple of times,” Emeev said. “But because of the two failed submission attempts, my hands were very heavy. Next time, I will get a finish for sure. I feel completely healthy and want to get back to the Octagon as soon as possible.”
Pannie Kianzad (14-5) def Bethe Correia (11-5-1) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Bethe Correia who once fought for a UFC title against Ronda Rousey looks to keep one the winning path. Both come out trading jabs, very aggressive punches. Correia goes in for a takedown but the defense of Kianzad denies any entry. Both just having a very aggressive pace to the fight, both just throwing punch after punch. Both showing some very impressive skills here. The 10 second warning goes off, and Beth mistakes it for the bell having Kianzad throw multiple punches to her face and body. Starting the next round Kianzad seems to be more aggressive, starting off with multiple jabs and hooks. Correia ends up getting them to the ground, throwing punches looking to get an armbar ready. Kinzad ends up getting the two up and starts to fire off with her, Correia seems to be throwing the more powerful punches just being an all-round better fighter. Last round Kinzad just throws what she can get, Hook, Jab, Straight right. Beth seems to just fire back what she can, Kinzad showing why she belongs here in this division and why she should be with the best of the best. Kinzad wins by unanimous decision, having an opening for a big fight to jump start her career.
Tanner Boser (19-6-1) def Raphael Pessoa (10-2) via R2 TKO
Tanner Boser who is coming off a win, and has faced some of the best at 205, Takes on Pessoa who really has not had that much UFC experience coming into this fight. Boser seems to be the more energetic fighter, throwing many heavy leg kicks. Which both end up just firing leg kicks. Boser jabbing away, keeping his distance, with no real damage to any so far to end the round. The next round both fighters seemed to just be firing off leg kicks and jabs, with their approaches to be thought through. Boser hits Pessoa with a left hook that seems to put him out. Which it does. Boser gets his 19th win and looks to get back into the octagon to face a new opponent.
Movsar Evloev (13-0) def Mike Grundy (12-2) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Movsar Evloev, who is on a 2-fight win streak here in the UFC takes on Mike Grundy who is also on a win streak after coming off a KO win. This fight shows high level competition. Grundy looked to start off with a bang, throwing a lot into his punches early, with Evloev just trying to find his range. The fight ends up getting to the ground with Evloev caught in a headlock on the ground, which ends up just having the fighter get back up. Both just throwing leg kicks, listening to their corners, Grundy gets a takedown looking for a d’arce choke, but the rounds ends and he cannot get a submission leading into the next round of the fight. Grundy gets to the center and looks to take the fight back to the ground, but he is denied. Evloev and Grundy both throwing beautiful jabs. Grundy is looking to take this fight to the ground, seeming to be more comfortable at that position on the ground, but he cannot really get a takedown here, which takes this fight into the last and final round. The round starts off with both fighters looking to take this fight, Grundy looking to take this fight to the ground gets denied of a takedown, Both fighters having jabs and hooks that are well rounded, both fighters leg kicks seeming to do damage. Grundy goes in for a takedown and gets it, but no work was done really, both fighters stand up and they fight it out till the fight is over. Evloev wins, to take a 3-fight win streak to the UFC, showing both fighters having what it takes.
Tom Aspinall (8-2) def Jake Collier (11-5) via R1 TKO
Tom Aspinall was a KO machine coming into this fight, as all seven of his wins were by KO and most in the first round. And Aspinall did not waste any time in making an impact in his UFC debut, putting Collier on his stomach with a straight right hand just 45 seconds into their heavyweight bout. For Aspinall, it was his fourth straight victory and now has finished all of his wins, still by KO.
Jesse Ronson (22-10) def Nicolas Dalby (18-4-1) via R1 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
After seven years removed from the UFC Jesse Ronson was back and this time he is looking to stick around. He first joined the UFC in 2013 and lost three consecutive decisions to legit competition in Michel Prazeres, Francisco Trinaldo and Kevin Lee. He would bounce around multiple organizations including TKO and PFL where he would grab a record of 8-5. This time around in his second stint in the UFC his opponent was Nicolas Dalby, who was undefeated in his last five fights. Ronson, who was taking this fight on short notice, was not going to let a decision get to the judges’ score cards. Quickly we saw in this fight that Dalby was going for broke for whatever reason; either he was going to KO Ronson, or he was getting KO’d himself. The plan did not work, halfway through the opening round Dalby went into the pocket and caught a right hand straight on his nose, dropping him instantly. Ronson followed Dalby to the mat and hit him with some elbows. Dalby eventually gave up his back, and Ronson capitalized, sunk in a rear-naked choke. Dalby at the 2:48 mark tapped out giving Ronson the win. “It was to hell and back. I clawed tooth and nail to get back here,” Ronson said in his post-fight interview. “To hell with all that. Here I am. I’m freakin’ back.” Ronson has now won seven of his last nine, while Dalby’s loss snaps his five-fight unbeaten streak.
Francisco Trinaldo (25-7) def Jai Herbert (10-1) via R3 KO
The Main Event of the prelims was between the old in Francisco Trinaldo vs the new in Jai Herbert. Before the fight Herbert a 26-year-old fighter from Wolverhampton, England was a somewhat underdog. As the fight edged closer to the bell ringing Herbert’s odds kept climbing and eventually, he became the slight favorite. Trinaldo at 41 years of age, had missed the lightweight limit by four pounds at Friday’s weigh-in, and his energy appeared to wane before the first round was done. But he did some damage in the first and won the round. He came out aggressively and quickly closed the distance on the slick English striker, scoring a takedown, moving into half guard, and threatening a couple of submissions. The Former Cage Warriors champ Herbert did well on the ground though defending well, and then when the fight got back to the feet he attacked swiftly. Herbert took advantage of his fast hands and constant movement, he even mixed in some grappling work, nearly securing a rear-naked choke in the second round against the Brazilian. Herbert’s best work was in the standup, and Trinaldo was wearing the effects of that more and more as the fight continued into the third round. But Trinaldo found a whole in Herbert’s defense 1:30 into the third round and landed a flush straight left hand that landed on Herbert’s temple. It locked up all of Herbert’s body and he fell backward with his body stiffened up. Trinaldo went in for the finish, but Herbert did not really move to defend himself. So Trinaldo did not attack thinking the fight was over, but referee Herb Dean was waiting for Trinaldo to finish the fight. A couple of seconds ticked off the clock, with no one moving, so Trinaldo threw a punch at his fallen opponent, who was somewhat defending himself. Eventually, Dean jumped in to end it at 1:30 of Round 3. The finish was so sudden you could have blinked and not seen it. In the end Trinalod’s patients and resilience paid off and he has now won three in-a-row, while Herbert’s winning streak has been snapped at six.
Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) def Rhys McKee (10-3-1) via R1 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Khamzat Chimaev in just 10 days has gone from relatively unknown, to one of the biggest prospects not only at 170 lbs but in all the UFC. You might remember just last Wednesday he defeated Wale’s John Phillips and 10 days later Chimaev went on to beat Rhys Mckee. Chimaev’s two wins back-to-back just 10 days apart is a new UFC record, breaking Chas Skelly’s old record of 13 days. In those two fights he destroyed his opponent 192-2 and submitted both his opponents with ease and Chimaev wants to fight again at UFC 252, August 15th. What makes Chimaev’s two wins even more impressive is that he did it at 185lbs and 170lbs. He finished Phillips at middleweight (185), then he dropped down to welterweight (170) just 10 days later and beat McKee by taking him down instantly and beating him over the head with ground and pound until the referee stepped in at the 3:09 mark of Round 1. This is a kid to watch and with the nickname ‘Khabib 2.0’ he is going to have all the hype behind him.
Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira (21-8-1) def Peter Sobotta (17-7-1) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alex Oliveira got back in the winning column back in March when he defeated Max Griffin and he was looking to win his second in-a-row against his next opponent Peter Sobotta. Sobotta, fighting for the first time since March of 2018 when he lost to a then young Leon Edwards. Oliveira, usually a wild man in his fights, surprised most when he put on a poised performance, Oliveira was in control the whole way through the fight. Oliveira to his advantage kept the fight at range most of the fight. He did absorb some body kicks from Sobotta but whatever Sobotta landed, Olivera was landing far more than he took. Sobotta then tried to attempt to get the fight on the floor where he might have had an advantage, but Oliveira defended well and even landed some elbows to the side of Sobotta’s head for his troubles. That enabled him to break away and keep the fight standing for the whole fight, in which he would get the unanimous and emphatic victory. The fight was stopped by the ref twice after Oliveira landed a low blow and then poked the Polish-born German in the eye, but no point was deducted, and both really did not affect the fight in the end. Sobotta after the fight revealed that with the loss, he will be considering retirement. And for “Cowboy” Olivera he has now won two straight.
Paul Craig (13-4-1) def Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7) via R1 Submission (Triangle Choke)
Paul Craig who of his 12 wins in MMA, 11 of them were by a submission of some sort. But in every fight he goes into, he is still able to find a way to submit you even when you know it is coming. Gadzhimurad Antigulov took Craig down easily to start the first round. Obviously, Craig accepted it because it set up his bottom game, which he is one of the best from that position in the UFC. Craig threw his legs up for the triangle and he locked it in tight, and Antigulov tapped out. Craig popped up from the ground bloodied as he took some heavy shots from Antigulov, but in the end Craig got his 12th submission victory in his career.
Carla Esparza (18-6) def Maria Rodriguez (12-1-2) via Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Carla Esparza coming into her 24th fight of her career, she was looking to match a career high winning streak of 4 wins in-a-row, while Maria Rodriguez was flying high as she was still undefeated coming off a draw with Cynthia Calvillo who just beat Jessica Eye, the #1 contender at 125 pounds. It did not take long for Esparza to get the fight down to the mat. She put Rodriguez on her back for nearly four minutes and worked ground-and-pound until she finally fell back into a heel hook attempt which allowed Rodriguez to finally get position and get up. When this fight stayed on the feet, it played right into Rodriguez’s hands as she tagged her with a couple hard punches. When Esparza did get in trouble though she was easily able to takedown Rodriguez to get out of the trouble. This fight stayed the same for all three rounds, when Rodriguez’s boxing would start landing multiple shots and start to pull away, Esparza would take her down and take all the momentum away that she just got from her boxing. In the end Esparza’s wrestling ability and her work on the ground got her a unanimous victory. The
former UFC and Invicta FC strawweight champion, pushed her run of victories to four consecutive fights. “Whoever is going to get me closer to that title fight I’m down,” Esparza said in her post-fight interview with Dan Hardy.
Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) def Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) via R1 Submission (Arm Bar)
Alexander Gustafsson is finally back and this time he was making the step up to heavyweight. The former light heavyweight contender is making the switch after twice almost becoming UFC champ against Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. For Fabricio Werdum, he turns 43 next week and wants to show that he could still do work in UFC at a high level. And get the job done he did, as he spoiled Gustafsson’s return early in the fight. Jiu Jitsu is a skill that just never goes away when all the other skills just simply fade away and Werdum puts his skills on display. Gustafsson looked to get to work early and take advantage of Werdum’s boxing skills. But as soon as he hit Werdum in the face, he looked to get the fight down to the mat. Gustafsson initially stifled the takedown, but Werdum would eventually get Gustafsson in a body lock from behind and took him down. This would spell the end of Gustafsson’s debut at heavyweight as Werdum got the back and went to work for a submission. Gustafsson did his best to hold on and lock his arms together to prevent the armbar, but Werdum kept improving his position and he got what he wanted, finally breaking Gustafsson’s grip to lock in the arm bar; subsequently Gustafsson had to tap. Gustafsson, the former three-time light heavyweight title challenger, was fighting for the first time since announcing his retirement last year. He has now dropped three in a row, all via stoppage. Gustafsson just needs to taste a win again and then maybe he could be a problem in the heavyweight division.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-11-1) def Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-10) via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
After 15 years and two fights against each other already, both Shogun Rua and Antonio Nogueira would go at it once again in a trilogy fight. The first two fights ended in classics, with Shogun winning by unanimous decision both times. Nogueira who is 44, was looking to end his MMA career on a high, as he pegged the matchup as his retirement bout, while Shogun, only 38, is looking to keep going in the UFC. Both fighters were cautious to start the fight, just trying to feel one another out but Shogun started pressing the action with some powerful leg kicks that landed flush on the 44-year-old. Things did start to pick up in the final two minutes, with both men rocking each other with hooks. Nogueira seemed to be the more staggered of the two, and Shogun pounced on that by securing a takedown in the closing 30 seconds of the round. Shogun again came out in the second with more leg kicks but this time Nogueira looked to counter with his punches by stepping into the pocket. Then literally out of nowhere like a Randy Orton RKO, Nogueira ran into Rua with his body and sent him to the ground. Nogueira tried to capitalize on the situation by landing some good shots from ground-and-pound but Shogun was able to find his feet and get back up. Shogun did land his best right hand of the fight halfway through the round, but Nogueira was not fazed and they would both land some solid strikes from the last two minutes to the horn. But with the knockdown for Nogueira it was one round apiece going into the third round. Nogueira, in what would ultimately be his last round of his career, came out looking to press the action. He would continuously walk down Shogun and pushed forward through his kicks that were landing on him and worked his boxing to the head of Shogun trying to get the win. Shogun did land some shots, but his power seemed to not affect Nogueira one bit. He landed a couple more before Nogueira stung him back with the left straight. Shogun answered that shot back with a flurry of his own that set up a takedown of Nogueira. Shogun worked on top over the final minute to close out a third and final tightly contested bout. In the end it would not be a fairy tale ending for Nogueira as the judges gave the spit decision to Shogun. “I’m very happy,” Rua said. “I beat the legend Nogueira three times. I am very happy. Every fight with Nogueira is a war.” After the fight, Nogueira confirmed that the fight against Shogun was to be his last and he would be walking away from the sport.
Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (22-5) def Darren “The Gorilla” Till (18-3-1) via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Robert Whittaker dragged Darren Till into another one of his wars of attrition last Saturday night in the main event of UFC on ESPN 14. Whittaker, who has only fought once in the last 25 months and coming off a loss to the now champ Israel Adesanya, needed to get back into the win column if he wanted to get his belt back any time soon. In the first though it looked like anything but was going to happen. Till knocked Whittaker down with a brutally timed elbow and Till looked to stop the fight early but he could not quite get him to go out. But The Reaper responded in round 2. While Till clearly won the opening round, it was just as clear Whittaker was finding his range in the round’s final minute. That translated into a big comeback of a round as Whittaker out struck Till 40-5 in the second. Whittaker would also secure his own knockdown, dropping Till with a big right hand. The fight was back on 1 round a piece. The third and fourth rounds were also back and forth with both fighters slowing down in the third, but Whittaker got the best of the exchanges in the round and would score R3 for himself. In the fourth, it was definitely the slowest round of the fight but Till would land the most noteworthy exchange, landing a series of heavy shots two minutes into the round, stopping Whittaker in his tracks and couldn’t land anything of his own really. It was all tied 2-2 going into the fifth and final round, it would go to who ever wanted the win more. Till looked like he wanted to win more, because in doing so, he would have been next in line for a title shot. Both Till and Whittaker did show urgency though, but Till landed the biggest shot of the fight. Till threw a mean elbow that cut Whittaker wide open and blood started to pour out the former champ’s head. Herb Dean almost even stopped the fight because of the fight, but the doctor ok’d the restart with less than a minute left. In the end Whittaker likely sealed a victory in this fight when he scored two takedowns and threw punches all the way to the horn for about the final 45 seconds of the fight. Till threw all he could for a comeback in round 5, but it was not enough to win in the end, Robert Whittaker avenged his loss last October and got his first win in 25 months. For Till, he’s now lost three of his last four but has looked like a way better fighter at 185 pounds (1-1) and even Adesanya said he will fight Till in the future, “I still want to fight Till one day, His striking is beautiful, Stay up Darren”!
50k Fight of the Night: None
50k Performance Bonus: Tanner Boser, Tom Aspinall, Jesse Ronson, Khamzat Chimaev, Paul Craig, & Fabricio Werdum
The next UFC event is Saturday, August 1st featuring Derek Brunson (20-7) against Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) on ESPN+, check out the full card here.
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