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Joseph Benavidez probably feels cursed at this point.
The World Extreme Cagefighting holdover failed for the third time to capture the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown, as he was victimized by second-round punches from Deiveson Figueiredo in the UFC Fight Night 169 headliner on Saturday at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. Figueiredo (18-1, 7-1 UFC) drew it to a close 1:54 into Round 2, but because of his inability to make weight, the Brazilian was ineligible to win the 125-pound title. As a result, the flyweight throne sits empty.
Benavidez (28-6, 15-4 UFC) was active and aggressive throughout a competitive first round that saw him connect with winging power punches and escape an armbar. However, his tendency to lead with his head proved costly. An inadvertent clash of heads in the second round opened a horrendous cut near his hairline—blood gushed from the wound almost instantly—and set the stage for the finish. As Benavidez wiped his face, he was met with a devastating straight right and hit the deck. Figueiredo then pounced with hammerfists and forced the stoppage.
Spencer Smashes Overmatched Fairn dos Santos
Former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Felicia Spencer wrecked Zarah Fairn dos Santos with elbows and punches in the first round of their women’s featherweight co-main event. The woefully overmatched Fairn dos Santos (6-4, 0-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 3:37 into Round 1.
Spencer (8-1, 2-1 UFC) executed a takedown roughly a minute into the fight and immediately moved to full mount. Fairn dos Santos offered no resistance and looked lost on the mat, caught somewhere between hapless and helpless. Spencer then cut loose with elbows and punches until referee Dan Miragliotta had seen enough.
It goes in the books as the fourth first-round finish of Spencer’s career.
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Ankalaev Nets Controversial Finish
Akhmat Fight Team standout Magomed Ankalaev stopped Ion Cutelaba with punches and kicks in the first round of their featured light heavyweight encounter. Apparently duped by Cutelaba’s attempt to play possum, referee Kevin MacDonald waved it off 38 seconds into Round 1.
Neither man sought a feeling-out period. Ankalaev (13-1, 4-1 UFC) uncorked a left hook that appeared to stun the Moldovan during their initial exchange. Cutelaba (15-5, 4-4 UFC) staggered and continued to feign being dazed, even as his opponent pursued him with punches and kicks. MacDonald bought the acting job from “The Hulk” and made the decision to call for the stoppage. Cutelaba was incensed.
Ankalaev has pieced together a four-fight winning streak since he submitted to a last-second Paul Craig triangle choke in his organizational debut two years ago.
Anderson Folds Newcomer Viana
Former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Megan Anderson knocked out the previously unbeaten Norma Dumont Viana in the first round of their women’s featherweight showcase. Viana (4-1, 0-1 UFC) bowed out 3:31 into Round 1, as she crashed and burned in her promotional debut.
Anderson (11-4, 3-2 UFC) remained patient when the Shooto Americas veteran closed the distance, pinned her to the fence and fed her a few knees to the body. The Glory MMA-trained Australian forced a separation, retreated to the center of the Octagon and caught Viana moving forward with a perfectly timed counter right that prompted referee Kevin MacDonald to act.
The 30-year-old Anderson has rattled off seven wins in nine appearances, perhaps cementing herself as the No. 1 contender at 145 pounds.
Dawson Throttles Replacement Minner
Glory MMA & Fitness prospect Grant Dawson submitted fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Darrick Minner with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their featherweight feature. A short-notice substitution for Chas Skelly, Minner (24-11, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 1:38 into Round 2.
Dawson (15-1, 3-0)—who missed weight for the bout—withstood a series of submission attempts from the 35-fight veteran, stayed busy and waited for fatigue to take hold. He advanced to full mount early in the second round, transitioned to the back, secured his position with a body triangle and cinched the fight-ending choke.
The 26-year-old Dawson has won six fights in a row.
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