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This was the one outcome for which no one was prepared.
An inadvertent second-round eye poke from Leon Edwards led to a no contest in the UFC Fight Night 187 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, leaving both he and Belal Muhammad in a state of limbo within the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division. When a visibly and audibly distraught Muhammad (18-3, 9-3 UFC) indicated he could not see out of his damaged right eye, referee Herb Dean waved it off 18 seconds into Round 2.
Edwards (18-3, 10-2 UFC) controlled a majority of the exchanges up until the foul. He staggered Muhammad with a head kick in the first round and swarmed for a potential finish before resetting and relying on sharp one-twos. Not long after Round 2 began, the situation went awry for everyone involved.
Spann Shreds Cirkunov in 71 Seconds
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Ryan Spann brought down Misha Cirkunov with punches in the first round of their light heavyweight co-main event. Cirkunov (15-6, 6-4 UFC) bowed out 1:11 into Round 2, as he lost for the fourth time in six appearances.
Spann (19-6, 5-1 UFC) recovered from an accidental low blow, dropped the Canada-based Latvian with a straight right hand and pounced with follow-up punches. He then allowed Cirkunov to stand, clipped him with a left hook and trailed him to the canvas a second time, unleashing a hellish barrage of rapid-fire hammerfists to prompt the stoppage.
Operating out of the Sayif Saud-fronted Fortis MMA camp in Dallas, Spann has posted nine wins across his past 10 outings.
Ige One-Punch KOs Tucker
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Dan Ige wiped out former Extreme Cage Combat champion Gavin Tucker less than a minute into their featherweight showcase. Tucker (13-2, 4-2 UFC) met his end just 22 seconds into Round 1, suffering his first setback since Sept. 9, 2017.
Ige (15-3, 7-2 UFC) walked the Canadian into a right hand and allowed gravity to do the rest. Tucker collapsed to the mat in a semi-conscious state, the concussive blow leaving him to stare into the abyss while his victorious opponent enjoyed a short night’s work.
The 29-year-old Ige has won seven of his last eight bouts.
Resurgent Grant Flattens Martinez
“The Ultimate Fighter 18” finalist Davey Grant cut down Jonathan Martinez with punches in the second round of their featured bantamweight pairing. Grant (13-4, 4-3 UFC) drew the curtain 3:03 into Round 2, extending his winning streak to three fights.
Martinez (13-4, 4-3 UFC) beat up the Brit’s lower leg with kicks and knocked him down with a left hook in the first round. Grant did not go away. As Martinez’s output dwindled in the middle stanza, his adversary hit the gas. Grant cut loose with winging power punches, snuck in a few front kicks to the body and waited for his opportunity. The 35-year-old fired a right hook to the body and followed it with a wicked left hook to the head that caught Martinez clean. The Factory X representative hit the deck and was in no condition to defend himself from the punches that followed.
It was the first time in 17 career bouts that Martinez had been finished.
Returning Nicolau Edges Kape
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 4 semifinalist Matheus Nicolau returned to the Octagon for the first time in nearly three years and eked out a split decision over former Rizin Fighting Federation champion Manel Kape in a three-round flyweight feature. All three judges scored it 29-28: Chris Lee and Bryan Miner for Nicolau (16-2-1, 4-1 UFC), Dave Hagen for Kape.
Nicolau made his intentions known with two first-round takedowns and some effective ground-and-pound. However, Kape (15-6, 0-2 UFC) bounced back in the second. There, the American Kickboxing Academy rep stung Nicolau with a right uppercut, stayed upright and pieced together two- and three-punch combinations with his lightning-quick hands. Both men had their moments in Round 3. Nicolau directed crisp punches to the body and head, connected with a spinning back elbow and seized the reins early. Kape, meanwhile, found another gear in the second half of the round, used an effective sprawl to cut off takedowns and scored with two beautiful knee strikes, one to the head, the other to the body.
The 28-year-old Nicolau has rattled off three straight victories.
Anders Knee Prompts No-Contest
An inadvertent illegal knee from Eryk Anders resulted in a no-contest with Darren Stewart in the first round of their middleweight showcase. Having examined a still-shaken Stewart (12-6, 5-5 UFC), the cageside physician advised referee Herb Dean to call for the stoppage 4:37 into Round 1.
It was fun while it lasted. Stewart kept the former University of Alabama linebacker at bay with leg kicks, jabs and basic takedown defense. However, Anders (13-5, 5-5 UFC) appeared to turn the tide with a pair of thudding left hands, then engaged the Brit in the clinch. Later, he knocked down Stewart with a straight left, pursued him with punches and seemed to be on the verge of a finish when he delivered a knee to the side of the kneeling Cage Warriors Fighting Championship veteran’s head.
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