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Part surgical tactician, part bloodthirsty warrior, Rafael dos Anjos in his natural habitat was a sight to behold.
Dos Anjos closed the book on his eight-fight odyssey at 170 pounds and returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division for the first time in more than four years, as he banked a split decision over Paul Felder in the UFC Fight Night 182 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Judges Derek Cleary and Sal D’Amato scored it 50-45 for dos Anjos, while Chris Lee saw it differently at 48-47 for Felder.
A short-notice substitution for the injured Islam Makhachev, Felder (17-6, 9-6 UFC) enjoyed success in open space whenever he managed to hold the center of the cage. There, he cut loose with multi-punch volleys, sneaky elbows and intermittent leg kicks. Dos Anjos (30-13, 19-11 UFC) responded with brutal kicks to the body and piercing left hands, one of which slice open a diagonal cut on his opponent’s forehead late in the fight. However, the former undisputed lightweight champion made his most substantial moves in the clinch, where he neutralized Felder along the fence, executed multiple takedowns and brought his superior grappling skills into play time and time again.
‘Khaos’ Williams Freezes AlhassanMurcielago MMA rep Kalinn Williams lamped fellow knockout artist Abdul Razak Alhassan inside the first minute of their welterweight co-main event. Alhassan (10-3, 4-3 UFC) met his end—and it was gruesome—30 seconds into Round 1.
Williams (11-1, 2-0 UFC) set the tone with a few powerful leg kicks, then uncoiled. The fast-rising 26-year-old countered a leg kick from the Fortis MMA standout with a lightning-quick right hand down the middle. Alhassan froze instantly upon impact and collapsed backward, his head bouncing violently off the canvas. Williams managed to deliver one more diving right hand on the already-unconscious judoka before referee Mark Smith could arrive on the scene.
On an eight-fight tear, Williams has stopped his first two UFC opponents in just 57 seconds combined.
Yoder Upends Favored Granger
Team Quest export Ashley Yoder rebounded from back-to-back losses, as she recorded a unanimous decision over former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder Miranda Granger in a three-round women’s strawweight feature. Yoder (8-6, 3-5 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 29-27 and 27-26 nods from the judges.
Two relatively uneventful rounds marked by stalemates on the ground gave way to a dominant third for “The Spider Monkey.” Granger (7-2, 1-2 UFC) conceded a takedown inside the first minute and wandered from one perilous position to another. Yoder ultimately progressed to mount, assaulted the taekwondo black belt with heavy ground-and-pound and cinched a rear-naked choke with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. Only the bell saved Granger from being finished.
After starting her career with seven consecutive victories, Granger now finds herself on a two-fight skid.
Ascendant Strickland Vanquishes Allen
Former King of the Cage champion Sean Strickland cut down Brendan Allen with punches in the second round of their featured catchweight clash at 195 pounds. Allen (15-4, 3-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 92 seconds into Round 2, suffering his first defeat in nearly three years.
Strickland (22-3, 9-3 UFC) lit up the Roufusport product with a sharp jab and crisp two-punch combinations, all while mixing in a takedown in the first round and a few front kicks to the face. Allen zeroed in on the lower leg with kicks early in Round 2 — he appeared to have the Californian in some distress — but paid the price for porous striking defense. Strickland staggered him with a chopping right hand, dropped him to his knees with a left hook and followed with unabated rights to the head that forced referee Herb Dean to act.
The 29-year-old Strickland will enter his next assignment on the strength of three straight wins.
Newcomer McKenna Edges Hansen
Team Alpha Male standout Cory McKenna in her first post-Dana White Contender Series appearance extended her run of consecutive victories to four with a unanimous decision over Kay Hansen in a three-round women’s strawweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for the once-beaten McKenna (6-1, 1-0 UFC).
Hansen (7-4, 1-1 UFC) started strong but failed to corral the iron-willed Brit. McKenna seized the reins midway through the second round, where she escaped an attempted armbar, moved into top position and threatened with an arm-triangle choke. Hansen squandered an advantage again the third. She nearly cinched an arm-triangle of her own and briefly achieved full mount, only to be swept by her shifty counterpart. McKenna spent the closing moments piling up points with ground-and-pound and bleeding valuable time off the clock.
The setback snapped Hansen’s three-fight winning streak.
Prelims: Debuting Murata Controls Markos
Kanako Murata (12-1, 1-0 UFC) made a successful promotional debut, as she pocketed a unanimous verdict—30-27, 30-27, 30-27—over Randa Markos (10-10-1, 6-9-1 UFC) in the featured women’s strawweight prelim; Tony Gravely (20-6, 1-1 UFC) was awarded a unanimous decision against Geraldo de Freitas Jr. (12-6, 1-2 UFC) in a three-round bantamweight scrap, as he carried 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 scores from the cageside judges; Alex Morono (18-6, 7-3 UFC) laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Rhys McKee (10-4-1, 0-2 UFC) in a three-round welterweight tilt, earning 30-27 nods on all three scorecards; and Don'Tale Mayes (8-4, 1-2 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Roque Martinez (15-7-2, 0-2 UFC) in a three-round heavyweight affair, drawing 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.