UFC 259 ‘Blachowicz vs. Adesanya’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

By: Jay Pettry
Mar 6, 2021
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Mario Bautista (135.5) vs. Trevin Jones (134.5)

Round 1

In a shocking turn of events during the COVID-19 era of the sport, every single one of the 15 bouts on this UFC 259 odyssey has remained on the card. We begin the journey in the bantamweight division, when MMA Lab rep and proudly mulleted Bautista (8-1, 2-1 UFC) squares off against “5 Star” Jones (12-6, 1 NC; 0-0, 1 NC UFC). The first referee of the night is Chris Tognoni, who observes the two men touching gloves before clocking in this marathon fight card. Jones begins the night with a low calf kick, and he absorbs a front kick to the chest for his effort. Bautista slings a right hand and an oblique kick to the knee, and Jones backs off to avoid another kick. Jones slaps away a kick and fires off a leg kick that gives Bautista a brief hitch in his step. Bautista stabs out with his toes with a front kick, and he is keeping his distance with reaching kicks. Suddenly, the Arizona native crashes forward with a short swarm of punches, but Jones catches him and twists him around into the fence. Jones hooks a leg to pursue a takedown, but Bautista keeps his balance and starts slapping at Jones’ ears. Jones works the thigh with multiple knees, and Bautista swats at his man with punches around to the other side of Jones’ head. Jones keeps heavy pressure until he gets turned around, and Bautista digs the body with a right hand before getting pushed back into the cage wall. Bautista successfully scores a few knees to force a break, but Jones gives him one back on the chin as they separate. Bautista swings and misses with a looping head kick, and Jones tries to counter with an overhand left but similarly comes up short. Bautista gets warned for outstretching his fingers, and Jones slams his shin on the inside of Bautista’s leg. Bautista reaches forward with a few punches and once more gets warned for pointing his fingers. Jones grabs him, gets kneed in the head, and pushes off to throw a right hand. Jones gets off an inside leg kick and takes a pair of jabs on the jaw. Bautista clips his man with a few quick punches, and Jones retreats and tries to fire back with low kicks. The MMA Lab fighter times a leg kick with an overhand right, and he gets Jones to check himself. When we hear the 10-second clapper, Jones shoots in for a takedown. He is unsuccessful, as Bautista stays upright to the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Bautista
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Bautista
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Bautista

Round 2

The bantamweights touch ‘em up again to begin the round, and Bautista circles on the outside and whiffs with a spinning kick. As Jones advances, Bautista slings a head kick up that gets blocked, and when he prepares to check a leg kick, Jones pulls it back. Bautista dings Jones with a few punches, dodging an incoming counter as Jones throws hard. Bautista bites on a feint to throw a right hand, and he gets cracked with a right uppercut while swinging. Bautista’s legs give out beneath him, and Jones dives on top of him to start slamming him in the face with hammerfists. Tognoni does not need to witness more than five strikes until he has seen enough, as Bautista is no longer intelligently defending himself from the onslaught. It may not have been a five-star performance from bell to bell, but “5 Star” scores an impressive win to kick off what should be a memorable night of fights.

The Official Result

Trevin Jones def. Mario Bautista R2 0:40 via TKO (Punches)

Uros Medic (156) vs. Aalon Cruz (155)

Round 1

Moving now to the lightweight division, the appropriately nicknamed “The Doctor” Medic (6-0, 0-0 UFC) looks to make his promotional debut against fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Cruz (8-3, 0-1 UFC). Drawing the second assignment of the evening is referee Mark Smith, and there is no sporting touch of gloves to start things off. Instead, Cruz rushes out of his corner with a big front kick that Medic dodges. Cruz fires off a few more kicks, and Medic avoids them and throws back hard. When Cruz crashes in, Medic clips him with a left hand, and Cruz’ legs nearly give out. Medic pushes off an ensuing takedown attempt, hurts Cruz with a left hand and fires off a flying knee. Cruz falls back into the fence, and Medic assaults him with a barrage of punches. Cruz falls over, desperately attempting a takedown, and Medic pounds on him with punch after unanswered punch. Cruz rolls through and stays just busy enough to stave off a stoppage, so Medic keeps dropping bombs. Smith keeps a close eye on the proceeding, but Cruz is done. Cruz keeps surviving, albeit barely, and “The Doctor” is defying the Hippocratic Oath to keep slamming his fists into Cruz' head and body. The stoppage could come at any time; as Cruz practically flattens out still taking punishment, Smith finally intervenes. Still undefeated with seven finishes in seven outings, Medic’s brutal beating of Cruz proved that he done messed up, A-A-lon.

The Official Result

Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz R1 1:40 via TKO (Punches)

Livinha Souza (116) vs. Amanda Lemos (116)

Round 1

The first of two women’s bouts tonight comes in the strawweight category between a pair of stylistically diverse Brazilians. “The Brazilian Gangster” Souza (14-2, 3-1 UFC) will try to become the first fighter to tap out “Amandinha” Lemos (8-1-1, 2-1 UFC), while Lemos will also attempt to record the first finish against Souza. The referee for this 115-pound affair is Jason Herzog, and there is a touch of gloves between the two countrywomen. Lemos comes out aggressively, marching Souza down with her hands by her waist. When Souza shoots in on her from afar, Lemos simply backpedals and pushes Souza away like a matador to a bull. Lemos walks forward with a leg kick and a left hand, and Souza tries to block a front kick but it manages to split the guard. Lemos sticks out a jab and tosses aside a kick that comes at her. She walks forward, works Souza with several punches, and punctuates the combination with a low kick that makes Souza bounce off the fence. Lemos lets loose with a head kick, and Souza is forced to play defense, with Lemos chipping away at her while avoiding any strikes that come back her way. Lemos sneaks in a left hand, and a right that follows sets Souza down hard. Souza falls to her back, and her neck falls into a guillotine choke. Souza sits up and gets slugged with a few punches, before Lemos snatches up a guillotine choke again. Souza is unconcerned with the submission, and she attacks with a heel hook. Lemos grabs the fence to try to keep position, and Herzog swats her hand out of the cage. Lemos rolls through and steps over into dominant position, where she blasts Souza with an elbow and several punches. As Lemos is about to take back control, Souza springs to her feet and backs away. Lemos stalks her down with long single punches, and a leg kick draws a major reaction out of Souza. “The Brazilian Gangster” is getting sorely outgunned on the feet, and she absorbs a heavy leg kick. Trapping Souza against the fence, Lemos smashes Souza with a piston-like jab that puts Souza down again. Herzog knows that Souza is unable to defend herself any further, as Lemos assaults her with standing punches from above, and he calls the fight. This was one-way traffic for “Amandinha,” who becomes the first fighter to stop former Invicta FC queen Souza, doing so in violent fashion.

The Official Result

Amanda Lemos def. Livinha Souza R1 3:39 via TKO (Punches)

Sean Brady (170.5) vs. Jake Matthews (169.5)

Round 1

The early prelims roll on with a welterweight clash pitting two men seeking a statement win to vie for a ranked spot, as the unbeaten Brady (13-0, 3-0 UFC) looks to stay flawless against deceptively longtime vet “The Celtic Kid” Matthews (17-4, 10-4 UFC). The Octagon overseer is referee Chris Tognoni, and there is a respectful touch of gloves between the two to begin their match. Brady commences his attack with a leg kick as Matthews advances towards him, and “The Celtic Kid” swings and misses with a one-two. Brady fires off another leg kick, and it glances off the thigh as Matthews partially dodges it and one that follows. Matthews sits down on a left hand and gets Brady’s attention, but Brady stings him back with a short left hook. Brady keeps chipping at the lead leg, and he backs away from a looping right hand that blazes past his head. Matthews sticks out the jab and digs a right hand to the body, and Brady ignores it and claps off another leg kick. Matthews pushes forward but is rebuffed on his way in, and Brady lands a few punches only to get countered with a check left hook. Brady gets off a jab but his body gets tagged as he tries to circle away. Matthews works a right hand that Brady barely rolls with, and the American rushes in to swings punches. Brady throws a body kick, and Matthews absorbs it and drops Brady with a right hand. In the ensuing scramble, Brady climbs on top but winds up in an unorthodox guillotine choke position. Brady is in side control but his neck is trapped, and he yanks it free to start attacking from on top. While he maintains top position, he starts bleeding down on his foe, and he aims to set up a crucifix and start getting off elbows. Brady climbs over to pursue a one-arm guillotine choke, hooking Matthews’ neck in the crook of his elbow. The Aussie pulls Brady back to his half guard, so Brady starts dropping down punches. Brady presses heavily with another one-arm guillotine choke, and he squeezes his forearm under Matthews’ chin while maintaining heavy shoulder pressure. When he cannot secure a choke, Brady sits up to land a few punches until time expires.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Brady
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Brady
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Brady

Round 2

There is a glove touch to check in the second round, and Matthews sticks out several jabs to open the round. Both men start letting loose with their hands, and Brady backs Matthews off with a few stiff punches. Matthews scores a heavy right hand, and Brady eats it like a Philly cheesesteak and throws back. Matthews sinks in the right hand once more, and Brady circles on the outside and is getting tagged. Brady changes angles and lands a leg kick, and he backs away to avoid a punching combination soaring at him. Brady shoots in low for a takedown, and Matthews looks to defend it but gets scooped up and falls to his back. The American easily slices into half guard, and Matthews scoots his back up to the fence while Brady drags him back down. The unbeaten fighter postures up and drops down several punches, and Matthews sits up while he continues to eat shots. Brady takes Matthews’ back for a moment, before allowing Matthews to get his back up against the fence. Brady hops on top and latches on to a guillotine choke, but bails on it to instead bowl Matthews over. Brady once more threatens with a one-arm guillotine, landing punches while fishing for the choke. Brady gives up on the choke attempt to sit up in half guard, and he start working Matthews from above. Brady keeps Matthews grounded with his right arm, reaching for that choke position any time Matthews gives up his neck for more than a moment. Brady climbs into mount and starts pounding on Matthews, and Matthews turns over to surrender his back. As Matthews eats punches, he rolls to his back and then his side, riding out the round absorbing strikes.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Brady
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Brady
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Brady

Round 3

Brady paces back and forth before the final round begins, and the two welterweights touch gloves one last time. Brady dances on the outskirts, landing a leg kick and avoiding the counter punches from Matthews. The Aussie just misses with a right hand, and Brady’s combination breaks up Matthews’. Matthews lands several punches to force Brady to retreat, and Brady rocks Matthews with a left hand. Brady does not leap forward to finish the job, and instead resets to keep his distance striking going. Matthews gathers his thoughts and slings a right hand, and Brady powers Matthews to the canvas by faking for a takedown and pushing a bent over Matthews down. Matthews tries to roll through the position but he falls to his back, and scrambles back to his knees as Brady takes his back. Brady slams his fist into the side of Matthews’ head repeatedly, and the Aussie squirms to the fence but is taking some serious shots. Brady gets one hook in from behind, and he starts dropping down left hands as Matthews turtles up briefly. The American’s top pressure keeps Brady grounded, all while dropping bombs. When Matthews scrambles, he falls to his back and Brady instantly sets up an arm-triangle choke. Brady is unable to get the leverage he needs, but he repositions himself and slides over to the side to lock in the choke once and for all. “The Celtic Kid” thinks about tapping, and then tries to break the grip; at the last second before going out, he taps to formally declare his surrender. What a performance for Brady, who is now a perfect 14-0 and calls for a spot on the rankings after an outstanding win.

The Official Result

Sean Brady def. Jake Matthews R3 3:28 via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke)

Kennedy Nzechukwu (205.5) vs. Carlos Ulberg (205)

Round 1

A light heavyweight clash that does not seem likely to involve the judges comes up next, between the massive Fortis MMA fighter Nzechukwu (7-1, 1-1 UFC) and City Kickboxing’s “Mr. Marvelous” Ulberg (3-0, 0-0 UFC). The two, who have never earned a submission with each of their combined finishes coming by knockout, will be officiated by referee Herb Dean. The glove touch is by far the lightest strike offered in this one, and we are underway. Nzechukwu wades forward and blocks a left hand and a leg kick. Ulberg rips the body with a punch, and a front kick lands square on the chin. Ulberg claps Nzechukwu on the side of the head with a kick, and Ulberg is on him with a flurry of wild but powerful punches. The Kiwi knees Nzechukwu up the middle a few times, and he lays into Nzechukwu with punches but does not burn out his gas tank in search of a finish. Ulberg backs away and looses another head kick, but Nzechukwu blocks it in time. Ulberg dances on the outside with kicks, and Nzechukwu finally lands a strike with a single punch. Ulberg eats a straight left hand as he circles on the outside, flicks out several lefts to find his range and open up for a follow-up right hand. Nzechukwu cracks his foe wit ha left hand, and Ulberg staggers and gathers himself. Nzechukwu pours it on with a few more strikes, but Ulberg defends well and utilizes decent head movement to evade some of the strikes. Ulberg pushes forward and grabs hold of Nzechukwu’s outstretched arms to kick the legs. Ulberg fires off a head kick in close range, and Nzechukwu stings him with a right hand. The Nigerian fighter hurts Ulberg with a left, and then a right as Ulberg looks stunned. Nzechukwu gets off a right hand, and Ulberg’s hands fall to his waist as he takes a left hand on the chin. Ulberg comes up short with a knee and an uppercut, and Kennedy pays him back with a one-two. Ulberg gets Nzechukwu’s attention with a front kick and a leg kick, and he backs away and nearly falls over throwing a head kick. Nzechukwu charges at him and gets hurt with several body shots. Ulberg pours it on with a stream of punches, nodding to Dean that he is fine but Ulberg does some serious damage as Nzechukwu turtles up against the fence. Dean implores “African Savage” to fight back, so he does just that, scoring several uppercuts to back Ulberg off. The two start swinging wildly, teeing off on each other to dramatic effect. Ulberg nearly kicks the leg out from his opponent, and Nzechukwu crashes forward with an uppercut and several bombs. Nzechukwu smashes his shin into Ulberg’s face, and Ulberg eats it like a traditional New Zealand dish. Nzechukwu throws another high kick but it misses the mark, and Ulberg stumbles back. Nzechukwu lands a few punches right before the horn sounds, ending this thrilling round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Ulberg
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Ulberg
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Ulberg

Round 2

There is a touch of gloves to begin the round, and as soon as Ulberg pulls back, he throws a leg kick. The Kiwi backs away with several more low kicks as Nzechukwu plods towards him, but Nzechukwu gets backed off from a jab. Ulberg throws a few arm punches that Nzechukwu practically ignores, and the Fortis MMA fighter is staying composed and calmly advancing even when eating strikes. Nzechukwu sticks Ulberg with a left and then a right, and Ulberg splits the guard with a clean uppercut. Ulberg spins and blacks off the guard with a back fist, and Nzechukwu rushes in and nearly stumbles over throwing strikes. Ulberg sticks and moves, digging to the body and ringing Nzechukwu’s bell with a short uppercut. Ulberg follows the combination with a head kick, but Nzechukwu is unconcerned as he walks forward to throw bombs. Ulberg rips the body with a kick, and when he pushes off, Nzechukwu claims he got poked in the eye. Dean tells them to keep fighting, so Ulberg lands on him. When Ulberg reaches out again, he jabs the eye with his thumb once more, and Nzechukwu takes 20 seconds to recover before carrying on with their slugfest. Ulberg tags Nzechukwu with a few punches before landing a leg kick, and he scores this same combination again as Nzechukwu is headhunting instead of putting strikes together. Ulberg puts together a few punches and a head kick, and then switches stances to throw one to the body. Nzechukwu walks through it as if nothing happened, guarding the strikes and firing right back in a fury. Ulberg kicks the leg hard again, and Nzechukwu tries to slug it out. Ulberg steps back and clips Nzechukwu with an uppercut, retreating to the fence to gather himself after a flurry. Nzechukwu bears down on him, and he launches a bomb of a right hand that collides with Ulberg’s chin and sends him crashing down to the canvas. Ulberg is out cold, but just to be sure, Nzechukwu finishes the job with several more lethal punches as Dean leaps in to stop the fight. What a wild win for Nzechukwu, spoiling Ulberg’s perfect record in a vicious manner.

The Official Result

Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Carlos Ulberg R2 3:19 via KO (Punches)

Tim Elliott (125.5) vs. Jordan Espinosa (126)

Round 1

Two exciting flyweights cap off the early preliminary card, prefaced by a battle for the ages between outstanding walkout music choices, when former title challenger Elliott (16-11-1, 5-9 UFC) takes on Espinosa (15-8, 1 NC; 2-3 UFC). Trying to keep up with what should be a fast-paced affair is referee Mark Smith, who bears witness to no glove touch before the madness begins. Elliott blocks a head kick that zooms at him, and he dodges a second one as well. Elliott charges in and gets shoved over, but he recovers himself to press in for a takedown. Espinosa stands him up and gets pressed into the fence, and Elliott embraces the grind as he threatens with trips but cannot set anything up. They separate, and Elliott chops at the calf and kicks the chest, but he blocks a head kick that comes right back. Espinosa scores a big left hand that prompts a takedown attempt from the former title challenger. Elliott cannot secure one, and gets off a shoulder strike and a knee to the thigh, but Espinosa pushes away and separates. Espinosa swings and misses with a big right hand, and when he fires off a head kick, Elliott barely dodges it and bullrushes Espinosa to the ground. Elliott gets a hook in for back control as Espinosa on one knee in a tough position trapped against the fence. Elliott sneaks his way to take full back control, and the only thing stopping him is the cage behind Espinosa. Elliott softens his foe up with several punches to aim for a choke attempt, and Elliott flirts with the choke while pounding on “The Gamer.” Espinosa rolls to his back and Elliott sucks his opponent’s legs out, so Espinosa latches on to a kimura to pursue a sweep. Elliott keeps Espinosa trapped on his back and ties up his own hammerlock, but Espinosa breaks the grip to end the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Elliott
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Elliott
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Elliott

Round 2

Elliott crashes forward to begin the round, throwing a left hand before diving down into a takedown attempt. Espinosa thwarts it, backs off, throws a head kick, and gets shoved to his back. Espinosa scrambles wildly and kicks off, pulling himself back to his feet using the fence. Espinosa tries to get off a one-two, and Elliott easily drags him back to the ground. Using a half guard, Espinosa keeps a tight leg scissor on Elliott’s leg to keep him there. The former challenger breaks through to sit up and start hacking down with elbows. Espinosa scrambles but gets put flat on his back, and Elliott grinds out his adversary while landing sporadic strikes. A frustrated Espinosa scoots to the fence and to one knee, but Elliott is on him and has one hook in to take the back. Elliott uses his forearm to squeeze Espinosa’s face, and Espinosa leans over and falls into a rear-naked choke attempt. Elliott cannot get his hands locked, as Espinosa breaks the grip, but Espinosa is trapped in defense-only mode. Elliott smothers his foe and starts dropping down punches, and Espinosa rolls to his knees as he continues to take punches to the side of the head. Espinosa tries to use two-on-one wrist control to sweep Elliott, but Elliott easily pulls his arm free and hops on top to elbow Espinosa in the face repeatedly. Elliott starts talking trash from his dominant position, threatening and using big words that get by the censors to intimidate him, possibly using the words "woman beater" as he shouts at Espinosa. The round ends with Elliott grinding his forearm on Espinosa’s neck.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Elliott
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Elliott
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Elliott

Round 3

Smith warns Elliott on his language between rounds, and Elliott is amped up and ready to go wild. When the round begins, Elliott advances recklessly and nearly winds up taking a flying knee on the chin. Elliott defends against it and hits a takedown with ease, where he takes a half guard position as Espinosa is already stuck flat on his back. Espinosa rolls to his side and gets punched in the side repeatedly, so Elliott returns to mount and throws strikes from on top. Espinosa tries to give him a few back, leading Elliott to elbow him several times. Espinosa defends off his back with a few elbows, and he slashes the top of Elliott’s head open and starts an immediate flow of blood. Elliott bleeds directly and intentionally into Espinosa’s eyes, blinding his foe and grinding his head into Espinosa’s. Espinosa pulls for an armbar and Elliott stands up to free himself, and he may be slippery because of the massive blood flow. Elliott climbs back on top, where he sits in side control and sets up an arm-triangle choke. The former title challenger continues to rack up control time as Espinosa is practically completely defenseless, as Elliott aims for another arm-triangle choke. Espinosa links his toes in the cage to push off, and Smith stops him from doing this. Elliott smashes his man repeatedly with elbows and punches at the 10-second clapper, trying to finish the fight in a fury. Elliott even attempts an axe kick to the body – stomps to the body are banned in some jurisdictions – as the two go wild in the final seconds. The fight ends with no reconciliation between the two, and we have gone the distance for the first time this evening.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Elliott (30-26 Elliott)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Elliott (30-27 Elliott)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Elliott (30-26 Elliott)

The Official Result

Tim Elliott def. Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)

Rogerio Bontorin (126) vs. Kai Kara France (125.5)

Round 1

The official ESPN prelims commence with a classic battle of Brazil vs. New Zealand, when Bontorin (16-2, 1 NC; 2-1 UFC) tries to bounce back from his first career decision loss against City Kickboxing rep Kara France (21-9, 1 NC; 4-2 UFC). This flyweight bout will draw oversight from referee Herb Dean, and the glove touch precedes the action. Kara France wades forward with a few pawing left hands, but neither man commit to any strike for the first 30 seconds. Kara France scores a lone jab, and a leg kick nearly makes the Brazilian topple over. Kara France ducks out of the way from a punch to sweep the leg again, and Bontorin is looping left hooks at him. “Don’t Blink” blinks when a left hand comes his way, and he chops at the lead leg with another kick. Bontorin rings Kara France’s bell with a right hand, and he bullies the Kiwi into the fence and takes the fight down. As soon as the fight hits the canvas, Bontorin already secures a body lock and is fishing for a rear-naked choke. Bontorin cranks the neck as he squeezes, but Kara France breaks the grip and tries to throw punches from his back. Bontorin drags his foe away from the fence to disallow Kara France from wall-walking, and the Brazilian hunts for his same power choke again where he is more intent on squeezing than choking. Bontorin gets off several punches and Kara France rolls to try to break the body triangle, but Bontorin tightens it and land several punches. Kara France twists and turns and even scores a few effective strikes, and he manages to stand up but Bontorin has him tightly trapped. Kara France falls to his back to try to break up the position, and Bontorin cinches up the choke and it is nearly set. Kara France powers out of the choke but he falls to his back, where Bontorin ties up an arm-triangle choke. Kara France gets back to his knees and stands up again, and Bontorin is a backpack as he keeps the body lock and is again pulling for a choke. Kara France bucks him off, and the fight stands back up where Kara France cracks his man with a big right hand. Bontorin throws right back with heavy punches, and Kara France responds with a massive right hand, an uppercut and murderous right hook behind the ear that faceplants Bontorin. Kara France walks off to celebrate his victory, and Dean simultaneous halts the fight while not actually signaling that it is over. Seeing as the fight may be still going, Kara France sprints back to drop down a hammerfist, but Dean intervenes and grabs him before landing it to officially end the fight. This is chaos! Bontorin springs back up, angrily protests the stoppage and throws his mouthpiece at the dancing Kara France. The horn sounds as this bizarre sequence plays out, but the fight is now truly over. What an insane comeback for the City Kickboxing fighter, who was easily on his way to dropping a 10-8 round before scoring a spectacular knockout in the waning seconds of the first.

The Official Result

Kai Kara France def. Rogerio Bontorin R1 4:55 via KO (Punches)

Joseph Benavidez (125.5) vs. Askar Askarov (127: Missed Weight)

Round 1

Once more at flyweight – with a caveat – we go, when multiple-time title challenger Benavidez (28-7, 15-5 UFC) looks to become the first man to defeat Askarov (13-0-1, 2-0-1 UFC). The third man inside the Octagon for this 127-pound catchweight contest, as Askarov missed weight, is referee Jason Herzog. There is still a sign of respect despite the weight miss, and the two speedsters touch ‘em up before getting down to business. Benavidez reaches out with several left hands that are far off the mark, and Askarov outstretches his arm to halt them. Both men trade leg kicks, and Benavidez doubles up on it with a front kick to the body and then a right hand to the chest shortly thereafter. Benavidez scores a front kick and then a quick right hook as Askarov comes towards him, and “Bullet” backs away to plant a straight right hand on the chin. Benavidez tries to sweep the leg, and he comes up short with a right hand after it. Askarov plants his foot on Benavidez’s chest, and he backs off in time to avoid a big right hook from Benavidez. The former title challenger swings and misses with a head kick, and Askarov marches in to throw a bomb but gets his chin checked with a short right from Benavidez. The former Team Alpha Male standout takes several more kicks to the chest, and he gets caught with a few more strikes as he tries to lob huge shots. Askarov tags Benavidez with a right hand, and he delivers another front kick to the solar plexus. Benavidez’ torso is marked up from these strikes, and he cannot find the home with his big looping right hand. Askarov is ready with a right hand counter, keeping it prepared to check Benavidez. The ex-title challenger rushes in, gets tagged, fires right back, and escapes in time. The two engage in brief but wild slugging exchanges, and Benavidez ends one such flurry with a body kick. “Bullet” gets off a body kick, a left hand and shoots in for a takedown to take Benavidez’ back. Askarov tries to take Benavidez down, and he drags him down but Benavidez rolls through it and scrambles to stand back up. Askarov redoubles his effort, gets a body lock and slams Benavidez down. When Benavidez gets to his knees, Askarov takes his back and fishes for a choke. Benavidez scrambles, has his back taken with a body lock secured, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Askarov
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Askarov
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Askarov

Round 2

The two men touch gloves, and Askarov advances directly towards his foe but backs away when Benavidez sets up a counter. Askarov misses with a right hook and gets his knee kicked hard. Benavidez absorbs yet another body kick, and he tries to sling a head kick to no avail. Benavidez crashes forward to start throwing bombs, and the two let loose with huge shots that cause some damage to Benavidez. The former title challenger is cut under his left eye after the furious exchange, and Askarov latches on to Benavidez and takes his back. Benavidez stands back up, breaking the grip briefly to try to turn about, but Askarov is on him like Saran wrap. “Bullet” lifts Benavidez in the air, and still manages to hit the takedown despite Benavidez grabbing the cage to stop it. Benavidez springs back up, but Askarov elevates him and puts him right back down. Askarov squeezes from behind with a neck crank, and Benavidez defends it but is already in a body triangle position. Askarov drags his foe down, where he starts aiming punches to the side of Benavidez’ head. Benavidez scrambles but cannot break the grip, even when walking off the cage to get to his knees. Askarov holds on tight, and Benavidez stands up but is far from free as he gets wrenched right back down to the cage floor. Benavidez attacks with a potential leg lock to force an intense grappling exchange, and Askarov stays patient and takes the back of his foe once more. Benavidez tries to roll through it, and he takes a big right hand to the side of the head. Askarov threatens with chokes and strikes, and Benavidez appears gobsmacked and unable to gain any space. “Bullet” keeps his pressure heavy and smothering to force Benavidez to play defense, and when Benavidez stands up, Askarov blasts him with a right hand. The round ends, and Benavidez wipes his bloodied eye.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Askarov
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Askarov
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Askarov

Round 3

The doctor checks on the cut between rounds, and Benavidez is fine to continue without any concern. The two flyweights touch gloves one last time to start off the final round. Askarov reaches out his hand as a distance-marker, and he is able to thwart a strike or two from his opponent doing this. Askarov kicks Benavidez in the chest, and then boots him in the head. Benavidez eats it like a burger and throws back with a right hand. Benavidez chops down the lead leg with a heavy kick, and he ducks a right hand that flies back at him. Benavidez gives one front kick back, and he tries to target the body with a right hand but Askarov is easily out of the way. Benavidez fires off a head kick, and Askarov ducks it and tries to clinch up. Benavidez breaks the grip and backs off, where he throws the kick again. The Dagestani fighter scores a solid jab to give Benavidez pause, and he dances out of harm’s way when Benavidez tries to make him pay. Benavidez looks to sneak in a right hand, and Askarov catches him with a looping left hook. Askarov advances and grabs Benavidez, but a frantic Benavidez pushes him away and retreats before landing a strike to the body. Askarov delivers another stiff kick to the breadbasket, and he drills Benavidez’ guard with a head kick. Benavidez tries to get off a high kick of his own, but it lands below the shoulder and Askarov pays it no mind. Benavidez follows suit with a leg kick and a superman punch, and Askarov appears unconcerned as the two trade front kicks. Benavidez gets off a heavy right hand, and he tries to chain it into another but ends up eating a stiff jab that pauses him. Benavidez kicks the liver, and he steps in to throw a left hand but Askarov is able to avoid it. Benavidez crashes forward, gets clipped with a right hook, and stumbles as a combination is broken up. Benavidez tries to leap in the air with a knee, but Askarov stops him midair. The two trade leather, and Askarov may have absorbed a low strike on the cup but there is no pause. Benavidez recklessly, aggressively tries to finish the fight with head kick and wild strikes, but he cannot find the one he is looking for. One final groin strike ends the round, with no need for a pause as the horn sounds shortly after it clacks off the cup.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Benavidez (29-28 Askarov)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Askarov (30-27 Askarov)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Askarov (30-26 Askarov)

The Official Result

Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Yadong Song (135.5) vs. Kyler Phillips (136)

Round 1

Back in the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, not every fighter was signed off a win, even if they scored a stoppage. This was the case for Phillips (8-1, 2-0 UFC), who notched a 46-second finish and then had to compete two more times before earning a spot on the roster. Two wins in the UFC have led to him meeting “Kung Fu Monkey” Song (16-4-1, 1 NC; 5-0-1 UFC) tonight, with the latter undefeated at bantamweight inside the Octagon. This 135-pound clash will draw officiating from referee Mark Smith, and a glove touch starts things off. Phillips quickly marches forward with a one-two, and he swings a leg kick shortly after it. “Matrix” is elusive and throwing strikes from distance, and he gets off a head kick that rolls off Song’s shoulder. Phillips sticks out a long jab, and Song strides forward with a shovel uppercut. Phillips scores a body kick, and a right hand when Song bears down on him. Song gets off a jab and then a left hand gets Song’s attention. Phillips nails Song with a head kick, and Song miraculously stays upright only to take a crisp spinning back kick to the body. The Chinese fighter bounces off the cage and survives a flurry from Phillips, and he gathers himself to throw back at Phillips. Song swings a right hand, and Phillips ducks it and scores a leg kick on the way out. Song stings Phillips with an uppercut, and he avoids a long jab and a sweeping leg kick. Song spins with a hook kick that bounces off Phillips’ guard, and the American is no worse for wear as he sticks out a stiff jab. Song stabs his toes into Phillips’ midsection, and he eats a one-two as he takes a step back. Song leaps in the air with a knee that glances off its intended target, and Phillips sticks him with a single right hand. Song gathers his thoughts and flicks out a few jabs, and he gets smashed on the chops with a monster right hand. Song does not even wobble, but Phillips uses the momentum to bowl Song over and take the fight down. “Kung Fu Monkey” simply powers his way back up to his feet, and he tries to throw back but Phillips is well out of the way in time. Phillips delivers a stiff left hand to the jaw, and Song times an uppercut counter that makes Phillips shake his head. Phillips tries to get off a head kick, and Song walks through a low kick to make his opponent stumble. Song tries to clinch up, and the two jockey for position on the cage as they spam knees. Phillips tries to separate and gets elbows in the face, and he backs off to absorb a spinning back kick on the torso. Phillips lets him have it with a barrage as the horn sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Phillips
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Phillips
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Phillips

Round 2

Phillips begins the round with a long jab, and he takes a right hand on the chops when he aims for a leg kick. Phillips drills Song with another head kick, but the Chinese fighter is completely unfazed and ready to brawl with a pair of hooks. Phillips sticks out a few jabs and the two start trading violently. Both men clip the other with right hands, and Song backs off to connect with a kick to the midsection. Song presses his man into the fence, and Phillips pushes off and nails Song with a spinning back kick that surprises “Kung Fu Monkey.” Song gathers his thoughts, circles around, and tries to kick Phillips in the chest. Both men land right hands at the same time, and Phillips resets to score a leg kick. Song targets the body with a few kicks, and Phillips ducks down to sling a huge right hand. Song does not even register that he took a shot, and he ducks a spinning wheel kick that zooms past him. Song throws a monster right hand that Phillips is barely able to duck in time, and both swing and hit nothing but air. Phillips dings him with a right hand, and when Song steps forward to kick, Phillips nearly drops him with a jab. Song does a quick count of his teeth and starts throwing looping shots as Phillips is backed into the fence, and Song chases him down with big strikes. Phillips ducks a punch to hit a speedy takedown, and Song bucks him off but cannot get the American away from him. “Matrix” climbs over and takes the half guard using a fierce elbow from above, and the two scramble until they both split up and stand. Phillips gets off a right hand, and then circles to pepper Song with a few jabs. Song crashes the pocket with several huge punches, and he stings Phillips with a right hand. Song is ready to throw with bad intentions, and he does just that until the horn blares.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Phillips
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Phillips
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Phillips

Round 3

Phillips starts off with a quick jab, keeping Song at bay, who has already enabled headhunter mode. Song tries to lob huge shots to figuratively take Phillips’ head off, and “Matrix” avoids most of the damaging blows. Phillips lands a few jabs and shoots in for a takedown, but Song stuffs it and does not go down. Song takes a right hand to rip four punches to the body, and he gets Phillips’ attention with a left hook to the jaw at the end of it. Phillips chops down the lead leg with a kick, and Song scores a counter right hand across the forward bow. Song swings recklessly, and he clips Phillips with a ferocious left hand that makes Phillips back away to the fence. Phillips jabs a few times to keep an aggressive Song at bay, but “Kung Fu Monkey” is ready to brawl. A right hand from the Chinese fighter opens up a cut on the corner of Phillips’ left eye, and Phillips answers with a spinning wheel kick that does not land flush. Song plants his fist on the side of Phillips’ head, and Phillips throws back and misses the mark. Song rushes in with a pair of punches that force Phillips to ricochet off the fencing, and he circles and sticks out a jab. Song tattoos his fist on the chin three times, so Phillips responds with a takedown that puts Song on his back. Song scoots his way to the fence to sit up, and when he tries to wall-walk, Phillips circles around to take his back. Phillips cannot secure the body lock, and instead Song reverses him and places Phillips flat on his back. Song sits up to land punches, and Phillips closes his guard to lock the fighter down and ride out the round. Song gets off some ground-and-pound from above, and Phillips rolls for an armbar and a kneebar as time expires.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Song (29-28 Phillips)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Song (29-28 Phillips)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Song (29-28 Phillips)

The Official Result

Kyler Phillips def. Yadong Song via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Dominick Cruz (136) vs. Casey Kenney (136)

Round 1

Former champ “The Dominator” Cruz (22-3, 5-2 UFC) made his UFC debut in 2011, and he will be searching for his sixth win with the promotion while aiming to snap his first losing streak. Kenney (16-2-1, 5-1 UFC), who fought for the first time in the UFC in 2019, will also be pursuing UFC win number six. Keeping tabs on the action for the bantamweight preliminary headliner will be referee Jason Herzog, and there is a glove touch before as these two get after it. Cruz starts out instantly with a takedown attempt, and Kenney sees it coming and stuffs it. Kenney knees Cruz in the head once before the two separate, and he puts on the pressure but takes a leg kick. Cruz lets loose a head kick and a pair of leg kicks as Kenney is trying to advance, and Kenney swings and misses on a few punches as Cruz easily darts out of the way. Cruz catches a kick and tries to take the fight down, but the two back off. “The Dominator” cracks Kenney in the head with a kick, and Kenney wears it well and continues to push the pace. Cruz swats away a head kick that comes back at him and throws two kicks and a punch as he ducks out of the way. Kenney sits down on an uppercut, and it glances off his intended target. Cruz hops in and out and Kenney is trying to find his range, throwing a body kick as Cruz bounces off the fence to reset. Cruz lands a body kick with his left leg and nearly connects with a head kick with his right, and he is well out of the way when Kenney blitzes him. Cruz steps in with an uppercut, and he sticks Kenney with a right hand that makes Kenney drop to his hands. Kenney powers back up and Cruz is swinging, throwing wide shots that Kenney is able to dodge. Cruz makes Kenney fall over with a pump-fake, and his feints are messing with Kenney’s game. Cruz times a huge right hand when Kenney throws a kick, and he is easily out of danger that comes back at him. Cruz delivers another shovel hook to the jaw, and Kenney can do nothing but absorb it flush. Cruz fakes a punch into a takedown, and Kenney stops it and lands a solid leg kick on the inside. The former champ nearly hurts Kenney, and Kenney slips and partially connects with a left hand. Kenney tries to time another, and Kenney scores an inside leg kick that gives Cruz pause. When Cruz steps in, Kenney delivers a knee to the chest that may have clacked off the cup, but there is no halt. Kenney works the inside leg once more, forcing Cruz to switch stances briefly, and he throws wildly but Cruz’ head movement keeps him safe. Kenney keeps getting off let kicks, and the two kick at one another to end the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Cruz
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Cruz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Cruz

Round 2

The two fast-paced bantamweights start out aggressively, and Kenney charges at him to attack the leg only to get tagged over the top. Kenney hacks at the inside of Cruz’ leg again, and Cruz stumbles over but regains his footing. Kenney targets the same spot with another kick, and Cruz tries to check it. The former champ grabs hold of Kenney and takes him down, but Kenney springs back up and starts up his leg kick game again. Cruz switches stances and fires off a head kick, but Kenney blocks it in time. Kenney again lands the leg kick where he wants it, and Cruz is able to respond with a pair of punches. Cruz walks forward to plant his fist on Kenney’s chin, and he chains it into a takedown but cannot find it. Instead, Kenney circles off and kicks his lead leg. Kenney walks through a body kick to throw leather, and Cruz retreats and sticks Kenney with a left hand. When Cruz reaches up with a head kick, Kenney goes low. Cruz moves and works Kenney with his left, and Kenney reaches on the end of his own left hand as he escapes. Cruz darts in, pops Kenney with a left hand, and ducks away with ease. The body and head are the target for Cruz in his next combination, and Kenney is back to hitting nothing but air when he loads up on shots. Kenney times a Cruz move with a left hand, and he chops down Cruz’ lead leg again to make Cruz take a weird step. Both men land at the same time, with Cruz to the body and Kenney rattling Cruz with a right hand. Kenney gets clipped behind the ear, and Cruz blitzes forward with a few more punches until he fakes a takedown to keep Kenney honest. Kenney gathers himself and marches forward, putting a leg kick on Cruz and trying to find a home for a left hook. Cruz ducks a few punches and snaps Kenney’s head back with a right hand, but Cruz absorbs another thudding inside leg kick. Cruz wades forward with a combination that starts with a head kick and ends with a few long punches. Kenney gets beaten to the punch with a few shots from Cruz, who blocks a head kick and comes out swinging. Kenney drills Cruz with a serious left hand, and Cruz ducks down and Kenney snatches hold of a guillotine choke. Cruz stands up and survives the choke to the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Cruz
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Cruz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Kenney

Round 3

The bantamweights touch gloves, and Cruz backs off to throw a head kick. Kenney tries to weave and counter, but Cruz catches him on the nose with a left hand. The two tie up and nearly go down to the ground, but Kenney scrambles and stays upright. Cruz redoubles his effort and pursues a single leg takedown, where he puts Kenney on his back as Kenney threatens with a guillotine choke. Kenney latches on to his choke, even though Cruz is on the other side in side control, and he is nearly in Von Preux position if he puts his shoulder down. While Kenney holds on, he pushes off the fence but gets put flat on his back. Cruz breaks the grip by landing punches to the body, and he yanks his head out. As he does this, Kenney powers back up quickly and gets kneed in the stomach. Kenney retreats, lands a body kick, and takes a right hand flush. Cruz senses that Kenney may be fatiguing, and he sticks out jab after jab to keep Kenney from loading up on something of merit. Kenney connects with a right hand, and Cruz rolls with it and fires back with one of the same. Kenney shoots in low for a takedown, but Cruz easily stuffs it and claps his hand off the side of Kenney’s head. “The Dominator” loads up on a few heavy shots, and the two start brawling wildly, throwing windmilling punches and cracking each other. Cruz may have hurt Kenney with a right hand, but Kenney puts on a brave face and sticks Cruz with a left hand. Kenney lands a left hand to the chest, and Cruz tries to duck and counter and does just that. Cruz lands a punch, Kenney returns, and the two go strike-for-strike until they clinch. Right as they separate, Cruz scores a solid knee that makes Kenney take a deep breath. Cruz shoots in for a takedown from afar, and he manages to transition a double into a successful trip and puts Kenney on his back. Kenney ties him up in full guard, and Cruz lands a few punches to the body. As Kenney scrambles, the final bell concludes this close, exciting fight.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Cruz (30-27 Cruz)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Cruz (30-27 Cruz)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Cruz (29-28 Cruz)

The Official Result

Dominick Cruz def. Casey Kenney via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

Thiago Santos (206) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (206)

Round 1

Officially the heaviest bout of the night at a solid 412 pounds, two light heavyweights who vastly prefer the knockout come to blows in the main card opener. Brazil’s Santos (21-8, 13-7 UFC) will be attempting to get back to title contention and defuse “Rocket” Rakic (13-2, 5-1 UFC) on the way back up. Keeping his head on a swivel will be referee Herb Dean, as fists and feet will soon be flying in all directions following the glove touch. Rakic slowly and patiently advances, sticking out his jab early and avoiding a counter right hook. Santos pushes out a front kick and lifts his leg to avoid a leg kick, and rushes in to attack. Rakic deflects the strikes and he takes a kick to the knee, but there is no major damage done. Both men score leg kicks, and Santos winds up on a big left hand. Rakic is able to avoid the bomb and throw a kick back, and Santos returns fire with one of his own. Rakic slings a head kick that the Brazilian is barely able to block in time. Santos delivers a big body kick and has one glance off his torso as he backs away. Santos once more scores a heavy body kick, and he takes a kick square on the knee that nearly makes it buckle. “Marreta” throws a hammer of a right hand that crashes into Rakic’s jaw, but the Austrian wears it well and kicks the leg on his way out. Rakic pressures forward and slaps a leg kick off the mark, and Santos replies with a kick. Santos swings with a massive left hand, and when it misses, he barely ducks a head kick that brushes past his cleanly shaven head. Santos whiffs on a massive punch to the body, but he does kick the body to make Rakic exhale sharply. Neither man is willing to pull the trigger on anything of note, and they trade leg kicks and body kicks. Santos jumps and misses with a flying knee, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rakic
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Rakic
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rakic

Round 2

The light heavyweights touch gloves, and Rakic resumes his pressure to make Santos back away to the fence. Rakic sticks Santos with a low kick and a jab, and the Brazilian tries and fails to counter effectively. Santos comes up short on a superman punch, and he looses a head kick that Rakic easily blocks. Rakic slowly advances and throws a long left jab and a leg kick that makes Santos turn about. Santos responds with his own leg kick, but the two are largely throwing single strikes and not engaging often. Rakic chops at the leg, and Santos charges at him but hits air as he has his lead leg hacked at once more. Santos pushes into a clinch, and Rakic easily reverses him and lands a few knees on the inside. The Brazilian gives him a few back, as they stall out against the cage wall. Santos breaks and scores on the end of a left hook, and when he backs off, he checks a kick to make Rakic recoil it sharply. Rakic kicks the chest, and Santos gives Rakic a heavy reply with a slapping kick to the knee. Santos charges but pulls back before throwing a strike, and Rakic plants his left hand on the chin to no effect. Santos jumps in with a switch kick, but it gets blocked and he is countered with a stiff left hand. Rakic nails Santos with a flying knee, and the two clinch up to end the slow round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rakic
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Rakic
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rakic

Round 3

There is a final glove touch to open the last round, and Rakic starts things off with a head kick that is easily blocked. Santos punches the thigh, and “Rocket” starts rocketing out several stiff jabs to keep Santos at bay. The Brazilian walks through them to charge in for a takedown, and Rakic stuffs it without breaking a sweat and turns Santos around into the wire. Santos fights out of the clinch but cannot land any of merit on the break, and he takes a jab to score a leg kick. Both men kick at one another’s knee, and Santos kicks the leg once more to draw a smile from his opponent. When Rakic rushes in, Santos belts him with a spinning back kick to the body, and Rakic keeps a solid poker face by not showing that it hurt. Rakic pokes and prods at Santos with a few jabs, one-twos and low kicks. Santos loads up on a head kick, and Rakic sees it coming and pays it no mind. Santos narrowly misses a blazing fast left hook, and Rakic tries to fire one back but also comes up short. Santos slams his shin into the body, and Rakic stays patient on the outside with sporadic jabs. The jab does enough to slow an advancing Santos, and Rakic makes Santos bounce off the cage wall with a kick. Rakic ducks an overhand left to shoot in for a takedown, and Santos defends with several elbows to the side of the head. Rakic does not like these strikes, and he bails on the attempt to put himself in a better position away from those damaging shots. Rakic grinds on Santos against the fence, mashing his man into the chain-link as precious seconds tick off the clock. The Brazilian finally pushes off, and he takes a hard leg kick on the inside. Santos comes back with one, and the two swing and miss until the tepid fight mercifully comes to a close.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Santos (29-28 Rakic)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Santos (29-28 Rakic)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Santos (29-28 Rakic)

The Official Result

Aleksandar Rakic def. Thiago Santos via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Islam Makhachev (156) vs. Drew Dober (156)

Round 1

Two top-15 caliber lightweights in Makhachev (18-1, 7-1 UFC) and Dober (23-9, 1 NC; 9-5, 1 NC UFC) are now set to lock horns next. The Octagon ranger is Chris Tognoni, who will keep a watchful eye on this classic style matchup of striker vs. grappler. The two contenders acknowledge one another with a touch of gloves, and Makhachev quickly takes the center of the cage. Dober circles on the outside and jabs a few times, and he kicks the leg hard. Makhachev comes back at him with a few punches, so Dober backs off and scores another pounding leg kick. Makhachev does not like these strikes, so he shoots in for a single, lifts Dober’s leg up and takes him down. The American is flat on his back and he gives up half guard, where Makhachev aims for an arm-triangle choke already. Dober is trapped but is not absorbing any strikes, as Makhachev is more intent on taking top position than going for much offense. Makhachev calmly passes to mount, and Dober starts kicking his legs and pulls Makhachev back to half guard. The Dagestan native opens up with a punch and an elbow, using the strikes to irritate Dober enough to pass to side control. Dober rolls to his other side to escape, but Makhachev keeps him in the same position. Makhachev lands a punch to the groin, and he apologizes. Dober scrambles wildly and nearly escapes, but Makhachev drags him back down and re-secures side control. Makhachev ties up the crucifix position, so Dober muscles out of the position and gives up mount. Makhachev rolls with him and snatches an armbar, and Dober is in the danger zone as his elbow is hyperextending. Makhachev gives all he has on the submission, but Dober pulls his arm free to wind up on top at the sound of the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Makhachev
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Makhachev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Makhachev

Round 2

The two lightweights touch gloves to start this round, and Dober fakes for a punch to get Makhachev to retreat. Dober winds up with a big left hand, and Makhachev rolls with it without issue. Makhachev kicks the body, and he sells out for a single leg takedown. Dober fights through the position and gets bullied to the fence, allowing Makhachev to trip the leg and put Dober back down. Makhachev pokes the eye on the way down, and Tognoni warns him as Makhachev climbs into half guard and tries to mount. Dober pushes off and sits against the fence, but Makhachev sucks his legs back out and keeps him from standing. Tognoni asks for the two to stay busy, and Makhachev ties up the legs beneath his own to disallow Dober from doing anything. Makhachev pulls Dober away from the fence and gets off a few punches, but is racking up control time as Dober is unable to mount any offense of his own. Makhachev works the body and head back and forth to stay busy enough to stay in the position, and Dober tries to lock him down and close his guard to force a standup. The American kicks off, but Makhachev senses it and stacks Dober up while elbowing him a few times on the head. Dober eats sporadic shots and tries to fire back, but the round ends before he can do anything.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-8 Makhachev
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-8 Makhachev
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-8 Makhachev

Round 3

One more glove touch opens the last round, and Dober is on the offensive throwing power shots. He clips Makhachev with a left hand, but Makhachev responds with a right of his own before tying Dober up and putting him on his back hard. In the middle of the cage, Dober closes his guard as Makhachev lands punches from on top. Dober sits up, and he fishes for a two-on-one wrist lock to force a kimura sweep. Makhachev elbows the spine and draws a warning, but he manages to break the grip and pull his arm out, all while stepping into half guard. The American Kickboxing Academy product puts his full body weight with his shoulder pressed on Dober’s throat, and Dober is suddenly in a very precarious position. Even in half guard, Makhachev crushes with his arm-in arm-triangle choke, and Dober is forced to tap out before he gets put out. This was a dominant performance for Makhachev, putting the division on notice in his first appearance since late 2019.

The Official Result

Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober R3 1:37 via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke)

UFC Bantamweight Title Fight:
Petr Yan (135) vs. Aljamain Sterling (134.5)

Round 1

We have reached the first of three title fights tonight, with the first a 135-pound contest when “No Mercy” Yan (15-1, 7-0 UFC) will look to show no mercy against Sterling (19-3, 11-3 UFC). The official tabbed to keep track of this first championship fight is referee Mark Smith; even though there is no love lost between the two, they touch gloves to make this match official. Sterling begins the fight with a body kick and a seeping leg kick, and Yan absorbs one and evades the other. Sterling kicks the body again, and stomps the knee a few times. “Funk Master” shows his funky style with unusual kicks from both sides, and odd angles that are already making Yan guess. Yan throws a big right hand, and Sterling ducks down for a potential takedown, but Yan stops it. Yan lands a punch, and Sterling fires back with several punches and kicks. The challenger leaps in the air with a knee, hurting Yan and making the Russian retreat. Yan recovers, sits down on a body kick, and backs away against the fence. Sterling does not give him time to breathe, landing kicks high and low. Yan catches a head kick, drips Sterling’s other leg and puts the challenger down on his back. Sterling kicks at the knee from his back a few times until Yan backs off, and Sterling climbs to his feet. Sterling nails Yan with a big knee, and Yan reels and still manages to stop an oncoming takedown attempt. Yan gathers his thoughts and lands a few jabs, leading Sterling to pressure him with punches into an official takedown attempt. He hits it, and Yan climbs back up but gets blasted in the body with a knee. Yan circles around to partly take Sterling’s back, and Sterling protects from a potential strike on the break. He circles away, and Yan cracks Sterling and sends him flying with an overhand right. Sterling pops back up but is on rubber legs, and he throws a kick but eats another right hand. Yan kicks Sterling’s leg out, and Sterling kicks off his back a few times until Yan lets him up. Sterling clinches up and knees the chest, and he rolls for a leglock to force Yan to defend and then fight off an oddly angled triangle choke. Yan backs off, allows Sterling to stand, and plants a body kick on Sterling’s side. Yan circles around to elevate Sterling and slam him face-first to the ground, where he takes Sterling’s back. Sterling rolls through it and pursues a single leg, and Yan stands up. Sterling lands two punches, a knee and tries to get off a spinning back elbow to punctuate this wild round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Sterling
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Yan
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Yan

Round 2

Sterling rushes out of his corner to begin the round with an attack, landing a few punches and a kick as Yan tries to counter him. Sterling throws a kick that makes him fall over, and Yan pushes him over but will not play in the guard game. The Russian lets loose an axe kick, and Sterling kicks out the knee from on his back. Sterling goads Yan to jump into his guard, until Yan backs off to let him stand. Sterling digs to the body a few times and a knee that follows, which allows him to push forward to grab a single. Sterling falls over to his back, but he pops back up and has Yan holding him down with his sprawl. The challenger stands back up and transitions into a double, allowing Yan to elbow him on the side of the head while he attempts. Yan remains upright even with one leg in the air, but Sterling wrenches him down for a moment. Sterling cannot keep him there, and when Yan stands, Sterling tries to kick him in the head. As Yan backs away, Sterling throws a head kick and fights for another takedown. Yan defends the single as Sterling lifts his leg up, and he smacks Sterling in the side of the head a few times. “Funk Master” stops the foot as he presses hard for the takedown, but Yan is an immovable object and he knees Sterling square on the jaw. Sterling tries to trip the leg out, and he cannot get him down, so he separates. Yan stings Sterling with an uppercut, and Sterling comes back with a spinning back elbow. Sterling pours it on with punches, knees and elbows, and chains it into a takedown that is too aggressive for his own good. Yan takes him from behind and pulls him down, where he is already looking for a choke but cannot set it up. Sterling stands up, and he is mashed into the fence as the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Sterling
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Sterling
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Sterling

Round 3

Yan dances before the round begins, and as soon as they are clocked in, Sterling kicks the body and leg. Yan sits down on a much heavier leg kick, and Sterling throws wildly and misses. Sterling aims a right hand and nearly gets his leg kick out beneath him. Sterling backs off and has a leg kick checked, and Yan lands a right hand and a knee up the middle. Yan knocks Sterling back with a right hand to the chest, and Sterling shoots in suddenly for a takedown but he gets stuffed. Sterling clicks a kick off the cup, and Yan says he is ready to continue. Sterling lands a few jabs, and Yan fires back with a kick to the liver. Sterling changes levels and is easily stuffed, allowing Yan to charge towards him and unload with heavy punches. Sterling rips the body with a pair of punches, and a takedown is very labored as he lunges forward. Yan trips Sterling down as Sterling is trying to attack, but the Russian lets him back up so that he can clock him with a right hand. Sterling chains punches into takedown attempts, but Yan is completely unconcerned as Sterling’s tries are slowing. Yan gains separation and knees Sterling in the head, so Sterling spins with an elbow and falls to a knee. Yan tosses Sterling down to the ground once more, and he does not climb into the guard and instead whacks Sterling with a heavy leg kick. Yan walks away after missing with an axe kick, and Sterling thanks him with a right hand before shooting for a takedown. When Sterling is on one knee, Yan punches him on the side several times. Yan calmly allows a slowing Sterling to get up, and he blocks a few punches but takes a couple leg kicks. Yan gives him one back, but not before Sterling gets his attention with a punch. Yan lifts his foe into the air and slams him down, where the scramble is interrupted by the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Yan
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Yan
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Yan

Round 4

Unlike the last few rounds, Sterling is not quite as amped up coming out of his corner, but he does throw several kicks to start off. Yan catches one high kick and kicks Sterling’s leg out, and like many times before, he lords over Sterling throwing sporadic kicks until Sterling stands up. “Aljo” stands up and takes a knee to the body, but he gives Yan back an uppercut. The Russian scores a punch, and Sterling digs a few shots to the body. Both score right hands at the same time, and Sterling backs off to plant a few kicks on the champ’s body and arm. Sterling targets the body a few more times, and he attempts the trip that Yan got on him to no avail. Yan checks a kick, but he eats a step-in elbow in the process. Yan patiently picks his targets, landing a left hand and a kick to the body, until he is forced to defend a takedown. The Russian does just that, spinning Sterling around and stopping the shot. Sterling once more redoubles his effort, but Yan easily sees it coming and wades through sloppy strikes from the challenger after they separate. Yan kicks the body once more, and Sterling is reacting visibly when taking these shots. Yan absorbs several kicks to the body that do not have a lot of mustard on them, but he stays upright from an attempted trip from Yan. Sterling strides forward fatigued but still throwing strikes, and he takes a stiff left hand that makes his knees buckle. Sterling falls into the fencing, and he absorbs a heavy knee that makes Smith warn Sterling to defend himself. Sterling obliges him with several failed takedown attempts. When they clinch up, Yan smashes him with a knee and then a one-two on the break. Sterling steps in with a right hand to the body, and a head kick that follows is easily blocked. Sterling clacks another head kick off the side of Yan’s head, but Yan pays it no mind. Sterling shoots for a takedown and when he fails on it, Smith shouts that Sterling is grounded. Yan ignores the statement and knees Sterling in the face about as flush as he can which should be an intentional foul. Sterling falls to his back in a daze, and he is trying to blink it out and is hurt badly. The challenger tries to gather himself, but he falls over before he can come close to getting back to his feet. Smith calls in the doctor, and Sterling can barely even sit up. Sterling tells Smith that he does not want the fight to end like this, but judging by his condition, it should not continue. After a brief evaluation, the doctor rules that Sterling cannot keep fighting and it is all over. What an unfortunate end to a great fight, but at the very least, the fighters should rematch in the future. Due to it being declared an intentional foul, this is ruled a disqualification. Sterling is now the new bantamweight champion of the world, and he hurls the belt to the ground and falls to his knees in tears. Shockingly, the UFC decides to grant an interview to the potentially concussed Sterling, who is not happy about this turn of events.

The Official Result

Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan R4 4:29 via Disqualification (Illegal Knee)

UFC Women's Featherweight Title Fight:
Amanda Nunes (145) vs. Megan Anderson (144.5)

Round 1

Our second title affair and the last women’s match of the evening comes at featherweight, when Nunes (20-4, 13-1 UFC) attempts to push her UFC-high win streak among women to 12 against her tallest, rangiest opponent ever in Anderson (11-4, 3-2 UFC). The clash between UFC champ and ex-Invicta FC champ receives oversight from referee Jason Herzog, and there is a clear show of respect between these two 145 pounders with a glove touch. Anderson walks forward but absorbs the first strike, with a low calf kick that she ignores. Anderson responds with a low kick of her own, and Nunes tries to catch it. When the champ plods forward, she scores a huge right hand and Anderson shakes it off. Both women land hard, and Nunes clips the challenger with a right hand that makes Anderson wobble and her legs fall away. Anderson spins around, barely able to stay upright, and she takes a few shots before shooting for a desperation takedown. Nunes lands a few more punches and pushes Anderson to the ground, where she drops bombs and takes Anderson’s back. The Brazilian sets up a triangle choke and an armbar from behind, and Anderson is in big, big trouble. Nunes torques the arm, and Anderson instantly taps as her elbow is hyperextending. Incredible. Nunes now holds a 12-fight win streak, getting there unbelievably dominant fashion. Although some surmise we may have seen the end of the featherweight division with this win, UFC President Dana White explains on the broadcast that they will keep giving her fights in this category for as long she is willing and when there are actual opponents. Nunes celebrates with her new baby and her partner, ranked strawweight Nina Ansaroff, bringing both of them into the cage to share the victory with them. Nunes calls for anyone who is next…who could possibly be next?

The Official Result

Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson R1 2:03 via Submission (Triangle Armbar)

UFC Light Heavyweight Title Fight:
Jan Blachowicz (205) vs. Israel Adesanya (200.5)

Round 1

This UFC 259 headliner is for all the marbles. Blachowicz (27-8, 10-5 UFC), a significant underdog and the current light heavyweight champ, will try to keep an iron grip on that title against the undefeated middleweight king Adesanya (20-0, 9-0 UFC). The match that may be easily summarized as speed vs. power will draw the final assignment of the evening from referee Herb Dean. There is nothing but respect between these two warriors, and with a touch of gloves, it’s on with the show! Blachowicz starts things off with a very inaccurate leg kick, and Adesanya replies with one that lands. Blachowicz comes up short with another kick, and the middleweight champ is light on his feet at a distance. Blachowicz finally lands the leg kick he is seeking, and Adesanya responds with a head kick that gets blocked. “The Last Stylebender” reaches out with a few jabs and punches, picking away at his larger foe from afar. Blachowicz crashes into the pocket, and Adesanya ducks a left hand and circles away. Adesanya kicks the liver and dances out of the way, and a calm Blachowicz walks towards him and lands a slapping leg kick. The two trade low leg kicks, and Adesanya goes up high with another kick. He fires it off again, and Blachowicz is able to block it. Blachowicz jabs to the head and body, but he absorbs a left hand and tries to counter. Blachowicz sits down on a kick, and he targets the lead leg and takes one back on the shin. Both men go tit-for-tat with these low kicks, with a tentative approach for each as they try to find their range. Adesanya goes over the top with a right hand, and Blachowicz rolls with it and takes a calf kick square. Adesanya kicks to the chest, and Blachowicz marches forward to throw a bomb of a left hand that hits nothing but air. Blachowicz loads up on a body kick, and Adesanya comes at him but backs off when Blachowicz starts flailing big punches. Adesanya chops down the lead leg a few times, and Blachowicz changes stances and it is already marked up. The two have a tense staredown to end the first round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya

Round 2

Blachowicz opens the round with a body kick, and the two exchange in flurries. Adesanya ducks back, and he has a leg kick checked but pays it no mind. Adesanya absorbs a solid right hand, and he gets checked again. Blachowicz takes a body kick and barely ducks a looping head kick, countering with a left hand to drive the middleweight champ back. Both land flush, and Blachowicz pours it on with a combination that gets Adesanya’s attention. Blachowicz flicks out a few jabs, and he aims one to the body and leans back to avoid a jab and a head kick. Adesanya reaches out with a push kick, and he fakes a few head kicks to draw out reactions. Adesanya checks a kick, and he goes up top but falls over when the kick gets blocked. Blachowicz charges but the middleweight champ scampers back to his feet and back to the fence. As they reset, Blachowicz crashes forward to clinch up and nearly bowl Adesanya over. Blachowicz tries to reach over with a right hand, and Adesanya’s outstretched fingers jab his foe in the eye. Adesanya tries to claim it was not a poke, and Blachowicz blinks it out and they continue. Adesanya hacks at the calf with another kick, and he eats a body kick. The two trade single shots back and forth, eating and throwing jabs effectively. Adesanya swings a low body kick, and it careens off the cup to force a pause in the action. Less than 20 seconds elapse before Blachowicz is ready to carry on, and both get back to landing on one another. Blachowicz charges in to land, and when Adesanya tries to come back at him, the defending champ leaps in the air with a knee that draws a smile from Adesanya. “The Last Stylebender” takes a few kicks to the body, and he loads up on a pair of chopping leg kicks. Blachowicz bounces a left hand off Adesanya’s head, and both men land a single leg kick to conclude the round.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz

Round 3

The two light heavyweights continue where they left off, landing jabs and kicks at range until Blachowicz races in. Adesanya gets off a leg kick that gets checked, and Blachowicz swarms him with punches and a flying knee before pushing Adesanya down to the ground. When Adesanya scrambles back to his feet and spins around, Blachowicz greets him with a knee. Adesanya cracks Blachowicz with a right hand, and he lands a few more powerful strikes that are getting Blachowicz’ attention. Adesanya targets the body and head, and his strikes are having more of an impact in this round after that odd exchange. Adesanya nails the body with a kick, forcing Blachowicz to tie him up and press him into the fence. The middleweight champ boxes the ears, forces a separation and lands a heavy leg kick. Adesanya keeps his hands down, and he is watching for a big strike. Blachowicz throws it, and Adesanya is able to duck it and mark Blachowicz up with a few jabs. When the Polish fighter comes back at him, Adesanya strafes out of the way. Blachowicz digs a body kick to the liver, and Adesanya drops his right elbow to defend the spot so he gets jabbed in the face. Blachowicz tags his opponent with a big left hook, and Adesanya comes back at him with a question mark kick that slaps off the face. Adesanya reaches out with a jab, and Blachowicz clinches up and presses him into the wire again. Adesanya forces a break and feints and fakes his way forward, scoring a right hand over the top and taking a left on the chops to end Round 3.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Adesanya

Round 4

When Blachowicz comes in to attack, Adesanya marks his face up with a few punches before Blachowicz clinches up. On the break, Adesanya gets off a left hand, but Blachowicz backs him off with a clubbing right hook. Adesanya powers out a jab that snaps Blachowicz’ head back, but it is one-and-done as Adesanya switches to a front kick. Adesanya lands a leg kick, but Blachowicz connects with a much heavier one to the body. Adesanya wades forward to throw punches, and an elbow collides with Blachowicz’ chin. When the elbow lands, Blachowicz bulldozes forward to push Adesanya over. The light heavyweight champ climbs to half guard, and he starts landing punches from above as Adesanya tries to scoot his way back to the fence. The Polish fighter sits up and drops hammers, and Adesanya locks him down and defend himself from the strikes. Adesanya looks to get up, but Blachowicz easily drags him back down. Blachowicz calmly steps over to side control, and he traps Adesanya flat on his back. The defending champ squeezes down to grind out the round, and he goes back to half guard but continues to punch. Adesanya sneaks up an elbow, and the fourth frame ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz

Round 5

Adesanya reaches out to start off the final stanza with a few jabs and a leg kick. Adesanya gets off a head kick and one low, and Blachowicz fires back with a few power jabs. Adesanya scores a right hand, a left, and a front kick. The middleweight champ lands a leg kick and then follows it with another. Both land flush single strikes at the same time, and they trade strikes one after the other. Adesanya stands before his opponent, and he cracks Blachowicz with a big right hand and a left hook. Blachowicz looks to counter with a few punches, but the head movement of Adesanya keeps him safe. “The Last Stylebender” chops down the leg and gets jabbed on the jaw. Adesanya kicks the leg, and follows it with a one-two over the top. Adesanya delivers a spinning back kick to the body, and Blachowicz is wearing it now. Blachowicz sticks his foe with a single jab, when Adesanya reaches towards him, the defending champ hits a shocking takedown. Blachowicz keeps his full body weight, dropping down strikes and advancing to half guard. Adesanya tries to scramble, but the larger man keeps him grounded and does enough to stay in this position. Adesanya pushes his foot off the cage, but Blachowicz will not let him up and keeps slamming sporadic punches down. With seconds left in the fight, Blachowicz hops over to mount and starts smashing Adesanya up with strikes. The klaxon blares throughout the arena, and the fight is now over. This one could be a close one, but it was a learning experience nonetheless. With that, this 15-fight extravaganza is now in the books, but there is no time for a breather. There are a few more events left in this stretch, with the next one a jam-packed Fight Night card capped by elite welterweights.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz (48-47 Blachowicz)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz (48-47 Blachowicz)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Blachowicz (48-47 Blachowicz)

The Official Result

Jan Blachowicz def. Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45)
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