Multiple takedowns, positional control and superiority in the scrambles carried the Polish grappler to a unanimous decision over Kings MMA’s Nasrat Haqparast in the featured UFC Fight Night 118 “Cerrone vs. Till” prelim on Saturday at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. Held (23-7, 1-3 UFC) was awarded 30-27 scores by all three judges.
A replacement for the injured Teemu Packalen, Haqparast (8-2, 0-1 UFC) more than held his own. The 22-year-old Rafael Cordeiro protégé wobbled Held with a clean left hand in the first round and withstood repeated submission attempts from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. However, Held spent the last half of the second round and much of the third operating from top position, threatening his counterpart’s legs and doing enough to procure favor on the scorecards.
The setback snapped an eight-fight winning streak for Haqparast.
Kelleher Stops Bloodied Stasiak
Former Ring of Combat champion Brian Kelleher cut down Damian Stasiak with punches in the third round of their undercard showdown at 135 pounds. Stasiak (10-5, 2-3 UFC) bit the dust 3:39 into Round 3, his undoing traced to an accumulation of punishment.
Not all went according to plan for Kelleher (18-8, 2-1 UFC). He found himself in a defensive backpedal in the first round after absorbing a brutal spinning back kick to the solar plexus. Kelleher weathered the assault that followed and eventually found his path. He bloodied Stasiak’s nose with a left hook in the second round and employed an effective sprawl. Late in the third round, Kelleher clipped the Polish karateka with an overhand right, sent him tumbling to the canvas with a subsequent left and then mopped up the rest with hammerfists.
Kelleher, 31, has won eight of his past nine bouts.
Emeev Sinks Replacement Alvey
Former M-1 Global champion Ramazan Emeev took care of business in his UFC debut, laying claim to a unanimous decision over Sam Alvey in a preliminary middleweight contest. Emeev (16-3, 1-0 UFC) drew 30-27 nods from all three judges, extended his winning streak to five fights and established an immediate foothold at 185 pounds.
A short-notice fill-in for the injured Trevor Smith, Alvey (31-10, 8-5 UFC) struggled to get out of neutral. Emeev peppered him with lightning-bolt right hands and suffocated him in the clinch, all while ripping power punches to the head and body. He had Alvey reeling in the first round -- left hook set the Team Quest rep on rubbery legs -- before easing his foot off the gas and cruising to a well-earned victory.
Fili Outlasts, Outpoints Lobov
Team Alpha Male mainstay Andre Fili won for the third time in five appearances, as he took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter 22” finalist Artem Lobov in a three-round undercard matchup at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Fili (17-5, 5-4 UFC).
Lobov (13-14-1, 2-4 UFC) fought well in spurts but never managed to turn the corner. Fili floored him with a head kick in the first round and circled on the outside, pecking away with jabs, right hands and leg kicks. The Tachi Palace Fights veteran altered his plans in the third round, where he executed four takedowns and cut off any possibility of a Lobov comeback.
SBG Ireland’s Lobov has lost back-to-back fights.
Alves Spoils Touahri Debut
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 winner Warlley Alves outstruck Polish newcomer Salim Touahri across three rounds to bank a unanimous decision in a preliminary welterweight battle. Alves (11-2, 5-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges, putting an end to his two-fight losing streak.
A replacement for the injured Jim Wallhead, Touahri (10-2, 0-1 UFC) made a positive first impression. Nevertheless, Alves was superior in the majority of their exchanges. The 26-year-old X-Gym standout struck for a takedown in the first round, staggered Touahri with an overhand right in the second and leaned on his kicks on the third, where he zeroed in on the Octagon rookie’s head, arms, midsection and legs.
The loss snapped Touahri’s run of five consecutive victories.
Undefeated Ladd Bludgeons Lansberg
Invicta Fighting Championships veteran Aspen Ladd soared in her Octagon debut, as she disposed of Lina Lansberg with punches in the second round of their undercard pairing at 135 pounds. Ladd (6-0, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 2:33 into Round 2.
Lansberg (7-3, 1-2 UFC) troubled the newcomer through much of the first round. There, she carved up Ladd in the clinch, burying knees into her abdomen, legs and hips while incorporating some of her trademark elbows. The momentum was short-lived. Ladd switched gears in the middle stanza, where she changed levels, executed a takedown and advanced to full mount. Lansberg was unable to withstand the ground-and-pound avalanche that followed.
The 22-year-old Ladd has finished five of her first six opponents.
Revitalized Emmett Handles Arantes
Josh Emmett made a successful move to 145 pounds, as he captured a clear-cut unanimous decision from Felipe Arantes in a preliminary featherweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it for Emmett (12-1, 3-1 UFC): 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25.
Arantes (18-9-1, 5-5-1 UFC) was forced into survival mode by the aggressive Team Alpha Male representative. Emmett knocked down the Brazilian four times in the first round and never looked back, a powerful right hand doing the majority of his damage. Though his pace slowed in the second round, he routinely pinned Arantes to the fence, tore into him with power punching bursts and even mixed in a takedown. Emmett closed it out with a strong final five minutes, where he rang the Chute Boxe export’s bell more than once with clubbing rights.