Brazilian powerhouse Michel Prazeres took to his new surroundings in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division.
Prazeres recorded his seventh consecutive victory, as he eked out a split decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Zak Cummings in the featured UFC Fight Night 129 prelim on Saturday at the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Fabio Alves and Marcelo Vilhena for Prazeres, Chris Lee for Cummings.
They fought mostly in choppy standup exchanges, with Prazeres (25-2, 9-2 UFC) leaning on his overhand right and the American connecting with intermittent left hands. Cummings (21-6, 6-3 UFC) -- who was cut by an inadvertent head butt inside the first five minutes -- employed a stifling clinch but saw his gains there erased by well-timed tactical takedowns from “Trator” in all three rounds.
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Pantoja Shuts Out Moreno
Crisp combination punching and stinging leg kicks carried former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Alexandre Pantoja to a clear unanimous decision over Brandon Moreno in a three-round undercard clash at 125 pounds. Scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 29-27 for Pantoja (19-3, 3-1 UFC), a short-notice substitution for Ray Borg.
Never did it feel like a winnable fight for Moreno (14-5, 3-2 UFC). Outgunned at virtually every turn, only his toughness kept him afloat. Pantoja tore into him with both hands, sneaky knee strikes and steady leg kicks. The Nova Uniao export bloodied Moreno’s nose with a wicked jab in the first round before drawing him to the mat, advancing to the back and mauling him with punches.
Moreno’s situation did not improve. Pantoja continued to connect in combination and refused to stay down when taken down, offering no refuge for his 24-year-old adversary.
Botelho Liver Kick Freezes Kondo
Nova Uniao’s Poliana Botelho took care of former Pancrase champion Syuri Kondo with a body kick and follow-up punches in the first round of their undercard confrontation at 115 pounds. The previously unbeaten Kondo (6-1, 1-1 UFC) met her end just 33 seconds into Round 1.
The 29-year-old Botelho (7-1, 2-0 UFC) froze the part-time professional wrestler with a sizzling liver kick, backed her to the fence and forced her to turtle at the base of the cage. From there, she cut loose with unabated right hands until referee Camila Albuquerque had seen enough.
Botelho has finished four opponents during her current five-fight winning streak.
Benitez Nets Quick, Violent KO
American Kickboxing Academy rep Gabriel Benitez knocked out Humberto Bandenay with a slam and follow-up punches in the first round of their preliminary featherweight tilt. Bandenay (14-5, 1-1 UFC) bit the dust 39 seconds into Round 1, his six-fight winning streak snapped in a blink.
Benitez (21-6, 5-2 UFC) decked the Team Oyama-trained Peruvian with a short, searing left uppercut inside the first 15 seconds and swarmed for a potential finish. Perhaps instinctively, Bandenay caught a deep armbar from the bottom and appeared to be on the verge of an unlikely submission. Instead, Benitez hoisted him skyward and drove him into the canvas. The dazed Bandenay released the armbar and was knocked unconscious by the hammerfists that fell next.
The 29-year-old Benitez has won seven of his past nine bouts.
Tenacious Barzola Subdues Davis
“The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” Season 2 winner Enrique Barzola extended his winning streak to four fights with a unanimous decision over Brandon Davis in a three-round undercard scrap at 145 pounds. Barzola (15-3-1, 5-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 marks from the judges.
Part of the Alan Belcher fraternity in Mississippi, Davis (9-4, 1-2 UFC) was effective at range but too often allowed the American Top Team standout to dictate distance. Barzola secured takedowns in all three rounds, threatened with chokes, piled up points with ground-and-pound and advanced to the back on multiple occasions. Davis tried the change the narrative in the third round and shot for a takedown of his own. Barzola countered with a front headlock, dragged him to the mat and scrambled into top position.
Puelles Kneebar Submits Silva
Peruvian prospect Claudio Puelles submitted Felipe Silva with a kneebar in the third round of their undercard pairing at 155 pounds. In his first appearance since Nov. 5, 2016, Pulles (8-2, 1-1 UFC) closed the deal 2:23 into Round 3.
Silva (8-2, 1-2 UFC) was in complete control until the stoppage. The CM System representative battered his 22-year-old counterpart with punches, knee strikes from the clinch, leg kicks and ground-and-pound in the second round and carried his dominance into the third. There, he had Puelles reeling on more than one occasion, having raised a massive hematoma around his left eye. It was not enough. Silva stuffed a takedown and applied his ground-and-pound, only to wander into the kneebar. He winced in pain before accepting his fate.
Puelles has won three of his last four fights.
Saenz Outduels Reeling Briones
Former King of the Cage champion Frankie Saenz posted his second win in as many outings, as he captured a unanimous decision over Enrique Briones in a preliminary bantamweight battle. All three cageside judges scored it for Saenz (13-5, 5-3 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Briones (16-8-1, 1-4 UFC) countered effectively at times but never managed to turn the corner. Saenz kept him off-balance for much of the 15-minute encounter. He executed takedowns in all three rounds, racked up points with ground-and-pound and performed well in close-quarters standup exchanges. Saenz sat down the Entram Gym export with a crackling right hand in the second round and later opened a small cut near his left eye. Two third-round takedowns served as punctuation.
The 37-year-old Briones has lost four fights in a row.