Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the UFC live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
Anthony Pettis will enter 2021 with some welcomed momentum in his back pocket.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting and Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder overcame an inauspicious start, put some of his otherworldly skills to use and picked up a unanimous decision over Alex Morono in the featured UFC Fight Night 183 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three judges sided with Pettis (24-10, 11-8 UFC), casting 29-28 scorecards in his favor.
Morono (18-7, 7-4 UFC) capitalized on an early slip in the first round, pounced on the Roufusport mainstay, progressed to the back and bloodied his nose in the process. Pettis withstood his efforts, called upon his deep reservoir of experience and took advantage of the one-minute respite between rounds. “Showtime” slowly seized control with superior strikes in the middle stanza, but he saved his best for Round 3. There, in the final minute, he connected with a spinning wheel kick that set Morono on wobbly legs. A finish did not materialize, but Pettis’ message had been sent.
Streaking Kianzad Outlasts Eubanks
Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Pannie Kianzad won for the third time in as many outings, as she captured a unanimous decision against Sijara Eubanks in a competitive women’s bantamweight battle. Kianzad (14-5, 3-2 UFC) earned 29-28 marks on all three scorecards.
Eubanks (6-6, 4-4 UFC) struck for multiple takedowns, achieved full mount and piled up points with ground-and-pound in the first round. However, success proved fleeting. Kianzad closed the holes in her takedown defense across the final 10 minutes, did some excellent work in the clinch and pieced together clean punching combinations. Eubanks had her moments — she connected with a thudding right hand and a concussive left in the third round — but failed to deliver a convincing closing argument.
The 35-year-old Eubanks has lost two fights in a row.
Determined Winn Downs Arroyo
American Kickboxing Academy rep Deron Winn leaned on takedowns and positional control, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Antonio Arroyo in a three-round catchweight affair at 195 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Winn (7-2, 2-2 UFC), who rebounded from consecutive defeats to Darren Stewart and Gerald Meerschaert.
A short-notice replacement for Antonio Braga Neto, Arroyo (9-4, 0-2 UFC) excelled in the standup exchanges but failed to manage distance and found himself glued to the canvas for much of the match. Winn executed one takedown, then another and another. Over and over again, he attacked the legs of the taller Brazilian before dragging him to the mat. His efforts eventually depleted Arroyo’s gas tank and had him looking like a man who was resigned to his fate.
Arroyo, 31, has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his 13-fight career.
Surging Santos Subdues Robertson
Tactical takedowns, punishing ground-and-pound and airtight submission defense spurred Astra Fight Team export Taila Santos to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26 alum Gillian Robertson in a three-round women’s flyweight tilt. Scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 29-28, all for Santos (17-1, 2-1 UFC).
Robertson (9-5, 6-3 UFC) made advances toward submissions in all three rounds, but when those efforts failed to yield fruit, the Din Thomas protégé found herself pinned to the canvas with few routes of escape. Santos applied crippling pressure from top position and battered the Canadian with punches, elbows and forearm strikes.
The once-beaten Santos has posted back-to-back wins since she dropped a split verdict to Mara Romero Borella in February.
Unbeaten Nchukwi Sinks Pickett
Team Lloyd Irvin prospect Tafon Nchukwi kept his perfect professional record intact, as he took a clear-cut unanimous decision from Jamie Pickett in a three-round middleweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it for the undefeated Nchukwi (5-0, 1-0 UFC): 30-25, 30-26 and 30-26.
Pickett (11-5, 0-1 UFC) lacked the oomph he needed to give his fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum pause. Nchukwi marched forward with punches, punctuated his combinations with head kicks and performed brilliantly in the clinch, where he buried one knee after another into his counterpart’s midsection. He staggered Pickett in the third round with a head kick, dropped him to all fours with another knee to the body and pursued a stoppage on the canvas. While Nchukwi’s efforts to author a finish proved unsuccessful, he still managed to leave his stamp on the match.
The loss snapped Pickett’s two-fight winning streak.
Flick Triangle Submits Durden
Onetime Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Jimmy Flick submitted Cody Durden with a triangle choke in the first round of their flyweight encounter. Durden (11-3-1, 0-1-1 UFC) conceded defeat 3:18 into Round 1, as the Covington, Georgia, native suffered his first setback in nearly three years.
Flick (16-5, 1-0 UFC) waded through significant adversity. Durden pressured the DWCS graduate with a takedown, advanced to the back and unleashed his ground-and-pound, then proceeded to flex his superiority in the standup exchanges once the two men returned to an upright position. Flick fired a head kick, transitioned to a flying triangle and cinched the choke not long after his back hit the mat. After a brief struggle, Durden capitulated.
The 30-year-old Flick has rattled off four straight victories, all by submission.
Replacement Giagos Overwhelms Minus
Repeated takedowns, smooth positional advancements and intermittent submission attempts carried former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Christos Giagos to a unanimous decision over Carlton Minus in a three-round catchweight pairing at 160 pounds. A short-notice substitution for Rick Glenn, Giagos (18-8, 4-4 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-26, 29-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges.
Minus (10-3, 0-2 UFC) was a non-factor for two-plus rounds, as he was essentially transformed into a grappling dummy by the Black House rep. Giagos executed takedowns at will, floated from one position of dominance to the next and hunted chokes. Minus established a better rhythm in the third round, stayed upright and exploited a visibly fatigued opponent. However, the finish he needed was never in reach.
Giagos, 30, has won three of his last four fights.