@LatifiMMA takes this one by SD. #UFCVegas28 pic.twitter.com/a7wvG9YNls — UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2021
Allstars Training Center representative Ilir Latifi rode takedowns and top position to a split-decision triumph over Tanner Boser in a heavyweight encounter at UFC Fight Night 189 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Michael Bell and Junichiro Kamijo submitted 29-28 tallies for Latifi, while Tony Weeks saw the fight 29-27 in favor of Boser. Latifi earned his first UFC heavyweight triumph after falling to Derrick Lewis in his debut at UFC 247.
Latifi’s formula for success was simple, as he grounded Boser (19-8-1, 3-3 UFC) in both the first and third rounds and spent a significant portion of time in top position. Boser’s most significant moment came in the second period, when he landed a right hand near the eye that forced Latifi (15-8, 8-6 UFC) to crumble near the fence. The Canadian heavyweight swarmed with punches, but Latifi was able to cover up and survive until the horn.
Boser has lost back-to-back fights for the second time in his career.
Salikhov Outduels Trinaldo
Muslim Salikhov’s toolbox of striking attacks proved to be too much for Francisco Trinaldo, as he captured a unanimous decision in a welterweight affair. “The King of Kung Fu” swept the scorecards by a trio of 30-27 counts to spoil Trinaldo’s 170-pound debut.
While Salikhov (18-2, 5-1 UFC) kept his opponent off balance with body kicks, front kicks, spinning kicks and head kicks, it was his hands that did the most significant damage. The Dagestani dropped Trinaldo (26-8, 16-7) with a short uppercut late in Round 1 and nearly secured a finish with ensuing ground-and-pound. Salikhov also wobbled Trinaldo with a right hand in the second frame and stunned him with a combination in Round 3 after recovering from an inadvertent eye poke. While Trinaldo was game and durable throughout, he simply couldn’t match his adversary’s output.
Salikhov has won five consecutive fights since losing his Octagon debut.
Kirk Upsets Amirkhani in Debut
Kamuela Kirk scored an upset in his promotional debut, taking a three-round verdict over Makwan Amirkhani at featherweight. All three cageside judges saw the fight in favor of the former Legacy Fighting Alliance competitor: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Kirk (12-4, 1-0 UFC) has been victorious in his last three professional appearances.
After stepping in as a replacement for Nate Landwehr, Kirk needed a round to get comfortable against Amirkhani (16-6, 6-4 UFC). Kirk’s best moment came late in the second stanza, when he trapped his foe in what appeared to be a tight triangle armbar. Amirkhani was able to survive the predicament, but he wasn’t able to make a lasting impression in what was often a back-and-forth affair on the canvas.
Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL and “The Ultimate Fighter” live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
Jones vs. Patrick Ends in No Contest
Mason Jones appeared to be well on his way to earning his first UFC victory before an accidental foul derailed all of that momentum.
An accidental eye poke from the former Cage Warriors two-division champion rendered Alan Patrick unable to continue, and as a result, their lightweight clash was ruled a no contest 2:14 into Round 2. Jones (10-1, 1 NC, 0-1, 1 NC UFC) nearly secured a finish in the opening stanza, when he assumed top position after his foe slipped attempting a spinning back fist. From there, Jones unloaded with punches and elbows from above, but a bloodied Patrick (15-3, 1 NC, 5-3, 1 NC UFC) was able to survive until the horn.
Jones went back to work early in the second frame, as he took Patrick down again and looked to attack with ground-and-pound. However, the foul occurred when the Brazilian veteran returned to his feet and Jones gave chase near the fence. The bout was waved off once Patrick informed officials that he couldn't see.
Fiorot Batters Ricci, Wins Seventh Straight
Frenchwoman Manan Fiorot put on a clinic against promotional newcomer Tabatha Ricci, winning via technical knockout in a flyweight contest. A flurry of punches against the fence brought the matchup to a close 3:00 into Round 2, giving Fiorot (7-1, 2-0 UFC) her fifth consecutive knockout win and seventh straight victory overall.
Fiorot, who looked to be at least one weight class bigger than Ricci, controlled the cage from the outset of the opening bell. She attacked her Brazilian foe with punching combinations, knees in the clinch and the occasional standing side kick. Fiorot set the stage for the finish when she sat Ricci (5-1, 0-1 UFC) down with a right hand and then swarmed with punches as her opponent attempted to return to her feet. Moments later, another salvo from Fiorot forced referee Herb Dean to step in and halt the contest.
Woodson Takes Split Verdict Over Zalal
Sean Woodson rebounded from his first career defeat, as he earned a split-decision triumph over Factory X product Youssef Zalal in a featherweight encounter. Two judges saw it 29-28 for Woodson, while a third had it 29-28 for “The Moroccan Devil.”
The 6-foot-2 Woodson (8-1, 2-1 UFC) relied on rangy striking and airtight takedown defense to keep his opponent at bay. “The Sniper” stunned Zalal with a straight left in Round 1 and generally landed in greater volume on the feet while also threatening with submissions at the end of the second and third frames. Zalal (10-5, 3-3 UFC) has now lost three straight in UFC competition.
Puelles Outgrapples Leavitt
Claudio Puelles was victorious in his first Octagon appearance in nearly two years, earning a unanimous verdict over Dana White’s Contender Series alum Jordan Leavitt at lightweight. All three judges submitted 29-28 scorecards for the 25-year-old Peru native, who has won three straight fights within the Las Vegas-based promotion after losing his debut.
Leavitt (8-1, 1-1 UFC) controlled the grappling exchanges in Round 1 but his gas tank faded as the fight progressed. Puelles (10-2, 3-1 UFC) landed takedowns in each of the last two frames, chipped away with ground-and-pound and neutralized his opponent’s submission game from top position to hand Leavitt his first career defeat.