UFC Fight Night 192 Prelims: Tafon Nchukwi Rebounds, Steamrolls Mike Rodriguez in Las Vegas

By: Brian Knapp
Sep 18, 2021

The outcome was never in doubt, not even for a second.

Team Lloyd Irvin prospect Tafon Nchukwi rebounded from his first professional defeat and made a triumphant return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight division, as he was awarded a one-sided unanimous decision over Mike Rodriguez in the featured UFC Fight Night 192 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Nchukwi (6-1, 2-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with matching 30-27 marks across the board.

Rodriguez (11-7, 2-5 UFC) mostly just survived. Nchukwi backed him to the fence repeatedly and uncorked powerful combinations, tipping his spear with intermittent uppercuts, standing elbows and sweeping hooks from both hands. He incorporated takedowns in the first and third rounds, negating Rodriguez’s visible height and reach advantages.

Pennington Slows, Outlasts Kianzad

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 semifinalist Raquel Pennington leaned on a grimy clinch game and superior boxing, as she captured a unanimous decision from former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Pannie Kianzad in a three-round women’s bantamweight clash. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Pennington (12-8, 9-5 UFC).

Kianzad (15-6, 4-3 UFC) failed to build on a strong first round. Pennington turned the tide in the second, where she beat up the Iran-born Swede in the clinch, secured a takedown and advanced to the back, at which point she locked down the position with hooks and chipped away with punches. She lured Kianzad back into the clinch in Round 3, landed with both hands and mixed in a few close-quarters elbows for good measure.

The setback snapped Kianzad’s four-fight winning streak.

Promising Rong Dominates Jenkins

American Top Team prospect Zhu Rong dispatched Professional Fighters League alum Brandon Jenkins with punches in the third round of their lightweight encounter. A short-notice replacement for Dakota Bush, Jenkins (14-7, 0-1 UFC) bowed out 4:35 into Round 3.

Rong (18-4, 1-1 UFC) was effective on the counter, pestered the Octagon newcomer with leg kicks and swamped him with pressure and output on the ground. He achieved full mount in the first and second rounds, then hit the accelerator in the third. There, Rong executed a takedown, unloaded with punches to the head and prompted referee Chris Tognoni to act.

The 21-year-old Rong has won 11 of his last 12 bouts.

Jackson Handles Replacement Buys

Pure Vida BJJ representative Montel Jackson won for the fifth time in six outings, as he took a unanimous decision from J.P. Buys in a three-round bantamweight tilt. Jackson (11-2, 5-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges.

A short-notice replacement for Danaa Batgerel, Buys (9-4, 0-2 UFC) made passes at several submissions in the first round but was otherwise unable to mount sustained offense. Jackson knocked down Xtreme Couture-trained South African with surgical left hands on more than one occasion, assumed top position and either bled valuable time off the clock or piled up points with punches and elbows.

Debuting Blanchfield Bludgeons Alpar

Onetime Eddie Bravo Invitational champion Erin Blanchfield dazzled in her promotional debut, as she laid claim to a clear-cut unanimous decision over Sarah Alpar in a three-round women’s flyweight clash. All three judges sided with Blanchfield (7-1, 1-0 UFC): 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26.

Alpar (9-6, 0-2 UFC) was outgunned in every phase. Blanchfield overwhelmed the former Legacy Fighting Alliance titleholder with pressure and output, struck for repeated takedowns and routed her in the grappling exchanges. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt climbed to dominant positions with ease and alternated between ferocious ground-and-pound and attempted submissions.

Blanchfield, 22, will carry a four-fight winning streak into her next assignment.

Surging Harris Buries Kasanganay

Former Brave Combat Federation titleholder Carlston Harris put away Impa Kasanganay with punches in the first round of their welterweight tilt. Kasanganay (9-2, 2-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:38 into Round 1, suffering his second loss in three outings.

Harris (17-4, 2-0 UFC) chipped away with chopping right hands, basic combinations and body kicks, then flipped the switch. He dazed Kasanganay with a right hook, floored him with a left and pounced with punches and hammerfists. Referee Mark Smith was on the scene soon after and waved it off once it became clear Kasanganay had passed the point of no return.

The 34-year-old Harris has rattled off five consecutive victories, all of them finishes.

Lopez-Alateng Ends in Stalemate

Former Combate Americas champion Gustavo Lopez fought to a unanimous draw with Heili Alateng in a three-round bantamweight affair. All three cageside judges saw it 28-28, a point deduction for a third-round fence grab costing Alateng (14-8-2, 2-1-1 UFC) on the scorecards.

Neither man did much to distinguish himself in the first two rounds. Lopez made his move in the third, where he charged at the One Championship veteran with hooks from both hands and swooped in for an attempted takedown. Alateng ignored warnings from referee Keith Peterson and grabbed the cage on multiple occasions, the foul resulting in his being docked a point. Lopez later threatened with a rear-naked choke and a guillotine but failed to nail down the finish.

Goldy Armbar Submits Whitmire

Fusion X-Cel export Hannah Goldy disposed of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26 quarterfinalist Emily Whitmire with an armbar in the first round of their women’s flyweight pairing. A short-notice substitution for Cory McKenna, Goldy (6-2, 1-2 UFC) prompted the verbal submission 4:17 into Round 1.

Whitmire (4-5, 2-4 UFC) scored initially with jab-cross combinations, executed two takedowns and applied her ground-and-pound. However, she grew too comfortable operating in guard. Goldy locked up the armbar from the bottom, engaged her hips and closed the deal.

The 30-year-old Whitmire has lost three fights in a row.
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