UFC Fight Night 197 ‘Holloway vs. Rodriguez’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

By: Jay Pettry
Nov 13, 2021
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Da Un Jung (204.5) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (205)

Round 1

Welcome back to the UFC Apex, a building we will remain for four of the last five UFC cards this year. After two supermassive pay-per-view black holes, we return to Fight Night fare, with a potentially thrilling main event but only a few other ranked fighters across the remainder of the bill. We will try to catch our breath from the madness that was UFC 278 with an 11-fight offering that begins in the light heavyweight division. Two strikers that vastly prefer the knockout while sporting just one submission win between them come to blows at 205 pounds, when Nzechukwu (9-1, 3-1 UFC) meets Jung (14-2-1, 3-0-1 UFC) in the center of the Octagon. Referee Chris Tognoni will watch on for the first fight of the day, and the glove touch seals the cage around them and commences the action. Nzechukwu takes the center of the cage and slowly moves in, but neither man lets go with any offense for the first 30 seconds. Jung has his arm outstretched with a rangefinder, and he pokes at Nzechukwu with his fist lightly a few times. Over 75 seconds pass before any noteworthy strike is thrown, with Jung finally leading the dance with a left hook. Both light heavyweights are hand-fighting in front of each other, and Jung gets off a right hand only to get stung with a straight left hand down the pipe. The two stand right in front of one another with single strikes, neither giving much ground or committing to their blows to a noteworthy degree. Jung sits down on a right hand, and Nzechukwu returns with another left straight. Jung sees that his right hand has found its home, so he connects with it a few more times to back Nzechukwu up. The strikes are one-and-done between them, and they start loading up. With them in such close range, Jung switches over to standing elbow strikes, and they collide with his foe’s guard and are still damaging enough to give Nzechukwu pause. Jung continues to hammer away with elbows, and Nzechukwu keeps his guard up but the impact of the blows is rocking him. Nzechukwu stumbles back towards the wall, not a fan of these strikes, and “Sseda” marches forward and does not relent. The South Korean continues his barrage of elbows, and they start to get around the guard and pound Nzechukwu behind the ear. Although a fighter typically gets chopped down like a proverbially tree with kicks, the elbows from Jung wobble Nzechukwu’s legs and make him falter more and more. Jung's assault seemingly unending, Nzechukwu’s knees betray him as does his chin, and he falls lifelessly to the canvas on his face. As Tognoni is diving in to halt the contest as Nzechukwu has drifted off to dreamland, Jung gets off a punctuating punch or two to seal the deal. With that, Jung extends his impressive unbeaten streak 15 while becoming the first man to stop Nzechukwu with strikes.

The Official Result

Da Un Jung def. Kennedy Nzechukwu R1 3:04 via KO (Elbows)

Rafael Alves (155) vs. Marc Diakiese (156)

Round 1

Moving right along to the lightweights, British bomber Diakiese (14-4, 5-4 UFC) will take his turn against “The Turn” Alves (19-10, 0-1 UFC). One man should end the night with a .500 record with the promotion, while the other will not, barring a draw or other unfortunate result. Burning a lot of energy on his dancing walk to the cage, Alves dramatically reintroduces himself to fans with a cartwheel to a flip that he sticks upon entering the Octagon. Drawing the assignment is referee Mark Smith, and is already working hard to keep them separated as Diakiese wants to engage before clocking in. Although Alves still offers a glove touch, Diakiese runs through it and gets kicked square in the cup. First strike of the fight is a groin shot, and Diakiese lets out a yelp and falls to the ground in pain. The Brit needs 45 seconds to recover, and Smith tells them to keep it clean as they have not even fought for 10 seconds. When they resume, Diakiese walks Alves down but is forced to retreat as Alves sprints at him with winging punches. A slick foot sweep comes from Alves, who makes Diakiese stumble, but he does not take advantage of it as “Bonecrusher” takes the center of the cage. Diakiese slings body kicks and left hands, keeping Alves honest but still getting tagged by a power right hand that comes at him. Diakiese goes low with a kick, and they clash kicks shortly thereafter. A clean left hand stings Diakiese, and Alves winds up and leaps in the air with a flying knee. As the knee grazes the chin, Diakiese drops down out of instinct for a takedown. This is the worst decision he can make, as Alves jumps guard for a guillotine choke and it is incredibly tight in an instant. Diakiese has nowhere to go, and knowing that he will go out if he can’t escape, he taps out. In victory, Alves gleefully runs over and lifts up the first person he can reach, and the first one he finds is the doctor of all people. The doctor does not know what to do as he is suddenly midair, and Alves eventually sets him down. If Joe Silva were still around and came in to congratulate the victor, he probably would have been picked up too. Before his post-fight interview, Alves tries to lift commentator Michael Bisping up, but Bisping jovially shouts, “Get off me!” What a brief yet wild performance for the energetic Brazilian!

The Official Result

Rafael Alves def. Marc Diakiese R1 1:48 via Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Cortney Casey (125) vs. Liana Jojua (128.5: Missed Weight)

Round 1

The first of two catchweight fights comes next, in a possible pink-slip pairing when “Cast Iron” Casey (9-9, 5-8 UFC) tries to snap her losing streak at the expense of Georgian grappler Jojua (8-4, 1-2 UFC). “She Wolf” missed weight by two and a half pounds, and she was fined a substantial 30% of her purse, but she will try to make it up by snaring a win bonus and evening her UFC record to 2-2 in the process. Referee Marc Goddard draws the charge, and Jojua offers an apologetic glove touch that is answered. They try to get their distance with opposing jabs, but neither come close to finding their target. Jojua jumps forward with a one-two that comes up short, and she dances out of the way from a leg kick. Casey gets off a few kicks, including a front kick that splits the guard, and Jojua ignores it to try to reach out with punches. Casey anticipatorily kicks low when Jojua advances, and she plants a one-two on the face after landing the kick. Another solid kick connects for the American, who then jabs to the body and starts to let her hands go. Jojua is getting marked up from the exchanges, as Casey begins to string combinations together and block the occasional single power punches that come back towards her. Casey gets off a right hand, and another, and Jojua cannot seem to stop the strike from landing as her nose turns red fast. They crash together in the pocket and start throwing, but Casey gets the better of it as she continues to score without concern of much coming back at her. Casey pins four punches on her Georgian foe before anything can return, and she comfortably kicks the leg when Jojua does not make an attempt to counter. “Cast Iron” loops a pair of punches around the guard, and she easily evades an advancing Jojua who wants to change levels. Casey backs off and gets off a pair of kicks, including a thudding one to the body, and she skirts out of harm’s way when Jojua tries for another takedown. Casey suddenly boots Jojua in the face, further damaging the nose of “She Wolf,” and Jojua toughs it out so that she can plod forward and secure a takedown with 30 seconds left in the round. From on top, Jojua gets off some ground-and-pound, all while fighting off the beginning of an armbar setup from Casey. She keeps this position and lands a few strikes from on top to try to sway the round in her favor, but it may be too little, too late.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Casey
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Casey
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Casey

Round 2

The two women meet in the center of the cage, and Casey is ready to get back to using her range to keep Jojua at a safe kickboxing distance. Casey lands a thudding low kick and chains it into a left hand, and when Jojua moves in, she stings her with a few more punches. Jojua’s standing offense is minimal while Casey is always busy, and Casey connects with a clean right hand that seems to irritate Jojua. Casey flings up a kick up the middle, and whiffs on a subsequent head kick. Jojua wings the occasional looping punch, and Casey picks her apart from range with low kicks and long punches. Jojua plods forward and reaches her foe with a right hand, but it is one-and-done as Casey keeps her composure and gives her three right back. Jojua walks through a body kick, but when a second lands, she needs to gather herself. When she backs away, Casey times a head kick right at the proper moment, and Jojua blocks it just in time. Casey stays long with punches, keeping herself away from the overhand rights and staving off much of the pressure from the Georgian. Jojua fakes a kick to go over the top with a right hand, and Casey sees most of her winging punches coming and moves out of the way or defends them successfully. Casey reintroduces her right hand to the red nose of her opponent, and Jojua does not approve, so Jojua charges in and catches a kick to hit a takedown with ease. This time, Casey falls to her back and quickly lets loose with upkicks, and she may have connected with a few. Jojua climbs through them, and although the 30 seconds she remains on top again may not win her the round, she does ride out the second frame on top landing strikes.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Casey
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Casey
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Casey

Round 3

They touch gloves to commence the final round, and Casey reaches out after that with a front kick, a punch, and a standing back fist that smacks Jojua in the face. Jojua bites down on her gumshield to throw haymakers, and Casey stays mobile while sticking and moving. The punches from Casey keep Jojua at bay and stop her from pursuing any additional level change, while further battering the nose of the Georgian. Jojua fights through a few swarming punches to go after a takedown, and although it fails, she does get off a solid right hand. Casey stays loose and blocks a body kick so that she can connect with distance strikes. Jojua continually moves forward, but Casey is effectively countering her and swatting away the worst of the blows. Casey catches a body kick, but deciding not to engage in any possible grappling, she lets it go and stings Jojua with a crisp one-two. Casey circles and moves, and she rips the body and goes over the top to the head. Jojua wears it well, but her nose is practically spraying blood as the front of her white shirt has turned into a bloody bib of sorts. Jojua tries to get off a right hook, but Casey sees it coming and tattoos her with punches and a head kick. Jojua may be tough, but that appears to be her best element as Casey is elusive and keeping a safe range to avoid the majority of Jojua’s wide strikes. One big punch from Jojua gets through, but Casey is there to return fire with punches and a high kick that rock Jojua. The Georgian clinches up with about 30 seconds to go, and Casey staves her off with a thumping knee to the midsection. When the 10-second clapper sounds, Jojua secures a takedown, but there is nothing significant to come from it as Casey pops up right before the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Casey (30-27 Casey)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Casey (30-27 Casey)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Casey (30-27 Casey)

The Official Result

Cortney Casey def. Liana Jojua via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Collin Anglin (146) vs. Sean Woodson (145.5)

Round 1

Featherweights come up next on the docket, when “The Sniper” Woodson (8-1, 2-1 UFC) will try to snipe Anglin (8-2, 0-1 UFC) and hand his Scorpion Fighting System-based opponent his second loss in two walks to the Octagon. The third man in the cage is referee Herb Dean, who is still wearing his credential lanyard as he bears witness to a glove touch that precedes the melee. Dean removes it, thanks to play-by-play commentator Brendan Fitzgerald’s cries, and the fighters get after it immediately. Anglin pressure his opponent, landing a few strikes on the way in, but Woodson is right there to give them right back. With long, rangy blows, he backs Anglin off briefly, and a few low kicks continue this. Anglin swarms forward, and Woodson wears it well and chops the legs a few times. This cycle continues, with the shorter Anglin closing the distance with a brief barrage, only to pull back and get sniped with longer blows from “The Sniper.” Woodson lands a one-two around the guard, and he steps forward with a high kick that easily finds the head of his foe. Woodson sits down on a leg kick, and an uppercut surprises Anglin. Anglin steels himself and attacks, with a wide, looping pair of punches. Woodson sticks him and moves, kicking him in the head as he shifts around, and Anglin crashes in to try to take him down. Woodson easily stays upright to turn Anglin around, and he knees his foe in the chest sternly before shoving Anglin away. Woodson gets off a solid calf kick and a front kick that splits the guard. A jab appears to have shaken Anglin up, and Woodson’s accuracy is giving him problems as he seems to find his home with basically every strike. Anglin attacks with a few punches, and he spins with a back kick that sends Woodson ricocheting off the wall. A kick from Woodson brushes into the cup, and Dean calls a pause but Anglin waves him off to continue. Woodson thanks him by laying into Anglin with a fierce barrage of blows that appears to hurt Anglin. Woodson rips the body a few times, and Anglin doubles over and shells up against the wire. Woodson pressures him with more strikes, and when Anglin circles out, he loops a high kick up top. Woodson targets the body with ferocious shots that would make Bas Rutten stand up, and Anglin keeps a stiff upper lip but is in big, big trouble. Woodson wags his finger at him, and then proceeds to deliver a left hand square on the liver that makes Anglin’s legs shut down. Anglin falls to his knees, and one more punch to the same spot from “The Sniper” shuts Anglin down for good. Dean sees that Anglin has had enough, and he calls a stop to the fight. It was beautiful body work for Woodson that got the job done, who set the body shots up with pummeling strikes up top.

The Official Result

Sean Woodson def. Collin Anglin R1 4:30 via TKO (Punches to the Body)

Cynthia Calvillo (126) vs. Andrea Lee (125.5)

Round 1

Up now is a women’s flyweight clash when two women ranked in the division come to a head, as Calvillo (9-3-1, 6-3-1 UFC) aims to keep her spot among the top five (in the UFC) at the expense of “KGB” Lee (12-5, 4-3 UFC). In this matchup, either Calvillo’s skid will end or Lee’s win streak will begin, and referee Mark Smith will know before anyone else tonight. There is no interest in a touch of gloves, as these two women want to handle their business immediately. They both start slugging it out, and Lee lands the better of the strikes in the early going. With a kiai accompanying every blow to add an extra bit of power to each, she sticks Calvillo and moves. Calvillo changes levels for a takedown, punching her way in but getting shoved back. Lee lands a few more over the top before Calvillo attempts a takedown try from a deeper entry. Lee sees this coming and shucks it off, and she gets right back to her effective, loud range striking. She lands flush repeatedly right on Calvillo’s face, marking it up early. Calvillo winds up on power punches to respond, but Lee is there to tag her with a jab again and again. Calvillo smiles and absorbs a solid leg kick, and he tries to catch a high kick but Lee yanks her leg out before there is a takedown to come from it. Lee’s jab is the best strike she is throwing, and she follows them repeatedly with right hands. Lee greets Calvillo with a knee as Calvillo thinks about ducking down for a takedown, but Calvillo walks it off without much concern. Lee peppers her foe with clean strikes, marking the nose up and making Calvillo take awkward steps. A few punches from Calvillo have also bloodied the nose of Lee, but she does appear to notice. Calvillo attempts another takedown, but Lee is there to stop her in her tracks and land flush. Calvillo scores a single big right hand, and Lee is right there to throw back in volume. Both women’s noses start bleeding fairly substantially four minutes in, with the lion’s share of the strikes from each to the head. Lee winds up with a body kick, and Calvillo catches it and shovels Lee down to the canvas. “KGB” springs back up, and Calvillo latches on to her back when Lee stands up to attempt to trip her back down. Lee uses two-on-one wrist control to stop Calvillo from getting a better position, and instead breaks the grip of her foe and gains some distance. They trade jabs, and Lee scores a few punches down the middle before the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Lee
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Lee
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Lee

Round 2

They touch gloves this time to start the round, and Lee takes the center of the cage to resume the good work that may have won her the previous frame. Lee mixes up several body kicks, and Calvillo attempts to catch them but cannot hold on to them for long. As “KGB” continues to dig kicks and punches to the body, Calvillo doubles over in pain, and Lee notices this and knees her in the same spot. Lee lets her hands go as Calvillo is primarily in defensive mode, shelling up while Lee continues to pound her midsection. Lee’s body work is paying off volumes, as every blow draws a visible reaction from her opponent. The body shots are also forcing Calvillo to lower her guard, which lets Lee score up to with power punches and even a head kick. Calvillo toughs it out but Lee is there to continue her high-volume attack high and low. Calvillo swings back with punches every so often, but Lee is leading the dance as Lee scores three for every one that comes at her. As Calvillo ducks down, Lee connects with a left hand that appears to hurt the thrower and not the receiver. Lee winces and shakes her hand out, and she may have damaged it but still continues to throw it. Lee’s pace begins to wane as she grimaces when sticks out her jab, and Calvillo starts to land a few power strikes on the way back. A right hand that loops around the guard shakes Lee up, and Lee replies with punches and a head kick. Lee delivers a popping kick to the body, and Calvillo is not compromised but taking serious damage from the assault that is still coming. From Lee’s possibly hurt hand, she scores a solid punch that opens a cut around the eye of Calvillo. When Calvillo tries to give it back to her, Lee parries her and rocks her with a few punches up top. Lee continues to mark up her foe with punches, and when she clinches up to set up a knee, she stumbles. Calvillo cannot capitalize on this, and Lee pops up and lands a punch or two to conclude the round. When the round is over, Lee’s corner is energized, expressing to her that she can finish the fight and that her body work is what will turn the tide. On the other side of the cage, Calvillo is in a bad way, holding a posture that signals that she may not be able to go on. When Smith calls for seconds to leave the cage, Calvillo and her corner determine that she should no longer continue, and should instead live to fight another day. Lee is overjoyed for her victory, but she is also respectfully concerned for Calvillo’s condition.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Lee
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Lee
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Lee

The Official Result

Andrea Lee def. Cynthia Calvillo R2 5:00 via TKO (Corner Stoppage)

Joel Alvarez (157.5: Missed Weight) vs. Thiago Moises (155)

Round 1

For the second fight in a row, Alvarez (18-2, 3-1 UFC) significantly missed weight ahead of his bout. While not as egregious as weighing 159.5 pounds in 2020, coming in a pound and a half heavy has cost him 30% of his purse ahead of his battle with Moises (15-5, 4-3 UFC). This 157.5-pound catchweight contest will be under the watchful eye of Marc Goddard, and Alvarez tries to make amends with a glove touch and Moises obliges him. Moises takes the center of the cage immediately, and he scores a slapping leg kick and whiffs on a huge right hand. Alvarez returns fire, but Moises stands firm and chops at his calf again. Alvarez has a left hand sneak around the guard, and he tries to check a kick. Moises winds up with a left and a massive right hand, and Alvarez wears it well but then takes a leg kick. Alvarez replies with his own chopping kick, and Moises greets him with a slap of a kick up top. Alvarez steps forward, walking Moises down and throwing high knees to great effect. Moises circles around the edge of the cage as Alvarez is stalking him while avoiding the power punches that come at him. Alvarez has his own leg kick and big right hand go around the guards, and Moises is rattled and trying to gather himself. “El Fenomeno” lets loose a phenomenal salvo of strikes that rock Moises, and Moises is still standing but taking some serious damage. Alvarez scores a big elbow, and as he continues to give chase with Moises escaping, he looses a spinning wheel kick that clatters of the guard. Sensing the end might be near, Alvarez strides forward confidently and catches a body kick to push Moises back to the fence. Alvarez unleashes a brutal salvo of elbows up top, and when Moises shells up, Alvarez blasts the body with a ruthless barrage of blows. Moises is barely surviving as he leans on the wall, and as the assault continues, Goddard determines that Moises is no longer intelligently defending himself and saves Moises from any further damage. Although one more victory for him is marred by his missing weight, Alvarez certainly impressed by wrecking what the UFC considered a top-15 lightweight. Alvarez also keeps his spectacular 100% finish rate intact while earning what is a rare stoppage due to strikes for the Spaniard.

The Official Result

Joel Alvarez def. Thiago Moises R1 3:01 via TKO (Elbows and Punches)

Julio Arce (135.5) vs. Yadong Song (135.5)

Round 1

Kicking off the main card is a fun bantamweight scrap between rising Chinese contender “Kung Fu Monkey” Song (17-5-1, 1 NC; 6-1-1 UFC) and Season 1 Contender Series signee Arce (17-4, 4-2 UFC). The fists and feet are sure to fly, and referee Herb Dean may have his hands full here. There is a sporting touch of gloves to check in the hostilities, and Song is the aggressor right out of the gate. The offense is minimal but Song is controlling the cage, forcing Arce to back off and drawing reactions from his feints. Suddenly, Song bursts forward with swinging punches, and Arce dances out of the way and eats a right hand. Song scores a low kick, and he evades a few jabs and walks in to one as he tries to attack. Song goes up high with a kick, and Arce slides out of the way and keeps looking for his range with his jab. Song swarms his man with punches, but Arce blocks and ducks out of the way in time to not absorb anything flush. Arce tries to counter with a head kick, and Song swats it out of the way. A striking stalemate ensues as neither man goes after anything of note, with Song occasionally throwing bombs that hit nothing but air. A quick melee ensues as they both throw caution to the wind briefly, but they back off to try to get to a calmer pace and range shortly after. Song charges forward with a right and a left, and the left hook gets Arce’s attention. Song plods forward, and they trade heavy body kicks. Arce finally gets the distance of his jab, and Song thanks him for this by booting him to the midsection with his instep. Song whiffs on a quick punch, and he chains it into a combination that does land. They both whip quick kicks at one another, with the strikes glancing off the guards. The accuracy may be low but the speed between these two bantamweights is high. Song chops down low with a kick, and the round ends with Song trying to throw leather.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Song
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Song
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Song

Round 2

The 135ers rush out of their corners to attack, and Arce slings a high kick in the early going that gets blocked. Arce turns a few punches into a heavy leg kick, and the kick makes Song stumble. Arce puts a bit of a pace of his foe, but he soon backs off when Song lands a flush kick to the midsection. Arce flicks out a few jabs and a leg kick that Song tries to defend but still absorbs cleanly. Song rings a right hand home, and Arce is soon to answer him. A massive head kick from Song cracks Arce on the side of the head, and Arce is stunned and wobbles his way back to the cage wall while Song gives chase. Song does not let him off the hook, sensing that Arce is hurt badly, and he starts letting loose with a ferocious punch combination that smashes into Arce again and again. The fists continue to land for Song, who is unleashing a fury as he seeks a finish. Arce crumbles, and Dean tries to leap in and stop the fight but misses the mark. This allows Song to keep on pounding on a defeated Arce, and Dean gathers himself to halt the fight once and for all. The contender out of China is now the first man to knock Arce out as a professional, and proves he is one to watch at 135 pounds.

The Official Result

Yadong Song def. Julio Arce R2 1:35 via TKO (Head Kick and Punches)

Miguel Baeza (170.5) vs. Kalinn Williams (169)

Round 1

Hang on tight, welterweight flamethrowers are on deck. Baeza (10-1, 3-1 UFC) will be looking to bounce back from the first defeat in his career against “Khaos” Williams (12-2, 3-1 UFC). Both men are known for their knockout power while neither has ever been knocked out, so something may have to give. Referee Chris Tognoni is lacing his running shoes as we speak, and he steels himself as they touch gloves before throwing down. Williams is the first to give pressure, and he comes forward while Baeza is circling all the way around the cage for a full revolution. Williams looks to slow him with a leg kick, but Baeza is out of harm’s way as he continues to circle. Williams loads up on a power punch, only to hit air. Baeza charges in, and when Williams is there to load up and crack him, Baeza zips away. Williams attempts to cut Baeza off, but he resorts to simply stalking his man down. Williams scores with a calf kick, and Baeza does not answer or do anything but retreat as he takes another kick to the same spot. Williams plods forward, and he walks face-first into a left and a right hook that snap Williams’ head back. Williams cracks Baeza, Baeza cracks him back, and they are throwing bombs suddenly and their eyes are wide open. They both back off and return to the predator-prey relationship of Williams giving chase, until Baeza turns it around on him with a left hand and a loud kick to the body. A body kick from Baeza makes him fall over, and Williams pounces on top and starts delivering ground-and-pound. “Caramel Thunder” dives for a heel hook, and he transitions the submission to a kneebar as Baeza tries to scramble and buck. Williams finds a way to land a big punch from on top, and Baeza keeps pursuing the foot lock. Williams sits up and falls into an inverted heel hook position, and he does not seem concerned as he aims punches to break the grip. Baeza rolls over as he torques the leg, and Williams sits up to land bombs that are doing damage and making Baeza turn away. Williams pounds away until the bell, and does not flinch when standing back up.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Williams
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Baeza
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Williams

Round 2

The welterweights touch gloves before coming out swinging, and like the last round, Williams assumes control of the driver’s seat as he advances without fear. Williams aims a half-hearted kick to the knee, and Baeza replies with one much harder. Williams does not let him get away with it, with a few more kicks on the inside of his foe’s leg. They both trade calf kicks, and Williams looks for a one-two when they settle. Baeza responds in kind, and he quickly flips his front foot up to smack Williams in the face. The impact from “Caramel Thunder” is not the same as Marlon Vera against Frankie Edgar lats week, as Williams eats it like candy and continues moving forward. One low kick from Williams goes south of the border, and Baeza thinks about fighting through it but Tognoni gives him time to recover both mentally and physically. About 45 seconds elapse before Baeza is ready to go back, and they start swinging for the fences. A pair of punches get Williams’ attention, and he slams his shin into Baeza’s leg. Baeza goes after the same strike, and they step back to measure one another as the damage from these strikes registers. Baeza connects with a clean head kick and one to the knee, and Williams’ knee may be compromised as he takes a funny step and switches stances after it. Baeza continues to target the same spot, and Williams aims to pay him back but Baeza’s are more accurate and appear to be more powerful. Baeza sits down on a body kick, and they crash together to throw hands. Baeza wobbles from a left hand but he comes right forward to engage, while Williams ducks back to kick at him. When Baeza scores a thudding calf kick, Williams attacks with a trio of punches that fluster Baeza. They both swing for the fences, and Williams grabs hold of him and pushes him into the wall. Williams comes up with a knee to the body, but it does not hit the body, and instead smashes square into Baeza’s cup. Baeza falls to his knees and cries out in pain, and Tognoni tells him to take all the time he needs. Tognoni then goes over to Williams and gives him his final warning, telling him that even though it was accidental, he has landed two fouls – some may call for a point deduction as it was the second groin shot, but Tognoni lets it remain as a warning. Baeza is clearly compromised, and he works his way back up to his feet. After 100 seconds, he is good to go again. Williams comes out with a big right hand that rings Baeza’s bell, and after a tense exchange, the round concludes.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Baeza
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Baeza
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Baeza

Round 3

The two 170ers touch ‘em up to open the last round, and Baeza just misses with a front kick to start off. When that whiffs, he kicks low, and Williams may be damaged on his front wheel but he is not showing it. They clash together and Williams swings for the bleachers, but Baeza wears them well and comes back at him. “Khaos the Oxfighter” misses with a spinning kick, and he follows the momentum with another kick. Baeza backpedals, chops at the calf, and then targets a second one to the same spot. At that exact moment, Williams bites down on his mouthpiece and throws three vicious hooks. The third one, a right hand right on the button, smashes into the side of Baeza’s jaw and sends him crashing down to the canvas. Williams leaps down to finish the job, and as he is battering his fallen foe with ground-and-pound, Tognoni jumps in to pull him off as he calls the fight. After regaining his faculties, Baeza appears to complain, but he is wobbly on his feet when he does manage to get back up. Williams is now the first man to finish “Caramel Thunder” as a pro, doing so after absorbing some serious punishment to that point.

The Official Result

Kalinn Williams def. Miguel Baeza R3 1:02 via TKO (Punches)

Leah Letson (145) vs. Felicia Spencer (145.5)

Round 1

In the fight that might have the most immediate championship implications on the whole card, former title challenger and ex-Invicta FC queen Spencer (8-3, 2-3 UFC) will tangle with TUF 28 semifinalist Letson (5-1, 0-1 UFC) in the featherweight division. Letson will be stepping in the cage for the first time since 2018, and in that stretch, Spencer has seen her whole UFC career take place including matchups with Amanda Nunes and “Cris Cyborg.” Keeping a watchful eye is referee Mark Smith, and there is nothing but respect as they touch gloves before getting after it. Spencer is quick to engage, surging forward with punches and closing the distance on her opponent. Letson fights out and throws hands, but Spencer immediately charges in again to tie her up. Spencer lands a few knees, and Letson replies with a couple of sharp elbows up top before Spencer ducks down for a takedown entry. Spencer grinds heavily on her opponent, kneeing the returning Letson in the thigh repeatedly while staying tight to her. Letson frames her off and lands a few short knees, but Spencer doggedly pursues a double. When this does not materialize, Spencer stomps the toes and smacks Letson with an elbow. The former title challenger does not give Letson a moment to breathe, jamming her into the wire and searching for trips while staying busy. “Feenom” scores short punches to the midsection, and she latches on to a single but Letson yanks her leg back to remain upright. Spencer remains pressed on her foe, and there appears to be some blood coming from Letson’s nose from some strikes in this prolonged exchange. Letson looks for elbows with her back pinned to the wall, and Spencer eats one and a knee up the middle as Letson fights her way out. Spencer stays hooked to her to push her back to the other side of the cage and back against the fence. Spencer wings a sharp elbow right on the face of her adversary, and she starts spamming knees to the body as Letson looks flustered. Spencer has turned into a blender of elbows and knees, while simultaneously attempting to squish Letson through the links as though she were made of Play-Do. This grueling exchange continues right to the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Spencer
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Spencer
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Spencer

Round 2

Spencer pushes the pace to start off the round, and Letson gives her pause briefly by stomp-kicking her in the knee. The Canadian out of Florida pays it little mind, and she presses forward to pursue a takedown. This time, she gets Letson down to her knees, and Letson scrambles back up to her feet as Spencer has a hook in to try to take her back. As Spencer relentless goes after the takedown, Letson reverses her and puts Spencer down. The ex-title challenger climbs back up to her feet without much effort, and she returns to her dominant position of crushing Letson into the wall. Spencer mixes in offense with knees and elbows, staying well busy enough to avoid any possible referee intervention. Letson appears to have no answers as she is stuck in this precarious position all while Spencer goes after a single. Spencer cannot land the takedown, but her control time is constant as she keeps this position. Spencer clasps her hands around her foe’s backside and hits a double, only for “Leahnidas” to spring back up to her feet. Spencer keeps pushing with a brutal pace as Letson cannot do much more besides sigh out of frustration. When Letson get some space, Spencer walks her down. Letson kicks to the body, and Spencer grabs it in the air and rips Letson’s legs out beneath her to put her on the ground. Letson turns to her knees to try to stand, and Spencer takes advantage of this position by glomming on to take her back and assault her with punches. Letson absorbs a few more punches to the side of the head while working back up, and when she stands up, Spencer smashes her in the face with a pair of nasty knees right before the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Spencer
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Spencer
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Spencer

Round 3

Letson complains of pain in her abdomen between rounds, but when the fight gets clocked in, she is ready for action. Spencer comes forward, and Letson uses her momentum against her and puts Spencer down with her own takedown. Spencer closes her guard to tie her up, and then opens it in pursuit of a trip or a reversal. Spencer hits exactly what she was searching for, and she pushes Letson into the wall to pound on her. Letson still manages to get to her feet as she absorbs punishment, and Spencer batters her to the body with unanswered knees. Smith takes a close eye on the action as Spencer works her over, and Letson answers any concerns of a fight stoppage by turning around to put her back on the wall. Spencer knees her in the body a few more times, and then hacks at her with elbows, making Letson’s life miserable during this exhausting exchange. Spencer nails Letson with an elbow, and Letson’s nose is a faucet as Spencer keeps working on it. Spencer goes after a trip, and although she does not get it, she beats on Letson like she caught her breaking into her apartment. In desperation, Letson fights her way out, but only for a second as Spencer grabs her and slams her down to the mat hard. Spencer postures up in half guard and elbows Letson in the face again and again. The fight is close to begin stopped as Letson is bloodied and bruised, and Spencer claims three-quarter mount and rains down punches. Sensing the finish is in sight, “Feenom” phenomenally pounds on Letson with ground-and-pound, and Smith finally, mercifully ends the fight. Letson may have displayed toughness in spades, but with unanswered blows adding up, he had no choice but to intervene.

The Official Result

Felicia Spencer def. Leah Letson R3 4:25 via TKO (Elbows and Punches)

Marcos Rogerio de Lima (259) vs. Ben Rothwell (265)

Round 1

Big men are set to enter the cage now, as 40-year-old goliath Rothwell (39-13, 9-7 UFC) searches for his 40th career victory less than a month after turning 40, and he will do so against one-time middleweight Rogerio de Lima (18-7-1, 7-5 UFC). Both sport exact 72% knockout rates, while neither has been knocked out in many years. Hoping to keep a lid on this 524-pound rumble is referee Herb Dean, and they calmly touch gloves before lumbering towards one another with bad intentions. Rothwell has his war face on, and he reaches out with a jab only to have two leg kicks land flush. Rogerio de Lima winds up with a right hand, and he blasts Rothwell about as cleanly as one could. Rothwell is in trouble as he falls back to the wall, and Rogerio de Lima pursues him with a swarm of punches. The Brazilian lands flush again and again, and Rothwell is rocked badly and barely on his feet. Rogerio de Lima lays into him, and Rothwell’s legs buckle but he stays upright at least in part because of the fence at his back. Dean partially steps in to stop the fight for a standing TKO, but at that exact moment, Rothwell spins around and drops down for a double-leg takedown. Even though Dean lets go of them, believing Dean had already called off the fight, Rogerio de Lima puts his hands in the air to show him he is not attacking after Dean’s intervention. Rothwell, on the other hand, is pursuing a double but lands on his back, and does not realize that the fight is over until Dean firmly grasps him and pulls them apart. Rothwell protests, and he might have been out on his feet but he feels that Dean should have given him the opportunity to go out on his shield. The stoppage may be hotly debated, but there is no question that Rothwell was hurt badly.

The Official Result

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Ben Rothwell R1 0:32 via TKO (Punches)

Max Holloway (146) vs. Yair Rodriguez (145.5)

Round 1

The battle everyone has been waiting for is now here, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 197. Featherweight contenders will toe the line in the marquee attraction, as former champion Holloway (22-6, 18-6 UFC) comes to blows with TUF Latin America 1 victor “El Pantera” Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC; 8-1, 1 NC UFC). Bracing himself is referee Marc Goddard, who might have a lot of work to do between this all-action 145-pound tilt. They show ample respect when they touch gloves, but the subsequent strikes that will follow will be not nearly as sporting. Holloway walks Rodriguez down and throws a kick to the knee, and Rodriguez counters with one right back. They come together and land right hands, and Rodriguez quickly kicks Holloway in the face. A left hand from Holloway pushes Rodriguez down to the ground, and Rodriguez hits the ground and fires off an upkick. Holloway nods at him and lets Rodriguez back up so they can throw hands. Rodriguez continues to land kicks from afar, and he sits down on a pair of hooks. Holloway stings his man with a right hand, and he hops out of the way when Rodriguez kicks the leg. Holloway attacks the body, and Rodriguez swings wildly but comes up short. A left to the body, and then a left to the head, lands for Holloway, and Rodriguez stands right in front of him and throws right back at him. They are throwing with bad intentions, and landing cleanly while Holloway has his hands down by his waist. Rodriguez throws up high and kicks to the body, and one low makes Holloway turn around. Rodriguez scores, Holloway follows, and Rodriguez answers with a three-punch combo. Holloway kicks the leg, and then stomps down on the knee. Rodriguez shows no concern and pounds the body with a kick, and he falls over but springs back up when Holloway lets him back up. Rodriguez targets the leg with impunity, chopping at the former champ’s calf repeatedly. Rodriguez scores a one-two and a calf kick, and he winds up and cracks Holloway. Holloway nods and slings right back, and now it is Rodriguez who is hurt as he appreciates the blow. The right hand from Holloway opened a cut under Rodriguez’ eye, and he attacks the same spot a few more times. Rodriguez is not concerned one iota, and he swings back and spins with a kick. Holloway tries to counter with his own kick, and Holloway misses and is grabbed from behind. Rodriguez takes standing back control but cannot force Holloway any further down than his knees, and Holloway walks his way back up. Holloway is able to break the grip to turn around, and Rodriguez grabs a single and tries to lift Holloway off his feet. Holloway makes Rodriguez pay with a few punches, and Rodriguez replies with a kick that makes him fall to his back. In the ensuing melee, a kick from Holloway might have landed on the cup, and he dodges the upkicks to drop down in the Mexican’s guard and elbow him in the side. The close round ends in this position.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez

Round 2

Rodriguez begins the second frame with a few leg kicks, and one opens up Holloway to get kicked in the face. The Hawaiian practically ignores it and walks his way forward to land punches. Rodriguez preemptively counters him with a few right hands, and he sticks out a couple of jabs while Holloway targets the body. Rodriguez sits down on a right hook, and it does not even register on Holloway. Holloway knocks his man back to the wall with punches, and he gives chase when Rodriguez retreats but does not fall into a trap. Rodriguez gives a tell that he might be trying to set up his no-look elbow that he smashed “The Korean Zombie” with, and Holloway sees it and instead kicks from afar with the ball of his foot. Rodriguez scores a couple low kicks, and Holloway throws up top and may have surprised Rodriguez. Rodriguez slams his shin into the body and forearms of his opponent a few times, and Holloway’s body is welted up but he is no worse for wear. Holloway takes a few calf kicks on the way in, and targets both legs with these strikes as Holloway tries to find his way forward. Rodriguez continues to blast the calf, and Holloway does not even register as he marches forward like a Hawaiian Terminator to slug it out with Rodriguez. Holloway’s leg may be swelling, and he changes stances when they both start trading punches. “El Pantera” does not stop kicking Holloway’s lead leg, and they are doing damage and adding up fast. Rodriguez gets backed up to the wall and drills Holloway with an elbow, but the former champ keeps the pressure on him and lands a few punches. They trade punches up top, and Rodriguez circles out and just avoids a head kick. Rodriguez pounds his shin into Holloway’s calf, and he dances out of the way when Holloway tries to land on him. Holloway gets off a punch to the body, and a jump knee that follows and lands to the solar plexus may have hurt the Mexican contender. Rodriguez swings and misses with an up-elbow, and Holloway kicks his leg out beneath him. When Holloway dives down into the guard, Rodriguez throws his legs up for an armbar, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Holloway

Round 3

The featherweights meet in the middle and start trading, and Holloway walks his man down and kicks him in the side. “Blessed” ducks a punch, slips another, and lands a right hand over the top. Holloway gets off a right hand, fakes a takedown entry and jumps in the air to blast Rodriguez in the face with a knee. Holloway then knees the body with Rodriguez pressed against the fence, but “El Pantera” does not stay there for long and fights his way out to kick Holloway’s leg. Holloway tries another takedown to draw a reaction out of his opponent, and in the confusion, he scores a big punch and knocks Rodriguez’ legs out from under him. Rodriguez tries to get off upkicks, and Holloway shucks them off and climbs on top to take top position. Very smoothly, Holloway slides an arm-triangle choke around the head of his foe, and then he abandons it to claim full mount. Holloway pursues a rear-naked choke setup when Rodriguez gives up his back, but then lets him turn back to mount so that Holloway can smash him in the fact with fists and elbows. Rodriguez continues to turn and squirm, and Holloway slides out the back door to where both are on their knees in front of one another. Holloway considers a guillotine choke, but lets it go so they can stand back up and bang. They do exactly that, slugging it out with one another until suddenly, Rodriguez takes the former champ down. Holloway defends with a guillotine off his back, but pushes his man off of him to stand back up. Holloway marks Rodriguez up with long, reaching punches, and Rodriguez tries to fire back but is out of range. “Blessed” grabs a kick that flies at him, and as soon as it is in the air, Holloway enters into a takedown and hits it. Pushing Rodriguez into the wire on the corner between the ground and the fence, Holloway traps his foe with punches and elbows. Holloway blasts the midsection with his knees along the way, and Rodriguez is able to burst back to his feet right before the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Holloway

Round 4

Holloway has a large welt on his side, with some serious damage showing from the kicks of his opponent, but he does not even seem to notice. Holloway crashes in to pursue a takedown, and Rodriguez shucks it off but gets punched in the face three times for his effort. Holloway invests in body shots, and Rodriguez is swinging for the fences with full power in every one of his strikes. Holloway walks through a leg kick to land a few punches, and Rodriguez is right there to trade with him fearlessly. They close their range and Holloway ties up with him, but he lets go so that he can work the body. Holloway slams his knee into Rodriguez’s body, and he grips on to a guillotine choke standing up to cinch it up. The former champ uses the choke to press Rodriguez down to the ground, and he nearly takes mount, but settles for half guard with the intent to get right to side control. Holloway lands a few elbows from above, and Rodriguez fires back off his back but the strikes are not nearly as powerful as Holloway’s. “El Pantera” hunts for a leglock, and Holloway stands up, spins around, and climbs back down to secure an odd position between side control and back control. The fighter out of Mexico spins around, threatens with an upkick, and ultimately surrenders a very bad position. Holloway clamps down with three-quarter mount, and all the while, he is battering Rodriguez with ground-and-pound. Possibly through sheer force of will, Rodriguez fights his way back to his feet and walking up the fence. Holloway allows this so that he can tee off on “El Pantera,” taming him with a few punches and evading the counters. Rodriguez swings wide with an elbow, and after a furious exchange, a punch from Holloway with the thumb not secured to his fist pokes into Rodriguez’ eye. Goddard allows Rodriguez to recover, and he does so after a 45-second break. When they resume, Holloway jumps in with a knee, and Rodriguez tries to perform his own version of Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski with a right hand to counter Holloway on the way in. Holloway’s chin holds together, and he settles down and quickly blocks a flying knee that whizzes at him. They start to trade heavy leather, with Holloway scoring an elbow in close range while Rodriguez headhunts. In close range, Holloway spins with a kick to the body. This seems to energize Rodriguez, who jumps at him with a flying strike and a wild array of looping punches that mostly miss until the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Holloway
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Holloway

Round 5

Rodriguez’ corner implores their fighter to throw caution to the wind and abandon his gameplan. When they start off the last round, they hug it out, and go right down to trading punches. Holloway lands the cleaner of the strikes, forcing Rodriguez to spin around and kick him in the side. Rodriguez rips the body with a kick, scores two punches, and kicks the same spot one more time. Holloway does not even budge, and instead he strings a trio of punches together. Holloway lands a long chain of punches and punctuates it with a big knee as Rodriguez is up against the wall. Rodriguez is able to gain space, and he steps forward with an elbow that barely registers. The body shots from Holloway draw reactions from his opponent more than the ones to the head, and yet Rodriguez continues to gather himself and throw back. Rodriguez turns a few low kicks into an odd combination, but it lands cleanly and Holloway smiles at him. When Holloway lands a few punches, Rodriguez times a capoeira kick that glances off his guard. The former champ welcomes this, as he pushes Rodriguez to the ground and steps into half guard. As they wrangle for position on the ground, Rodriguez manages to sweep his opponent and get on top. Holloway fights out of a guillotine choke and scoots his way to the fence so that he can stand up, and it is Rodriguez who pursues a single when they are against the wall. Rodriguez nails Holloway with a spinning elbow, and it slashes Holloways’ face open. Holloway works the body with a few knees, and then shoves off so they can get back to kickboxing range. Rodriguez wings a spinning kick that misses, and a right hand does connect. The furious swinging of fists and fingers results in Holloway getting poked in the eye, and Goddard forces him to pause and recover instead of just charging forward. After a few seconds, the match resumes and Holloway pressures him with a few punches. Holloway is wearing it, and he and Rodriguez throw down while Rodriguez is doing everything he can to finish the fight. Holloway just avoids the brunt of the damage with a spinning kick to the torso, and he ties “El Pantera” up on the fence to work him over with clinch strikes. The former champion gets off a few more short strikes until the final bell, and we have miraculously made it to the end of the 25-minute period after a total thriller. After two years away, Rodriguez gave a real accounting of himself, and the judges will have the final say in the matter. With the decision going in favor of the Hawaiian, Holloway celebrates his opponent and gives it up for their hard-fought battle while shouting, “Viva Mexico!” A fight card many were ruing ended up delivering practically from bell to bell, with eight knockouts and nine finishes across 11 bouts. This mid-day card is over, and the next Fight Night will be upon us in a week even as the order of the matchups is still being determined by the UFC. We will be here for it, and we hope you are too.

Sherdog Scores

Jay Pettry scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez (48-47 Holloway)
Brian Knapp scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez (48-47 Holloway)
Tristen Critchfield scores the round: 10-9 Rodriguez (48-47 Holloway)

The Official Result

Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
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