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411’s UFC Fight Night 124 Report 1.14.18

January 15, 2018 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Jeremy Stephens UFC

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night 124. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening, relaying all of the information to you good people just as I see it. Thanks for joining me on this Sunday evening. Boy this card suffered some adversity recently, yesterday we lost the co-main event between Uriah Hall and Vitor Belfort when Hall passed out on his way to the scale and wound up in the hospital overnight as a precaution. The day before that a prelim fight between Thiago Alves and Zak Cummings fell through when Cummings slipped and split his head open.

Despite all of that Fight Night 124 has a relevant main event, Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi battle it out for position in the featherweight division. Choi has made it public that he wants to fight for the title before the end of the year as his mandatory military service will start at the beginning of 2019, so a win here is critical if he wants to hold to that schedule. There’s also the return of Paige VanZant when she up to flyweight and hoping to get into the title picture quickly, as well as Kamaru Usman continuing his assault on the welterweight division.

Fight Night 124 comes to us from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, USA with Brendan Fitzgerald and Paul Felder on commentary. In the regularly scheduled rules update, Missouri has not adopted the changes to the rules of MMA so anything besides the soles of your feet on the mat means your downed and the language around scoring is slightly more nebulous than it need be.

Before we get going I’ve got a question for those who wind up reading this. It seems that there wont be the usual Year End awards in the MMA zone this year, would you be interested in reading my thoughts on the year in review and whatever hypothetical awards I might hand out?

Mads Burnell just lost his UFC debut when he was bested by Michel Prazeres, he’s trying to avoid the first losing streak of his career and get the all important first UFC win under his belt. He also missed weight, so losing on top of being four pounds over the non-title limit could easily see him getting the axe. Mike Santiago just had an eleven fight winning streak snapped when he met the buzz saw that is Zabit Magomedsharipov in his UFC debut, he’s also trying to get his first win in the UFC as well as reassert himself as a prospect in the division. The odds are with Santiago at -180 to +150 for Burnell.

Featherweight Bout: Mads Burnell (8-2, 150 lbs.) vs. Mike Santiago (21-10, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Santiago is two inches taller but their reach is identical, biggest difference is of course the weight after Burnell missed. Santiago fighting southpaw, he’s showing a jab early and then Burnell catches on and gets him on the fence looking for a double leg. Burnell elevates and gets the takedown then moves to half guard rather quickly. Santiago is throwing some elbows from his back, he should be blocking the hips with a hand, and as I type that Burnell moves to side control. Burnell lands a few punches but Santiago wall walks and is upright but he’s still clinched. A few rights from Burnell land, Santiago turns off of the fence and Burnell pulls guard. Santiago pulls free and grabs a standing guillotine as they’re up and lands a knee, Burnell is hand fighting though and gets his head free. Burnell gets a quick takedown, Santiago back up before his hips hit the mat. Santiago is able to stay upright but he can’t get out of the clinch. Santiago gets a takedown of his own after they fight for position and lands a few punches from half guard. Burnell is pinned on the fence, and eats another elbow. Another standing guillotine attempt from Santiago as Burnell is up, Burnell sits to avoid the pressure and is now after a leg lock. Burnell going for a kneebar, it gets close but Santiago gets his leg free and lands a few rights from the ride position. They up and still clinched, Santiago gets a body lock takedown to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santiago

ROUND TWO: Burnell is coming forward to start the second, Santiago takes his legs out from under him with an inside leg kick then they trade hooks. A left from Burnell gets Santiago to shoot and hit a takedown into half guard. Santiago is trying to set up a choke, bails on that to land a couple of rights. Another deep half attempt from Burnell but Santiago is threatening his neck and moving to keep him flat on the mat. Santiago lands an elbow but Burnell elevates then rolls for a leg, Santiago reads it and spins but he gets reversed and has to fight to get up quickly. Hard knee to the body from Santiago but Burnell takes him down off of it. Burnell moves to mount and lands some punches, he’s got the back now and is after the choke. Burnell has Santiago flattened out and is teeing off to set up the choke. Santiago gets to a hip, he is able to sit up and wrap the head to control posture but now Burnell is after a Von Flue choke. Santiago has to bail on the head and eats elbows, Burnell has his back again now. Burnell dives on the choke, he’s got it wrapped but there’s only ten seconds and Santiago hand fights until the round closes.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Burnell, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Burnell is coming forward, Santiago lands a body kick. Straight left lands for Santiago, then another body kick but Burnell catches it and drives him into the fence. Double leg attempt from Burnell, he moves to a single leg when Santiago sprawls and keeps him on the fence. Burnell gets the takedown into half guard and is after an arm triangle quickly. Santiago is able to free his arm but he’s dangerously close to being flat on his back. Explosion from Santiago but there’s not enough energy, Burnell keeps him on the mat and is looking to pass again. Short elbow from Burnell lands. Some lefts land for Burnell, Santiago is throwing some elbows but he’s not got much on them and he’s being controlled. Burnell finishes the pass and is in side control. Santiago to a hip and Burnell gets the ride position. Santiago is up, Burnell wasn’t attacking his posts, but he can’t get free and we’re still in the clinch on the cage. Burnell is still after the double leg, now a single leg, Santiago can’t get off of the cage and it’s really telling that he’s stuck as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Burnell, 29-28 Burnell overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Mads Burnell via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Nothing special there, but Burnell gets an interview. He says the win feels freaking great and puts over Santiago then thanks him for the fight. Asked about the game plan he says Santiago seemed to know what he was going for on the mat and puts him over again then apologizes for missing weight while reaffirming that his future is at featherweight.

Danielle Taylor has gone 2-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, if she can get a third consecutive win here she could find a ranked opponent across the cage from her next time. JJ Aldrich has gone 1-1 in the UFC but she is coming off of a win and is trying to find her footing in the division going forward. The odds have Taylor a -135 favorite to +115 on Aldrich.

Strawweight Bout: J.J. Aldrich (5-2, 115.5 lbs.) vs. Danielle Taylor (9-2, 113.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aldrich is five inches taller and has a whopping seven and a half inches of reach advantage to go along with that. Aldrich fighting southpaw. Taylor showing the jab early, both women circling a bit. Hard inside leg kick from Taylor drops Alrich to her knees for a second. Feinting from both women, Aldrich lands a bit of a left. Body shot from Taylor and a bit of a left hook behind it. Pretty good one two from Aldrich, Aldrich seems to be finding the range quicker and is keeping Taylor at the end of her punches. Bit of a counter left from Taylor, Taylor has some pretty fast hands but she’s looping her punches where Aldrich is throwing straighter. They clinch up, Aldrich after a trip but can’t get it before they hit the fence. Aldrich is able to secure a body lock then gets an outside trip to land in half guard. Not much going on now, Taylor is keeping posture control and avoiding the offense while Aldrich is trying the same pass over and over despite it not working. They trade a few punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldrich

ROUND TWO: Circling from Taylor to start the second, both women showing the lead hand. Right to the body then a left hook from Taylor. Good jab from Aldrich lands. Taylor lands an inside leg kick, I’m surprised she hasn’t gone to that more as Aldrich is kind of heavy on that lead leg. They trade punches in close then Aldrich lands a left as they separate. Body kick and a jab from Aldrich both land. They trade power hand punches, Taylor also lands a right to the body. A few leg kicks from Taylor but shes eating a counter jab pretty much every time. Taylor lands a right, Aldrich fires back but that was a solid punch. There’s just a lot of pot shotting at distance from Aldrich while Taylor struggles to find a way to close distance. Body kick from Aldrich lands. Another body kick from Aldrich and she avoids the counters. They trade again, Aldrich tries a double leg that stalls on the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldrich, 20-18 Aldrich overall

ROUND THREE: More of the same to start the final round, Aldrich lands a one two and Taylor is backing up now. Aldrich is trying to get Taylor to fight in the center, Taylor lands an inside leg kick but eats a spinning back fist for it. The distance is really troubling Taylor at this point, Aldrich is fighting long and busting her up. Straight left lands for Aldrich and she avoids a looping counter. An exchange of power hand punches then Aldrich lands a follow up right. More of the same from both women, I wish I had more to say about it. Straight left lands for Aldrich and they clinch but she can’t get a takedown before time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldrich, 30-27 Aldrich overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – JJ Aldrich via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Not sure which round went to Taylor, maybe an accounting error. Aldrich gets an interview, and mentions Pat Barry to turn off the entire audience. She puts over her training partners including the new strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, then notes that she and Namajunas have been training together for a long time and seeing her succeed at that level has been inspiring. She talks us through her game plan to close out the mic time.

Kalindra Faria lost her UFC debut last year and is looking to get her first UFC win tonight at the expense of a veteran opponent. Jessica Eye has just a single UFC win and is 1-5 with 1 No Contest in the promotion, and to top it off she’s riding a four fight losing streak. Eye is in dire straits here and really can’t afford to go 0-5 as she’d certainly find herself outside of the UFC. The odds have been a bit all over the place, but closed at -130 for Eye to +100 on Faria.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Jessica Eye (11-6 1 NC, 126 lbs.) vs. #12 Kalindra Faria (18-5-1, 124.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Faria is an inch taller while Eye has three inches of reach on her. They come out and start trading quickly, both women land but Faria seems to be throwing in more volume. Faria is doing some stance switching, and lands a wicked left head kick that badly rocks Eye. Faria follows her down to the mat, Eye sells out for a heel hook but Faria counters with an inside heel hook attempt. Eye is able to block that and they wind up fighting for position from 50/50 guard. Another heel hook attempt from Faria, Eye is trying as well but there’s no knee line control from either woman. Faria finally bails on that to push into top position and land elbows, Eye after the heel hook again but there’s still not much there. Eye switches to an inside heel hook, this one is tighter and Faria has to address it then gets her heel free for a second. Eye tries it again but again loses it and Faria is attacking the legs. Faria lands a solid elbow, she’s trying to move into more secure top position like leg drag. More jockeying from the leg entanglement position as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Faria

ROUND TWO: Circling from Eye to start the second, Faria lands a front kick then a knee to the body as they clinch up. Eye has a body lock and is looking to get the back, there she is and drops to the mat to get back control. Only one hook in for Eye, now both hooks as she starts looking for the choke. Faria is keeping her chin tucked and hand fighting, Eye goes to a body triangle. There’s an armbar if Eye will bail on the body triangle and go for it but she’s more interested in the position than the submission right now. Faria is on her knees, Eye is trying to flatten her out but loses the hooks and has to settle for the ride position. Another choke attempt from Eye, she’s able to get this back to the mat with it despite it not being all that close to being finished. Eye lands a few short lefts but the round is going to end here.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Eye, 19-18 Eye overall

ROUND THREE: Both women with some circling and movement, Faria lands a knee to the body. Body kick from Faria. Bit of an uppercut from Faria, Eye lands a jab. Side kick to the chin from Faria lands then a straight left behind it. Faria isn’t playing with her striking and Eye is a little gun shy unless she’s initiating the exchanges. Left from Faria lands. Eye hits a double leg into full guard. Quick pass to half guard from Eye. Faria kicks her off and is back up at distance. Faria gets the clinch now and lands a knee to the body followed by an elbow. Eye is able to hit a takedown and is looking to move to half guard. Eye is setting up an arm triangle now, mostly to set up her pass but she can’t get out of half guard before time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Faria, 28-28 DRAW overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jessica Eye via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

And we’re back to over valuing takedowns that lead to nothing I guess. Eye is ecstatic, Felder has to corral her and she says takedowns win fights, no one cares if you get punched or kicked just if you can wrestle. She says she’s been waiting for flyweight for a long time in the UFC and believes the best is yet to come. Asked who she wants next she says to line them up and puts over her coaches while apologizing for all the trouble then promises to win the title.

that’s it for Fight Pass, we’re on to Fox Sports 1 for the rest of the night.

Kyung Ho Kang is on a two fight winning streak but hasn’t fought since September of 2014, his mandatory military service came up and he’s just now returning to active competition. Kang is trying to return with a bang and remind everyone that he’s a bantamweight worth watching. Hoping to spoil his return is Guido Cannetti who has gone 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a win over Hugo Viana and is trying to get his first UFC winning streak up and running. Despite the long layoff the odds lean heavily towards Kang at -325 to a tempting +250 payout on Cannetti.

Bantamweight Bout: Guido Cannetti (7-2, 135 lbs.) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (13-7 1 NC, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kang is three inches taller and has a whopping five inches of reach on him as well. They touch gloves, Cannetti fighting southpaw. Cannetti throws a few kicks to try and gauge distance, Kang is being measured and walking him down. Kang is doing a lot of following rather than cage cutting as Cannetti retreats in a straight line. Hard left lands for Cannetti, Kang tries a double leg but Cannetti pushes him over and gets on top in guard. Kang is marked up under the right eye, Cannetti gets free and we’re upright again. Cannetti tries a wheel kick that misses but his hips seem very quick tonight. Kang lands a right, they clinch and Cannetti lands a couple of knees then a left as they break. We’re clinched again and jockeying for position then they separate. Kang lands a right hook then hits a lateral drop from a clinch, he’s in full mount immediately. Kang postures up and gets a triangle choke as Cannetti tried to sweep. Cannetti lifts him and puts him on the fence but Kang is really tightening this up and Cannetti taps at the last second of the round.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kyung Ho Kang via Submission, triangle choke, at 4:53 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Kang for his work this evening. That was a very slick transition from Kang, he set that up as Cannetti was trying to buck out of mount and then he just kept squeezing it down as Cannetti bailed on a slam attempt. Kang on the mic now with his translator, he says he wanted to be back in the cage during his military service and it feels great to be back. He talks us through the finish, he was worried about the short time in the round despite knowing the choke was in but is happy to have finished it.

Here’s the finish. Really bad mount escape from Cannetti, one arm on the mat and one up in the air in that position is basically begging to be triangled and Kang was already moving to that position as he got high on the chest with his mount.

Talita Bernado lost her UFC debut to Marion Reneau, now that the mythical Octagon jitters are out of the way she’s trying to show the true breadth of her skills. Irene Aldana had a bit of hype when she debuted in the UFC but has gone 0-2 with them and desperately needs a win to prove she belongs at this level, without it she’ll likely find herself back in Invicta. The odds are with Aldana at -170 against +140 for Bernado.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Irene Aldana (7-4, 135 lbs.) vs. Talita Bernardo (4-2, 134.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aldana is a massive five inches taller but has just half an inch of reach on Bernado. They touch gloves to get things going. Aldana showing the jab early, and lands a bit of a right behind it. Right lands for Aldana after they both miss in close. A lot of backing up from Bernado, Aldana lands a right to the body. Solid intercepting right from Aldana, she’s moving well thus far and is looking to finish. A left hook from Aldana, she then wobbles Bernado with a right. Aldana is pushing forward looking to finish, she blocks a takedown and moves to full mount then lands an elbow. Bernado back up and in the clinch looking to buy herself time. Solid hip toss from Aldana and she’s on top again now landing elbows. A reverse from Bernado and we’re back in the clinch standing, Aldana lands some elbows while blocking a takedown attempt. Bernado has a body lock but she’s still just recovering and looking for a takedown. Aldana lands a knee to the body as they break. Bernado isn’t all there, Aldana is starting to tee off on her. Aldana avoids a takedown attempt and lands leg kicks as Bernado hangs out on her back. Quick flurry from Aldana closes out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Aldana

ROUND TWO: Aldana is out quickly and looking to get back to work. Bernado’s face is a swollen mess, Aldana lands a left uppercut to wobble her again. Short inside right from Aldana. Overhand right from Aldana lands. Low single leg from Bernado but Aldana defends the first attempt, Bernado switches to an ankle pick but can’t get much going, she keeps the drive going from her knees though and finally gets top position against the fence. Bernado is in side control, and Aldana quickly to a triangle position that Bernado postures through. Aldana closes her guard and is looking to sweep. Bernado tries to pass, that’s blocked but she does get Aldana parallel to the fence instead of being in a position to wall walk. Aldana looking to wall walk, Bernado keeps her down though. A few elbows from the bottom by Aldana, Bernado has a real lack of offense or motion on top. Bernado stands, eats an up kick and is looking to pass standing. Aldana back up, Bernado tries a double leg immediately and they’re on the fence again where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldana as Bernado didn’t really achieve anything, 20-17 Aldana overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Some more jabs from Aldana then a right to the body. Failed takedown attempt from Bernado, Aldana is more measured this round. Aldana lands a right. Quick combination from Aldana but nothing really lands flush. Jabs to the body and head from Aldana now then a right to the body to follow it up. Bernado lands a body kick. Right then a left uppercut from Aldana, this time Bernado fires back and we get a brief fire fight. Right lands for Aldana and Bernado is backing up again. Aldana lands a right as Bernado dove for a takedown, Bernado winds up pulling guard but she was rocked. They jockey a bit and Bernado gets on top. Bernado is able to pass to side control, Aldana to her knees and she overpowers Bernado to land on top in guard. Aldana back up and lands a bit of a right as Bernado is up. Bernado tries a single leg, they hit the fence and time runs out as Bernado falls to try and pull guard.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldana, 30-26 Aldana overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Irene Aldana via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Pity those judges weren’t around for the Eye fight, the right decision might have been reached. No interview for Aldana though, but it was nice of her to finally show her skills in the UFC.

Here’s some highlights, a lot of crisp punching from Aldana but she really needs to move her head more during combinations.

OK, I have no idea why embedding tweets isn’t working, I’ll try and look into it going forward, in the interim there’s a link in that odd looking text that will take you to the tweet in question.

Matt Frevola won his fight on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and was one of three fighters from that episode to be awarded a contract with the UFC. Tonight marks his official UFC debut and he’s looking to make a good first impression as well as keep his perfect record in tact. Marco Polo Reyes just had a four fight winning streak snapped when he was bested by James Vick, he’s trying to get back on the winning side of things here and begin another move towards the rankings. Frevola is the -230 favorite to a +180 comeback on Reyes.

Lightweight Bout: Matt Frevola (6-0, 156 lbs.) vs. Marco Polo Reyes (7-4, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Reyes is two inches taller but these two have identical reaches. They touch gloves and we’re off to the races. Frevola throwing early, he’s coming forward and then gets hit with a left hook that drops his mouthpiece and we get a fire fight but Frevola is on the wrong end of things. Reyes lands a knee to the body and then a couple of rights. Another right from Reyes knocks Frevola out as he falls to the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marco Polo Reyes via KO, punches, at 1:00 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Reyes for his work this evening. Reyes on the mic now, she says the strategy was to engage like that because Frevola is strong but a bit wild and he’s very happy to get the win. When talking us through the finish he mentions he was happy to trade because he had a better feel for the range and he had to avoid the wrestling of Frevola.

Here’s highlights including the finish, I’m trying to just embed the videos so let me know if this isn’t working well on mobile devices or something similar. Anyway this was just good straight punching from Reyes while being mindful of his head position and the distance from Frevola.

To kill time after some finishes we head to the Fox studio with Karyn Bryant, Michael Bisping, and Yves Edwards.

James Krause is on a three fight winning streak, if he can get that to four in a row here he could find himself fighting for an official ranking next. Alex White has gone 3-3 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and could get his first UFC winning streak going tonight at the expense of Krause. Your favorite is Krause at -165 to +135 on White.

Lightweight Bout: James Krause (24-7, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Alex White (12-3, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Krause has two inches of height and reach on White. White fighting southpaw, and they touch gloves. Feinting from both men, they’re trying to read each other. Short counter right from Krause lands on the chin of White when White was blitzing forward. Hard left from White lands. Inside leg kick from Krause but he eats a couple of counters. Right to the body from White. Krause lands a straight right and moves for a double leg that stalls out on the fence. White is defending against the fence as Krause is now trying for trips and reaps. Krause finally completes the outside reap and gets on top in half guard as White sits against the fence. Krause traps one of White’s arms behind his back and lands punches until he gets the arm back, but he gives up his back in the process. White is able to turn and give up half guard rather than back mount, Krause moves to side control and is looking for elbows. They’re in north-south now and Krause is working short punches as he moves to side control again. A few hammer fists from Krause close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Krause

ROUND TWO: A touch of gloves for the second round. White comes forward and lands a one two. They trade rights, Krause also lands a jab. Right to the body from Krause and we get a bit of an exchange but White is landing better. Krause lands a counter right and now White is taking some time to recover. Counter right from Krause and he’s after a double leg against the fence. This time he quickly sucks the legs out from under the hips and he’s got White on his back. A few elbows from Krause sneak through as White has closed his guard and is stalling things out. Krause avoids an ill advised armbar and is now in side control. North-south for Krause now and he’s landing body shots as White moves to full guard. White back up and gets a quick double leg of his own, he can’t keep Krause down though and they’re clinched again. Quick trip from Krause and he passes to side control yet again. Krause grabs a guillotine, it’s pretty tight but there’s only a handful of seconds left and White rides out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Krause, 20-18 Krause overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Krause lands a right but he’s got a real karate flavor to his striking tonight and White is getting a read on it. White lands a punch that drops Krause to his knees but Krause shoots a double from there and they wind up clinched. They break without incident, clinch again and White lands an elbow. Krause has White on the fence and is landing knees to the thigh. Bit of a knee from White but he’s got to get free. White spins Krause, misses some punches and Krause forces another clinch. They break, White lands a left and a right. Desperation double leg from Krause and we stall on the fence again. They break without incident, White lands a left to the body. Krause pulls guard from a clinch, he’s after an armbar from that but White gets his arm free and has a front headlock. White spins to the back but has to settle for the ride position. Krause quickly spins and lands on top, White has full guard. A few blows from Krause land but he’s content to let the round play out in this position. Elbow from Krause lands. A few hammer fists from Krause as he stands bring the clock all the way down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 White, 29-28 Krause overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – James Krause via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Krause slowed down a lot in the third round, really surprised White kept engaging in grappling after he hurt Krause standing. Krause on the mic now, the crowd boos a bit. He says White was deceptively long in there but one of his best attributes is his diversity and he took what White gave him. He thanks the crowd for coming out as this was the UFC’s debut in St. Louis. Asked who’s next he just wants a shot at the top fifteen but knows there are things he has to sharpen up if he wants that level of competition.

That’s it for preliminary action, but we’re still on Fox Sports 1 for the four fight main card. This one might actually end before midnight eastern time.

Darren Elkins (23-5) is riding an impressive five fight winning streak that has seen him crack the top ten at featherweight, he’s trying to defend that ranking here as well as earn a shot at a higher ranked opponent next as he moves towards a title shot. Michael Johnson (17-12) still has a top lightweight ranking despite being a paltry 1-4 in his last five fights, he’s been finished in his last two bouts and he’s hoping a drop to featherweight will rejuvenate his career because otherwise he could find himself looking at a pink slip. The odds are with Johnson at -185 while the +150 payout on Elkins is a tempting value bet.

Featherweight Bout: #10 Darren Elkins (23-5, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Michael Johnson (17-12, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Johnson has two and a half inches of reach on Elkins. Johnson fighting southpaw, and they touch gloves. Johnson tries a body kick, misses and he avoids a takedown attempt from Elkins. Bit of a body kick from Elkins, Johnson lands a left. Johnson clobbers Elkins with a right and a left after Elkins failed on a takedown attempt. Johnson lands a straight left, Elkins really hasn’t found a rhythm while Johnson’s hands look sharp. Left from Johnson stuns Elkins, he’s backing up again. That left from Johnson lands again, he’s got a real feel for that punch in this fight and is landing with near impunity. Elkins is bleeding from the bridge of his nose, he lands a right then a bit of a left hook. Body kick from Elkins, Johnson has stopped throwing in combination and is single shotting. A couple of leg kicks from Johnson. Right and a left from Johnson as Elkins was coming forward. Solid combination from Johnson lands. Johnson avoids a kick and lands a right to the body then a left to the head. Johnson has a head kick blocked and that brings the first round to an end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Johnson

ROUND TWO: Circling from Elkins to start, he lands a body kick and takes a counter left. Elkins catches a low leg kick and gets a takedown off of it, he’s in half guard now. Some hammer fists from Elkins, Johnson is on a hip looking for a sweep of some kind. Elkins flattens Johnson out and is trying some arm punches to open things up. Johnson explodes to his knees but Elkins has his back with a body triangle locked in now. Elkins is after the choke, he’s got it and Johnson has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Darren Elkins via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:22 of Round 2

That went basically as expected, Johnson has good hand speed but he can’t keep up after the first round and Elkins is insanely durable. Elkins on the mic now, he says he takes punches that would knock out other people and that gets into their heads then talks us through his work getting the choke. Asked who or what is next, he wants the number one contender, notes that the only guy with a better winning streak than him is Max Holloway and while he doesn’t expect to get the title shot right away he feels that he’s only one win away from it.

We get time out for an announcement and video package about Matt Hughes’ recovery. I guess this is the closest the UFC will be to Iowa so if they’re gonna do this this is the spot to do it. We get thoughts from Georges St.Pierre and BJ Penn on Hughes as well as Dana White again saying that his favorite fight ever is Hughes vs. Trigg 2. To cap that off they play “Country Boy Can Survive” and Hughes walks to the Octagon wearing a Ruthless Robbie Lawler t-shirt. He’s got a bad limp but he is able to walk around the cage and then sit cageside alongside UFC President Dana White. I’ve never been a Hughes fan but that was a touching moment.

Kamaru Usman is on an impressive ten fight winning streak and is a perfect 6-0 inside the UFC, he recently became ranked and is looking to extend both his winning streak and improve his position with another dominant win tonight. Emil Weber Meek is riding a four fight winning streak including a successful UFC debut, a win here would be a monumental one for his career and he’d immediately find himself in the rankings looking at bigger and better opportunities. Unfortunately for Meek the odds don’t favor him at all, Usman is a massive -650 favorite while Meek’s comeback sits at +425.

Welterweight Bout: Emil Meek (9-2 1 NC, 170.5 lbs.) vs. #10 Kamaru Usman (11-1, 169.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Usman is an inch taller and has an inch and a half of reach on Meek. Meek comes out quickly, he’s throwing but Usman gets a quick single leg and Meek grabs a guillotine choke as he does. There’s an arm in though and Usman has a lot of his body on the safe side despite Meek having closed guard. Meek is still after this though, Usman just waits it out and Meek decides to bail. Usman flattens him out and gets an arm triangle position from the guard. They’re against the fence and I don’t think Usman will finish that, he bails on it to land some punches. Meek is trying to wall walk, he’s back up but Usman still has a hold of him and has moved to the back now. Usman has a body lock, Meek has a double wrist lock to try and break that grip. Some knees to the thigh from Usman, now one to the chest. Big elevated slam from Usman and he’s in side control now, though Meek has an empty half guard. Full side control from Usman now and he lands a few elbows to the body. Meek to his knees, he’s back up but Usman still has him clinched. Usman rides Meek to a knee, he’s in the ride position now as they hang out. Usman is able to finish the takedown and lands a few hard hammer fists. Meek throws elbows from his back, Usman digs hard body punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Usman

ROUND TWO: Usman comes out southpaw, he got opened up on the head by the elbows from Meek at the end of the round. A few front kicks go back and forth. Spinning back fist from Meek lands to the chin, it landed more on the forearm of Meek. Usman ducks a right and gets a takedown attempt against the fence. A few lefts from Usman and he switches to get the back standing. Usman completes a slam, his grip strength is impressive, but Meek is to the fence and back to a knee quickly. Mat return from Usman but Meek is back up. Meek tries a kimura roll, not much doing there and he winds up on his back holding the double wrist lock as Usman throws weak hammer fists to the body. The grip slips and Meek starts throwing elbows from his back, Usman moves to half guard and is throwing elbows of his own. Meek is bleeding from the forehead now as well. Some more elbows from Usman, Meek tries to get up but Usman pushes him over and keeps top position. Usman is standing over Meek and lands a few body shots before going back into the guard. The round comes to a close with another couple of punches from Usman.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Usman, 20-18 Usman overall

ROUND THREE: Meek opens up with a low leg kick and a bit of a right. Usman doing some stance switching. Meek attempts a knee and his foot hits the groin of Usman so we’ve got time for him to recover. Usman is ready to continue quickly and we’re back to fighting. Meek lands a body kick, he knows he needs a finish and is going for it. Hard left hook from Meek wobbles Usman, Usman is after a takedown and he eats elbows but finishes the slam into guard. Usman after the arm triangle again but he’s in full guard so that’s incredibly unlikely to work. Now Usman postures up, Meek kicks him off and stands but Usman dives onto his hips again immediately. They wind up clinched, Usman has a rear waist lock and is landing knees to the thigh as Meek is on a knee. Meek is back up, Usman hits a quick mat return. Meek is holding a double wrist lock, Usman gets the arm free and he’s in the ride position now, and pulls Meek onto his back. Usman has full side control, Meek gets half guard as Usman tries another arm triangle. Meek up, Usman slams him down again and is in side control. Meek throws some elbows from his back but the clock winds down in that position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Usman, 30-27 Usman overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

That was the toughest fight of Usman’s UFC run and he still won every round. Usman says he fought this fight at about 30% and he still dominated a so called viking. Asked who he wants next he says he’s the most dominant and well rounded welterweight and that everyone is scared of him then tells Colby Covington he can run but can’t hide and closes with what I think is Igbo and promises to have a talk with Dana White.

Paige VanZant has been a promotional darling for a while but she’s hit a bit of a rough stretch recently, she’s 1-2 in her last three fights and was last seen in December of 2016 being choked out by Michelle Waterson. VanZant is hoping that moving up to the newly formed flyweight division will help her career out, she could easily insert herself into the title picture with an impressive win here. Jessica Rose Clark is on a two fight winning streak including a successful UFC debut when she beat Bec Rawlings and earned a top ranking in the fledgling division, if she can knock off VanZant tonight she could easily position herself in the title picture as well. The odds are with VanZant at -130 to +100 on Clark.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: #10 Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4 1 NC, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Paige VanZant (7-3, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Clark is an inch taller while VanZant has half an inch of reach advantage. VanZant opens with a left body kick, Clark lands a right to the body. Jumping switch kick from VanZant misses and they clinch up then Clark lands a right as they break. Superman punch from VanZant falls short and Clark lands a counter left. Left body kick from VanZant lands. Hard counter right from Clark lands and they clinch up. VanZant tries that awful head and arm throw, it’s reversed and Clark gets the back and now the ride position as VanZant stands back up. Clark has an arm triangle choke while standing and she muscles VanZant down again but she lands in half guard on the wrong side. Clark has to adjust her position, she bails on the choke to try and move to finish it. VanZant is really pinned here, she can’t do much but try and get her arm out of danger. Hip escape attempt from VanZant, Clark is controlling her though and nothing really comes of it. Elbow from Clark, and another. VanZant is on a hip for a moment but she can’t do anything off of it. Another couple of elbows from Clark close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Clark

ROUND TWO: Clark lands a leg kick, apparently VanZant’s corner forgot her stool so she couldn’t sit between rounds. VanZant lands a spinning back fist, they trade and clinch up. Clark has VanZant on the fence and lands a knee to the body. Clark tries a lateral drop but fails and VanZant is on top now. A leg lock attempt from Clark, not much there and she gets a double leg reversal as VanZant tried to defend. We’re back in half guard with Clark on top. Clark is really set on trying that arm triangle but she’s on the wrong side again and isn’t really in a position to pass and finish it. We get a warning from the ref about activity, Clark moves to mount and nearly has the back but loses it and winds up on bottom. VanZant fell into a triangle position though and Clark is locking it up and pulling on the head. A few punches from VanZant but she’s not trying to get free and is gonna go to sleep soon if she doesn’t address the choke. Clark adjusts the arm position, VanZant tries to punch out of this but there’s nothing doing there. Elbows from Clark, VanZant is toughing this out and will see the end of the round though.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Clark, 20-18 Clark overall

ROUND THREE: VanZant mentioned between rounds that her right arm might be broken but her corner let her come out. Shame on them. body kick from VanZant lands. VanZant is circling and only throwing with her left, Clark blocks a kick and lands a couple of punches. Another body kick from VanZant lands. Left hook from Clark lands. VanZant lands another body kick and a side kick to the body. More body kicks from VanZant, Clark lands a couple of counters. Clark lands a right in close. VanZant lands a hopping knee but eats a couple of counters for it. The punching is in favor Clark when they clash but VanZant has some good kicks going and is keeping distance. Body shots are exchanged. And they circle the final seconds away.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Clark, 30-27 Clark overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jessica Rose Clark via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Clark on the mic now. She says the fight was hard, she mentions her house being robbed on Thrusday and says this was a tough experience all week for her. Asked who’s next she says she’s ranked tenth and wants everyone ranked above her. VanZant’s arm was obviously broken, the right forearm, and shouldn’t have been let out for the final round. Shame on her corner, who did her no favors technically or materially. Replay shows the break occurred on the spinning back fist VanZant tried in the second, her forearm landed on the crown of Clark’s head and that’ll do it pretty much every time.

Jeremy Stephens has been up and down recently, he’s 2-3 in his last five fights but is coming off of maybe his best performance when he soundly defeated Gilbert Melendez. Stephens is trying to position himself in the title picture and earn a rematch with Max Holloway, this time with the belt on the line. Doo Ho Choi exploded into the UFC, he went 3-0 in his first fights and finished all of those in the first round before losing to Cub Swanson I December of 2016 and then dealing with an injury for all of last year. Choi needs a win to remind everyone why he was thought of as a top prospect in the division, he also doesn’t have time to screw around as his mandatory military service will begin at the start of 2019 so if he wants to make something happen it has to start now. The odds are with Choi at -175 against a tempting +145 comeback on Stephens.

Featherweight Bout: #9 Jeremy Stephens (26-14, 145.5 lbs.) vs. #13 Doo Ho Choi (14-2, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Choi is an inch and a half taller while Stephens has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Choi lands a leg kick. They trade leg kicks, Stephens goes southpaw and back to orthodox. Another exchange of leg kicks then Choi avoids a couple of rights. Stephens blocks a right. Choi lands another leg kick. Bit of a right and a knee from Choi. Another leg kick from Choi and he avoids a counter right. Stephens is swinging wild and Choi is avoiding those punches easily. Another leg kick from Choi and Stephens might be showing the effect of those. Stephens comes forward, misses some punches but lands a leg kick. Both of these guys are playing the long game here, they’re setting up things to work for them three or so rounds from now if necessary. Solid leg kick from Choi. Choi lands a left elbow as Stephens was ducking close, Stephens lands a right to the body. Again to the leg from Choi, they wind up clinched and Stephens is on the fence and lands a right elbow as Choi disengages. Choi lands a left hook that wobbles Stephens for a second. Another leg kick from Choi as he avoids some hooks. They split jabs and Choi lands another leg kick. Left to the body from Choi. Stephens has a right blocked as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Choi

ROUND TWO: Stephens is showing the jab early, Choi lands a front kick to the face and Stephens is stunned. They trade punches and Stephens gets close and lands a knee to the head. Choi avoids a kick and they trade rights. Choi lands an elbow and Stephens lands a punch, they’re getting going now. Leg kick from Choi. They trade leg kicks. Stephens lands a hard counter right to a leg kick and a jab behind it. Body shot from Choi. Stephens is stalking forward now, lands a right that drops Choi. Choi on his back, Stephens lands a hard elbow, eh’s standing and coming down with punches, then a series of left elbows prompts the ref to stop the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jeremy Stephens via TKO, punches and elbows, at 2:36 of Round 2

That’s Stephens’ first finish since 2015. Stephens on the mic now, he plays with the crowd a bit then calls over Choi’s translator and has him translate him putting over Choi and saying he wishes he could have gone to Korea for the fight. He puts over Choi again as a tough guy with good kicks and being tough as nails, he hopes he won some Korean fans. When talking through the finish he name drops Josh Neer then calls out Brian Ortega who’s sitting cage side and wants to fight everyone ranked above him.

Alright everyone, that’s it for UFC Fight Night 124. This was the UFC’s first show of 2018 and was kind of forgettable on the whole but the main event was pretty solid. The UFC is back in action this Saturday for UFC 220 and I’ll be back here doing this again. Until then thank you all again for being here, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.