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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Santos Decisions Walker

October 2, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 51

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#5 Thiago Santos (206 lbs.) vs. #10 Johnny Walker (204.5 lbs.)
Kyle Daukaus (185.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Kevin Holland (183.5 lbs.)
Alex Oliveira (169.5 lbs.) vs. Niko Price (170.5 lbs.)
Misha Cirkunov (185.5 lbs.) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (185.5 lbs.)
Mike Breeden (158.5 lbs.)* vs. Alexander Hernandez (154.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
Jared Gordon (155 lbs.) vs. Joe Solecki (155.5 lbs.)
Casey O’Neill (125 lbs.) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (125.5 lbs.)
Bethe Correia (138.5 lbs.)* vs. #15 Karol Rosa (135.5 lbs.)
Jamie Mullarkey (155.5 lbs.) vs. Devonte Smith (155.5 lbs.)
Gaetano Pirrello (134.5 lbs.) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (135 lbs.)
Stephanie Egger (135 lbs.) vs. Shanna Young (134.5 lbs.)
Johnny Eduardo (135.5 lbs.) vs. Alejandro Perez (136 lbs.)


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 51. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. I was a little down on this card recently but have come around just a bit, this isn’t stellar or anything but it’s not quite the pure mechanical turnover I thought initially. The main event is a very relevant fight in the light heavyweight division as Thiago Santos tries to halt a three fight skid against the wildly unpredictable Johnny Walker. The winner probably isn’t the next title challenger but they wont be too far removed from it. Niko Price and Alex Oliveira should be wacky violent fun, Misha Cirkunov is trying to revive his career by cutting down to middleweight, and Kevin Holland looks to salvage his 2021 after going 0-2 on the year so far. Elsewhere on the card rising prospect Casey O’Neill faces her toughest test against Antonina Shevchenko, Jamie Mullarkey and Devone Smith should have an entertaining bout, and Jared Gordon vs. Joe Solecki should likewise be at least watchable. All in all not a terrible card.

UFC on ESPN+ 51 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. We’ve got Brendan Fitzgerald and Daniel Cormier on commentary. As for the rules remember that Nevada uses a hybrid rule set, they’ve adopted most of the changes but retain the old definition of a downed fighter. We also have the use of instant replay, a second referee outside the cage who can request its use, and the fight can be restarted after using instant replay if that’s applicable. We’re also back in the smaller 25 foot diameter Octagon.

Alejandro Perez has gone 7-3-1 in the UFC but currently finds himself on a two fight losing streak, if he wants to make good on the potential he’s shown he cannot afford a third consecutive loss here. Johnny Eduardo has been out of action since June of 2018 and has been finished in both of his last two fights, he could easily be fighting for his spot on the roster here. Given the layoff it’s no surprise Perez is the favorite at -260 against +210 for Eduardo.

Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Eduardo (28-12, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Alejandro Perez (21-8-1, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Eduardo is an inch taller and has four inches of reach advantage, he’s also a whopping 11 years older. They touch gloves to get us going. Perez checks a leg kick. Both men start feinting a bit, Eduardo lands a calf kick. Some jabs are starting to come out now, Perez lands a right as Eduardo tries to go southpaw. Both men miss a few hooks, they’re still trying to get a feel for each other. Perez checks a leg kick. Eduardo blocks an overhand right, then Perez lands a left to the body. Another calf kick from Eduardo. Eduardo goes southpaw, lands a body kick then they trade left hooks in close. Perez is starting to up the pressure now, Eduardo did not like the power he tasted in that hook exchange. Eduardo keeps trying southpaw to land a left body kick, he’s getting predictable with it. Some low leg kicks inside and outside from Eduardo. Eduardo lands a jab, Perez lands a calf kick. Perez lands a left hook, Eduardo responds with a right. Perez misses a spinning back fist to basically close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Eduardo but could go either way

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Eduardo lands a couple of leg kicks. Perez lands a left to the body. Oh, I’m just seeing Eduardo’s right eye, it’s swelling rather visibly. Perez avoids a spinning back kick. They clinch up, bit of a knee from Perez but Eduardo takes him down into full guard. Eduardo is working to posture up, Perez is just holding him on bottom. Perez is able to wall walk then break free. Perez lands a leg kick. Right from Perez lands, he’s really after the fight now. Eduardo lands a right. Perez fakes a punch and hits a double leg into full guard. Perez starts working his ground and pound, Eduardo tries to get up but nearly gets guillotined and winds up giving up his back. Eduardo rolls to his back, Perez winds up in side control. Perez is after a scarf hold armbar, he locks up the arm and extends his hips to get the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alejandro Perez via Submission, scarf hold armbar, at 4:13 of Round 2

Mic time for Perez, he notes he’s been off since 2019 and has focused on important personal things like his family and religion which allowed him to become this person. He thanks his team for their work and dedicates the win to his family, who have helped pull him up off of the ground.

Here’s a look at the finish. Perez gets up high in side control and on a hip, then he’s able to isolate the right arm of Eduardo between his legs and extend for the armbar. Lovely bit of grappling, this is a technique you don’t see all that often.

Shanna Young lost her UFC debut in February of last year, she’s trying to rebound from that loss and get her first UFC win under her belt. Stephanie Egger also lost her UFC debut just about one year ago, she’s also after that all important first UFC win. The odds are with Egger at -140 to +120 on Young.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Stephanie Egger (5-2, 135 lbs.) vs. Shanna Young (7-3, 134.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Young is an inch taller while Egger has three inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Young, and they touch gloves to start things off. Both women are probing distance early. Each women misses a power hand punch, Egger then catches a kick and drives Young into the fence. Young lands a right hand and slips out of the clinch. One two from Egger lands. Some stance switching from Young now, still mostly southpaw but showing orthodox. Young lands a body kick, Egger responds with a right hand. Young is able to pressure things to the fence and gets a clinch. Egger gets a headlock throw into 50/50 guard, Young is attacking the legs of Egger. Egger lands a few hammer fists, Young switches to going for an inside heel hook. Young loses her grip on the heel and Egger is able to land a few more hammer fists as she closes distance on the mat. More hammer fists and elbows from Egger, Young is losing her grip on the leg and Egger passes to half guard. Egger unloads with punches and passes to side control. Short elbows from Egger, Young has hip escaped to half guard again but she’s just holding on as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Egger

ROUND TWO: Young is orthodox now, she’s trying to establish the jab. Egger misses a right hand. Egger lands a right then a leg kick. Another leg kick from Egger, Young lands a counter right. Bit of a combination from Young before they clinch on the fence. Egger hits a quick judo hip toss and lands in side control. Young tries to bridge off of the fence, she gets some motion but can’t continue it and Egger lands a series of rights as Young gets full guard. Egger lands a hard elbow, then a few more punches cause the ref to stop things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Stephanie Egger via TKO, elbow and punches, at 2:22 of Round 2

Mic time for Egger, she says the win feels great and then thanks her coaches. She talks us through the finish, noting she felt the elbow was solid. Asked what she wants next she wants to be back as soon as possible.

Here’s the finish. It’s a fairly quick stoppage, but Young doesn’t respond in the ways you want to see a fighter respond so I can understand it. That elbow from Egger was solid.

Douglas Silva de Andrade has been trading wins and losses while going 3-3 in his last six fights, he’s coming off of a loss but is hoping a return to bantamweight will help him avoid what would be his first ever losing streak. Gaetano Pirrello lost his UFC debut rather handily when he stepped in on short notice against Ricky Simon in January, now he’s back and hoping a full camp will help him notch his first UFC victory. De Andrade is a rather heavy favorite at -270 to the +220 payout on Pirrello.

Bantamweight Bout: Gaetano Pirrello (15-6-1, 134.5 lbs.) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (26-4 1 NC, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while de Andrade has three and a half inches of reach advantage in addition to be 7 years older. Both men feinting a lot as they get a feel for each other, Pirrello going southpaw a few times while they keep trying to figure each other out. Pirrello lands a leg kick. Hard right from de Andrade and he gets a clinch on the fence. They break without incident. Pirrello avoids a left hook. They trade inside leg kicks. De Andrade lands a side kick to the knee, then a left hook timed with a Pirrello kick that ENDS things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Douglas Silva de Andrade via KO, punch, at 2:04 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. de Andrade for his work this evening. De Andrade gets an interview, he has no words for the feeling, and thanks everyone who’s helped him out along the way. He’s holding what looks like a baby’s beanie as he talks us through the finish and again thanks his trainers.

Here’s a look at the finish. De Andrade reads the step up lead leg roundhouse perfectly then steps in, slightly to the side, and crushes Pirrello with a left hook while he’s on one leg. Minor side note, watch Pirrello’s hands as he kicks. They drop and give de Andrade a really clear punching lane. Keep your hands up when you kick.

Devonte Smith has gone 3-1 in the UFC including a win earlier this year, he’s trying for his second UFC winning streak tonight and hoping to establish himself as a notable lightweight prospect. Jamie Mullarkey has gone 1-2 in the UFC but is coming off of a quick KO win over Khama Worthy and looking for his first UFC winning streak. Smith is a slight -150 favorite against +125 on Mullarkey.

Lightweight Bout: Jamie Mullarkey (13-4, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Devonte Smith (11-2, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Mullarkey is three inches taller while Smith has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. Both men probing with jabs and feints. Smith lands a right. Mullarkey lands a couple of inside leg kicks. Smith with a one two, he’s got fast hands. Mullarkey lands a body kick but misses a follow up left hook. Leg kick from Mullarkey, Smith counters with a left hook and lands a few solid follow up punches but Mullarkey stays upright. Mullarkey lands a jab to the body. Smith lands a stiff jab, then a follow up knee. A lot of pressure from Mullarkey despite being on the wrong end of most of these exchanges. Mullarkey blocks a high kick. Smith lands a leg kick and avoids the counter punches. A solid leg kick from Smith, he looks to follow up but can’t quite find the connections. Mullarkey is still coming forward, he punches into a clinch and gets a takedown to his knees. Some short punches from Mullarkey, he tries to get the back but has to settle with landing short elbows from the back standing as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Smith

ROUND TWO: Mullarkey is back to forward pressure, that might be wearing Smith down a bit. Hard leg kick from Mullarkey, Smith’s left leg did not respond well to that one. Another leg kick from Mullarkey. Smith lands a jab. Mullarkey keeps pressing forward, lands a right hand. Glancing left from Mullarkey, then he lands another leg kick but eats a couple of counter punches. Mullarkey pushes forward and they clinch, trade knees to the body but Mullarkey ups the volume in the clinch. Elbows and knees from Mullarkey, then body shots and Smith might be wilting. Mullarkey with more knees then a left to the body that stuns Smith. Another body shot from Mullarkey drops Smith, and he unloads with hammer fists from top position to force the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jamie Mullarkey via TKO, punches, at 2:51 of Round 2

That pace and pressure from Mullarkey just melted Smith over time. Mic time for Mullarkey, he feels comfortable now in the UFC and thinks this is more what he’s capable of doing. He talks us through the finish, noting Smith started very hard and knew that would be tough but later he could up the pace. He talks us through punching Smith in the eye and using that once it happened to increase the pressure.

Here’s a look at the finish. Mullarkey keeps the pace and pressure high, Smith starts fading and Mullarkey ups the volume. There’s some really nice weapon selection here from Mullarkey, nice knees and elbows but those body shots were ultimately what dropped Smith and led to the finish.

Bethe Correira has just two wins since 2015 and is coming off of a loss, she’s looking for a feel good style win to end her career on more than anything else at this point. She also missed weight for this fight. Karol Rosa has a five fight winning streak going including three wins in the UFC that have seen her move into the top fifteen rankings, she’s trying to defend that ranking and earn a step up in class for her next bout. Rosa is one of the biggest favorites on the card at a massive -625 while the +450 comeback on Correira probably appeals to a few degenerate gamblers out there.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Bethe Correia (11-5-1, 138.5 lbs.) vs. #15 Karol Rosa (14-3, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height, Rosa has three and a half inches of reach advantage and is 12 years younger than Correia. Rosa declines to touch gloves. Correia avoids a leg kick. Rosa is stalking forward, lands a few jabs but misses a right. Correia misses a right hand. Rosa lands a chopping right. They punch into the clinch, where Rosa lands a few knees to the body before they break. Correia did not like the body work, let’s see if Rosa goes back to it. Rosa checks a leg kick, then lands a leg kick. Correia with some jabs, but eats knees from a brief clinch. Another leg kick from Rosa. Both women keep clashing on punches, Rosa seems to be getting the better of it. Rosa lands a right, then a bit of a body kick. Another right from Rosa, she’s just at the end of her punches but is technically able to land. Rosa with a few more knees to the body in close, Correia is getting flatter and flatter on her feet. More jabs from Rosa, she’s fighting patient right now. Rosa lands a leg kick. More jabs from Rosa, then a leg kick. Correia lands a right but Rosa seems unphased. Double leg from Rosa hits the fence, she can’t finish it before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rosa

ROUND TWO: Correia lands a right to the body to start the round. Rosa lands a few long range punches. Rosa lands a leg kick then a left hook. One two from Rosa then a knee to the body, Correia is hurt to the body now. Another one two from Rosa, she’s got a feel for the timing of Correia now and is picking her apart. Rosa lands a few rights in close, she’s really flowing now. Inside leg kick from Rosa, Correia lands to the body in response but eats another right to the head. Rosa with more knees to the body, Correia is breaking down. Rosa punches into another clinch and resumes working knees and elbows. They eventually break with an elbow from Rosa. Correia eats a jab but lands a right hand counter. Rosa lands a right, then some more jabs. Another knee to the body from Rosa, Correia really didn’t like that one. Rosa unloads with knees to the body in close as they clinch and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rosa, borderline 10-8, 20-18 Rosa overall

ROUND THREE: Rosa is working one twos again, and lands a front kick to the body then a right hand. I’m surprised Rosa hasn’t used other body attacks besides her jumping knees. Rosa back to jabbing. Short left hook from Rosa, then another one. They trade rights, Rosa landed better. Correia lands a couple of body shots. Rosa lands a body kick and a few punches. The leg kicks from Rosa are adding up now as well, she follows up well with rights behind that kick a lot too. Rosa lands a one two. They’ve spent most of this round in open space, in prior rounds Rosa had been able to back up Correia to the fence consistently. Rosa with more jabs and an inside leg kick. Rosa lands a combination then they trade leg kicks. Bit of a right from Correia. They clinch up and hit the fence. They break on a failed throw from Rosa. Rosa lands a knee to the body and they clinch again. More knees from Rosa in close as Correia breaks free. Rosa sprawls away from a poor double leg, gets on top and lands punches as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Karol Rosa via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)

That was never close, Rosa dominated that fight. Mic time for Rosa, she says beating Correia in Correia’s last fight is a big deal for her. Asked what she’d like next she’d like to fight in February but has no opponent in mind.

They give Correia an interview too as this is her retirement fight. She calls this an emotional moment for her, and thanks the UFC for all they’ve done for her.

Antonina Shevchenko has traded wins and losses while going 3-3 in the UFC, she’s coming off of a loss though and is trying to avoid her first ever losing streak. Casey O’Neill is undefeated including two stoppage wins in the UFC, she’s trying to score another significant win and possibly find herself against ranked opposition next time. The odds are with O’Neill at -230 while the +190 payout on Shevchenko is a tempting value bet.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Casey O’Neill (7-0, 125 lbs.) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (9-3, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Shevchenko is two inches taller while O’Neill has two inches of reach advantage while Shevchenko is 13 years older. Southpaw for Shevchenko. O’Neill comes out and starts jabbing, looking to push Shevchenko back. They trade a few punches. O’Neill lands a right to the body. One two from Shevchenko. O’Neill gets a clinch, and spins Shevchenko down. There’s a twister for O’Neill, but Shevchenko gets her leg free and winds up on top in side control. Shevchenko goes to the mounted crucifix and lands punches but O’Neill fights up and lands a knee to the body in the clinch. Another knee from O’Neill as they break. O’Neill will not stop coming forward, they keep clashing on punches. Another clinch, Shevchenko with a Thai clinch and lands knees to the body before breaking free. Counter punches from Shevchenko, O’Neill isn’t cutting her off and is winding up chasing her around the cage. Another clinch and O’Neill gets a takedown into 3/4 mount against the fence. O’Neill lands some punches but Shevchenko is able to hip escape to half guard. Some rights from O’Neill, but Shevchenko shrimps to full guard now and closes it. Shevchenko is looking to attack the arms, O’Neill lands a couple of elbows. O’Neill passes to side control, winds up in the ride position landing punches as Shevchenko wall walks. They fight in the clinch then break. Shevchenko lands a one two. O’Neill trips Shevchenko and gets on top in side control landing punches. O’Neill moves to half guard and ends the round on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 O’Neill but a close one

ROUND TWO: O’Neill back to pressing forward. Shevchenko lands a front kick to the face. They clinch up again but nothing comes of it. Both women land power hand punches. O’Neill punches into another clinch. They fight for position along the fence, Shevchenko lands a few knees and elbows then gets free. Both women land power hand punches. O’Neill lands a left hook, then gets a double leg against the fence into half guard. Some punches from O’Neill as Shevchenko shrimps to full guard. O’Neill blocks an armbar and moves to the ride position, then gets full back mount with both hooks in. O’Neill moves to full mount and looks to posture up. Shevchenko tries to control posture but eats some elbows. More elbows from O’Neill as she postures up and looks to flurry. Shevchenko tries to roll, gives up the back and eats more offense from a hip. More elbows from O’Neill, she’s really teeing off now. Shevchenko keeps trying to get her legs in play but can’t find any control, O’Neill just unloads with enough punches and hammer fists to get the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Casey O’Neill via TKO, elbows and punches, at 4:47 of Round 2

Mic time for O’Neill, she feels ready for this kind of opposition and is happy to have proven it tonight. She mentions this is her fifth fight in twelve months and is a bit tired now, but will always fight hard to finish everyone. To close she dedicates this to a fallen friend.

Take a look at how high O’Neill is in this mount, her knees are up in the arm pits of Shevchenko. When anyone gets that far up on your body in full mount you’re kind of done, especially if they know what they’re doing. O’Neill’s ground and pound is solid too, she was landing some heavy elbows before this clip gets going.

Joe Solecki is on a six fight winning streak with three of those coming in the UFC, he’s trying to continue that streak tonight and start establishing himself as a legitimate prospect in the very deep lightweight division. Jared Gordon has gone 5-3 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, he’s back up at lightweight for the first time since 2017 and hoping to get the longest winning streak of his UFC tenure going after tonight. Solecki is a slight -135 favorite to +115 on Gordon.

Lightweight Bout: Jared Gordon (17-4, 155 lbs.) vs. Joe Solecki (11-2, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Solecki has two and a half inches of reach over Gordon. They touch gloves to get us going. A lot of feints from Solecki early. They clinch and Solecki gets a quick takedown into side control. Full mount for Solecki, slick pass. Gordon shrimps back to side control. Solecki lands some lefts, Gordon has scooted to the fence and is looking to wall walk. More lefts from Solecki. Solecki to the back, and gets both hooks in, that was incredibly slick. Gordon is trying to hand fight. Solecki punches to open up a choke, but can’t finish it as Gordon’s hand fighting is working well. Solecki keeps floating his hooks from both to just one depending on what he wants for control and threatening the choke. A few more punches from Solecki as he rides Gordon still looking for the choke. Gordon moves to the fence and is able to wall walk up, Solecki grabs a guillotine though and Gordon moves to side control after passing the guard. Half guard now as Solecki got his legs back in play. Gordon with a few short elbows before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Solecki

ROUND TWO: Solecki immediately punches into a clinch and looks for a takedown, but Gordon is able to defend along the fence. Gordon is trying to defend, but Solecki reaps a leg and starts a scramble. Gordon regains his feet and lands a knee but Solecki keeps the clinch. Elbow from Gordon, he’s trying to put some damage on Solecki while defending. Solecki tries a single leg but can’t finish it, though he again keeps the clinch. Gordon is working short blows in everywhere he can, but Solecki reaps his leg again and this time lands on top and mounts the legs. Gordon is looking to wall walk, he’s able to sweep and get on top in full guard. Solecki tries to elevate and sweep, but Gordon’s base is good enough to avoid the sweep. A few hammer fists from Gordon, who is cut up by the hairline I think. Gordon lands some short elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gordon, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men feinting as the round begins. Some jabs from Solecki, Gordon lands a left hook. Solecki lands a body kick. Gordon lands a couple of leg kicks. Solecki lands a left, Gordon responds with a right. Gordon lands a calf kick, but takes a right hand counter. They trade left hooks in close. Gordon lands a right to counter a leg kick. Gordon tries a takedown, Solecki defends and lands a knee as they hit the fence. They break without incident. Solecki tries a double leg, Gordon defends easily. They punch into another clinch and hit the fence. Gordon looks for a takedown, he can’t finish it but lands a left hand as they break. Solecki lands a left. Calf kick from Gordon. Solecki lands a right. They trade and clinch again, Gordon lands a knee to the body as they hit the fence. More knees from Gordon before they break. Both men land lefts. Gordon pushes forward and lands a few punches. Solecki lands a solid right hand, that’ll be the last relevant blow of the round.

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

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

I can see a Solecki argument in there, no qualms with the split. Mic time for Gordon, he says winning feels great then gives Glory to God and says he’d like to fight Paddy Pimblett. Reasonable call out. He says he knew they were 1-1 going into the third but he’d trained hard for this and had Solecki well scouted, he thanks all of his coaches and trainers to close.

That wraps up the preliminary action, though we’re still on ESPN+ for the main card.

Alexander Hernandez has gone 4-3 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Mike Breeden took this fight on very short notice, which probably contributed to his weight miss, but he’s on a two fight winning streak and could score a massive upset if he bests Hernandez tonight. Speaking on the upset front, Hernandez is a big favorite at -625 while a Breeden win would payout at +450.

Lightweight Bout: Mike Breeden (10-3, 158.5 lbs.) vs. Alexander Hernandez (12-4, 154.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Breeden is an inch taller while Hernandez has two inches of reach advantage. Hernandez comes out quickly, Breeden lands a calf kick. Breeden lands a right hand. Hernandez tries a single leg, can’t finish it and they hit the fence then break with an elbow from Hernandez. Leg kick from Hernandez. Hard one two from Hernandez wobbles Breeden, he’s after the finish and unloads along the fence eventually dropping Breeden with a right and getting the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alexander Hernandez via KO, punches, at 1:20 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Hernandez for his work this evening. Mic time for Hernandez, he says he’s evolving through every fight but performing is always hard and he doesn’t take wins for granted then thanks Breeden for taking the fight on short notice. He talks us through the finish, then says he’d like to fight Leonardo Santos who was his original opponent for tonight.

This is a nice straight right from Hernandez to start everything else, and it’s that same punch that finishes things a bit later.

Misha Cirkunov was once thought to be a future title challenger, or at least top level player, in the light heavyweight division but has fallen on rather hard times lately. Cirkunov is just 2-4 in his last six fights and is hoping a cut to middleweight will revitalize his career. Krzysztof Jotko just had a three fight winning streak snapped by Sean Strickland, but he’s somewhat surprisingly been with the UFC since 2013. Jotko is trying to avoid another losing streak and salvage his 2021. The odds are close but lean towards Jotko at -150 to +125 on Cirkunov.

Middleweight Bout: Misha Cirkunov (15-6, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (22-5, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cirkunov is two inches taller but the reach is identical. Both men open southpaw, and they touch gloves. Some leg kicks go back and forth while they feel each other out. They clinch up and hit the fence, Cirkunov lands a few knees to the body and thigh. Jotko slips free and they reset. Cirkunov is trying to work the lead hand, he then goes for a single leg, gets a trip but can’t fully finish it and they wind up clinched on the fence. They trade some knees along the fence before Jotko slips free again. Cirkunov lands a leg kick. Cirkunov looks a little flat on his feet, the weight cut might have messed with his legs. Both men land in close, Jotko landed the longer string of punches though. Jotko is circling, he’s still rather light on his feet while Cirkunov is more plodding. They trade leg kicks again, then Jotko defends a double leg attempt. Jotko lands a leg kick. Cirkunov fakes a takedown, and they wind up clinched on the fence. They jockey for position as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jotko but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Jotko working leg kicks again as the round begins. That circling from Jotko is helping him given how flat Cirkunov is at the moment. They punch into a clinch and hit the fence. Cirkunov looks for a single leg, Jotko defends partially with a fence grab. A knee from Cirkunov hits the groin of Jotko and we’ve got time out. Replay confirms Jotko got hit in the groin. Jotko takes 45 seconds then we’re back resetting in the clinch. Jotko quickly escapes this time. Cirkunov is trying to come forward but he’s still very linear and Jotko’s footwork is serving him well. Jotko lands a combination, Cirkunov lands a leg kick. They clinch up and hit the fence again. Once again Jotko is able to quickly get free. Cirkunov lands a leg kick but eats a counter left. They clinch, Cirkunov lands a knee and forces things to the fence. Jotko again spins free. One two from Jotko. Cirkunov lands a leg kick. They clinch again, then break without much happening. Cirkunov lands a right hook. Jotko avoids a head kick and lands a left hand. They trade kicks to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Jotko avoids a punch and lands a combination. Both men land leg kicks. Cirkunov tries a single leg, it takes a second effort but he gets Jotko down. Jotko quickly wall walks while Cirkunov works a front headlock. Cirkunov gets around to the back standing and starts working knees to the leg. Jotko keeps trying to get free but Cirkunov is locked around his body and working knees to the thigh and back. Cirkunov moves into the ride position but Jotko slips free and immediately gets double legged for his trouble. Jotko wall walks quickly and they separate. Cirkunov lands a leg kick, Jotko tries a trip out of the clinch but they just wind up on the fence. They separate with a left from Jotko. Another clinch that hits the fence, then they break and trade punches. Cirkunov lands a right hook as Jotko tries a jumping knee but took an eye poke and we get time out. Cirkunov takes 1:17 then we’re back to fighting. Both men land punches, then Jotko defends a single leg attempt. Cirkunov lands a leg kick. Jotko lands a left hook. Cirkunov lands a right hook and avoids a high kick. Jotko lands a stiff jab. They clinch up and Jotko gets free quickly. Cirkunov lands a leg kick. Another clinch, Jotko gets a body lock takedown and lands punches from the top as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jotko but another close one, 30-27 Jotko overall

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

Mic time for Jotko, who says he knew that last takedown sealed it for him. He is grateful for his good condition and thanks his coaches.

Alex Oliveira is on a two fight losing streak in addition to being just 2-5 in his most recent fights, he’s trying to avoid his second three fight losing streak and prove he’s still a valuable member of the UFC roster. Niko Price hasn’t won a fight since up kicking James Vick into oblivion in 2019 and most recently dropped a decision to Michel Pereira, now he’s trying to get back on the winning side of things. Price is favored to do just that at -190 to a +160 comeback on Oliveira.

Welterweight Bout: Alex Oliveira (22-10-1 2 NC, 169.5 lbs.) vs. Niko Price (14-5 2 NC, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Price is an inch taller while Oliveira has half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men work leg kicks early. Price avoids a right hand. More leg kicks from Price. Oliveira with a bit of a right hand. Both men slip rights. Price keeps chopping at that lead leg of Oliveira. They clinch up, and hit the fence. Price lands some knees to the leg, but Oliveira is able to get a body lock takedown, Price rolls through with a headlock though and gets on top in half guard. Oliveira gets full guard rather quickly. Price lands some punches while working to posture up and moves to half guard. Short elbows now from Price. Oliveira keeps trying to build up a base but Price is stripping his posting limbs and keeping him down. Price digs some body shots then lands punches to the head as Oliveira is trying to get a knee shield in place. The round ends with Price still on top landing strikes.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Price

ROUND TWO: Price back to working leg kicks as the round begins. Oliveira lands an inside leg kick, then a calf kick. Price lands a jab. Oliveira lands a left hook. Clubbing right from Oliveira lands. Price with another calf kick, then a bit of a right hand. Oliveira avoids a head kick, he’s a lot lighter on his feet than Price and that’s starting to show up. Oliveira catches a leg kick and off balances Price with a right then gets on top. Price quickly throws up his guard but Oliveira passes to side control. Armbar attempt from Price and they wind up in 50/50 guard. Oliveira stands, gets his legs out of the guard and drops into side control. Price is trying an Americana sweep but there’s no way he’s got the leverage. Price winds up on his knees and Oliveira punches from the back before Price granby rolls and Oliveira fights from leg drag. Oliveira to side control again, then north-south and back to side control. Price moves to half guard, Oliveira lands a few hammer fists as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Oliveira, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Price is coming forward again, and both men land leg kicks. Price lands a right. More leg kicks from Price. Oliveira lands a heavy couple of calf kicks. Oliveira avoids a few offensive offerings. Price lands a right. Oliveira digs the body with a right, then lands a long right hand. Left from Oliveira in close. Price lands a couple of rights that wobble Oliveira but he remains upright. Another leg kick from Price. Price lands a left. A Price right hand staggers Oliveira and they clinch. Some knees from Price, Oliveira tries for a front headlock but they wind up separated. Oliveira misses a spinning back fist. Price lands a front kick to the body. Price is walking Oliveira to the fence but Oliveira is still moving despite being visibly tired. They trade punches in close then clinch. Oliveira slips around to the back standing, Price spins into him and gets a trip to land on top in half guard. Price unloads with short punches and elbows. A bevy of rights from Price crash down as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Niko Price via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Fun little scrap there. Price gets an interview, he says he’s never happy to go to decision but is happy with the win and credits his improved cardio. He talks about improving his fence wrestling and wants to take on the top of the division. Asked more specifically what he wants he’ll take any big name or ranked opponent.

Kevin Holland went 5-0 in 2020 but has gone 0-2 in 2021 dropping decisions to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, he’s hoping to salvage his year and defend his top ranking. Kyle Daukaus has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss, he’s trying to score the biggest win of his career while avoiding his first ever losing streak. The odds are with Holland at -175 to +150 for Daukaus.

Middleweight Bout: Kyle Daukaus (10-2, 185.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Kevin Holland (21-7, 183.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Holland has a whopping five inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Daukaus fighting southpaw. Holland starts out with kicks, then misses a right. Daukaus clocks Holland with a right then gets a clinch on the fence. Daukaus works knees then tries an outside reap but can’t finish the takedown. Holland is defending well enough but not getting out of the clinch. Daukaus lands a knee to the body. Holland spins position, Daukaus gets a modified 100% lock to stall that motion out. Some more knees from Daukaus but the ref isn’t happy and separates them. Holland lands a right. They get close and trade, Holland took a clash of heads and gets hurt, Daukaus jumps on him and clobbers him then uses a guillotine threat to get on top. Daukaus into the ride position, lands punches then jumps for the rear naked choke as Holland stands. That’s right and Daukaus gets the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – No Contest, accidental clash of heads, at 3:43 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Daukaus for his work this evening. The clash of heads was a big thing there and the refs are conferring. This ultimately comes down to the ref deciding how impactful the illegal blow was, and I guess the ref felt the whole sequence came about because of that accidental clash of heads plus the ref seemed to indicate he was going to stop things right after the clash given how Holland fell. I can live with this, they should get on a rematch as quickly as possible.

A look at the clash of heads, Holland definitely got flash knocked out there. As mentioned, I can live with this call.

Thiago Santos was the last man to defeat current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz but had both of his knees seriously wrecked when he failed to wrest the title from then champion Jon Jones in 2019 and is currently on a three fight losing streak. Santos is hoping to break that losing streak and possibly return to the title picture with a win. Johnny Walker just broke a two fight losing streak when he defeated Ryan Spann, he’s trying for his biggest win yet at the expense of a former title challenger. Santos is your -155 favorite to +130 for Walker.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #5 Thiago Santos (21-9, 206 lbs.) vs. #10 Johnny Walker (18-5, 204.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Walker is four inches taller, has a whopping six inches of reach advantage, and is 8 years younger. The size difference is apparent when they get close to each other, Walker is a very large man. Both men start orthodox but I doubt that stays that way for long. Santos shows some stance switches early. Both men feint, just getting a feel for each other. Walker lands an inside leg kick. A lot of movement from Santos, Walker isn’t doing a whole lot either. Santos misses a wheel kick. Bit of a front kick to the body from Walker. Walker lands an inside leg kick. Both men miss high kicks. Not much going on here, Walker is out in front scoring wise just because he’s landed a few things here and there. Bit of a right from Santos. Santos misses a left high kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Walker but a boring round

ROUND TWO: Santos is coming forward a bit more to start this round, and both men have started their stance switches. Santos tries a single leg, Walker defends and they both swing but miss in close. While being southpaw Santos lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a front kick from Santos. Walker blocks a high kick. Santos has started working some side kicks to the knee from southpaw stance, something to pay attention too. Walker avoids a leg kick. They both miss punches. Walker lands an inside leg kick. Santos lands a left body kick. Another body kick from Santos lands. Santos lands a third left body kick, he seems to have found the rhythm for that kick to land. Walker is coming forward more now, but that right hand is drifting lower to protect his ribs. Santos lands a calf kick. Walker stalks forward, but finds nothing before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men circling and feinting again. They both miss punches. Santos lands a side kick to the knee but misses the follow up body kick. Walker lands a few calf kicks then a front kick to the body. Walker barely avoids a left high kick. Santos avoids a few punches but takes another front kick to the body. Walker lands a right hand, he’s starting to press a bit more. Santos lands a left hand then a leg kick. Front kick from Santos this time then a calf kick. Walker takes a side kick and lands a left hand. Santos lands a bit of a left then a leg kick. Inside leg kick from Santos, who seems to be heating up as the fight goes on. Bit of a left hook from Santos, but he badly misses a wheel kick. Walker lands a front kick to the body. Santos has started reacting to those front kicks, might be time for Walker to aim them high. Walker avoids a left high kick. They feint away the final seconds.

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

ROUND FOUR: Santos digs a left to the body. Walker is starting to show more now but is still behind on the numbers. Santos lands another left body kick. Another side kick to the knee from Santos. Walker lands a bit of a right head kick after missing a right hand. Santos misses a jumping knee. Walker lands a side kick to the leg. Santos slips a punch and lands a right to the body. Bit of a calf kick from Santos lands. Santos avoids a side kick and lands a calf kick. Walker lands a body kick and a right hand. Santos lands a left and has Walker circling around again. A left from Santos lands to the chin but Walker just eats that one. Walker lands a body kick and avoids a few punches. Santos lands a body kick, that’ll be the last relevant blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos but a close one, 39-37 Santos overall

ROUND FIVE: Both men land leg kicks as the round starts. Santos avoids a high kick. Bit of a leg kick from Santos. Walker lands a couple of rights and takes a left. Side kick to the knee from Walker. A hard left from Santos lands and stuns Walker in his tracks but he doesn’t go down. Walker back to kicking and trying to maintain distance. Santos lands a body kick. Walker misses a right, then avoids a spinning back kick. Santos lands another body kick. Santos misses a wheel kick, then Walker twirls at him ineffectually. Glancing head kick from Santos. Walker misses a wheel kick, Santos has a jumping kick blocked and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos, 49-46 Santos overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (48-47 x3)

No issues with Walker taking the 4th, but a largely disappointing fight. Santos gets an interview, he says a lot of people know how hard he’s worked to get here and he wont stop. He switches to Portuguese to speak to the fans in Brazil and tells them God is always good and every day might be a fight but it’s worth it. He puts over Walker as an unpredictable guy that was a struggle to train for, but he trained hard and tried to do this best. To close he thanks God, his coaches, the UFC, and says this was the last fight on his contract and wants a new deal hopefully with more money.

On that note UFC on ESPN+ 51 comes to a close. I’ll be breaking down all the results from this event tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast plus looking ahead to next week when Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez battle it out in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 52. I’ll be back here covering that event, and I hope you’ll be back as well. Until then stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC Fight Night, Robert Winfree