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411’s UFC on ESPN 2 Report: Justin Gaethje Defeats Edson Barboza

March 31, 2019 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Justin Gaethje

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MAIN CARD (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
#6 Edson Barboza (155.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Justin Gaethje (155.5 lbs.)
#11 David Branch (185.5 lbs.) vs. Jack Hermansson (185 lbs.)
#10 Josh Emmett (145.75 lbs.) vs. Michael Johnson (146 lbs.)
#6 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (114.75 lbs.) vs. #9 Michelle Waterson (115.5 lbs.)
Paul Craig (205 lbs.) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (205.5 lbs.)
Sheymon Moraes (145 lbs.) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (145.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, 5 p.m. ET)
Jessica Aguilar (115.25 lbs.) vs. Marina Rodriguez (114.75 lbs.)
Desmond Green (155 lbs.) vs. Ross Pearson (155.25 lbs.)
Kevin Aguilar (145 lbs.) vs. Enrique Barzola (145 lbs.)
Kevin Holland (185 lbs.) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (185.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Ray Borg (137.75 lbs.)* vs. Casey Kenney (135.5 lbs.)
Sabina Mazo (125.5 lbs.) vs. Maryna Moroz (125.25 lbs.)
Mark De La Rosa (135.5 lbs.) vs. Alex Perez (135.25 lbs.)

*Borg missed weight and will forfeit 20 percent of his purse to Kenney.


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 2. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for this event, relaying all of the action to you just as I see it. Tonight the UFC brings a main event that I’m personally salivating over, top ranked lightweight contenders Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje. The violence these two men bring into the cage is insane and on paper this has all the makings of a Fight of the Year type of encounter. Both men are also looking for position in the title picture, despite things at lightweight being a little murky for several months.

The rest of the card is pretty solid as David Branch looks to defend his ranking from the surging Jack Hermansson, Josh Emmett is back for the first time since getting his face broken by Jeremy Stephens as Michael Johnson tries to crack the top fifteen at featherweight, and Karolina Kowalkiewicz fights Michelle Waterson for position near the title at strawweight. There are a few other fights further down the card to look forward to for the discerning fight fan such as Ross Pearson taking on Desmond Green or surging prospects Enrique Barzola and Kevin Aguilar battling it out.

UFC on ESPN 2 comes to the world from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. On commentary is the trio of Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz, and UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. As for the rules we’re under the old rules so anything besides the soles of your feet on the mat means you’re a downed opponent and the language around scoring is needlessly nebulous. We will have the limited use of instant replay for a fight ending sequence but once replay is invoked the fight cannot be restarted.

Alex Perez just had an eight fight winning streak broken when he took a step up in competition to fight Joseph Benavidez but his overall UFC record is still a solid 3-1 and he’s moving back up to bantamweight for this bout. Perez is trying to avoid his first UFC losing streak and prove he’s a valuable addition to the bantamweight ranks. Mark de la Rosa has gone 2-1 in the UFC but is on a two fight winning streak, he’s looking to extend that to three in a row and start making his way up the bantamweight ranks. Perez is your favorite at a hefty -400 while de la Rosa’s comeback sits at +300.

Bantamweight Bout: Mark De La Rosa (11-1, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Alex Perez (21-5, 135.25 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Perez has a slight half inch reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Perez is stalking forward as the crowd “woo’s” to further confirm the reputation of the city of Philadelphia. Perez finds a couple of left hooks, he’s pressuring De La Rosa back into the fence and is finding some punches. De La Rosa lands a calf kick but is getting very close to the cage before he tries to get off of it. They trade leg kicks then De La Rosa is able to avoid a right hook. Perez lands a left to the body then a right and tries a single leg that hits the fence. Some body shots from Perez then they trade some knees to the body. Perez gets an outside trip on the single leg and lands on top in half guard, nice takedown. De La Rosa is fishing for a kimura to sweep, Perez gets his arm free and lands a series of hammer fists. They trade some strikes, De La Rosa is keeping a knee shield in place to help mitigate the offense but Perez is landing pretty consistently so far. De La Rosa lands a few elbows but he’s getting out struck in terms of power and numbers. Elbows from Perez now and De La Rosa has some swelling around his right eye. Perez closes out the round with a series of hard hammer fist strikes.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Perez

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Leg kick from Perez. Another leg kick from Perez after they both missed rights. More leg kicks from Perez while they both try to get a feel for the range this round. Single leg attempt from Perez, he hits a go behind and forces De La Rosa down into the turtle position. Perez in a ride position and lands knees to the body while moving around the ride position. De La Rosa is able to turn under and get full guard, Perez immediately lands an elbow. A few short punches and an elbow lands for Perez, he’s got good wrist control from the top. De La Rosa has closed his guard, now he’s trying to get feet on the hips but he’s getting hit consistently. De La Rosa lands a few punches from his back. Perez looks to go full on Donkey Kong with his hammer fists as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: A touch of gloves for the last round then Perez lands a couple of leg kicks. Inside leg kicks from Perez as well now. Calf kick from De La Rosa lands. Perez eats a jab and lands a bit of a counter right. A few more leg kicks go back and forth, Perez has a higher out put thus far though. Some more leg kicks from Perez, De La Rosa’s left leg looks pretty gnarly at this point. Bit of a right from Perez then a high crotch into a back take and De La Rosa has to pull guard to avoid being in a really bad spot. Perez starts working body shots then elbows to the head. A few hammer fists from Perez then body shots. The round will end in that spot.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alex Perez via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Not a bad fight but nothing terribly special. Perez on the mic, he says he got sick leading up to this fight and it kind of resulted in him not pulling the trigger like he normally does then puts over De La Rosa for taking the fight on short notice. He puts over his coaches and training partners, then asked what he wants next he says he’s here to be champion whether that’s at flyweight or bantamweight.

Maryna Moroz has gone 3-3 in the UFC but is on a two fight losing streak, she’s hoping a move up to flyweight will revitalize her career and help her get above the .500 mark in the promotion. Sabina Mazo is undefeated as a professional and making her UFC debut here, she’s looking to make a good first impression to the UFC audience and keep her perfect record in tact. Despite being the debuting party Mazo is a slight -150 favorite to a +130 payout on Moroz.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Sabina Mazo (6-0, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Maryna Moroz (8-3, 125.25 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Despite being the same height Mazo has three inches of reach on Moroz. Both women showing the jab to start things off, Moroz pushes into a clinch but Mazo separates after eating a jab. Another takedown attempt from Moroz, they hit the fence and stall out as Moroz gets a body lock. Moroz gets the body lock takedown into a near leg drag position, Mazo gets full guard and closes it. Elbow from Moroz, Mazo is bleeding from the nose. Mazo is trying to get some kind of elbow or shoulder lock like the Mir lock from the bottom but Moroz is getting her arm free consistently. Moroz is sneaking in a few elbows here and there but her offense has been rather muted. Mazo kicks Moroz off of her but doesn’t get up before Moroz returns to the guard. Mazo kicks Moroz off again and this time is back up. A few leg kicks from Mazo land, Moroz lands a right to counter one of them. Another clinch from Moroz and she gets Mazo on the fence. That’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moroz

ROUND TWO: Both women doing some shadow boxing this round, Mazo lands a leg kick but Moroz lands a counter combination and pushes into a clinch. This time Mazo separates quickly and lands a leg kick. Body kick from Mazo lands. Moroz pushes into another clinch and things hit the fence. Moroz is working for a body lock takedown, she can’t finish it but is working some knees now. Mazo is able to circle free and reset at distance. Moroz is keeping busy, lands a few leg kicks and eats a counter left. Left body kick from Mazo. Moroz lands a jab to counter an inside leg kick, then a leg kick of her own. Moroz is fighting in combination while Mazo is fighting with single shots. Another clinch from Moroz and she’s got Mazo on the fence again. They trade some clinch work as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Mazo comes out kicking this round, lands a few leg kicks and has a head kick blocked. Moroz pushes into a clinch, Mazo lands an elbow as they break. A few body kicks from Mazo at distance. More leg kicks from Mazo and she misses a high kick. Moroz is getting back into shadow boxing territory this round, she’s falling short with just about everything. Moroz lands a body kick and lands a couple of punches, Mazo lands a knee to the body. Another knee to the body when Moroz tried to crash distance and Moroz is a little hesitant to close distance the same way. Body kick from Mazo then another stepping knee to the body. Moroz eats a body kick and pushes into a clinch on the fence. They break without much issue. Bit of a body kick from Mazo, Moroz lands an uppercut. Another body kick from Mazo and Moroz is a little hurt to the body. A few attempted head kicks from Mazo are mostly blocked but she’s getting closer with them. Head kick from Mazo snaps the head of Moroz but she’s still upright. Moroz lands a body kick of her own. A few more body kicks from Mazo will close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Mazo, 29-28 Moroz overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Maryna Moroz via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Not sure at all about giving Moroz the third round. No interview for Moroz.

Ray Borg has been out of action since a failed bid to capture the flyweight title back in 2017, he’s making the move up to bantamweight here but managed to miss weight. Borg has now missed weight three times in the UFC across two different weight classes, putting him in a precarious position and in pretty desperate need of a win to avoid a disastrous fight week. Casey Kenney brings a four fight winning streak into his UFC debut, he’s looking to unseat a UFC staple and make a good first impression to the UFC audience. The odds are with Borg at -250 to +200 for Kenney.

Bantamweight Bout: Ray Borg (11-3, 137.75 lbs.) vs. Casey Kenney (11-1-1, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kenney is three inches taller and has five inches of reach on Borg, in addition to Borg missing weight for this fight. They touch gloves, Kenney fighting southpaw. Borg avoids a few punches then eats a body kick. Inside leg kick from Kenney then a high kick that’s blocked. Borg lands a bit of a right into a clinch and pushes Kenney into the fence. A few knees to the body from Kenney and he’s able to spin Borg into the cage. Kenney gets an outside reap into a body lock takedown and lands in leg drag position. Right from Kenney then he moves to half guard. Borg is fishing for a kimura to sweep, Kenney lands some punches and a knee to the body and Borg thinks better of that line. Kenney moves to the back, no hooks though, and pulls Borg away from the fence and then gets both hooks in. Kenney is after the choke, Borg explodes and scrambles up and is after a takedown of his own against the fence. Borg lands a body shot as he’s looking at changing levels then gets a double leg slam. Kenney back up immediately and he gets Borg on the fence. Bit of a go behind or a peek out from Kenney and he’s got the back of Borg standing. Borg goes for an arm drag, and walks over the fence to complete it and get on top in the guard of Kenney. A few punches from Borg against the fence will bring the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kenney

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Borg lands a right and pushes into a clinch along the fence. Borg is after a knee tap, Kenney remains upright along the fence. Kenney can’t separate Borg’s hands and Borg gets a go behind but Kenney scrambles through and stays chest to chest. Borg with some knees to the body, he gets an elevated double leg and hits a mat return when Kenney scrambles up. Borg nearly has the back, only one hook in and Kenney shakes him off over the top as Borg might look to transition to an armbar. Kenney gets his arm free and is on top with a cradle to keep Borg on his seat. Knees to the body from Kenney as Borg gets back up and turns into him. Another knee to the body from Kenney, Borg returns a few of them. Elbow from Borg then a right after they briefly separate. Borg lands another knee and looks for a takedown, he gets the double leg slam and the back with one hook in, he slips off just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Borg, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Bit of a left from Kenney then a body kick. Inside leg kick from Kenney, Borg lands a right and pushes into a clinch. Quick double leg position from Borg and he dumps Kenney down and lands in half guard. Borg has the back as Kenney stands but Kenney is able to turn into him. A few knees go back and forth then Kenney is able to get behind with a rear waist lock. Borg pummels quickly and is after another double leg. Borg gets the double leg and has the back when Kenney gets to his base, this time Borg has both hooks in. Kenney is able to shake Borg over his head again, then he gets the back with both hooks in as Borg was looking to scramble. Borg spins free and gets in on another takedown against the fence. Kenney is down for a second then back up and Borg slams him down again. Lefts from Borg as Kenney gets up but Borg is on him consistently. They break without issue and Kenney lands a body kick then eats a hard right. A couple of rights land for Borg, Kenney lands a body kick and we get pocket brawling for the last few seconds of the fight.

SCORECARD: 10-0 Borg but could go either way, 29-28 Borg overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Casey Kenney via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

No issue with Kenney winning, kind of surprised by the unanimous decision. Mic time for Kenney who’s getting booed, he says Borg didn’t do a whole lot besides nullify his striking and he looks forward to a long career in the UFC.

That’ll do it for ESPN+, we’re on ESPN for the rest of the preliminary card.

Kevin Holland has gone 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of a win and looking to put together his first UFC winning streak. Gerald Meerschaert has a solid 4-2 record in the UFC but is coming off of a loss, he’s trying to avoid his first UFC losing streak by getting back on the winning side of things. Holland is your favorite at -190 to a +160 comeback on Meerschaert.

Middleweight Bout: Kevin Holland (14-4, 185 lbs.) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (28-10, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Holland is two inches taller and has three and a half inches of reach on Meerschaert. They touch gloves to start the fight, Meerschaert fighting southpaw. Inside leg kick from Meerschaert. Holland works a few front kicks then Meerschaert gets a double leg takedown and moves to half guard while Holland holds a guillotine attempt. Meerschaert is on the safe side but Holland is really going for the choke and Meerschaert doesn’t have an arm in to help get separation. Holland bails on the choke, Meerschaert looks to mount but loses the position and they scramble back up then Meerschaert looks for a guillotine of his own from full guard. Meerschaert gets the grip and rolls through into mound with the choke. Holland is trying to fight the hands despite being mounted, Meerschaert is looking to adjust the choke but Holland is able to get his head free. They scramble again, Meerschaert tries to take the back but slides off and then comes up on a single leg attempt from his knees. They’re back up and Meerschaert has a body lock against the fence. Meerschaert rides Holland to the ground and moves into a ride position and is after the choke as Holland gets up but has to switch to a bulldog choke that he loses and Holland has the back now. This is crazy for guys of this size to keep this pace. Mount for Holland as Meerschaert drops down to avoid the choke. A few punches and elbows from Holland, Meerschaert to his knees and Holland goes for a choke but has no hooks, lands a few blows instead as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holland

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Meerschaert is coming forward again, and lands a bit of a right hook. Holland lands a right of his own, Meerschaert gets in on a single leg and gets Holland down against the fence. Meerschaert winds up on a hip as Holland is looking to wall walk. Holland is back up and they’re still clinched. Meerschaert is looking for a takedown, he gets the back standing and tries a takedown but Holland granby rolls through and winds up on top. Holland looks for a choke but Meerschaert gets a takedown into half guard on the safe side of things. Meerschaert is looking for an arm triangle but Holland is able to defend it. Holland is able to get to full guard and lock up a body triangle from the bottom. Meerschaert lands a left then looks to pass. Holland with a triangle choke attempt but Meerschaert gets free quickly and moves to the ride position when Holland tried to roll. Meerschaert looks to take the back, Holland pulls him over the top and they wind up scrambling back up and Meerschaert has him down again. Holland to his knees, Meerschaert gets his back this time with hooks in but Holland turns into him, Meerschaert winds up in the ride position again. Another choke attempt from Meerschaert, Holland rolls into him and gets on top in full mount. Back mount for Holland, Meerschaert eats a few elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Meerschaert, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Meerschaert walking forward, Holland with a few kicks to the body while circling away. Inside leg kick from Holland takes the balance from Meerschaert who looks really gassed. They clinch up, Holland gets the back and looks for a takedown, he pulls Meerschaert down along the fence and moves to top position. Meerschaert looks for a choke, a power guillotine variant but Holland spins free and gives up another guillotine attempt as Meerschaert gets full guard. Holland is able to slip free and step over towards the back while Meerschaert was holding a low single leg. Roll from Meerschaert and he’s on top again, nice sweep. Half guard for Meerschaert, Holland is sitting on the fence and Meerschaert lands a few lefts to the body and head. Meerschaert into the ride position and lands some lefts as Holland wall walks. Body long for Meerschaert on the fence then moves behind and eats an elbow. Knees to the body and leg from Meerschaert then he gets a trip into top position. Half guard for Meerschaert, he lands body shots as Holland wall walks again. Holland can’t get free and Meerschaert looks for another takedown, instead lands body shots and an elbow. Holland misses a wheel kick and that will run the clock all the way down.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kevin Holland via split decision (30-27, 29-27, 28-29)

OK, all the good judges are clearly at the boxing event because 30-27 seems really dubious and there’s no way either man had a 10-8 under the old rules. Holland on the mic says he wants to bang with someone and wants to be on the next UFC video game. He says he got to smack Meerschaert against the cage, asked who or what is next he says he’ll be on the next card if there’s someone who’ll actually fight with him.

Enrique Barzola has been on a quiet run of late but a good one, he’s 5-1 in the UFC with that lone loss coming via split decision and he’s riding a four fight winning streak. Barzola is looking to get that streak to five in a row and prove he’s ready for a step up in competition for his next bout. Kevin Aguilar is on an eight fight winning streak that includes a successful UFC debut, now he’s looking to unseat a surging prospect and solidify himself as someone to watch going forward. Despite the disparity in UFC experience the odds are close, leaning towards Barzola at -130 to +110 for Aguilar.

Featherweight Bout: Kevin Aguilar (15-1, 145 lbs.) vs. Enrique Barzola (15-3-1, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Aguilar has three inches of reach on Barzola. They touch gloves to get us going. Barzola feinting and coming forward, Aguilar looks like he wants to be more stable and stationary on his feet. Both men miss a few leg kicks, just range finding so far. Aguilar falls a little short with a few jabs. Leg kick from Barzola. We get time as Barzola took a shot to the groin. Barzola is good to continue and we’re back to fighting. Body kick from Aguilar lands. Aguilar’s jab is starting to connect, he’s finding the inside lane and is throwing straighter punches. Body kick from Aguilar, Barzola responds with one of his own. Barzola lands a body kick. Leg kick from Barzola but he eats a counter right. Calf kick from Barzola lands. Aguilar lands a jab then they clash on kicks. Bit of a right from Aguilar lands. Barzola pushes into the clinch and drives Aguilar into the fence. They break without issue then Aguilar lands a body kick and a couple of punches to the body. Leg kick from Barzola and Aguilar returns it. Aguilar avoids a takedown attempt, then Barzola has a wheel kick smothered as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aguilar

ROUND TWO: There’s a touch of gloves for the second round. Jab from Aguilar lands. Right from Aguilar lands. A few rights to the body and head from Aguilar, Barzola tries a single leg but Aguilar is able to avoid it and remain at distance. Barzola is a lot more flat this round, just kind of plodding forward. Aguilar avoids being taken down and lands a left hook. Stiff left lands for Aguilar and he avoids a right. Barzola is bleeding around the left eyebrow, I can’t see specifically where though. Aguilar lands a body kick then a right. Knee tap attempt from Barzola but Aguilar remains upright and lands a body kick. Leg kick from Barzola lands. Aguilar lands a few jabs and avoids a takedown attempt then digs to the body again. Barzola lands a right but he’s not working in combination. They trade rights then a body kick from Aguilar hurts Barzola for a second. Aguilar is bleeding a bit from the nose, and he avoids a takedown attempt. Barzola tries a double leg, stuffed by Aguilar as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves to get the last round started. Both men showing hands early, Barzola lands a swinging hook. Leg kick from Aguilar lands. Left hook from Aguilar in close then a right uppercut. Right to the body from Aguilar. A few jabs from Aguilar land, he’s really sticking Barzola with it. I’m a little surprised that Aguilar hasn’t gone to the body again. Barzola punches into a takedown attempt, Aguilar defends and digs a few body shots on the break. Barzola punches into a clinch then they break without incident. Body kick from Aguilar lands. Barzola has a head kick blocked then lands a calf kick. Aguilar lands another body kick and jabs while circling away. Bit of a right from Barzola. Barzola lands a left hook, he’s swinging a little wide but he’s starting to find that hook as Aguilar drops his hands while circling away. Leg kick from Barzola lands, then a right behind it to counter a jab from Aguilar. One two from Barzola lands, then a jumping knee but Aguilar lands a counter right as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barzola, 29-28 Aguilar overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kevin Aguila via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Not a bad fight. Mic time for Aguilar, he feels good about his performance and puts over Barzola as a quick guy who was tough and has a good UFC record. He puts over his coaching and team mates for getting him ready, then wants to crack the top ten or fifteen before the year ends.

Ross Pearson is a veteran of the sport and the UFC, he’s been with the promotion since 2009, but is definitely in a rough stretch of his career. Pearson is just 1-5 in his last six fights and is coming off of a loss, he needs a win pretty badly as another losing streak could cost him his spot with the promotion. Desmond Green has had a rough run in the UFC, he’s just 2-3 with them and is coming off of a loss as well. Green needs a win if he’s going to start gaining any forward momentum in the UFC. Green is your -450 favorite against a +350 comeback on Pearson. I’d swear I saw that line exactly reversed last night so I don’t know what’s up with odds on this one.

Lightweight Bout: Desmond Green (21-8, 155 lbs.) vs. Ross Pearson (20-15 1 NC, 155.25 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Green is two and a half inches taller and has four inches of reach on Pearson. Southpaw for Green, and they touch gloves. Both men flashing the jab early and range finding with kicks. A few kicks from both men land but neither man is finding much off of those just yet. Counter right from Green drops Pearson but he’s back up and looking to recover. Pearson lands a body kick. Knee to the body from Green lands. Body kick from Green, Pearson lands a right to the body. Single leg from Green and he gets Pearson down and starts hammering him with rights from the ride position and the flurry finally gets Pearson to face plant for a second and that’ll prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Desmond Green via TKO, punches, at 2:52 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Green for his work this evening. Mic time for Green after our first finish of the event, he dedicates the fight to his former manager who passed away the day after his last fight and puts over all of his work for his career. He talks us through the finish and puts over Pearson but feels he’ll become champion and notes he’s undefeated in the US. He wants on the upcoming Rochester card as he’s from that city and volunteers to fight on that card for free. I’m sure that makes the UFC brass happy.

Here’s a look at the finish. Green enters on the single leg, takes a quick angle to drive perpendicular to Perason instead of with his hips as he looks to move back away from the pressure, gets his right foot all the way around to trip up Pearson’s free leg and then gets an arm around it as well to fully trip him down. Once there as soon as Pearson tries to get to his base Green gets to the ride position and just slams rights as Perason is trying to get up until the ref has to step in.

Marina Rodriguez fought to a draw in her UFC debut but has yet to lose a fight professionally, she’s looking for her first UFC win here. Jessica Aguilar was arguably the best strawweight in the world for a while, but that was a few years ago and she’s just 1-3 in the UFC and is coming off of her first submission loss since her professional debut. Rodriguez is your -330 favorite against +260 for Aguilar.

Strawweight Bout: Jessica Aguilar (20-7, 115.25 lbs.) vs. Marina Rodriguez (10-0-1, 114.75 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rodriguez is three inches taller and has two inches of reach on Aguilar. They touch gloves to get us going. Rodriguez circling, Aguilar looking to close distance and gets poked in the eye. Replay confirms the poke and the doctor is in to check on Aguilar. Rodriguez gets a stern warning, the doctor says Aguilar can continue and we’re back to fighting. Rodriguez lands a right, Aguilar lands a left as she pushes into a clinch on the fence. They trade knees along the fence, Aguilar is bleeding from the nose from that right that Rodriguez landed. Rodriguez gets Aguilar on the fence and lands knees to the body before Aguilar gets free. Aguilar is able to trip up Rodriguez on a kick attempt and get on top on the mat. Elbows from Rodriguez off of her back and Aguilar is bleeding from more places now. Aguilar moves to half guard but Rodriguez sweeps and Aguilar sells out for a triangle armbar attempt but Rodriguez is posturing through it. Rodriguez tries to slam free, Aguilar switches to a straight armbar, locks it up and straightens the arm but Rodriguez steps over the head and releases the pressure on her elbow for a bit. Things are stalling out a bit here, Rodriguez lands some punches to the thigh but they’re stalemated and the ref stands them back up. Aguilar takes another eye poke and we’ve got time again. The ref takes a point for the second eye poke as the replay confirms the poke. Aguilar is able to continue though and we’re back to fighting. They trade rights and Aguilar drops, Rodriguez lets her up and starts attacking in the clinch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 9-9 DRAW

ROUND TWO: Aguilar is coming forward this round but starts backing up rather quickly. Rodriguez lands a front kick then a right to the face. Another right from Rodriguez as Aguilar crashes distance. Leg kick from Rodriguez lands. Rodriguez lands a leg kick, bit of a counter right from Aguilar. Another counter right from Rodriguez lands. A right lands for Rodriguez then a knee when Aguilar reached for a clinch. Aguilar lands a right but it’s one and done in terms of her attack. They clinch and trade knees then rights as they break. Rodriguez lands rights into a clinch and then a series of knees that makes Aguilar pull away. They trade knees then Rodriguez lands a high kick and elbows from a brief clinch. Front kicks from Rodriguez hurt Aguilar to the body and Rodriguez is looking to massacre her from the clinch and Aguilar is in survival mode while looking to get distance. Hard knee to the body from Rodriguez and Aguilar is nearly doubled over but she’s still trying to fight back and gets Rodriguez on the fence. A few more knees from Rodriguez bring the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Rodriguez, 19-17 Rodriguez overall

ROUND THREE: Rodriguez coming forward again, lands a front kick to the body that Aguilar visibly reacts to. More body shots from Rodriguez, the hands for Aguilar are dropping opening up her head. Another front kick then a right behind it for Rodriguez. Aguilar lands a right but eats a counter. Rodriguez lands another body kick then a few punches into a clinch. Head kick from Rodriguez and a right as they break the clinch. Rodriguez lands a front kick to the body then knees from a Thai clinch and an elbow as Aguilar digs the body a few times. Aguilar’s face is a mess at this point. Rodriguez avoids a takedown and lands a knee to the body as they separate. Rodriguez grabs a Thai clinch again and lands some knees then a right as Aguilar gets free. Head kick from Rodriguez lands but Aguilar just eats it. They trade rights then Rodriguez lands a few front kicks to the body. Knee to the head from Rodriguez, and another one but Aguilar is still firing back. Aguilar avoids a spinning back fist. Bit of a right from Aguilar and Rodriguez lands a few more combinations as the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rodriguez though could be 10-8, 29-26 Rodriguez overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marina Rodriguez via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-27 x2)

Even under the old rules that second round should have been 10-8, these judges tonight man. Clucky must be enjoying the scenery in Philly. Mic time for Rodriguez, she thanks Aguilar for taking the fight on short notice then puts over Aguilar as tough for never going away despite how hard she tried for the finish. Asked who or what is next for her she says she’ll need to recover a bit after the armbar but will be back as soon as she’s able.

That’s it for prelims though we’ll still be on ESPN for the main card.

Sheymon Moraes has gone 2-1 in the UFC but is on a two fight winning streak and he’s only lost to Marlon Moraes and Zabit Magomedsharipov, he’s looking to extend that streak and make a case for a step up in competition for his next bout. Sodiq Yusuff is on a three fight winning streak that includes a successful UFC debut, he’s looking to take out a fellow young prospect and assert himself as someone to watch going forward. Yusuff is a slight -140 favorite to +120 on Moraes.

Featherweight Bout: Sheymon Moraes (11-2, 145 lbs.) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (8-1, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Yusuff is an inch taller while Moraes has inch of reach advantage. Both men start a little slowly, looking for an angle to attack from. Moraes avoids a right. A couple of leg kicks land for Yusuff. Moraes lands a front kick to the body. Yusuff is working the calf kick to counter the check attempts of Moraes. Body kick from Moraes lands. More calf kicks from Yusuff, he’s methodically breaking down the lead leg of Moraes. A few thrust kicks to the knee from Moraes, then Yusuff lands a right to the body and they clinch up. Moraes is stuck on the fence and they’re trading some knees to the thigh until the ref separates them. Moraes lands a left hook, then a right in close as Yusuff lands a left and they clinch up. Yusuff drives Moraes into the fence but he can’t find a takedown. Moraes is able to spin Yusuff and avoid another takedown attempt. They trade knees to the body as Moraes keeps Yusuff on the cage. Yusuff misses a right on the break then lands a calf kick. Moraes lands a spinning back kick to the body to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Yusuff

ROUND TWO: Yusuff is still pushing forward, Moraes lands a left body kick. Front kick from Moraes is countered by a right from Yusuff and they clinch up. They jockey for position then break and Moraes has a high kick blocked. Body kick from Moraes, Yusuff lands a calf kick. Jab to the body from Moraes. Moraes catches a calf kick, tries a high kick that’s blocked then Yusuff lands a body kick. They clinch up again and Moraes pushes Yusuff into the cage. They break without incident then Moraes lands a right to the body and has a head kick blocked. Bit of a right from Moraes and they clinch and he’s got Yusuff on the fence. Some knees from Moraes land then Yusuff lands a right on the break. Moraes lands a left to the body. Bit of a head kick from Moraes then an elbow. Yusuff punches into another clinch but Moraes puts him on the fence again. Knees from Moraes, Yusuff gets a brief trip but Moraes is back up and fights off of a couple of body lock takedown attempts. Yusuff blocks an elbow on the break then avoids a high kick. Moraes avoids a kick, lands a left then misses a high kick to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moraes, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Yusuff coming forward, lands a front kick to the body. Calf kick from Yusuff then he and Moraes both miss punches. Moraes lands a left, Yusuff lands a right to the body and they clinch up again. They break without incident. Moraes lands to the body and they both miss hooks to the head. Body kick from Moraes after he took a calf kick. Bit of a right from Moraes lands. Slight uppercut from Moraes, they both avoid hooks in the pocket. They clinch up, Moraes lands a knee to the body and they break. Moraes lands a right to the body but then misses a spinning kick and Yusuff lands a right. Elbow to the head from Moraes lands, Yusuff is pushing forward now and lands a bit of a left hook. Left hook from Moraes lands then he lands a leg kick and a bit of a high kick. Moraes tries to set up a stepping elbow but Yusuff reads it and drops him with a right. Yusuff on top in mount but he can’t keep it and Moraes shakes him off then gets up and Yusuff is stalking him down. Both men land punches and they clinch again. They trade knees then break without incident. Moraes misses a spinning back kick and Yusuff with just coast the final couple of seconds away.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sodiq Yusuff via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2)

Wait, how did Yusuff get a 10-8 for round 3? I mean he won the round but 10-8 seems generous. Mic time for Yusuff, he jokes that this was his fight at 30% as Nigerians are entitled to that then talks about overcoming eating a clean head kick but he finally found his punch in the third round. He felt confident in the scoring and winning after the knock down in the third round. Asked what’s next for him he says the future is bright and he just beat a top level opponent and would love to go from a Muy Thai world champion to a jiu-jitsu world champion in Kron Gracie.

Paul Craig has gone 2-3 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss, he’s in need of a win to avoid his second UFC losing streak. Kennedy Nzechukwu is undefeated and comes into his UFC debut on the back of his second win on Dana’s Contender Series, he’s looking to make a good first impression to the wider UFC audience. The odds are with the debuting Nzechukwu at -170 to +155 for Craig.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Paul Craig (10-3, 205 lbs.) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (6-0, 205.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nzechukwu is an inch and a half taller but has a whopping seven inches of reach on Craig. Southpaw for Nzechukwu. They find themselves on the fence quickly, but neither man finds much offense. Bit of a high kick from Nzechukwu is blocked. Craig goes for a single leg, gets Nzechukwu to the fence and is looking to get him down. Nzechukwu lands elbows to the side of the head while defending the single leg and Craig winds up pulling guard. Craig gets a Mir lock but Nzechukwu powers out of it though that elbow is a little hurt. Craig pulls guard again and is looking to set up another arm attack. Nzechukwu lands an elbow, Craig grabs an armbar attempt but Nzechukwu again stands out of it and makes Craig get up. Craig lands a leg kick then a bit of a right. Double leg from Craig, he tries to pull guard again but can’t and winds up driving Nzechukwu into the fence and is after another takedown. Double leg from Craig but Nzechukwu is on his knees against the fence and wall walks back up. Craig is after a high crotch, winds up pulling for a leg entanglement and is fishing for a leg lock. Nzechukwu pulls his leg free and makes Craig stand again. Bit of a right from Craig and Nzechukwu lands a left high kick that off balances Craig but he makes Craig stand again. Body kick from Nzechukwu. They both miss high kicks to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nzechukwu based on the knock down mostly

ROUND TWO: Nzechukwu and Craig are both showing jabs this round, Craig lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Craig, then a body kick. Craig after a single leg, they hit the fence and he lands a couple of punches on the break. Another body kick from Craig lands. Craig after a takedown along the fence, he’s able to get the back standing and drag Nzechukwu down into a crab ride. Nzechukwu tries to get on top but Craig is slipping around towards the back but can’t secure it and Nzechukwu winds up on top landing some elbows against the fence. Craig looks for full guard but Nzechukwu pulls free and makes him stand. Nzechukwu is backing up, he poked Craig in the eye on an exchange and we’ve got time while the ref warns him. Craig is good to continue, and lands a couple of body kicks. Nzechukwu takes a groin kick and we’ve got time again. No point deduction and Nzechukwu is good to continue and we’re back to fighting. Bit of a right from Craig then a body kick. Nzechukwu has a head kick blcoked then eats a body kick. Nzechukwu is coming forward now but he’s just following Craig around the cage. Craig is circling away now, they’re just kind of staring. Nzechukwu lands a bit of a body kick. Craig lands a body kick. Single leg attempt from Craig is stuffed and Nzechukwu lands a couple of elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nzechukwu but a close round, 20-18 Nzechukwu overall

ROUND THREE: Craig opens with body kicks and inside leg kicks. Body kick from Craig. Nzechukwu lands a knee to the body. Craig after a leg, he can’t get the full entanglement and Nzechukwu makes him stand back up. Craig takes a hard eye poke and he’s down for a second, we’ve got tome and that was a nasty one. Replay shows how bad it was, the doctor is in to check on Craig. Craig is OK to continue and the ref takes a point from Nzechukwu for that one. Craig lands a couple of jabs then a right to the body and a body kick. Nzechukwu lands a left and avoids a takedown attempt. Craig ducks a punch and gets a single leg against the fence but can’t finish it. some uppercuts and an elbow from Craig, he’s after another takedown but Nzechukwu is sprawling away. Craig winds up pulling half guard, Nzechukwu moves to side control and nearly has a crucifix. A couple of elbows land for Nzechukwu and Craig gets full guard. A few blows land for Craig and he’s after a triangle position but Nzechukwu gets his other hand back in to break the position. Another triangle attempt from Craig, it’s tight and he rolls to mount with it and Nzechukwu taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Paul Craig via Submission, triangle choke, at 4:20 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Craig for his work this evening. Craig will get an interview, he says they’re in the home of Rocky so he had to go for the last minute heroics and jokes that no one remembers the guy who subs someone in the first but in the last minute it’ll do. He talks us through the finish, says his submissions are dangerous and his striking is coming along and says he gives every fight his all and his heart wont let him stop. He gives a Rocky impression to close out his interview.

This is a pretty nice finish from Craig. He kicks Nzechukwu off balance but keeps wrist control, when Nzechukwu reaches around to balance himself he opens up his head for the triangle attack and Craig locks it up very quickly then he rolls through into mount when Nzechukwu panics trying to find his way out of the choke.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is a former title challenger and holds a win over current champion Rose Namajunas, unfortunately she’s coming off of a pretty brutal KO loss to Jessica Andrade. Kowalkiewicz is trying to avoid her second professional losing streak and get herself back in the title picture. Michelle Waterson is on a two fight winning streak, she’s looking to extend that to three and get herself into the title scene as well. The odds are with Kowalkiewicz at -150 to a +130 comeback on Waterson.

Strawweight Bout: #6 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-3, 114.75 lbs.) vs. #9 Michelle Waterson (16-6, 115.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Kowalkiewicz has two inches of reach on Waterson. Waterson circling around early, Kowalkiewicz stalking forward. Leg kick from Waterson, Kowalkiewicz returns it. Bit of a right from Waterson. They trade rights, Kowalkiewicz is a little out of sorts based on the activity of Waterson so far. Some stance switching from Waterson now, just looking for either angles or to off balance the defense of Kowalkiewicz. Kowalkiewicz lands a leg kick. Bit of a right from Waterson then a side kick to the knee. Inside leg kicks from Waterson are landing, and she lands a counter right to a leg kick. Waterson lands another inside leg kick then a side kick to the body. Waterson fakes a takedown and lands an uppercut. Kowalkiewicz is coming forward consistently but she’s not landing much offense yet. They both miss rights but they’re getting closer. Kowalkiewicz lands an uppercut. They clinch up and Waterson is on the fence. They trade knees to the body then Waterson lands an elbow on the break. Waterson misses a wheel kick. Bit of a right from Waterson. They clinch again and trade knees then an elbow from Waterson brings the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Waterson

ROUND TWO: They trade rights rather quickly then Waterson lands a body kick. Kowalkiewicz avoids a right and lands a counter right. Waterson is starting to work side kicks to the thigh and knee when Kowalkiewicz tries to kick. Body kick from Waterson but she eats a couple of hard punches. Waterson lands a hard straight right then a leg kick. Another series of leg kicks from Waterson. Body kick from Waterson. Kowalkiewicz catches a body kick and they clinch up. Waterson lands an elbow then hits a headlock throw into side control. A few elbows from Waterson land, Kowalkiewicz is trying to get half guard but can’t find it. Kowalkiewicz is fishing for a reverse triangle to get movement going but Waterson isn’t biting on that and lands a few elbows. Elbows to the body from Waterson, she’s trying to set up an arm attack or a pass to mount but she’s waiting for the right time. Elbows to the body and head from Waterson, and a few hammer fists now as well. Kowalkiewicz is trying knees from her back, Waterson jumps for an armbar and nearly gets it but Kowalkiewicz is walking around. Waterson still after the arm but Kowalkiewicz is out of real danger and will ride out the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Kowalkiewicz comes out looking to clinch, Waterson lands a couple of knees then breaks. Head kick from Waterson lands. Waterson avoids a few punches from Kowalkiewicz. Waterson fakes a takedown and lands an uppercut. They trade side kicks then clinch again. Waterson tries the throw but Kowalkiewicz is ready this time and blocks it. Some knees to the body go back and forth then they break. Kowalkiewicz tries a jumping switch kick that lands to the body. Waterson avoids a rush attack then has a body kick blocked. They clinch up again and Waterson lands a couple of knees when her back hits the fence. Both women land knees now then Waterson lands one to the head and some elbows as she turns Kowalkiewicz into the fence then separates. Waterson lands a straight right. Single leg from Waterson and she’s got Kowalkiewicz down in full guard. Waterson lands a few short elbows while looking to posture up. Waterson stands and Kowalkiewicz escapes to her feet. Side kick to the knee from Waterson and they’re clinched again, Waterson lands a couple of elbows as they break. They both miss wheel kicks but Waterson clearly had superior technique on hers. Another missed spinning kick from Waterson, then a head kick, she’s just forcing Kowalkiewicz to stay at distance until time runs out.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Michelle Waterson via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Probably Waterson’s best fight in the UFC, great fight from her tactically and practically. Mic time for Waterson, she thanks Kowalkiewicz for the fight and talks about getting into the right mindset for the fight. She notes she’s fighting for her family and dedicates the fight to everyone out there fighting for their family. She talks us through some of the fight, specifically the takedown and armbar attempt then she says she wants to fight for the belt next and become the first ever Mom champ in UFC history.

Josh Emmett is coming off of his first loss at featherweight when he was violently knocked out by Jeremy Stephens a little over a year ago, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak and defend his top ranking. Michael Johnson is on a two fight winning streak, his first winning streak since 2015, and he’s trying to crack the top fifteen with a third consecutive win here. The odds have gone back and forth on this one a bit, Johnson closed as a slight -130 favorite against +110 for Emmett.

Featherweight Bout: #10 Josh Emmett (13-2, 145.75 lbs.) vs. Michael Johnson (19-13, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Johnson has three and a half inches of height and reach on Emmett. Southpaw for Johnson, and they touch gloves to get us going. Johnson lands a bit of a left. Both men are still looking for an angle or a read on the other. Johnson shucks off a takedown attempt from Emmett. Both men fall a little short with power hand punches but they’re getting a feel for each other. Emmett lands a right. Both men land rights in close then Emmett lands a leg kick. There are some audio issues right now, mostly with Daniel Cormier who continues to lose to the mic cable in their long standing rivalry. Johnson lands a bit of a left. Again both men miss power hand punches then Johnson avoids a knee tap attempt from Emmett. Body kick lands for Johnson. OK, that audio issue is with all of them. Bit of a left from Emmett brings the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW

ROUND TWO: Emmett showing the jab again, and they’ve fixed the audio issues so good on production. Both men land in close as Emmett looks to close distance. Johnson lands a pull back left. Johnson is backing up Emmett at the moment but he’s not finding a whole lot of offense yet. Emmett lands a straight right. Johnson is finding a little success with his lead hand now as he’s keeping Emmett backed up along the fence then lands a left. Left then a right hook from Johnson are partially blocked but he seems to be flowing at this point whereas Emmett is stuck in second gear. Another left from Johnson lands. Emmett lands to the body but he’s cut around the eyebrow though it’s not bleeding much. Emmett lands a right to the body and avoids the counters from Johnson. Johnson lands a body kick. Emmett fires a kick that hits the groin of Johnson and we’ve got time for him to recover. Johnson is good to go rather quickly and we’re back to fighting. A left from Johnson stuns Emmett for a moment. Emmett is after a takedown, Johnson punches him and defends it as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Johnson, 20-19 Johnson overall

ROUND THREE: Emmett coming forward this round, and misses a right hook. Johnson lands a couple of clubbing shots when Emmett gets close. Emmett lands a right to the body and eats a couple of counters. Johnson avoids a takedown attempt. Bit of a left from Johnson then Emmett misses a high kick. Emmett lands a right hand. Johnson is doing a lot of backing up and Emmett is finding his offense this round. Body kick from Johnson. Both men miss hooks in close but Emmett’s work rate is out doing Johnson thus far. Johnson lands a left then avoids a takedown attempt. Front kick to the body from Johnson lands. Emmett lands an overhand right that sleeps Johnson with one punch.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Josh Emmett via KO, punch, at 4:14 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Emmett for his work this evening. Mic time for Emmett, he says it’s great to be back and thanks the fans and the UFC. He talks about the wrestling feints being used to set up that right and thanks commentary for their work then puts over Johnson and says he couldn’t get reckless in the fight and puts over his team. He thanks his wife, mentions he’s never got a bonus from the UFC and asks for one for that finish.

In case you missed it live. I’m not a fan of the general punch Emmett uses here, but he put in the work to set it up appropriately throughout the fight with level changes, takedown attempts, and using the same set up to send the right to the body. All that combines to get Johnson to lower his guard this time and Emmett finds the button to turn his lights off.

David Branch has gone 2-2 in his second UFC run, he’s coming off of a loss against Jared Cannonier and he’s looking to avoid his first losing streak ever while defending his ranking. Jack Hermansson is on a two fight winning streak coming into this bout, and a win over Branch would almost certainly get him a top fifteen spot. According to the odds this is another close fight, Hermansson closed as a slight -130 favorite against +110 for Branch.

Middleweight Bout: #11 David Branch (22-5, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Jack Hermansson (18-4, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Branch has half an inch of reach on Hermansson. Hermansson comes out firing one twos and leg kicks to get Branch backing up and off balance. Branch is looking to get his jab working. They clinch up and Hermansson hits a spinning foot sweep to get on top of Branch then sits for a guillotine and Branch taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jack Hermansson via Submission, guillotine choke, at :49 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Hermansson for his work this evening. That was fast and frankly unexpected, if you picked Hermansson to win it probably wasn’t by submission. Mic time for Hermansson, he says he feels great and calls Philly fans some of the best in the world to suck up to the crowd. He talks us through the finish, noting he wanted to use his technique at a high pace and knew that would lead to win. Asked who or what is next for him he says he’s going to be champion in a year and he wants whatever fight will get him to that point.

A quick look at the finish. Hermansson gets to a wrestling ride that Ben Askren calls “the Assassin” and then transitions it to the head and arm guillotine choke. Pay attention to the trapped arm of Branch, it’s trapped between his neck and the body of Hermansson making this guillotine variant a really nasty one and once he sits for it Branch doesn’t really have anywhere to go.

Edson Barboza just broke a two fight losing streak by finishing Dan Hooker, he’s looking to defend his ranking and potentially enter the title picture assuming said picture gains any clarity in the near future. Justin Gaethje also just broke a two fight losing streak with a violent KO win, his over James Vick. Gaethje is looking for what would be the biggest win of his career in terms of ranked opposition and hoping to get himself into the title scene as well. Barboza closed as a favorite at -130 to +110 for Gaethje.

Lightweight Bout: #6 Edson Barboza (20-6, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Justin Gaethje (19-2, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Barboza has a significant five inches of reach on Gaethje. They touch gloves to get things going and Gaethje lands the first leg kick of the fight. Another leg kick from Gaethje lands. Barboza lands a leg kick, they’re just trading leg kicks for a second or two. Another trade of leg kicks then Barboza lands a right but Gaethje gets close and lands uppercuts and huts Barboza. Gaethje is backing Barboza into the fence and they wind up clinched. Body shots from Gaethje then a right to the face. Barboza spins free and eats an uppercut. Gaethje lands a couple of hooks, Barboza lands a left hook. We get pocket violence and Barboza winds up backing away. Leg kick from Gaethje, Barboza lands a hard leg kick of his own. Gaethje lands a right hook as Barboza circles away with his hands down and that puts Barboza out on the canvas.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Justin Gaethje via KO, punch, at 2:30 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gaethje for his work this evening. Mic time for Gaethje after that lovely KO, he says this is the toughest sport in the world and the best show on earth every time he fights. He says he gets nervous because he’s not scared about fighting, he loves it too much. He says Barboza kicks hard and that his leg will be sore tomorrow the calls out the rankings for putting Cerrone ahead of him in the rankings after beating the fifteenth guy then says he’ll take out everyone ahead of him. Asked about the crowd support he says it means the world, and that he was honored to represent the country against the best of Brazil, then says it’s onto the next one. He says he wouldn’t recommend this sport to his enemy but he was born for it and will continue to do it until the wheels fall off.

Just look at this, thank heavens for Justin Gaethje and what he brings to the sport. On a serious note this is kind of sneaky by Gaethje. He pressures forward against the fence to limit Barboza’s options, then even takes one of those away as he pushes Barboza in a specific direction. Barboza doesn’t get his hands up in time trying to go with the push and circle away from Gaethje, because his hands are down Gaethje is able to land the right hook straight to the jaw and Barboza is out before he hits the mat.

On that note, thanks everyone for reading be that live or after the fact. That fight was basically everything I wanted out of it, minus a bit of time. They had a leg kick war, they traded punches in the pocket, and one of them got knocked out. Again, absent copious amounts of blood or another five minutes or so of action there’s not much more you could ask for.

Also this, because Gaethje’s head coach Trevot Wittman reacting to Gaethje related violence like you might react to a minor change in the temperature will always be amusing to me.

There’s no UFC event next week, I’ll finally have a Saturday to myself and I don’t know what I’ll do with it. This Sunday on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast we’ll review all of the action from this event, and talk the major news of the week including fight announcements and the apparent retirement of Conor McGregor. I’ll be back in two weeks for UFC 236 when the UFC tries to hold an event with not one but two interim title fights on the card. I hope you’ll all come back for that one, until then thanks again for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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