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411’s UFC on FOX 23 Report: 1.28.17

January 28, 2017 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Valentina Shevchenko

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on FOX 23. I’m Robert Winfree, your usual host for these things, and I’d like to start by thanking you for being here. I’m well aware of just how many different places you could go for this service and am perpetually humbled that you choose my work. While the UFC got off to a slightly rougher start to 2017 with Fight Night 103 this card has a few very good fights on it. The main event should crown the next title challenger for the women at bantamweight as multiple time muay thai world champion Valentina Shevchenko takes on the surging contender Julianna Pena, barring injuries to some party the winner is easily the next contender to the title held by Amanda Nunes. The co-main event is likely a barn burner as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone tries to stay unbeaten at welterweight and insert himself into the title conversation against the dangerous Jorge Masvidal, I really wish that fight had a full five rounds instead of just three. Our featured bout for the evening provides rising heavyweight prospect Francis Ngannou with a chance to prove he can face a higher level of competition as he takes on former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. This event comes to the world from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, USA with the UFC’s best commentary duo of Jon Anik and Brian Stann on the mic. If you’re in the mood for something besides them though, my colleagues Mark Radulich and Pat Mullin will be providing alternative commentary right HERE if you’re so inclined. Also worth noting tonight, Colorado did not adopt the rule changes in 2017 to the unified rules of MMA, so the old rule about grounded opponents is in effect here.

Jason Gonzalez just had a six fight winning streak snapped in his UFC debut when he was bested by Drew Dober. While Gonzalez can’t make a second first impression here he could prove to be finding his stride in the UFC and get his first promotional win. JC Cottrell has a very similar story, losing a six fight winning streak in his UFC debut and is also after that first UFC win here. The odds favor Cottrell at -140 to the +110 on Gonzalez.

Lightweight Bout: J.C. Cottrell (17-4, 155.8 lbs.) vs. Jason Gonzalez (10-3, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gonzalez has five inches of height and three of reach on Cottrell. Gonzalez fighting southpaw. Cottrell circling early, Gonzalez pressuring him and has a head kick mostly blocked. Cottrell lands a left undercut then a right. Gonzalez lands a hard body kick. Gonzalez slips a combination and lands a left uppercut that wobbles Cottrell, Gonzalez tries to pressure him but Cottrell gets the clinch then takes Gonzalez down. Gonzalez to full guard, they scramble and Cottrell winds up in side control. Gonzalez trying to use the fence to spin, winds up in north/south position and Cottrell is after the north/south choke. Gonzalez is able to block that attempt and is now trying to angle for an armbar, he gets to half guard but Cottrell is still on top. Gonzalez now rolling for a kneebar, Cottrell into the ride position and landing punches. Gonzalez trying another leg attack but he can’t sweep or get the hold, he settles for full guard. Cottrell passes to side control again and passes to full mount. Cottrell tries a mounted triangle, Gonzalez scrambles up and grabs a d’arce choke in transition and forces Cottrell to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jason Gonzalez via Submission, d’arce choke, at 3:5 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gonzalez for his work this evening, and would like to note they are now officially one up on the Final Round Finish Club on the year. He puts over Cottrell as being tough but he weathered the storm and got the win. Asked who he’d like next he says he wants a rematch with Drew Dober, who beat him in his UFC debut.

Here’s that finish again, lovely scramble and a nice step by step finish from Gonzalez.

Alexandre Pantoja was featured on the most recent season of TUF and brings an impressive nine fight winning streak with him here as he makes his UFC debut. The flyweight division isn’t quite wide open, but it’s one of the better divisions to make a run at the title in, and an impressive win here from Pantoja could get him into the title discussion very quickly. Eric Shelton is also making his UFC debut here and was on that same season of TUF, his winning streak coming into his official debut stands at four and he’s also looking to announce himself as a force at flyweight. The odds favor Shelton slightly at -135 to the +105 on Pantoja.

Flyweight Bout: Alexandre Pantoja (16-2, 126 lbs.) vs. Eric Shelton (10-2, 125.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Shelton has an inch of height and half an inch of reach on Pantoja. They touch gloves to get things going. Pantoja pushes forward, lands a bit of a knee but Shelton takes him down. Shelton lands a few punches before Pantoja kicks him off and regains his feet. Pantoja lands a front kick to the body. Pantoja lands a bit of a counter right. Shelton lands a glancing right hand. Shelton circling now, trying to time and counter Pantoja. Shelton lands a right that staggers Pantoja just a bit. Pantoja lands a leg kick but Shelton lands a combination including an uppercut. Pantoja lands another leg kick. Shelton lands a spinning back fist but Pantoja pushes through it and gets the clinch then jumps towards the back, just one hook in right now. Shelton trying to use the fence to scrape Pantoja off, Pantoja gets the back though. Shelton trying to spin into him, Pantoja only has one hook, he fights to get the second one in and is trying to solidify his position. Pantoja lands a couple of punches, Shelton to his knees but Pantoja is riding him well. Pantoja is after the choke, using punches to try and open it up. Shelton finally spins, they scramble and Shelton gets a quick double leg and Pantoja is sitting on the fence. Shelton lands some body shots, Pantoja kicks him off and regains his feet. Shelton hits one more double leg, tries to get the back in the resulting scramble but time runs out on his attempt.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Shelton but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Shelton opens up with an uppercut and a left, Pantoja lands a leg kick and Shelton is trying to get another double leg. Pantoja defending against the fence and lands some rights to the body while Shelton is bent over looking for a leg. Pantoja lands a knee to the body as they break. Shelton eats a jab and then has a double leg stuffed. Pantoja lands a combination in close, Shelton is trying to move but seems to be slowing down a bit. Shelton blocks a double leg but Pantoja gets him on the fence and lands a couple hard knees to the body before stupidly trying for a guillotine that doesn’t come close to working and Shelton is now on top in the guard. Pantoja kicks him off again and we’re upright. Pantoja blocks a double leg, Shelton transitions to another attempt but stalls on the fence and Pantoja drops for another guillotine, this one is tighter but Shelton eventually gets his head free. Shelton lands a right, stands and when Pantoja is up knees him in the body. Shelton on another double leg attempt, Pantoja defending this one and they break. Shelton lands a couple of punches, Pantoja fires back and Pantoja gets a double leg on the fence. Pantoja has the back again and is after the choke. Shelton trying to fight the hooks, Pantoja still after the choke while riding him. Pantoja lands some rights and gets the choke under the chin. Shelton trying to hand fight but Pantoja adjusts again and Shelton has to fight all over again. Pantoja can’t finish it, lands some rights and tries for an armbar as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pantoja, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Shelton is visibly breathing harder than Pantoja, they touch gloves to get the final round going. Shelton circling, Pantoja stalking him. Pantoja lands a left. Stiff jab from Pantoja lands. Pantoja lands a bit of a right. Pantoja being judicious here, he doesn’t want to over commit his weight forward and get taken down. Pantoja lands a bit of a head kick. Pantoja tries a trip, Shelton blocks it. Shelton looking at the clock, he might be waiting on the last minute or so. Pantoja lands another right. Shelton lands a left, eats a right at the same time. Shelton doing a lot of circling and backing up, Pantoja lands a counter right. Pantoja lands a right then a left. Pantoja eats a counter hook then fails on a takedown attempt. They trade again, Shelton is starting to avoid the counters. Pantoja lands a right. Pantoja avoids a takedown attempt. Pantoja blocks another double leg attempt and they trade in close. Pantoja blocks a takedown attempt and they trade again for the last couple of seconds.

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

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

That fight trailed off in the third but the first two rounds were pretty awesome. Could see arguments for either man winning, no complaints. Pantoja on the mic now. He tries English first, thanks Denver for being an awesome city and says he loves his job because of moments like this. Asked about his future we go to the translator, he says he thought the last season of TUF was the best and says he made friends in that house and that they all respect each other. He thanks the audience for being here and apologizes for his English, considering he’s only been learning for five months he’s doing pretty well. He closes with some Portuguese then thanks his coaches in English. That’s it for Fight Pass, on to Fox Sports 1 for the rest of the prelims.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima missed weight for this fight, never a good thing, and is 3-2 overall in the UFC but is coming off of a submission loss and needs a win to get back on track. Jeremy Kimball is making his UFC debut here and brings a four fight winning streak with him, while de Lima isn’t the biggest name in the division a win over him is naturally the ideal scenario for Kimball here. The odds are with de Lima at -150 while Kimball’s stand at +120.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Jeremy Kimball (14-5, 204 lbs.) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (14-4-1, 209.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: De LIma has an inch of height and three of reach on Kimball, in addition to missing weight. They touch gloves to get things going. De Lima stalking forward, lands a leg kick, while Kimball is circling. Kimball lands a leg kick. De Lima lands a leg kick. Kimball lands a jab and avoids a combination. De Lima lands a leg kick, Kimball shoves him off balance and gets on top. De Lima after a heel hook, Kimball rolls out of it and regains his feet quickly. They’re trading long kicks, de Lima avoids a right and land a couple of counter hooks. De Lima lands an inside then an outside leg kick. De Lima lands a right that catches Kimball off balance, Kimball on all fours and de Lima into the ride position and hammers home a few more rights while Kimball just covers up and the ref halts this one.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via TKO, punches, at 2:27 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. de Lima for his work this evening. De Lima gets an interview after that one, he says he took advantage of the moment when Kimball slipped and seems pleased to have won. Asked about his lack of consistency in the UFC and what he needs to do to fix it he says he needs to keep on fighting and stay busy. Asked if there’s anyone he’d like to fight next he says he wants a rematch but I missed the name, might have been his last fight. He closes by thanking God and his family back home in Brazil.

Eric Spicely is 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of a massive upset win over Thiago Santos, he’s looking to prove that win wasn’t a fluke and get a winning streak going inside of the UFC. Alessio Di Chirico is also 1-1 in the UFC and coming off of a win, his a split decision over Gareth McLellan, and is trying to prove he’s found his footing in the UFC. The odds closed at a pick ’em -115 for each man.

Middleweight Bout: Alessio Di Chirico (10-1, 185.6 lbs.) vs. Eric Spicely (9-1, 185.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Spicely is an inch taller but Di Chirico has an inch of reach advantage. A touch of gloves to get things under way, Di Chirico switching his stance frequently as they both feint and get a feel for each other. Spicely tries to clinch, Di Chirico pushes him off. Spicely tries a single leg against the fence, Di Chirico defending so far. Spicely trying for trips, Di Chirico blocks one and actually lands on top in the guard of Spicely. Spicely trying for a triangle choke, Di Chirico has a hand in to try and block it but Spicely wraps up the head and pulls it down forcing Di Chirico to tap. That’s the first triangle choke finish in the UFC in a long time.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Eric Spicely via Submission, triangle choke, at 2:14 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Spicely for his work this evening. Spicely on the mic now. He says he trains with the best in the world at Tristar and he tries to remain calm and focused in the cage. He says he plans on continuing to move forward and keep improving. He talks us through the finishing sequence, then says he can’t stand Dan Kelly and he can’t understand how Kelly keeps winning and wants Kelly to walk that broken old body down the aisle and meet him in the cage.

Luis Henrique da Silva is coming off of his first professional loss but is 2-1 overall in the UFC and despite that setback could enter himself into the discussion of prospects at light heavyweight with a win here while a loss would be a significant setback. Jordan Johnson is undefeated as a professional fighter and making his UFC debut here, a win over da Silva would be a big feather in his cap and immediately make his presence known in the promotion. Despite being at an experience disadvantage Johnson’s undefeated record have him the -200 favorite to da Silva’s +160.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Luis Henrique da Silva (12-1, 205.8 lbs.) vs. Jordan Johnson (6-0, 205 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Da Silva has an inch of height, but Johnson has two and a half inches of reach on him. Circling to start us off, da Silva misses a leg kick. Da Silva lands an inside leg kick, just blocks a counter right. They clinch up, da Silva lands a bit of a knee as they break. Johnson lands a jab. They clinch up again, Johnson hits a foot sweep and lands in side control. Johnson trying to set up a north/south choke, da Silva scrambles to his knees, Johnson grabs an anaconda choke and starts to roll for it, he catches the leg but can’t hit the angle and bails on it to save his arms and da Silva regains his feet while landing a couple of short upper cuts. Da Silva lands a front kick to the body. Johnson lands a couple of jabs. Da Silva already breathing a little heavy, Johnson is looking to fight safe until he gasses I think. Johnson ducks a right and lands a couple of body shots. Da Silva avoids a double leg attempt and lands a couple of knees to the body. Da Silva walking forward now, lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from da Silva, and another. Johnson lands an uppercut after eating a jab. Johnson lands an uppercut then gets a double leg takedown. Da Silva in half guard and fighting for wrist control, he gets to full guard. Johnson stands, breaks the guard and lands a couple of punches before da Silva gets guard back. Da Silva trying to set up an armbar as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Johnson

ROUND TWO: Da Silva comes out, misses a right and lands a body kick but Johnson catches it and gets a takedown into half guard. Johnson struggling to land blows so far, da Silva’s defense is pretty solid. Johnson looking to pass, he lands a couple of rights. Da Silva trying to roll for a kimura, that’s ill advised as Johnson lands some punches and avoids it. Da Silva to his knees, Johnson looking for the anaconda choke again, he bails on it and switches to the ride position while da Silva is on his knees. Johnson lands some rights before pulling da Silva to his back, da Silva able to get to full guard this time though. Johnson lands some short blows, da Silva is bleeding from the bridge of the nose. Da Silva tries to roll for a kneebar, Johnson defends and lands lefts then rights as he moves to the ride position. Da Silva back to his feet but Johnson has the rear waist lock. Johnson lands some foot stomps and a knee to the head. Da Silva fully upright, trying to use a kimura to break the grip of Johnson, nothing doing but he does get chest to chest. Da Silva lands a knee to the head as they break. Johnson still pressuring da Silva, da Silva is very flat now. Johnson lands a couple of body shots, da Silva lands a left then they split jabs as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Johnson clearly the fresher fighter so far, comes out flashing the jab and lands a cross as well. Johnson after a double leg, switches to a single leg and spins da Silva down. Johnson to the ride position, da Silva moves to his guard but Johnson is standing and landing rights. Da Silva trying for an armbar, Johnson avoids it easily and stands while da Silva hangs out on his back. Johnson passes into side control and starts working short body shots. Johnson after a kimura, he’s got the double wrist lock but can’t extend and twist the arm before da Silva gets his arm free. Johnson landing short rights. Da Silva to his knees again, Johnson keeps him on the fence. Da Silva tries to grab a kimura, Johnson blocks it easily and is in half guard again. Johnson lands a left while da Silva gets to guard. Johnson lands a few more blows and passes to side control. Da Silva is stuck here, Johnson lands a few rights. Johnson moves to side control on the other side and lands some lefts to the head. Johnson lands some rights to the body, then flurries as time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Johnson given how one sided that round was, 30-26 Johnson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jordan Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Very one sided affair there, big win for Johnson who’s now on the mic. He says he knew he would be better on top and feels bad that he didn’t get a finish but plans on getting one as he keeps going forward. He dismisses UFC jitters saying whether it’s a fight in the street or in the cage it’s all the same to him. Very succinct interview style from Johnson.

Bobby Nash is making his UFC debut here but is on a six fight winning streak and is trying to make a positive first impression. Li Jingliang has been trading wins and losses while going 3-2 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a first round knockout win and is trying to get his first UFC winning streak going at the expense of the new comer. Jingliang’s UFC experience has given him favored status at -135 while a Nash upset pays at +105.

Welterweight Bout: Li Jingliang (11-4, 170.4 lbs.) vs. Bobby Nash (8-1, 170.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Nash has two and a half inches of reach on Jingliang. Nash showing the jab early and backing up Jingliang. Nash lands a leg kick and avoids a counter right. Jingliang lands a leg kick. Jingliang lands a leg kick after avoiding a rush from Nash. Jingliang avoids a rush and lands a right hook then they trade leg kicks. Jingliang lands a right and avoids some punches. Nash lands a leg kick. Nash lands a counter left hook then a leg kick. Jingliang lands a jab then an inside leg kick. Jingliang lands a combination that hurts Nash, then he avoids a double leg attempt. Jingliang lands another right that wobbles Nash then avoids a double leg. Nash lands a leg kick but eats a counter right then Jingliang lands a leg kick. Nash lands a bit of a right, Jingliang lands a leg kick. Jingliang lands a left, Nash lands a right that drops Jingliang. Nash tries a choke, he has to fight to keep it but Jingliang is hand fighting well. Nash bails on the choke and moves to full mount. Jingliang actually has half guard, Nash lands a short elbow. The round will end in that position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nash

ROUND TWO: Nash showing the jab again and backing Jingliang up. Nash lands a left hook, he’s trying to flurry and winds up in the clinch. Nash lands an elbow then some short uppercuts as they break. Nash lands a right, Jingliang has a heck of a chin. Nash eats a right then a left as he got a little sloppy in close. Jingliang misses a right and Nash gets a double leg but Jingliang is sitting on the fence. Jingliang back up and Nash is holding him on the fence. Nash working knees to the thigh. They’re stalling out here but the ref is content to watch them hug. They trade rights in close then Jingliang lands a left that stuns Nash as they break. Jingliang lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Jingliang. Jingliang tries a double leg, Nash doesn’t let him finish it but Jingliang has him on the fence. They break with a bit of a jab from Nash. Jingliang lands a leg kick then a right that wobbles Nash again. Jingliang lands a left hook, Nash falls and Jingliang lands a couple of hammer fists on the mat to end this one.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Li Jingliang via KO, punches, at 4:45 of Round 2

Well it was sloppy, but it was fun. Jingliang doesn’t get an interview, pity as he’s usually a good interview.

They actually replay the lightweight fight between Gonzalez and Cottrell to fill some time.

Raphael Assuncao has been one of the top bantamweights in the world for some time now, but he’s done so quietly. While Assuncao lost his last fight, a decision to TJ Dillashaw, he’d won seven fights in a row before that and hadn’t lost in the UFC to that point. While that loss certainly hurts, Assuncao needs a win here to defend his top five ranking and possibly get back into title contention as a second consecutive loss could easily kill those hopes. Aljamain Sterling is coming off of a loss as well, in his case the first of his professional career, and while a win here would likely still leave him on the outside of the title picture it would put him very close to it while a loss seriously damages his upward mobility and he could spend the rest of the year recovering from it. Assuncao is a notable -145 favorite to the +115 comeback on Sterling.

Bantamweight Bout: #4 Raphael Assuncao (23-5, 135.4 lbs.) vs. #7 Aljamain Sterling (12-1, 135.8 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Sterling has an inch and a half of height and four and a half of reach on Assuncao. Touch of gloves to get things going. Assuncao switches his stance with a bit of regularity. They trade leg kicks back and forth, Sterling misses a high kick. Sterling switching his stance as well. Leg kicks traded again. Sterling fighting long, he wants Assuncao all the way out. Assuncao lands a leg kick. Assuncao lands a bit of an overhand right. Sterling lands a bit of a jab. Assuncao lands a left hook. Assuncao lands an inside leg kick that hit the groin of Sterling, so we’ve got time for Sterling to recover. Replay confirms the low blow. Sterling is good to continue and we’re back to fighting. Sterling lands an inside leg kick then tries an outside leg kick but he eats a counter right from Assuncao. Assuncao lands another right to counter a front kick. Sterling lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Sterling, Assuncao is looking to counter a little too much, he might want to be more proactive. Assuncao lands a leg kick. Assuncao lands a right to the body. They trade jabs, both guys really struggling to be consistent with their offense. Sterling misses an elbow, Assuncao lands a couple of rights, they clinch and scramble a bit there as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Assuncao

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Leg kicks go back and forth again, Sterling complains of a groin shot, the ref didn’t see it but Assuncao gives him a second or two to get back on his feet. Assuncao lands a bit of a right. Brian Stann on commentary tells me the kick did hit the groin. They trade more leg kicks. Assuncao lands a right that drops Sterling to a knee for a second. Sterling lands a leg kick. Assuncao lands a leg kick then a right to the body. Assuncao lands another right. Sterling lands a body kick. Assuncao is starting to get dialed in on Sterling. Assuncao sprawls out of a double leg attempt. Assuncao lands the right to the body. Both guys really uncomfortable leading the dance so they’re sniping. Sterling lands a right then a leg kick. Assuncao backing Sterling up, they trade lefts. Sterling lands a jab. Leg kicks traded to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Sterling moving forward this round and working the lead hand. Sterling lands a leg kick. Assuncao lands a right to the body but eats a counter right. Sterling still going forward. Assuncao lands a leg kick. Sterling tries a double leg, Assuncao blocks it without difficulty. Sterling lands a glancing right. They trade lefts, now some posturing that the crowd just boos through. Assuncao lands a bit of a left. Assuncao lands a straight left from the southpaw stance. Sterling lands a left hook. Sterling lands a couple of jabs. Assuncao misses a right and eats a counter right. Assuncao lands another right to the body. Leg kick from Assuncao. Sterling lands a body kick, eats a leg kick. Sterling lands a right in combination but can’t finish a takedown. Sterling lands a left body kick. Assuncao lands a right then a leg kick. Sterling lands a jab as the fight comes to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sterling, 29-28 Assuncao overall

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

Well, that was an event. No issues with either man getting that. Assuncao on the mic now. He puts over Sterling as a tough guy and he had to go with the flow. He apologizes for the performance but he plans on getting better and getting back to winning. Stann asks him about injuries and consistency, he says he wants to get back to fighting frequently and knows this is the start of his long road back. He closes with some Portuguese that goes without translation.

Nate Marquardt is a veteran of the sport but has been showing his age and mileage lately, despite that he’s 2-3 in his last five fights and is coming off of a knockout win over Tamdan McCrory. Marquardt needs a win here to prove there’s still gas left in the proverbial tank and hold off further talk of retirement. Sam Alvey is on a three fight winning streak in the UFC and is looking to make it four here at the expense of Marquardt, this would be a substantial win for Alvey and a four fight winning streak would likely get him on the main card for his next fight. Alvey is favored at -150 while Marquardt’s odds stand at +120.

Middleweight Bout: Sam Alvey (29-8 1 NC, 185.6 lbs.) vs. Nate Marquardt (35-16-2, 185.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Alvey is two inches taller and has an inch and a half of reach on Marquardt. Touch of gloves, Alvey fighting southpaw. Alvey lands a leg kick. Lots of feinting so far, neither man wants to make a big mistake. Marquardt lands a right and pushes into the clinch. Alvey spins Marquardt into the fence and lands a knee to the body. Knees go back and forth. Marquardt spins Alvey and they spin again. More knees going back and forth and the ref separates them. Alvey lands a bit of a left. Marquardt lands a leg kick. Alvey lands a bit of a left. Very cautious round from both men thus far. Marquardt lands a leg kick after they both miss punches. Alvey lands a right uppercut and gets the clinch, Alvey works the body in close in a flurry as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Alvey

ROUND TWO: Marquardt misses an oblique kick to the thigh to get this round going. Alvey lands a jab and just misses the follow up blows. Marquardt lands a series of rights, Alvey fires back and Marquardt backs off. Alvey just misses a lunging left. Marquardt lands an inside leg kick. Alvey lands a combination, Marquardt circles. Marquardt lands a body kick and pushes into the clinch, he’s got Alvey on the fence. They break without incident. Alvey has a head kick blocked. Alvey lands a left that drops Marquardt for a moment, might have been more of a balance issue. Alvey lands another straight left. Another one two from Alvey lands. Alvey is starting to find his range now. Alvey lands a jab, Marquardt’s left eye is a little busted up now, swelling and small cuts above and below. Alvey lands a short combination that backs Marquardt up. Alvey lands another three punch combination then they trade in close as time expires.

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

ROUND THREE: Alvey faking and moving forward, Marquardt lands an overhand right. They trade some body work. Alvey lands a bit of a left. Alvey lands a right uppercut and a left. They clinch up, Marquardt hits a trip but Alvey is back up immediately and Marquardt has a rear waist lock. Marquardt drags Avley down and gets the back without hooks. Marquardt now has the hooks in. Alvey able to spin free and lands a combination as they regain their feet. Alvey lands an inside leg kick. Alvey avoids a right and lands a right then they clinch again with Alvey holding Marquardt on the fence. Alvey lands some knees to the body. They break without incident. Alvey lands another inside leg kick. Alvey lands a left. They get close and hit short hooks as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sam Alvey via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

That’s two dud performances in a row from Alvey. Brief interview for Alvey as we’re short on time. Alvey is very happy to have won, asks the crowd to show their support for Marquardt. He says he asked his followers on Twitter who he should fight next, he says he wants Jack Marshmann over in Europe. That’s it for prelims, now to big FOX for the main card.

Alex Caceres has been with the UFC for a while but is just 2-4 in his last six fights and is coming off of a loss to Yair Rodriguez. Caceres needs a win here if he’s ever going to make a move towards the top of the division as yet another losing streak would all but confirm him status as a mid level gate keeper. Jason Knight is 2-1 in the UFC, that loss was his short notice debut against Tatusya Kawajiri, but he’s on a two fight winning streak coming into this fight. This is the biggest stage of Knight’s career and a win over a recognizable face and name like Caceres would certainly line him up for bigger fights going forward. Knight is the favorite at -150 while a Caceres win pays out at +120.

Middleweight Bout: Alex Caceres (12-9 1 NC, 145 lbs.) vs. Jason Knight (15-2, 145.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Caceres has two and a half inches of reach advantage. Caceres fighting southpaw. They touch gloves and start throwing quickly. Knight catches a body kick and shoots a double leg, Caceres defending against the fence. They jockey for position then break without incident. Caceres lands a left at distance. Knight lands a left uppercut and a bit of a right. Knight catches a leg kick and lands a wicked straight right. Knight misses a couple of spinning attacks then lands a right in close. They trade power punches, Knight is working a higher volume of offense that’s catching Caceres who’s more one or two and done. They trade inside leg kicks. Caceres lands a long left. Knight lands a right in close. Knight lands a bit of a right, Caceres lands a left. Knight just misses a high kick. Caceres slips a long combination from Knight. They both land hard in close, Caceres has better head movement going now. Knight pushes into the clinch and has Caceres on the fence. Caceres lands a knee to the body as they break. Caceres lands a left to the head then one to the body. Knight lands a bit of a right. Knight has a head kick blocked. Knight lands a counter right that drops Caceres to his seat for a second. Knight lands a right then hits a big slam takedown and gets the back while Caceres scrambles, Knight has the choke but Caceres holds on until the end of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Knight

ROUND TWO: Touch of gloves for the second round. Caceres lands a front kick to the body. Knight misses a high kick. Caceres lands a bit of a left. Knight catches a kick and just misses a right. Caceres lands a left and just blocks a counter right. They clinch up and break without incident. They clinch again, Knight tries a trip, can’t finish it but Caceres slips and Knight is on top and has the back, has a body lock and is after the choke. Caceres breaks the grip so Knight postures up and lands some punches while Caceres crawls to the fence. Knight landing punches looking to open up the choke. Knight lands a couple of elbows. Knight after the choke again, it’s just across the chin but a good enough squeeze from there can get the tap. Caceres able to break the grip and Knight lands lefts. More punches from Knight, and a few elbows to the shoulders. All offense from Knight. Knight still after the choke, Caceres is defending again. Knight really after the choke, finally gets under the chin and Caceres taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jason Knight via Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:21 of Round 2

Big win for Knight, that’s three in a row for him. Knight on the mic now. Knight dedicates the fight to his father who passed almost exactly one year ago today. Knight actually drops to his knees and prays on the mic, gets a good ovation from the crowd. Asked who he wants next he calls out the Korean Superboy Doo Ho Choi, he says it’s not disrespect but Choi comes to fight every time and he promises that the two of them would put on a show. I’m all for that fight personally.

Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion and veteran of the sport, and while his career resurgence from 2013 to 2015 was impressive it seems the years and miles have caught up to him as he’s on a three fight losing streak. Arlovski needs a win in the worst way as going 0-4 almost certainly will mean the end of his UFC run and could signal the end of his career entirely. Francis Ngannou is the surging heavyweight prospect that the UFC had hoped Cheick Kongo would be, he’s on an eight fight winning streak including being 4-0 in the UFC. Arlovski is the biggest test put to Ngannou yet, but a win would move him up in the ranks and given the shallow nature of heavyweight he could be in title contention sooner rather than later. Ngannou is a prohibitive -375 favorite while any degenerate gamblers out there are likely salivating at the +285 comeback on Arlovski.

Heavyweight Bout: #7 Andrei Arlovski (25-13 1 NC, 246 lbs.) vs. #10 Francis Ngannou (9-1, 253.6 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ngannou has an inch of height and a whopping six of reach on Arlovski. Touch of gloves to get things going. Ngannou just misses a windmill right. Arlovski working side kicks to the thigh, trying to stay out of Ngannou’s range. Ngannou lands a counter left and misses a couple of follow ups. Ngannou eats a right, lands a better counter, Arlovski falls, Ngannou hits a few more as Arlovski is on his knees before the ref stops it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Francis Ngannou via TKO, punches, at 1:32 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Ngannou for his work this evening. Also BOOM. . . heavyweights! Ngannou has a ton of momentum now, and is on the mic. He dwarfs Brian Stann, who isn’t a small man. He says this was supposed to be a step up for him and is happy to have won. He’s happy he got a top ten opponent for this one after asking for it. He says he fights on reflex mostly as he’s looking at the finish. Stann puts over the size of Ngannou’s hands, they are quite large, as the interview closes.

Donald Cerrone is riding a massive hot streak, he’s only lost once since 2014 and is a perfect 4-0 since moving up to welterweight. If Cerrone can extend that to five here he’ll be closing in on a second UFC title shot in his new division. Jorge Masvidal is another top fighter, though he’s somewhat underappreciated relative to Cerrone, but he seems to have found his footing recently as he’s on a two fight winning streak. If Masvidal can beat the surging Cerrone here it’ll be huge for his career and he could find himself taking Cerrone’s spot in the title discussion sooner rather than later. The odds are close here but favor Cerrone at -165 to the +135 on Masvidal.

Welterweight Bout: #5 Donald Cerrone (32-7 1 NC, 170.8 lbs.) vs. #12 Jorge Masvidal (31-11, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cerrone has two inches of height on Masvidal but Masvidal actually has an inch of reach advantage. And in a fun bit, Buffer’s mic doesn’t work during the intros so they have to reset it briefly. Cerrone opens with a leg kick. Masvidal eats a left body kick. They split jabs and Masvidal lands a left body kick. Cerrone lands a right and a body kick. Masvidal lands a bit of a double jab. Cerrone lands a leg kick. Cerrone lands a right to the body and avoids a counter from Masvidal. They get close and both land hard punches. Masvidal lands a leg kick. Masvidal lands a bit of a combination. Cerrone working the inside leg kick as well, and lands a jab. Another leg kick from Cerrone. Masvidal lands a body shot in close. Cerrone lands a body kick and eats a bit of a counter right. Masvidal lands a jab. They’re trading jabs now, both men still working for openings. Masvidal misses a wheel kick, Cerrone lands a leg kick. Cerrone tries a double leg, Masvidal sprawls out of it and lands a spinning back fist. Masvidal blocks a high kick. Masvidal misses a right. Masvidal lands a spinning back kick to the body. Cerrone lands a leg kick. Masvidal lands a jab and a couple of rights then a body kick. Masvidal lands a body kick and a right, then another body kick. Masvidal lands a left that floors Cerrone, he follows up and there’s some confusion given how close that was to the end of the round and the ref might have stopped it. We get clarification that the fight wasn’t stopped.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Masvidal, borderline 10-8 and I’ll probably regret not going that way

ROUND TWO: Cerrone opens with a leg kick, Masvidal working slowly into boxing range. Masvidal lands a straight right then another right. Masvidal digs a left to the body and a series of knees to the body in the clinch. Masvidal is relentless and Cerrone is backing up. They trade lefts, Masvidal is really turning this on. Masvidal floors Cerrone again with a right to counter a kick, Cerrone up but he’s just covering up and Masvidal flurries to the body and head and the ref stops this one.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jorge Masvidal via TKO, punches, at 1:00 of Round 2

Big, big win for Masvidal. Easily the biggest of his career. The crowd isn’t happy, Cerrone is the hometown boy, and Masvidal is on the mic now. He thanks God first, second, and last. He says it’s OK to boo him, he’s not from here so he expected it. He says there’s a lot of BS going on but he’s a fighter. He says if you want to see someone who kicks ass watch him, he says a lot of guys refuse to fight him and offers a 200k bet to Dana White that he can’t find someone to beat him. Here’s that finishing sequence again, wicked stuff from Masvidal.

Valentina Shevchenko is a multiple time Muay Thai and kickboxing world champion and is 2-1 in the UFC with her loss being to current champion Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko is coming off of a big win over former champion Holly Holm and a win here would make her the undeniable number one contender to the title. Julianna Pena is also looking to stake a claim to a title shot. Pena hasn’t lost in the UFC yet, going 4-0, but Shevchenko is her toughest test yet but a win most likely gets her the next title shot as well. Shevchenko is a slight -170 favorite while the odds on Pena winning are at +140.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #1 Valentina Shevchenko (13-2, 134.4 lbs.) vs. #2 Julianna Pena (8-2, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pena is an inch taller and has two and a half inches of reach on Shevchenko. Pena fighting southpaw. Pena feinting early, Shevchenko lands a quick combination. Pena pushes into the clinch and gets Shevchenko on the cage. Pena lands a couple of knees to the body. Shevchenko looking to turn Pena, Pena with more knees to the body but Shechenko times one and trips Pena down and lands in side control. Shevchenko lands a couple of elbows then Pena forces her way up and keeps the clinch. They trade some knees to the body. More knees from Pena, Shechenko trips her into side control again. Shevchenko lands three hard hammer fists. Pena able to get guard but Shevchenko is still on top. Pena just holding closed guard. Pena trying to wall walk now, Shevchenko landing short punches. Shevchenko lands an elbow. Pena tries to climb up for an armbar, Shevchenko gets swept but time runs out on the attempt.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pena

ROUND TWO: Shevchenko lands a body kick to get the round started. Pena pushes into the clinch, Shevchenko lands a knee to the body. Pena trying to spin Shevchenko down, Shevchenko stays upright but Pena keeps her on the fence. Some knees go back and forth, Pena getting the better of those. Another knee to the body from Pena lands. Shevchenko lands a knee to the body, Pena drops for double leg, can’t get Shevchenko down though. Pena finally hits a trip and lands in the guard of Shevchenko. They trade some punches, Pena has an elbow blocked. Pena lands a right. Shevchenko thinks about an armbar, decides against it. Shevchenko again with an armbar attempt, it’s extended and the elbow pops as Pena taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Valentina Shevchenko via Submission, armbar, at 4:29 of Round 2

Huge win for Shevchenko, nobody picked her to tap out Pena, give that woman a title shot. Shevchenko on the mic now. She says a lot of people were sleeping on her ground skills, that she’s a complete fighter and not limited. She thanks her coaches and team for getting her read and says the whole camp was amazing. Nunes is in the cage now, they shake hands and Shevchenko says her next fight will be a title shot, they’re both excited for a rematch, Nunes wants to finish her this time and Shevchenko just kind of laughs that off. Shevchenko closes by showing off her dance moves, which are darn near professional level if you’ve never seen her dance before.

Here’s that finishing sequence, really nice timing on that roll by Shevchenko to stay with the escape attempt from Pena.

Also, for posterity, here’s Dancing Shevchenko.

Alright guys, that’s it for UFC on FOX 23. We’ll be talking about this event Sunday evening at 8pm eastern standard time on the 411 Ground and Pound Radio Show, the show takes live callers at (323) 657-0901 if you’ve got a question or comment you’d like on the air. We’ll also be previewing Fight Night 104 which features the return of The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung as he takes on Dennis Bermudez. I’ll be back next Saturday for that event, I hope you’ll all come back for that one as well. Thank you again for being here, until next time keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.