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July 17, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN 26

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#9 Islam Makhachev (155.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Thiago Moises (156 lbs.)
#12 Marion Reneau (136 lbs.) vs. Miesha Tate (135 lbs.)
Mateusz Gamrot (155.5 lbs.) vs. Jeremy Stephens (156 lbs.)
Dustin Stoltzfus (185.5 lbs.) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (185 lbs.)
Gabriel Benitez (146 lbs.) vs. Billy Quarantillo (145.5 lbs.)

Preston Parsons (169.5 lbs.) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (171 lbs.)
#14 Amanda Lemos (115.5 lbs.) vs. Montserrat “Conejo” Ruiz (113.5 lbs.)
Sergey Morozov (135 lbs.) vs. Khalid Taha (135.5 lbs.)
Anderson dos Santos (135.5 lb.s) vs. Miles Johns (135.5 lbs.)
Francisco Figueiredo (125.5 lbs.) vs. Malcolm Gordon (125.5 lbs.)
Alan Baudot (246 lbs.) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (259 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 26. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. On the heels of the very successful UFC 264 the UFC is back on ESPN. Tonight we’ve got a decent card on paper, featuring a very relevant main event. Top ten contender Islam Makhachev is trying to extend his current winning streak and earn a shot at someone in the top 5 or so for his next fight. Standing in his way is Thiago Moises who’s looking to spring a serious upset and prove himself a rising contender to whom attention should be payed. Your co-main event sees the return of former champion Miesha Tate who’s ending a 5 year or so retirement when she takes on the announced retiring Marion Reneau. Elsewhere on the card Rodolfo Vieira is back in action, Francisco Figueiredo tries to go 2-0 in the UFC, and Daniel Rodriguez usually provides an entertaining fight.

UFC on ESPN 26 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. On commentary we have Jon Anik, Michael Bisping, and Paul Felder. As for the rules Nevada uses most of the new set, except the downed fighter rule so you only need one hand on the mat to be considered downed. Nevada does use a Replay Official position, there’s an official outside the cage who can signal for a pause in the action to review the action and of course the in cage ref can request it as well. Also the fight can be restarted after the use of instant replay if that’s applicable. Keep in mind we’re back in the smaller 25 foot diameter Octagon as well.

A few hours before the event was set to begin we got word that Anderson dos Santos and Miles Johns is off after some COVID-19 issues in the dos Santos camp. That’s unfortunate, those two were probably going to have a decent little bantamweight fight. It also means the broadcast is going to vamp for the first 30 minutes or so before our first fight gets underway.

Alan Baudot dropped his UFC debut when he was pounded out by rising contender Tom Aspinall, now he’s trying to bounce back and get that all important first UFC win. Rodrigo Nascimento likewise suffered a defeat in his UFC debut to a rising contender, Chris Daukaus in this case, and is now searching for his first win in the UFC. The odds are rather heavily with Nascimento at -360 to a +280 comeback on Baudot.

Heavyweight Bout: Alan Baudot (8-2, 246 lbs.) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1, 259 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Baudot is an inch taller while Nascimento has an inch of reach advantage. Baudot working jabs and leg kicks early. Nascimento is trying to pressure forward but he’s running into offense each time he does. They split a few jabs, then Baudot lands a right to the body. A couple more rights from Baudot land, Nascimento is finally able to clinch up before Baudot drives him into the fence. They jockey for position, Nascimento is working for a takedown once he gets Baudot on the cage. Baudot keeps defending, he lands some elbows as Nascimento tries a lateral drop but winds up just pulling Baudot into full mount. Some hard punches from Baudot, but Nascimento comes up on a single leg. More elbows from Baudot as they hit the fence again. Nascimento is stalling out, and he pulls free. Baudot lands a combination of punches then uppercuts in close. Left hook then a right from Baudo, and they clinch again. They’ll just ice the last 10 seconds in the clinch.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Baudot, arguable 10-8

ROUND TWO: Both men jabbing again as the round starts, then Baudot lands a few power punches. Nascimento lands an inside leg kick that hits the groin so we’ve got a timeout. Replay confirms the low blow, Baudot takes about 30 seconds then we’re back to fighting. Baudot lands an overhand right. Baudot keeps dipping with his head when he throws the right hand, there’s an uppercut opportunity for Nascimento if he can read it. Nascimento is working long range punches now, his pressure is getting to Baudot. Nascimento lands a combination of punches along the fence, he rocks Baudot with an uppercut then pounds him out against the fence.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rodrigo Nascimento via TKO, punches, at 1:29 of Round 2

Baudot seemed to fade in the second, and Nascimento kept up the pressure. Nascimento gets an interview, he says he knew he was losing going into the second but his pressure could get to the tiring Baudot. He talks us through the finish, and thanks his coaches for all their work. He’d like another fight soon but wants to decompress in the immediate aftermath of his fight, but when he comes back he’d like to fight Chase Sherman. Reasonable call out.

You can see the finish here. Baudot’s footwork goes away, and once he’s backed into the fence Nascimento is able to tee off. You can also see Baudot’s habit of dipping, and the uppercuts from Nascimento work a treat.

Francisco Figueiredo got a win in his UFC debut and hasn’t lost a fight since 2017, he’s hoping to continue that run here and keep building momentum in a division that’s still fairly open. Malcolm Gordon has gone 0-2 in the UFC and could be fighting for his job tonight as an 0-3 start at flyweight has ended more than one UFC run. Figueiredo is your favorite at -310 while Gordon’s comeback sits at +250.

Flyweight Bout: Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Malcolm Gordon (12-5, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gordon is an inch taller and has three inches of reach advantage. Quick takedown attempt from Gordon stalls out on the fence. Figueiredo is able to spin free and reset at distance. A couple of lefts from Figueiredo land, then Gordon clinches up again on the fence. A lot of frantic energy from Gordon so far. Figueiredo reverses a takedown and lands on top in half guard. Gordon is trying to hip escape to full guard while Figueiredo looks to pass, and sneaks in a few short elbows and hammer fists. Full guard for Gordon but Figueiredo lands a few punches. Some decent offense for Figueiredo from the top position, he drops back for a heel hook but Gordon is able to spin free and get on top in half guard. Figueiredo gets full guard while Gordon lands a few short blows to end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Figueiredo

ROUND TWO: Gordon back to trying to press the action, he lands a bit of a jab. Figueiredo fights to defend a single leg, he does get free. Some stance switching from Figueiredo, the pace and pressure from Gordon is getting to him though. Figueiredo sprawls away from a double leg, but they hit the fence and clinch up. Figueiredo is able to spin free. Gordon misses some punches. Bit of a right from Figueiredo. Gordon lands a bit of a right of his own. Bit of a combination from Gordon. Figueiredo is switching his stance a fair bit, he lands a left hand and avoids a takedown attempt. Gordon might have fatigued himself, his technique is going away the longer this round is going. Figueiredo lands a right. Bit of an elbow in close from Figueiredo, he’s starting to pour on offense. Knees to the body from Figueiredo and an elbow behind them. Figueiredo lands a leg kick. Gordon gets a clinch and an outside trip into butterfly guard. They’ll just kill the last handful of seconds on the mat.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gordon, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Figueiredo slips on a jumping knee and Gordon gets on top in side control. That was a bone headed decision to start the last round. Some strikes from Gordon as Figueiredo gets full guard. Figueiredo tries to sweep, but can’t finish it though he does retain full guard. Gordon is keeping Figueiredo on the mat despite the sweep attempts from Figueiredo. A few short elbows from Gordon land. Things are stalling out a little bit, Figueiredo sets up a wall walk and gets to his seat but Gordon smothers him to the turtle position. Figueiredo gets up and lands some knees, he’s on the back standing now. They almost break, but Gordon keeps contact and wont let Figueiredo get distance. Figueiredo gets a body lock takedown into half guard. Full mount now for Figueiredo, tries an armbar but slips off and Gordon gets on top again. Back up in the clinch again, another Figueiredo takedown and he hangs out in the ride position landing some short blows as the round ends.

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

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

I don’t agree with 30-27 but Gordon gutted through the first and was able to get the win. Mic time for Gordon, he knew his back was against the wall and needed the win but isn’t happy with his performance though he feels he saved his job and will stick around the UFC. He thanks Figueiredo for the easy takedown in the third round to secure his win.

Khalid Taha has gone 1-2 with 1 No Contest in the UFC, his last win was back in April of 2019 and he needs a win rather badly if he’s going to obtain a bit of job security. Sergey Morozov had a five fight winning streak snapped when he ran into Umar Nurmagomedov, now he’s trying to rebound and get that first UFC win under his belt. The odds are close for this one but lean towards Taha at -140 against +120 for Morozov.

Bantamweight Bout: Sergey Morozov (16-4, 135 lbs.) vs. Khalid Taha (13-3 1 NC, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Morozov is an inch taller while Taha has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Morozov lands a jab while going backwards. Taha lands a leg kick. Morozov lands a right to counter a leg kick. Bit of a right from Taha. Morozov with a partially blocked left hook. Morozov tries a double leg, and pulls Taha away from the fence with a body lock and gets the takedown into half guard. Both men land some body shots while Morozov looks to set up a pass. Morozov thinks about a kimura attack, switches towards a front headlock sequence as Taha gets to a hip. Actually Morozov has a bit of a cradle, but can’t hold it as Taha gets full guard. Taha tries to invert for a leg lock, they wind up in 50/50 guard and Morozov lands some hard rights that visibly hurt Taha. They’ll end the round in that 50/50 guard.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Morozov

ROUND TWO: Taha misses a few blitz attacks but he’s still throwing heat. Solid leg kick from Taha. Morozov lands a left hook that stuns Taha, then he follows up with a right and an uppercut. Jabs from Morozov, he’s pressing forward. Taha lands a left hook then a leg kick to back Morozov off. Morozov lands a left to counter a leg kick. They trade in close, neither man lands clean. Double leg from Morozov hits the fence but he elevates and dumps Taha down. Morozov moves towards the ride position and lands a right to the head. Taha is trying to wall walk while Morozov works body shots as they stand. Nice trip from Morozov, but Taha back up immediately with Morozov on his back standing. Some knees to the thigh from Morozov, his fence wrestling is stifling Taha. Morozov with another trip, this time he jumps on the back with both hooks in as Taha gets to his base. Some punches from Morozov as he gets Taha down to his knees. Morozov is on short time and so lands punches to the head as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Taha comes out swinging and they trade left hooks in close but Morozov lands a hard punch to slow him down. More leg kicks from Taha. Taha lands a front kick to the face but eats a couple of counters. Morozov lands a few punches. Morozov gets a single leg, and dumps Taha down along the fence and moves to the ride position. Some rights from Morozov as he works to keep Taha on the mat. Taha bases and moves up after taking more knees but he’s still clinched on the fence. Morozov keeps breaking Taha’s posture and is working knees to the body and leg. Morozov gets a foot sweep, Taha bounces up but he’s getting slightly overwhelmed by the variety of offense Morozov is throwing at him. They break, then Morozov gets another clinch and trips Taha down. Taha bounces back up but he can’t get free. Morozov slips to the back standing, and lands a right as they break apart. Combination from Morozov lands. Taha misses some punches and eats a right hook. Morozov blocks some punches, and eats a leg kick. Left hook from Morozov lands, Taha tries to get a miracle knockout but wont find it before time runs out.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sergey Morozov via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Solid all around performance from Morozov. Mic time for Morozov, he says he’s happy and thanks his coaches and feels he did everything right tonight. Asked who’s next he doesn’t care, he’ll fight whoever whenever. To close he tries English for some more thanks to his coaches and sparring partners.

Amanda Lemos has gone 3-1 in the UFC but is 3-0 since moving to strawweight, she’s looking to defend her ranked position and possibly earn a shot at someone higher up in the rankings next. Monserrat Ruiz got a win in her UFC debut, she’s hoping to maintain that momentum and take out a ranked opponent. Lemos is a prohibitive favorite at -550 to a +400 payout on Ruiz.

Strawweight Bout: #14 Amanda Lemos (9-1-1, 115.5 lbs.) vs. Montserrat “Conejo” Ruiz (10-1, 113.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lemos has four inches of height and reach on Ruiz. For the trivia buffs out there this is the 500th women’s bout in UFC history. Southpaw for Ruiz. Lemos lands a hard body kick. Head kick from Lemos and a right hand behind it. A right from Lemos staggers Ruiz, then a left hook follow up floors her and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Amanda Lemos via KO, punches, at :35 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Lemos for her work this evening. That’s the second fastest finish in UFC strawweight history. Mic time for Lemos and her translator, she says she wants to fight in October and claims she’ll be champion soon. She reiterates the desire for an October fight, when asked for specifics she wants someone in the top five.

Ruiz is very predictable with her motions, doesn’t move her head, and consequently gets picked apart with straight hard punches from Lemos.

Daniel Rodriguez has gone 4-1 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a win over Mike Perry and is looking to build another UFC winning streak. Preston Parsons took this fight on short notice but brings a four fight winning streak into his UFC debut, and if he can take out the rising Rodriguez he’ll announce his arrival in a big way. Unsurprisingly Rodriguez is the favorite at -330 while the +260 comeback on Parsons might tempt a few bettors.

Welterweight Bout: Preston Parsons (9-2, 169.5 lbs.) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (14-2, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rodriguez is two inches taller and has three inches of reach advantage, he’s also eight years older. Southpaw for Rodriguez. Both men probing with the lead hand early. Parsons tries a single leg, they hit the fence and stall out. Rodriguez avoids a high crotch lift and separates. Left from Rodriguez lands. Some leg kicks and jabs from Rodriguez, Parsons lands a right to the body. Rodriguez lands a body kick and sprawls away from a double leg attempt. Some jabs now for Rodriguez, he’s getting a bit of a read on Parsons. Parsons lands a right. Hard left from Rodriguez. Both men land some inside leg kicks, then Rodriguez lands a left hand. Another left from Rodriguez lands. Parsons lands a right, then a left hook behind it. Parsons walks into a left that hurts him, Rodriguez is after him now. Rodriguez lands a few punches along the fence, Parsons is trying to clinch but can’t tie up. Another left from Rodriguez staggers Parsons, then another lands. Parsons with a bit of a right, he’s still trying but he’s still hurt. Right hook then a left from Rodriguez drops Parsons then he pounds him out on the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Daniel Rodriguez via TKO, punches, at 3:47 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Rodriguez for his work this evening. Rodriguez gets an interview after that, he says he got what he expected out of the replacement situation. He recalls making his debut on short notice and handling business and expected the same thing from Parsons. He talks us through the finish, he knew he punched Parsons in the eye which he knows sucks but he knew the blow was legal.

Here’s a quick look at the finish. Parsons was already hurt, Rodriguez had punched him in the eye, and Rodriguez is able to find a nice combination of punches. This was a really nice example of how to be methodical with your offense against a hurt opponent without getting too wild or sloppy.

Gabriel Benitez has been with the UFC since 2014, he’s 3-2 in his last five fights but is coming off of a win and looking to build another winning streak. Billy Quarantillo just had an eight fight winning streak snapped by Gavin Tucker, he’s now trying to avoid his first ever losing streak by getting another win and reminding everyone he’s a prospect of note in the division. Benitez is your -160 favorite to a +135 comeback on Quarantillo.

Featherweight Bout: Gabriel Benitez (22-8, 146 lbs.) vs. Billy Quarantillo (15-3, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Quarantillo is two inches taller while Benitez has an inch of reach advantage. Benitez opens southpaw. Both men working inside leg kicks early. Quarantillo lands a front kick to the body then an inside leg kick. Hard right from Quarantillo. Quarantillo lands a body kick then some punches in close. A right from Quarantillo floors Benitez, he gets on top and looks to pound things out. Benitez tries an armbar, looks to switch to a triangle choke but Quarantillo slams him and gets the back with a body triangle now. Benitez is cut around the left eyebrow but he’s able to slow things down with Quarantillo on his back. Quarantillo is landing short punches and looking to open up the choke. A few more punches from Quarantillo but Benitez is mostly recovered just in a bad spot. Quarantillo is aiming his punches at the eyebrow that’s cut trying to make it worse. Elbows now from Quarantillo, Benitez is able to break the triangle and get free. Both men land punches on the feet. Quarantillo reaches for a takedown, they wind up in a leg entanglement position and Quarantillo lands punches as he comes up on top landing punches and elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Quarantillo

ROUND TWO: Quarantillo quickly lands a combination and gets a double leg against the fence. Benitez is trying to wall walk, but gives up the back and Quarantillo gets a body triangle again. Choke attempt from Quarantillo, it’s getting tighter but Benitez is able to hand fight and break the attempt. There’s a fairly large swelling under the left eye of Benitez on the cheek bone or lower orbital area. Benitez is able to fight up but eats a knee as Quarantillo keeps the clinch. They break without much issue. Quarantillo lands a leg kick then a right hand. Another clinch, Quarantillo is working the body as they break. Benitez lands a left to the body. Another double leg from Quarantillo and he’s on top in full guard landing elbows. That left eye of Benitez is swelling up, they might have to stop this if it gets too much worse. Quarantillo lands elbows and punches as Benitez tries to regain his feet. Benitez is up but still clinched and lands a few punches as they break. Quarantillo lands a left hook after taking a body shot. Right from Quarantillo, then a left and he’s just drowning Benitez with pressure. Benitez grabs a front headlock and lands a knee to the body. Quarantillo lands a combination along the fence, but he gets sloppy with a front kick that hits the groin of Benitez so we’ve got time. During the timeout the ref has the doctor look at the left eye of Benitez, he seems able to continue and we’re back to fighting. Quarantillo with more immediate pressure and landing punches along the fence. Benitez lands a left hand. Quarantillo lands a combination of punches back to the fence, where he unloads as the round is ending.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Quarantillo but another borderline 10-8, 20-17 Quarantillo overall

ROUND THREE: Benitez is warned by the ref about having to fight back, the doctor checked him again between rounds and warned that if that eye gets worse they should stop it. Quarantillo coming forward again, lands a right hand. Benitez drops Quarantillo with a left and gets on top in half guard looking for hammer fists. Quarantillo fights him off and regains his feet. Quarantillo lands a few body shots. They trade power hand punches, then Quarantillo tries a double leg but can’t find it. Quarantillo lands another right. Both men miss punches in close and they clinch up. An exchange of strikes in close follows and they break it then Quarantillo gets a takedown into full guard. Quarantillo working elbows and punches. Benitez is scooting to the fence, but gives up the back and Quarantillo gets it with a full body triangle again. Benitez’s face is a mess, he’s cut over the right eyebrow now as well as all the damage to his left. Quarantillo is after the choke but can’t find it yet, he’s getting closer though. Elbows from Quarantillo now, he lands more punches and hammer fists and eventually that prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Billy Quarantillo via TKO, strikes, at 3:40 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Quarantillo for his work this evening. Mic time for Quarantillo who wants a post fight bonus and puts over Benitez but he was able to make it an ugly fight and got the win. He again puts over Benitez because his defense kept him from getting a quick finish. Asked who he’d like next he plans to enjoy his honeymoon but would love to fight Charles Rosa. Reasonable call out.

Here’s the finish. Benitez has just absorbed enough damage to warrant this stoppage.

Rodolfo Vieira is one of the finest jiu-jitsu practitioners of his generation, he’s gone 2-1 in the UFC but is coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid his first MMA losing streak. Dustin Stoltzfus suffered just his second ever professional loss in his UFC debut, now he’s trying to rebound and get what would be the biggest win of his career. The odds are with Vieira at -220 while the +180 payout on Stoltzfus might tempt a few bettors.

Middleweight Bout: Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (7-1, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Stoltzfus has two inches of reach advantage. Stoltzfus declines the touch of gloves. Both men showing the lead hand early. Vieira lands a right. A few jabs go back and forth. Solid right from Vieira lands in close. Vieira lands a leg kick. Stoltzfus is bleeding from the nose now. Bit of a trade of lefts, Stoltzfus is trying to up the pace. Stoltzfus lands a spinning back kick to the thigh. They split some more jabs. One two from Vieira lands, he’s got a decent jab going. Bit of a right from Stoltzfus to counter a jab. More jabs from Vieira are landing. Stoltzfus rips the body a couple of times, and eats a counter right. They go back to splitting jabs. Stoltzfus lands a bit of a wheel kick. Both men back to jabbing and circling. Jumping knee from Stoltzfus partially lands to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vieira

ROUND TWO: Stoltzfus working the jab again, I’m curious how long it’ll take Vieira to shoot. Ah, there it is, and Vieira gets a double leg away from the fence. Stoltzfus is able to scoot and wall walk but he’s still clinched. Vieira lands a left as they break. Bit of a right from Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus lands a body to head combination. Vieira lands a jab. A right from Vieira lands. Some more jabs from Vieira. Vieira lands a calf kick. Some more stiff jabs from Vieira. Stoltzfus lands a couple of punches. Stoltzfus’s face is getting busted up, his nose bleed is worsening and his left eye is starting to discolor. Vieira lands a few more jabs. They trade rights, Vieira is a little wobbled. There might be a cut around the right cheek of Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus lands a leg kick but eats another jab. Vieira lands a leg kick and more jabs. Stoltzfus lands a right hand. They clinch up, hit the fence and will just ice the round there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Stoltzfus but a close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men jabbing again as the round starts. Double leg from Vieira lands in open space into half guard. Some rights to the body and head from Vieira. Stoltzfus forces his way up, nearly gives up the back but Vieira gets a double leg along the fence. Vieira avoids a guillotine attempt and passes to half guard with ease. Stoltzfus forces his way up but Vieira jumps to his back standing, gets the choke and pulls Stoltzfus back to the mat where Stoltzfus taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:54 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Vieira for his work this evening. Mic time for Vieira, he says he’s been working on his fundamentals and building his confidence and is happy he didn’t get too anxious in the fight trying for takedowns. He says he’s still finding his footing in MMA as he’s not quite comfortable but he does think he’s getting there.

This back take is a thing of beauty, and Vieira has such a tremendous understanding of the nuances of jiu-jitsu that the choke is locked in even before they start falling to the mat.

Jeremy Stephens hasn’t won a fight since breaking Josh Emmett’s face back in 2018, he also missed weight rather badly for his last fight and then had the altercation with Drakkar Klose earlier this year that caused their fight to fall apart before the event. Stephens is in pretty dire need of a win here given his age, number of fights, and current trajectory. Mateusz Gamrot has gone 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of an impressive win over Scott Holtzman, if he can take out another UFC veteran here he’ll prove himself a prospect to pay attention too in a crowded lightweight field. Gamrot is your favorite at -240 against a +200 comeback for Stephens.

Lightweight Bout: Mateusz Gamrot (18-1 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Jeremy Stephens (28-18 1 NC, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gamrot is an inch taller while Stephens has half an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for Gamrot. Both men showing the lead hand early as they circle. Gamrot goes in for a single leg, he’s able to get Stephens down and gets on top in a loose half guard. Stephens tries for a kimura, Gamrot looks to counter with an armbar, switches to a kimura grip and is going back and forth with the attack. Eventually Gamrot gets a kimura and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Mateusz Gamrot via Submission, kimura, at 1:05 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gamrot for his work this evening. Mic time for Gamrot after that, he says he’s working hard but wants to be the champion. He calls lightweight the top division in the UFC but he’s ready for everyone in the top fifteen and wants one of them next. He talks us through the finish and calls the finishing position his favorite and he just had to be patient from there. A bunch of thanks to his coaches follow then switches to Polish to give love to his people back home.

This is a brutal kimura, Stephens reaches for one from half guard looking to get a sweep or scramble but Gamrot reads that and counters beautifully.

Marion Reneau is on a four fight losing streak and has announced this will be her retirement fight, but she’ll be trying to go out with the biggest win she could realistically get in the form of a returning former champion. Miesha Tate is a former UFC bantamweight champion, but retired after a two fight losing streak back in 2016. Five years later Tate is returning to action, and if she wants to get a shot at the title she used to hold she’ll need a win here. The odds are slightly with Tate at -160 against +135 on Reneau.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #12 Marion Reneau (9-7-1, 136 lbs.) vs. Miesha Tate (18-7, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height, Reneau has three inches of reach advantage and is a full decade older than Tate. They touch gloves to get us going. Both women miss some kicks and punches, they’re mostly range finding. Bit of a right from Tate. Reneau lands a leg kick. Tate misses some punches. Tate lands a left and Reneau lands a glancing right. Reneau lands a right hand. Calf kick from Reneau. Tate tries a double leg, they hit the fence and stall out. Some short blows are traded in close. A few knees from Tate as Reneau lands body shots. Knees from both ladies now while they fight for position. Reneau lands a left hook as they break. They trade rights again, get close and we get some brawling before Tate gets a takedown into full guard. Reneau is trying to set up a triangle choke, she lands elbows as Tate gets her head free. Tate moves to half guard and settles into the position. That’s where the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tate

ROUND TWO: Reneau lands a front kick to the face. Bit of a body kick from Tate. They trade left hooks. Reneau lands a right hand. A counter right lands for Reneau. Another right from Reneau lands. Tate tries a double leg, she gets it against the fence into half guard. Reneau is looking for a kimura from the bottom, Tate hits a few elbows to the body. Tate gets free and stands over Reneau, Reneau lands a few up kicks then Tate moves back into her half guard. Some short elbows from Tate, Reneua is bleeding from the nose after that. Reneau gets back to full guard, Tate stands free and goes back into her guard. They trade some strikes on the mat as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Tate is pushing forward as the round starts. Bit of a head kick from Reneau. Both women jab. Tate lands a solid jab and they clinch up. They hit the fence and Tate is after a double leg but Reneau is defending so far. Reneau nearly reverses a takedown, but Tate winds up on top in side control. Tate moves to the ride position landing some left punches along the way. Full back mount for Tate now, she throws enough strikes to prompt a stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Miesha Tate via TKO, strikes, at 1:53 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Tate for her work this evening. Mic time for Tate, she’s back after a bunch of self discovery. She says her conditioning has improved a lot, thanks a bunch of her coaches, then says she’s here to get the belt back. She gives love to her kids.

Reneau gets an interview, for unknown reasons as we’re not exactly hurting for air time. Reneau is happy to go out fighting a legend like Tate, but this was it for her and she’s just going to cheer on the division going forward.

Here’s the finish. Tate looked essentially the same as when she left, which is kind of an indictment on the state of the division.

Islam Makhachev is on a seven fight winning streak that has seen him crack into the top ten rankings in the incredibly competitive lightweight division. Makhachev has made no secret of his title ambitions, and a win here would likely set him up for a big fight next. Thiago Moises has cracked the top fifteen rankings on the back of a three fight winning streak, but if he can beat the surging contender across the cage from him tonight it would easily be the biggest win of his career. Makhachev is a prohibitive favorite at a shockingly high -700 while that +500 comeback on Moises might be a very tempting value bet.

Lightweight Bout: #9 Islam Makhachev (19-1, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Thiago Moises (15-4, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Makhachev is an inch taller, the reach is identical though. Southpaw for Makhachev. Moises circling early, he looks smaller when next to Makhachev. Both men have high kicks blocked. Makhachev is backing Moises towards the fence, he lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Makhachev. Moises has some strikes blocked. Makhachev lands a front kick to the body. They clinch up and hit the fence. Some knees from Makhachev in the clinch as they jockey for position. Moises pulls free and resets. Makhachev lands a body kick. Makhachev lands a straight left. Moises is biting on a lot of feints from Makhachev and that’s becoming a problem for him. Makhachev with a combination then grabs a Thai clinch and starts working knees to the body. Moises is looking for a takedown, Makhachev defends and resumes landing knees to the body. Body lock takedown from Makhachev and he lands in half guard. Moises gets full guard, and takes some punches for his effort. Some short elbows and hammer fists from Makhachev as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Makhachev

ROUND TWO: Makhachev is pushing forward again as the round begins. Some hand fighting from both men as they look for entries. Moises lands a right. Both men block punches then Makhachev lands a body kick. Makhachev lands a knee to the body and they clinch up. Moises is able to spin Makhachev to the fence but he can’t find any real offense. Double leg from Moises, Makhachev back up and shakes off Moises trying to take the back then gets on top in the ride position against the fence. Makhachev lands some knees to the thigh. Moises has a good turtle guard going so Makhachev can’t get his hooks in. Makhachev with a few rights to the head trying to open up his defense. Makhachev gets the back with one hook in. Both hooks now for Makhachev and he works some punches to the head. Full mount for Makhachev, he lands an elbow and looks to spin for the armbar but the round ends before he can secure it.

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

ROUND THREE: Makhachev pushing forward as the round starts, Moises needs a paradigm shift as he’s losing pretty much everywhere thus far. Bit of a body kick from Moises. Makhachev lands a right hook. Bit of a left from Makhachev, he’s got Moises on the fence consistently. Makhachev lands a combination and Moises gets a clinch on the fence. Moises is after a takedown but Makhachev stays upright. Makhachev tries a judo throw but Moises is able to scramble back up to the clinch. Knees from Makhachev now, his body work has been consistent all fight. Makhachev is able to spin Moises into the fence and lands knees to the head while slipping around to the back. Mat return from Makhachev and he jumps to the back with both hooks in. Moises is able to scramble to 50-50 and goes for a heel hook but the knee line isn’t quite controlled. Makhachev lands some hammer fists, he’s mostly safe now. Moises tries to switch to a toe hold but Makhachev lands some punches as the round ends.

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

ROUND FOUR: Both men probing with kicks as the round starts. Makhachev lands a left hand, his length is really causing Moises problems. Double leg from Makhachev with relative ease and he lands in the guard of Moises. Some lefts from Makhachev as he’s trying to set up a pass as Moises just closes his guard. Moises is looking to under hook a leg and roll for it, Makhachev punches and elbows him in response. Moises tries to kick him off but Makhachev gets his back in the ride position. Makhachev is after a choke, he’s under the chin with it and is able to force a tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Islam Makhachev via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:38 of Round 4

Makhachev made that look almost easy, he was never in danger against a very dangerous opponent. Mic time for Makhachev, he says this is the first fourth round of his career and he tried to get the finish earlier but Moises was a good opponent. He jokes that his corner was ordering him to get takedowns but he wanted to feel his striking for a bit but ultimately he listened. He talks us through the finish, then asks why the rest of the division is running away from him. To close he tells the division they can run but can’t hide, Raphael dos Anjos in particular is one he’d like to fight.

Here’s the finish. Look how tight Makhachev is to the upper back of Moises, there’s no space to move or try to escape. He doesn’t even have the hooks in initially, but he gets the choke in so securely that they become secondary and inevitable as Moises tries to defend he has to give them up and secure his doom.

Alright everyone, on that note UFC on ESPN 26 comes to a close. Thank you all for reading, be that live or after the fact. We’ll unpack all the action from this card on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast tomorrow plus look ahead to next weeks UFC on ESPN 27 card when former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw returns from his suspension to battle surging contender Cory Sandhagen. I’ll be back for that event next week and I hope you will as well. Until then thanks again, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.