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February 22, 2020 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#6 Paul Felder (155.5 lbs.) vs. #7 Dan Hooker (156 lbs.)
Jimmy Crute (206 lbs.) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (206 lbs.)
#14 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (115.5 lbs.) vs. Yan Xiaonan (116 lbs.)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (257 lbs.) vs. Ben Sosoli (264 lbs.)
Magomed Mustafaev (156 lbs.) vs. Brad Riddell (156 lbs.)

Kevin Aguilar (145 lbs.) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (145 lbs.)
Josh Culibao (155.5 lbs.) vs. Jalin Turner (155.5 lbs.)
Jake Matthews (170.5 lbs.) vs. Emil Meek (171 lbs.)
Song Kenan (171 lbs.) vs. Callan Potter (170.5 lbs.)
#8 Kai Kara-France (125.5 lbs.) vs. Tyson Nam (125 lbs.)
Angela Hill (115 lbs.) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (115 lbs.)
Priscila Cachoeira (126 lbs.) vs. Shana Dobson (125.5 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, relaying all of the action to you good people just as I see it. Tonight the UFC is back in New Zealand for the first time since 2017, and they’ve brought a card full of local flavor. It’s not a great card on paper, but the main event is fantastic. Top ten lightweights Paul Felder and Dan Hooker will be trying to crack the top five with a win. Rising strawweight prospect Yan Xiaonan battles the faltering former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and hey the Combat Wombat Ben Sosoli is back to take on Marcos Rogerio de Lima. OK, I was reaching on that last one but this card doesn’t offer much to get too excited about. On the plus side this is an event that you can see wildly over-performing without too much difficulty so let’s hope for that.

UFC on ESPN+ 26 comes to the world from Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. On commentary we have John Gooden and Dan Hardy while Heidi Androl handles on site reporting. As for the rules we are under the new rules, so you need only one hand on the mat but it has to be a flat palm or fist or a knee of course. We will also have instant replay in effect if necessary, but only for fight ending sequences. I’ll be keeping the more modern scoring criteria in mind for my highly unofficial scorecards.

Priscila Cachoeira has yet to find success in the UFC, going 0-3 in addition to having a failed drug test to her name. Cachoeira is probably in a must win situation here, the UFC has cut better fighters for much less than an 0-4 start. Shana Dobson has also yet to win in the UFC, just 0-2 and is also likely fighter for her job. Dobson is your favorite at -200 while Cachoeira’s comeback sits at +170.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Priscila Cachoeira (8-3, 126 lbs.) vs. Shana Dobson (3-3, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cachoeira is an inch taller but Dobson has four inches of reach on her. They touch gloves to get us going. Cachoeira generally stalking forward, with some rudimentary cage cutting. We get a firefight quickly, Cachoeira is swinging arm punches. Dobson tries to establish her jab, but ducks into an uppercut and she’s out as she hits the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Priscilla Cachoeira via KO, punches, at :40 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Cachoeira for her work this evening. Cachoeira is in tears after that, but she doesn’t get an interview. For what it’s worth, that was the fastest finish of any variety in UFC women’s flyweight history.

Leading with an uppercut, especially a rear hand one, is very dangerous. This actually shows off why as you can see Cachoeira’s head is wide open and on the center line, but she gets away with it because of a mild shoulder feint, Dobson is expecting another overhand so she ducks directly into the uppercut.

Loma Lookboonmee had an impressive UFC debut last year, now she’s looking for her first UFC winning streak while continuing her move up the strawweight division. Angela Hill is on her first UFC winning streak with back to back stoppage wins, she’s also hoping to start her move up the ranks with another win. Despite taking this on very short notice Hill is the -200 favorite to +170 on Lookboonmee.

Strawweight Bout: Angela Hill (11-7, 115 lbs.) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (4-1, 115 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hill is two inches taller and has three inches of reach over Lookboonmee. Both women feinting early, Hill is pressing Lookboonmee towards the fence. Bit of a leg kick from Lookboonmee. Hill lands a left hook. Another leg kick from Lookboonmee lands. Both women land rights during a bit of a flurry. Hill lands another right to counter a leg kick. Lookboonmee with a short left. Both women land rights then Lookboonmee lands a leg kick. Bit of a left hook from Hill. Hill lands another right, her head movement as she enters the pocket is quite effective. Leg kick from Lookboonmee, another right form Hill and they clinch up. Knees from Lookboonmee then a body kick as they break. Hill did not care for that clinch experience. Lookboonmee avoids a right and a left hook. They trade rights, Lookboonmee lands a leg kick. There’s swelling around the left eye of Lookboonmee from all the rights Hill has landed. Lookboonmee lands another leg kick. Jab from Hill. They clinch again, both women with knees to the body as they hit the fence. Hill catches a knee and gets a knee tap into side control. A few lefts from Hill close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hill

ROUND TWO: Lookboonmee comes out looking to land kicks and extend her fighting range. A few kicks land for Lookboonmee, she’s backing Hill up. Body kick from Lookboonmee, and they clinch up again. They wind up on the fence, both women looking to land knees. Hill fights for a body lock, she’s looking for a takedown but Lookboonmeeis defending so far. An elbow from Lookboonmee gets Hill to back off the clinch. Hill with a couple of jabs, she’s maximizing her reach advantage. Lookboonmee lands a leg kick and they clinch again. Both women with some elbows before they separate. Hill misses a right. Jab from Hill, and Lookboonmee lands a right to the body. There’s a trip takedown from Lookboonmee and she’s on top. Hill throws up an armbar attempt, Lookboonmee is fairly safe so Hill adjusts to a triangle choke. Lookboonmee is pressuring through that attempt, Hill’s legs are backwards of the choking position right now. Lookboonmee gets free and starts working from the guard. Hill is trying to throw elbows from her back while scooting to the fence. Hill is back up, but eats a knee to the body. Both women with knees and elbows in close. There’s an elbow from Lookboonmee as they break. Front kick to the body from Lookboonmee sends Hill stumbling back. Another clinch, and that’s where the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Both women land lefts as the round starts. Hill lands another right, that punch has been money for her this fight. Lookboonmee hasn’t found a reliable way to deal with the distance and range of Hill. Lookboonmee lands a couple of leg kicks. Both women land rights. Stiff jab from Lookboonmee, then a front kick to the face. Both women miss a couple of punches. Another clinch and they hit the fence. Lookboonmee is on the cage, but both women are landing knees to the body. More knees from Lookboonmee then an elbow as they break. Lookboonmee lands a right and they clinch. Both women with knees again then they break. Left hook from Lookboonmee then a right. Stiff counter right from Lookboonmee lands. Hill is still coming forward, and shoots into a clinch. Lookboonmee with knees, and elbows from Hill. They both land right elbows as they break the clinch. Lookboonmee with a front kick to the body and she avoids a counter. Another clinch to the fence, both women fire offense in close quarters as time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lookboonmee, 29-28 Hill overall

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

Heck of a performance from Hill on short notice and marking her sixth fight in less than twelve months. Hill on the mic now, she references her busy schedule and says she fights every day so this is just her. She mentions working on her wrestling and puts over Lookboonmee as a durable opponent. Asked what she’d like next she wants more wins and money.

Kai Kara-France just suffered his first loss since 2016 but his UFC record is a solid 3-1, now back in his native New Zealand he’s looking to bounce back with a win and resume moving up the thin ranks of flyweight. Tyson Nam is a veteran of the fight game but only made his UFC debut last year when he lost to Sergio Pettis, he’s trying to get his first UFC win here at the expense of a recognized prospect. Kara-France is your favorite at -260 while the +210 comeback on Nam likely tempts a few bettors.

Flyweight Bout: #8 Kai Kara-France (20-8 1 NC, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Tyson Nam (18-10-1, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nam is three inches taller but Kara-France has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men feinting a bit to get us going. Nam blocks a few punches, both men showing stance switching now. Kara-France lands a right hook in close. Both men are firing but mostly being blocked so far, they’re still getting a feel for each other. Kara-France lands a leg kick. Jabs from Kara-France to the body and head, he’s slowly working into his range. Nam lands a right. Kara-France lands a body kick. Nam tries to close distance, eats a bit of an elbow. Both men with glancing rights. Kara-France is doubling up on the jab now and finding success, that first one is more of a hook to draw the hands down then standing things up with a jab. Both men land left hooks, Nam is pressing forward and lands to the body with hooks. Kara-France with a bit of a left but Nam thinks he’s got Kara-France on the ropes a bit. Nam forces a clinch and gets a rear waist lock on the fence, Kara-France lands an elbow as they break then Nam with a high kick and they clinch up for the final couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kara-France

ROUND TWO: Kara-France opens with a body kick. Nam forces a clinch but eats an elbow as they break. The crowd isn’t “woo-ing” in the traditional sense but there’s some kind of call/scream going on. Kara-France forces a clinch an dis after a takedown against the fence but Nam is defending so far. They wind up chest to chest and break without incident. Kara-France lands a leg kick. Combination work from Kara-France, partially blocked but he’s starting to find his rhythm and flow. The double left hand work from Kara-France is back now, he lands an inside leg kick as well. Nam is pushing Kara-France to the fence, he lands a left hook. Nam can definitely crack but he’s falling behind numerically in terms of work rate. Another right lands for Nam, he’s starting to time the double jab. Kara-France with some inside leg kicks, Nam swings a right to the body. Right from Kara-France lands. Kara-France lands a short right as Nam tries to bull forward. Again Kara-France is able to land crisp blows and move around Nam. Nam lands a leg kick. Nam forces a clinch, lands a knee to the body as they break. A right from Kara-France falls short and Nam whiffs on a head kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kara-France, 20-18 Kara-France overall

ROUND THREE: Kara-France back to working his volume style. Both men land rights in close as Nam is pressuring Kara-France towards the fence. Nam sprawls away from a takedown attempt. Kara-France keeps landing inside leg kicks, Nam counters with a right to the body. Kara-France lands a right and stuns Nam. Nam is backing up now and Kara-France is pressuring forward now. Left hook from Kara-France lands. Nam lands a jab of his own. Both men working the lead hand, and Nam is back on the front foot. Kara-France lands a hard leg kick and then looks to work his lead hand. Nam gets a clinch and lands a left hook as they break. Both men land rights. Kara-France is still moving well, he gets a high crotch lift but can’t secure position on the mat. Nam gets another clinch, slips to the back and gets a mat return but Kara-France bounces back up. They break with a bit of a left from Kara-France. Nam gets the back standing and then tries a head kick as they break but it’s blocked. Kara-France backs Nam to the fence, and that’s where the clock will run down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kara-France, 30-27 Kara-France overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kai Kara-France via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Much needed rebound win for Kara-France, he looked pretty good. Mic time for our winner, who plays with the crowd first then says he’s been dreaming about fighting for the UFC in this arena since he started MMA. He puts over his team and head coach and says 2020 will be an even bigger year for City Kickboxing. Asked who he’d like, he says he wants on the rumored Australia card for June of this year and would like a bump up in the rankings.

Callan Potter has gone 1-1 in the UFC, but he’s coming off of a win and is now looking for his first UFC winning streak. Song Kenan has gone 3-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a win, he’s hoping to build another winning streak and begin making his way towards ranked opposition. The odds are with Song at -190 to +160 for Potter.

Welterweight Bout: Song Kenan (15-5, 171 lbs.) vs. Callan Potter (18-8, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Potter has half an inch of reach over Song. They touch gloves to get us going. Potter tries a left hook and they wind up clinched. Both men jockey for position then break as Song lands a left. Both men with some left hand work that lands. Potter gets another clinch and eats a couple of knees then they break. Combination from Potter into a clinch then he hits a lateral drop but gets over zealous trying to mount and Song scrambles back up and free. A few kicks to the body from Song, mostly side kicks. Potter lands some rights, they clinch up and Song lands a knee to the body. Shoulder strikes from Song then Potter lands a right as they break. Song lands a right. Both men land punches but Song has more power and a right drops Potter which will spell the end of this fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Song Kenan via KO, punches, at 2:20 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Song for his work this evening. Song gets an interview with his translator, he says the plan was to use Potter’s aggression against him while avoiding takedowns. Asked about having to relocate to Thailand for this camp due to the coronavirus in his native China he says that was a little difficult but it worked out and he gives strength to China and I think the city of Wu Han (my spelling is probably wrong).

Here’s a look at the finish. Potter gets clipped before this starts and isn’t all the way there, so he winds up engaging in more of a firefight but Song has more power and better shot selection. The final right as Potter tries to push off is especially nice.

Jake Matthews has been in the UFC since 2014, he’s 4-1 in his last five fights only losing to Rocco Martin. Matthews is looking to finally make his move on the welterweight elite and needs a win here to make that happen. Emil Weber Meek has gone just 1-2 in the UFC but hasn’t fought since July of 2018, Meek is hoping to get a big win here and draw his UFC record to the .500 mark. The odds are with Matthews at -240 to a +190 comeback on Meek.

Welterweight Bout: Jake Matthews (15-4, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Emil Meek (9-4 1 NC, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Matthews is half an inch taller while Meek has an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Matthews lands a jab, Meek responds with a hard leg kick. Matthews is looking to establish the jab, he ducks under a punch and hits a double leg into half guard. Meek is looking to control posture, Matthews looking to pass. Meek is just stalling from the bottom right now. Meek scoots to the fence and eats a left while wall walking. Matthews lands an elbow as they break. Bit of a left hook from Matthews. Left uppercut from Matthews sends Meek airborne, then he crashes down but is conscious so Matthews follows him down into half guard again. Some rights from Matthews, he’s more looking to open up passing opportunities. Meek gets butterfly guard and lands a few elbows, Matthews responds in kind. Matthews punches the body a few times, Meek starts fishing for a double wrist lock but can’t find it. They hit the fence, and that’s where time will run down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Matthews

ROUND TWO: Meek pressuring forward again, he lands a leg kick. Matthews lands a lunging left uppercut then a bit of a right behind it. Meek lands a left hook but eats a hard knee to the face. Matthews gets a takedown into full guard. Meek moves to butterfly guard rather quickly, he tries to bridge out but Matthews floats over and gets the back with both hooks in. They’re up against the fence, somewhat limiting the options for Matthews. Matthews keeps looking for choke openings but Meek is defending so far. Some short punches are traded, Meek is able to scramble up and lands a couple of knees while Matthews looks to get another takedown. They both land punches, then a spinning elbow from Matthews. Matthews ducks under as Meek comes forward and gets him down again. Meek scoots to the fence and looks for a switch. Matthews moves to the back standing, Meek is able to break the grip and they separate. Both men with knees, Matthews slips on his as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves to get the last round started. Meek lands a leg kick. Both men falling short with punches right now. Matthews lands a left uppercut then eats a leg kick. Bit of a right from Matthews after he blocked a punch. That left leg of Matthews is hurt, he’s stepping oddly. Meek tries a leg kick but Matthews avoids it. Meek sprawls away from a takedown attempt and is able to separate. Matthews whiffs on a left uppercut, Meek lands a couple of counters. Meek lands another calf kick. Left from Meek as he’s backing Matthews to the fence. They both miss on punches, Matthews is after a takedown but Meek is firing elbows to dissuade him. They’re clinched up on the fence, Matthews looking for a single leg. Meek is still landing elbows, and Matthews comes up to the clinch. They break with a knee from Meek. a couple of knees from Meek then they both land rights. Matthews lands a left hook but he doesn’t have the pop in his punches anymore. Meek forces a clinch and lands knees then an elbow. They tie up and trade punches from the collar tie. Meek avoids a takedown and lands hammer fists as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Meek, 29-28 Matthews overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jake Matthews via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Matthews continues to fade down the stretch, but did enough to win the first couple of rounds. Mic time from Matthews, he says the fight was supposed to be a mix of brawling and technique and puts over Meek as a dangerous brawler. Meek is with Matthews and he thanks the UFC and the fans for everything.

Jalin Turner has gone 1-2 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss and his hoping to avoid his first UFC losing streak by getting back on the winning side of things. Joshua Culibao is undefeated coming into his UFC debut and knows that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Turner is your favorite at -220 to a +180 payout for Culibao.

Lightweight Bout: Josh Culibao (8-0, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Jalin Turner (8-5, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Turner is five inches taller and has four inches of reach advantage. Turner opens southpaw and starts backing up Culibao. Culibao with a bit of a right, Turner lands a knee to counter. Turner goes orthodox now, Culibao digs the body a couple of times. Right from Culibao lands and they clinch but he can’t get a takedown and winds up pulling half guard. Turner with elbows and palm strikes then stands over Culibao. Turner makes him stand back up so we’re back on the feet. Culibao misses a right. Front kick from Culibao and Turner responds with body shots and they clinch up. Turner is holding Culibao on the fence, he lands a knee to the body. A few more knees from Turner, one of them hurts Culibao and Turner wraps up a guillotine, Culibao rolls to his back to try and defend. Turner is looking to finish that choke in top position but the half guard from Culibao is helping him survive. Turner keeps adjusting, he’s working on getting his hands together to try and finish the choke. Culibao is able to break that grip and scramble up. Both men with knees and Culibao lands a right hook as they separate. Turner is showing front kicks to the body. Culibao lands a leg kick, that will be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Turner

ROUND TWO: Turner is back to pressuring forward. Culibao finds himself on the fence rather quickly. They trade some jabs while circling. Some rights from Turner as he’s fighting southpaw. Counter left from Turner lands. Some more combination work from Turner, Culibao seems to have injured himself somehow. Culibao tries a takedown, Turner uses a guillotine to sweep into full mount and looks for the choke but can’t finish. Turner gets the back in transition and flattens out Culibao, he’s landing elbows and punches. Culibao gets to half guard but is still taking a lot of damage. Commentary says the injury to Culibao was a twisted ankle around the perimeter of the fence. Turner gets the back again and lands more punches, Culibao can’t get free to defend or improve and that’ll prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jalin Turner via TKO, punches, at 3:01 of Round 2

Mic time for Turner after that one, he says the game plan was to maintain distance and stick and move. He says he started taking fighting too seriously and needed to get back to having fun then puts over Culibao. He puts over Culibao’s submission defense as he had a couple of close choke attempts. Asked what’s next he says his original opponent of Jamie Malarkey would still make for a good fight, or whoever really he just wants to keep growing as a fighter.

Kevin Aguilar just suffered his first loss since 2013 when he ran into Dan Ige, he’s looking to bounce back while avoiding his first ever losing streak. Zubaira Tukhugov hasn’t won since 2015, dropping a split decision to Renato Moicano then fighting to a split draw last year. His back is pretty near the wall and he needs a win to reaffirm his status as a rising prospect. Tukhugov is a slight -120 while Aguilar’s comeback sits at -110.

Featherweight Bout: Kevin Aguilar (17-2, 145 lbs.) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (18-4-1, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Tukhugov is an inch taller while Aguilar has five inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get going. Both men doing some feinting early. Aguilar misses a few punches. Bit of a leg kick from Aguilar. Both men still trying to get a feel for the fight thus far. Aguilar blocks a right and lands a right to the body. Tukhugov avoids a few punches. Neither man has been very successful just yet. Right uppercut from Tukhugov lands. They trade rights. Left hook from Tukhugov drops Aguilar down, he’s back up but Tukhugov looks to unload along the fence. Another left from Tukhugov drops Aguilar and then he unloads onto Aguilar until the ref waves it off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Zubaira Tukhugov via TKO, punches, at 3:21 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Tukhugov for his work this evening. Mic time for Tukhugov after that one, he jokes the game plan was the left hook as he’s been working hard on it. He puts over Aguilar but says he worked hard on his boxing recently and got to show it off. Asked who he’d like next he wants a ranked opponent for his next fight then thanks his coaches and dedicates the win to his grandfather who recently passed. To close he thanks the crowd.

Here’s a look at the finish. Tukhugov surprises Aguilar with the length of this left hook and Aguilar is hurt, he tries to fight back but Tukhugov with right uppercuts then another left to sit him down for the last time. Arguably a slightly late stoppage, but Aguilar was doing a fair bit of covering up but didn’t do much else and that situation is almost always going to get you stopped.

I think that wraps up the preliminary portion of the card, we’ll still be on ESPN+ for the main card though.

Brad Riddell is on a four fight winning streak including a wild brawl in his UFC debut, he’s taking a step up in class for this fight and could prove himself a genuine prospect with a win. Magomed Mustafaev returned from a prolonged layoff last year, he’s looking to get back the hype he had in 2015 when he looked like a blue chip prospect. Mustafaev is your favorite at -140 to +110 for Riddell.

Lightweight Bout: Magomed Mustafaev (15-2, 156 lbs.) vs. Brad Riddell (7-1, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Mustafaev is an inch taller but the reach is identical. They touch gloves to get us going. Mustafaev showing some stance switching early. Both men feinting early, trying to get a read on the other. Glancing body kick from Mustafaev. Hard body kick from Mustafaev. Mustafaev lands a side kick to the body. Riddell lands a right that drops Mustafaev, he’s on top now looking to get a finish. Mustafaev is tying him up and is after an inside heel hook but he’s losing the knee line, still that lets him force a stand up and keeps the clinch. Riddell is pinned on the fence, high crotch takedown from Mustafaev. Riddell is setting up a wall walk, Mustafaev lands knees to the thigh. Back up but Mustafaev hits a mat return. One hook in from the ride position for Mustafaev, he’s landing more knees to the thigh. Riddell keeps getting mat returned every time he wall walks, he’s not addressing the body lock and that’s allowing Mustafaev to continue to control him. Back up, a couple of knees to the head from Mustafaev then he’s back to looking for a mat return. Mustafaev comes around for a single leg and gets Riddell down to a knee and lands some punches. Riddell is working back up, eats another knee to the body and Mustafaev gets him down again. They’re back up in the clinch again, Riddell can’t get free. Riddell is able to spin Mustafaev to the fence, they trade knees and break. A bit of circling closes out the first round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Riddell

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Mustafaev is still switching his stance. Riddell lands a right then a leg kick. They clash and both men land punches. Calf kick from Riddell. Another one, this time Mustafaev fires back. Counter right from Mustafaev lands. Both men miss rights. Mustafaev lands a right uppercut and Riddell lands a counter. Hard right from Mustafaev lands. Another calf kick from Riddell, Mustafaev tries a takedown but can’t get it. They both land rights in close. Mustafaev lands a body kick then a spinning back fist, Riddell tries a kick but slips and gets taken down. Riddell is able to wall walk but now has to get free again. Rights from Mustafaev as they’re clinched. Mustafaev is after a single leg and gets Riddell down to his seat. Some knees from Mustafaev as Riddell gets up but still can’t get free. Another mat return from Mustafaev, Riddell back up but still can’t get free as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Mustafaev, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Mustafaev lands an inside leg kick. High kick from Riddell falls a little short. Mustafaev slips on a spinning back kick but Riddell wants him on the feet. Left from Mustafaev lands then a body kick. Jumping knee from Mustafaev lands but Riddell counters with a right hook that wobbles Mustafaev and they fall into a clinch. Riddell finds himself back on the fence, let’s see if he can separate this time. Mustafaev loses his grip and Riddell spins free. Riddell lands a leg kick. A double leg from Riddell under a punch scores but he doesn’t get much from it. Riddell gets Mustafaev to the fence and is looking to land offense. Mustafaev is looking to stand, he’s up in the clinch and gets the back standing again. This time Riddell is able to spin free and lands a body kick. Single leg from Mustafaev and he’s got Riddell down to a knee. Riddell is trying to wall walk, he’s back up but again has given up his back. They wind up chest to chest and Riddell shucks Mustafaev down to his knees but Mustafaev keeps a hold of a single leg. Some elbows from Riddell but Mustafaev gets him down to his seat again. Mustafaev tries a throw but loses position just as the round ends.

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

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

Not sure you could give Mustafaev the first given how badly he got dropped. Mic time for Riddell, he says he comes in here to perform. He feels that was a proper fight with a bit of everything then says he just beat Mustafaev better than Kevin Lee did (not accurate). He says he’d love to fight Alex Hernandez for his next bout.

Ben Sosoli had a very odd fight his last time out, it wasn’t especially good but he escaped with a No Contest after Greg Hardy used an inhaler between rounds. Sosoli is trying to get his first UFC win. Marcos Rogerio de Lima has been trading wins and losses since 2015, he’s coming off of a loss about a year ago and is hoping to avoid his first UFC losing streak. De Lima is favored to win at -150 to a +120 comeback on Sosoli.

Heavyweight Bout: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (16-6-1, 257 lbs.) vs. Ben Sosoli (7-2 2 NC, 264 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: De Lima is an inch taller and has two and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Sosoli fighting southpaw. Hard inside leg kick from de Lima then they both swing arm punches in close. Neither man is landing flush but they sure are swinging hard. Jab from de Lima then a partially blocked high kick. De Lima keeps clubbing Sosoli with rights when they get close. A right from de Lima in close drops Sosoli to his knees, and another punch down there prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via TKO, punches, at 1:28 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. de Lima for his work this evening. At least it didn’t last long. Mic time for de Lima and his translator, he plays a bit with the crowd in English then goes to Portuguese for the bulk of his interview. He thanks his coaches for all of their hard work with him and his family for their support. Asked about his plans for 2020 he goes back to English to say that heavyweight is his division.

And down goes the Combat Wombat. Not much technical here, just swinging arm punches from big men.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is a former title challenger at strawweight, but she’s just 2-5 in her last seven fights and is on a three fight losing streak. If Kowalkiewicz wants to ever get back towards the title picture she cannot afford another loss here. Yan Xiaonan hasn’t lost since 2010 including four wins in the UFC, she’s looking to knock off a ranked opponent and start making her way up through the ranks. The odds are with Yan at -280 to +230 on Kowalkiewicz.

Strawweight Bout: #14 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-5, 115.5 lbs.) vs. Yan Xiaonan (11-1 1 NC, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Yan is two inches taller while Kowalkiewicz has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both women kicking early. Yan with body kicks and a right hand behind them. Jabs from Yan now as well. Both women land rights, Yan’s volume has been better thus far. Uppercut from Yan in close. Kowalkiewicz is showing some stance switching. Right then a left from Yan, she’s throwing repetitive combinations but Kowalkiewicz isn’t adapting to her. Left then a right from Yan. Kowalkiewicz tries a spinning back fist, but eats some counters after missing. More one twos from Yan, Kowalkiewicz clinches up and they hit the fence. Something is up with Kowalkiewicz’s right eye, she keeps pawing at it. Yan gets a trip takedown into the guard of Kowalkiewicz. Kowalkiewicz tries to work a high guard, Yan is staking her and using a can opener to try and release the pressure of the guard. Yan with a couple of hammer fists then she makes Kowalkiewicz stand. They clash again and clinch up. There’s some swelling on the left cheekbone of Kowalkiewicz, they wind up breaking without incident. Yan resumes coming forward and swinging punches. Some body work from Yan being sprinkled in as well. Kowalkiewicz eats a right and clinches up but Yan gets a judo toss into half guard. Punches from Yan as she works to stand and pass. Now a leg kick as Yan is standing over Kowalkiewicz. Kowalkiewicz is back up, Yan lands another left then right to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Yan under the new system

ROUND TWO: Kowalkiewicz’s face is still busted up. We actually get time for the doctor in to check on Kowalkiewicz’s vision. The doctor is taking a look at her right eye, he says she cna continue so we’re back to fighting. They touch gloves. Kowalkiewicz is trying to move but Yan is smothering and mauling her. Bit of a right from Yan, she just wont give Kowalkiewicz space to breathe. They clinch, Kowalkiewicz eats an elbow and is bleeding now as they break. Yan just keeps coming forward with combinations of punches. Body kick from Yan then a right. Kowalkiewicz is forced to clinch up and gets Yan on the cage. Kowalkiewicz is looking for a single leg, Yan is able to remain upright so far. There’s a double wrist lock for Yan that she’s using to keep Kowalkiewicz’s hands from locking. They wind up chest to chest again, Yan gets Kowalkiewicz on the fence. Elbow from Yan, and knees to the thigh. Yan slings Kowalkiewicz down, lands a hammer fist then the ref makes Kowalkiewicz stand up. Yan lands a right to counter a spinning kick and gets a body lock takedown into north-south. Some hammer fists from Yan then she stands free and makes Kowalkiewicz stand again. They trade rights again. Yan lands a right and a left behind it. Front kick from Yan to the body, Kowalkiewicz’s corner should probably stop this between rounds if nothing changes. One two from Yan and she evades some counters. They circle the final seconds away.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Yan again, 20-16 Yan overall

ROUND THREE: Yan is back to jabbing and side kicking to push Kowalkiewicz back. More body kicks from Yan. Yan catches a kick and lands a right. Body kick from yan hurts Kowalkiewicz. Yan looks to unload along the fence, Kowalkiewicz is able to slide free though. Hard right from Yan, then a high kick and she gets a body lock takedown nearly into full mount. Kowalkiewicz rolls for a heel hook, she’s really after it but there’s dubious control of the knee line. Yan is landing hammer fists to the thigh and body. Yan is able to move through the attempt into top position. Body shots now from Yan. Kowalkiewicz tries to wrap up a guillotine but her legs are tied up and she can’t get them into play. Yan is pounding with punches and elbows to the body. There’s an arm triangle attempt from yan, but again she can’t get her body in play because of the leg position. Kowalkiewicz starts reaching for the heel again, she uses that to sweep into top position just before the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Yan, 30-25 Yan overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Yan Xiaonan via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Total mugging by Yan. Mic time for Yan and her translator, she is happy to have won and thanks the crowd. She gives some power to China to close her interview.

Jimmy Crute just suffered his first professional loss against Misha Cirkunov, he’s hoping to bounce back from that loss and reaffirm himself as a prospect of note in a division that could definitely use them. Michal Oleksiejczuk also just had a long unbeaten streak snapped, in his case by Ovince Saint Preux. Oleksiejczuk is trying to knock off a fellow prospect and get his career back on track. The odds lean slightly towards Oleksiejczuk at -125 to -105 on Crute.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Jimmy Crute (10-1, 206 lbs.) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-3 1 NC, 206 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Crute is two inches taller but the reach is identical. Southpaw for Oleksiejczuk. Crute misses a kick, then gets a takedown against the fence. Oleksiejczuk is looking to wall walk, Crute is landing rights and working mat returns. Crute gets the ride position, Oleksiejczuk is back up but still clinched. Mat return for Crute, that seems to be how things are going right. A lot of mat returns from Crute while Oleksiejczuk is trying to wall walk and get free. Single leg from Crute and he’s got Oleksiejczuk down again. Oleksiejczuk back up, eats a knee then gets taken down again into half guard. Crute is content to ride, land shots and hit mat returns. Oleksiejczuk keeps grabbing the fence, he finally gets a warning from the ref. They wind up clinched, and Oleksiejczuk is able to get free. Both men land rights, and Crute gets a takedown. Crute moves to mount with almost disturbing ease and looks for an arm triangle. Side control now for Crute and he’s after a kimura. The kimura is in, he’s cranking on the arm and Oleksiejczuk has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jimmy Crute via Submission, kimura, at 3:29 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Crute for his work this evening. Mic time for Crute, he says his opponent was too dangerous to stand in front of so he had to keep to the game plan. He says he wanted takedown and got it eventually. Asked what’s next he wants a rematch with Misha Cirkunov. He gives props to someone in the crowd who’s name I don’t recognize.

this doesn’t have the nice set up from Crute, but he gets the double wrist lock and look how he keeps the arm tight to the body and then yanks it high behind the head.

Paul Felder is 5-1 in his last six fights and hasn’t lost at lightweight since 2016, his loss during the last six fights was at welterweight. Felder has finally cracked the top ten rankings and is hoping to earn a shot at the top five with a win here. Dan Hooker has gone 6-1 at lightweight in the UFC, only losing to Edson Barboza, and is on a two fight winning streak. Hooker is likewise trying to earn a shot at the top five with a win here over a fellow top contender. Hooker is your favorite at -155 to a +125 comeback on Felder.

Lightweight Bout: #6 Paul Felder (17-4, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #7 Dan Hooker (19-8, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hooker is an inch taller and has a notable four and a half inches of reach advantage. Hooker opens with a calf kick. Both men feinting early, more from Hooker though. Another couple of calf kicks from Hooker land. Another calf kick lands as Felder was trying to spin and he lost his feet for a second. Hooker lands an overhand right. Hooker seems to have a feel for the range already. More calf kicks from Hooker, he’s playing the long game for a five round fight. Left hook then a right from Felder. Hooker lands a front kick to the body. A lot of circling from Hooker, he lands another calf kick then a jab. More jabs from Hooker and he avoids a left hook. Felder feints a knee tap and lands a left. Hooker continues to evade and snipe from distance. Hooker with jabs, Felder lands a left hook but Hooker returns it. More calf kicks from Hooker. Felder is throwing some more now but is falling short. Hooker slips after taking a leg kick, and comes up in the clinch. Hooker gets a body lock against the fence and has Felder on the cage. They break without incident. Calf kick then a jab from Hooker. Hooker slips a hook and lands a left. Another calf kick from Hooker then a left behind it. Felder is coming forward but he’s not cutting off the cage much. Felder avoids a high kick, eats a calf kick and responds with a punch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hooker

ROUND TWO: There’s some damage around the right eye of Felder from the jabs in the first round. Not fight stopping yet but it definitely bears watching. Hooker goes southpaw and lands a left. Body kick from Hooker is partially blocked. Felder lands an inside leg kick. Hooker avoids a few punches and lands a calf kick. More jabs from Hooker, he’s picking very effectively at Felder. That calf kick into a left from Hooker is still working well for him. Felder parries a few punches. Right from Hooker, Felder responds with a left. Hooker lands a jab then a calf kick. They clinch and Hooker gets the back standing. One hook in for Hooker, he’s looking to drag this down to the mat. They make their way to the fence then separate. Hooker lands another calf kick, Felder returns it this time. Felder lands a left hook. Hooker slips a few punches. High kick from Hooker is blocked and Felder lands a calf kick. Hooker back to jabbing, Felder with a spinning back kick to the body. Hooker mistimes a knee and Felder lands a right. Knee from Hooker then a right in close. Felder lands a right to the body but runs into a stiff left. Hooker avoids a spinning elbow and lands a left. They both land punches just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hooker but a closer one, 20-18 Hooker overall

ROUND THREE: Felder’s face is getting messed up. Hooker lands a front kick to the body. Both men still working calf kicks. Stiff jab from Felder. Felder lands a right to the body. Hooker with a calf kick then a jab. Felder lands an uppercut in close. Stiff right from Hooker then a jab behind it. Bit of a left from Felder, he’s getting a feel for the timing now. Both men land calf kicks. Both men land jabs then Hooker lands a right. Both men land lefts in close. Right then a couple of lefts from Hooker. Hooker keeps spearing Felder with jabs, but Felder’s leg kicks are landing more now. Hooker with a long left from southpaw. Both men are visibly swelling around the face. More jabs from Hooker then a right. Felder lands a spinning back kick to the body. Hooker lands another left then a body kick. They clinch up off of a failed Felder takedown attempt and Hooker pushes him into the fence. That’s where the round will end after a little dirty boxing.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hooker but again close, 30-27 Hooker overall

ROUND FOUR: Felder’s right eye is nearly shut, if that gets worse it could stop the fight. Felder lands a calf kick to get us going. Inside leg kick from Felder, Hooker lands a counter right. Both men land lefts, then Hooker avoids a few wild hooks. Hooker lands a calf kick but eats a counter right. They wind up clinched on the fence, Hooker works some knees then slips an elbow on the break. More jabs from Hooker then another clinch and he gets the back standing. Felder is able to turn chest to chest and they break. Jab from Hooker, Felder returns a right hand. Felder lands a right after taking a calf kick. Hooker lands a jab. Felder lands a jab, his pressure is starting to work. Hooker tries a single leg, switches to a double leg and they hit the fence. Elbow from Felder in close. Hooker slips to the back and lands a few knees as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Felder, 39-37 Hooker overall

ROUND FIVE: Hooker back to circling and jabbing. Felder lands an inside leg kick. Hooker shoulder rolls away from a right hand. Both men land in close, Felder seems to have more power at this point. Hooker lands a left hook then a calf kick and a jab. Felder lands a right. Hooker with a counter jab. Single leg from Hooker winds up with him holding the back of Felder standing. They hit the fence and Hooker gets chest to chest. Hooker still has a body lock going and starts working knees to the thigh before they break. Right then a left from Hooker. Jab from Hooker but Felder lands a right. They both barely miss left hooks. Bit of a right from Hooker. Hooker lands a jab. Felder tries a right but misses and hits the shoulder. Another jab from Hooker stands Felder straight. Felder misses a spinning back fist. Felder lands a jab. Right from Felder but Hooker gets a double leg into the guard of Felder. Hooker lands some body to head punches. Felder is trying to set up a wall walk, he’s up but still clinched and Hooker gets his back then scrambles to top position. Back up for Felder but Hooker still has a hold of him and they swing whatever they can in the clinch for the last couple of seconds.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dan Hooker via split decision (47-48, 48-47 x2)

Heck of a war from those two, they have nothing to be ashamed of. Mic time for Hooker, he plays to the crowd a bit and says he’ll defend the land no matter what the cost. Felder gets some mic time as well, he’s very emotional. He knew the fight was close, and acknowledges he’s busted up and feels that might be it for his career and notes he’s got a four year old who misses him every time he has to fight. If that is it for Felder the man has given his blood and guts to this sport. Felder says he knew this was what he was in for and notes he pissed off Hooker and knew he was in for this kind of fight. He says he’s not sure about coming back but he’ll have to talk it over with his family. He says he’ll be in Vegas and London for upcoming UFC events. Back to Hooker, who says it was an honor to fight Felder. Asked who Hooker would like next, he says he wants Justin Gaethje next. Ballsy call out.

Alright everyone, that wraps up UFC on ESPN+ 26. I said at the top that this card could easily over perform and thankfully it did. Some dull spots to be sure, but that’s almost inevitable at this point and we got a great main event. We’ll breaking down all the action on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast this Sunday plus previewing UFC on ESPN+ 27. That event is a total dog on paper, it’s really a one fight card which is the main event where Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo fight for the vacant flyweight title. I’ll be back next week for that event, hopefully you will too. Until next time thank you all for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 26, Robert Winfree