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Join 411’s Live UFC On ESPN 48 Coverage

July 1, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN 48 Image Credit: UFC

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#7 Sean Strickland (186 lbs.) vs. Abus Magomedov (186 lbs.)
#15 Grant Dawson (156 lbs.) vs. #12 Damir Ismagulov (156 lbs.)
Max Griffin (170.5 lbs.) vs. Michael Morales (170.5 lbs.)
Melissa Gatto (125.5 lbs.) vs. Ariane Lipski (126 lbs.)
Ismael Bonfim (156 lbs.) vs. Benoit Saint-Denis (156 lbs.)
Brunno Ferreira (185 lbs.) vs. Nursulton Ruziboev (183.5 lbs.)

Rinat Fakhretdinov (171 lbs.) vs. Kevin Lee (171 lbs.)
Joanderson Brito (145.5 lbs.) vs. Westin Wilson (146 lbs.)
Karol Rosa (146 lbs.) vs. Yana Santos (144.5 lbs.)
Elves Brener (155 lbs.) vs. Guram Kutateladze (155 lbs.)
Luana Carolina (126 lbs.) vs. Ivana Petrovic (125.5 lbs.)
#15 Blagoy Ivanov (259 lbs.) vs. #14 Alexandr Romanov (264 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 48, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the event. Well people, I’m not going to lie to you, July looks pretty weak overall and this card isn’t exactly a strong start on paper. In our main event Sean Strickland battles the upstart Abus Magomedov, Strickland is looking to move towards the title while Magomedov is hoping for a substantial win in just his second UFC fight. The co-main event is a really odd one, Damir Ismagulov had a long winning streak going before losing his last time out then retiring only to unretire long enough for this fight which is the last on his UFC deal. I’ve rather enjoyed Ismagulov’s work so that’s kind of a shame and we’ll see if the retirement holds, but he’s taking on a hard charging wrestler Grant Dawson who isn’t going to make things easy on him. The last thing on the main card worth noting is Ismael Bonfim, who scored a heck of a knockout win in his UFC debut and looks to keep that going here. On the prelims Kevin Lee is back, he left the UFC on 2021 had one fight outside the promotion in 2022 and now looks to prove himself in his return but he’s drawn a tough opponent in Rinat Fakhretdinov who’s on an absurdly long winning streak. I suppose it’s worth mentioning our curtain jerker, as Alexandr Romanov went from the new hotness to desperate need of a win in the space of just two fights, and if he can’t return to form against Blagoy Ivanov then we’ve probably seen his ceiling. Well as always let’s hope the action is better in practice than on paper.

UFC on ESPN 48 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. We’ve got Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Laura Sanko on commentary. Keep in mind that the NSAC allows for the use of instant replay plus a fight can be restarted after replay is used. Lastly we’re in the smaller 25 foot diameter cage set up.

Alexandr Romanov burst onto the UFC scene with five wins before the wheels seemed to fall off, now he’s on a two fight losing streak and is danger of falling out of the rankings and possibly even further if he can’t get back on the winning side of things. Blagoy Ivanov has gone 1-3 in his last four fights, though in fairness two of those were split decisions that could easily have gone his way but he is coming off of a loss. Ivanov could likewise use a win to get his UFC record to an even 4-4. Romanov closed at -140 to a +120 comeback on Ivanov.

Heavyweight Bout: Blagoy Ivanov (19-5 1 NC, 259 lbs.) vs. Alexandr Romanov (16-2, 264 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Romanov is three inches taller with two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for both men, and they touch gloves. Circling from both men, but not much else. Bit of a left from Romanov. Ivanov starts showing the jab but not really landing it. Right hook from Ivanov. Body jab from Ivanov, Romanov with a front kick. Bit of a one two from Ivanov. Ivanov avoids a clinch attempt then checks a body kick. Some more jabs from Ivanov. Ivanov lands a left hand. They briefly clinch, Ivanov knees the body then they break. Romanov misses a couple of punches then Ivanov lands a jab. Romanov lands a leg kick. Ivanov with another couple of jabs then a calf kick. Romanov lands a left hand. They trade punches again, Ivanov actually has a slightly higher punch output. They clinch up and end the round there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ivanov but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Back to jabbing from Ivanov, his double jab is getting him into range but he’s not following up. Romanov is starting to double jab as well now. More jabs are traded, Romanov lands an inside leg kick as well. One of those jabs messed up Ivanov’s left eye, not fight ending but visible damage. Bit of a left from Ivanov. Ivanov lands a body shot. Romanov jabs the body then they both miss lefts. Leg kick from Romanov. Both men land in close. Ivanov lands a jab. They punch into a clinch, then Romanov lands a knee as they break. Both men miss punches, Romanov ties up and is able to get a body lock takedown into half guard. Romanov is looking to pass to full mount, then lands left hands while Ivanov tries to set up a wall walk. The round ends with a few more punches from Romanov.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Romanov, 19-19 overall but Romanov is probably up officially

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Both men show some jabs then Romanov lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a one two from Ivanov. Romanov is looking to up the tempo, he’s sniping with leg kicks and looking to induce action. Both men land punches. They trade lefts, Ivanov is starting to bait and land counters. Uppercut from Ivanov lands in close. They trade punches again in close. Bit of a left from Romanov. they clinch and hit the fence. They break without incident. Romanov has a flying knee smothered. Ivanov checks a leg kick and lands a jab. Both men land jabs but miss lefts. Knee from Romanov in close. Ivanov lands a left hand but Romanov just eats it and they trade in close. Another exchange of power punches, neither man is falling over. Some more jabs then Romanov ties up and they hit the fence. A takedown from Romanov and he throws some punches as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alexandr Romanov via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Not a great fight, but Romanov badly needed to get a win and did so. Romanov and the translator get an interview, guess we’re not as worried about time this week, and thanks the UFC for the shot and he proved he’s still a UFC level fighter and King Kong is back. Asked about the future he isn’t sure about how sure he can get back as his left wrist feels a little hurt and he’ll have to see what’s up with that.

Ivana Petrovic is undefeated coming into her UFC debut with five of her six wins being finishes, she’s looking to make good on her only chance to make a good first impression. Luana Carolina has gone 3-3 in the UFC but is on a two fight losing streak right now and needs to avoid the dreaded three fight skid if at all possible. The odds are with Petrovic at -190 while Carolina’s comeback sits at +160.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Luana Carolina (8-4, 126 lbs.) vs. Ivana Petrovic (6-0, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Petrovic is two inches taller with an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for Petrovic. Both women probe with kicks early but don’t quite find the target. Bit of a right from Carolina, who’s begun switching her stance. Petrovic lands a right hook. Leg kick from Carolina then they trade punches. Petrovic lands punches into a clinch and they hit the fence. They fight for position along the cage, and a few knees go back and forth. Outside trip from Petrovic, but Carolina is able to keep rolling and sweep to get on top in half guard. Petrovic fishes for a kimura, Carolina hammer fists her as she avoids that then Carolina stands free and lands leg kicks before going back into half guard. Leg attack from Petrovic, she uses that to get on top in full guard and lands some punches. They sort of fall into a 50/50 guard, Petrovic is really fishing for a heel hook but wont find anything of relevance before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Carolina but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Both women miss head kicks to start the round. Bit of a left from Petrovic. Carolina lands a jab. Petrovic looks to close distance but she’s struggling to do so consistently. They trade into a clinch, then hit the fence. Some positional jockeying, Petrovic might be lacking some raw strength here and I think it’s hurting her clinch game relative to Carolina. A few knees go back and forth. They break and trade lefts. Carolina lands a couple of punches. A one two from Petrovic stuns Carolina, she pushes into a clinch though and again things stall on the fence. Again they trade knees for a bit, then Petrovic hits an inside trip with 10 seconds left. They’ll end the round on the mat.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Petrovic but another close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Carolina comes out looking to land punches, and lands a left hand into a brief clinch. There’s a lot of confidence in how Carolina is fighting now, she lands a leg kick. Bit of a one two from Petrovic. Petrovic forces a clinch and they hit the fence but gets hit with a hip toss trying the same takedown by spinning over an outside reap, can’t do the same thing too many times, and Carolina is on top in half guard. Carolina postures up and lands punches. Petrovic tries to wall walk, she’s upright but still clinched. Petrovic sinks for a kneebar, not a great decision as Carolina has that pretty well scouted and lands a few punches before they come up in the clinch. Sort of a takedown from Petrovic, Carolina was looking for a back take from a kind of crucifix but can’t find the second hook and Petrovic is technically on top then settles into guard. Some punches from Petrovic but there’s not a lot on them. They mess around with leg locks again, Petrovic tries a toe hold of all things, Carolina doesn’t look happy but it’s just pain. Petrovic grabs at an inside heel hook now, Carolina is able to keep the leg bent though. More scrambling, Petrovic lands some hammer fists while trying the kneebar again but she’s out of position to actually finish it. Carolina stands free and we’ll get some wild punches from both women to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Carolina, 29-28 Carolina overall but a pretty competitive fight all around

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Luana Carolina via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Decent fight, not great but it wasn’t boring at least. No interview for Carolina.

Guram Kutateladze has the most deceptive 1-1 record in the UFC, winning against Mateusz Gamrot in his UFC debut then dropping a tight split decision to Damir Ismagulov a little over a year ago. Now he’s back after having two fights fall out and he’s looking to remind us how good he is while avoiding his first UFC losing streak. Elves Brener is on a three fight winning streak including his UFC debut back in February, he’s trying to spring a significant upset here and make a big statement about his upside in the promotion. Kutateladze is a big -675 favorite while the +500 payout for Brener might tempt some more degenerate gamblers.

Lightweight Bout: Elves Brener (14-3, 155 lbs.) vs. Guram Kutateladze (12-3, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kutateladze is an inch taller while Brener has half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Kutateladze lands a body kick, then a left to the body as well. Leg kick from Kutateladze, he’s looking to put damage out early. Brener misses a right hand and they clinch, trade knees, then break. Kutateladze lands another body kick. Brener lands a front kick, tries a double leg but things stall on the fence in the clinch. Brener is able to get a body lock and forces the takedown, good head position made that work, and he gets on top in full guard. Kutateladze works a rubber guard position then bails on that. Kutateladze keeps an active guard thus far, either threatening sweeps or submission attempts. They hit the fence and Kutateladze wall walks, Brener keeps the clinch though. They scramble free and separate. Kutateladze lands a calf kick. Brener pushes forward and lands an elbow. Leg kick from Brener. Kutateladze lands a right hand. Front kick from Kutateladze then a right hand. Brener slips on a kick but gets up into a clinch and gets another takedown. Kutateladze looks to wall walk right away, he’s up and lands a knee. Kutateladze lands an elbow, then Brener a left hand as they break. Body shot from Kutateladze then they clinch again. More knees from Kutateladze as he’s got Brener on the clinch then he cracks him with an elbow. Flurry from Kutateladze, he drops Brener with a punch but Brener fights up and they trade again. Kutateladze has a head kick blocked to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kutateladze

ROUND TWO: Brener was cut around the right eye from that last flurry, not a great cut. They get back to fighting right away. Kutateladze lands a calf kick then a left hook that seems to wobble Brener. Brener forces a clinch, tries a takedown but Kutateladze gets free, then on top and unloads with elbows. I think Brener is cut again, this one up by the hairline. Kutateladze stands free and makes Brener stand. Body kick from Kutateladze, then a jab. Brener checks a leg kick. Hard left from Kutateladze stuns Brener. Brener’s hair, formerly silver is nowred. Bit of a one two from Brener. Kutateladze lands a right hand then misses a left kick. Brener defends a double leg. Right hand from Kutateladze. Elbow from Kutateladze, then Brener lands a right hand. They trade in close again. Brener is still coming forward though and he lands a couple of punches along the fence. Kutateladze lands a couple of jabs then a left hand. Kutateladze digs a left to the body. Inside leg kick from Kutateladze. Brener lands an elbow as they clinch then break. Left body kick from Kutateladze. They clinch again and hit the fence. Bit of an elbow from Kutateladze as they break. Kutateladze hits the body again then some elbows in close. Foot sweep from Kutateladze and he gets on top. Brener fires some elbows from his back, not much on them. Kutateladze wit a few punches, he stands and Brenner fires up kicks as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: The doctor is checking the new cut on the forehead of Brener, guess there’s no visible skull and we’re good to continue. Kutateladze avoids a wheel kick. Brener fires kicks. Kutateladze lands a left hook. Brener lands a right hand and swings punches to follow up before they clinch up. They hit the fence and trade knees. Brener is after a single leg, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to finish it and they break. Kutateladze lands a left hook then a knee and an elbow. Right hand from Kutateladze. They trade punches again. Body kick from Kutateladze. Brener swings hooks, partially successful and Kutateladze lands a left of his own. Kutateladze might be fading, he’s still throwing elbows though and lands some knees in close then another elbow. Brener just keeps coming forward. They clinch up and hit the fence. Kutateladze with some knees to the body then Kutateladze lands an elbow as they break. A couple of lefts to the body from Kutateladze, Brener responds with one of his own then a jumping knee. Both men land punches in close, but Brener lands a left that staggers Kutateladze, Kutateladze sags to the mat and the ref jumps in.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Elves Brener via TKO, punches, at 3:17 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Brener for his work this evening. Mic time for Brener and the translator after that upset, he was ready for this fight. That cut around the right eye of Brener is pretty bad now that I get a better look at it. Asked about the cuts he says it doesn’t bother him at all, it’s just a scar for tomorrow. He puts over Kutateladze as a tough opponent but feels he’s here to make waves in the division. Well that’s your front runner for Fight of the Night, assuming Dana White is present.

Here’s the finish. Brener is able to get a nice angle coming out of some inside fighting, he’s already lined up southpaw, and drops a left hand on the neck and right behind the jaw of Kutateladze which pretty much turns his mind off. Striking and hitting out of the clinch or inside fighting is a really important skill to develop, this is just another example of how it can be used.

Yana Santos has gone 2-3 in her last five fights and is on a two fight losing streak, if she wants to get back towards the title picture she can ill afford a third loss on the trot here. Karol Rosa replaced Macy Chiasson on short notice, hence this being featherweight, but she’s coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid her first ever losing streak. Rosa closed as the -180 favorite to +155 on Santos.

Women’s Featherweight Bout: Karol Rosa (16-5, 146 lbs.) vs. Yana Santos (14-7 1 NC, 144.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Santos has an inch of height and reach of Rosa. Both women come out swinging, Santos lands a couple of elbows in close. Rosa punches into a clinch, more knees are traded then Santos lands an elbow as they break. Both women miss punches. They punch into another clinch, Santos lands an elbow and they hit the fence. Some more knees from Santos as she’s keeping Rosa on the cage. They trade elbows in the clinch. A lot of the same still going on, mostly knees that keep chipping away. Another trade of elbows. They break after a bit. Rosa is stalking forward, Santos bouncing around and circling. Bit of a body kick from Santos. Rosa lands a right hand. Another right from Rosa. They clinch again, Santos forces things to the fence and gets back to trying knees, then fires an elbow as they break. Bit of a one two from Rosa. They clinch again, trade elbows, and break which basically ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos

ROUND TWO: Rosa gets back to forward motion, she lands a couple of punches and Santos clinches to stifle that. Bit of an elbow from Santos as they break, then she dives into the clinch again. Santos keeps up with the short knees, then lands an elbow and clinches again. Rosa can’t get her feet moving to avoid those clinches from Santos. Santos keeps trying knees. They break and Santos starts circling again. Rosa keeps bringing her feet together when moving around, that really should have been fixed by now. Some elbows from Rosa as she avoids a clinch. Santos is trying to kick to keep distance, she doesn’t want to be in boxing range with Rosa. They trade jabs. Calf kick from Rosa then a knee as she avoids a clinch. Bit of a right from Rosa. Both women land knees in close. Rosa lands a right hand. Another right from Rosa then a body kick. They trade punches again. Santos is trying to clinch but she’s lunging in straight lines. They trade some kicks, nothing too powerful here. Rosa punches into a clinch and they hit the fence. That’s where the round will end.

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

ROUND THREE: Rosa comes forward and lands a right hand then an elbow. Santos tries to clinch but Rosa elbows and breaks away. Some front kicks from Santos, then they clinch again. They break without incident. Front kick from Rosa. Bit of a one two from Rosa then a leg kick. Santos lands a leg kick as well. Rosa lands a right hand to counter a body kick. They trade leg kicks. Left from Rosa lands, she’s got Santos kind of out of sorts when Santos tries to crash distance. Rosa lands a one two. Body shot from Rosa. Santos has visibly faded at this point. Body kick from Santos. Rosa lands a right hand. Some more leg kicks are traded, then Rosa lands a couple of rights. More kicks go back and forth. Rosa misses a head kick. Leg kick then an elbow from Rosa, they clinch but this time Rosa gets a foot sweep. Rosa on top and landing strikes as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rosa, 29-28 Santos overall but this probably hinges on the second

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

Not mad at that one, round two was close and Rosa might have had more damaging stuff. Ultimately 29-28 either way is perfectly fine. No interview for Rosa.

Joanderson Brito has gone 2-1 in the UFC dropping a tough fight with Bill Algeo in his UFC debut but has won two in a row since then finishing both of those in the first round, he’s looking to extend that streak here and prove he’s a rising prospect at featherweight. Westin Wilson brings a three fight winning streak into his UFC debut, his back is up against it here but that does provide the chance for a truly memorable debut if he’s able to buck the odds and get the win. Brito is the biggest favorite on the entire card at a whopping -1250 to +800 on Wilson.

Featherweight Bout: Joanderson Brito (14-3-1, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Westin Wilson (16-7, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Wilson is five inches taller with an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for Wilson, who lands a body kick. Brito is pressuring forward right away and blocks some punches. Right hand from Brito lands, then another one. Right hand then a left hook from Brito, he’s looking to follow up but winds up clinched. Some punches from Brito in the clinch, he’s throwing everything full power and if he can’t get the finish that might be a problem for him. Takedown from Brito into side control. Brito tries for full mount, but Wilson tangles up the legs and is going for a heel hook. Brito just punches him a few times. Wilson tries to switch for a kneebar, that’s getting close and dangerous but Brito just unloads with punches to the head. More punches from Brito and that puts Wilson more or less out as the ref steps in.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joanderson Brito via KO, punches, at 2:54 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Brito for his work this evening. Mic time for Brito and the translator after that one, he tries English first and says he wants to fight Dan Ige and flips him the double bird. Asked what’s up with the venom there he says Ige wont fight him in Brazil and he really wants that fight. If he can’t get Ige he’d be OK with Alex Caceres but the division doesn’t seem to want to fight him.

Wilson actually had a decent kneebar attempt here, unfortunately he couldn’t fully extend due to the fence and lost a little control over the angle allowing Brito to come up basically on his back and throwing bombs to the head.

Kevin Lee exited the UFC in 2021 going 1-4 in his last five fights and struggling to find his place in the proper weight class. Well after getting a win outside the promotion Lee is back, committed to welterweight, and looking to remind everyone of his potential with a big win. Rinat Fakhretdinov is on an impressive 16 fight winning streak including two wins in the UFC, he’s looking to claim his biggest win to date though if he can take out a former top contender like Lee. Fakhretdinov is a rather heavy favorite at -200 while that +170 payout on Lee has to be a tempting value bet.

Welterweight Bout: Rinat Fakhretdinov (21-2, 171 lbs.) vs. Kevin Lee (19-7, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Fakhretdinov is three inches taller while Lee has three inches of reach advantage. Fakhretdinov comes out landing inside leg kicks and pressing forward. Bit of a right from Lee but Fakhretdinov lands a counter left. Glancing right from Fakhretdinov. Stiff jab from Fakhretdinov. Fakhretdinov keeps looking to jab, then drops Lee with a right hand. Lee comes up for a takedown but Fakhretdinov has a power guillotine locked in and uses it to put Lee to sleep.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rinat Fakhretdinov via Technical Submission, guillotine, at :59 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Fakhretdinov for his work this evening. That’s a heck of a win for Fakhretdinov, who gets an interview with the translator, and he says he’s part of the new generation and puts over Lee as a great fighter who he knew he’d have to be sharp for. He takes issue with some people calling his fights boring and feels he disproved that, and says he can do whatever the game plan requires of him. He wanted to keep a high pace and wear down Lee and get a finish before the third round started.

Here’s a look at the last bit. This was a nice guillotine, not a power given the grip position but some of that is just a linguistic issue. Fakhretdinov looked good here and will be a problem for a while.

Well that’s the prelim card done, time for the main card.

Nursulton Ruziboev brings an eight fight winning streak into his UFC debut, and he’s looking to make a positive first impression on the wider UFC audience while also making good use of his exceptional amount of fight experience. Bruno Ferreira is undefeated including a successful UFC debut back in January, he’s trying to remain perfect here and start taking aim at some bigger names going forward. The odds have been up and down on this one but closed at -215 for Ferreira to +185 on Ruziboev.

Middleweight Bout: Brunno Ferreira (10-0, 185 lbs.) vs. Nursulton Ruziboev (34-8-2 2 NC, 183.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ruziboev is a big seven inches taller and has four inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Ferreira and they touch gloves. A bit of stance switching already from Ferreira, but he’s mostly southpaw. Ruziboev lands a calf kick. Ferreira lands a calf kick of his own. They clash on calf kicks then Ruziboev lands a right hand. A right from Ruziboev to counter a calf kick and Ferreira drops like a stone, a few more punches on the mat close things out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Nursulton Ruziboev via KO, punches, at 1:17 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Ruziboev for his work this evening. Mic time for Ruziboev and the translator, he gets emotional when speaking in Russian and thanks the president of Uzbekistan and his parents, saying he owes his parents everything. Asked about the emotion he says he’s been waiting for 10 years to get here and fighting every week, then thanks God for everything.

You’ll see this counter off of naked low kicks in general, but usually the person doing the punching has to step or shift forward to get into range. Ruziboev is so much taller that between the height and reach advantages he’s just in range standing to land the counter right after catching the kick.

Ismael Bonfim is on a pretty big 13 fight winning streak, and scored a possible knockout of the year in his UFC debut when he flattened Terrance McKinney with a flying knee in January. Bonfim is trying to keep that momentum going here and prove he’s ready make waves at lightweight. Benoit Saint-Denis has never lost at lightweight, his lone professional loss coming at welterweight, and is on a two fight winning streak. Saint-Denis is trying to halt that Bonfim momentum and prove he’s the lightweight prospect to watch. Not surprising to see Bonfim as your favorite at -265 against a +225 comeback on Saint-Denis.

Lightweight Bout: Ismael Bonfim (19-3, 156 lbs.) vs. Benoit Saint-Denis (10-1 1 NC, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Saint-Denis is three inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves, southpaw for Saint-Denis. Saint-Denis lands some body kicks right away, Bonfim counters with a right hand. More body kicks from Saint-Denis, Bonfim is trying to counter with rights but he’s out of range thus far. Saint-Denis avoids a right hand and hits a double leg into nearly full mount, he’s got the legs mounted. Now full mount for Saint-Denis and he lands some body punches while Bonfim tries to hold his head. Bonfim is able to explode and escape then eats a knee as they break. Saint-Denis lands another body kick. Bit of a left from Saint-Denis. Bonfim lands a left hand. They trade in close, then Saint-Denis tries a takedown against the fence. Bonfim is able to defend at first, then get off the fence and sprawl then lands a knee as they break. Saint-Denis lands another body kick. Bonfim lands an uppercut as Saint-Denis enters on a takedown. Saint-Denis is able to spin to the back in the clinch and he works some knees while trying to drag Bonfim down. Bonfim falls to his knees and Saint-Denis starts working from the ride position. Some punches from Saint-Denis then he looks for the back, he gets both hooks in and starts fishing for the choke. Saint-Denis goes to a body triangle for more control as he keeps hand fighting and landing punches. Decent choke attempt from Saint-Denis, but Bonfim is able to fight it off. Another choke from Saint-Denis, more of a neck crank maybe but it doesn’t matter as he keeps the angle on it, clamps things down and Bonfim has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Benoit Saint-Denis via Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:48 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Saint-Denis for his work this evening. Mic time for Saint-Denis, he puts over Bonfim and says he kicked hard trying to break Bonfim’s arms to stop his power punching. He talks us through the finish noting he took his time positionally because Bonfim was so explosive. Asked about fighting in Paris, France in September he wants to fight the toughest guys, Rafel Fiziev, Mateusz Gamrot, or Arman Tsarukyan on the main card for that fight. Ambitious call outs, not sure any of them will fight down like that but credit for taking the shot.

Key to this finish is the left hand of Saint-Denis. Watch how the choke only really gets dangerous once he’s able to finally get it behind the head of Bonfim and really compress everything down. Nice work, we’ve had a few fights tonight that have brought it.

Ariane Lipski has gone 2-3 in her last five fights, but she’s coming off of a win and is trying to build her first winning streak since 2020. Melissa Gatto has gone 2-1 in the UFC but she is coming off of her first loss when she dropped a decision to Tracy Cortez, now she’s trying to avoid her first ever losing streak. Gatto closed as a -230 favorite over +195 for Lipski.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Melissa Gatto (8-1-2, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Ariane Lipski (15-8, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lipski is an inch taller while Gatto has two inches of reach advantage. Circling from Gatto right away, Lipski is trying to feint her but not getting much reaction. Some range finding from both women as they move around. Bit of a right from Gatto. Lipski keeps coming forward, and lands a right hand. They trade some probing leg kicks. Gatto lands a right hand. Jab from Gatto lands. Gatto lands a right, she’s starting to dial in now. Front kick from Gatto, Lipski responds with a couple of body shots. More jabs from Gatto, Lipski’s lack of head movement is going to be a problem. Body kick from Lipski, then a right hook. Gatto lands another jab. Body jabs from Gatto. They trade punches along the fence line. Lipski is swelling under the right eye, that jab has done work. Lipski lands a leg kick. Gatto catches a kick and forces a clinch on the fence. They trade knees in the clinch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gatto

ROUND TWO: Both women working lead leg kicks to start, then Gatto lands a leg kick. They trade in close again. Gatto lands a jab to the body then a right hand behind it. A few more jabs from Gatto. Lipski lands a leg kick, then Gatto returns it. Knee from Lipski, Gatto catches it and forces things to the fence. They start trading knees in the clinch, then Lipski hits a hip throw but Gatto immediately fights up to the clinch and starts working a takedown of her own. A few more knees from Gatto, then they break without incident. Right from Lipski then a left behind it. Lipski lands a leg kick then an uppercut. One two from Lipski. Lipski lands a right in close after eating a right. Gatto forces a clinch, and that’s where they’ll end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lipski, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Lipski gets back on pressure right away and lands a right hand. Leg kick from Lipski. Gatto lands a right hand. They trade lefts then Lipski lands a right hand. Knee from Gatto after she failed a takedown. Some jabs go back and forth, Gatto’s is still the better jab. Bit of a head kick from Lipski then a right hand. Gatto lands a couple of jabs. They clash and trade rights. Gatto tries a single leg, has to settle for getting the back standing as they hit the fence. Lipski is able to kind of sling Gatto over the top as Gatto went for her neck and Lipski gets on top in full guard. Gatto is able to kick free and regain her feet. Uppercut from Gatto partially lands. Both women fall short with strikes. Gatto lands a jab but eats a counter right. Another jab from Gatto. They trade body kicks to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lipski but could go either way, 29-28 Lipski overall

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

Not sure about 30-27 for Lipski, that seems wrong especially the first round. Mic time for Lipski, she thanks God for everything He’s done for her and then thanks people, she’s pretty much reading off of a list on her phone. She mentions that Gatto isn’t a great takedown artist but she’s great at finding the back in places and she had to be careful. To close she thanks a sponsor by reading ad copy from her phone.

Max Griffin has gone 4-1 in his last five fights, he’s coming off of a win though and is trying to build another winning streak here because at age 37 if he wants to make a real run at welterweight he has to start right now. Michael Morales is undefeated including two wins in the UFC, last being seen stopping his opponent about a year ago, now Morales is trying to take out a proven veteran to fully establish himself as a welterweight prospect of note. The odds are with Morales at -250 to Griffin’s +210.

Welterweight Bout: Max Griffin (19-9, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Michael Morales (14-0, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Morales is an inch taller, has three inches of reach advantage, and is a whopping 13 years younger. Griffin lands a right hand to counter a body kick. Morales still looking to fight long with jabs and kicks. More jabs from Morales, he’s looking to keep Griffin out of the pocket. Stiff jab from Morales lands. Morales lands an inside leg kick. Griffin lands a calf kick. Griffin lands a couple of punches, then ducks a right hand and tries a double leg but things hit the fence. Morales fights free and they reset. Bit of a right from Morales. Griffin tries another takedown on the fence. There’s swelling around the right eye of Morales, mostly under it but it’s definitely there. Morales lands a knee to the head. They break as Griffin misses an elbow. Morales tries a Superman punch and they just trade rights. Bit of a right from Morales in close. Griffin lands a right as he avoids a takedown attempt. Griffin avoids a few offensive offerings to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Morales but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Morales looks to jab again, Griffin is showing the jab as well. Double jab then a right from Morales land. Hard right from Morales staggers Griffin, Morales is looking to swarm and continue the offense. Griffin lands a right to try and back him off but Morales is still pressing him. They trade rights again, Morales is entering with his chin vulnerable and Griffin can counter him if he can time it. I think Griffin’s last right stunned Morales a bit, he’s let up the pressure. More jabs from Morales land. Both men avoid rights. Griffin avoids a blitz attack, but he’s bleeding from under both eyes I think. Morales misses a right, he needs to straighten that out as it’s very loopy. Griffin tries a takedown, but Morales is able to defend and separate. Some jabs go back and forth. Griffin lands a right hand. More offense from Morales now, he lands some jabs. Right from Morales lands then knees in the clinch, we get a time out as Morales landed a knee to the groin of Griffin. It’s about the third groin shot to Griffin, the other two were incidental foot contact on flying knees in the first round, this one was into the top of the groin but Griffin doesn’t need much time. Both men come out landing strikes again. Griffin lands an uppercut, then Morales lands a right hand to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Morales gets back to jabbing and looking to land damage. They trade rights. Griffin misses a head kick. Morales avoids a takedown and hits a right hand then a knee but Griffin just eats it. Calf kick from Morales. Morales lands another jab. Griffin tries a double leg, can’t finish it though and he settles for getting the back in the clinch. Morales gets chest to chest but Griffin is still after that double leg and finish it but Morales bounces up instantly then switches to get behind Griffin. They shove out of the clinch. Bit of a right from Morales. Griffin is throwing back but not quite landing. Bit of a left from Griffin then Morales clubs him with a couple of punches. Another knee from Morales mostly lands. Calf kick from Morales drops Griffin, then he lands another one once he gets up. Morales with another calf kick. Left hook from Morales in close. Griffin misses a left hook. Stiff jab from Morales. Griffin avoids a right hand. They tie up and Morales hits a body lock takedown into side control, then ends the round on top.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Michael Morales via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Mic time for Morales and the translator after that one, he thanks everyone for the support he’s had in the UFC and puts over Griffin as a tough veteran but he plans on continuing to move up. He says the nerves got to him a little but as the fight went on he kept feeling better and better. Asked about the future he says he’ll be fine once his face heals up and dedicates this to his mother who won gold at the Pan-Am games earlier this week.

Damir Ismagulov just had an impressive 19 fight winning streak snapped by Arman Tsarukyan in December of last year, then he announced his retirement due to some medical issues among other things. Well it turns out Ismagulov only had one fight left on his UFC deal so here he is, trying to potentially end a promising career on the high note of victory. Grant Dawson hasn’t lost since 2016 and the only blemish on his UFC record is a draw with Rick Glenn, now he’s looking for arguably the biggest win of his career while trying to climb the super competitive lightweight ranks. Ismagulov closed as a slight -120 favorite to an even +100 for Dawson.

Lightweight Bout: #15 Grant Dawson (19-1-1, 156 lbs.) vs. #12 Damir Ismagulov (24-2, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Ismagulov has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Dawson misses a left hook and starts looking to switch his stance. Ismagulov jabs the body. Dawson tries a single leg but Ismagulov defends. A fair bit of pressure from Ismagulov, he’s testing the cardio of Dawson I think. Right from Ismagulov lands. Bit of a body shot from Ismagulov, Dawson tries an ankle pick and is able to get Ismagulov down. Dawson has the legs mounted but Ismagulov fights to half guard. Some lefts from Dawson, he looks to take the back and gets one hook in. Both hooks in for Dawson and he starts fishing for the choke. Dawson lands a few short elbows while trying to open up the choke. Arm in rear naked choke attack from Dawson, I’m not sure what he’s going for there and he bails on it pretty quickly. Dawson is riding Ismagulov now, he lands some punches as he gets Ismagulov belly down. A few more punches and hammer fists from Dawson then he tries to choke again but the round ends before anything can come of it.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dawson

ROUND TWO: Dawson comes out looking to kick. Ismagulov jabs the body. Bit of a right from Ismagulov. Dawson looks a little faded, not badly but definitely a little slower. Ismagulov lands a one two. More jabs from Ismagulov, that’s still a great weapon for him. Ismagulov lands a right hand. Dawson hits a double leg, Ismagulov is trying to use a Gotch grip to stall his motion out. Dawson is able to get around that grip but Ismagulov gets it back and Dawson spins to the back quickly. Back mount for Dawson, both hooks in and he looks to isolate Ismagulov and start fishing for the choke. Dawson grabs the body triangle again. Ismagulov moves to his knees, Dawson grabs at the choke again though and while he can’t finish it he can regain control. Dawson keeps fishing for that choke but Ismagulov is hand fighting still. That’s where the round will end.

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

ROUND THREE: They hug for the last round. Ismagulov is pressing again, he needs a finish and can’t give up a takedown. Dawson pushes forward, gets the back and gets a takedown then locks up the body triangle again. Full nelson from Dawson, that doesn’t lead to anything and he bails on it. Dawson is still fishing for the choke but he’s not really finding anything, though Ismagulov doesn’t seem to know how to actually deal with this body triangle. Right before the round ends Ismagulov spins into the guard of Dawson but nothing comes of it.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Dawson, 30-26 Dawson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Grant Dawson via unanimous decision (30-6, 30-27 x2)

Mic time for Dawson after that, he says this was only 10% him and 90% of the credit should be going with his coaches and training partners, then puts them all over. He gives love to his wife as well. He calls himself a good soldier not a good fighter, his coaches tell him what to do and he goes out there and executes. Asked what he’d like next he wants either a big name or a big rank, but he’s one of the best in the world and plans on replacing Islam Makhachev at the top.

Sean Strickland has a pretty stellar overall UFC record of 13-5 across welterweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight. Strickland broke a two fight losing streak his last time out by besting Nassourdine Imavov, now he’s trying to defend his top ranking from a rising prospect while also trying to get into the title picture. Abus Magomedov is on a three fight winning streak including a successful UFC debut last September when he stopped Dustin Stoltzfus in less than 20 seconds, now he’s getting a really big step up in competition as he battles a top ten middleweight but if he’s able to win it’ll be easily the biggest win of his career and might set him on the path to the title in short order. We’ve got a relatively close one here but the odds are with Strickland at -150 while that +130 payout on Magomedov has to tempt a few bettors out there.

Middleweight Bout: #7 Sean Strickland (26-5, 186 lbs.) vs. Abus Magomedov (25-4-1, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Magomedov is an inch taller with two inches of reach advantage. Some early stance switching from Magomedov as he works front kicks then lands a calf kick. Strickland looks to jab but Magomedov is ready to counter. Strickland complains of an eye poke and we’ve got a time out. Replay shows there was in fact an eye poke. The doctor comes in to check on Strickland, and apparently we’ve had a rule change so they will give Strickland the full five minutes to potentially recover. Strickland is blinking out the eye and wiping at it, there’s not much cosmetic damage but he’s still saying there’s double vision. After 2:55 we’re back to fighting as Strickland can continue. Magomedov comes out looking to land front kicks, he’s working early and often. Calf kick from Magomedov. Strickland is trying to jab but the distance is kind of a problem for him. Strickland blocks some punches. Magomedov misses a left hook then lands a front kick. Another front kick from Magomedov. Strickland avoids some punches the eats a body kick. Strickland looks to get his jab working, and Magomedov lands another couple of calf kicks. Those leg kicks from Magomedov are adding up and he’s happy to throw them. Strickland lands a jab. Both men miss punches in close then Magomedov lands another front kick. Strickland lands a jab, he’s got a better feel for the range now. Bit of a head kick from Magomedov then he tries a double leg but Strickland defends against the fence. Magomedov switches to a trip and gets the back of Strickland. Strickland quickly escapes and is upright then they break. Magomedov lands a calf kick. Strickland is starting to press forward more now and he’s still keeping up the jabs, then lands a right hand. Hard counter left from Magomedov, that’ll be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Magomedov

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Magomedov looks to resume kicking, then misses a left hook. Strickland lands a jab. Hard right from Strickland lands, he’s got Magomedov backing up and in some trouble. Magomedov looks to fire back but Strickland is pressuring him and lands another right hand. Bit of a body kick from Magomedov. Strickland walks forward and fires some punches, which partially land. Combination from Strickland and Magomedov is not looking good. Magomedov lands a jab tu Strickland wont be deterred and is starting to tee off in close quarters. Another right from Strickland, he flurries briefly along the fence. Magomedov is fading badly here. Strickland just keeps jabbing and coming forward. A hard right from Strickland lands, Magomedov is trying to throw back but he’s on the wrong end of almost everything. Strickland with a flurry, then Magomedov lands a left to the body. More punches from Strickland, Magomedov is throwing back enough to keep the ref from getting involved yet. Magomedov is fading horribly, Strickland has him on the cage again and is landing almost at will. A left from Strickland drops Magomedov, he gets on top but the ref decides to let Magomedov take several more strikes than necessary before stepping in.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sean Strickland via TKO, punches, at 4:20 of Round 2

That’s Strickland’s first finish since 2020. Mic time for Strickland, he says he’s still seeing double from the eye poke but if you want a good first round against him that’s fine because he’s got 20 more minutes of fun and he’s not slowing down. He thanks the fans for their support. Asked what he’d like next he just wants the title, and if not that then something that will get him closer to it. Asked again about the eye poke he said he might have gotten pregnant from that one, and thanks the fans. He dedicates the fight to a team mate battling cancer, then expresses love for the United States.

Well on that note, UFC on ESPN 48 comes to a close. We’ll be unpacking all of this on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus looking ahead to next week when we get UFC 290. UFC 290 is a pretty darn good PPV card with two title fights plus Robert Whittaker taking on Dricus du Plessis. I’ll be back for that event next week and I hope you will as well. Until then thank you for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 48, Robert Winfree