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February 25, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#6 Nikita Krylov (206 lbs.) vs. #8 Ryan Spann (205 lbs.)
Brendan Allen (186 lbs.) vs. #11 Andre Muniz (186 lbs.)
Don’Tale Mayes (261.5 lbs.) vs. Augusto Sakai (265 lbs.)
Montana De La Rosa (125.5 lbs.) vs. Tatiana Suarez (125 lbs.)
Yohan Lainesse (171 lbs.) vs. Mike Malott (171 lbs.)

Erick Gonzalez (156 lbs.) vs. Trevor Peek (155.5 lbs.)
Gabriella Fernandes (126 lbs.) vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius (125.5 lbs.)
Jordan Leavitt (155.5 lbs.) vs. Victor Martinez (154.5 lbs.)
Charles Johnson (130 lbs.) vs. Ode Osbourne (130 lbs.) – 130-pound catchweight bout
Carl Deaton (156 lbs.) vs. Joe Solecki (155.5 lbs.)
Nurullo Aliev (155 lbs.) vs. Rafael Alves (155 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 78, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host. Tonight, well much like last week tonight is a less than impressive card on paper. The main event might have relevance at light heavyweight when top contenders Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann battle it out, and honestly the co-main isn’t terrible when the surging Andre Muniz takes on the well respected Brendan Allen. After that the only thing worth noting is the long awaited return of Tatiana Suarez when she makes her first appearance since 2019 after dealing with some injury issues. Beyond that there isn’t much to get excited about on paper, but we can always hope that the fights will be fun in practice.

UFC on ESPN+ 78 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. We’ve got Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Dominick Cruz on commentary. As for the rules, you know by now that Nevada uses most of the new ones plus when it comes to instant replay allows the fight to be restarted after replay is used. Also keep in mind we’re in the smaller 25 foot diameter Octagon set up.

Rafael Alves has gone 1-2 in the UFC most recently suffering a loss to Drew Dober in July of last year but he’s shown flashes of serious talent through all of those fights, now he’s back and looking to pull his UFC record back to the .500 mark. Nurullo Aliev is undefeated coming into his UFC debut, now he’s looking to make good on his only chance to make a first impression, he’s also the first fighter from Tajikistan to make their way to the UFC. Somewhat surprisingly the odds are with Aliev at -180 while that +155 comeback on Alves is a very tempting value bet.

Lightweight Bout: Nurullo Aliev (8-0, 155 lbs.) vs. Rafael Alves (20-11, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aliev is two inches taller, has a solid four inches of reach advantage, and is a full decade younger. Aleves comes out with some kicks to the leg, then hits one to the body and Aliev has had enough of that and hits a takedown into full guard. Alves is fishing for a guillotine but Aliev keeps his head safe. Aliev is keeping Alves from starting a wall walk but he’s not mounting much offense yet. Aliev has moved to half guard now and lands a few punches to the body. Alves has gotten back to full guard but he can’t get much going here. We get Alves complaining about his finger being bitten and that leads to a break. There was a lot of hand fighting around the face there, so the finger might have slipped into the mouth. We get a replay, not a great angle and Alves was grabbing at the chin to lift the head so the finger definitely went into the mouth a bit. Not sure how much intent there was on the foul. The commission tells the ref there’s no video evidence but the ref can see the mark on Alves and decides to take a point from Aliev before we restart. Alves avoids Aliev for a bit. Double leg from Aliev, that hits the fence and Alves defends. Bit of an elbow from Aliev as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 9-9 DRAW after the point deduction

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Alves avoids a right hand. Bit of a jab from Aliev. Alves misses an uppercut. Now Alves has started switching he stance, Aliev tries a takedown but Alves grabs a guillotine on the way down. Aliev is fighting to get his head free, the angle isn’t quite right for Alves though and Aliev seems relatively safe at the moment. Alves is able to adjust the grip and tighten things but Aliev has started breaking the grip and does get free to get on top. Short elbow from Aliev. Aliev with some body shots and he moves to half guard. Arm triangle attack from Aliev but Alves defends pretty easily. More short elbows from Aliev, now left hands behind them. Aliev looks to posture up but Alves gets some control over his posture to stifle the offense. Alves hip escapes to full guard, Aliev lands an elbow. The round ends with Aliev still on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aliev, 19-18 Aliev overall

ROUND THREE: Alves lands a knee as Aliev is coming in, that wobbles him and Aliev hits a double leg but Alves grabs a guillotine on the way down and rolls into full mount with it. The choke is pretty much gone and Alves bails on it to retain full mount. Arm triangle attack from Alves, he’s not really going for it though. Aliev is able to bridge and sweep to wind up on top in full guard, nice escape from Aliev. Alves tries to wall walk but he’s not very good at it and Aliev passes to half guard then strips his posting arm to keep him down. Aliev lands a few lefts to the head. Alves is just stuck on his back, Aliev keeps landing some punches. More punches from Aliev, he’s not landing flush but he’s staying busy as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aliev but might have gone to Alves, 29-27 Aliev overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Nurullo Aliev via majority decision (28-28, 29-27 x2)

No issues with any of those scores, Alves taking the third is entirely defensible. Mic time for Aliev and his translator, he opens with some English and gives love to his home country. More love to Tajikistan and they show him on the screen the watch party going on back home, he brings up his father being here and then asks for a post fight bonus.

Joe Solecki has gone 4-1 in the UFC only dropping a split decision to Jared Gordon, he’s coming off of a win back in June of last year and now wants to build another UFC winning streak. Carl Deaton is on a two fight winning streak coming into his UFC debut and looks to get his run off on the winning foot. The odds are heavily with Solecki at a big -520 to the +410 underdog Deaton.

Lightweight Bout: Carl Deaton (17-5 2 NC, 156 lbs.) vs. Joe Solecki (12-3, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Solecki is two inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. Deaton comes out hot looking to pressure. Some jabs from Deaton. Solecki lands a left hook. Solecki has started coming forward now, tries a double leg then switches to a single leg against the fence but Deaton is defending. Back to a double leg from Solecki and he finally gets Deaton down to his seat against the fence. Quick wall walk from Deaton but Solecki jumps to the backpack as they stand. Solecki starts working for the choke as he’s got a body triangle on. Choke attack from Solecki, he’s not under the chin but he’s getting closer with each attack and switches towards more of a crank but Deaton is able to hand fight. Solecki keeps attacking the choke, he loses the body triangle briefly but Deaton can’t get him off of his back. Now Solecki gives up on the backpack but stays on the back in more of a clinch now. A few knees from Solecki close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Solecki but a marginal one

ROUND TWO: Bit of a left from Deaton to start the round. Solecki lands a left of his own. Solecki avoids a punch and hits a double leg in open space. Side control for Solecki, then he puts himself into half guard for more control. Deaton is fishing for a kimura to facilitate his stand up, Solecki moves to side control again then back to half guard as he gets his arm back. Deaton gives up the back trying to stand, and Solecki has the body triangle again. Solecki goes back to fishing for the choke while peppering in punches to help that. Solecki is trying to trap an arm of Deaton with the body triangle but he can’t quite catch it. Deaton is struggling to get motion going but his hand fighting is good enough to stay safe thus far. Solecki grabs the choke as Deaton tries to roll to his knees, Deaton wont tap but does go to sleep.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joe Solecki via Technical Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:55 of Round 2

Mic time for Solecki after the win, he gives glory to God first then expresses his excitement about things right now including his first son being on the way. He puts over Deaton as a tough veteran but knew persistence would pay off later in the fight, then thanks Deaton for taking the fight on short notice.

Here’s the finish, Deaton gets a bit desperate rolling to his knees and having to post with both hands which opens up the final choke attempt. Solecki has a nice squeeze and you can see his knowledge of the mechanics, look at how his choking arm pulls back towards the same shoulder, it’s a choking detail a lot of people don’t recognize and Solecki gets it here despite a less than ideal angle.

Ode’ Osbourne has been up and down in the UFC, going 3-3 in the promotion. Osbourne was last seen getting knocked out by Tyson Nam, now he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Charles Johnson has gone 2-1 in the UFC but he’s on a two fight winning streak and looking to extend that here. This one’s at a catchweight because Johnson took the fight on short notice, replacing Denys Bondar. Osbourne is your -170 favorite to +145 for the short notice Johnson.

Catchweight Bout: Charles Johnson (13-3, 130 lbs.) vs. Ode Osbourne (11-5 1 NC, 130 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Johnson is an inch and a half taller while Osbourne has three inches of reach advantage. Both men start southpaw but Johnson does some stance switching. Osbourne fires some kicks to the body and leg. Inside leg kicks go back and forth, Osbourne staying southpaw though he can theoretically fight orthodox while Johnson does a lot of switching. Osbourne is just kicking the leg over and over, then lands a body kick as well. Bit of a head kick from Johnson, Osbourne catches it and pushes him over but allows him to stand back up. More long range kicks from both men. Osbourne lands a body kick. Leg kick from Osbourne then they trade rights. Osbourne with a body kick then a left hand behind it. A few more inside leg kicks from Osbourne, then one to the outside as Johnson goes southpaw. Osbourne is just beating up those legs while Johnson isn’t firing back much at the moment. Both men fall short with punches. Front kick from Johnson partially lands. Osbourne lands a one two. Johnson bulls forward and this a body lock takedown, Osbourne scrambles to his feet but Johnson is on his back in the clinch. Knees from Johnson to the head and leg as Osbourne gets chest to chest then he breaks free. Osbourne lands a body kick. Johnson keeps coming forward now. They trade punches in close as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Osbourne but a close one

ROUND TWO: Johnson misses a jumping attack. Osbourne lands a leg kick. Osbourne catches a kick, nearly gets a takedown but Johnson defends and separates. Johnson throws a front kick, that hits the groin and we’ve got a time out. Replay confirms the kick landed in the groin and Osbourne is down working on recovering. Osbourne takes almost the full five minutes to recover, the heel of Johnson went right into the cup, but he’s good to continue and we’re back to fighting. More leg kicks from Osbourne, then a side kick to the knee that looked a little ugly. Body kick from Osbourne. Johnson lands an elbow. Bit of a left from Osbourne. Osbourne catches another kick and lands a leg kick. Both men miss punches. They clinch up and Johnson lands an elbow then a right hand as they break. Another clinch from Johnson, they hit the fence and Osbourne starts working to stay upright. Johnson lands some knees but Osbourne spins him into the fence and lands some body shots. They trade knees while fighting for position. Johnson spins for the back standing but they fall to the mat and Osbourne comes out on top. Quick stand up from Johnson, Osbourne takes him back down though and they scramble back up again. Johnson lands a couple of jabs. There’s blood coming from the face of Osbourne, not sure exactly where though. Bit of a knee from Johnson, Osbourne fires back but Johnson lands a head kick. They trade again, then Johnson defends a double leg as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Johnson, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Osbourne lands a left hand to counter a kick. Both men keep looking for kicks. Osbourne reaches for a single leg, has to settle for a clinch on the fence. They fight for position in the clinch, a few knees are getting traded. Osbourne with a solid knee to the body then they break. A couple of punches from Osbourne then a bit of a head kick. Johnson lands a left hand. Body shot from Johnson. They trade lefts. Osbourne tries a single leg, Johnson jumps for a guillotine but can’t get it and Osbourne winds up on his back against the fence. Johnson is able to stand without too much difficulty but Osbourne is still on his back. They break without incident. A few punches from Osbourne, then another single leg and he gets on top this time with some actual control. Johnson tries a wall walk, Osbourne moves to the clinch and lands a knee then a right hand as they break. Johnson sprawls away from a takedown, moves to the back but they wind up just scrambling to the feet. Osbourne lands a body kick. Right hand from Johnson, and they both land punches as the clock runs out.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ode’ Osbourne via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

29-28 either way is perfectly fine, decent little fight. No interview for Osbourne as the five minute low blow delay might be effecting our pacing going forward.

Jordan Leavitt has gone 3-2 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss though and now looks to avoid his first losing streak. Victor Martinez brings a seven fight winning streak into his UFC debut and he’s trying to enter the promotion with a memorable performance. This one is close and closed at -115 for Martinez against -105 for Leavitt..

Lightweight Bout: Jordan Leavitt (10-2, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Victor Martinez (13-4, 154.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Leavitt has an inch of height and reach advantage. Forward pressure from Leavitt, he’s probing with kicks to the leg and body. Martinez can’t fight off a clinch then they hit the fence. Leavitt starts working for a takedown, winds up just landing some knees while keeping control. Martinez is able to spin free and reset. A few punches from Martinez land. Leavitt lands a body kick, he’s still poking with front kicks as well. Accidental kick to the groin of Martinez, both men were moving as the kick was thrown and Martinez is ready to return after 20 seconds. Bit of a left hand from Leavitt then a front kick to the body. Leavitt grabs a clinch and unloads with knees to the body, one to the head and Martinez drops leading to the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jordan Leavitt via TKO, knees and punches, at 2:27 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Leavitt for his work this evening. Mic time for Leavitt after the win, he’s very happy and says he was worried about this fight because he knows how good Martinez is. He says he’s never really knocked someone out with strikes before and talks us through a bit of it. To close he jokingly doubles down on calling anyone who gets drunk by 8pm a degenerate.

Knees to the body bring down the guard, opening up a lane for the knees to the head. Solid stuff from Leavitt.

Jasmine Jasudavicius has gone 1-1 in the UFC, she’s coming off of a loss though and now tries to avoid her first ever losing streak. Gabriella Fernandes is on a seven fight winning streak including a few fights in the LFA, now she’s at the big show and looks to make a good first impression in her UFC debut. Another close one by the odds but Fernandes is your -125 favorite to +105 for Jasudavicius.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Gabriella Fernandes (8-1, 126 lbs.) vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius (7-2, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Jasudavicius is an inch taller with two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Fernandes, and they touch gloves. Fernandes lands an inside leg kick. A lot of long range weapons from Fernandes at the moment, she lands a solid one two. Inside leg kick from Fernandes. Bit of a right from Jasudavicius. Fernandes lands a left hand, Jasudavicius does land a counter right though. Left from Fernandes. Jasudavicius looks to pressure forward but can’t cut off Fernandes. Jasudavicius tries a takedown, they hit the fence and she starts looking for trips. A few knees from Jasudavicius as she’s trying to find some kind of takedown. It takes a second effort but Jasudavicius does get a takedown into leg drag. Jasudavicius lands a few lefts. Body to head punches from Jasudavicius, Fernandes is struggling to address the leg drag position and she’s kind of stuck. Jasudavicius moves to side control as Fernandes finally breaks the position. Elbows from Jasudavicius as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jasudavicius

ROUND TWO: Fernandes gets back to kicking to start the round. Solid left hand from Fernandes. Jasudavicius lands a right hand to counter a body kick, then follows up with a clinch on the fence. Knees from Jasudavicius, Fernandes returns them as they start fighting for position. Jasudavicius forces Fernandes down to her knees and lands an elbow as Fernandes wall walks. Another takedown from Jasudavicius, this time she lands in half guard. Some short elbows from Jasudavicius. Jasudavicius passes to side control and starts looking for the mounted crucifix. Some more short elbows from Jasudavicius and she finally gets the mounted crucifix. Jasudavicius unloads with elbows and punches for a bit, Fernandes finally is able to break the position but still can’t get up as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Jasudavicius lands a left hook. Fernandes lands a left hand then an inside leg kick. Fernandes avoids a clinch, she knows she needs a big round if not a finish. Body kick from Fernandes. Jasudavicius tries a single leg, that hits the fence and she trips Fernandes down into half guard. Fernandes is trying to wall walk then tries to sell out for an arm in guillotine, there’s not much there though. Jasudavicius lands a few punches to the body and passes to side control. There’s a Von Flue choke attempt for Jasudavicius if she wants it, but she either doesn’t know the choke or doesn’t see the chance, she gets her head free as Fernandes gets half guard back. Some punches from Jasudavicius land. Fernandes is stuck again, her lack of knowledge and technique down here is a real problem and Jasudavicius is happy to control and keep landing punches. Fernandes is able to hip escape towards full guard but can’t get up and Jasudavicius moves back on top and lands elbows then punches as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jasmine Jasudavicius via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

A 10-8 for Jasudavicius in the second is entirely justified. No interview for the winner though.

Trevor Peek is undefeated coming into his UFC debut with all of those being finishes before the third round, now he’s hoping to keep up that level of performance for his first fight in the promotion. Erick Gonzalez has gone 0-2 in the UFC, now his back is somewhat against the wall as an 0-3 start might well end his time with the promotion. Peek closed as the -190 favorite against the +160 of Gonzalez.

Lightweight Bout: Erick Gonzalez (14-7, 156 lbs.) vs. Trevor Peek (7-0 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gonzalez is two inches taller with a notable five inches of reach advantage. Both men come out firing. Peek lands an inside leg kick. Gonzalez avoids a right hand. Leg kick from Peek. Peek with another leg kick. They trade some jabs. Peek doesn’t throw off speed, everything is thrown with pretty much everything he’s got. Some knees from Peek but they clinch and Gonzalez gets a body lock takedown into side control. Gonzalez tries mount, not a wise decision as Peek moves with him and stands but Gonzalez with another takedown. Peek quickly fights up to his feet and they break. Peek lands a left hook. They swing into another clinch and Peek grabs a headlock but Gonzalez slips to his back and easily trips him down. Peek wall walks quickly but Gonzalez is still on his back in the clinch. Mat return from Gonzalez then he keeps the back, he’s content to hit mat returns and make Peek wear himself out getting up and over and over. Peek is able to break the grip of Gonzalez and they trade punches. Gonzalez lands a right hand. Peek seems to wake up off of that and fires back but then tries a silly headlock throw and Gonzalez trips him down into half guard. Armbar attack from Peek, but he loses the grip and is able to stand up but still in the clinch. Elbows from Gonzalez in close then they break. Gonzalez lands a couple of rights. Peek slugs a few punches, one landing to the body then head and Gonzalez is hurt. Peek looks to finish but Gonzalez clinches up and stalls the momentum. Peek lands a few punches in close, he’s going body to head and just swinging from his hips. Gonzalez tries to fight back but Peek lands a clubbing right that drops Gonzalez to his knees then a few left uppercuts to the face which prompts the last second stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Trevor Peek via KO, punches, at 4:59 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Peek for his work this evening. Mic time for Peek, he’s over the moon and calls this his ultimate dream then thanks everyone and expresses gratitude for the opportunity. He says he used to be a wild kid without a vision for himself, and MMA might have saved his life but God has given him purpose and direction in life. He doesn’t care if he ever wins belts, giving himself to God has been the greatest thing in his life, and this moment is an extension of that. Asked about the future he puts over his coaches and feels he can go a long way in this sport.

Here’s the finish. There’s very little technique in what Peek is doing, but between his dogged determination to be on offense and his power it doesn’t matter in this instance. This kind of fighting will get you hurt, badly, against a higher level of opposition but until you hit it just being on offense, being willing to fight, and having power will win a lot of fights.

That’s it for prelims, on to the main card.

We open with unfortunate news, our main event is off as Nikita Krylov has some kind of illness that has rendered him unable to compete tonight.

Mike Malott is on a five fight unbeaten streak that includes a successful UFC debut about a year ago, now he’s returning to the Octagon and looks to extend that streak while further establishing himself as a prospect at welterweight. Yohan Lainesse has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and now looks to derail Malott while getting his first UFC winning streak up and running. The odds are with Malott at -215 to Lainesse’s +185.

Welterweight Bout: Yohan Lainesse (9-1, 171 lbs.) vs. Mike Malott (8-1-1, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Lainesse has three inches of reach advantage. Malott pressures forward as Lainesse switches stances while moving. Southpaw for Malott. Body kick and left hand from Malott. Those body kicks from Malott are starting to add up. Lainesse misses a head kick. Bit of a left hand from Lainesse, but Malott clinches up off of it and takes him down into half guard. Lainesse hip escapes to full guard. Malott passes back to half guard and attacks an arm triangle, and passes to the other side with it and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Mike Malott via Submission, arm triangle, at 4:15 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Malott for his work this evening. Mic time for an emotional Malott, he puts over Lainesse as a friend and good fighter, then says he’s hoping to inspire Canadian MMA. He says he prefers to jam in the cage rather than do something too rehearsed, getting on top was part of the game plan but he did feel confident on the feet but wasn’t going to play with that fire too long. To close he talks us through the finish then requests another UFC card in Canada and talks about losing family members during this training camp and gives love to his family.

Check out how tight this choke is, Malott is really deep on it and is able to leverage on top of Lainesse to further compress everything. This isn’t close to the ideal overall body position, but the rest of the choke is so tight that it just doesn’t matter.

Update on Krylov, the UFC medical staff is saying it was a food born illness. If it’s some kind of food poisoning Krylov has my sympathies, I’ve had that and it’s awful.

Tatiana Suarez is undefeated and looked like she was an inevitable UFC champion a few years back, but injury issues have kept her out of action since June of 2019. Now Suarez is healthy and looks to pick up where she left off, heading right towards the title level. Montana De La Rosa has been up and down recently, going 1-1-1 in her last three fights and coming off of a loss she’s trying to spoil the return of Suarez and score the biggest win of her career. Suarez is the biggest favorite on the entire card at a whopping -750 to the +550 on De La Rosa.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Montana De La Rosa (12-7-1, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Tatiana Suarez (8-0, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: De La Rosa has two inches of height and reach advantage. Southpaw for Suarez. Bit of a left from De La Rosa. Suarez lands a body kick, then they clinch up and both women avoid takedowns. They hit the fence and De La Rosa thinks about a guillotine as Suarez switches to a high crotch then finally gets the takedown. De La Rosa sells out of the guillotine but loses the grip immediately and Suarez gets to work on top. Closed guard for De La Rosa, Suarez lands some body to head punches. De La Rosa looks to wall walk, but Suarez is able to catch the back in transition and land punches. Suarez grabs a cradle as De La Rosa stands, and she’s able to ride her back down. De La Rosa bounces up, and Suarez lands a few knees while keeping the clinch. A few small punches from De La Rosa, Suarez is still after the takedown. Suarez lands some knees and punches while keeping the clinch. More knees from Suarez, De La Rosa starts returning them but can’t get off of the fence. Suarez switches for a double leg, but wont be able to finish it before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Suarez

ROUND TWO: Movement from Suarez as the round starts. Both women try kicks but they just wind up clinched again. De La Rosa tries to stay off the fence, she lands uppercuts but Suarez hits a headlock throw to get on top in side control. Suarez lands some elbows to the body as she looks to move towards a mounted crucifix. De La Rosa rolls to her knees, Suarez grabs a front headlock then spins to the ride position. They wrestle on their knees, De La Rosa is able to regain her feet and push Suarez into the fence. More wrestling, Suarez grabs a front headlock, then jumps for a guillotine and starts working to tighten it up. It’s arm in and Suarez keeps cranking on the choke until De La Rosa has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tatiana Suarez via Submission, guillotine choke, at 2:51 of Round 2

Mic time for Suarez after the win, she’s so happy to finally be back and knows how hard it is not to do what you love the most and she’s happy to show that keeping your head up and working will get you through tough times. She calls herself a little anaconda from the front headlock just like Patchy Mix, then thanks everyone who’s helped her over the last few years then goes on to name several people. Asked about the future she’s coming for the strawweight title.

Augusto Sakai looked like he might be a genuine contender at heavyweight back in 2020, but that year he got a step up in class against Alistair Overeem and lost which started his current four fight losing streak. Sakai could easily be in a win or go home type situation as a five fight losing streak almost certainly would end his time with the UFC. Don’Tale Mayes has gone 2-2 with 1 No Contest in the UFC, most recently having a split decision loss changed to a No Contest due to his opponent failing a drug test. Now Mayes tries to get his UFC record above the .500 mark for the first time ever. This one is pretty close but the odds like Sakai at -135 to a +115 payout on Mayes.

Heavyweight Bout: Don’Tale Mayes (9-4 1 NC, 261.5 lbs.) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-5-1, 265 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Mayes is three inches taller with four inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Sakai immediately lands a calf kick. Mayes with a body kick. Both men miss punches. Sakai lands another calf kick then pushes into a clinch on the fence. They fight for position, Mayes lands a knee before they break. Sakai gets back to pressuring Mayes. Bit of a left from Mayes, then Sakai lands a calf kick. Mayes tries a double leg, Sakai sprawls then they start trading knees in the clinch. Some elbows from Sakai then he uses a front headlock to spin Mayes. Sakai lands knees to the head from the front headlock. Mayes is still stuck in the front headlock, more knees from Sakai land. Mayes finally gets his head out but he’s still clinched. Sakai with some punches to the body and head, then an elbow from Sakai as they break. Calf kick from Sakai drops Mayes then Sakai gets on top in the ride position. A few punches from Sakai land. Mayes is able to stand but he’s just pressed into the fence again by Sakai. Elbow from Sakai and they trade in the clinch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sakai

ROUND TWO: Sakai lands a flurry of punches culminating with a right hook and the pushes into a clinch. Mayes is able to get free. Sakai lands a calf kick, those are adding up quickly. Mayes lands a couple of punches but Sakai lands a right hand then clinches. Some knees from Sakai land. Mayes fights to try and switch the position but Sakai is happy to just land knees from wherever they are. A few punches then a knee from Sakai. Mayes lands a few knees of his own before they break. Sakai punches into another clinch. A few short punches from Sakai then a knee. The round just kind of grinds to a halt in the clinch with Sakai working punches.

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

ROUND THREE: Sakai comes out with some punches, then punches into another clinch on the fence. Mayes eventually gets free but eats a leg kick. Southpaw for Mayes now, that left leg has been tenderized. Sakai and Mayes trade, then Sakai forces another clinch. Some knees from Sakai before Mayes pulls free. Mayes might be hurt, he doesn’t look good. A few punches from Mayes as he circles, but Sakai lands a right hook and clinches again. Sakai grabs a front headlock, Mayes keeps grabbing at the shorts of Sakai to keep him from snapping him down. Knees from Sakai land and he finally snaps Mayes down to the mat. Sakai with punches from the ride position, Mayes grabs inside the glove, he’s been cheating a lot this fight between glove grabbing, fence grabbing, and the aforementioned short grabbing. Mayes is able to wall walk, Sakai lands punches along the way and they resume clinching. Knee from Sakai, Mayes lands a spinning elbow and they break. Sakai pushes into a clinch and they start trading there before settling against the fence. Another front headlock from Sakai and he sags Mayes down to his seat against the fence. Sakai lands punches from the ride as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Augusto Sakai via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Not exactly interesting or crowd pleasing but Sakai badly needed that win. Sakai does get an interview along with the translator, he gets emotional talking about how tough the last few years have been and finally getting a win means the world to him, then he thanks the UFC for not giving up on him. He expected to get a finish but Mayes was tough, then puts over his team at American Top Team.

Andre Muniz is on a nine fight winning streak including being 5-0 in the UFC which has seen him crack the top rankings, now he’s looking to defend that spot and try to set his sights on the top ten of the division. Brendan Allen has a solid UFC record of 8-2 only losing to Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis, he’s currently on a three fight winning streak and if he’s able to best Muniz here it would all but guarantee that he’ll crack the rankings himself. Muniz is the favorite at -205 while that +175 payout for Allen might tempt a few bettors out there.

Middleweight Bout: Brendan Allen (20-5, 186 lbs.) vs. #11 Andre Muniz (23-4, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Allen is an inch taller but Muniz has three inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Muniz, and they touch gloves to get things going. Allen lands an inside leg kick, Muniz returns it. Another inside leg kick from Allen. Muniz lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Allen. Muniz lands a left hand, Allen responds with a right hand. Allen lands an inside leg kick. Both men miss punches. Muniz with an inside leg kick. Spinning back kick from Muniz lands. Allen with a body kick. Muniz lands a couple of punches then Allen lands an inside leg kick. Hard right hook from Muniz lands. Allen lands a body kick. Muniz with another combination then he tries a double leg against the fence. Allen is defending, Muniz switches to a single leg and Allen is able to get away. Allen lands a body shot. Muniz lands a hard knee to the body, but Allen got poked in the eye so we’ve got a time out. Replay shows there was some contact, nothing bad though and we’re back to fighting after 30 seconds. Body kicks go back and forth. Big of a left from Muniz. An exchange of punches closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Muniz but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Muniz lands an inside leg kick. Combination from Muniz mostly lands. Allen lands a left to the body. Muniz lands a punch then avoids a spinning back fist. Allen avoids a knee. Muniz lands an inside leg kick then they trade punches in close. Allen lands an inside leg kick. Right hook from Muniz. Allen avoids a double leg but winds up clinched on the cage. Muniz spins Allen down but Allen sweeps him and gets on top in full guard. Allen lands a couple of elbows. Muniz isn’t doing that much with his guard, and Allen passes to side control. Allen lands a few punches and ends the round on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Allen, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Bit of a spinning kick from Muniz. Muniz lands a right hand. Another couple of hooks from Muniz land. Allen lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Muniz. Allen lands a right to the body, Muniz fires back. Muniz lands a side kick to the knee. Allen misses a few punches. Muniz lands a left hand then an inside leg kick. Allen lands a right hand then a body shot. Both men land hooks in close. Body kick from Muniz, but Allen catches it and gets a takedown into side control. Full mount for Allen, he goes after an arm triangle and uses it to get the back. Choke attempt from Allen, Muniz is defending though. Allen with another choke attempt, this one gets tight and Muniz has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brendan Allen via Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:25 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Allen for his work this evening. Mic time for Allen, he says he’s been sent a ton of hate lately and he thanks everyone who supported him before flipping off everyone who doubted him. He knew Muniz would try for the takedown and was well prepared and felt that on top he was better than Muniz, then thanks Muniz for taking the fight and putting him over. Asked about the main event bump he doesn’t care and just wants a post fight bonus before saying the UFC should go to New Orleans at some point. To close he’s asked what he wants next, he would like a rematch with Sean Strickland or Chris Curtis, if not that someone like Jack Hermansson or Dricus Du Plessis. All fairly reasonable call outs.

Well that’s it people, UFC on ESPN+ 78 has come to a close. Thanks for reading, this wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been even if nothing really great came out of it. Next week we’ve got UFC 285, and we’ll preview that tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast. I hope you’ll be back next week for that card, I know I will. Until then thanks for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC On ESPN+ 78, Robert Winfree