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April 29, 2023 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#8 Ricky Simon (136 lbs.) vs. #10 Song Yadong (136 lbs.)
Caio Borralho (185.5 lbs.) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (185.5 lbs.)
Cody Brundage (185.5 lbs.) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (186 lbs.)
Julian Erosa (145.5 lbs.) vs. Fernando Padilla (145.5 lbs.)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta (258 lbs.) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (262.5 lbs.)
Josh Quinlan (169 lbs.) vs. Trey Waters (171 lbs.)

Martin Buday (265 lbs.) vs. Jake Collier (265.5 lbs.)
Cody Durden (126 lbs.) vs. Charles Johnson (125.5 lbs.)
Irina Alekseeva (140 lbs.)* vs. Stephanie Egger (135 lbs.)
Marcus McGhee (140 lbs.) vs. Journey Newson (138.5 lbs.) – 140-pound contract weight
Hailey Cowan (137.5 lbs.)* vs. Jamey-Lyn Horth (135.5 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 81, I’m Robert Winfree and I’m your host as usual. Tonight we’re continuing a string of less than stellar Fight Night cards, but this one still has a couple of fights worth noting. The main event is pretty solid as top ten bantamweights Song Yadong and Ricky Simon battle to see which of them takes the next step forward in maybe the best division in the sport. Elsewhere things get a little slim, but the co-main has some potential when the surging Caio Borralho battles Michal Oleksiejczuk, and jiu-jitsu ace Rodolfo Vieira is back in action. On the prelims we had a couple of weight misses from the ladies and Marcus McGhee stepped in on short notice to replace Brian Kelleher, but it’s a flyweight fight between Charles Johnson and Cody Durden that I think has the most potential of the prelims. Mostly we’re hoping for good action because this isn’t a terribly compelling card on paper.

UFC on ESPN+ 81 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being in Nevada means we have instant replay and a ref outside the cage watching monitors who can ask for replay as well. We’ve got Brendan Fitzgerald, Daniel Cormier, and Dominick Cruz on commentary. Also keep in mind the Apex has the smaller 25 foot diameter cage set up.

Hailey Cowan missed weight for her UFC debut, never a good look, but she’s won her last two fights and now looks to make the most of her only chance at a first impression. Jamey-Lyn Horth is undefeated but she’s been out of action since the end of 2021 and now looks to end the brief hiatus with a win in the UFC. The odds are with Horth at -165 against +140 for Cowan.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Hailey Cowan (7-2, 137.5 lbs.)* vs. Jamey-Lyn Horth (5-0, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cowan has an inch of height and reach advantage. Southpaw for Cowan, and they touch gloves. Some pressure from Cowan. Bit of a left from Cowan. Horth keeps probing with inside leg kicks. Hard body kick from Horth. Cowan lands a body kick of her own. A bit of stance switching from Horth now. Cowan lands a one two. Bit of a left from Cowan, Horth lands another body kick though. Cowan falls just a bit short on a combination. Horth lands another body kick. Spinning back kick from Cowan lands. They clinch up and Horth pushes Cowan into the fence. Knees are traded as they jockey for position. Cowan lands an elbow. More knees are traded then Horth lands a right as they break apart. Cowan misses a couple of kicks. Head kick from Horth mostly lands. Cowan bulls forward and tries a takedown, Horth defends and lands a knee before they hit the fence. Cowan lands an elbow. They trade rights as they break the clinch. Cowan lands a couple of punches to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Horth

ROUND TWO: Quick clinch this round but Cowan lands a right in there. Horth lands a knee then eats an elbow. Knee from Cowan then Horth lands a right as they break. Horth lands another body kick but Cowan gets a takedown off of that one into full guard. Cowan lands some short rights ten an elbow. Horth is getting her guard in play but Cowan is posturing through it. Scramble from Horth and she’s up but still in the clinch. A few body shots from Cowan then a knee and they break. Horth lands a jab. Cowan misses a jumping knee. Horth misses a head kick. Cowan misses a left. Cowan lands a left hand. Right uppercut from Cowan seems to wobble Horth and they clinch up on the fence. They trade some knees. Horth lands a right as they break. Cowan gets a takedown just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cowan, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Horth lands a body kick. Cowan tries a takedown but Horth defends and they clinch up. Cowan tries a trip, Horth grabs the fence and remains upright. Knee from Cowan. More knees are traded. Cowan hits a trip, they scramble as Horth doesn’t concede position and they wind up back in the clinch with Horth looking for a takedown. Cowan is able to spin Horth into the fence then they break. Bit of a left from Cowan. Horth lands a right. Right hook from Cowan lands. Horth lands a right hand. Bit of a head kick from Horth but Cowan responds with a combination of punches. Cowan lands a left. They trade rights. Horth lands a one two. Right from Horth. Cowan lands a left hand then blocks a head kick. Horth avoids a takedown, tires a head kick but Cowan off balances her and gets on top with short time. Cowan lands a couple of elbows as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jamey-Lyn Horth via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Mic time for Horth, she knew Cowan would underestimate her strength because Horth tends to fight at flyweight. She knew the open stance would open up the power kicks. Short interview.

Journey Newson has gone 1-3 with 1 No Contest in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid another losing streak that might see him bounced from the promotion. Marcus McGhee took this fight on very short notice, hence the catchweight, but he’s won his last two fights and could score a notable upset if he bests Newson. Not surprising to see Newson as the -170 favorite against +145 for McGhee.

Catchweight Bout: Marcus McGhee (6-1, 140 lbs.) vs. Journey Newson (10-4 1 NC, 138.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: McGhee is three inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. Southpaw for McGhee, and they touch gloves to get us going. Both men probe with kicks, neither finding much just yet. Newson is starting to show a lot of stance switches already. McGhee avoids a few punches. Newson avoids a wheel kick. Jumping knee from McGhee, Newson catches it but can’t finish the takedown. Newson lands a right hand. A few more long range kicks from Newson, he’s targeting the body. McGhee avoids a head kick and lands a left hand. They clinch up, but McGhee is able to spin free quickly. McGhee lands another left. Bit of a right from Newson but McGhee is all over him with counters. Newson is able to force a clinch but McGhee is able to scramble free. McGhee lands a couple of punches then Newson forces another clinch. Spinning elbow from Newson lands before they break. McGhee is still pressuring forward, he lands another right hand. They trade rights to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 McGhee

ROUND TWO: Both men get back to kicking as the round starts. Bit of a right from McGhee. Newson tries a trip but can’t follow up. Inside leg kick from Newson. They clinch up and hit the fence. Newson is able to finish a single leg, McGhee does quickly scramble up though and drops Newson with a left hand. McGhee gets on top and gets the back, he’s after the choke and gets it to force the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcus McGhee via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:03 of Round 2

Solid debut for McGhee, who gets an interview. McGhee feels great, gives glory to God and he just does the work so even on three days notice he can show up and show out. He puts over Newson as a tough opponent. He talks about being able to train every day as now he’s finally a full time fighter and the difference is showing. When talking us through the finish he again puts over Newson and knew he had to keep a high pace to get him out of there.

This doesn’t show the left hand that dropped Newson, but it’s a pretty good choke from McGhee as Newson doesn’t hand fight properly.

Stephanie Egger has gone 3-2 in the UFC and she’s coming off of a win, now trying to build another winning streak she hopes to take aim at some bigger names going forward. Irina Alekseeva missed weight for her UFC debut, never a good thing, and now looks for a win to help smooth over her gaff on the scales. The odds are with Egger at -305 to the +255 underdog Alekseeva.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Irina Alekseeva (4-1, 140 lbs.)* vs. Stephanie Egger (8-3, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Alekseeva is two inches taller while Egger has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Egger pushes forward while Alekseeva opens up with kicks. Leg kick from Egger. Alekseeva pushes close and looks to land punches. A lot of leg kicks from Egger. Both women miss punches. Alekseeva has started probing with kicks as well. A few punches from Alekseeva land in close, she’s squaring up but Egger isn’t making her pay for the poor positioning. They clinch and Egger gets the back, Alekseeva rolls for a kneebar and is able to finally tip Egger over then lock up the kneebar and force the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Irina Alekseeva via Submission, kneebar, at 2:11 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Alekseeva for her work this afternoon. Mic time for Alekseeva and the translator, she feels great after the win and says she didn’t care if Egger tried to beat her up because her will was stronger. She talks us through the finish and notes she does a lot of work with people behind her. I believe that was intended to be humorous.

You all know I’m a sucker for a good leg lock, so here’s the finish. Commentary correctly mentions that Egger needed to keep her weight forward and her balance, once she tips to her hip it’s pretty much over.

Cody Durden has gone 3-1 in his last four fights only falling to rising force Muhammad Mokaev but he’s currently on a two fight winning streak, if Durden can get to three in a row here it might mean a look at some bigger names next time out. Charles Johnson has gone 2-2 in the UFC, most recently dropping a split decision and now he looks to solidify himself as a rising flyweight while avoiding his first ever losing streak. Johnson closed as the -135 favorite go Durden’s +115.

Flyweight Bout: Cody Durden (14-4-1, 126 lbs.) vs. Charles Johnson (13-4, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Johnson is two inches taller with three inches of reach advantage. Johnson quickly attacks a leg lock, Durden tried a takedown but Johnson used the leg attack to scramble up with Durden on his back. Durden with a mat return then jumps into the backpack position as Johnson stands. Durden is attack the choke with a body triangle in the backpack, but Johnson is hand fighting nicely thus far. Durden bails on the body triangle and settles for trying to get a mat return. Johnson looks to wall walk, he’s on his knees against the fence then stands and is able to spin free. Johnson and Durden trade leg kicks. Bit of an uppercut from Durden in close. Johnson lands an uppercut of his own. Inside leg kick from Durden. Single leg from Durden, he’s able to finish it but Johnson scoots to the fence and wall walks, then he grabs a reverse triangle as Durden takes him back down but there’s not enough time to really finish it before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Durden

ROUND TWO: Durden quickly tries to wrestle again, he gets the back on the fence again but Johnson resumes working to stand right away. Johnson is trying to wall walk again, Durden grabs a body triangle though and spins him away from the fence. Johnson is able to break the triangle and scrambles back to the fence where he wall walks. Durden is in the backpack position again, and sags Johnson to his knees. Some knees to the leg from Durden as he’s in the ride position. Mat return from Durden then he grabs another body triangle. Johnson is able to break the lock and inverts then scrambles free. Both men look pretty fatigued. Durden lands a right hand. Johnson is looking to jab and get his hands working. Bit of a body kick from Johnson, then Durden lands a counter one two. Durden forces a clinch, Johnson lands a few knees then separates. Body kick from Johnson then another clinch. They break, trade hands then the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Johnson lands a couple of punches then a knee to the body. Durden might be fading here, he tries a takedown but Johnson defends it. Johnson with a couple of jabs. Durden lands an inside leg kick but eats a counter punch. They trade rights. A few jabs go back and forth, then Johnson lands a body shot. Durden tries a single leg, that hits the fence but Johnson defends and lands an elbow then breaks. Right hand from Durden lands, then he tries another takedown but Johnson is able to stall him into a clinch. Johnson lands a knee as they break apart. Durden lands a right hand but eats a couple of jabs in response. Johnson tries to stop a single leg, Durden finishes it but Johnson wall walks with Durden on his back again. Durden jumps for a body triangle into the backpack, Johnson stands and looks to shake him off over the top but that’s a hard thing to do against a body triangle. Things are stalling a bit and Durden bails on the backpack to hit a mat return but he can’t keep Johnson down. Johnson looks to shake Durden off over the top again but his base breaks down and Durden is able to land a punch from the back. Both hooks still in for Durden and he’ll end the round on the back of Johnson.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Durden but the closest round scoring wise, 30-27 Durden overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Cody Durden via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Mic time for Durden, he knew the fight would be hard then puts over his team for getting him ready and notes he’s exhausted and his right arm is numb but it doesn’t matter because he got the win. He puts over Johnson as a great competitor and better person. He wans a ranked opponent next and has a somewhat eye rolling series of rhymes.

Martin Buday is on a 10 fight winning streak including being 2-0 in the UFC, he’s trying to continue that momentum here and start making waves in the heavyweight division. Jake Collier has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights and is on a two fight losing streak, now Collier is trying to avoid the dreaded three fight skid. This one closed very close, -130 on Buday to +110 for Collier.

Heavyweight Bout: Martin Buday (11-1, 265 lbs.) vs. Jake Collier (13-8, 265.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Buday is an inch taller while Collier has an inch and a half inches of reach advantage. Both men open with jabs. Collier pressures forward and both men are swinging hard. Buday lands an uppercut in close that backs up Collier. Collier lands a left hand. Buday lands a leg kick. Collier with a few calf kicks then a right hand. Buday lands a left hook and then flurries along the fence before they clinch. Collier slips out of the clinch and lands another calf kick. They split jabs again. Bit of an uppercut from Buday. Several jabs from Collier land. Buday has pretty good defense thus far, he’s blocking anytime Collier tries to flurry. They clinch then Collier slips free. Buday lands a leg kick. Collier swings a couple of body shots. Front kick from Buday. They clinch up against the fence, then break without anything really happening there. Collier misses a couple of punches then Buday lands an uppercut. Leg kick form Collier drops Buday, Collier jumps on him and winds up in the ride position. The round will end in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Collier

ROUND TWO: Both men come out jabbing again. Buday lands a leg kick. Collier keeps coming forward and forces a clinch. They break without incident. Bit of a right from Buday. Buday lands a left hook then avoids a spinning back fist. They tie up and Buday lands some short uppercuts before Collier pulls free. Knee from Buday then a right hand. Collier is still pushing forward but he’s slowed visibly. They trade knees in the clinch then Collier lands an elbow as they break. Buday keeps pushing a decent pace, and Collier clinches again. They break without incident. Buday slips a right hand and lands a counter combination before Collier clinches. Another break and Buday keeps coming after Collier, forcing him against the fence and landing an uppercut. Collier reaches for another clinch, and they trade knees then Buday lands a right hand as they break. Collier is hurt and Buday lands punches. Right to the body from Buday as Collier clinches yet again. More knees from Buday, Collier definitely is hurt to the body as he looks for a takedown along the fence. Buday defends and lands more knees before Collier breaks. Collier falls into another clinch and they trade some more knees as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Buday, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Buday with a combination to start the round. Collier looks to work the jab. Buday lands a left hook. Uppercut from Buday. Another uppercut and a left hook from Buday staggers Collier. Collier clinches and forces things to the fence. Knee from Buday then a right hand. They break and Collier complains of an eye poke so we get a time out. Replay shows there was a finger in the eye. The doctor comes in to check the right eye, seems like Collier is able to continue so we’re back to fighting after a little under 2 minutes. They touch gloves and we’re back to fighting. Buday lands an uppercut. Leg kick then a left hook from Buday. They trade jabs for a bit. Buday lands a combination that backs up Collier. Collier starts coming forward again, he jabs the body then misses a left hook. They clinch and trade some short uppercuts. A few knees from Buday land. More knees are traded, Collier tries a takedown but Buday pushes him over and jumps on top in half guard. Punches from Buday then he moves to full mount. Buday with a few short elbows, Collier is just holding his head to keep him from posturing up. Buday slips to stand over Collier, he lands an uppercut and moves to the ride to land more punches before the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Martin Buday via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

No interview for Buday as we’re short on time before the main card.

Well that’s it for the prelims, but we’re still on ESPN+ for the main card.

Josh Quinlan is undefeated including a win in his UFC debut last year, he’s trying to keep that streak going here and prove he’s a notable prospect in the division. Trey Waters took this fight on short notice when Ange Loosa fell out of the fight, but he did win his last fight earlier this month and now looks to make the most of his UFC debut. Given the short notice replacement it’s not surprising to see Quinlan as the favorite at -190 to +160 for Waters.

Welterweight Bout: Josh Quinlan (6-0 1 NC, 169 lbs.) vs. Trey Waters (7-1, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Waters has a notable five inches of height and reach over Quinlan. Both men open with some feinting, then Quinlan tries a leg scissor attack or Waters kicked his leg, can’t tell which, and they wind up clinched on the fence. They fight for position in the clinch then Quinlan lands a knee. A couple of punches from Quinlan land as they break. Waters starts looking to establish his jab, he wants to keep Quinlan at distance and use his longer frame. Quinlan misses a right hand and eats a counter left. Counter right from Waters lands as he avoids a lunging left hook. Quinlan really doesn’t have a feel for the range yet, and the size disparity is giving him problems at the moment. Calf kick from Quinlan. Waters with some more lead hand work as he looks to counter while putting on pressure. Counter right from Waters lands. Another right from Waters. Quinlan goes southpaw, and misses a head kick then goes back to orthodox. A couple of front kicks from Waters then another pull counter right. Waters with some more lead hand work. Another right from Waters lands. Quinlan hits a takedown then a couple of punches as they fight up just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Waters

ROUND TWO: Quinlan pushes forward and lands a left hook. Waters lands a right hand after slipping a punch. Jab from Waters, then another one. More jabs from Waters then a counter right as Quinlan reaches for a left hook. Bit of a one two from Waters. Waters is just keeping up the pace, his jab is pushing Quinlan back on his heels every time he tries to walk into closer range. Quinlan tries a takedown, but Waters shoves him off. More lead hand work from Waters. Again Waters with that pull back counter right, he’s working consistently at this point. Waters lands a one two. They trade lefts then Waters lands a right hand. Quinlan lands a calf kick. Both men miss left hooks. Counter right from Waters lands. Calf kick from Quinlan lands again. Quinlan lands a body kick but Waters lands a counter right then a left, Quinlan grabs a clinch and he tries a throw but winds up on his back as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Quinlan comes out and lands a calf kick. Waters with a right hand then avoids a takedown attempt. More lead hand work from Waters as he avoids hooks from Quinlan. I’m surprised Waters hasn’t used an uppercut yet, it’s a nice punch to intercept the smaller man. Waters lands a three punch combination and Quinlan is backing off and hurt. More rights from Waters, then Quinlan lands a solid calf kick. One two from Waters. More jabs from Waters, then he avoids some punches and lands counters. Quinlan has just been a full step behind the whole fight. Both men avoid a few punches. Waters defends a takedown attempt and lands a left hand. Hard right from Waters locks up Quinlan, Quinlan is hurt and backing up but Waters doesn’t push too hard after him. Quinlan misses a left hook. One two from Waters. Quinlan misses in close then eats a right hand. Waters has stopped jabbing as much, and Quinlan is getting a little closer just via footwork now. Bit of a right from Waters. Quinlan’s face is a mess at this point, he bulls forward but Waters hits a double leg. Quinlan fights up, Waters with a mat return and they’ll end the round on the mat.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Trey Waters via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Heck of a debut for Trey Waters, he looked darn good out there. Mic time for Waters, he doesn’t have words for how blessed he is. He talks us through some highlights, noting he knew he could use his range and that things went about as he hoped apart from not getting a finish.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima has gone 3-1 in his last four fights, he was last seen beating Andrei Arlovski and now he’s trying for another winning streak while halting the budding hype around his opponent. Waldo Cortes-Acosta is undefeated overall including two wins in the UFC, he’s trying to score his first UFC finish here and prove himself a notable prospect in a division that seems to constantly need them. De Lima closed as the favorite at -175 against +150 for Cotes-Acosta.

Heavyweight Bout: Waldo Cortes-Acosta (9-0, 258 lbs.) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (20-8-1, 262.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cortes-Acosta has three inches of height and reach over de Lima. They touch gloves to get us going. De Lima pressures forward early, and lands a series of leg kicks. Left hook from de Lima lands to counter a body kick. Cortes-Acosta lands a right hand to counter a leg kick. De Lima with another leg kick, those are adding up already. More leg kicks from de Lima. Cortes-Acosta is starting to limp and his leg is swelling. De Lima keeps chopping the legs then forces a clinch. Outside trip from de Lima and he’s on top in side control. Cortes-Acosta looks to roll to his knees, de Lima moves to the ride. Some rights from de Lima land but Cortes-Acosta is able to stand and they reset. Cortes-Acosta looks to jab, and gets calf kicked again. De Lima with more leg kicks. Bit of a right from Cortes-Acosta. They clinch up, and hit the fence. De Lima starts looking for trips but he’s got to deal with the body lock of Cortes-Acosta. Cortes-Acosta lands a few knees to the leg. They break apart. Left hook from de Lima lands, then a calf kick. De Lima just keeps kicking that leg. They clinch again and again hit the fence. The round ends there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 de Lima

ROUND TWO: De Lima gets back to leg kicking. Both men miss punches then de Lima lands two more calf kicks. They trade body kicks then de Lima lands a left hook. Another calf kick from de Lima. That left leg of Cortes-Acosta is pretty toast. De Lima with a body shot. Double leg from de Lima and he finishes it into half guard. Cortes-Acosta is trying to set up a wall walk but de Lima is very heavy on top. Cortes-Acosta grabs at a kimura, he’s looking to force movement or a sweep but de Lima passes to full mount then the ride position. Wall walk from Cortes-Acosta, de Lima is holding him from the back. A few short punches from de Lima land then he trips Cortes-Acosta back down into half guard. De Lima loses the position and they wind up back on the feet. Hard calf kick from de Lima, that leg is hurt. Cortes-Acosta keeps punching and coming forward, de Lima ties up looking for a double leg against the fence. They wind up clinched and that’s where the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 de Lima, 20-18 de Lima overall

ROUND THREE: Both men looking slower now. Cortes-Acosta swings a few rights that don’t land. De Lima lands a calf kick. Cortes-Acosta lands a jab. De Lima avoids a couple of punches. Inside leg kick from de Lima. Spinning back kick from Cortes-Acosta. Cortes-Acosta lands a jab. Bit of a left hook from de Lima. Cortes-Acosta has a combination blocked but his hands are still pretty quick. De Lima lands a calf kick, that one hurt. Front kick from de Lima. Cortes-Acosta lands a right to the body. Cortes-Acosta lands a left to the body, de Lima counters with a left hook. Bit of a right from de Lima. De Lima lands a calf kick. Cortes-Acosta lands a couple of punches. That jab of Cortes-Acosta is starting to do work now as de Lima has stopped countering it. De Lima tries a double leg, that hits the fence and he settles for a clinch. Cortes-Acosta spins free. A couple of rights from Cortes-Acosta land, then de Lima lands a heavy calf kick. They trade lefts. Cortes-Acosta lands a right then eats a left hook. That’ll basically end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cortes-Acosta, 29-28 de Lima overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

De Lima and the translator are here for an interview, he mentions being in the UFC for 9 years and is glad his evolution is showing and thanks several of his coaches past and present. He knew the leg kicks would be important for this fight and they paid off.

Julian Erosa just had a three fight winning streak snapped when he got head kicked by Alex Caceres, now he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2019 by getting his hand raised tonight. Fernando Padilla brings a two fight winning streak into his UFC debut, and if he can best a veteran like Erosa it will speak well about his upside. Erosa is a slight -145 favorite to +125 on Padilla.

Featherweight Bout: Julian Erosa (28-10, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Fernando Padilla (14-4, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Padilla has an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Erosa with a leg kick and a left hook. Padilla looks to get his jab working. Padilla lands a right hand in close. I’m also calling a little BS on these two being the same height, Padilla looks taller and it’s not just his stance. Leg kick from Padilla. Erosa lands a calf kick then a right hand in close. Another calf kick from Erosa. Padilla lands a combination and Erosa is hurt, he then drops him with a right hand, Erosa bounces up but Padilla clobbers him again and the ref steps in. Erosa is not happy with that one and I don’t blame him.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Fernando Padilla via TKO, punches, at 1:41 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Padilla for his work this evening. Mic time for Padilla, he knew people expected him to be nervous but he knew he belongs here and he’s just a happy guy who worked very hard to get here. He talks us through the finish and says he’s trained very hard on his power and accuracy, he felt like he flowed out there.

Here’s the finish. I can understand Erosa being upset, but I can also understand why the ref stepped in. The accuracy of Padilla here was impressive, and Erosa’s defense has never been his strong suit.

Rodolfo Vieira is one of the finest grapplers of his generation but has traded wins and losses while going 2-2 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss to Chris Curtis and now looks to avoid his first ever losing streak. Cody Brundage has gone 2-2 in his last four fights and is likewise coming off of a loss, he’s trying to avoid a losing streak while securing his most notable win to date. The odds are with Vieira at -240 while that +200 comeback on Brundage might be a tempting little value bet.

Middleweight Bout: Cody Brundage (8-3, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Rodolfo Vieira (8-2, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Vieira has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Bit of a leg kick from Brundage. A lot of kicks from Brundage then a right uppercut and some rights. Vieira tries a single leg, that hits the fence but it does stifle the offense of Brundage. Vieira tries to hit a throw, but Brundage doesn’t go down and they remain clinched on the fence. Right from Vieira lands, there’s blood coming from somewhere but I can’t tell if it’s coming from Vieira’s eyebrow or the ear of Brundage. OK, the cut is around Vieira’s left eyebrow. Brundage is doing a good job of staying upright, but takes a knee to the groin so we’ve got a time out. Brundage takes a little over a minute then we’re back to fighting. Vieira misses a one two. A right from Brundage drops Vieira, he jumps on top and tries to follow up, Vieira looks for a half guard sweep and Brundage tries to switch to elbows. Vieira nearly hits his sweep but Brundage is able to keep on top. Vieira fights up and looks for a single leg that stalls on the fence. Takedown from Vieria works, he gets on top in the ride position. Only one hook for Vieira, he lands hammer fists and punches looking to open up a choke attempt. More hammer fists from Vieira as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brundage

ROUND TWO: Vieira jabs the body, he’s backing up Brundage. Vieira tries a single leg against the fence, Brundage drops for a guillotine. The arm is in but Brundage is looking to tighten up the choke. Vieira gets his head free and passes to half guard. Arm triangle attack from Vieira, that was quick and tight and Brundage has to give up his back to break the choke. Vieira attacks the arm triangle again, this time Brundage can’t get free and has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, arm triangle choke, at 1:28 of Round 2

Mic time for Vieira, he’s very happy because he hadn’t won in almost two years and had to deal with three different fights falling out over the last little bit. He knew Brundage had a strong guillotine and he was prepared for him to jump for it so he was ready to defend and counter. Asked about getting dropped in the first he says the punches were hard but his trainers and family have all put a ton of work into him and he wasn’t going to go out.

This doesn’t include some of the transitions from Vieira, and jumping for a guillotine against Vieira is a perplexing decision though I suspect he knew he was going to the mat and just tried it because he might as well control the descent. The decision didn’t work, as Vieira’s jiu-jitsu remains top tier.

Caio Borralho has a 12 fight unbeaten streak going including two wins in the UFC, now he’s looking to firmly set his sights on the top fifteen of the division if he can score another win here. Michal Oleksiejczuk has gone 2-0 since returning to middleweight, a weight class where he has never tasted defeat, and much like Borralho he’s trying to take aim at bigger names going forward if he can get his hand raised tonight. Borralho is a quite heavy -365 favorite against +300 for Oleksiejczuk.

Middleweight Bout: Caio Borralho (13-1 1 NC, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (18-5 1 NC, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Oleksiejczuk is two inches taller while Borralho has an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for both men, and they touch gloves to get us going. Oleksiejczuk comes forward and lands a left hand. Left to the body from Oleksiejczuk, Borralho counters with a calf kick. More body shots from Oleksiejczuk, he’s pressuring and looking to keep a high pace. Borralho misses a jumping knee then lands a calf kick but eats a counter left. Oleksiejczuk pushes forward and lands another couple of body shots. Left hand from Oleksiejczuk lands. Borralho lands another leg kick. Oleksiejczuk with another left to the body. Borralho reaches for a single leg, Oleksiejczuk defends then they trade knees before breaking a clinch. More pressure from Oleksiejczuk, but Borralho lands a right hook. Oleksiejczuk defends a takedown and they hit the fence then pull free after trading some body work. Both men miss lefts. Knee from Borralho. Oleksiejczuk lands a left. More pressure from Oleksiejczuk and he lands a right to the body. They clinch and Oleksiejczuk lands a knee but we get a time out as Borralho complains of a knee to the groin. Replay is a little dubious, but Borralho doesn’t take long so we’re back to fighting. Oleksiejczuk is back to immediate pressure and body shots. One two from Oleksiejczuk. Borralho isn’t moving as much now. Oleksiejczuk lands a left to the kidney, that’s just mean. Borralho tries a takedown, Oleksiejczuk defends again and they break. Oleksiejczuk lands a couple of punches. Borralho lands a left then a right to the body. Jab from Oleksiejczuk. Borralho forces a clinch and trips Oleksiejczuk down while on his back. Oleksiejczuk looks to set up a wall walk. Borralho lands some strikes from the ride as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Oleksiejczuk but could go the other way

ROUND TWO: Oleksiejczuk gets back to pressuring forward as the round starts. Borralho avoids a few punches then eats a body shot. Oleksiejczuk just never stops coming forward, he lands a right hand. Borralho lands a couple of leg kicks. Oleksiejczuk lands a left to the body. Borralho tries a double leg, he hits it against the fence and Oleksiejczuk starts working a wall walk. Oleksiejczuk is up, but Borralho spins him down and lands in half guard. Borralho looks to pass again, he gets full mount then has the back. Oleksiejczuk looks to wall walk again, Borralho lands some lefts then gets the back with both hooks in. Body triangle for Borralho. Choke attack from Borralho, that’s tight and Oleksiejczuk has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Caio Borralho via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:49 of Round 2

Mic time for a very fired up Borralho, he knew Oleksiejczuk would be tough but once they got out of the first he knew he could get him as they both slowed a bit. He talks us through the finish and warns everyone that he has the best double leg in the UFC. He’s been working hard on training his finishes and puts over all of his coaches and trainers for their work. Asked what he wants next he would like a top fifteen opponent, someone like Derek Brunson maybe since Brunson has been avoiding him for a couple of fights.

Nice choke from Borralho here, he’s on a long overall winning streak and I agree he should be due a ranked opponent next.

Song Yadong has gone 3-2 in his last five fights but he’s coming off of a loss to Cory Sandhagen, Song is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak and prove he’s putting the pieces together to make a legitimate run at the top of the division. Ricky Simon is on a five fight winning streak that has seen him climb the crowded bantamweight rankings, now he’s trying to move up through the top 10 with another win here and set his sights on a really big fight next time out. This one is pretty close, the odds leaning slightly towards Simon at -120 to an even +100 on Song.

Bantamweight Bout: #8 Ricky Simon (20-3, 136 lbs.) vs. #10 Song Yadong (19-7-1 1 NC, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Song is two inches taller while Simon has two inches of reach advantage. Simon shows some early kicks that don’t land. A little stance switching from Simon, but he’s mostly orthodox. Some forward pressure from Song as Simon circles. Song avoids a reaching takedown then lands a right hand and a leg kick behind it. Bit of a knee from Song. Body kick from Song. Bit of a body kick from Simon. Simon with a glancing one two. Song misses a one two and they clinch up, Song lands a knee as they fight for position. Simon is able to spin free and they reset. Simon with a right hand. Song checks a leg kick. Song with a bit of a left hand then a calf kick. Simon misses a left hook. Leg kick from Song then a right hand. Song misses a couple of kicks to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Song

ROUND TWO: Song gets back to forward pressure. Calf kick from Song. Simon lands a jab. Another leg kick from Song. Bit of a combination from Song, Simon might be hurt and Song flurries but Simon clinches up and gets a takedown into side control. Song wall walks and they break. There was apparently a clash of heads in there. Glancing right from Song then a left hand behind it. A couple of body shots from Song land. Song lands a calf kick. Front kick from Song, he’s kind of pushing Simon around at this point. A left hook from Song stuns Simon for a second. Another left from Song lands. Simon tries to get his jab going to keep Song off of him but it’s not working. Song with a body shot, Simon didn’t like that one. Simon avoids a few hooks but his offense is horribly muted by the pressure of Song. Song lands a calf kick. Both men miss punches then Song lands a left to the body, that didn’t feel good. Simon hits a takedown into half guard. Simon looks to unload but Song fights up as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Song gets back to pressure. Takedown from Simon, but Song immediately bounces up and they reset. Right hand from Song lands. A left from Song hits Simon in the groin so we’ve got a time out. It’s rare in MMA you see a punch to the groin but this one was. Song gets a stern warning and we’re back to fighting after 48 seconds. More pressure from Song, he lands an inside leg kick. Simon misses a one two and eats a left hand. Song with more leg kicks then avoids a takedown attempt. Bit of a right from Simon. Song misses a couple of kicks. Left to the body from Song then a couple of calf kicks behind it. Song lands a right hand. A left from Song hurts Simon, then another one behind it. Simon circles away but he got buzzed there. Bit of a left from Song in close. Simon avoids a few strikes but he’s still on the back foot. Song lands a body shot. Song misses a kick and back fist. Simon avoids a right hand as the round ends.

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

ROUND FOUR: Song gets back to pressure. Simon lands a right hand. Calf kick from Song. Simon lands a jab. Song with another leg kick then he lands a right to the body. Simon lands a jab. A right from Song lands to slightly off balance Simon. Song sprawls away from a couple of takedown attempts. Simon blocks a left hook. Bit of a one two from Song then a left to the body. A couple more calf kicks from Song then they trade rights. Bit of a left hook from Song. Simon lands a jab. Song with a right hand. Simon checks a calf kick. Song avoids some jabs then lands a body kick. Some jabs from Song now. Right from Song in close, Simon is cut around the left eyebrow. Simon lands another jab. Song with a double jab then a right hand. Calf kick from Song then a left hand that sits down Simon just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Song, 40-36 Song overall

ROUND FIVE: More pressure from Song, Simon badly needs a stoppage and to change the entire flow of the fight. Both men show the jab as they move around. Simon lands a jab. Glancing left hook from Song. A right from Song stuns Simon, then a leg kick behind it. Simon is still upright but he’s hurt. A left hook from Song in close drops Simon again, he jumps on top and looks to pound things out, Simon tries to stand and escape but Song just keeps punching him and the ref has to step in.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Song Yadong via TKO, punches, at 1:10 of Round 5

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Song for his work this evening. Mic time for Song and his translator, he opens with English to say he’s happy and put over Simon, next he wants a top five opponent. Not bad English. He talks us through the finish and notes a big part of the game plan was pressure. Asked if he has a specific name for his next opponent, he says either Sean O’Malley or a rematch with Marlon Vera. Either of those are good fights.

Well on that note, UFC on ESPN+ 81 comes to a close. Thank you for reading, be that live or after the fact, I always appreciate it. We’ll unpack all the fallout from this event, plus look ahead to UFC 288 tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast when Aljamain Sterling tries to defend his title against Henry Cejudo. I’ll be back here next week for that event and I hope you will as well. Until then thank you reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 81, Robert Winfree