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March 16, 2024 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#9 Tai Tuivasa (265.5 lbs.) vs. #10 Marcin Tybura (247 lbs.)
Bryan Battle (170 lbs.) vs. Ange Loosa (171 lbs.)
Kennedy Nzechukwu (205 lbs.) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (206 lbs.)
Isaac Dulgarian (145.5 lbs.) vs. Christian Rodriguez (145 lbs.)
#10 Macy Chiasson (135.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Pannie Kianzad (136 lbs.)
Bryan Barberena (186 lbs.) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (185.5 lbs.)

Mike Davis (155 lbs.) vs. Natan Levy (156.5 lbs.)*
#14 Chelsea Chandler (137 lbs.)* vs. #13 Josiane Nunes (135 lbs.)
Jafel Filho (125.5 lbs.) vs. Ode Osbourne (125.5 lbs.)
Josh Culibao (146 lbs.) vs. Danny Silva (148.5 lbs.)*
Jaqueline Amorim (116 lbs.) vs. Cory McKenna (115.5 lbs.)
Thiago Moises (155.5 lbs.) vs. Mitch Ramirez (155.5 lbs.)
Chad Anheliger (135 lbs.) vs. Charalampos Grigoriou (136 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 97, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the event. On the heels of the pretty darn good UFC 299 card last week we’re back in the UFC warehouse for more run of the mill content. I know that comes across as a bit myopic but these Apex cards really are the clear third tier of UFC events and this one doesn’t really break that trend. The main event is heavyweights because of course it is, anyway Tai Tuivasa takes on Marcin Tybura there and both men are still ranked in the top 10 and both are trying to make one last push up the ranks before things really pass them by. Beyond that Ovince Saint Preux takes on Kennedy Nzechukwu, Bryan Battle takes on Ange Loosa, honestly the next potentially interesting fight is Bryan Barberena vs. Gerald Meerschaert just because it has weirdness written all over it. The prelims are pretty barren, Thiago Moises is pretty good and Josh Culibao has shown a bit of promise but most of this is going to be hoping for good action in practice because on paper this is pretty forgettable.

UFC on ESPN+ 97 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. John Gooden will try to wrangle Michael Bisping and Dominick Cruz on commentary tonight while Heidi Androl does the roving reporter bit. Keep in mind that Nevada does allow instant replay and more importantly we’re in the smaller 25 foot diameter cage set up.

Charlampos Grigoriou brings a four fight winning streak into his UFC debut and now he’s trying to keep that going and make a good first impression. Chad Anheliger has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is on a two fight losing streak and he’s in pretty serious need of a win here to salvage his time with the promotion. Grigoriou is your -165 favorite to +140 for Anheliger.

Bantamweight Bout: Chad Anheliger (12-7, 135 lbs.) vs. Charalampos Grigoriou (8-3, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Grigoriou is an inch taller with three inches of reach advantage. Some calf kicks go back and forth to start, Grigoriou working front kicks then a calf kick. Both men swing punches in close but neither lands cleanly. Anheliger lands a calf kick. Bit of a left hook from Grigoriou. Again calf kicks go back and forth. Grigoriou swings a right hand that partially lands but he’s off balanced by a counter punch. Anheliger lands another calf kick. Grigoriou misses a spinning back fist and Anheliger gets on his back in the clinch. Things are stalling out a bit, Anheliger isn’t getting a whole lot going here but Grigoriou can’t really change the position. Eventually Grigoriou gets chest to chest and looks for a single leg against the fence, he picks the ankle and does get Anheliger down to his seat. Grigoriou mounts the ankles of Anheliger and then slowly works to land punches before Anheliger rolls to get butterfly guard. Full guard now for Anheliger. A few short elbows and punches from Grigoriou. The round will end with Grigoriou on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Grigoriou but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Grigoriou checks a calf kick to start the round then punches forward and hits a takedown against the fence. Anheliger is on a knee against the cage, he slowly works up but he’s pinned on the fence still. Grigoriou works to keep the clinch and is able to pick the ankle again to get Anheliger down. Anheliger wall walks and he’s firing some elbows while defending the takedown. Another takedown from Grigoriou, again Anheliger bounces up but he can’t get free. The ref breaks them up, that’s fair. Both men land punches then Anheliger lands a calf kick. Calf kick from Anheliger, that left leg of Grigoriou is hurting. Grigoriou has gone southpaw for a bit now. A few punches from Anheliger but Grigoriou tries a double leg that hits the fence. A few elbows from Anheliger land while Grigoriou is just pinning him to the fence. That’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Anheliger, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Anheliger looks to work combinations now as he comes forward. Body punches from Anheliger. Bit of a left from Grigoriou. Anheliger eats a left hook but he’s still throwing combinations. We get a time out as Grigoriou complains of a clash of heads, they definitely banged into each other when throwing punches in close. Grigoriou clears out his right eye which was what took the impact but he can continue after 1:17. Anheliger misses a couple of punches but then lands a left hook and a calf kick. Body shots from Anheliger now as he pushes forward. Grigoriou misses a left hand. Five punch combination from Anheliger, he’s got Grigoriou very fatigued at this point and is starting to carve him up. Bit of a left from Grigoriou but Anheliger counters with a combination. Jabs then a calf kick from Anheliger. Double jab then a right hand from Anheliger. Grigoriou blocks a few punches but his own offense is incredibly muted. Grigoriou misses a jumping knee. Right to the body from Anheliger. Counter right from Anheliger, he’s just doing pretty much whatever he wants now. Grigoriou is almost just a heavy bag now. Right hand from Anheliger then a high kick, and he avoids a front kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Anheliger, could argue 10-8 really, 29-28 Anheliger overall

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

Mic time for Anheliger after that one, he likes the pressure he put himself and puts his opponent over but feels it’ll take a lot to overcome him. He feels he could have pushed a little harder for the finish but knew he needed the win and that had to be paramount in his mind.

Thiago Moises has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, somewhat mitigated by those losses coming to Islam Makhachev, Joel Alvarez, and Benoit Saint-Denis. He’s coming off of the Saint-Denis loss and is trying to avoid just his second ever losing streak. Mitch Ramirez lost on the Contender Series last year but won a fight outside of the UFC and then got called in here to replace Brad Riddell on fairly short notice, he’s trying to score that all important first UFC win over a 6 year veteran of the UFC. Moises is your favorite at -325 to +260 on Ramirez.

Lightweight Bout: Thiago Moises (17-7, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Mitch Ramirez (8-1, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ramirez is two inches taller with half an inch of reach advantage. Moises comes out jabbing then lands a calf kick. Bit of a front kick from Ramirez. They trade some calf kicks while continuing to circle. Double leg from Moises, well timed off of a kick, and he gets Ramirez down in the open space. Moises moves to half guard and starts getting to work setting up control and passing opportunities. A few short elbows from Moises, Ramirez shrimps but can’t get all the way up and Moises gets to the ride position. Ramirez goes to his back and lets Moises get half guard again. Moises is setting up an arm triangle now, Ramirez scoots towards the fence and uses that position to block the choke so Moises scoots them away from the fence. Short elbow from Moises. Ramirez gives up the back and crawls to the fence but Moises jumps on his back and grabs the choke, it’s tight but Ramirez is able to hand fight and break the grip after nearly getting choked out. Moises keeps working for the choke, he’s got a body triangle locked in now. Moises rolls things to a hip for a moment, he’s just working for attacks as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moises

ROUND TWO: Ramirez punches forward into a clinch and they hit the fence. Moises quickly turns him into the cage and they start working a bit in the clinch. Knee from Moises lands. They fight out of the clinch and Ramirez misses an elbow. Calf kick from Moises. Well timed takedown from Moises and he gets on the back as Ramirez wall walks. Moises looks to transition towards a takedown on the fence but just settles for a clinch. Elbow from Moises as they break. Ramirez lands a couple of punches then bulls forward into another clinch. Moises gets Ramirez on the fence and lands a few short punches. Ramirez is eventually able to spin free and reset. Moises lands a calf kick then a front kick. Left hook from Moises seems to stun Ramirez for a second. Moises lands another calf kick then misses a wheel kick. They trade rights then Moises lands a few jabs and another calf kick. That left leg of Ramirez is definitely messed up as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Moises comes out and lands a couple of calf kicks, the second one drops Ramirez and the ref jumps in as Ramirez isn’t doing much while Moises fires a few more kicks standing over him.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Thiago Moises via TKO, leg kicks, at :15 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Moises for his work this evening. Mic time for Moises, he notes he was supposed to fight Brad Riddell and thanks Ramirez for taking the fight but Moises feels disrespected by being the second fight on this card as he’s been a main event fighter before. He calls out Dan Hooker and insults that team for whining constantly about wrestlers, then says he’ll be auctioning off his fight gear for a good cause in Brazil and closes with some Portuguese that goes untranslated.

Cory McKenna has gone 3-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, she’s hoping to prove she’s ready for a step up in class with a third consecutive win here. Jaqueline Amorim has gone 1-1 in the UFC but she’s coming off of a win and if she can get her first UFC winning streak at the expense of McKenna it would be a heck of a feather in her cap. Close one but McKenna is your -170 favorite while Amorim paying out at +140 might tempt a few bettors out there.

Strawweight Bout: Jaqueline Amorim (7-1, 116 lbs.) vs. Cory McKenna (8-2, 115.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same size but Amorim has a large nine and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Amorim showing the jab. Bit of a calf kick from McKenna. Body kick from Amorim. McKenna catches a body kick, Amorim pulls guard and starts working from her back. Triangle choke from Amorim, it’s pretty tight and she looks to angle and crank things down then switches to an armbar, the ref seems to want to stop things and there’s confusion but they ultimately keep fighting despite Amorim losing a bit of the position. Amorim switches to an armbar and is able to extend things, McKenna tries to fight out but winds up tapping.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jaqueline Amorim via Submission, armbar, at 1:38 of Round 1

The First round Finish Club thanks Ms. Amorim for her work this evening. Amorim gets an interview, she wasn’t surprised at the takedown as she knew McKenna catches kicks so she worked hard on her bottom game. She mentions the confusion around the triangle choke, she thought there was a tap but knew she could continue working for the finish. To close she wants to fight in Brazil, dedicates the win to her dad, and puts over her team for their work.

This clip doesn’t include the ref error, but the transition from triangle to armbar from Amorim is still very nice and that’s a particularly nasty way to finish the armbar.

Joshua Culibao has gone 3-2-1 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss though and is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Danny Silva missed weight for his UFC debut, never a good thing, but he’s hoping a win will help smooth over that gaff and he can at least take a win away from this experience. The odds are with Culibao at -185 to +160 on Silva.

Featherweight Bout: Josh Culibao (11-2-1, 146 lbs.) vs. Danny Silva (8-1, 148.5 lbs.)*

ROUND ONE: Silva is an inch taller while Culibao has three inches of reach advantage, plus Silva missed weight. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men start throwing right away, Silva fighting southpaw. Silva lands an uppercut that rocks Culibao, he drops looking for a tie up and Silva jumps for a guillotine. Silva rolls to mount with what is more a seated arm triangle now given the arm position but he can’t finish it and Culibao is able to get his arm out of danger and hip escape to butterfly guard. Culibao gets up and they reset, then Culibao hits the body and looks to get back in action. Sharp left hand then a right hook from Silva. Left hook from Culibao stuns Silva for a second, these two are still just going at it. Culibao wit jabs then a right hand. Silva has started switching his stance now as they’re moving around. Front kick from Culibao then a couple of lefts. Silva with a left to the body but Culibao cracks him with a left hook. Culibao jabbing as he circles, there’s already some marking around the right eye of Silva from those jabs. Bit of a right from Culibao. Silva comes forward but eats a couple of punches. Culibao with a right to the body. More jabs from Culibao, then a one two. Silva is trying to move forward but he’s walking into traffic along the way. Silva tries a single leg against the fence, Culibao defends that and they settle into a clinch. Nice go behind from Silva and he rides Culibao down then ends the round in the ride position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Silva

ROUND TWO: Silva pressures forward again to start the round. Culibao keeps jabbing and circling. The lack of front kicks from Culibao is making this more difficult, that weapon had messed up the rhythm and motion of Silva in the first round. Culibao hits the body a couple of times then lands a left hook and circles away. Silva moves forward, Culibao lands a front kick. Right hand from Culibao then a left to the body. Left hook then a right from Culibao stuns Silva again. Bit of a combination from Culibao, Silva keeps entering on straight lines and Culibao is really starting to piece him up while moving around. Single leg from Culibao, that’s defended but he fires a head kick before they break apart. Silva forces a clinch and gets to the back standing. Culibao breaks free, but Silva is right back on him as the striking is not going his way and he gets to the back again on the feet. Culibao gets chest to chest then shoves free and lands a left hand. Body shot from Culibao. Silva is still coming forward and lands a right hook of his own. Left hand from Culibao and they clinch. Again Silva slips to the back in the clinch and works a mat return. Culibao wall walks but Silva is still holding his back. The round will end after Culibao gets free and lands a front kick.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Culibao, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Silva punches into a clinch pretty quickly the once again slips to the back standing. Culibao gets free and lands a calf kick. They both miss punches then Culibao lands a knee and a front kick. Right hand from Silva lands. Culibao lands a right of his own in close, he’s still moving well. They trade in close. Silva lands a one two then hits a double leg against the fence. Culibao is sitting on the fence then stands and Silva hugs him from behind again. They trade in close and Silva slips to the back but can’t keep it as they clinch again. Culibao breaks and lands a left hook. Both men seem to want a brawl now and Culibao lands jabs then a left hook. Body shots go back and forth in close. Right hand from Culibao then a front kick. Silva falls short with punches and gets countered but he wont stop coming forward. Both men land in close. Body kick from Culibao. Silva lands a calf kick that seems to bother the leg of Culibao. Culibao circles and lands punches. Silva with a left to the body then clinches and slips to the back then hugs. They break and both men miss punches. They trade combinations but Silva is starting to get there with his punches. Culibao tries a double leg, Silva smothers that and pushes him over then switches to a front headlock for control. Silva switches to a cradle and holds that, then Culibao fights up and they trade one last time before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Silva but a close one, 29-28 Silva overall

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

I’m OK with 29-28 either way. Mic time for Silva, he thanks God and his team then feels he did enough to win. He worked hard to be ready for Culibao’s footwork but admits he overthrew a lot and got tagged. He plays with the crowd about them enjoying the fight to close.

Jafel Filho has gone 1-1 in the UFC but did score a win last July and now looks to build his first UFC winning streak. Ode Osbourne has gone 4-4 in the UFC and lost to Assu Almabayev his last time out, he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak with a win here. The odds are with Filho at -160 to +135 for Osbourne.

Flyweight Bout: Jafel Filho (15-3, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Ode Osbourne (12-6 1 NC, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Osbourne is half an inch taller with four and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Osbourne. Both men feint a bit early, Filho showing some kicks. Bit of a body kick from Filho. Filho tries a single leg, he’s able to roll Osbourne down and get on top. Some punches from Filho as he moves to side control, he’s now in a ride position and lands punches. Filho threatens a choke but Osbourne defends and Filho resumes landing some lefts while riding the hip of Osbourne. Filho sweeps a leg as Osbourne tries to stand, he can’t get the second hook in yet but he’s riding well and keeping Osbourne stuck on his seat or a knee. Eventually Filho stirps the hands of Osbourne from posting and rides him down then gets full back mount. Near choke from Filho, Osbourne gives up full mount to avoid that one. Filho attacks an arm triangle now, he can’t finish it but does land some body shots then postures up and lands punches. More punches from Filho, Osbourne is trying to move but he’s just overmatched on the mat. Osbourne gives up the back, Filho grabs the choke and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jafel Filho via Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:27 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Filho for his work this evening. Mic time for Filho and the translator, he opens with English to thank God and his family, he loves them all and loves Brazil. He switches to Portuguese going forward and says he’d like to fight in London if possible but he’ll fight anywhere and reminds everyone that the Second Coming is nigh and to prepare ourselves.

Filho just beat Osbourne pretty much everywhere, total dominance and Filho should be fighting up in the rankings sooner rather than later.

Josiane Nunes has gone 3-0 in the UFC and is on an overall nine fight winning streak, if she can extend that streak here she could well be due a step up in class her next time out. Chelsea Chandler missed weight for this fight and is coming off of a pretty poor showing that dropped her UFC record to 1-1, she’s trying to bounce back and avoid her first losing streak here. Nunes is your favorite at -135 to Chandler’s +115.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #14 Chelsea Chandler (5-2, 137 lbs.)* vs. #13 Josiane Nunes (10-1, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chandler is a significant six and a half inches taller with an inch of reach advantage, but she also missed weight. Both women come out southpaw. Nunes avoids a punch and bulls forward then starts brawling in close. Chandler is trying to circle and keep range but Nunes is corralling her and landing punches in close. They clinch up and Chandler looks to slow things down. A few knees from Chandler but Nunes spins her into the cage and fires knees of her own. Another knee from Nunes then they break as Chandler misses an elbow. Flurry from Nunes, Chandler isn’t reacting well to the pressure in the moment. Nunes punches close and lands a left to the body. Chandler grabs a clinch again to stifle the offense of Nunes. Outside trip from Chandler and she’s able to get on top in half guard. Nunes starts shrimping pretty quickly and gets full guard. Chandler is trying to land punches but Nunes is tying up her arms and threatens either armbars or triangles. Armbar attempt from Nunes, Chandler slams to try and get free and Nunes does bail on the armbar to retain full guard. Chandler lands some punches but Nunes kicks her off and they reset. Both women start brawling now, Nunes seems to get the better of that. Leg kick from Nunes. Nunes with a left to the body to close the round.

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

ROUND TWO: Nunes comes out and cracks Chandler with a left hand. Pressure from Nunes still, she lands a couple of lefts. Chandler is trying to throw back but she’s closing her eyes while punching and that’s not helping her. They tie up, trip and fall then Chandler grabs a front headlock and pushes Nunes over. Full mount for Chandler, Nunes has hip escaped to half guard but loses that and gives up the back. Chandler is bleeding from the nose as she gets both hooks in. Nunes breaks the hooks briefly but Chandler stays on top and gets half guard. Some elbows from Chandler but there’s not much on them. Nunes gets full guard but Chandler punches her a few times for that effort. A few more blows from Chandler on top, Nunes is just kind of hanging out on bottom now. Things are stalling out a bit, and the round will end as Chandler stands free and over Nunes.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chandler, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Front kick from Chandler. Bit of a left hand from Nunes. Nunes with a left to the body. A couple of lefts from Nunes land. Nunes bulls forward with a few more punches but the pace has slowed for both women. They trade in close, Nunes lands a hard left hand that backs Chandler up. Another left from Nunes but this time despite getting hit hard Chandler ties up, but she can’t keep the clinch this time and Nunes slips free. Nunes punches forward and lands a bit of a right hook. Bit of a left from Nunes. Both women land in close then Nunes ties up and Chandler pushes her into the fence. Terrible decision making from Nunes there. Eventually Nunes is able to spin free and lands another combination of punches. Left hand from Nunes. Bit of a flurry from Nunes, Chandler responds with a weak hook kick. Left from Nunes in close. Nunes with a bit of a flurry, Chandler does land a body kick though. Left from Nunes again. Nunes lands another left, Chandler does land a bit of a counter right. Chandler avoids a few punches but her own offense is just not here. A final left hand from Nunes lands to close out the round.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chelsea Chandler via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

I don’t agree but it’s not the worst to give Chandler the first and second. No interview for Chandler.

Natan Levy missed weight by half a pound, a number I’m slightly more forgiving of but still it’s not great, but he’s on a two fight winning streak and hoping to end a layoff that dates back to December of 2022 with a win. Mike Davis has gone 3-1 in the UFC, only losing to Gilbert Burns for which I think we can forgive him, and if he can get to four in a row here it would signify he’s not only found his footing the UFC but might be ready to take the next step in opposition. Given the layoff and weight miss it’s not surprising to see Davis as a fairly heavy -470 favorite while Levy’s comeback sits at +360.

Lightweight Bout: Mike Davis (10-2, 155 lbs.) vs. Natan Levy (8-1, 156.5 lbs.)*

ROUND ONE: Davis is three inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage, plus Levy missed weight. Davis with early forward pressure, he lands a right hand that drops Levy then he jumps on the back. Levy hand fights to avoid the choke but Davis is still on his back. Davis is fishing for the choke but Levy seems recovered and is hand fighting well. Davis starts looking for a face crank then tries to transition that to a choke but Levy is able to keep that from getting around the neck. Another choke attempt from Davis but Levy is blocking that then finally breaks the hooks and forces a scramble, they wind up on their feet and clinched. Levy slips to the back in the clinch and works some knees to the leg and body while Davis is down on a knee. Davis inverts for a leg and grabs a kneebar, he can’t finish it but the scramble means they end the round in a leg entanglement.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Davis

ROUND TWO: Southpaw for Levy as he fires a body kick. Davis off balances Levy on a kick with a jab then he gets on top, they scramble on the mat with Davis landing a few elbows. Davis moves to the ride position then gets the back again, very smooth there. Levy is back to fighting off choke attempts while Davis has a body triangle working. Davis switches to the mount and grabs an arm triangle attack, he’s tightening things up and forces the tap after sagging his weight off to the side but not fully giving up mount.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Mike Davis via Submission, arm triangle choke, at 1:43 of Round 2

Mic time for Davis after the win, he puts over some sponsors and puts over his streaming on Kick. He thanks the UFC for allowing him the freedom of his life, he’s happy to perform every time and realizes he’s now at four wins in a row in the lightweight division. Asked what he wants next he doesn’t have a name but would like someone with name power like Jim Miller, Clay Guida, or Paddy Pimblett.

Just really good all around work from Davis here, and a nearly text book arm triangle to polish things off.

Gerald Meerschaert has gone 1-3 in his last four fights and is on a two fight losing streak, though in fairness I thought he won the Andre Petroski fight, but now needs to halt the skid and get back on the winning side of things. Bryan Barberena is on a three fight losing streak which is somewhat mitigated by losing to Rafael dos Anjos, Gunnar Nelson, and then Makhmud Muradov when he moved up to middleweight last year, now Barberena is trying to get his first win in that new weight class and prove he’s still a fighter worth watching. Meerschaert is a surprisingly heavy favorite at -245 while that +200 payout on Barberena is a darn tempting value bet.

Middleweight Bout: Bryan Barberena (18-11, 186 lbs.) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (35-17, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Meerschaert is an inch taller with five inches of reach advantage. Both men fighting southpaw and they touch gloves to get us going. Barberena feinting a lot early as he circles. Meerschaert lands a leg kick. Inside leg kick from Barberena. Meerschaert avoids a right hook. Bit of a right from Barberena. Both men land punches in close. Meerschaert lands another leg kick. Meerschaert tries a double leg, that hits the fence and he finishes it but Barberena quickly looks to wall walk. Barberena fights up and they separate. Solid one two from Barberena then he pushes Meerschaert over and lands a couple of leg kicks before Meerschaert regains his feet. Meerschaert avoids a one two. Double leg from Meerschaert and he gets on top this time then moves to half guard pretty quickly. Arm triangle attempt from Meerschaert but Barberena blocks that so Meerschaert switches towards a kimura. Meerschaert into side control and looks to finish the kimura now but Barberena gets half guard back to be safer. Barberena scoots to the fence, Meerschaert moves to mount but has lost the attack. Meerschaert grabs at a front headlock, Barberena fights up and punches free. Barberena looks to force a last exchange but Meerschaert avoids him as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Meerschaert but a close one

ROUND TWO: Meerschaert gets back to moving forward as the round starts. Barberena keeps circling, misses a punch and Meerschaert tries a double leg on the fence. Meerschaert switches to a single leg but Barberena defends and lands a left hand as they break. Bit of a one two from Barberena. Barberena avoids a single leg with ease. Meerschaert pokes out a couple of jabs. Barberena lands a right hook but Meerschaert hits a takedown. Meerschaert looks to pass the butterfly guard, Barberena lands some elbows from his back but Meerschaert moves to half guard. There’s kind of a Japanese triangle from Meerschaert, he can’t finish it though as Barberena moves to the fence. Barberena looks to wall walk but Meerschaert is still on his back. Both hooks in now for Meerschaert but Barberena stands with him in the backpack position. Choke attempt from Meerschaert, Barberena is able to defend though. Another choke from Meerschaert, they sag to the mat and Meerschaert puts Barberena to sleep with the choke.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gerald Meerschaert via Technical Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:23 of Round 2

Mic time for Meerschaert, he feels great about the performance. He reminds us that you can choke someone out across the jaw, you just need proper leverage to compress everything. Asked about the future he plans on a beer and a nap.

A nice reminder that while it’s easier to cut off the big blood vessels with your arm around the neck, if you’ve got a good squeeze and the right mechanical leverage you can press the jaw backwards and get them to do the same thing to put someone out.

Pannie Kianzad has gone 2-2 in her last four fights but she is coming off of a loss to Ketlen Vieira, and despite the somewhat dire state of women’s bantamweight as a division she needs a win if she still has aspirations higher up the card. Macy Chiasson has gone 3-2 in her last five fights but she’s been out of action since September of 2022 when Irene Aldana stopped her with an up kick to the body, now she’s hoping to avoid her first ever losing streak. Unsurprisingly Chiasson is the favorite at -245 to a +200 on Kianzad.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #10 Macy Chiasson (8-3, 135.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Pannie Kianzad (16-7, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chiasson is four inches taller with a significant six inches of reach advantage. Jabs early from Chiasson as she circles. Bit of a left from Kianzad. Chiasson with a combination then they clinch up. Chiasson slings Kianzad down and gets on top in full guard. Kianzad tries to work her guard up high and lands some punches as well. Armbar attack from Kianzad, Chiasson gets free though and thinks about a reverse triangle but there’s no arm in and they wrestle up into another clinch. Kianzad is on the back in the clinch and fires some knees before Chiasson gets chest to chest. Takedown from Kianzad, Chiasson rolls for a leg, they scramble around and Chiasson gets into the ride position against the fence. Kianzad is able to stand with Chiasson on her back, Chiasson lands some knees to the body and head then trips Kianzad down and gets the back with both hooks in. Chiasson starts working for the choke, it’s pretty tight and she compresses things down and Kianzad can’t find a hand to hand fight and after a quick adjustment from Chiasson to get under the chin that forces the tap.

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

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mrs. Chiasson for her work this evening. Chiasson gets an interview and she’s happy with the win and talks about having to get out of the dark place that losing to Aldana put her in, she’s become disciplined and dedicated and thanks her family for their support and her team for their work. She mentions being more dedicated and having a team who keep her from over training and keep her on track. To close she says she’s going to get the belt, and given how bad the division is I wouldn’t at all say that’s impossible.

Just good fundamentals from Chiasson, her arms are mechanically locked up and she makes a few adjustments to get under the chin and finally force the tap.

Christian Rodriguez has gone 3-1 in the UFC but he’s had weight issues in his previous two fights, fortunately he made the mark this time around as he’s moved up to featherweight and if he can maintain proper weight as well as building on that winning streak he might be making some moves up through the division. Isaac Dulgarian is undefeated including his UFC debut last year, now he’s trying to keep that perfect record in tact while notching another UFC win. The odds are close but lean towards Dulgarian at -190 to +160 on Rodriguez.

Featherweight Bout: Isaac Dulgarian (6-0, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Christian Rodriguez (10-1, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Rodriguez has half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Dulgarian with an early calf kick. Rodriguez tries a knee but Dulgarian takes him down into full guard. Dulgarian quickly starts elbowing and passes to half guard. Rodriguez shrimps to full guard but eats elbows then as he tries to stand Dulgarian grabs a front headlock and grabs a Peruvian Necktie, that nearly works but Rodriguez avoids it and Dulgarian keeps top position. Dulgarian on top in half guard but looking for an arm triangle. Rodriguez gets his arm back but Dulgarian is all over him and looks to pass to mount. Back mount now for Dulgarian, he’s just a step ahead of Rodriguez at every interval. Dulgarian with punches from the ride position, they scramble and Dulgarian just can’t be out wrestled by Rodriguez. Full back mount for Dulgarian, he rolls through and tries an arm triangle but Rodriguez blocks that. Dulgarian with punches as he flattens Rodriguez out, he lands hammer fists from the back then grabs the arm triangle as Rodriguez tries to roll, this one isn’t quite tight enough so Dulgarian bails on it to keep top position. To the back again for Dulgarian, he lands more punches as Rodriguez stands with Dulgarian on his back. Dulgarian with a mat return then he holds the back as they stand and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Dulgarian

ROUND TWO: Quick takedown from Dulgarian, Rodriguez looks for a guillotine on the way down but can’t finish it. Rodriguez tries to scramble up but Dulgarian is on his back and rides him down then starts working on the mat. They wrestle up into a clinch and hit the fence, Dulgarian with a knee tap and gets Rodriguez down. Rodriguez stands with Dulgarian on his back, Dulgarian with another takedown against the fence. Back up, another mat return from Dulgarian into the ride position. Rodriguez regains his feet but he can’t get Dulgarian off of him. They get chest to chest and Dulgarian lands a few knees to the body. Rodriguez lands a knee to the face but Dulgarian slips to his back again and mat returns him then hops to the back with one hook in. Back up for Rodriguez and he’s able to get free this time. A few jabs from Rodriguez land. Dulgarian with a hard calf kick. They trade in close, Dulgarian lands an elbow then tries a takedown but Rodriguez sprawls. Dulgarian punches forward into a clinch and slips to the back again. Some fighting for position in the clinch, they trade a few knees as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dulgarian, 20-17 Dulgarian overall

ROUND THREE: Both men with some punches, then Rodriguez avoids a single leg. Dulgarian with a couple of punches. They trade in close then Dulgarian tries another takedown but Rodriguez sprawls away and lands a body kick. Rodriguez moves to the ride position and lands punches from there then gets both hooks in. Punches from Rodriguez, Dulgarian gives up full mount to avoid those. Now it’s Rodriguez who’s riding well, he gets the back again and looks for some punches. Choke attempt from Rodriguez, Dulgarian blocks that one but he can’t get Rodriguez off of his back. Dulgarian breaks one of the hooks and tries to wrestle up, he’s able to get up and free. Rodriguez with a leg kick and a right hand. One two from Rodriguez. Dulgarian tries a double leg, that doesn’t work though. Bit of a right from Dulgarian. Short left from Rodriguez then he avoids a takedown attempt, Rodriguez sprawls on that and looks for a front headlock. They wrestle up and Dulgarian slips towards the back in the clinch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Rodriguez, 28-27 Dulgarian overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Christian Rodriguez via split decision (27-28, 28-27 x2)

Well I don’t agree with that. Mic time for Rodriguez who is glad to have gotten the win, not much of value said here.

Kennedy Nzechukwu has been a little bit up and down in the UFC but he’s 3-1 in his last four fights and while he’s coming off of a loss a rebound here would signal that he’s continuing to grow and mature as a fighter in the right ways. Ovince Saint Preux will turn 41 next month and has been with the UFC for almost 11 years, he’s gone 2-4 in his last six fights and has been out of action for a little over a year and now needs a win to remind people that he’s still potentially a relevant fighter in the division. Nzechukwu is among the bigger favorites on the card at -675 to a +490 payout on Saint Preux.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Kennedy Nzechukwu (12-4, 205 lbs.) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (26-17, 206 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nzechukwu is an inch and a half taller with three inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Saint Preux and he comes out pushing forward. Both men with some hand fighting but not much going on. A little bit of feinting and both men show the front kick but not a lot is going on. Saint Preux pokes out a couple of lefts. Bit of a right from Nzechukwu. Glancing right from Nzechukwu, Saint Preux goes orthodox now. Nzechukwu lands a couple of jabs, bit of a combination in return from Saint Preux. They both miss punches. Saint Preux goes southpaw again, bit of a low blow but Nzechukwu waves it off. A lot of stance switching from Saint Preux now, he lands a couple of calf kicks. Both men land lefts. Bit of a right from Nzechukwu. Saint Preux with a calf kick. And they end round still not doing much.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Saint Preux but who knows

ROUND TWO: More circling and probing. Bit of a body kick from Saint Preux. Sort of a left from Nzechukwu who’s also started switching his stance now for some reason. Saint Preux with a few more leg kicks then he has a left hand blocked. Nzechukwu fires a couple of jabs. Front kick from Nzechukwu then a jab. Saint Preux lands a left to the body. Nzechukwu lands a couple of more jabs but these two are content to just kind of plod at each other one or two shots at a time. Bit of a high front kick from Saint Preux. Nzechukwu catches a kick and pushes things to the fence then lands a couple of punches before backing off to reset. Some jabs go back and forth but they’re just taking turns and waiting on the other guy. One two from Nzechukwu. Saint Preux pushes forward and lands a few punches. Left hand from Saint Preux lands. Saint Preux with a leg kick then both men miss punches in another fairly lack luster round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Saint Preux but again could go the other way, 20-18 Saint Preux overall

ROUND THREE: Nzechukwu moves forward a bit to start the round. A couple of jabs from Nzechukwu. A left uppercut from Saint Preux drops Nzechukwu, he bounces up but Saint Preux stays on him in the clinch then backs off. Nzechukwu lands an uppercut in close. Nzechukwu’s coach seems to care more about this than Nzechukwu himself. Saint Preux with some punches and he’s backing up Nzechukwu. Nzechukwu lands a left but eats a couple of counters. Saint Preux jabs the body a couple of times. Left hand from Saint Preux. Nzechukwu lands a few jabs. Knee from Nzechukwu in close then a right hook. Nzechukwu with an uppercut in close. Both men land in close, a knee to the body from Nzechukwu seems to bother Saint Preux. Nzechukwu with a flurry then another knee to the body. Saint Preux with a couple of body shots then tries a single leg but Nzechukwu defends and misses punches. Nzechukwu with knees from a clinch, Saint Preux fires back and we’re in full on sloppy action still. Front kick from Nzechukwu. Saint Preux punches back but eats a right hook. Nzechukwu misses hooks in close. Again they trade in close then Nzechukwu knees the body. Flurry from Nzechukwu now and he hurts Saint Preux with a knee to the body. More sloppy punching and they both swing as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Saint Preux but a close one in the good sense this time, 30-27 Saint Preux but I’m not standing behind that

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ovince Saint Preux via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

With two incredibly close and boring rounds then you can’t complain about 29-28 either way. Mic time for Saint Preux, he puts over the jab of his opponent but knew if he stayed pressuring he’d get through eventually. He puts over his longevity in the game and is happy to have gotten the win. Asked about the future he says he’ll fight anyone.

Bryan Battle has gone 5-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak right now, he’s trying to extend that here and prove he’s building towards taking the next step up in class. Ange Loosa has gone 2-1 in the UFC but has won his last two fights and if he can get to three in a row here it could easily earn him a shot at a bigger name his next time out. Fairly close on here but Battle is the -190 favorite to +190 on Loosa.

Welterweight Bout: Bryan Battle (10-2, 170 lbs.) vs. Ange Loosa (10-3, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Battle has three inches of height and reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Loosa lands a calf kick. Battle with some jabs early, he’s also starting to show some stance switches. Body kick from Battle, then a knee. Loosa might be a little out of sorts, Battle with a flurry and they clinch up. Battle avoids a trip and takes Loosa down then moves to full mount. A few punches from Battle but Loosa scrambles back up into a clinch. Loosa tries to circle off the fence but can’t get free of Battle. Knee from Battle before Loosa pulls out of the clinch. Forward pressure from Battle then a front kick. Some more kicks from Battle then a couple of punches and he avoids the counters. Loosa falls short with a few punches but he’s still trying to find something. Battle keeps working the front kicks then lands a right hand. Knee from Battle then he fires kicks that are blocked. Head kick from Battle rattles Loosa for a second. A few jabs go back and forth then Battle lands a right hand. Another couple of front kicks from Battle then they trade one last time to end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Battle

ROUND TWO: Battle shows kicks again to start the round. Both men work the lead had a little bit. Battle with some lead hand work, Loosa tries a takedown and we get a time out as Loosa complains of an eye poke after Battle defended. Replay does show there was some eye contact, there was a bit of a headbutt from Loosa there too. The doctor comes in to check the eye of Loosa, apparently Loosa says he can’t see and that’ll get the fight waved off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – No Contest, accidental eye poke, at 1:00 of Round 2

Well that sucks. After the announcement they get into a shouting match, Loosa seems fine to posture now that he’s not getting hit back. They’re separated by coaches and personnel but Battle does get an interview. Battle is upset, he was beating the crap out of Loosa and did everything well, Loosa was looking for a way out. If you were going to throw down just now you were fine a minute ago when they could do it legally, but Battle makes people look for ways out. He’s willing to run this back any time, they can do it again next week if Loosa’s willing.

Tai Tuivasa has been a character for the UFC as well as a fairly successful heavyweight overall, but he’s on a three fight losing streak right now. The level of competition somewhat lessens the sting of that streak but he cannot afford a fourth loss here especially not with the step down in class he’s getting. Marcin Tybura was last seen getting run over by Tom Aspinall but he hasn’t had a losing streak since 2019 and he’s trying to avoid another one here. The odds closed at a -110 pick ’em.

Heavyweight Bout: #9 Tai Tuivasa (14-6, 265.5 lbs.) vs. #10 Marcin Tybura (24-8, 247 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Tybura is an inch taller with three inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Tybura is fighting southpaw per usual and he misses a couple of punches. Tuivasa with a couple of leg kicks. Right hand from Tuivasa then a couple of elbows in close. Tybura is cut up in the hairline now. Bit of a right from Tuivasa. Another leg kick from Tuivasa. Tybura switches stance for a moment, that lead leg might be in trouble already. Combination from Tybura then he tries a double leg on the fence, Tuivasa tries to fight that off but can’t and Tybura lands on top in half guard. Tuivasa starts wall walking, Tybura gets the back though with both hooks in. Some punches from Tyubra land, he’s not got a ton on them but he’s throwing a lot. Choke attempt from Tybura, it’s pretty tight and Tuivasa struggles but he finds a bit of an angle with his shoulders to remove the choke at the moment. Tybura keeps cranking at the choke and eventually gets a better angle and it looks like Tuivasa goes out, the ref checks his arm and it’s limp so we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcin Tybura via Technical Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:08 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Tybura for his work this evening. Mic time for Tybura, he wanted to show off all of his work for this one and was prepared to get takedowns if the striking wasn’t going well. He talks us through the finish and puts over Tuivasa’s toughness. Asked about what he wants next he wants to prove he’s still a top fighter, he didn’t have a name ready since he was coming off of a loss but he’s game for anyone in the top 10.

Well on that note UFC on ESPN+ 97 comes to a close, we’ll be breaking down all the fallout from this event on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast plus looking ahead to next week when Rose Namajunas tries again to get a win at flyweight when she takes on Amanda Ribas. I hope you’ll be back for that one as we continue looking forward towards UFC 300. Until next time thank you sincerely for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 97, Robert Winfree