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411’s UFC 303 Report: Pereira Head Kicks Prochazka

June 30, 2024 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC 303 Image Credit: UFC

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
(c) Alex Pereira (204.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Jiri Prochazka (204.5 lbs.) – UFC Light Heavyweight title bout
Diego Lopes (161 lbs.) vs. Dan Ige (164.5 lbs.) – 165 lbs. catchweight bout
Brian Ortega (155 lbs.) vs. Diego Lopes (155 lbs.)
#10 Anthony Smith (206 lbs.) vs. Roman Dolidze (205 lbs.)
#3 Mayra Bueno Silva (136 lbs.) vs. #7 Macy Chiasson (135.5 lbs.)
#7 Ian Machado Garry (170 lbs.) vs. #14 Michael Page (171 lbs.)

Joe Pyfer (185.5 lbs.) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (185 lbs.)
Cub Swanson (146 lbs.) vs. Andre Fili (145.5 lbs.)
Charles Jourdain (146 lbs.) vs. Jean Silva (147.5 lbs.)*
Payton Talbott (135.5 lbs.) vs. Yanis Ghemmouri (136 lbs.)

#14 Michelle Waterson-Gomez (115 lbs.) vs. #15 Gillian Robertson (116 lbs.)
Andrei Arlovski (245 lbs.) vs. Martin Buday (264.5 lbs.)
Rei Tsuruya (125.5 lbs.) vs. Carlos Hernandez (125 lbs.)
Ricky Simon (136 lbs.) vs. Vinicius Oliveira (136 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 303, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. This is our annual International Fight Week card, and a major congratulations to the 2024 Hall of Fame inductees from earlier this week, but man has this event had a giant series of hurdles to overcome. Up until a couple of weeks ago the main event tonight was supposed to be Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler, then Conor broke a toe and fell out of that fight leading to a rush to find a new main event which ultimately became the rematch between light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira and former champion Jiri Prochazka. Their first fight was fun for as long as it lasted and despite this coming together very quickly I think this one will be good as well, plus Pereira is rapidly climbing some important ranks in all time UFC success stories. The new co-main event, which came together at the same time as Pereira and Prochazka, was supposed to be a very good featherweight clash between Brian Ortega and Diego Lopes but then before the weigh ins they changed it to lightweight because of some Ortega issues. It’s still a fine fight but the weight class shift changes the discussion around it a little bit. The next fight down started life as Jamahal Hill vs. Khalil Rountree, then Rountree had a drug testing issue so Carlos Ulberg stepped in, then Hill got injured so Anthony Smith stepped in, then Ulberg withdrew and in steps middleweight Roman Dolidze on about one weeks notice. So while this one is kind of limping across the finish line there’s still some pretty solid potential to be had.

UFC 303 comes to the world from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier will be call the action for us with Megan Olivi on roving reporter duty. Keep in mind that Nevada does allow instant replay to be used, and also that we’ll be in the larger 30 foot cage set up.

Ricky Simon has gone 3-2 in his last five fights but he’s on a two fight losing streak and needs a win here if he wants to make another push up the rankings. Vinicius Oliveira is on a three fight winning streak including a successful UFC debut a couple of months back, now he’s trying to build his first UFC winning streak. The odds like Simon at -250 while the +205 comeback on Oliveira might be a tempting little value bet.

Bantamweight Bout: Ricky Simon (20-5, 136 lbs.) vs. Vinicius Oliveira (20-3, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Oliveira is three inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. Southpaw for Oliveira. Oliveira starts showing the jab and stance switching but still seems to generally prefer southpaw. Bit of a front kick from Oliveira. Simon starts trying to move forward, then Oliveira lands a calf kick. Oliveira avoids a clinch attempt. Simon misses a couple of punches then eats a jab. Bit of a left from Oliveira, he’s doing a lot of stance switching and Simon is stuck in first gear thus far. Simon tries a takedown but can’t secure it. Oliveira lands a right hand. Bit of a left hook from Simon then Oliveira with a couple of calf kicks. Simon avoids a combination but can’t counter effectively. Bit of a combination from Oliveira. Simon is blocking about 3 out of every 4 punches but he’s getting a little battered through his guard. Oliveira avoids a takedown attempt. They trade punches but Oliveira clearly has more firepower. Simon is able to get a clinch and push things to the fence. Oliveira gets free before anything of value happens. Calf kick from Oliveira then Simon lands a jab. Oliveira swings a few more punches to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Oliveira

ROUND TWO: Oliveira back to forward pressure with the jab. Calf kick from Oliveira. Simon tries a double leg but Oliveira defends. Inside leg kick from Oliveira. Bit of a knee then a left hand from Oliveira. Simon is able to get a clinch but can’t keep it, he’s just getting picked apart. Oliveira lands a leg kick but then Simon does get a double leg into half guard. Oliveira very quickly pushes Simon off and stands to reset, terrible sign for Simon. Simon avoids a right hand and hits a double leg then gets the back standing as Oliveira wall walks. Elbow from Simon then they break the clinch. Simon with a right hand, then Oliveira returns it. Oliveira lands an inside leg kick. Simon with a right hand to counter a calf kick but these exchanges aren’t really favoring him. Oliveira with a front kick. Calf kick from Oliveira. Both men miss rights. Simon misses a couple of punches. Oliveira blocks a takedown with relative ease then misses a wheel kick. Bit of a left hook from Oliveira then a calf kick. Oliveira avoids a high kick. Both men avoid punches, then Oliveira blocks a takedown attempt. Oliveira hurts his foot on a calf kick, Simon checked that one. Simon pushes after him but can’t capitalize and they wind up trading punches as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Oliveira gets his right leg checked between rounds but he can continue as nothing seems broken in his right leg. That was a nasty check from Simon that caused that though. Both men come out swinging and partially land. Simon lands a short left in close. Simon blocks a few punches. Front kick from Oliveira. Front kick then a right hand from Oliveira. Bit of a combination from Oliveira. Simon needs a finish but isn’t really fighting like it. Simon lands a left hook. Oliveira avoids a takedown attempt then lands a right hand. Calf kick from Simon then he tries a double leg but Oliveira defends and shoves him into the fence then they separate. Oliveira lands a front kick. Bit of a right from Simon. Oliveira is walking forward and lands a one two then a front kick. Simon just can’t find the target with his punches. Glancing head kick from Oliveira. Both men miss some wide punches. Oliveira avoids a single leg attempt then slips away from a high kick. Bit of a right from Oliveira. Simon eats an uppercut. Oliveira misses a combination then hits a double leg and lands punches while Simon fights up and free. Left uppercut then a high kick from Oliveira to close the round.

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

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

I don’t agree with 29-28, maybe Simon stole the second off of that leg kick check? No interview for Oliveira but he’s rapidly become someone to watch at bantamweight.

Rei Tsuruya is undefeated and has emerged as one of the brighter Japanese prospects in recent years, especially now that Tatsuro Taira has graduated to contender status. Tsuruya makes his UFC debut tonight and hopes to make a good first impression to the wider UFC audience. Carlos Hernandez has traded wins and losses while going 2-2 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss to the aforementioned Taira and is trying to avoid his first losing streak. Tsuruya is a fairly hefty favorite at -410 to +320 for Hernandez.

Flyweight Bout: Rei Tsuruya (9-0, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Carlos Hernandez (9-3, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hernandez is two inches taller but Tsuruya has an inch of reach advantage and is 8 years younger. Southpaw for Tsuruya, he comes out feinting. Bit of a left from Tsuruya. Hernandez lands a calf kick. Tsuruya ducks under a punch and hits a double leg, Hernandez scrambles up and then hits a mat return but Tsuruya uses a kimura attack to avoid a bad position. Tsuruya then grabs at a leg, the angle is wrong for the kneebar though and Hernandez scrambles up and free. Circling from Tsuruya, neither man doing a whole lot at the moment. Both men miss some lead hand punches. Bit of a right from Hernandez after he avoided a few punches. Tsuruya tries a takedown, Hernandez defends but Tsuruya gets a clinch and then hits a lateral drop to get on top in side control. Hernandez is able to squirm around and look for an escape, Tsuruya sits on his chest then they keep rolling around before Tsuruya tries for a twister. Tsuruya has to settle for just getting the back with one hook in. Both hooks for Tsuruya now but Hernandez catches an arm and looks to roll through as the round end. Wild scrambles there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tsuruya

ROUND TWO: Tsuruya quickly tries a single leg, switches to a double leg and finishes the takedown to get on top. Hernandez is half working for a 100% but Tsuruya gets his head out and lands some hammer fists. Tsuruya might have a crucifix going now as Hernandez scrambles, he lands a couple of elbows now whole getting the position. Hernandez tries to scramble, he breaks the crucifix but Tsuruya gets into the ride position. Tsuruya gets the back, one hook in and he works to set up another twister. Hernandez is fighting to keep the hands of Tsuruya out of play, Tsuruya works for the twister and grabs it but Hernandez gets his leg free and settles for only being on bottom in side control rather than twisted up like a pretzel. Hernandez is able to shrimp to full guard. Tsuruya grabs at a front headlock as he passes to half guard, he’s got kind of a cradle so there’s not much of a choke but Hernandez is tied up. Some elbows from Tsuruya then he tries a reverse triangle and lands elbows as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Immediately takedown from Tsuruya, Hernandez defends then winds up getting on top as Tsuruya slips trying a throw. Hernandez settles into half guard but he’s bleeding from the head above the left eyebrow. Tsuruya doesn’t seem to have much of a bottom game at the moment, but Hernandez is just holding on and not wanting to give him space. Things keep stalling out and the ref warns them to stay busy. Tsuruya looks to come up on a single leg, Hernandez is able to get to a decent sprawl position but Tsuruya stands in a clinch and pushes things to the fence. Throw from Tsuruya, Hernandez almost lands on his back though as they hit the mat and they just scramble back up into a clinch. Hernandez lands a couple of body shots in the clinch but he’s running out of time. Tsuruya eats a knee to the body but lands one of his own. Hernandez tries a single leg, but that wont work as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hernandez, 29-28 Tsuruya overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rei Tsuruya via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Some really fun grappling scrambles there, and Tsuruya celebrates with a Shinsuke Nakamura bow as Nakamura is in his corner for the fight.

Andrei Arlovski has been fighting in MMA since 1999, he’s 45 years old and has lost his last three fights, now we’ve written off Arlovski in the past but at this point another loss would kick up more talk of retirement for the old war horse. Martin Buday has gone 4-1 in the UFC but most recently he lost a 12 fight winning streak when he lost to Shamil Gaziev, now he’s trying to bounce back with a win over the most recognizable name he’s ever faced. Given the age disparity and general trend for both guys recently it’s not surprising to see the odds with Buday at -280, but a +225 payout on Arlovski might be asking for trouble if your a bookie.

Heavyweight Bout: Andrei Arlovski (34-23 2 NC, 245 lbs.) vs. Martin Buday (13-2, 264.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Buday is an inch taller while the reach is identical, Arlovski is 13 years older though. Both men come out feinting and doing a little bit of range finding with lead leg stuff. Bit of a leg kick from Buday. A lot of circling from Arlovski, per usual. Buday blocks a few punches but he can’t cut off the cage and he’s allowing Arlovski to just circle. Eventually Buday gets a clinch and pushes things into the fence. Not much comes of that and they separate. Another clinch and they hit the fence. A few punches to the body from Buday as they’re leaning on each other. Buday lands a couple of lefts. Arlovski spins things against the fence then separates but Buday is right after him and checks a leg kick. Buday avoids a few punches and keeps coming forward then clinches up. They’ll end the round in the clich.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Buday but who knows

ROUND TWO: Buday is moving forwards again and lands a couple of punches. They clinch and hit the fence. Buday with a few knees as they fight for position. Arlovski is able to get double under hooks but just pulls free without doing anything. Buday checks a leg kick and lands a left hook. Short uppercut from Buday as they clinch again. Knee from Buday and they fight in the clinch for a bit. Some more Buday knees before Arlovski gets things on the fence again. Buday keeps working knees, Arlovski is just kind of holding on not offering much offense. Eventually Buday spins off the fence and lands a knee as they break. Arlovski misses a right hand. Buday grabs a double collar tie but can’t keep it. Uppercut from Buday in close, Arlovski didn’t like that one and clinches again. Buday with a few knees as Arlovski is content to keep him on the fence. The ref breaks them up, that was fine for a break. Arlovski with a couple of punches then Buday lands a knee and a left hook. Buday blocks a couple of punches then they trade inside leg kicks. They clinch and trade knees to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Both men stare at each other and make hand movements. Buday checks a couple of kicks. Arlovski misses some punches then eats a jab. They split a few jabs. Buday jabs into a clinch and lands a knee to the body then a left hand. Some more lefts from Buday then a knee. Arlovski is fading a bit in the clinch, they trade knees then Buday pushes things to the fence. Not much going on in the clinch now and the ref calls a time out as Arlovski apparently took a low blow. Replay shows there was a bit of a knee to the groin. Ultimately Arlovski takes 1:40 and we’re back to fighting. Some kicks go back and forth. Buday is still coming forwards and lands an uppercut then clinches. This time Buday gets Arlovski on the fence and lands some body blows before Arlovski spins him. The ref breaks them up pretty quickly and we’re back to striking. Both men miss rights then clinch and trade some more knees to the body. Buday with rights to the body then a knee before Arlovski gets free. Arlovski has a spinning back fist blocked and they clinch again. Arlovski gets things to the fence then Buday lands a knee and spins off the fence. They battle in the clinch and Arlovski pushes stuff back to the fence. Not much going on in the clinch again, then Buday spins free with 10 seconds left. Buday misses an uppercut then Arlovski blocks a punch as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Arlovski I guess, 29-28 Buday overall but who the heck knows

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

Well that fight sucked out loud, no interview for the winner.

Michelle Waterson-Gomez has gone just 1-6 in her last seven fights and is on a four fight losing streak, she’s also 38 years old and badly needs a win to try and turn her fighting career around. Gillian Robertson has gone 2-1 since returning to strawweight, she’s coming off of a win and is looking to build another UFC winning streak. It’s not surprising to see Robertson as the -175 favorite to +145 for Waterson-Gomez.

Strawweight Bout: #14 Michelle Waterson-Gomez (18-12, 115 lbs.) vs. #15 Gillian Robertson (13-8, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Robertson is two inches taller with an inch of reach advantage. Robertson comes out and looks to push forward. Waterson-Gomez fires some kicks that don’t really land. A bit of stance switching from Waterson-Gomez now. Bit of a right from Robertson. Waterson-Gomez with a front kick but she eats a counter right. They both land rights. Robertson lands a right hand, she’s pushing forward but Waterson-Gomez is able to slip away from her. They clinch up and Robertson pushes Waterson-Gomez into the fence. Eventually Robertson gets a body lock takedown into side control. Robertson goes to knee on belly then right into full mount. Mounted crucifix from Robertson now and she starts dropping some elbows. Waterson-Gomez is able to escape the crucifix but Robertson moves towards north-south position. Robertson is half working for an armbar but settles for mount and lands more elbows. More punches from Robertson then she grabs an armbar, Waterson-Gomez is able to keep her arm bent and looks to defend as they roll around. The round ends with them tied up on the mat.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Robertson, borderline 10-8

ROUND TWO: Robertson quickly moves forward and eats a front kick but does get a takedown into leg drag. Now Robertson moves to side control, then passes to mount. Some punches from Robertson then a few elbows. Waterson-Gomez is able to catch half guard but she’s still stuck on her back. Robertson with a few elbows then moves to full mount. Waterson-Gomez gives up her back and Robertson lands a few more elbows as Waterson-Gomez rolls back and catches half guard. Robertson is just all over Waterson-Gomez and moves to full mount again, Waterson-Gomez is able to spin out and get a version of guard but she’s a step behind Robertson at every junction thus far. North-south for Robertson then side control again. Mounted crucifix for Robertson, then into full mount yet again. Robertson lands some punches then grabs at the armbar again. 15 seconds left, Waterson-Gomez tries to stack her up and smother the armbar, which will allow her to see out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Robertson, 20-17 Robertson overall

ROUND THREE: Robertson with some jabs to start the round. Waterson-Gomez hits a single leg but Robertson grabs a guillotine on the way down, Robertson is looking to tighten that up then uses it to stand and scramble to the ride position. Robertson pulls Waterson-Gomez back into north-south then starts working to set up an armbar. Eventually Robertson moves to side control. Full mount again for Robertson and she lands a few short elbows. Waterson-Gomez tries to bridge and escape but gives up her back in the process, Robertson settles for one hook and control. Some punches from Robertson and she’s half setting up an arm triangle. Waterson-Gomez is able to roll and get half guard but she can’t get out from under Robertson. Full guard now for Waterson-Gomez and Robertson lands a couple of elbows. They trade a few strikes on the mat but Robertson is getting the better of things. Waterson-Gomez tries to hook a leg and scramble but Robertson just passes to side control, then knee on belly and lands punches from full mount as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Robertson, 30-25 Robertson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gillian Robertson via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)

OK, shame on those two judges not giving Robertson any 10-8 rounds. Mic time for Robertson, she is annoyed not to get a finish but is happy to have gotten the win. Asked what she wants next she’s willing to fight everyone up through the ranks.

Waterson-Gomez gets an interview as she’s retiring, she’s been in the UFC for 9 years and gets emotional as they play a brief video package for her. She thanks the UFC and the fans for making her who she is today, fighting is in her blood and she’s been chasing greatness for a while but now she’s finally found some peace about moving on then thanks her husband for all of his support and her daughter for her love. Now she’s ready to be in their corners as life goes on and be there for them like they have for her.

Payton Talbott is undefeated including two UFC wins which has seen a bit of hype develop around him, he’s trying to remain perfect and continue building his skills and resume. Yanis Ghemmouri had a nine fight winning streak broken in his UFC debut, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak while also getting that all important first UFC win under his belt. Talbott is a prohibitive favorite at -1600 against +900 on Ghemmouri.

Bantamweight Bout: Payton Talbott (8-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Yanis Ghemmouri (12-2, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Talbott is an inch taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. Ghemmouri misses a wheel kick to start. Talbott floors Ghemmouri with a right hand then a few more punches on the mat get us our first finish of the night.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Payton Talbott via TKO, punches, at :19 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Talbott for his work this evening. Mic time for Talbott, he walks us through the finish and says he wanted maybe a little more in the fight but is happy to win. He feels electric and that his dreams are coming true, he plans to keep going at this. Asked about what he wants next he’d like Adrian Yanez which is a heck of a call out.

Just a nice one two from Talbott, he waits just a bit after the jab so when Ghemmouri tries to counter the jab with a leg kick he’s way out of position to defend the right hand.

Charles Jourdain has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, all of those losses have been decisions with one being a majority and most recently losing a split decision to Sean Woodson. Jourdain is trying to avoid another losing streak and then hopefully build some upward momentum in the division. Jean Silva missed weight for this, never a good thing, but he’s on an overall nine fight winning streak including his UFC debut. Silva could use a win to smooth over the gaff on the scales and also get his winning streak to double digits. Very close one here, -135 on Jourdain to +115 for Silva.

Featherweight Bout: Charles Jourdain (15-7-1, 146 lbs.) vs. Jean Silva (12-2, 147.5 lbs.)*

ROUND ONE: Jourdain is two inches taller but the reach is identical, plus of course Silva missed weight. Southpaw for Jourdain and they touch gloves to get us going. Body kick from Jourdain. Silva with an inside leg kick. Bit of a body kick from Jourdain. Silva avoids a couple of high kicks. Jourdain lands an inside leg kick. Silva avoids another high kick. Silva blocks a kick then misses his counter punches. Jourdain lands a leg kick. Left hand from Jourdain. Silva blocks a body kick. Jourdain falls short on a couple of kicks then hits a double leg, Silva is able to fight up and block a high kick. Silva misses a few punches. Silva with a counter left hook that drops Jourdain, then he makes Jourdain stand back up. Jourdain circles away but Silva is after him firing rights. Uppercut from Silva lands. Jourdain tries a takedown and settles for a clinch on the fence. Silva is firing elbows while fighting off a single leg then he spins free. Jourdain misses a left hand. Bit of a right from Silva. Jourdain lands a right hand then tries a single leg which he can finish, Silva tries an armbar but there’s nothing there as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Silva

ROUND TWO: Jourdain looks to get his lead hand going as the round starts. Silva ties up and lands a bit of an elbow. Jourdain is orthodox now and hits a double leg against the fence. Silva is able to wall walk pretty quickly and sneak in a few elbows while Jourdain keeps him on the fence. Jourdain tries a single leg but Silva limp legs free and clobbers Jourdain with a right uppercut to drop him and prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jean Silva via KO, punch, at 1:22 of Round 2

Mic time for Silva and the translator, he plays with the crowd first then gets emotional talking about how much he and his wife worked for this moment. He talks us through the finish and puts over his team for all of their work. To close he apologizes for missing weight and says part of why he missed was an accident as he fell down some stairs and was told he couldn’t do anything in the immediate aftermath.

This is slick from Silva, he’s limp legging out of the single leg and just keeps his left hand out now as a frame instead of just pushing down the head of Jourdain. That frame and guide allows him to fire the uppercut and Jourdain’s hands are not in position to defend.

Cub Swanson is a veteran of the sport having debuted back in 2004, he’s traded wins and losses while going 3-2 in his last five fights though. Swanson is coming off of a win and is trying for his first winning streak since 2020 as his career continues to wind down. Andre Fili has been trading wins and losses for basically his entire UFC career, he’s been doing so recently while going 2-3 in his last five fights. Fili was last seen being knocked out by Dan Ige and now he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2022 while also collecting the scalp of a veteran and borderline legend. The odds are with Fili at -225 to a +185 comeback on Swanson.

Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson (29-13, 146 lbs.) vs. Andre Fili (23-11 1 NC, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Fili is three inches taller with four inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Fili. Swanson comes out and moves forward early, Fili is starting to play with stance switches as they move around. Right hand from Swanson then a calf kick. Both men are playing with stances now, and Swanson lands another right hand but the eats a knee. Calf kick from Swanson then a jab. Fili fires a head kick that’s mostly blocked. Body kick from Fili. They split some jabs. Swanson avoids a hook and lands a jab. Fili falls short with a few hooks, then lands a right hand. Calf kick from Swanson. Bit of a right from Swanson then a couple of punches against the fence. Swanson with a combination that partially lands. Fili tries a takedown but Swanson defends and they clinch. A few knees go back and forth then Swanson gets things to the fence. Short elbow from Fili then a knee to the body and he gets free. Bit of a side kick from Swanson. Fili lands a left hook. They feint for a while, Fili doing a lot of circling as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Fili but a close one

ROUND TWO: Swanson lands a right hand but Fili gets a takedown into butterfly guard. Swanson scrambles up and they reset. Bit of a right from Swanson, then another one. Fili avoids a right hand then clinches up on the fence. A few knees from Fili but neither man is doing much in the clinch. Bit of a knee to the head from Swanson. Swanson puts Fili on the fence and they fight over a takedown but just wind up breaking up. Left hook then a right from Swanson. Swanson lands a right hand, Fili doesn’t like this and tries a takedown which results in yet another clinch on the fence. Swanson gets Fili on the fence and knees the thigh a few times before they break. Fili is back to circling but Swanson with a bit of a right hand. Swanson is still coming forward, lands a bit of a right hand. Combination from Swanson lands, Fili lands a counter right but he took several punches to do that. Fili tries a knee tap but winds up in another clinch on the fence. Both men land some strikes in the clinch, then Swanson slips to the back as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Swanson, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Swanson back to pressuring forward and lands a jab. They trade punches, then a bit of a head kick from Swanson. Fili tries a takedown, Swanson defends and they reset. Swanson with a left hook, Fili then lands one of his own. Swanson with a couple of right hands and he avoids the counters. Again Fili tries a takedown, this time he finishes it but Swanson wall walks very quickly into a clinch. Fili has moved to the back in the clinch but Swanson is able to turn into him and land a few short punches. Elbow from Fili then Swanson lands a knee to the head. They break and Swanson lands a right hand. More pressure from Swanson, it might be getting to Fili at this point as he looks a little unsteady. Left hand from Swanson then he avoids a clinch. Fili has a takedown blocked. Right hand from Swanson lands. Both men land punches in close. Glancing right from Swanson then he avoids a left hook. Fili lands a jab then a bit of a right hook. Swanson keeps moving forward, he avoids a left hand. Left hook from Swanson then he blocks a takedown and they clinch up but then break quickly. Swanson keeps poking his right hand out and landing. A right from Swanson in close staggers Fili for a second. Fili misses a head kick then tries a single leg but Swanson defends and they hit the fence clinched up again. Swanson avoids a level change attempt then they break. Both men miss lefts then Swanson blocks a high kick. Fili has another takedown stuffed. Swanson moves forward, avoids a high kick and cracks Fili with a couple of rights to end the round.

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

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

Well I don’t agree with that but can’t complain too much, 29-28 either way is defensible.

So we’ve got a fight change, the co-main event has changed. Brian Ortega is too sick to fight but in steps Dan Ige on absurdly short notice to take on Diego Lopes. Lopes weighed in again in the back and weighed 161, then Ige weighed 164 or so so we’ve got a brand new co-main event. That is nuts, but the NSAC can do whatever they want I guess.

Joe Pyfer just had a five fight winning streak snapped when he dropped a decision to Jack Hermansson back in February, now he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak and prove he’s still a rising force in the division. Marc-Andre Barriault has gone 2-2 in his last four fights and had a two fight winning streak broken by Chris Curtis in January, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2019 and knock down a somewhat prominent name in the division. Pyfer is a surprisingly heavy favorite at -310 to +250 on Barriault.

Middleweight Bout: Joe Pyfer (12-3, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (16-7 1 NC, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pyfer has an inch of height and reach advantage. Both men do a little probing with the lead hand then Pyfer lands a calf kick. Another calf kick from Pyfer. Pyfer lands another calf kick, he’s got Barriault backing up pretty consistently. Both men start working the jab. Pyfer with a right hand then a combination in close and Barriault face plants to end things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joe Pyfer via KO, punches, at 1:25 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Pyfer for his work this evening. Mic time for Pyfer, he admits to have a chip on his shoulder this time and while he’s not making excuses for the loss to Jack Hermansson he knows he can be better than that. He calls out Paul Craig for a fight in the fall at some point. When talking us through the finish he says he only needs one then tries to get the crowd to chant USA again which they do not. To close he thanks his family and his team, then says this is only the beginning for him.

Just a barrage of power from Pyfer against the fence to get the stoppage. Lovely uppercut to finally end things.

Well that’s it for the prelims, in about 12 minutes we’ll be on to PPV for the main card.

Ian Machado Garry is undefeated and is also 7-0 in the UFC which has seen him climb into the top ten rankings, a win here could set him up with a bigger name next and might also mean the title picture isn’t too far distant for him. Michael Page has gone 8-1 in his last nine fights and that lone loss was a split decision that could have gone his way, he scored a win in his UFC debut in March and is now trying to launch himself up the rankings with a win over the undefeated Garry. The odds are with Garry at -160 to +135 for Page.

Welterweight Bout: #7 Ian Machado Garry (14-0, 170 lbs.) vs. #14 Michael Page (22-2, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Page has four and a half inches of reach advantage, he’s also 11 years older. Both men open orthodox. Page pressures forward early and both men probe with kicks. Some stance switching from Page now, his southpaw stance involved a lot of lead leg kicks. Page misses a front kick. Bit of a right from Page. Garry catches a kick and gets a takedown into half guard. Page works to wall walk, he gets to his seat then up to a knee as Garry slips to the ride position. Garry looks to take the back, he gets both hooks in then switches to a body triangle. Choke attempt from Garry, it’s pretty tight and Garry adjusts as Page is hand fighting to try and stop the second hand from joining the choke. Page is able to break the choke but he’s struggling to address the body triangle. Commentary is still talking about which side of the triangle has to be on the mat, which is nonsense there are plenty of ways to attack that position that don’t involve putting the foot on the mat. The round ends with Garry still on Page’s back.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Garry

ROUND TWO: Page clocks Garry with a right hand, Garry did not like that one. More pressure from Page now, he barely misses a right hand. Page with stance switching as he lands a one two. Bit of a right from Page but Garry avoided most of that one. Calf kick from Page. Garry avoids a right hand, gets a clinch and pushes things to the fence. Not much going on here in the clinch apart from Garry doing some fence grabbing. Garry drops for a leg lock, Page stands over him and lands a few hammer fists. Next Garry trips him down and works for a heel hook but there’s no control and Page lands a couple of punches before getting free and they reset on the feet. Left hand then a right from Page out of the southpaw stance. Page with a side kick. Garry avoids a flying knee then they both land lefts. Right hand from Page lands. Garry misses a left hook then badly misses a wheel kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Page, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Bit of a right from Page to start the round. Garry looks to jab now. Front kick from Page. Page easily blocks a high kick. Left hand from Page, Garry is able to tie up and pull guard basically. Garry closes up a body triangle from the bottom. Page lands a couple of punches. Garry with a few elbows off of his back. Some body punches from Page then he pulls free and stands then kicks Garry as Garry stands. Garry avoids a right hand. Page pokes out a jab as he bounces around. Garry forces a clinch and gets a takedown then jumps for the back with both hooks in. Page stands with Garry on his back in the backpack position. Not a lot going on here, Page is about to sling Garry over the top while Garry is sort of working for a choke. I think Garry only has one hook in actually but he’ll hold the position until the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ian Machado Garry via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

I don’t agree as Garry’s back work didn’t amount to much in the third, but I also can’t get too upset because Page didn’t exactly do himself enough favors. Mic time for Garry, he puts over Page’s ability but knew he could be patient and bring his grappling to bear. He wants to fight for the belt sooner rather than later.

Mayra Bueno Silva most recently was half of one of the worst title fights in UFC history when she dropped a decision to Raquel Pennington back in January, she’s trying to defend her top ranking here and possibly get another crack at the belt after whatever fight they’ve made for it happens. Macy Chiasson has traded wins and losses while going 2-2 in her last four fights, she’s coming off of a win though and a win here could put her into the title picture given the absolute wasteland that women’s bantamweight is talent wise. We’ve got a pick ’em here, -115 on Chiasson to -105 for Bueno Silva.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #3 Mayra Bueno Silva (10-3-1 1 NC, 136 lbs.) vs. #7 Macy Chiasson (9-3, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chiasson is five inches taller with five and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Southpaw for Chiasson as she circles. Inside leg kick from Bueno Silva then a clinch and she lands an elbow as they break. Chiasson misses a combination. Bueno Silva lands a front kick. Body kick from Bueno Silva. Chiasson avoids a right hand. Bueno Silva avoids a left hand then lands a couple of front kicks and clinches up. Some knees from Bueno Silva then an elbow as she’s got Chiasson on the fence. Chiasson is able to spin things around but Bueno Silva pulls free. Wheel kick from Bueno Silva partially lands. Chiasson misses a couple of lefts. Bueno Silva checks a calf kick then they trade lefts. Both women land punches into a clinch then Bueno Silva with uppercuts, knees, then a head kick as they break. Bueno Silva secures the clinch and pushes things into the fence. Both women with punches in the clinch then they break. They trade punches then clinch again, Bueno Silva with body shots then Chiasson lands a knee. They trade a few knees in the clinch, Bueno Silva is just staying busier then she pulls free. Chiasson tries a combination, she’s working hard now and they clinch again. They’re just kind of hockey fighting in a collar tie position. Bueno Silva lands a couple of rights then tries a double leg but things stall on the fence. Chiasson is half fishing for a kimura, they wind up just jockeying in the clinch for the last few seconds of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Bueno Silva

ROUND TWO: Chiasson tries to push the pace early, they trade punches then trade kicks. Outside trip from Chiasson into the guard of Bueno Silva. Bueno Silva thinks about a triangle choke but gets elbowed because of it and she’s cut now above the right eyebrow. That’s not a good cut. Bueno Silva grabs at an armbar, she’s pretty deep on the attempt but winds up bailing on it after the motion stalls out. Chiasson stands out of the guard and lands a few leg kicks before the ref resets them. They call time to check the cut on Bueno Silva, yeah that’s a bad one and the doc advises that it’s a deep cut and they have to stop it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Macy Chiasson via TKO, doctor stoppage due to cuts, at 1:58 of Round 2

Well that’s unfortunate but that is absolutely a fight ending cut. Mic time for Chiasson, she wanted to keep going and puts over Bueno Silva as an opponent. She talks us through the finish and notes she’s been training very hard and this is the result of consistency in training.

No issues with this stoppage, that’s a deep cut in a not great spot to begin with.

As mentioned in the preamble, this fight started life very differently from how it looks now. Anthony Smith has gone 2-3 in his last five fights but most recently did get a win over Vitor Petrino and now looks for his first winning streak since 2021. Roman Dolidze is normally a middleweight but took this fight on short notice up at light heavyweight, he’s on a two fight losing streak and could really use a win to get his career back on track. The odds lean towards Dolidze at -140 to +120 for Smith.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #10 Anthony Smith (38-19, 206 lbs.) vs. Roman Dolidze (12-3, 205 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Smith is two inches taller but the reach is identical. They touch gloves, Dolidze fighting southpaw. A few distance finding kicks from Dolidze go out. Bit of a body kick from Dolidze. Bit of a right from Smith. Dolidze goes orthodox now and gets calf kicked but then lands one of his own. Smith blocks a right hand. They trade another couple of calf kicks. Glancing right from Smith. Dolidze has a right hand blocked but then lands a calf kick. Both men miss punches. Dolidze lands a calf kick. Smith avoids a right hand. Bit of a jab from Smith. They trade calf kicks again. Dolidze lands a jab then avoids a right hand and lands a calf kick. Both men miss rights and they clinch with Dolidze landing a left on the break. Dolidze with a calf kick. Smith blocks a high kick but misses his counters. They both miss punches to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dolidze

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Dolidze back to kicking. Bit of a one two from Dolidze to counter a leg kick. Some stance switching from Smith now but not much is coming of it. Dolidze lands a leg kick then Smith returns it. Both men swing punches and Dolidze is able to trip Smith down and get on top landing punches. Dolidze with hammer fists and punches, Smith is covering up and wasn’t that hurt but that was a nice flurry. Smith is working to wall walk but Dolidze moves to the ride position. Not a whole lot going on here, eventually Dolidze lands some rights to the head. Smith takes some knees to the leg and body but is eventually able to base on his feet but takes a legal knee to the head and drops back to his knees to avoid that happening again. Eventually Smith does get up and free then Dolidze lands a left hook. Some jabs from Dolidze, both men look fatigued which isn’t a surprise all things considered and they stare away the final seconds.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves yet again. Leg kick from Dolidze, Smith is trying to get some energy going and lands a leg kick. Dolidze dances then gets leg kicked for that. Jab from Dolidze. Dolidze lands a body kick then a side kick to the leg. Smith misses a left hook. Bit of a right from Dolidze. Short left from Dolidze lands. Smith blocks a right hand but misses his counter. Dolidze lands a calf kick. Bit of a body kick from Dolidze. Right hand from Smith. Dolidze tries a knee tap but Smith avoids that. Bit of a left hook from Dolidze. Some sloppy punches from both men miss. Sort of a spinning back fist from Dolidze. Smith lands a right hand. They trade leg kicks. Technique is mostly out the window at this point, they’re both very tired and just kind of swinging sloppy punches. Bit of a left from Dolidze. Front kick then a left hand from Dolidze. Not a whole lot is happening here. Bit of a spinning back kick from Dolidze then a calf kick. They trade a few lackluster kicks to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dolidze but could have gone to Smith I guess, 30-27 Dolidze overall

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

Well that fight sucked. Mic time for Dolidze, he plays with the crowd and celebrates being ranked at both middleweight and light heavyweight now and promises people will remember him. He says he might continue fighting at light heavyweight and wants to be champion at some point. Asked more specifically about the future he says he’s going to learn about light heavyweight and is just ready for both this and middleweight, then wishes a recovery for Khamzat Chimaev and wants to fight him at middleweight. OK then.

Diego Lopes is on a three fight winning streak and has only lost to Movsar Evloev in the UFC, a win over a former title challenger like Ortega would be the highest profile for Lopes thus far and should set him up with some even bigger names at featherweight. Despite the weight class shift the odds like Lopes at -140 to +120 for Ortega. Dan Ige took this fight the day of the event and is trying to score the kind of win that makes you a true legend in the sport, he is coming off of a pretty brutal knockout win over Andre Fili and is 3-1 in his last four fights. The odds are with Lopes at -310 to +250 on Ige.

Catchweight Bout: Diego Lopes (24-6, 161 lbs.) vs. Dan Ige (18-7, 164.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lopes is four inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. A bit of feinting from both men. Ige starts showing the jab, just looking for reads. Bit of a calf kick from Lopes. Ige misses a right hand and Lopes responds with a flurry in close before Ige lands a right hand. Left hook from Lopes then a flurry and Ige backs him off with a left hook. Both men block left hooks in close. Bit of a left hook from Lopes. Lopes with a flurry but Ige is blocking a lot of this. Right to the body from Lopes. Ige checks a calf kick. Some stance switching from Ige now as he sees what southpaw might open up then goes back orthodox. Bit of a left hook from Ige but Lopes counters with a right hand. Glancing right from Lopes after he missed a flying knee. Ige blocks a right hand. Both men land rights then trade in close and Lopes lands an elbow as they separate. Ige hits a double leg, Lopes grabs a guillotine on the way down then switches to a d’arce choke but Ige is defending so far and will see the end of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lopes

ROUND TWO: Ige looks to show his jab as the round starts. Calf kick from Lopes then they trade rights. Ige jabs the body but eats a counter right. Bit of a right from Ige. They trade leg kicks then Lopes hits the body a couple of times. Lopes lands a calf kick. Ige lands a head kick but gets taken down off of it and Lopes is on top in side control. Quick back take from Lopes then Ige stands but Lopes rolls forward and gets things back down. Lopes with a body triangle and starts looking for a choke. Ige is attacking the body triangle now but can’t get it broken. Lopes is still fishing for the choke but Ige is defending. A few rights from Ige land but Lopes is still on his back. Lopes tries an armbar from the back with short time, there’s not quite enough time to really develop that position as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Ige starts showing the jab again and looking to press forward. Both men land punches in close. Lopes with some body shots then they trade left hooks. Both men are swinging punches in close, Ige seems to be upping the tempo now that they’re in the third round. Ige lands a solid right hand. Both men land rights then trade punches in close, Lopes lands a calf kick then clinches up. Ige is able to fight off the takedown attempt and get free. That lead leg of Ige is hurt but he’s still pushing the pace as Lopes might be fading. Bit of a right hand from Ige. Lopes lands a calf kick but then eats a left hook. Both men land in close then Ige lands a left hand out of southpaw. Lopes tries a single leg, he winds up slipping to the back against the fence and has one hook in as Ige stands with Lopes on his back. Ige is able to pull Lopes over the top and gets on top then lands punches from the guard of Lopes. Elbow from Ige. Ige is still trying to work elbows but time is running out for him. Lefts from Ige but again time is running out. Lopes kicks Ige off and Ige stands over him then eats an up kick and returns to the guard as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ige, 29-28 Lopes overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Diego Lopes via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Well that wound up being a decently fun fight. Lopes gets an interview along with the translator, he puts over Ige for taking the fight on 3 hours notice. He reiterates he’s ready and willing to fight whoever, whenever, wherever he’ll fight anyone. He wants to fight anyone in the Sphere, specifically naming Brian Ortega or Alexander Volkanovski.

Dan Ige gets an interview as well, he gives glory to God first and foremost then says the time table doesn’t matter he loves this and will always fight. The chance to show up on 4 hours notice to co-main event one of the biggest events of the year was the kind of thing he couldn’t pass up. He would also like to fight on the Sphere card.

Jiri Prochazka is a former light heavyweight champion, he failed to regain that title when he met his opponent tonight in November of last year and came up short though. Prochazka got a win back in April and now looks to regain the title he used to hold. Alex Pereira has accomplished a lot for a guy who only came into the UFC in 2021, he’s become a two weight world champion and is going for his second title defense of the light heavyweight title tonight. A win would continue to cement Pereira as an all time great in the sport and might even set up some kind of heavyweight options going forward. Fairly close main event, -140 for the champion Pereira to +120 on Prochazka.

Light Heavyweight Title Bout: (c) Alex Pereira (10-2, 204.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Jiri Prochazka (30-4-1, 204.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pereira is an inch taller while Prochazka has an inch of reach advantage. Both men come out and start the feinting. Prochazka does a little stance switching but takes a calf kick. Pereira lands a jab. Calf kick from Pereira. Prochazka looks to press but gets back off with a body jab. They trade calf kicks. Pereira is happy to kick whichever leg is forward for Prochazka. Left hook from Pereira seems to stun Prochazka for a second. Left hand from Prochazka then a right but Pereira backs him off with a right hand then a calf kick. Calf kick and jab from Pereira. Pereira with a body kick. Prochazka tries to feint his way in but Pereira isn’t biting. Left hook from Pereira wobbles Prochazka. Prochazka grabs a clinch and pushes things to the fence. Some body shots and knees from Pereira. Prochazka has his hands together for a moment but can’t capitalize on it. Knee from Prochazka lands. Pereira is able to spin free and reset. A few jabs from Pereira land. Calf kicks from Pereira land, then Pereira drops Prochazka with a left hook just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Pereira with that late knockdown, that would have been a finish without that horn

ROUND TWO: Pereira gets back on pressure and FLOORS Prochazka with a head kick then pounds things out on the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – and STILL UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Alex Pereira via KO, head kick, at :13 of Round 2

Man Pereira is good. Mic time for Pereira and the translator, he says this was great and while he wasn’t sure how he was going to win he knew he was going to leave happy. Asked what’s next after his meteoric rise through MMA he isn’t sure what will happen next but he’s open to all positive opportunities then thanks everyone who supports him. Rogan brings up a potential move to heavyweight, he thinks heavyweight will be in his future at some point, and the possibility exists of him becoming a three weight world champion in MMA. He says the fans have a lot of say in his future and they’re the ones paying for this. Technically various government organizations pay for this but whatever. He’s never asked for anything, but thought he should have had a bonus at UFC 300 and jokes he’d like a 303k bonus for UFC 303. Asked what “Chama” means he says it’s anything, just a general positive or negative reaction to things.

Fun fact, Pereira is now the first light heavyweight champion to defend that belt more than once since Jon Jones gave it up in 2020.

Alright everyone, that’s it for UFC 303 and I’d like to thank you for reading. We’ll be unpacking all of the results from this card tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA podcast which I hope you’re listening to. There’s no UFC event next week as they’re taking the 4th of July week off but in two weeks we’ve got UFC on ESPN 59 from Denver headlined by Rose Namajunas and Tracy Cortez as Cortez is replacing an ill Maycee Barber. Honestly that card still looks like a work in progress, hopefully it gets some quality fights between now and then. But until next time folks thank you again for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC 303, Robert Winfree