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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Lewis Defeats Blaydes

February 21, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 43

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
#2 Curtis Blaydes (259 lbs.) vs. #4 Derrick Lewis (263 lbs.)
#7 Yana Kunitskaya (135.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Ketlen Vieira (138 lbs.)*
Darrick Minner (146 lbs.) vs. Charles Rosa (146 lbs.)
Chris Daukaus (234 lbs.) vs. #10 Aleksei Oleinik (240 lbs.)
Nassourdine Imavov (185.5 lbs.) vs. Phil Hawes (185 lbs.)
Andrei Arlovski (249.5 lbs.) vs. Tom Aspinall (244.5 lbs.)

Danny Chavez (145 lbs.) vs. Jared Gordon (150 lbs.)*
Drakkar Klose (156 lbs.) vs. Luis Pena (155.5 lbs.)
John Castaneda (136 lbs.) vs. Eddie Wineland (135.5 lbs.)
Julian Erosa (145.5 lbs.) vs. Nate Landwehr (146 lbs.)
Shana Dobson (126 lbs.) vs. Casey O’Neill (125.5 lbs.)
Jamall Emmers (145.5 lbs.) vs. Chas Skelly (146 lbs.)
Drako Rodriguez (140.5 lbs.)* vs. Aiemann Zahabi (136 lbs.)
Serghei Spivac (245 lbs.) vs. Jared Vanderaa (265 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 43. I’m Robert Winfree, relaying all of the action to you just as I see it. Tonight the UFC brings a fair number of heavyweights including the main event when Curtis Blaydes tries to further solidify his title shot against a former title challenger in Derrick Lewis. Also on the main card Aleksei Oleinik tries to turn back rising heavyweight Chris Daukaus, and Andrei Arlovski tries for a similar feat when he battles Tom Aspinall. There’s a pretty decent lightweight scrap on the prelims between Drakkar Klose and Luis Pena as well. As usual let’s hope for good action because we’ve got a long one and I’m really hoping it doesn’t drag too much.

UFC on ESPN+ 43 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The rules are mostly the newer set except for the downed fighter rule so a fighter only needs one hand on the mat to be considered downed. Nevada does have a replay official so either the in cage referee or the replay official can request replay and the fight can be restarted after replay is used if that’s applicable. Also remember that the Apex uses the smaller 25 foot diameter cage instead of the more standard 30 footer. On commentary we have Brendan Fitzgerald and Michael Bisping.

Well nuts, about two hours before the event was to start we lost Klose vs. Pena when one of Klose’s cornermen tested positive for COVID. That’s unfortunate, I was looking forward to that fight. It also likely means 30 minutes or so of vamping by the broadcast before we get to our first fight.

Serghei Spivak has traded wins and losses while going 2-2 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a win though and is trying to get his first UFC winning streak going. Jared Vanderaa comes into the UFC on the back of a win on the Contender Series and is now looking to make a good first impression on the UFC audience. The odds are with Spivac at -240 to +200 on Vanderaa.

Heavyweight Bout: Serghei Spivac (11-2, 245 lbs.) vs. Jared Vanderaa (11-4, 265 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Vanderaa has two inches of height and reach, plus he’s around twenty pounds heavier. Both men working the lead hand early, and Vanderaa lands a leg kick. Some jabs landing for both men, then Spivac lands a right. Vanderaa lands a leg kick but gets taken down into the ride position. They hit the fence and Vanderaa is trying to wall walk while Spivac lands lefts to the head. Vanderaa back up but still clinched. Some knees from Vanderaa but Spivac times one and sweeps him down then lands on top in half guard. Short blows from Spivac but Vanderaa is able to hip escape to full guard. Spivac passes to half guard again. More punches from Spivac, now a few short elbows mixed in. Things slow down but Vanderaa isn’t getting up before the end of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Spivac but I wouldn’t argue too much against a 10-8

ROUND TWO: Spivac tries to tie up early but Vanderaa avoids him. Both men miss some punches while they move around. Spivac ducks under a head kick and gets a clinch, then hits a mat return from the back against the fence. Vanderaa is on his seat, Spivac moves around in front and is able to push him onto his back in half guard. Elbows from Spivac. Spivac is doing enough to not get the ref involved but he’s not really able to pass, or he just prefers half guard for control and damage. A few rights from Spivac, and some short left elbows follow. Vanderaa is cut now, it’s around the bridge of the nose I think but could be on the eyebrow as we don’t have a good visual. Spivac unloads some punches as Vanderaa tries to wall walk. Spivac gets on the hip of Vanderaa and lands punches to the bleeding Vanderaa. Both hooks in now for Spivac, he’s got a pretty nasty stockade position and lands punches and hammer fists. Vanderaa is stuck here, he’s blocking hammer fists but can’t move or fight back and the ref stops the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Serghei Spivac via TKO, punches and hammer fists, at 4:32 of Round 2

Vanderaa’s face is a mess, his left eye is swollen and the cut is around that same eyebrow. Mic time for Spivac and his translator, he says he doesn’t pay attention to the pre-fight build as he’d rather focus on his training and game plan. He talks us through the finish, and a bit about the duck under high kick to takedown that basically sealed his fate in the second.

Spivac has total positional dominance here, Vanderaa isn’t fighting the hooks so while he’s covering up his inability to address the position means he’s just a punching bag and the ref saves him.

Aiemann Zahabi has gone 1-2 in the UFC but is on a two fight losing streak and has been fairly inactive lately, his last fight being in May of 2019. Zahabi is trying to get his UFC career back on track with a win. Drako Rodriguez brings a three fight winning streak into his UFC debut, unfortunately he missed weight by a significant amount and will need something memorable to help get out from under that particular dark cloud. Rodriguez is the favorite at -190 to +160 for Zahabi.

Bantamweight Bout: Drako Rodriguez (7-1, 140.5 lbs.) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (7-2, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Rodriguez has half an inch of reach advantage, Rodriguez missed weight but is also 9 years younger than Zahabi. Early feinting from Rodriguez while Zahabi circles. Leg kick from Rodriguez then they both miss rights. Right from Rodriguez lands. Bit of a left uppercut from Rodriguez and they clinch up. Knees go back and forth then they break. Calf kick from Rodriguez. Rodriguez lands another calf kick. Zahabi lands a one two, then eats a counter uppercut. Rodriguez is doing a good job of landing the calf kick then sliding forward and trying a follow up right. Rodriguez tries that right uppercut without a set up, this time Zahabi counters him with a wicked straight right and Rodriguez is out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Aiemann Zahabi via KO, punch, at 3:05 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Zahabi for his work this evening. Zahabi on the mic, he says winning in the UFC is great but breaking a 2 fight losing streak with a KO is great as well. He talks us through the finish, noting he felt faster than Rodriguez and timed the final blow. Asked what’s next he wants to fight in a few months and would like to get 3 total fights this year. To close he thanks his parents, wife and kids.

Throwing an uppercut as the first blow is usually frowned upon for a reason, especially when you don’t set it up or move your head. Watch their heads here, Zahabi slips to his left avoiding the uppercut as well as lining up his right while Rodriguez not only flares his left arm he doesn’t move his head off of the center line. Feinting in, or at least bobbing and weaving to close distance is virtually required for this kind of punch to avoid just this kind of counter.

Skelly is in the cage, apparently Jamall Emmers is having serious back spasms back stage and wont make the fight. That’s terribly unfortunate for all parties, back spams are awful to deal with.

They will give Skelly an interview to fill some time, he wants his win bonus because he made weight and got into the cage but does hope Emmers is alright as there’s no animosity between them. He says the camp was emotional as he’s coming back from a major surgery and was fully prepared for this one, he’s clearly disappointed. He gives love to the family of a friend who passed away a few weeks ago, his hunting partner apparently. Bisping updates him on the full back spasm thing, Skelly is just worried about the plan going forward as he’s a big featherweight and the cut isn’t easy for him so he can’t make a very quick turnaround. To close he puts over Bisping’s commentary.

Shana Dobson just broke a three fight losing streak and likely saved her job in the process, now she’s trying to pull her UFC record to the .500 mark and get her first UFC winning streak. Casey O’Neill is undefeated coming into her UFC debut and will be looking to maximize her only chance to make a good first impression. Despite the UFC experience disparity the odds are with O’Neill at -160 while Dobson’s sit at +135.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Shana Dobson (4-4, 126 lbs.) vs. Casey O’Neill (5-0, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: The height and reach is identical, but O’Neill is 8 years younger. O’Neill coming out fast, both women land rights and they clinch up. Dobson is on the fence while O’Neill is looking for trips. They break and Dobson misses a punch. Both women with punches and kicks, O’Neill ducks a right and tries a double leg against the fence and gets it. Dobson tries to granby roll through and does so, but O’Neill is back up and they separate. Jabs from O’Neill then a right. Both women with jabs. Left hook from O’Neill in close, these two are having a good old fashioned RoadHouse affair. They clinch up again and O’Neill is after the takedown. Dobson is able to fight that off and land an elbow. Knees from Dobson but O’Neill dumps her down with a double leg. Hammer fists from O’Neill as she’s in side control with one knee on the neck of Dobson. Full side control now for O’Neill and she digs elbows to the body. Knee on belly for O’Neill, she’s landing blows while Dobson is trying to get her guard back. Dobson tries to scramble up but winds up on her knees. Elbows from O’Neill, Dobson wall walks and they trade along the fence before O’Neill hits another takedown. O’Neill is in half guard and working body to head blows. Dobson lands an up kick as O’Neill is standing over her and passing. O’Neill moves to side control and lands elbows. O’Neill drops for a heel hook, but there’s not enough time to finish it though the attempt wasn’t bad.

SCORECARD: 10-9 O’Neill

ROUND TWO: O’Neill aggressive again and they trade body kicks. O’Neill catches a kick and gets a takedown against the fence. Dobson to her knees but O’Neill around to the back with both hooks in though Dobson has wrist control. Dobson to her knees again, and rolls back and forth and gets quarter guard. O’Neill with elbows and punches and gets full mount. More offense from O’Neill, she’s relentless. Dobson tries to spin off of the fence but O’Neill is with her and keeps full mount. Punches and elbows from O’Neill, Dobson gives up back mount again and O’Neill is rolling with her, riding nicely. This round is all O’Neill, she’s landing more punches and hammer fists. Dobson is losing her ability to fight the position, and that’s it the ref has seen enough.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Casey O’Neill via TKO, punches, at 3:41 of Round 2

O’Neill might need a lot of refinement, but she seems to take the Napoleon philosophy on offense that “Quantity has a quality all its own”. Mic time for O’Neill, she feels good but feels she had a slow start and only got going in the second round. She mentions feeling about even on the feet but her ground work was better and once they hit the mat the first time she knew she was better there and could win. She thanks all her friends and family for their support.

A really solid high mount for O’Neill here, Dobson is left just trying to explode a bridge and once that keeps failing the ref has to save her from the continued barrage.

Nate Landwehr has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and looking to build that into a legitimate run in a fairly crowded division. Julian Erosa got into the UFC for the third time last year and did manage to get his second promotional win, now he’s hoping for his first UFC winning streak. The odds are with Landwehr at -125 to a +105 comeback on Erosa.

Featherweight Bout: Julian Erosa (24-8, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Nate Landwehr (14-3, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Erosa is four inches taller and has two and a half inches of reach advantage. Calf kick from Landwehr. Erosa with a front kick to the body then a one two. They trade calf kicks. Another right from Erosa, Landwehr lands a calf kick but eats a counter right. They clinch up and swing wildly for a bit, both men land but Landwehr stumbles and Erosa hits him with a flying knee which will prompt the stoppage. Landwehr immediately protesting the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Julian Erosa via TKO, flying knee and punches, at :56 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Erosa for his work this evening. Mic time for Erosa after that, he says he was willing to die tonight and despite getting hit and dropped he got up and kept going forward. He was expecting this kind of fight and was prepared to deal with and bring pressure. He talks us through the finish, and says the ref saved a life because he’d have kept going after that.

You can see pure action from start to finish here, and I’ll let you decide for yourself about the finish.

Eddie Wineland is a veteran of the sport but his career looks to be winding down as he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights and he’s coming off of a knockout loss. Wineland is hoping to avoid another loss and get some more wins before he has to ride off into the sunset. John Castaneda lost his UFC debut against Nathaniel Wood last year, now he’s trying to bounce back and get that all important first UFC win at the expense of a respected opponent. The odds are close for this one but lean towards Castaneda at -125 to an even +105 on Wineland.

Bantamweight Bout: John Castaneda (17-5, 136 lbs.) vs. Eddie Wineland (24-14-1, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Wineland is an inch and a half taller while Castaneda has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Castaneda fighting southpaw. Wineland coming forward early, both men probing with kicks. They keep exchanging kicks, bit of a right from Wineland. They trade rights. Both men with power hand punches. Castaneda has started finding his lead hand more often now. Wineland lands a right and avoids a clinch. Some stance switching from Wineland, he’s still mostly orthodox but shows southpaw on occasion. Short right hook from Castaneda lands. Straight left then a right hook from Castaneda both land. Both men with power hand punches again. Wineland off balances Castaneda, stands over him then lands a right as Castaneda regains his feet. Castaneda has been landing an inside leg kick fairly regularly but Wineland is looking to counter with a straight right. Castaneda lands a left. Right hook from Castaneda stuns Wineland, he follows up with a brutal combination and Wineland is down. Wineland tries to fight up but the ref doesn’t like what he’s seeing and stops the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – John Castaneda via TKO, punches, at 4:44 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Castaneda for his work this evening. Mic time for Castaneda after another quick fight, he says it’s an honor to even be interviewed and then puts over Wineland’s career then puts over the power of Wineland but he got through it and jumped all over the finish. He talks us through the finish, and puts over his team for all of their work with him. Bisping asks about the slower start, he says the game plan was to be patient and not get cracked too much but he did get hit and had to find himself again. To close he dedicates the fight to his aunt who passed away from COVID just a few weeks ago, very sorry for his loss.

This is a nice right hook off of a dart from Castaneda, Wineland was clearly rocked and Castaneda doesn’t let him recover.

Jared Gordon has gone 2-3 in his last five fights but he’s coming off of a win and could get his first winning streak since 2017. Gordon missed weight for this fight and needs a win to help move on from that particular gaff. Danny Chavez has a four fight winning streak going including a successful UFC debut last year, he’s hoping to take out a respected opponent and prove himself someone to pay attention to in the division. Chavez is the favorite at -120 to Gordon’s +100.

Featherweight Bout: Danny Chavez (11-3, 145 lbs.) vs. Jared Gordon (16-4, 150 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gordon has an inch of height and reach advantage, plus he missed weight of course. Both men feinting early. A lot of range finding and probing thus far but neither man has really committed yet. Both men land left hooks in close. Right from Chavez lands. Bit of a hook from Gordon along the fence. They trade rights then Gordon lands a leg kick. Another exchange of punches in close. A couple of more leg kicks from Gordon lands. Chavez tries an inside leg kick, that hit the groin quite audibly and we’ve got time for him to recover. Gordon takes 40 some odd seconds then we’re back to fighting. More leg kicks are traded, both men landing them now. Chavez lands a right to the body. Gordon ducks under a wheel kick. A couple more calf kicks from Gordon, Chavez returns fire with punches. Bit of a right from Gordon in close. They trade leg kicks again. Counter right from Gordon lands. Gordon punches into a clinch but Chavez quickly separates after eating a knee. Chavez misses a few rights, then Gordon lands a couple of punches. A right from Chavez will be the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gordon

ROUND TWO: They come out swinging again, Chavez hits a double leg but Gordon bounces back up and separates. Both men with leg kicks. Chavez lands a couple of punches. Gordon with another calf kick and they trade lefts in close. Some jabs from Chavez, Gordon then hits a takedown into the guard of Chavez. Gordon with some hammer fists. Body to head blows from Gordon but he can’t pass the guard yet. Chavez is trying to wall walk but he can’t get off of his back to start the process. Gordon lands more rights, Chavez is going to butterfly guard. More short offense from Gordon, Chavez kicks him off but Gordon tackles him back over and resumes top position. Chavez is trying to stall things out but Gordon breaks his grip and lands some more offense. Elbows from Gordon as he passes to half guard. Gordon retains top position landing blows as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Gordon ducks under a head kick. Calf kick from Chavez. Gordon is backing Chavez up, he lands a couple of calf kicks and those are adding up rapidly now. Both men land rights, then Chavez avoids a takedown attempt. Chavez lands a one two, Gordon responds with a left hook. Gordon reaches for a single leg but Chavez defends. They trade rights again but Chavez is starting to walk him down. Both men land rights, Gordon gets a single leg and gets Chavez down into full guard. Gordon is looking a bit more to pass now, Chavez is stalling things out a bit. Chavez kicks Gordon off then defends a takedown attempt. Gordon avoids a flying knee attempt and gets a clinch. Knees from Gordon then some uppercuts. Chavez lands a knee to the body but he can’t get free. Gordon slips around to the back, lands a knee and they break. Chavez with a knee, he tries to brawl but Gordon gets another clinch as the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gordon, 30-26 Gordon overall

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

Chavez getting the third isn’t out of line, but I’m a little surprised at the lack of 10-8’s in the second as I feel that was absolutely warranted based on the scoring criteria. No interview for Gordon.

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

Andrei Arlovski somewhat improbably keeps trucking along despite having debuted professionally back in 1999 and currently is on a two fight winning streak, if he’s able to extend that to three in a row here he might be able to crack back into the top fifteen. Tom Aspinall has a five fight winning streak including two first round finishes in the UFC, he’s trying to get the biggest win of his career if he can take out a recognizable name and former champion like Arlovski. The odds are rather heavily with Aspinall at -260 to a +210 payout for an Arlovski win.

Heavyweight Bout: Andrei Arlovski (30-19 2 NC, 249.5 lbs.) vs. Tom Aspinall (9-2, 244.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aspinall is two inches taller, has one inch of reach advantage, and is a whopping 14 years younger than Arlovski. Both men feinting early, Aspinall showing the kicks as well. Arlovski tries to blitz but misses. Aspinall lands a right. Aspinall coming forward now, he’s feinting the counters out of Arlovski well so far. Leg kick from Aspinall. Check right hook from Aspinall, he’s timing Arlovski’s blitzes well so far. Combination from Aspinall, he’s got Arlovski hurt on the fence and is looking to unload. Arlovski covers up and eats body shots but does fire back and force a clinch. Arlovski is cut on the bridge of the nose, which might also be broken. They separate and reset. Aspinall moving very well right now, lands a bit of a right. Arlovski misses a blitz attack and they clinch up again. Aspinall has Arlovski on the fence but he’s just kind of hanging out. Some foot stomps from Aspinall. Arlovski spins off the fence and is able to separate. They trade heavy punches again. They’ll just stare away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aspinall but there was a near finish so I wouldn’t object to a 10-8

ROUND TWO: Arlovski’s ability to slow a fight down to the pace he wants is impressive, because he’s doing it again here. They both land punches. Arlovski lands a right. Double leg from Aspinall, he gets the back in transition and locks up a rear naked choke very quickly to force the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tom Aspinall via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:09 of Round 2

Solid stuff from Aspinall, Arlovski hadn’t been submitted since fighting Josh Barnett in 2016 which was his first time ever being tapped out. Bisping jokes with Aspinall about the fight taking a lot longer than usual to start the interview, Aspinall mentions he got punched in the eye and had to get his vision back. He talks us through the finish, then says he’d like to fight any of the other winners from this card but knows it probably wont be anyone from the main event. You know that’s a sensible callout, we had Spivac winning earlier tonight and there’s still Oleinik vs. Daukaus coming up and any of those would be solid fights.

Timing and expectation are everything, Arlovski has good takedown defense but Aspinall times this one with the kick and Arlovski clearly isn’t expecting the double leg. From there Aspinall sneaks the left arm around the neck as Arlovski tries to get his base up and from there it’s all over but the tapping.

Nassourdine Imavov has a six fight winning streak going on including a successful UFC debut, he’s looking to extend that streak here and prove himself a viable prospect in the division. Phil Hawes has a five fight winning streak and scored a very quick KO win in his UFC debut, he’s trying to extend that streak as well. The odds are close but like Hawes at -125 to a +105 comeback on Imavov.

Middleweight Bout: Nassourdine Imavov (9-2, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Phil Hawes (9-2, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Imavov is three inches taller but Hawes has two and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Hawes with a calf kick. Another leg kick from Hawes. Bit of a left hook from Imavov. Imavov avoids a calf kick. They both miss rights, Hawes tries left hooks to follow up but Imavov is being defensively responsible. Hawes with another calf kick. Those are adding up quickly. They punch into a clinch and Hawes puts Imavov on the fence. Some knees from Hawes but things are stalling out a bit. Things are stalling out here a bit but the ref has yet to break them up. Elbow from Imavov, Hawes gets a takedown but Imavov wall walks immediately. Another takedown from Hawes, this time into side control. Imavov quickly gets half guard and is trying to set up another wall walk. A few rights from Hawes close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hawes

ROUND TWO: There’s a cut on Hawes from that elbow. Imavov showing the jab as the round starts. Hawes gets a clinch and drives things into the fence again. Knees from Imavov. Hawes tries to change levels but Imavov defends and lands another knee as Hawes keeps the clinch. Things are stalling out again but Imavov can’t seem to get free. Imavov slips free and misses a right. Left hook then a right from Imavov. Imavov lands a left hook that wobbles Hawes, he tries to follow up but Hawes ducks under a right and gets a double leg into side control on the fence. Imavov wall walks rather quickly but is still clinched with Hawes on his back. Hawes gets one hook in, he’s trying to off balance things but Imavov goes for a kimura roll but loses the grip and Hawes is on top in half guard. Imavov tries a sweep but Hawes reads that and just floats with him. Elbows from Imavov but he’s struggling to get up without the fence to help. Hawes just kind of holding top position as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Imavov but probably went to Hawes, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Body kick from Imavov. Hawes avoids an uppercut and tries a double leg, Imavov back up but still clinched on the fence. Hawes has slipped around to the back, Imavov gets chest to chest. Imavov lands a knee as they break. Hawes trying to move, he feels he’s up and wants to not get sloppy or stupid with his attacks. Calf kick from Hawes. Imavov with a bit of an uppercut but Hawes gets a clinch and we’re back on the fence. Imavov is fishing for chokes or a front headlock but Hawes is stifling that and retaining control. Elbow from Imavov. Hawes keeps grabbing the fence, Imavov lands an elbow then a knee and forces a break. Rights from Imavov, he’s got Hawes hurt but Hawes forces a clinch again. Imavov can’t get free but he’s still trying to throw in the clinch. Hawes reaches for a single leg, Imavov is defending but really needs to get free. Another elbow from Imavov. Hawes can’t get offense off, he eats a hard knee and is backing up. Imavov with a left, he’s firing but Hawes with another clinch to stall the final couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Imavov, 29-28 Imavov overall but will hinge on the second round

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Phil Hawes via majority decision (28-28, 29-28 x2)

Could have been a 10-8 for Hawes in the first, or for Imavov in the third given how much damage he did. I disagree with Hawes winning but I don’t think it’s wrong, he just stalled out a lot in the second and didn’t do enough to counter the damage he took but that’s just my perspective. Mic time for Hawes, who feels he should have won the first two rounds with his takedowns but acknowledges he got rocked in the third. Bisping asks how hurt he was, he says not enough to go down but he felt the blows for sure. Asked what he’d like next he wants to step in to face either Chris Weidman or Uriah Hall if one of them fall out of their scheduled fight again.

Aleksei Oleinik has gone 2-3 in his last five fights and is trying to avoid another losing streak here, as well as turn back a rising heavyweight and prove that he’s still got something to offer both the UFC and the heavyweight division. Chris Daukaus has a three fight winning streak going including two UFC wins, he’s hoping to claim one of the bigger scalps he could at the moment by taking out a respected veteran and start transitioning from prospect to contender. Daukaus is your favorite at -200 to a +170 comeback on Oleinik.

Heavyweight Bout: Chris Daukaus (10-3, 234 lbs.) vs. #10 Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1, 240 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Daukaus is an inch taller, Oleinik has four inches of reach advantage and Daukaus is 12 years younger. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men swing early, then they clinch up and hit the fence. Oleinik is after an arm for some reason but can’t get it. Oleinik tries to wrap the head and pull guard but Daukaus avoids that and lands punches and hammer fists while avoiding the mat. Back up and Oleinik is trying to walk forward. Right from Daukaus staggers Oleinik. Bit of a right from Daukaus. Oleinik lands a leg kick. Punches in close from Daukaus then a knee, he’s teeing off but Oleinik is covering up on the fence. Daukaus keeps unloading until the ref intervenes.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chris Daukaus via TKO, punches, at 1:55 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Daukaus for his work this evening. Mic time for Daukaus after that performance, he says the fight went about as planned and puts over Oleinik as a tough guy and he was a little worried when they tied up but stayed composed. He talks us through the finish, then when asked who he’d like to fight next he says he should be 10th after this and would like someone ranked above him. He plans on calling someone out after the next couple of events after things settle, when pressed by Bisping for a name he jokingly says Stipe.

Lovely combination from Daukaus here, he doesn’t just swing blindly but tries to find the openings in the guard of Oleinik while keeping up the volume.

Charles Rosa has been trading wins and losses for his entire UFC run, but he’s coming off of a win and could secure his first UFC winning streak tonight. Darrick Minner has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and could likewise secure his first UFC winning streak if he’s successful in the cage. The odds are with Rosa at -190 to +160 for Minner.

Featherweight Bout: Darrick Minner (25-11, 146 lbs.) vs. Charles Rosa (13-4, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rosa is two inches taller while Minner has half an inch of reach advantage. Some feinting early, both men moving well. A couple of calf kicks from Minner then they tie up and break without much happening. Rose is doing some stance switching now. They trade calf kicks. Right from Minner then a flurry along the fence. They tie up again but Minner is committed to swinging in close and Rosa has to fight free then lands a calf kick. Minner is doing a good job of avoiding blows and countering. Rosa lands a body kick but Minner catches it and gets a takedown. Minner with a mat return as Rosa tried to stand and lands in half guard. Elbow from Minner, Rosa is able to get guard in play. Rosa is able to shrimp to full guard again. Minner to the ride position, Rosa tries to invert for a kneebar but Minner is landing hammer fists and Rosa goes back to guard. Minner rides a roll attempt and gets towards the hip of Rosa. Rosa tries to get his guard back in play, Minner moves to side control. Rosa gives up mount trying to roll, Minner’s transition game is really smooth. Arm triangle attempt from Minner but Rosa has half guard to try and defend. Minner bails on that as Rosa gets full guard again. Rosa tries an armbar but Minner pulls free, they wind up in 50-50 guard with Rosa trying for a kneebar but Minner punching the body. Rosa tries a few heel hook transitions but Minner easily defends as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Minner

ROUND TWO: Minner with a right, and a left that drops Rosa. Minner onto the back with one hook in, he’s landing some hammer fists but Rosa is tying up the arms and stalling things out. Both hooks in now for Minner, he moves to full mount and has an arm triangle choke locked up. OK, the hands aren’t connected for Minner but they’re close and he could switch to fully lock it up if he wants. Rosa shrimps side to side and frees his arm to avoid the submission. Rosa is able to roll under and buck off the mount, Minner stays on top of him into north-south. Minner avoids an armbar attempt and lands some short lefts while fishing for the back. Rosa rolls through and is trying for a triangle choke but Minner is defending without much issue. A few body shots from Minner and he passes to full mount. Minner with more body shots as Rosa shrimps to half guard. A few short elbows from Minner, Rosa gets to his knees and he’s back up but Minner jumps onto his back in the backpack position. Rosa tries to slam backwards, Minner transitions to full mount again and lands body shots while threatening another arm triangle. The arm triangle is tight, he moves to side control to really lock down the choke but Rosa is able to get his legs in play and peel Minner off of the attempt. Minner into the ride position, he’s landing elbows. Rosa throws up an armbar attempt but Minner gets free as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Minner clips Rosa with a right fairly early and gets another takedown, he’s got a front headlock position from half guard. Minner slips out to the ride position, Rosa tries to roll again but Minner is on top in side control. Rosa keeps trying to scramble, he wall walks but gets dragged down into full mount. Rosa is after a double wrist lock but he’s mounted and there’s not a whole lot there. Minner spins out of the double wrist lock and lands a hammer fist but Rosa gets full guard. Rosa scoots towards the fence, Minner passes towards side control as Rosa keeps trying for the armbar. Rosa switches to an omoplata but he’s cut and bleeding now. Minner spins out of the shoulder lock and moves into north-south. Minner might be trying to set up a north-south choke but Rosa shrimps and gets to his knees. Ride position for Minner, then he gets the back with both hooks in. Rosa slips one of the hooks out, there’s a twister maybe if Minner wants it. Rosa is after another kimura but loses the grip. Some elbows from Rosa but there’s not much there and he keeps throwing as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Minner, 30-26 Minner overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Darrick Minner via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 29-27)

I have no idea which round went to Rosa for that judge, I don’t think he got close enough on any of his submission attempts to counter the damage and positional dominance of Minner. Mic time for Minner, he notes this is just the fourth decision on his career and feels he deserves a post fight bonus for that performance. Given the state of this card that’s going to be a hard sell. He says he’s always looking for the finish and knows the entertainment side of the business, then puts over his coach James Krause. To close he gives love to his girls.

Ketlen Vieira once looked like a rising contender at bantamweight but a brutal knockout loss in 2019 stymied that and while she got a win in her last fight she hasn’t yet found the same kind of form that saw her gain that hype. Vieira also missed weight for this fight, never a good thing. Yana Kunitskaya has gone 2-1 in her last three fights, she’s coming off of a win but could score the biggest win of her career if she’s able to upset Vieira tonight. Vieira is a somewhat heavy favorite at -280 to +230 on Kunitskaya.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #7 Yana Kunitskaya (13-5 1 NC, 135.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Ketlen Vieira (11-1, 138 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Vieira is two inches taller while Kunitskaya has half an inch of reach advantage. Both women come out punching, Vieira gets the better of that and tries a double leg but Kunitskaya defends against the fence. They fight in the clinch, mostly just trading knees. Vieira gets a double leg, but Kunitskaya wall walks almost immediately and they’re back to trading knees. Kunitskaya is really committed to the knees and spins Vieira to the fence. More knees from Kunitskaya as she’s keeping Vieira on the fence. Vieira gets a double leg and passes to half guard away from the fence. Kunitskaya tries to hip up but Vieira moves towards full mount, Kunitskaya has to quickly adjust to get half guard back. Vieira is trying to pass straight into full mount, she gets 3/4 mount and lands some blows before Kunitskaya gets half guard back. Another pass attempt from Vieira but Kunitskaya is defending well enough. Vieira seems to not way to do a whole lot until she gets into a really dominant position and Kunitskaya is denying that. A few punches from Vieira land. The round will end in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vieira

ROUND TWO: Vieira with some punches, Kunitskaya responds with a body kick. They tie up and Kunitskaya with some knees to the body and she drives Vieira into the fence again. More knees from Kunitskaya, Vieira tries an outside trip but Kunitskaya smothers it and winds up on top in the full guard of Vieira. Kunitskaya lands some body shots but Vieira is keeping an active guard. Vieira is trying to attack, she’s after an armbar but Kunitskaya keeps her arm free and lands a punch. Kunitskaya working some punches but not much on them from the full guard here. Vieira tries to invert for a kneebar, Kunitskaya keeps weight on the leg and lands punches. Kunitskaya gets her leg free but Vieira scrambles up with the motion and we’re clinched again. Kunitskaya with knees to the body and thigh. Vieira tries a whizzer kick but Kunitskaya smothers that and gets the back standing. More knees and punches from Kunitskaya, Vieira tries a kimura roll but the motion stalls out on the mat and Kunitskaya has the ride position. Some knees to the body from Kunitskaya. Elbows to the kidney from Kunitskaya, that’s just mean. Kunitskaya lands a head kick as Vieira wall walks, then misses a spinning kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kunitskaya, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Kunitskaya lands an inside leg kick. Some long distance kicks from Kunitskaya, Vieira catches a kick and gets a takedown into half guard. Vieira is trying to set up an arm triangle, but can’t find it. They’re along the fence now and Vieira passes to full mount finally. Kunitskaya to a hip, she gets half guard back but Vieira is after the arm triangle choke again though she loses it as she gets full mount again. Vieira is really committed to that arm triangle attempt. Kunitskaya tries to wall walk but Vieira slips around to the back with both hooks in. Kunitskaya breaks one of the hooks free, but Vieira gets it back in. Vieira is just kind of holding onto the back mount while Kunitskaya lands some punches. There’s a choke attempt from Vieira but Kunitskaya breaks the grip. Kunitskaya spins into Vieira’s guard and starts unloading to the body and head but there’s not enough time for her to really over come the rest of the round, though a final elbow did cut Vieira before the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Yana Kunitskaya via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

I’m a little surprised by that given just how much time Vieira spent in the mount and back mount in the third, but that lack of damage or submission threat from Vieira certainly muddied the water I guess. Then again, maybe it was the first that went to Kunitskaya? No idea, but I respect the decision ultimately. Mic time for Kunitskaya she didn’t feel confident in the decision but she kept trying to do damage and stay active. She mentions this being the second time she’s trained to fight Vieira, and was surprised at how easy she got the takedown and top position. Asked who she’d like next she wants anyone ranked above her.

Curtis Blaydes has only ever lost to Francis Ngannou, he’s got a four fight winning streak going right now and a win here would more or less confirm that his next fight would be for the UFC heavyweight title. Derrick Lewis has a three fight winning streak going, and while a win wouldn’t quite give him the same kind of case for a shot at the belt that it would for Blaydes it would definitely move him one step closer to a second title shot. Blaydes is the biggest favorite on the entire card at -450 to a +350 payout for Lewis.

Heavyweight Bout: #2 Curtis Blaydes (14-2 1 NC, 259 lbs.) vs. #4 Derrick Lewis (24-7 1 NC, 263 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Blayeds has an inch of height and reach on Lewis. They touch gloves to get us going. Blaydes circling early while Lewis slowly rotates. Leg kick from Blaydes. They get close and swing but Lewis lands a decent punch and Blaydes backs off. Now Blaydes is backing Lewis towards the fence. Lewis is really flat on his feet, but he doesn’t really have to move much yet. They trade rights again, this time Blaydes landed better. Bit of a jab from Blaydes. Blaydes lands a leg kick. Lewis tries a head kick, nothing there for him. Blaydes avoids some punches and lands a straight right then a leg kick. Another leg kick from Blaydes, Lewis tries to counter but he’s blocked. Blaydes avoids some punches and lands a counter then a leg kick. Blaydes is doing a good job of drawing Lewis out and countering him. A couple of rights from Blaydes then a jumping knee that’s partially blocked. Jab from Blaydes. Another calf kick from Blaydes. There’s already some swelling on that lead leg of Lewis. Blaydes punches into a clinch, we get a break from the ref as Lewis took an eye poke. Replay confirms the poke, and after about 30 seconds Lewis is good to continue and the ref warns them both about the open fingers. They clash on kicks to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Blaydes

ROUND TWO: Blaydes coming forward again, we get time as the ref warns them both about fingers again. They trade punches on the restart then Blaydes tries a double leg that winds up just as a clinch on the fence. Lewis slips free and resets, that defense was significant. Blaydes back to feninting. Blaydes tries for a double leg, but ducks right into a monster uppercut from Lewis and he’s out as he hits the canvas.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Derrick Lewis via KO, punch, at 1:26 of Round 2

That’s a really important win for Lewis, who might be in line for a title shot now depending on how a few other things play out. Really this clears the way for Jon Jones to get a shot at the winner of Miocic vs. Ngannou 2. That ties Lewis for most UFC knockouts as both he and Vitor Belfort have 12. Mic time for Lewis, he says he couldn’t get it going even when he was warming up and felt a little dead out there. He says he was waiting on that punch the whole fight, he didn’t care about his set ups was just waiting on Blaydes to shoot like that. Asked about the future, he doesn’t seem to care and notes that Jon Jones is coming so he probably wont fight for the belt but if Israel Adesanya moves up he’d like to fight him. He jokes he’d rather fight Stipe than anyone else, he likes beating them wrestlers.

Here you can see Blaydes slightly telegraph his shot, and he’s also constantly entering on the double leg so his head winds up going into the power side. Lewis reads it, dips and fires an uppercut that Blaydes ducks straight into.

Alright everyone, that wraps up UFC on ESPN+ 43. Thanks a lot for reading, be that live or after the fact. I’ll be back next week for UFC on ESPN+ 44 when we’ve got another heavyweight main event this time between Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. We’ll be looking at this event and previewing that one on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast tomorrow, so please do tune in to that. Until next week everyone please remember to stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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