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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Aldo Wins!

December 5, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN 31

#4 Rob Font (134 lbs.) vs. #5 Jose Aldo (136 lbs.)
#14 Rafael Fiziev (155.5 lbs.) vs. #12 Brad Riddell (155.5 lbs.)
#13 Jimmy Crute (205.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Jamahal Hill (205 lbs.)
Clay Guida (155 lbs.) vs. Leonardo Santos (156 lbs.)
Brendan Allen (185.5 lbs.) vs. Chris Curtis (185 lbs.)
Mickey Gall (170.5 lbs.) vs. Alex Morono (170.5 lbs.)

Maki Pitolo (184.5 lbs.) vs. Dusko Todorovic (185.5 lbs.)
Manel Kape (125.5 lbs.) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (125.5 lbs.)
Bryan Barberena (170.5 lbs.) vs. Darian Weeks (170 lbs.)
Jake Matthews (170 lbs.) vs. Jeremiah Wells (170.5 lbs.)
Mallory Martin (115 lbs.) vs. Cheyanne Vlismas (115.5 lbs.)
William Knight (206 lbs.) vs. Alonzo Menifield (205.5 lbs.)
Chris Gruetzemacher (156 lbs.) vs. Claudio Puelles (155 lbs.)
Vince Morales (135.5 lbs.) vs. Louis Smolka (135.5 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 31. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. After a rare week off the UFC is back at it tonight, and they’ve brought a pretty good card. The main event is very relevant to the bantamweight title picture as two top 5 contenders clash. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo continues his bantamweight campaign against surging contender Rob Font. While a title shot is unlikely in the immediate aftermath of this fight for either man given the state of the top of the division, it could lead to a guaranteed number one contenders bout or put them on the short list to fill in should a title fight fall through. Either way it’s a good fight on paper. The co-main event is arguably even better as two ranked lightweights with a penchant for striking square up and try to move into the top ten when Brad Riddell takes on Rafael Fiziev. Elsewhere on the card we’ve got Mickey Gall and Alex Morono, rising prospect Brendan Allen is back in action, fan friendly fighter Bryan Barberena is fighting on the prelims, and if you like flyweights Manel Kape taking on Zhalgas Zhumagulov has some potential. All in all we’ve got a solid card on paper here.

UFC on ESPN 31 comes to the world from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. We’ve got Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping on commentary. As for the rules we’re mostly under the newer set in Nevada but you still only need one hand on the mat to be downed but we do have the use of instant replay and the fight can be restarted after using instant replay if that’s applicable.

Some bad news at the top of the show, Jake Matthews vs. Jeremiah Wells is off due to Covid protocols. That’s unfortunate, it’s a good fight.

Louis Smolka has traded wins and losses while going 3-2 since returning to the UFC, he’s coming off of a win though and is looking to get his first UFC winning streak since 2016 up and running. Vince Morales has gone 2-3 in the UFC and is likewise coming off of a win, he’s trying to get his first ever UFC winning streak going though as both men jockey for position in the stacked bantamweight division. The odds lean towards Smolka at -155 to +130 on Morales.

Bantamweight Bout: Vince Morales (10-5, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Louis Smolka (17-7, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Smolka is two inches taller but Morales has an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men with some feinting early, and a few probing strikes. Smolka lands a calf kick. Morales lands a right to the body. Jab from Morales, he’s splitting the guard of Smolka consistently now. Morales with a body to head combination then Smolka lands a left hook. A few stance switches from Morales, he’s got a nice little drop shift jab. Smolka is pushing forward despite the jabs, Morales lands a body shot. They trade leg kicks, get close and trade body shots then Morales clobbers Smolka with a right hand on the break, Smolka Flair flops, then Morales gets on top and pounds things out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Vince Morales via KO, punches, at 2:02 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Morales for his work this evening. Mic time for Morales, he notes this is his first UFC knockout and it feels good to finally get it. He talks us through the finish and says he’d like to be on the upcoming London card because he’s never been to London and mentions Nathaniel Wood as an opponent.

Here’s a look at the finish. Morales does a nice little shift into southpaw as they’re looking to exit the clinch, and it lets that right hand come over the shoulder quicker than you’d expect. The lower shoulders and hands of Smolka mean that punch lands right behind the ear, Smolka’s balance is shot and he face plants leading to the finish.

Claudio Puelles is riding a three fight winning streak and if he can get that to four in a row here he might be due a step up in class for his next fight. Chris Gruetzemacher has gone 3-3 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and could lift his UFC record above the .500 mark while getting his first UFC winning streak going. Another close one according to the odds, but they’re with Puelles at -130 to +110 for Gruetzemacher.

Featherweight Bout: Chris Gruetzemacher (15-4, 156 lbs.) vs. Claudio Puelles (10-2, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Puelles is two inches taller, has four inches of reach advantage, and is a full decade younger. They touch gloves, Puelles starts out southpaw. Gruetzemacher starts pressuring forward right away, Puelles lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Gruetzemacher, then a body kick of his own. Both men land body kicks, then Puelles tries a takedown and manages to awkwardly finish it into half guard. Gruetzemacher shrimps to full guard. Some punches from Puelles then a short elbow. Gruetzemacher tries to get his guard working, that just allows Puelles to pass and move towards the back as Gruetzemacher moves to the fence and looks to wall walk. Gruetzemacher looks to wall walk but Puelles rides him down with a modified crucifix then gets on top in 3/4 mount as they scramble. Some elbows from Puelles as he moves to full mount. Puelles postures up and looks to unload, Gruetzemacher shrimps to half guard, then back to full guard. Puelles passes to side control, then north-south and he looks for an armbar but Gruetzemacher defends as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Puelles but a borderline one

ROUND TWO: Puelles comes out and they trade head kicks, then Gruetzemacher lands a front kick to the body. Single leg attempt from Puelles, Gruetzemacher defends this one and moves towards the back but Puelles moves towards butterfly guard and starts looking to sweep. Gruetzemacher lands a couple of punches to the body and head as he moves to half guard. Puelles throws up a triangle choke, Gruetzemacher postures to avoid the legs getting properly locked then gets his arm through into full guard. Half guard now for Gruetzemacher as he passes, Puelles scrambles back up and they trade knees then separate. Puelles lands a left then a high kick. Another left from Puelles stuns Gruetzemacher then he forces a clinch on the fence. They break without incident. Gruetzemacher has a right blocked then they trade in close. Puelles keeps throwing high kicks, they’ve blocked but they’re powerful. They tie up and Puelles lands an elbow as they hit the fence. Knees and elbows from Puelles, he’s working over Gruetzemacher here as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Gruetzemacher lands a front kick to the body, he’s got to get a finish to win and needs to try and ugly this up. They tie up, and Gruetzemacher knees Puelles in the groin so we’ve got a timeout. Replay confirms the low blow, that was a pretty bad one. Puelles can continue after a bit and we’re back to fighting. Both men keep kicking, Gruetzemacher pushes forward and lands a couple of body shots. Gruetzemacher defends a takedown attempt then they trade elbows in the clinch as they move along the fence. Puelles pulls free and lands a body kick. Puelles tries a single leg, Gruetzemacher defends then spins to the ride position and lands punches from that spot. They move to the fence and start working in the clinch. Gruetzemacher hits a foot sweep and gets on top with some punches. Puelles inverts for a kneebar, he has to switch towards an ankle lock but Gruetzemacher smothers the distance and starts working on top again. Gruetzemacher moves to the ride position but again Puelles inverts for the leg and this time he’s able to lock in the kneebar and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Claudio Puelles via Submission, kneebar, at 3:25 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Puelles for his work this evening. Mic time for Puelles, he’s happy to have won then puts over Gruetzemacher as a tough opponent. He talks us through the finish, and jokes that Bisping always talks bad about him and notes it’s his second kneebar in the UFC.

I’m a sucker for a leg lock, this clip misses the way Puelles is able to invert to the entry, but the way he moves around over the top of the leg once he loses the heel is really nice. Gruetzemacher was just a bit too slow defending the position, and if someone knows what they’re doing attacking the legs that’s time you can’t afford to lose.

Alonzo Menifield has gone 4-2 in the UFC, he’s currently on his second two fight winning streak and is hoping to establish himself as a prospect of note by extending that streak here. William Knight has gone 2-1 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a knockout win though and is trying to get his first UFC winning streak up and running while proving that he’s the prospect you should be watching. Menifield is your -160 favorite to a +135 comeback on Knight.

Light Heavyweight Bout: William Knight (10-2, 206 lbs.) vs. Alonzo Menifield (11-2, 205.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Menifield is two inches taller and has three inches of reach over Knight. They touch gloves to get us going. Menifield misses a one two. Knight tries a single leg, gets a trip off of it but Menifield sweeps as they go down and lands on top in side control. Some shoulder strikes from Menifield, but Knight has double underhooks and uses those to slip around and get on top in full mount. Knight gets the back with both hooks in and starts looking for the choke. Menifield spins into him and they scramble back up into the clinch. The energy use from both men thus far is quite high, they’re powering through things and whoever gasses first is going to be in real trouble. Knight lands a few knees in the clinch, Menifield looks for a takedown but Knight defends with a front headlock. Menifield keeps looking for the takedown, he can’t find it but he does break the grip and they separate. One two from Menifield lands, Knight responds with a calf kick. Menifield lands a left but Knight drops him with a left hand, he looks to finish on the mat but time runs down before he can.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Knight

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Both men look much flatter this round. Menifield checks a leg kick and lands a few punches. Bit of a jab from Knight. Neither man is feinting much. Menifield lands a straight right that staggers Knight. Knight misses a front kick and takes a couple of body shots. Menifield pokes Knight with another right hand. Knight misses a wheel kick. They trade lefts in close. A few feints from Menifield would help him, Knight is biting on everything and he could draw him out without much issue. Knight misses a spinning back fist. Menifield lands a left hook then another left in close. Knight misses a right and takes a counter punch. Knight has started coming forward, Menifield lands a bit of a left. Jab from Menifield lands. Knight misses an overhand right. Menifield falls short with a one two. A few more jabs from Menifield land, he’s starting to get that weapon going. Bit of a right from Menifield, both men miss winging punches then Knight lands a body kick and swings a couple of hooks just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Menifield, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They hug for the last round. Menifield comes out with straight punches, he lands a few rights as Knight tries to counter with wild punches. Knight lands a leg kick. Menifield lands a couple of body shots then they tie up and trade body shots before Menifield gets Knight on the fence. Knight defends a double leg but Menifield keeps him pinned on the fence. Menifield looks for another double leg but can’t quite find it. Menifield looks for another level change but Knight is able to land a knee then misses a jumping knee as Menifield pulls free. Knight starts kicking and backing Menifield up. Menifield lands a jab. Knight misses a few looping punches. They split a few jabs, Knight misses more punches as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – William Knight via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

I’m shocked by that one, Knight was ineffectual for that entire third round and his missed punches shouldn’t carry that much weight. No interview for Knight.

Cheyanne Vlismas has gone 1-1 in the UFC but she’s coming off of a win and is trying to make some headway in the deepest women’s division. Mallory Martin has gone 1-2 in the UFC, she’s coming off of a loss to Polyana Viana and is trying to get her UFC record back to the .500 mark. Vlismas enjoys favorite status at -190 to a +160 payout for Martin.

Strawweight Bout: Mallory Martin (7-4, 115 lbs.) vs. Cheyanne Vlismas (6-2, 115.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Martin is an inch taller but the reach is identical. Vlismas comes out jabbing. Both women land rights. They trade punches in close. Vlismas lands a left hook in close. Martin lands a right then a left behind it. Another right from Vlismas lands. Both women are clashing and exiting, if either of them presses the issue they might find an advantage. Martin lands a right. Vlismas lands a body kick. Another blitz attack from Vlismas is partially successful. Martin has a right hand blocked and eats a counter punch. Vlismas lands a right. Another couple of punches from Vlismas in close, Martin is struggling to find the target now. Body kick from Vlismas. Martin blocks a few punches but she’s not found her counters yet. They trade rights then Vlismas lands a body kick. They clinch up and trade uppercuts before hitting the fence. They break with more punches being traded. Vlismas lands a right, then another one. A few short uppercuts in close from Vlismas close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vlismas

ROUND TWO: Vlismas gets right back to her high pace as the round begins. Both women land some rights. Vlismas lands a leg kick, Martin returns it. Bit of a right from Vlismas. Martin lands a right. Inside leg kick from Vlismas, then a bit of a left high kick. Both women block rights. Both women land punches. Vlismas lands a jab. Combination from Vlismas lands and is punctuated by a left high kick. Martin lands a body shot. Another left to the body from Martin but she’s a hair slower than Vlismas. Vlismas lands a right hand. A few lefts from Vlismas as she circles, Martin then catches a kick and forces a clinch on the fence. Some knees from Martin to the body and thigh. Vlismas starts firing back with knees of her own. Vlismas lands a knee and circles free. A quick few punches from Vlismas land. One two from Vlismas lands. Martin falls a little short with a combination. Some stiff jabs from Vlismas, then a few punches as she tries to induce a brawl. Martin obliges that as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Martin starts coming forward right away, she needs a finish and knows it. Vlismas lands a front kick to the body then a right hand. Martin forces a clinch and they hit the fence. Vlismas avoids a takedown and spins free. Both women land punches. Bit of a counter right from Vlismas. Vlismas with some jabs, then an overhand right. Martin gets another clinch and they hit the fence before she can finish it. Martin does have a body lock and works some knees. Vlismas lands knees of her own then gets free. Vlismas lands a right. One two from Vlismas. Both women land punches in close. Martin forces another clinch and they hit the fence. Vlismas lands a knee to the body then spins free. Vlismas lands a counter right. Martin lands a jab. They split a few jabs then Vlismas lands a left hook. A couple of rights from Vlismas land, she almost can’t miss with that punch. They split a few jabs. Vlismas lands a left hook while circling. Martin just can’t catch up to Vlismas and she’s getting chewed up. Vlismas lands another combination, and we get a bit of a brawl for the final few seconds.

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

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

I disagree with giving Martin the second round. Mic time for Vlismas, she feels alright after the win and says the journey to get here was hard as she had to drag herself up from rock bottom. She talks us through some highlights, then puts over Martin to close.

Bryan Barberena has gone 1-3 in his last four fights and he’s coming off of a loss, but he’s always good for a watchable fight which has helped keep him on the roster despite a mixed overall record in the UFC. Darian Weeks took this fight on about a weeks notice when Matt Brown fell out of this fight, but he’s undefeated and has a chance to make a real splash if he’s able to best a durable UFC veteran like Barberena. Despite the short notice replacement the odds are still close, Barberena sits at -135 to +115 for Weeks.

Welterweight Bout: Bryan Barberena (15-8, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Darian Weeks (5-0, 170 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Barberena has half an inch of height and reach on Weeks. They touch gloves, Barberena fighting southpaw. Weeks works some front kicks to try and keep distance. Barberena with some leg kicks as he looks for a way in. Both men have some kicks either checked or avoided. Weeks gets a clinch and pushes things to the fence. Weeks gets an outside reap and pulls Barberena down into half guard. Barberena looks to wall walk, he’s back up but still in the clinch. They break without incident. Weeks probes with some kicks. Barberena lands an inside calf kick. Another inside leg kick from Barberena, those are adding up quickly. Weeks misses some punches, then takes another leg kick. Barberena moves forward, Weeks tries a single leg and they hit the fence. Some short elbows from Barberena. Weeks lands a knee but Barberena spins him into the fence. Both men land knees as they jockey for position then they break with missed punches. Front kick from Weeks. Barberena tries a flurry, Weeks clinches him up but they trade punches and break rather quickly. Barberena lands a left hand. Another inside leg kick from Barberena, Weeks lands a left hand as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barberena

ROUND TWO: Weeks gets a quick takedown into full guard along the fence. Barberena angels for an armbar, his right leg isn’t in position but he uses the threat to roll free and separate. Weeks misses a few kicks. Body shot from Weeks. Barberena lands a left, then a left to the body. Leg kick from Barberena, then a right as he avoids a clinch. Weeks lands a knee to the body, Barberena shoves him to the fence and lands a couple of punches. Barberena lands a couple of body shots. Short punches from Barberena in close as he avoids a clinch. Both men land punches as they trade. Bit of a right from Weeks. Both men miss punches in close. Weeks lands a few punches as he backs up, Barberena lands a straight left. Double leg from Weeks, Barberena scoots to the fence and wall walks quickly. They start working in the clinch, then trade punches as they break. Both men land lefts at distance. Barberena lands a couple of inside leg kicks. Weeks lands a front kick. A combination from Barberena, Weeks counters but then takes a knee to the body and they brawl in close as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Weeks but a close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Barberena back to forward pressure and looking to brawl. Weeks lands a knee in close. Barberena lands a couple of punches. Weeks ties up, eats a few knees to the body before they hit the fence, then Barberena defends a takedown attempt. More knees from Barberena, then he looks for a front choke to defend a double leg. They trade elbows in close, then Barberena defends along the fence and lands a left as they break. Barberena lands a left to the body. Weeks lands a front kick. Barberena lands a left, they trade in close but Barberena digs a series of body shots that Weeks didn’t like. Weeks lands a left hook but he’s taking a lot of counter shots. Barberena digs the body again, then lands a left to the head. Inside leg kick from Barberena, his pocket fighting is braking down Weeks and the pace is getting to him as well. Another body shot from Barberena, Weeks fires back and they brawl again. Weeks lands a few punches. Barberena fires back with a few punches that stun Weeks, he pushes close and keeps trying to unload. Barberena has gone orthodox, he lands a calf kick. Weeks lands a jab. Body shot from Barberena, then another one. Barberena gets close and lands a long combination along the fence. Weeks keeps firing back but he’s getting out landed. Double leg from Weeks, he gets Barberena down but Barberena wall walks, staggers Weeks with punches then swings at him but wont find a fight ending punch before the bell rings.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Bryan Barberena via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Fun brawl, credit to Weeks for that pace on short notice. No interview for Barberena.

Manel Kape just got his first UFC win in his last fight, now he’s hoping to build on that momentum and get his first UFC winning streak up and running. Zhalgas Zhumagulov likewise just got his first UFC win and is trying for his first winning streak under the UFC banner, a win here would be among the biggest in his career and could signal his finding his footing in the promotion. The odds are with Kape at -300 while the +240 payout on Zhumagulov might tempt a few bettors out there.

Flyweight Bout: Manel Kape (16-6, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-5, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kape is an inch taller and has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Kape comes out with a flying knee, Zhumagulov avoids it. Both men land punches, Kape then lands a right hand. Zhumagulov is pressuring forward and lands a calf kick. Kape avoids a right. Body shots from Zhumagulov land, he’s really looking to press the action. Kape lands an uppercut then a calf kick. Zhumagulov staggers Kape with a right hand. Kape has gone southpaw now. Inside leg kick from Zhumagulov. Kape is switching his stance a lot now. Zhumagulov lands another calf kick. Kape with a calf kick of his own. Both men miss rights, then Zhumagulov lands a left to the body. Kape lands a knee to the body. Stiff jab from Zhumagulov, then he lands a right hand. Another calf kick from Zhumagulov then a left hook. Kape lands a calf kick. Another calf kick from Kape. Kape lands a right, he’s starting to get a feel for the fight. Zhumagulov lands a calf kick. Kape fakes a knee and lands a right. Zhumagulov with a left to the body then a right hand. A few calf kicks from Kape, then a right that drops Zhumagulov for a second. Kape keeps pushing forward looking to finish, Zhumagulov is throwing back but he’s against the fence and takes a long flurry of punches from Kape that prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Manel Kape via TKO, punches, at 4:02 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Kape for his work this evening. Mic time for Kape, he knows he trains hard and is here to be a champion then predicts he’ll be champion next year. He calls himself the best flyweight in the world. He talks us through the finish and puts over his coaches for getting him to this point. Asked about what he wants next he still claims he wont the Nicolau fight, and then says everyone needs to call him out he doesn’t need to call anyone out.

This doesn’t show the right that drops Zhumagulov, but the finishing instinct, hand speed, shot selection, it’s all on point for Kape here. If he’s found his footing in the UFC that man is a serious problem for the division.

Maki Pitolo has gone just 1-4 in the UFC and is on a three fight losing streak, while he’s been given a bit of a grace period because he has very fan friendly fights he likely cannot afford a fourth loss here. Dusko Todorovic has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is on a two fight losing streak, he badly needs to halt that skid and return to his winning ways if he wants a bit of job security. Todorovic is the favorite at -170 while Pitolo’s comeback sits at +145.

Middleweight Bout: Maki Pitolo (13-8, 184.5 lbs.) vs. Dusko Todorovic (10-2, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Todorovic is three inches taller but Pitolo has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves then Pitolo starts jabbing. Todorovic with a few punches, both men are just trying to get a feel for things. Pitolo lands a calf kick. Bit of a high kick from Todorovic. Calf kick from Todorovic, then they trade lefts. Both men land lefts, then Pitolo lands a right hand. Calf kick from Pitolo, Todorovic has started switching his stance. Todorovic lands a straight left. Double leg from Todorovic, Pitolo grabs an arm in guillotine and locks up the choke as they go down. Todorovic starts working to get past the guard, Pitolo loses his grip for a second and that basically ends the choke. Pitolo closes his guard, and Todorovic starts landing punches. Short elbows from Todorovic as he’s fighting for hand position. Pitolo is kind of stuck on his back, Todorovic passes to half guard. Todorovic moves up and pins an arm with his free leg, that lets him land punches to the face as Pitolo tries to get his arm back. Todorovic into 3/4 mount, he looks to tee off. Pitolo gives up the back, Todorovic flattens him out and tees off with punches until the ref stops things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dusko Todorovic via TKO, punches, at 4:34 Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Todorovic for his work this evening. Mic time for Todorovic, he calls the win surreal and notes how hard the journey was to get here this time. He talks us through the finish, and notes Pitolo’s guillotine was pretty good but once he got on the back he knew it was over. He wants to improve as a fighter overall and plans on going to the top.

Here’s the finish, it’s standard stuff as Todorovic has the back but look at how strong the control is in keeping Pitolo flat and helpless as Todorovic rains down punches.

Well that wraps up the prelims, onto ESPN for the main card.

Alex Morono has gone 3-2 in his last five fights and is on a two fight winning streak that includes a first round stoppage of Donald Cerrone, Morono is trying for another rather high profile win here that might earn a step towards ranked opposition for his next fight. Mickey Gall has been trading wins and losses while going 3-3 in his last six fights, he’s coming off of a win though and if he’s able best Morono tonight he’ll not only have his first winning streak since 2016 he’ll have the best win of his career. Morono is a notable favorite at -240 to +200 for Gall.

Welterweight Bout: Mickey Gall (7-3, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Alex Morono (20-7 1 NC, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Gall is three inches taller and has two inches of reach advantage. Morono starts probing with the jab. Gall starts range finding with his jab as well. Some kicks go back and forth, but not much has happened yet. Gall jabs the body then lands a leg kick. Morono lands a bit of a right. Gall lands a body kick. Morono lands a few punches in close. Again Morono lands some rights in close. Gall lands a jab. Morono lands a right to the body. Front kick from Morono lands. A left from Morono drops Gall, he jumps on top and starts working from the guard of Gall. Gall rolls for a kneebar but Morono avoids that and lands punches. Morono lands a few more punches as Gall gets full guard back. Gall wall walks and they both swing punches before separating. Gall lands a right hand, Morono responds with a front kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Morono

ROUND TWO: Gall is back to probing with the jab. Morono lands a jab. Both men land rights. One two from Morono lands flush. Morono lands a left hook. Gall lands a right and a left, that hurt Morono and he tries for a takedown but Morono defends and maintains distance. Bit of a right from Morono. Morono lands a front kick to the body. Both men have rights blocked. Both men land rights, Gall looks a little rattled after that. Morono lands a jab. They both miss rights. Gall lands a jab. Bit of a left from Gall. Both men are just head hunting at this point. Neither man lands flush as they swing wide in close. Morono lands a front kick to the body. Stiff jab from Morono. Gall tries a takedown, Morono defends. A swinging left from Morono connects to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Morono gets back to using his lead hand as the round starts. Morono lands a clubbing right. Some jabs go back and forth. Both men are doing a lot of jabbing and circling. Gall lands a right. More jabs go back and forth, then Morono lands a bit of a right. Stiff lefts from Morono, and Gall whiffs on a counter right. Another stiff jab from Morono lands. Gall lands a glancing right. Morono lands a right hand, then a jab. Gall lands a right, he’s trying to force the issue but Morono clubs him with a right hand. A lot of pressure from Gall now, but he can’t find a punch. Gall forces a clinch that hits the fence, he lands an elbow and they break. Both men avoid wide hooks. Morono lands a front kick to the body, then a spinning back fist. Gall keeps coming forward and swings but he can’t quite find the target. We get some more sloppy punching as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Alex Morono via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

That should get Morono a step up in class next. Mic time for Morono, he talked about all the counter grappling and wrestling he did in preparation and puts over Gall as a tough opponent. He gives love to his father who’s here in attendance, and Morono talks about his father inspiring him to be here and dedicates the win to him.

Brendan Allen has gone 5-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, he’s trying for another three fight winning streak here that could help him move from prospect towards contender status. Chris Curtis took this fight on rather short notice after Brad Tavares fell out, but Curtis has a six fight winning streak going on that includes a memorable knockout in his UFC debut just under a month ago. Curtis is trying to knock off another promising fighter and prove he’s ready to start moving up through the ranks. Allen is the biggest favorite on the card at -340 while that +270 payout on Curtis might be a tempting bet given his punching power.

Middleweight Bout: Brendan Allen (17-4, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Chris Curtis (27-8, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Allen is four inches taller while Curtis has half an inch of reach advantage, Allen is also 9 years younger. Southpaw for Curtis. Allen tries a high kick, that’s blocked. Both men land punches in close. Single leg from Allen, he gets Curtis down and jumps to the backpack position as they stand. Allen loses that and they separate. Body kick from Allen. Allen lands a right, Curtis lands a bit of a left. Curtis lands a left to the body. Allen lands a right, then a knee to the body. They trade lead hand hooks. Curtis lands a left, then Allen fires a head kick that’s partially blocked. Body shot from Curtis. Allen lands a jab then a body kick. Another body kick from Allen lands. Allen starts looking to use elbows to close the distance, then he lands a body kick. Curtis lands a left to the body. More body shots from Curtis, then a bit of a head kick. Allen lands a head kick. Allen tries a single leg, pulls guard for the Achilles lock, he’s cranking on it but loses the grip and Curtis gets on top. They’ll end the round on the mat.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Curtis but a close one

ROUND TWO: Allen lands an inside leg kick. Another inside leg kick from Allen then a right hand to follow up. We get some exchanging in close. Curtis lands a left to the body. Another body shot from Curtis lands. Allen lands a jab, then a right hand and a body kick. Curtis lands a couple of punches in close then a left to the body. Allen lands a right hand. Curtis wobbles Allen with a right hook, he ties up and looks for punches but Allen lands a knee and they trade in the clinch. A knee from Curtis drops Allen and that prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Curtis Jackson via TKO, punches and knee, at 1:58 of Round 2

Curtis has had a heck of a year. Mic time for Curtis, he reminds us about how long he’s been doing this and says you dismiss him at your peril. He talks us through the finish, noting he worked a lot on body shots for a taller guy. Asked about the year he’s had Curtis wants to fight on UFC 269 next week, and tells the UFC to call him if anyone falls out since he needs to get paid at 34 with a little more grey in his beard than last year.

This doesn’t include the right hook that staggered Allen, but Curtis mauls him in the clinch to get the job done.

Clay Guida has been with the UFC since 2006 but he’s just 2-4 in his last six fights, he’s coming off of a loss and he’s looking for a few more wins as his career continues winding down. Leonardo Santos just suffered his first loss since 2009, now he’s trying to bounce back, get one of his higher profile wins, and avoid his first ever losing streak. The odds are with Santos at -210 to +175 on Guida.

Lightweight Bout: Clay Guida (36-12, 155 lbs.) vs. Leonardo Santos (18-4-1, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Santos has five inches of height and reach over Guida. Guida immediately starts his usual bouncing and circling routine. Santos lands a leg kick. Another calf kick from Santos lands. Both men miss rights. A body kick from Santos stuns Guida, then he unloads with punches in close and hammer fists as Guida holds a single leg. More shots from Santos, he’s digging the body as Guida stands and Sanots keeps unloading with punches and knees. A knee drops Guida, but the ref wants more blood. Santos keeps landing punches and knees in the clinch but Guida spins free and resets. Santos might have punched himself out there. Guida is pushing forward but he can’t find any offense. Guida swings and shoots a double leg that stalls out on the fence. They break without incident. Santos lands another front kick to the body. Guida lands a right and gets a double leg into full guard. Guida passes to half guard as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Santos

ROUND TWO: Santos still looks a little tired and Guida comes out looking to punch. Santos lands a knee to the body. Guida gets a body lock and tries a mat return but they hit the fence. Guida rides Santos to the mat and lands some knees to the body, he lands an illegal knee, but the ref doesn’t say anything. Now Guida gets the back, only one hook in though. Guida goes for the choke, gets both hooks in and Santos has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Clay Guida via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:21 of Round 2

Mic time for Guida, he says wrestling keeps him here and saved his life. He puts over Santos and notes how hurt he was in the first round but he knew Santos would fade after the first 2 minutes or so and he persevered to tap him out. He knows he needed the win, puts over his coaches, then thanks his family in the crowd and gives them love. To close he puts over the UFC brass.

Jimmy Crute has gone 4-2 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a loss to Anthony Smith back in April, now he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak and prove he’s still a valuable prospect in a division always in need of them. Jamahal Hill is in a similar spot, he’s coming off of his first ever loss and is trying to solidify his contender status here then begin moving up through the ranks. Crute is your favorite at -175 against a +150 payout on Hill.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #13 Jimmy Crute (12-2, 205.5 lbs.) vs. #14 Jamahal Hill (8-1 1 NC, 205 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hill is two inches taller and has a significant five inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Hill. Crute opens up with kicks early, going to all levels with them. Hill lands a right hook that stuns Crute and they tie up. Hill lands a knee and gets out of the clinch. Another right from Hill drops Crute then a single follow up punch gets the ref to end things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jamahal Hill via KO, punches, at :48 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Hill for his work this evening. Crute’s left eye is a mess. Mic time for Hill after that, he runs down everyone doubting him and puts over Crute as a tough talented opponent. Hill wanted to show himself and this is who he is. He talks us through the finish then says he wants to be back in as soon as possible and says if Paulo Costa is coming to 205 he’ll welcome him or if not that then Johnny Walker. Both reasonable call outs.

Nice little hope to change the angle on this right hook from Hill, crashes right into the face of Crute and then a follow up punch to put the nail in the coffin.

Brad Riddell has gone 4-0 in the UFC and has begun emerging as a viable lightweight contender, he’s trying to extend that streak here and make a case for himself moving on to face top ten opposition. Rafael Fiziev has gone 4-1 in the UFC and is on a four fight winning streak, he’s likewise trying to take the difficult step towards top ten opposition if he’s able to extend that streak. The odds on this one are close but favor Fiziev at -125 to +105 on Riddell.

Lightweight Bout: #14 Rafael Fiziev (10-1, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #12 Brad Riddell (10-1, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Fiziev is an inch taller with half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men start feinting right away, Fiziev does a lot of circling. Riddell starts probing with the jab, Fiziev starts showing stance switches. Riddell lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a body kick from Fiziev. Body kick from Riddell. Fiziev misses a couple of kicks. They trade left hooks. Calf kick from Riddell lands. Fiziev lands a body kick. They get close and both men land punches. They trade punches in close, then Fiziev lands a bit of a head kick. Riddell lands a calf kick. Left hook then a right from Riddell. Fiziev lands a jab. A couple of jabs to the body from Riddell then he misses a right hand. Riddell starting to show stance switches, still primarily orthodox. Bit of a right from Riddell, Fiziev lands a counter hook then Riddell lands another punch. Calf kick from Riddell lands. Fiziev lands a body kick. Riddell lands a body kick. Jab from Riddell, Fiziev responds with a body kick. A stiff combination of hooks from Riddell lands to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Riddell

ROUND TWO: Fiziev circling, he eats a leg kick. Body kick from Riddell. They get close and trade hooks. Fiziev lands another body kick. Both men land lefts in close. Riddell lands a left hook. Inside leg kick from Riddell. Fiziev lands a jab. Fiziev lands a right elbow and Riddell is cut around the left eyebrow. Riddell lands a right hand. Fiziev lands a left hook. Riddell lands a body kick, they get close and trade left hooks. Calf kick from Riddell, Fiziev counters with a body shot. Riddell lands another combination. Combination from Riddell to the body and head. They punch into a clinch, then Fiziev separates. Bit of a right from Fiziev. Fiziev lands a knee as they clinch again and hit the fence. Body kick from Fiziev. Riddell lands a body kick. Some jabs from Riddell. They trade lefts again as the last exchange of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Fiziev but another close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: The doctor checked the cut over Riddell’s left eyebrow, it’s a pretty big cut but the doctor says it can continue but if it gets any gibber he’ll have to stop it. They hug for the last round, then Riddell immediately lands a combination. Fiziev lands a leg kick, Riddell gets a takedown and moves to the back as Fiziev bases up and separates. Both men land rights in close then Fiziev lands a body kick. Riddell lands an inside leg kick. They get close and trade heavy hooks yet again. So many of these exchanges are even. Fiziev is bleeding around the left eye, not a bad cut though. They clash again and both men land in combination. Calf kicks are traded. Fiziev lands a wheel kick, Riddell staggers and that’s enough for the ref to stop this.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rafael Fiziev via TKO, wheel kick, at 2:20 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Fiziev for his work this evening. Mic time for Fiziev, he gives glory to God first and foremost. He puts over Riddell as a good guy and good coach and hopes Riddell comes back. He talks us through the finish, noting he didn’t spin a lot during the fight to set this up. Asked what he’d like next he wont call out anyone, but in 3 months he’d like to be back and jokes he’d like ot fight Vince Vaughn who’s in attendance.

Here’s the finish, Fiziev notes he didn’t spin a lot so that Riddell would get a little complacent circling out. Here Riddell starts to circle, but his hands drop just a bit and Fiziev is able to land a really nice wheel kick to end things.

Rob Font is on a four fight winning streak and has established himself as one of the premier bantamweights in the world, he’s coming off of a win over former champion Cody Garbrandt and tonight is after the biggest win of his career when he takes on a genuine legend. Jose Aldo is one of the all time greats in MMA history, he’s extended his already impressive career with this drop to bantamweight and currently finds himself on a two fight winning streak, he’s trying to get a second crack at the UFC bantamweight title. Font is a somewhat surprising favorite at -150 while the +125 payout on Aldo has to be a very tempting bet.

Bantamweight Bout: #4 Rob Font (19-4, 134 lbs.) vs. #5 Jose Aldo (30-7, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Font is an inch taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Font starts southpaw but does a lot of stance switching. Aldo blocks a few punches while circling, Font is trying to keep a high pace right away. Aldo lands a body kick. Both men miss punches. Font tries a takedown, gets the back and hits a mat return but Aldo wall walks right away and begins fighting the grip of Font. Font keeps working from a rear waist lock but Aldo gets free and separates. More punches from Font, he wants to keep this pace high and wear Aldo down. Bit of a left hook from Font. Aldo lands a right, and takes a body shot in response. Aldo lands a jab. Font lands an elbow in close. Body shot from Font then they trade jabs. Bit of a counter right from Aldo. Font works the jab again, Aldo could try to counter those with leg kicks but he sin’t yet. Aldo lands a hard left to the body then a jab. They clash on leg kicks. Bit of a right from Font. Hard one two frm Aldo drops Font, he gets on top and looks ot pound things out but the round ends and might have saved Font.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldo

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Font keeps up his pace but he’s a touch more tentative as the round begins. Aldo blocks a right. Font lands a body shot then a few jabs. Font’s pace is still impressive, he’s trying to wear Aldo down. Left to the body from Font. Aldo fires a few jabs, then jabs the body. Bit of a right from Aldo as Aldo starts coming forward. Font lands a leg kick but takes a counter combination. Hard right from Aldo staggers Font again, Aldo gets him to the fence and looks to finish but Font fires back and resets. They trade some jabs, the power difference is clearly in Aldo’s favor. A left uppercut from Aldo glances Font. Font lands a few jabs, he’s still trying to stay active. They trade rights, again Aldo lands much harder. Aldo digs the body in close. Body jab from Aldo. Font avoids a few body shots then lands a calf kick. They trade jabs again, then Aldo lands a one two. Font has a combination fall short. Aldo avoids another combination. Font lands a right hand. A couple of more body shots from Aldo land, Font doesn’t like those. A Font jab closes the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Aldo lands a leg kick to start the round. Another leg kick from Aldo. Font lands an uppercut and they split some jabs. Aldo lands another leg kick, those are adding up very fast. Another calf kick from Aldo. Font lands a right hand. Font tries a takedown, Aldo defends then gets on top in half guard. Full mount for Aldo, Font immediately hip escapes to half guard. Aldo has Font flat on his back, Font fights to a hip but Aldo is attacking an arm triangle choke. Font defends that attack but Aldo passes to side control. Elbows from Aldo as Font hip escapes to full guard. Aldo stands, passes to half guard and resumes controlling Font. Font hip escapes to full guard again, he tries to wall walk but eats punches along the way then lands a few punches of his own. Jabs from Font, Aldo’s right eye is busted up. Aldo lands a jab, Font lands a body shot. Hard calf kick from Aldo drops Font, Font pops up but that sucked. Aldo lands another calf kick. Bit of a right from Font. They trade jabs, Font lands a leg kick but Aldo lands a better one. They circle the final seconds away.

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

ROUND FOUR: That swelling on Aldo’s right eye doesn’t stop things yet, but if it gets worse it might. Font gets right back to pressure and activity. Aldo staggers Font with another one two, then drops him with a knee and gets on top looking to pound out but Font ties up and pulls Aldo into side control. Aldo goes for a mounted crucifix, Font catches him in half guard but Font’s left eye is darn near closed as well. Again Aldo moves to side control. Font tries to shrimp, he gets to half guard but Aldo keeps him on the mat. Aldo keeps fishing for an arm triangle but Font is defending. Aldo passes to 3/4 mount but Font immediately hip escapes to full guard. Another smooth pass to side control from Aldo, Font shrimps again to butterfly guard. Font fires a few elbows from his back. Aldo moves to side control, full mount for a moment but Font gets half guard immediately. The round ends on the mat.

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

ROUND FIVE: The corner got the swelling on Font’s left eye under control but it’s still a mess. They touch gloves for the last round. Font starts punching right away, body to head combinations. Aldo lands a jab. Font lands a right to the body. Bit of a knee from Aldo. Font lands a jab. Aldo lands a body shot and they tie up then hit the fence. An elbow from Font breaks the clinch. Aldo keeps coming forward, he lands a stiff left. Font lands a body shot and clinches up again. Font lands some lefts from the clinch. An elbow from Font then an uppercut. Aldo lands a right that again hurts Font, then a left to the body, a left hook staggers Font, Aldo gets to the ride position then gets the back. Font tries to tie up the arms, Aldo gets both hooks in as Font is on a hip. Aldo starts fishing for the choke form a body triangle, Font is hand fighting though. Aldo gets under the chin and starts squeezing but Font gets a shoulder to the mat and breaks the choke. Font just holds on as Aldo keeps his back and the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldo, 50-45 Aldo overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jose Aldo via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45 x2)

Only the first round was somewhat in dispute I guess, but the way Aldo dropped him was enough to take it for me. Mic time for the legend Aldo, he says he trained for this and proved he can go for five rounds and reiterates he wants to be a champion in this division. He puts over Font, but he still wants to be champion and wont let anyone stop him. He still trains to be a complete MMA fighter, and says this is the new Aldo. Asked what’s next he wants to fight for the belt, but if not that he’ll fight TJ Dillashaw. To close he gives thanks and love to the people of Brazil and glory to God.

Font gets an interview as well, he says Aldo caught him with clean punches and puts him over but he feels he could beat Aldo though notes tonight definitely wasn’t his night. He promises to be back and will draw strength from going five rounds with a legend.

On that note, UFC on ESPN 31 comes to a close. Pretty darn good night of fights all things considered. We’ll unpack all of the action tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus look ahead to next weeks monster UFC 269. I’ll be back here for UFC 269 next week and I hope you will too. Until then, stay safe out there, thank you for reading, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC Fight Night, Robert Winfree