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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Ankalaev Stops Walker

January 14, 2024 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 92 Image Credit: UFC

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#3 Magomed Ankalaev (204.5 lbs.) vs. #7 Johnny Walker (205.5 lbs.)
Gabriel Benitez (155 lbs.) vs. Jim Miller (155.5 lbs.)
Mario Bautista (135.5 lbs.) vs. #13 Ricky Simon (136 lbs.)
Brunno Ferreira (185 lbs.) vs. Phil Hawes (185 lbs.)
Andrei Arlovski (247 lbs.) vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta (261.5 lbs.)

Preston Parsons (170.5 lbs.) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (170.5 lbs.)
Gaston Bolanos (135.5 lbs.) vs. Marcus McGhee (135.5 lbs.)
Farid Basharat (136 lbs.) vs. Taylor Lapilus (136 lbs.)
Jean Silva (145.5 lbs.) vs. Westin Wilson (145.5 lbs.)
Nikolas Motta (155.5 lbs.) vs. Tom Nolan (155 lbs.)
Felipe Bunes (125.5 lbs.) vs. Joshua Van (125.5 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 92, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. Well this is it, the first UFC card of 2024 and frankly it’s a pretty typical Apex card. We lost the original co-main event when Manel Kape weighed in at 129.5 for a flyweight fight, his second time missing weight in the UFC, and his rematch with Matheus Nicolau was called off. But our main event is a fairly relevant fight at light heavyweight, though it’s somewhat debatable if light heavyweight as a division has any relevance, when Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker have a rematch. These two fought in October of last year with a No Contest being the result after an illegal knee from Ankalaev and a weird interaction between Walker and the doctor which prompted the stoppage. Our new co-main event is perennial favorite Jim Miller taking on Gabriel Benitez, Miller is trying to secure a spot at UFC 300 and frankly I think he should have that win, lose, or draw here but a win probably helps his case. On the prelims Marcus McGhee is back in action, and Farid Basharat vs. Taylor Lapilus is definitely one to circle if you’re looking for a quality prelim fight. But as with most Apex cards we’re hoping for a great night of fights while the card on paper is pretty middle of the road.

UFC on ESPN+ 92 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Commentary will be provided by Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Paul Felder, which is a pretty strong trio on the mic. Keep in mind that Nevada allows for instant replay and that we’re in the smaller 25 foot cage that’s installed at the Apex.

Joshua Van is on a seven fight winning streak including being 2-0 in the UFC in a couple of fan friendly appearances, Van is trying to extend that streak here and make some real headway in the division this year. Felipe Bunes brings a two fight winning streak into his UFC debut, a win over a budding action hero like Van would be an ideal way to make a good first impression on the fan base. Van is a pretty decent favorite at -280 to +225 for Bunes.

Flyweight Bout: Felipe Bunes (13-6, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Joshua Van (9-1, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Bunes is two inches taller with four inches of reach advantage, he’s also 12 years older. They touch gloves to get us going. A bit of forward pressure from Van, both men are just feinting and looking for openings. Bit of a calf kick from Bunes. Van falls short with a combination then Bunes lands another leg kick. Van keeps looking to close distance but the length of Bunes is giving him problems. Van bulls forward and lands a right hand. Right hand from Bunes then a calf kick. Van lands a left hook. Solid right hand from Bunes but Van just eats it. Front kick from Bunes. Van is trying to get Bunes on the fence but Bunes is good about circling away. Bunes tries a single leg, Van defends and they hit the fence. They trade knees and Van’s hits the groin so we’ve got a time out with 90 seconds left in the round. Replay does confirm the low blow plus Van didn’t argue the call when it was made. 2024 is currently 1 for 1 with groin shots in fights in the UFC. Bunes is good after 1:45 and when asked where he wants the restart he wants them standing at distance so we’re back to fighting. Bit of a body jab from Van, Bunes responds with a couple of front kicks. Van lands a right hand but then eats a calf kick. Van pushes forward again, this time Bunes finishes a takedown into side control. Knee on belly for Bunes, then full mount but Van sweeps him and they scramble on the mat wit Bunes threatening an omoplata as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Bunes

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Van is moving forward again and looking to get into boxing range. Body kick from Bunes then he tries a takedown against the fence but Van defends. Bunes seems happy to work from the clinch now with foot stomps and knees to the leg before Van spins him and lands a couple of elbows. Bunes didn’t like that and forces another takedown, Van quickly wall walks and lands another elbow in the clinch. Body shots from Van and Bunes is walking away but Van is breaking him down. More body shots from Van then a takedown into half guard. Bunes gets full guard now and tries to stifle Van but Van elbows him several times. Some hammer fists from Van before he stands and makes Bunes join him. Bunes lands a one two but Van cracks him with a right hand. Van with a front kick and then body shots as Bunes is fading against the fence. Another right from Van, then a left to the body. Bunes reaches for a double leg, he’s able to get a clinch but Van keeps landing knees then a couple of punches when they break. Van just wont stop coming forward, he lands more body shots then a knee to the head. Another knee from Van and Bunes drops, Van gets on top in full guard again though. Bunes tries to tie up Van with his guard work but Van postures through and lands a big enough flurry to get the ref to stop it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joshua Van via TKO, punches, at 4:31 of Round 2

Mic time for Van, he knew the first round would be tough but the game plan started bearing fruit in the second round. Asked about the first round he did get hit but thinks he’s been hit harder than that, but the length did trouble him and he’s happy to have welcomed Bunes to the UFC. He’d like to stay active this year and jokes about fighting next week.

This is just the finishing ground and pound, but it’s still good stuff from Van. I especially like the speed on those punches from Van.

Tom Nolan is undefeated coming into his UFC debut and is hoping to keep that perfect record in tact while having a memorable first outing in the promotion. Nikolas Motta has gone 1-2 with 1 No Contest in the UFC, he’s winless in his last two fights and is trying to spoil Nolan’s debut while getting back on the winning side of things. The odds are with Nolan at -355 to Motta’s +280.

Lightweight Bout: Nikolas Motta (13-5 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.) vs. Tom Nolan (6-0, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nolan is a significant six inches taller with two and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Nolan and he opens with kicks. Nolan lands another body kick. They trade in close. Motta lands a right hand. Front kick from Nolan, Motta responds with a couple of body kicks. A left hand from Motta catches Nolan. They trade body kicks then Motta lands a right that drops Nolan, Motta gets on top and lands enough ground and pound to force the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Nikolas Motta via TKO, punches, at 1:03 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Motta for his work becoming their first honoree for 2024. Mic time for Motta, he puts over Nolan as a killer and knew this wouldn’t be a boring fight. He believes in his power and training partners and coaches then puts them over, then gives glory to God. This feels even better after the No Contest last time, then talks a bit about the ups and downs that fighting brings. He thinks he’s finally showing who he is in the cage to close.

Nolan enters this exchange on a straight line and gives up the punching lane since you can see Motta has outside foot position. Raw aggression will carry you decently far, but I’m always a little leery of anyone in the UFC with less than 10 fights and Nolan just had to learn a painful lesson that he could have learned in the gym given a little more development time.

Westin Wilson had a three fight winning streak snapped in his UFC debut when Joanderson Brito beat him in the first round, now he’s hoping his sophomore outing has a better outcome. Jean Silva brings an eight fight winning streak into his UFC debut as well as a fair amount of hype for a fighter in his position, now he’s hoping to maintain that momentum and get that all important first UFC win under his belt. Silva is the biggest favorite on the card at -900 while +600 for Wilson might tempt some bettors who like the long shots.

Featherweight Bout: Jean Silva (11-2, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Westin Wilson (16-8, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Wilson is a significant six inches taller with four inches of reach advantage. Southpaw from Wilson, and he declines the touch of gloves that Silva offers. Both men doing some bouncing, Wilson then misses a high kick. Bit of a body kick from Silva. Clubbing left hook from Silva off balances Wilson but Wilson seems to recover quickly. A bit of stance switching from Silva now as he starts to press forward. Silva misses a left hand but does get a trip takedown, though he quickly stands free and wants Wilson back on the feet. Left hand then a right from Wilson. Wilson blocks a body kick. Left hook from Silva but Wilson just eats it. Left hook then a right hand drops Wilson and Silva makes him stand then he looks to follow up. Another left hook then a right hand from Silva rocks Wilson. Wilson is still throwing back but Silva rocks him with another jab. Knee from Silva partially lands, Wilson is able to tie up but can’t keep the clinch. Wilson tries a takedown but Silva easily avoids it. Hard right from Silva then some uppercuts. Wilson is still upright but Silva keeps hitting him and the ref steps in to stave Wilson.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jean Silva via TKO, punches, at 4:12 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Silva for his work this evening. Mic time for Silva and the translator, he jokingly recreates the finish by saying they really trained for the open stance and style of Wilson. He says this is now his house and that no one will be able to stand with him.

Silva was just a marauder here, once he got a feel for the timing of Wilson he hit him relentlessly with power shots.

Farid Basharat is undefeated including two wins in the UFC that have seen a fair amount of hype start to build around him as a prospect to watch, he’s trying to start the difficult transition from prospect to contender with another win here. Taylor Lapilus got a win in his return to the UFC last year which brings his overall winning streak to six, and he’s hoping to slow the hype around Basharat and prove that he’s the one we should be looking at as the future of the division. The odds are with Basharat at -280 and honestly +225 on Lapilus might be a decent little value bet.

Bantamweight Bout: Farid Basharat (11-0, 136 lbs.) vs. Taylor Lapilus (19-3, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Basharat is two inches taller while Lapilus has two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Lapilus. Some early hand fighting then Basharat starts throwing kicks at Lapilus. Lapilus checks a couple of calf kicks. Basharat misses an ax kick. Lapilus is pushing forward a bit now, Basharat keeps trying for calf kicks but only mixed success. Basharat tries a single leg, he’s able to finish but Lapilus bounces up and Basharat is on his back standing. Lapilus is fighting the waist lock and scrambling while Basharat keeps trying mat returns, eventually this settles into a chest to chest clinch. Basharat slips to the back again but Lapilus gets chest to chest and lands an elbow. Lapilus tries a ninja choke but that just forces Basharat to break apart and they reset. Bit of a head kick from Basharat. Lapilus lands a left to the body. Calf kick from Basharat but Lapilus then lands a front kick. Basharat hits a takedown but Lapilus again bounces up and they resume in the clinch. Bit of a knee from Lapilus as they break. Lapilus avoids a few punches. Bit of a right from Basharat then Lapilus lands a knee to the body. One two from Lapilus. Basharat blocks a high kick. Basharat with a body kick then tries a double leg, he’s able to finish it against the fence but there’s not enough time for anything to happen.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Basharat

ROUND TWO: Basharat is back to kicking as the second round starts. Front kick from Lapilus then a bit of a head kick. Basharat tries a double leg, that hits the fence though and he can’t finish it then Lapilus gets free. Lapilus with an inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Lapilus. Lapilus lands a jab. Basharat misses a few rights then walks into a knee to the body, but he tries a takedown against the fence again. Lapilus is defending against the fence, Basharat is able to spin him down to his seat but Lapilus just wont concede the position and scrambles back up the lands a body kick. Bit of a one two from Lapilus. Lapilus with some jabs as Basharat keeps working the calf kick. Basharat ducks under a punch and hits a double leg against the fence, he looks to mount the legs but Lapilus is able to avoid that. Eventually Basharat gets into half guard with 40 or so seconds left. Bit of a left from Basharat, he tries an elbow as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Lapilus lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a body kick from Lapilus. Basharat misses some wild punches. One two from Lapilus lands. Lapilus lands a left hand then blocks some counters. Basharat tries a takedown, Lapilus defends against the fence but Basharat is able to change the angle and finish it. Lapilus is sitting on the cage and looking to wall walk while Basharat is just hugging the legs, Basharat pulls Lapilus away from the fence but Lapilus scoots back and wall walks then they break. They trade power hand punches. One two from Lapilus lands. Basharat punches forward and hits a double leg, he looks for side control and gets it. Lapilus blocks a couple of mount attempts. Basharat is trying to keep top position, he moves towards north-south but Lapilus scrambles to his knees. Basharat tries an anaconda choke, decent attempt and he tries to lock it down but Lapilus is able to defend enough to break the attempt then they fight up and trade one las time as the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Farid Basharat via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Mic time for Basharat, he puts over Lapilus and knew this fight would be very very tough then thanks him for the experience. He talks about his training and his team, then speaks some Arabic I think to Afghanistan. Asked about the future he’s happy to fight anyone.

Marcus McGhee is on a four fight winning streak including a couple of wins in the UFC, he’s trying to further solidify himself as a fighter on the rise with another win here. Gaston Bolanos scored a win in his UFC debut back in April of last year and now he’s finally back in action looking to get his first UFC winning streak up and running. It’s not too surprising to see McGhee as the -245 favorite to +200 for Bolanos.

Bantamweight Bout: Gaston Bolanos (7-3, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Marcus McGhee (8-1, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: McGhee is an inch taller but the reach is identical. They touch gloves to get us going. Bolanos circling and stance switching. McGhee is starting to switch as well as both men are looking for openings. Spinning back kick from McGhee lands. A lot of probing from both men, they’re both moving well but don’t want to walk into anything. Bit of a left then a right from McGhee. One two from McGhee then he hits a takedown against the fence. Bolanos is trying to stand, he gets upright but they’re still clinched. A few short knees from McGhee but then Bolanos is able to spin free. Inside leg kick from Bolanos. They trade a couple of punches then McGhee lands a series of hooks that stun Bolanos for a second. They trade rights. McGhee lands an uppercut then a left hand. McGhee pushes forward and lands a couple of body shots. Bolanos avoids a head kick but then eats some punches and McGhee gets a takedown pretty much into a mounted crucifix. Elbows and punches from McGhee as Bolanos is able to kick him around to stand over him. McGhee lands punches then punches Bolanos down when Bolanos tried to stand. McGhee is in the ride position now and lands some lefts while Bolanos stands. Right hook from McGhee as they break. Both men land punches in close as we brawl then clinch for the last couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 McGhee

ROUND TWO: We get back to action right away, McGhee is looking to push his advantage. Some clubbing punches from McGhee, looks like Bolanos is cut around the left eyebrow now. More hooks in close from McGhee, Bolanos survives and fights back with a head kick though. Hard body shot from McGhee. Bolanos is looking to walk forward now, the man is tough and game if nothing else. Bit of a left from McGhee. McGhee wit ha couple of more hooks in close then he avoids a punch. They trade rights in close and McGhee seems to be getting the better of these. McGhee checks a calf kick. Left hand then a spinning back kick from McGhee. They trade power hand punches again. Bit of a right from Bolanos, despite it all he’s still in this. Head kick then a right hand from McGhee drops Bolanos, Bolanos is back up but hurt and McGhee lands a wheel kick then a right hand which prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcus McGhee via TKO, wheel kick and punches, at 3:29 of Round 2

McGhee gets an interview and gives glory to God first and foremost then puts over Bolanos as a good striker but he knew he worked hard enough to be here and win this kind of a fight with him. He wanted to get a read on Bolanos early hence the slower start and again puts Bolanos over as dangerous, but once he got the range he could focus on just landing over and over. Asked what he wants next he says the UFC has matchmakers so they should do that, he’ll just be ready when the time comes.

Really nice stuff from McGhee here, he’s rapidly becoming a rising force in the division after getting into the UFC via short notice and up a weight class then still winning.

Matthew Semelsberger has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights and is on a two fight losing streak, he’s trying to halt that skid here with his first win since 2022. It’s also worth noting that he took this on short notice, replacing Bassil Hafez. Preston Parsons has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss, he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak while drawing his UFC record to the .500 mark. We’ve got a pick ’em here at -110 for both men.

Welterweight Bout: Preston Parsons (10-4, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (11-6, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Semelsberger is two inches taller with four inches of reach advantage. Both men come out kicking early. Semelsberger is showing stance switches, then they tie up. Parsons lands a short left and gets Semelsberger on the fence but they keep spinning and eventually just break and reset. Inside leg kick from Parsons. Bit of a right from Parsons then a leg kick. Semelsberger lands a right hand. Both men land punches. Parsons lands a body kick when Semelsberger goes southpaw, he’s happy to take advantage of the open stances in that way. Semelsberger blocks a single leg but then gets tripped down only to kick Parsons off and stand. Parsons goes into a clinch and they start fighting for position again, Parsons is sneaking in elbows and knees before they break. Inside leg kick from Parsons. They punch into another clinch, Parsons lands body shots before Semelsberger lands a knee and they break. Parsons lands a calf kick. Semelsberger is starting to pressure forward, and they trade punches again. Stiff jab from Parsons then a hard inside leg kick. They clinch again and fight for position there then Semelsberger lands a body shot as they break. Front kick from Parsons will be the last relevant blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Parsons

ROUND TWO: Parsons opens with a hard inside leg kick but Semelsberger fires back and they clinch up. Takedown from Semelsberger and he lands in side control, then lands a hammer fist. Parsons lands an elbow from his back. Semelsberger moves into half guard for more control, Parsons stands anyway though Semelsberger is on his back in the clinch now. Parsons lands a knee to the body then an elbow and they break. Semelsberger is cut on the forehead now, up by the hairline. Parsons tries a double leg and finishes it then moves to half guard. Semelsberger quickly fights up but Parsons is on his back now. Parsons hits another takedown this time into full guard. Semelsberger kicks him off again but Parsons is back into a clinch and lands a knee to the body. Another takedown from Parsons and he lands an elbow as Semelsberger wall walks into a clinch. Semelsberger looks for a kimura roll, but Parsons grabs spiderweb control on the way down and then attacks an armbar. Parsons goes for the arm but Semelsberger gets it free and Parsons grabs a front headlock. Some knees to the body from Parsons but Semelsberger stands anyway and they trade in the clinch. Semelsberger and Parsons trade in close as they fight for position. Bit of an elbow from Semelsberger, Parsons hits one more takedown just before the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Semelsberger comes out looking to throw and lands a right hand. Left hand from Semelsberger. Parsons fires back with punches then tries a single leg but Semelsberger is able to sprawl away from him then grabs a guillotine and pushes over into top position with it. Semelsberger loses the guillotine and is on top in a weird position, Parsons is able to wrestle him over and get on top in full guard. Parsons lands a few punches, Semelsberger kicks him off and stands but Parsons dives onto his back in the clinch. Semelsberger looks for a guillotine, he likes it and pulls full guard with it then starts locking things down. Parsons seems OK at the moment and gets his head free then lands some punches. Semelsberger fights up but he can’t get Parsons off of him and Parsons takes him down again and moves to a modified ride position. Some lefts and elbows from Parsons, Semelsberger tries to sweep and they scramble but Parsons is scrambling better and as they move up Parsons gets another double leg. Semelsberger is still trying to move, but Parsons grabs for a kimura. Parsons steps over the head but can’t get the elbow to bend and Semelsberger breaks the kimura grip. Parsons now goes for a mounted crucifix and starts landing short elbows. Semelsberger is trying to move but gives up full mount, Parsons grabs at an arm triangle but there’s only 15 seconds left. Parsons wont find a finish so he just lands more punches and elbows before the round ends.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Preston Parsons via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Mic time for Parsons, he knew he had to be patient because Semelsberger is dangerous but he’s glad he got to show off his whole skillset and it paid off. He puts over his coaches for all of their work, then puts over Semelsberger for being tough again and notes he felt some popping during his submission attempts but couldn’t get the finish.

Well that’s it for the prelims, onto the main card.

Andrei Arlovski has been fighting professionally since 1999 and is a former UFC heavyweight champion, but of late he’s just been cashing his pretty large flat fee for fights and seems to be looking more at when he’ll be ending his career. Arlovski has lost his last two fights, far from his first losing streak, but he’ll be trying to get back on the winning side of things here and halting the potential rise of one more young and ambitious heavyweight. Waldo Cores-Acosta has gone 3-1 in the UFC and did get a win in his last fight, now he’s trying to add a big name to his resume and prove he’s ready to try and step up in class again. I understand Cores-Acosta being the favorite, but at -700 it seems a tad heavy as a +500 payout on Arlovski seems like you’re asking for trouble.

Heavyweight Bout: Andrei Arlovski (34-22 2 NC, 247 lbs.) vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta (10-1, 261.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cortes-Acosta has an inch of height and reach advantage, he’s also 12 years younger. Arlovski comes out southpaw and lands a body kick. Both men are switching stance while Arlovski keeps probing with kicks. Cortes-Acosta misses a right hand. Arlovski fires a head kick that’s blocked. Glancing left hand from Cortes-Acosta. Arlovski keeps avoiding most of Cortes-Acosta’s shots. Body jab from Arlovski. Bit of a body kick from Arlovski. Cortes-Acosta with a body kick, partially blocked. Glancing left hook from Cortes-Acosta, when his hands get going they’re quite fast. Arlovski checks a calf kick. Calf kick from Arlovski. Arlovski misses a spinning back fist. Cortes-Acosta gets close and swings hooks but doesn’t really land clean. Front kick from Arlovski then a right hand. They stare away the last seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cortes-Acosta but a close one

ROUND TWO: Arlovski with some jabs then a right hand to the body as the round starts. Cortes-Acosta with some dancing then he blocks a head kick. Jab from Arlovski. They trade lefts. Bit of a body kick from Arlovski as he’s playing with southpaw now. Both guys still doing a bit of stance switching as they move around. Inside leg kick from Arlovski then a bit of a left hand behind it. Arlovski with a right to the body then a left hook. Calf kick from Arlovski. Cortes-Acosta misses a spinning back fist. Arlovski avoids another few wild punches and resets with ease. Calf kick from Arlovski then an inside leg kick. Another right to the body from Arlovski. Arlovski again lands a right to the body then fires a left body kick. Cortes-Acosta misses a few more punches. They trade rights to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Arlovski but again close, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Arlovski comes out for the last round still kicking. Some jabs from Arlovski then an inside leg kick. Cortes-Acosta misses a right hook. Bit of a right from Cortes-Acosta. Cortes-Acosta with an uppercut to the body. Arlovski lands a right to the body. Jab then a right to the body from Arlovski. Arlovski lands an inside leg kick. Cortes-Acosta eats an inside leg kick then lands a solid right hand but can’t land his follow ups. Some jabs go back and forth then Cortes-Acosta misses a couple of wild swings. Arlovski has a spinning back fist blocked. Cortes-Acosta lands a right hand but again his follow up game leaves something to be desired. Arlovski lands a right hand of his own then a left hook behind it. They trade body kicks. Bit of a calf kick from Arlovski. Cortes-Acosta is dancing and taunting, Arlovski lands a spinning back kick. Front kick from Arlovski as the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cortes-Acosta but all three have been pretty close rounds, 29-28 Cortes-Acosta overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Waldo Cortes-Acosta via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Mic time for Cortes-Acosta after an early entry into Worst Fight of the Year, he says nothing surprised him tonight and thanks God then the people and his coaches. He notes he felt more comfortable down the stretch in this fight, and says kicking him is a waste of time because he never gets hurt by them. I watched your fight with Marcos Rogerio de Lima sir, that is not accurate.

Phil Hawes has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights, he’s on a two fight losing streak and has been finished in all of those losses. Hawes has shown decent skills at times but has struggled to put everything together and if he’s going to make good on his potential he needs to get back on the winning side of things here. Brunno Ferreira has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of the first loss of his career and now tries to avoid his first ever losing streak. Ferreira is your favorite at -135 to a +115 comeback on Hawes.

Middleweight Bout: Brunno Ferreira (10-1, 185 lbs.) vs. Phil Hawes (12-5, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hawes is two inches taller with five and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Ferreira. Bit of a left from Ferreira then he tries a takedown but Hawes sprawls away and lands a left hook. Hard right hand from Ferreira, he’s switching his stance now. They clinch up, foot sweep from Ferreira and he’s on top in side control. A few short shoulder moves from Ferreira then a knee to the body as he’s keeping Hawes pinned. Ferreira with another knee to the body then a right hand. Ferreira stands over Hawes, Hawes gets up and they trade in the clinch again before breaking. Bit of a left from Ferreira. Hawes lands a left hook. Both men miss in close but they’re throwing with heat. Hawes ducks under a head kick then Ferreira lands a knee to the head. Right from Ferreira, Hawes seems hurt and Ferreira then hits a throw but they wind up back on the feet. Ferreira is stalking forward looking to end things, and partially lands a spinning back fist. They trade lefts then Ferreira misses a knee. Ferreira with a one two then a left that drops Hawes and he puts him out with a few punches on the ground.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brunno Ferreira via KO, punches, at 4:55 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Ferreira for his work. Mic time for Ferreira, he gives glory to God and thanks his coaches for all of their work because this fight went according to plan. His 100% finishing rate is brought up and he says he’s the Hulk and still has more to show going forward. Asked about the future he wants a post fight bonus, again that hasn’t played out well lately, but then says he’d like to fight Shara Bullet, Sharaputdin Magomedov. I’d be down for that fight.

Hawes is already hurt here, and when you’re already wobbled a glancing blow off the temple like this left from Ferreira will almost always drop you. The follow up coffin nail blows are pure brutality.

Ricky Simon just had a five fight winning streak snapped when Song Yadong finished him in the fifth round of their main event fight in April of last year, now he’s trying to avoid another losing streak and prove he’s still deserving of his spot in the top 15 at bantamweight. Mario Bautista is on a five fight winning streak with three of those being finishes, he’s taking a step up in class here to the ranked Simon but could also score the biggest win of his career thus far. The odds lean towards Simon at -180 while a +150 payout for Bautista is a decent value bet.

Bantamweight Bout: Mario Bautista (13-2, 135.5 lbs.) vs. #13 Ricky Simon (20-4, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Bautista is three inches taller but he reach is identical. Both men come out looking for kicks. Bautista with a jab then a front kick. Some stance switching from Bautista as they circle around. Simon lands a calf kick. Bautista lands a leg kick. Bit of a right from Simon. Right hand then a left from Bautista. Bautista tries a flying knee, partially lands and Simon fires back with a left hook. Knee from Bautista, but Simon gets a double leg off of it and gets on top in half guard. Bautista scrambles up and unloads with a few hooks before they reset. Some jabs from Bautista now, he’s using his height to basically give him a reach advantage. Simon tries a takedown, but Bautista fights him off and lands a knee to the body. A clinch from Simon as he looks to settle things down. They break after a bit without incident. Leg kick from Bautista. Bit of a right from Bautista. Simon swings a few hooks but they’re blocked. Bautista with a combination then a left body kick. Another couple of left body kicks from Bautista, Simon doesn’t like those. Simon times a right hand that off balances Bautista, then he gets the back but Bautista immediately scrambles up and free. Bautista with a jab to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Bautista but a good one overall

ROUND TWO: Bautista gets back to jabbing quickly as the round begins. Simon avoids a wheel kick. Bautista avoids a right hand, then misses a right of his own. A right from Bautista stuns Simon for a second. Both men probe with the jab but Bautista is pushing forward and lands a combination. More jabs from Bautista land. Calf kick from Bautista. Bit of a knee from Simon close, then Bautista lands body shots. Simon fires a right to counter a calf kick. Bautista blocks a double leg but Simon forces things to the fence, once there Bautista continues defending then spins free. A couple of rights from Bautista, he’s not letting Simon reset after those exchanges and that’s paying dividends for him. Bautista lands an elbow then a calf kick. Simon misses a few punches. Solid left to the body from Bautista. Bautista lands a couple of lefts out of southpaw then misses a high kick. Right hand from Simon. Bautista with a hard left body kick. Both men miss in close then Bautista lands a jab and a knee to the body. Uppercut from Bautista. Simon lands a left to the body. Bautista with a three punch combination. Right hand from Bautista, he’s fighting very well thus far. Simon tries a double leg, Bautista defends though. Right hand from Bautista. Short left from Simon in close, then he tries a takedown but Bautista defends then lands a head kick to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Bautista comes out and lands another couple of jabs. Left body kick from Bautista. Simon lands a jab of his own. Bautista lands a right in close. A bit of blood coming from Bautista’s nose but he lands an uppercut then Simon finally gets a takedown into half guard. Bautista works to start a scramble, and he gets up and free. Simon blocks a couple of punches. Bit of a right from Bautista. Bautista with another right hand. Simon lands a calf kick but Bautista pushes forward and hits him with a right hook. Right to the body from Bautista. Uppercut then a left from Bautista. Bautista wont give Simon space and he’s landing combinations. Simon tries a double leg, easily defended. Simon forces a clinch but Bautista defends and gets back to punching him in the face. Left hand from Bautista, he’s drowning Simon with volume at this point. Bautista with a body kick. Left hand from Bautista. Another left from Bautista, then another. Simon is just eating punches now, he tries another takedown but again Bautista defends and now he digs a flurry of body shots along the fence. Bautista just wont stop, he lands an elbow in close. They clinch but then break pretty quickly. Bautista avoids a punch and they tie up then break. They tie up one more time as the round ends.

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

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

I can see Simon taking the first, but that’s your Fight of the Night so far. Mic time for Bautista, he thinks it was a great fight and puts over Simon as a tough guy with heavy hands. He expects to be ranked after this, six in a row and beating a top 15 guy and he’d like to fight a top 10 guy next, specifically name dropping Rob Font. Good call out.

Jim Miller is making his 43rd walk to the UFC Octagon here, he’s been with the UFC since 2008 and his name is littered across the UFC record books. Miller is 4-1 in his last five fights and scored a nice knockout back in June of last year, he’s aiming to be on UFC 300 later this year and a win here would help him towards that goal. Gabriel Benitez has gone 2-4 in his last six fights and while he got a win his last time out that was back in August of 2022, he’s trying to take out a legend of the sport here. Close one here but the odds tilt towards Miller at -150 to +125 for Benitez.

Lightweight Bout: Gabriel Benitez (23-10, 155 lbs.) vs. Jim Miller (36-17 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two have identical heights and reaches. Both men fight southpaw. Some punches from both men, mostly probing at the moment. Calf kick from Benitez, Miller returns a better one. Right hook then a left hand from Miller. Miller with an inside leg kick. Right to the body from Miller then Benitez lands a knee before avoiding a clinch. Again they trade calf kicks. Miller with a hard calf kick. Glancing left from Benitez. They trade punches again then Miller lands a left uppercut. Miller with a blitz then a knee to the body. Another couple of knees from Miller before Benitez pulls free. Benitez avoids a few punches then lands a left hand. Miller with a jab then a calf kick. Benitez lands a calf kick. Hard inside leg kick from Miller, then another one. Left hand from Miller then a knee and they clinch up on the fence. They break without incident. Bit of a one two from Benitez. Miller with another inside leg kick. Glancing head kick from Miller then he avoids some punches. Benitez lands a left hand. Short right from Miller in close then a gazelle punch as well. Both men land in close. Miller with a leg kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Miller

ROUND TWO: Both men come out firing punches then Miller lands a hard leg kick. Inside leg kick from Miller. Both men avoid punches in close. Miller stuns Benitez with a left, then they trade punches in close. Inside leg kick from Miller. Benitez has a few punches blocked. A couple of lefts from Miller land. Benitez lands a left hand but Miller then cracks him with a leg kick. Body shot from Miller. Miller lands a left elbow, Benitez just eats it. Double leg from Miller and he gets on top into full guard. Some body shots from Miller on top while Benitez is trying to control his posture. Miller lands an elbow. A left hand from Miller lands then an elbow as well. Another elbow from Miller. Benitez tries an armbar but Miller gets his arm free and retains top position. Some more body to head punches from Miller then a solid left hand. Benitez tries to stand but gives up his back. Miller starts fishing for a choke as he grabs a body triangle but Benitez is hand fighting very well. The round will end with Miller still on the back of Benitez.

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

ROUND THREE: Both men come out and look to continue throwing punches. That lead leg of Benitez is visibly bruised and swollen but he’s not selling it. Miller with a right hook then a leg kick. Benitez lands a jab but eats a counter left hand. Another left from Miller partially lands. Benitez lands a couple of jabs but then has a leg kick checked. Miller lands a hard leg kick. Both men swing lefts that partially land. Front kick from Benitez. Miller with another leg kick. Benitez lands a jab. They split jabs. Left hand from Miller lands. Benitez eats an uppercut but then lands a leg kick. Miller with a chopping leg kick then he hits a double leg into half guard. Some short elbows from Miller then Benitez tries a scramble but Miller gets on his back with both hooks in. Miller is cranking the neck of Benitez and after a brief adjustment gets the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jim Miller via Submission, rear naked choke, at 3:25 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Miller for his work this evening and is honored to acknowledge him as their first honoree of 2024. Mic time for Miller he notes Benitez hit him with the jab a lot and then notes he messed up his shin when he fought Joe Lauzon the first time years ago and the shin was soft for a long time but now that it’s finally healed a few years ago he can win any leg kick battle. That’s 43 fights in the UFC, 26 wins in the promotion, and when asked what he wants next he says UFC 300 and jokes about fighting Paul Felder, and might even move up to welterweight to fight Matt Brown, or possibly even Brock Lesnar so he can kimura him. That last was clearly in jest, but get that man on UFC 300 please.

Not much to say here other than Jim Miller is still the man.

Magomed Ankalaev hasn’t won since July of 2022 as his last two fights have resulted in a draw and a No Contest, that draw was for the vacant light heavyweight title in December of 2022. Ankalaev has long been pegged as someone with the talent to be champion but has been derailed by timing or bad in cage decision making, if he wants to get back to the title picture a win here is critical. Johnny Walker hasn’t lost since being knocked out by Jamahal Hill in February of 2022, he’s trying to get into the title picture himself and a win here would put him very close to that goal. Ankalaev is a heavy favorite at -520 to +390 on Walker.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #3 Magomed Ankalaev (17-1-1 1 NC, 204.5 lbs.) vs. #7 Johnny Walker (21-7 1 NC, 205.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Walker is three inches taller with a notable seven inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Ankalaev. Walker tries a wheel kick, that doesn’t work. Walker bulls forward and they trade in close. Inside leg kick from Walker, then another one. Ankalaev lands a stiff jab, then a bit of a right hook. Inside leg kick from Ankalaev. Ankalaev blocks a punch. Walker misses an ax kick, then misses a hook kick. Ankalaev lands a calf kick. Walker misses a spinning back fist. Ankalaev jabs the body then lands an inside leg kick. Again Walker misses a spinning back fist. Ankalaev with a jab, and then a right hook after dodging a spinning back fist. Walker probes with a few leg kicks while moving, then he dodges a right hand. Ankalaev lands another leg kick, then another one. Some stance switching from Ankalaev now, he’s spending more time orthodox to sneak in leg kicks and slow down the big man. We get a low blow to Walker, replay confirms it. Walker seems fine and the ref gives Ankalaev a hard warning via a translator, then we’re back to fighting after 1:27. Ankalaev with an apology on the restart. Front kick from Ankalaev lands. Walker tries some capoeira stuff that doesn’t land and that’ll end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ankalaev

ROUND TWO: Ankalaev gets back to pushing forward as the round starts, and he lands a calf kick. Bit of an ax kick from Walker. Inside leg kick from Ankalaev. Ankalaev with a left to the body then they trade leg kicks. Another bit of a left from Ankalaev then an inside leg kick. Walker tries to throw some calf kicks of his own but a lot of these are checked, nice to see that Ankalaev has learned how to do that. Bit of a right hook from Ankalaev. Stiff jab from Ankalaev, then he lands a right to the body as well. A lot of following from Ankalaev, he’s not cage cutting much. Walker keeps circling but Ankalaev with a leg kick to off balance him then he floors him with a right hand and one more as Walker is slumped on the fence and that’ll end things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Magomed Ankalaev via TKO, punches, at 2:42 of Round 2

Mic time for Ankalaev and the translator, he was ready for this fight back when they first fought and even more so now but most importantly he wants another title shot and is ready to wear gold. He says he’s hard to figure out and is only here to hunt down his opponents. There’s no personal animosity between him and Walker, this is just business that he had to finish.

Here’s the finish. Ankalaev is good about punching out of clinches or hitting you when breaking position and here he clobbers Walker with a right hand that drops him. The follow up punch explodes Walker’s nose and prompts the stoppage.

Well on that note, UFC on ESPN+ 92 comes to a close. Pretty solid little Apex Fight Night, and all in all a decent start to 2024 for the UFC. We’ll unpack all of this on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus look ahead to next week and UFC 297 with the middleweight title fight between Sean Strickland and Dricus du Plessis. I’ll be back next week to cover UFC 297 and I hope you’ll be back here as well. Until then thank you so much for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.