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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Royval Splits Moreno

February 25, 2024 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 95 Image Credit: UFC

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET)
#1 Brandon Moreno (126 lbs.) vs. #3 Brandon Royval (126 lbs.)
#4 Brian Ortega (146 lbs.) vs. #3 Yair Rodriguez (146 lbs.)
Francisco Prado (156 lbs.) vs. Daniel Zellhuber (156 lbs.)
Raul Rosas Jr. (136 lbs.) vs. Ricky Turcios (136 lbs.)
Sam Hughes (115 lbs.) vs. Yazmin Jauregui (115 lbs.)
Chris Duncan (156 lbs.) vs. Manuel Torres (155 lbs.)

Raoni Barcelos (135 lbs.) vs. Jose Quinonez (135 lbs.)
Jesus Aguilar (126 lbs.) vs. Mateus Mendonca (126 lbs.)
Edgar Chairez (131 lbs.)* vs. Daniel Lacerda (127 lbs.)*
Claudio Puelles (156 lbs.) vs. Fares Ziam (156 lbs.)
Denys Bondar (126 lbs.) vs. Ronaldo Rodriguez (126 lbs.)
Victor Altamirano (125 lbs.) vs. Felipe dos Santos (124 lbs.)
Muhammad Naimov (146 lbs.) vs. Erik Silva (146 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 95, I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. We’re on the heels of UFC 298 and the UFC is back in Mexico City for the first time since 2019. Seeing as the elevation here is north of 7,000 feet and it seems the UFC doesn’t want any heavy fighters having a heart attack mid fight every bout tonight is lightweight or lower. Our top two fights are both rematches, in the main event former two time flyweight champion Brandon Moreno will meet recent title challenger Brandon Royval. These two met back in 2020 with Moreno winning partially because Royval suffered a shoulder injury, but now both men are trying to get another shot at current champion Alexandre Pantoja with a win here. In the co-main Yair Rodriguez will rematch with Brian Ortega, Ortega has been out of action since that fight due to the shoulder injury he suffered during the fight while Rodriguez was last seen getting beaten down by Alex Volkanovski in a title fight, but both men have been chirping at new champion Ilia Topuria and will be trying to stake a title shot here as well. The pickings are actually a little slim after that, the UFC is bringing a lot of Mexican fighters here and pretty clearly are matching most of them in fights that they have a very good chance of winning, but if you’re looking for potential highlights Raoni Barcelos is usually good for a fun fight, and Muhammad Naimov has started making waves pretty quickly since coming to the UFC. Mostly we’re hoping for good fights, as usual.

UFC on ESPN+ 95 comes to the world from Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico. Brendan Fitzgerald will try not to hid under the table this time on commentary, he’ll be joined by Paul Felder and Dominick Cruz. We’ll be in the 30 foot cage set up, and I’m not aware of any peculiarities of the sanctioning body but I’ll try and keep you up to date if there’s a rule issue or weirdness that comes up.

Erik Silva dropped his UFC debut a couple of months back but now he’s hoping his second outing will yield that all important first UFC win. Muhammad Naimov is on a five fight winning streak including two wins in the UFC, his most recent one being a bit of an upset over Nathaniel Wood and now if he can extend his winning streak it could set him up with a bigger name opponent next. Naimov is among the bigger favorites on the card at -535 to +400 for Silva.

Featherweight Bout: Muhammad Naimov (10-2, 146 lbs.) vs. Erik Silva (9-2, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Naimov has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves and we’re underway. Naimov with a lot of pressure early as both men feint. Naimov lands a wheel kick, partially but then Silva staggers as his foot or ankle might have an issue then they tie up. It’s not long before Naimov hits an inside trip and Silva says something that prompts the ref to stop things. Looks like an injury to the ankle or knee of Silva.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Muhammad Naimov via TKO, leg injury, at :44 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Naimov for his work this evening. Mic time for Naimov and the translator, he speaks English to give glory to God then plays with the crowd with his little bit of Spanish and the crowd appreciate him. He speaks what I think is Russian but might also be Tajiki so don’t quote me either way there.

Victor Altamirano has gone 2-2 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a loss to Tim Elliott and now he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Felipe dos Santos suffered his first loss in his UFC debut last year when he gave Manel Kape a heck of a fight but ultimately fell short, now he’s trying for his first UFC win. Given the fight dos Santos gave Kape he closed as the -285 favorite to +230 for Altamirano.

Flyweight Bout: Victor Altamirano (12-3, 125 lbs.) vs. Felipe dos Santos (7-1 1 NC, 124 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Altamirano is an inch taller and 10 years older but the reach is identical between them. Southpaw for Altamirano and they touch gloves. Both me probe with kicks early. Spinning back kick from Altamirano lands to the body. Dos Santos avoids a high kick, he’s being patient thus far. Bit of a right hand from dos Santos. Some stance switching now from Altamirano, dos Santos punches forward then Altamirano hits a takedown but dos Santos springs back up and cracks him with an elbow before they break. Calf kick from dos Santos who seems about ready to take over now. Both men miss punches. Altamirano with a body kick and they clinch up then he gets a takedown against the fence. Dos Santos wall walks pretty quickly but gets mat returned. Altamirano slips to the back as they stand then dos Santos grabs a guillotine as he’s taken back down. Dos Santos can’t quite get the grip right so he bails on the choke but wall walks though he can’t get Altamirano off of him yet. Eventually they separate without incident. Front kick from Altamirano. Cut kick from Altamirano drops dos Santos but he can’t really capitalize before dos Santos bounces up. Dos Santos misses an overhand right and Altamirano double legs him with relative ease. Altamirano has mounted the legs of dos Santos as dos Santos sits against the fence, Altamirano with a few punches towards the head before dos Santos wall walks yet again. Another Altamirano takedown this time dos Santos has to kick him off and reset. They’ll both just kind of circle away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Altamirano

ROUND TWO: Altamirano again working long range attacks as the round starts. Dos Santos misses a few kicks. Side kick from Altamirano lands. Dos Santos misses a wheel kick, then blocks a high kick. They clinch up and Altamirano lands a knee to the body before they hit the fence. Another knee from Altamirano then he breaks and avoids a right hand from dos Santos. Bit of a right hand from dos Santos. Left to the body from Altamirano then a knee and he avoids a clinch. Dos Santos really doesn’t have a good read on Altamirano yet and it’s starting to show. Another clinch, bit of a knee from dos Santos then an elbow and a glancing right hand on the break. Altamirano blocks a high kick and clinches, he hits knees then an outside trip and gets on top in full guard. Dos Santos doesn’t bounce up right away this time, all that grappling from the first round seems to have taken a little out of him and I’m sure the elevation doesn’t help. Altamirano with an elbow. Dos Santos tries to work his guard and uses that to turtle then stand but Altamirano knees him and gets a body lock. They break and dos Santos misses a high kick. Dos Santos lands a right hand then a left after he avoided a kick. Altamirano avoids a right hand and hits another takedown into full guard. They’ll end the round trading strikes on the mat.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Altamirano but could go either way, 20-18 Altamirano overall

ROUND THREE: Dos Santos cracks Altamirano pretty early, he knows he’s down on the cards. Altamirano tries a takedown but dos Santos sneaks around to the back and starts looking for the choke. Dos Santos is trying to constantly attack the choke while Altamirano is hand fighting. Dos Santos tries to switch to mount but Altamirano kicks him off and regains his feet. Front kick from Altamirano then a body kick. Inside leg kick from Altamirano. Dos Santos is stalking forward and misses a front kick. Side kick from Altamirano then he tries a single leg that hits the fence. Dos Santos gets taken down again and Altamirano tries to settle him in full guard. Altamirano lands a left hand and passes to side control, he threatens an arm triangle and moves to the ride when dos Santos defends. Dos Santos wall walks but Altamirano is still on his back. Knee from Altamirano then a right hand as they break the clinch. Right hand from dos Santos. A couple of body shots from Altamirano land, dos Santos isn’t liking those at all. Another side kick from Altamirano. Dos Santos keeps coming forward and they clinch, Altamirano then knees the body a couple of times before slipping free. Knee from Altamirano but dos Santos cracks him with a left hook. Dos Santos is trying to force things now. They trade punches in close. Altamirano keeps circling as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Altamirano but another competitive one, 30-27 Altamirano overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Felipe dos Santos via split decision (27-30, 29-28 x2)

Can’t complain about 29-28 either way but I thought Altamirano had it. Mic time for dos Santos and the translator who’s doing Spanish for the crowd then Portuguese for the fighter, he tries to suck up to the crowd and can barely get the words out. He says this is a dream come true and wants to keep this momentum going.

Luis Rodriguez brings a five fight winning streak into his UFC debut and he’s hoping to make the most of his chance to leave a good first impression on the audience. Denys Bondar has gone 0-2 in the UFC, an arm injury in his debut fight followed by a weird fight that he lost via technical decision last June have really stifled the momentum he’d built getting to the UFC. Bondar needs a win badly if he wants to make a real run here as an 0-3 start usually condemns you to a mediocre and forgettable time with the promotion. Close one here but Rodriguez closed at -120 to +100 on Bondar.

Flyweight Bout: Denys Bondar (19-4, 126 lbs.) vs. Ronaldo Rodriguez (15-2, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Bondar has three and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Rodriguez checks a calf kick. Bondar jabs the body. Leg kick from Rodriguez then Bondar returns it. Bit of a right from Bondar then a double leg to get on top. Bondar slips to the ride position as they scramble then gets the back with both hooks in but Rodriguez is able to spin into him and get on top then stands free after eating a couple of elbows. Hard right hand from Bondar then a double leg again and he’s on top in half guard. A few elbows from Bondar land but Rodriguez gets full guard. Rodriguez is trying to work his guard but Bondar is hip to it and landing strikes while avoiding the high guard. Eventually Rodriguez is able to scramble up and eats a knee. Body with a left to the body then a body kick behind it. Some jabs from Bondar as he circles. Both men land punches in close. Rodriguez with an uppercut then a left hook. Bondar lands a spinning elbow then a calf kick. Bit of a spinning back kick from Bondar. Rodriguez is pressuring forward now and lands a right hand then a calf kick. Bondar tries a single leg, it takes a second but he does finish it only for Rodriguez to scramble back up and sweep then get on top against the fence. Bondar fights up but gets stuck on the fence and they trade in close as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Bondar

ROUND TWO: Rodriguez comes out southpaw and lands a few punches. Front kick from Bondar. Rodriguez lands a left hand, Bondar counters with a spinning elbow but Rodriguez just shakes it off and lands a calf kick. Takedown from Bondar into half guard. Rodriguez is fishing for a kimura, Bondar looks to counter into an armbar but Rodriguez is able to avoid that and they come up in a clinch. A bit of fence grabbing from Bondar to keep position then he lands an elbow as they break. Both men land lefts at distance. Leg kick from Rodriguez. Bondar hits a double leg but Rodriguez quickly scrambles up and shakes Bondar off of his back then gets on top landing some elbows to the body. Rodriguez gets the back now, only one hook but then he goes to a body triangle. A few punches from Rodriguez as he’s trying to open up the choke. Lefts from Rodriguez but eventually Bondar spins into his guard, Rodriguez tries a triangle choke and uses that to sweep into top position. Bondar is fishing for a heel hook but the angle is all wrong and Rodriguez gets on top landing a few more lefts. Rodriguez to the back again and goes for the choke, not much time left in the round though, but Bondar taps with just a couple of seconds left.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ronaldo Rodriguez via Submission, rear naked choke, at 4:59 of Round 2

Mic time for Rodriguez, he says coming from where he’s come from being here and winning is incredible. Asked about eating some of those big shots in the first round he says he’s a warrior in life no matter what happens in the cage but he’s also the future and he’ll be bringing the Mexican fighting style whenever he fights.

Claudio Puelles has gone 5-2 in the UFC and had a five fight winning streak snapped when he stepped up in class to fight Dan Hooker and came up short. That fight was in November of 2022, now he’s finally back in the cage and hoping to get back on the winning side of things. Fares Ziam has gone 4-2 in the UFC and he’s on a two fight coming into this one, if he can get to a three fight winning streak tonight he might be able to set his sights his own step up in competition going forward. Ziam closed at -205 to +170 on Puelles.

Lightweight Bout: Claudio Puelles (12-3, 156 lbs.) vs. Fares Ziam (14-4, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ziam has three inches of height and reach advantage. Pretty quick takedown from Puelles into butterfly guard. Ziam looks to use his butterfly hooks to elevate but Puelles is keeping him down. Eventually Ziam scoots to the fence and stands, Puelles is still on him though and hits a clinch takedown into half guard. Again Ziam looks to wall walk, he gets upright but can’t get Puelles off of him. Ziam is able to spin free and starts jabbing, Puelles is fighting southpaw and misses a left hand. Body shot from Ziam. Stiff left from Ziam drops Puelles, he gets on top and looks to pound things out but Puelles defends so Ziam makes him stand back up. Puelles tries a single leg, Ziam is defending from a sprawl and is able to get free. Double leg from Puelles and he gets on top in side control. Puelles starts fishing for an arm but Ziam defends and will see out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Puelles but there’s an argument for Ziam

ROUND TWO: Ziam comes out jabbing to start the round. Puelles avoids a head kick. Ziam avoids a takedown, then counters a body lock to land on top in half guard. Puelles shrimps to full guard. Ziam elbows the body then stands free and forces the reset. Knee from Ziam, then another one. Puelles tries a single leg, Ziam looks to defend but Puelles keeps wrestling and is able to get him down into leg drag. Full mount now for Puelles, Ziam quickly hip escapes to half guard. Ziam is looking to wall walk but Puelles is on him and keeps him down while threatening to pass to mount. Puelles jumps to the backpack as Ziam stands and he starts looking for a choke. Ziam is able to sling him down and get on top in half guard then lands some punches. Puelles gets to full guard and Ziam elbows him in the head. Ziam looks to stay diligent with some ground and pound. Another elbow from Ziam then some elbows to the body for good measure. A final flurry from Ziam closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ziam, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Ziam is pressing his way forward, then he avoids a takedown and they clinch up. Some knees from Ziam as he gets Puelles on the fence. Puelles tries to drop for a double leg, Ziam threatens a guillotine choke and locks it up then rolls to top position with it. Ziam loses the choke and they fight up then Puelles immediately hits a double leg into full guard. Ziam starts fishing for a guillotine but Puelles breaks that and passes to half guard. They wrestle up along the fence, Puelles tries another takedown and they wrestle up with Ziam hitting a takedown form his knees to get on top. Puelles gets full guard and Ziam elbows the body again. Ziam lands a few more punches to the body and head. Elbows from Ziam and he’ll end the round in control doing damage.

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

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

No interview for the winner.

Edgar Chairez lost his UFC debut to rising force Tatsuro Taira then went to a No Contest his last time out, he missed weight badly for this one and pretty desperately needs a win because the UFC could easily cut him if he loses here. Daniel Lacerda also missed weight for this fight, he’s gone 0-4 with 1 No Contest in the UFC and is likewise probably fighting for his job. Now this has been a total clown fiesta, these two fought in September last year and had a premature stoppage leading to a rematch that fell out when Lacerda had weight cutting issues, so naturally they booked it again and this time both of these two missed weight. Lacerda just couldn’t hit the flyweight mark and it almost looks like Chairez didn’t even try to make weight. Despite the huge weight miss, or perhaps because of it, Chairez is your -485 favorite while a Lacerda win pays out at +370.

Flyweight Bout: Edgar Chairez (10-5 1 NC, 131 lbs.)* vs. Daniel Lacerda (11-5 1 NC, 127 lbs.)*

ROUND ONE: Chairez has an inch of height and reach over Lacerda. Chairez misses a knee to start, Lacerda is fighting southpaw. They trade body kicks. Bit of a cut kick from Chairez to counter a body kick. A fair bit of kicking from both men. Chairez lands a leg kick. Lacerda misses a couple of punches. Some stance switching from Chairez now, then he lands a front kick. Lacerda lands a body kick. Chairez lands a right hand. Lacerda eats another right but then gets a takedown into full guard. Chairez lands a couple of elbows from his back. Lacerda with some punches from top position. Chairez with a triangle attack, he’s got that locked up and Lacerda taps cleanly this time.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Edgar Chairez via Submission, triangle choke, at 2:17 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Chairez for his work this evening. Mic time for Chairez who is promoted to purple belt by his jiu-jitsu coach, he can’t explain all the things he’s had to do to get here but his mind is strong and he put his heart and balls out there for everyone. He plays with the crowd a bit then says he’s going to celebrate with his daughter who is his strength.

This is fundamental stuff from Chairez, he gets the triangle attack then switches to threaten an omoplata when Lacerda is defending only to switch back to the triangle and get the tap. Fundamentals executed well will take you far.

Mareus Mendonca has gone 0-2 in the UFC and really needs a win here if he’s going to make a real go of his time in the promotion. Jesus Aguilar has gone 1-1 in the UFC dropping his debut against Tatsuro Taira but rebounding with a wicked 17 second KO win in July of last year, now he’s trying for his first UFC winning streak. Pretty close odds here but they’re with Mendonca at -135 to +115 for Aguilar.

Flyweight Bout: Jesus Aguilar (9-2, 126 lbs.) vs. Mateus Mendonca (10-2, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Mendonca is two inches taller with an impressive nine inches of reach advantage. Pretty quick takedown from Mendonca against the fence. Aguilar scrambles back up into a clinch and starts working in the clinch. A few knees from Aguilar to the leg of Mendonca. Not much going on here, Aguilar is holding Mendonca on the fence and sneaking in some knees to the body and leg. Mendonca tries a takedown and it takes a second effort but he does get it into side control against the fence. Aguilar is looking to wall walk but Mendonca is smothering him. Aguilar fights up and gets on top as Mendonca slips trying an armbar, Aguilar lands some rights to the head. Mendonca gets full guard and starts working his guard high, he’s after a triangle but Aguilar is posturing through it. Aguilar lands a few more punches to the head. Mendonca tries another armbar, this one could get dicey but Aguilar pulls free and punches again as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aguilar but a close one

ROUND TWO: Mendonca again bulls for a takedown and hits a double leg against the fence after eating a hard calf kick. Mendonca moves to side control. Aguilar explodes up to his feet and lands a knee then hits a double leg but Mendonca rolls through and moves to the ride then gets the back. Mendonca tries to settle things but only has one hook in right now as Aguilar looks to scrape him off against the fence. Aguilar gets half guard but Mendonca moves to mount and lands some punches. Mendonca with some more punches but Mendonca shrimps to get half guard. Aguilar looks to scramble, Mendonca can’t stop him and they reset. Hard couple of punches from Aguilar then he hits a double leg into side control. Mendonca is holding the head and Aguilar could try a Von Flue choke but instead moves to full mount. Some short elbows from Aguilar then a few punches as well. They scramble back up and reset. Knee from Mendonca but then Aguilar sprawls away from a double leg and gets on top to land a few more punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aguilar again but again close, 20-18 Aguilar overall

ROUND THREE: Aguilar again comes out to press things. Body kick from Aguilar then a hard calf kick drops Mendonca. Aguilar jumps on a mounted guillotine, Mendonca is able to sweep and get on top then pull his head out to settle into half guard. Mendonca looks to land elbows now and hopefully slow things down. Aguilar looks to force a scramble but Mendonca lands a few punches. The ref decides to stand them up, I can see that. Bit of a right from Aguilar. Front kick from Mendonca. Aguilar swings into a clinch and gets taken down into full guard. Mendonca looks for the back but settles for mount in a scramble. Aguilar shrimps to half guard, Mendonca gets a gift wrap for control then has the back again. Mendonca starts fishing for the choke as he switches to a body triangle. Full mount for Mendonca, he’s just riding Aguilar at this point. Mendonca tries a triangle armbar but the round ends before that can develop.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Mendonca, 29-28 Aguilar overall but probably is going to Mendonca

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

Can’t complain about 29-28 either way in this one, only the third round was easy to score. Mic time for Aguilar after the win, he knows the fight was close but gives glory to God for everything and thanks everyone for coming out.

Christian Quinonez has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he is coming off of that loss and now tries to avoid his first ever losing streak. Raoni Barcelos had some hype back in 2019-2020 but is just 1-4 in his last five fights and is on a two fight losing streak, if he’s going to get his UFC run back on track he needs a win here. Barcelos is favored to do that but only at -175 to +145 for Quinonez.

Bantamweight Bout: Raoni Barcelos (17-5, 135 lbs.) vs. Jose Quinonez (18-4, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Quinonez is an inch taller with three inches of reach advantage, Barcelos is also nine years older. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men bounce around and look for a read. Barcelos lands a calf kick then tries a takedown but Quinonez fights that one off. Another calf kick from Barcelos then a one two behind it. Barcelos gets another clinch and they start fighting for position on the fence. A bit of positional jockeying goes on, Barcelos tries a throw but can’t finish it and they separate. Quinonez starts looking to jab at range. Inside leg kick from Barcelos then they trade punches. Knee tap from Barcelos and he gets on top in half guard. Quinonez quickly scrambles up into another clinch. Quinonez slips around to the back and lands some punches. Barcelos grabs the fence a couple of times, the ref could take a point there but doesn’t yet. Knee from Quinonez. Elbow from Barcelos but he can’t get Quinonez off of his back in the clinch. Bit of a takedown from Barcelos but Quinonez is keen to keep scrambling and gets back up and hits a mat return. Some punches from Quinonez as he’s in the ride position and that’ll end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Quinonez

ROUND TWO: Quinonez avoids a calf kick to start the round. Barcelos complained about his left shoulder between rounds so we’ll keep an eye on that. Bit of a right from Barcelos. Barcelos blocks a few kicks. Calf kick from Barcelos. Quinonez is jabbing and circling, he’s starting to show some stance switches on occasion but is still mostly orthodox. Calf kick from Barcelos. Quinonez lands a right hand. Left hook in close from Barcelos lands. Solid right hand from Quinonez gets Barcelos backing up, Barcelos then clobbers Quinonez with a right hand and they scramble up then Barcelos lands a knee as they’re standing. More punches from Barcelos then he grabs a standing guillotine, he’s really after that one but Quinonez is able to break the grip and land an elbow. Barcelos lands a couple of rights. Quinonez tries to get his jab going again but he’s almost always coming in on a straight line. Double jab then a right hand from Quinonez. Both men swing lefts in close. Barcelos can’t find a single leg and looks to be fading a bit. Inside leg kick from Quinonez. Both men swing punches in close to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barcelos, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Barcelos starts coming forward as the round starts. Right hand from Barcelos. Inside leg kicks go back and forth as Quinonez is circling. Calf kick from Barcelos. A couple of punches from Barcelos land in close. Quinonez is moving well but his activity is a bit low. Barcelos catches a kick and lands a right hand then gets a takedown. Half guard for Barcelos on top as he’s trying to settle things while Quinonez is trying to scramble. Quinonez gets a bit desperate to escape and gives up the back, Barcelos then grabs the choke and forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Raoni Barcelos via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:04 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Barcelos for his work this evening. Mic time for Barcelos and the translator, he knew he needed to win and thanks the fans for receiving him so well despite booing him and he basically ignores the question that was asked about his shoulder. He puts over his coaches for their work and once again knew he had to get a finish and a win.

Pulling this off with a compromised shoulder, especially since that’s the choking arm here, is impressive. Barcelos needed this one and knew he needed it.

That’s it for the prelims, onto the main card.

Manuel Torres is on a five fight winning streak including two wins in the UFC, he’s hoping to keep building that momentum here and take aim at some higher ranked opponents later this year. Chris Duncan is on a four fight winning streak including two wins in the UFC, he’s likewise hoping to take a step forward in his career with another win here. The odds lean towards Torres at -165 while +140 for Duncan does seem about right.

Lightweight Bout: Chris Duncan (11-1, 156 lbs.) vs. Manuel Torres (14-2, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Torres has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. Some forward motion from Torres but he walks into a right hand that hurts him. Duncan looks to follow up but walks into a knee form Torres. Torres looks to jump for a guillotine, they scramble back up into a clinch. Some knees from Torres in the clinch while he’s fighting off a takedown attempt. Eventually Torres gets a takedown and elbows Duncan, he gets the back as Duncan stands but doesn’t get the backpack and they’re clinched up again. Another Torres takedown and he’s got the back now and locks up the choke then forces the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Manuel Torres via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:46 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Torres for his work this evening. Mic time for Torres, he jokes that he likes to finish fights and calms the crowd a bit before asking for a post fight bonus. Might be one of the few recent ones to ask and receive because that was pretty cool. He promises his wrestling is great and he’s going to work hard at becoming the best ever. Asked about what he wants next he wants Paddy Pimblett or a top 20 fighter.

This is a nice takedown from Torres, he’s got the head partially controlled but the hand fighting makes it almost like a wrestling top wrist lock and ultimately he lands almost in perfect choking position even before getting full back control. The threat to the neck means Duncan can’t block the position, and the threat also means that once Torres has the body control it’s all over.

Yazmin Jauregui has gone 2-1 in the UFC and had been building some hype as the next rising Mexican female fighter before getting stopped in her last fight, now she’s trying to rebuild some of that hype and get back on the winning side of things. Sam Hughes has gone 3-1 in her last four fights and is coming off of a win, she’s trying to build her second UFC winning streak and fully derail the hopes around Jauregui going forward. Jauregui is the biggest favorite tonight at -600 to +440 on Hughes.

Strawweight Bout: Sam Hughes (8-5, 115 lbs.) vs. Yazmin Jauregui (10-1, 115 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hughes is two inches taller but the reach is identical. Both women come out showing the jab. Leg kick from Hughes. Jauregui lands a right hand. Bit of a one two from Jauregui. Jauregui lands another right and Hughes ties up but can’t get a takedown so they separate. Front kick from Jauregui, then she fights off a clinch and lands another one. Bit of a right from Hughes. More jabs go back and forth then Jauregui lands a leg kick. Combination from Jauregui after she avoids a takedown attempt. Hughes bulls forward and gets a clinch on the fence. Jauregui with a couple of knees then she spins free. More front kicks from Jauregui. Hughes is playing with southpaw to neutralize the right hand of Jauregui and lands a body kick. Jab from Hughes lands. Bit of a high kick from Jauregui then an inside leg kick. Jauregui lands a right hand in close, she’s fighting very well thus far. Both women land punches in close then we get another exchange to end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jauregui

ROUND TWO: More of the same to start the round, then Hughes lands a knee and a couple of rights in a brief clinch. Jauregui misses a wheel kick. Combination from Jauregui is punctuated with a body kick. Hughes bulls to a clinch and they trade rights then break. Jauregui with an inside leg kick. Hughes is bleeding from the bridge of her nose. A couple of lefts from Jauregui land. Jauregui with a couple of body shots then a right hand up top. Calf kick from Hughes lands, Jauregui responds with a front kick. Hughes jabs forward and gets a clinch on the fence. For some reason Hughes wont just shoot under the hips of Jauregui, she’s only going clinch work. Jauregui forces her way free and lands a couple of leg kicks. Some kicks go back and forth. They trade in close again. Both women land rights in close. Jauregui with a right to the body, Hughes lands a right to the head. Knees from Jauregui as she avoids a takedown. Hughes misses a spinning back fist then they trade in close with Jauregui getting the better of things to close the round.

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

ROUND THREE: Both women show some kicks to start the last round. They trade rights. Bit of a head kick from Jauregui. Jauregui digs the body with a left hand then lands a leg kick. Hughes lands a calf kick then a front kick. Jauregui lands a right hand then Hughes responds with a leg kick. Long combination from Jauregui. More leg kicks from Jauregui. Jauregui lands a leg kick. Body kick from Jauregui then a couple of punches, she’s just flowing right now and is clearly better than Hughes. Jauregui lands a left hand. Hughes lands a right to the body. Elbow then a left hook from Jauregui in close. Jauregui with a front kick. They trade front kicks then Jauregui fires one towards the face. Hughes forces a clinch after eating punches but can’t keep it. Both women land in close. Jauregui’s hand speed is levels above that of Hughes and that difference has gotten worse over the fight. Jauregui with a body kick then a right hand. Bit of a wheel kick from Jauregui to close the round.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Yazmin Jauregui via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Showcase fight with get well matchmaking for Jauregui there, but she gets an interview and is happy about the win and puts over everyone who dedicated time to helping her get this win. She admits 2023 was a year to forget for her but she’s ready to move forward and is only concerned about what’s in front of her.

We get some news, Turcios vs. Rosas is off due to some kind of illness to Rosas. They’re trying to rebook so we’ll see what’s up for the future of that.

Daniel Zellhuber has gone 2-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, he’s being touted as a potential breakout star for Mexican MMA going forward and a win here would go a long way towards helping that. Francisco Prado has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he did win his last fight and could get his first UFC winning streak here. Zellhuber is your favorite at -300 while +240 on Prado might tempt some bettors.

Lightweight Bout: Francisco Prado (12-1, 156 lbs.) vs. Daniel Zellhuber (14-1, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Zellhuber is three inches taller with a big eight inches of reach advantage. Zellhuber comes out kicking early, he’s switching stances already too. Prado is trying to push forward but he’s struggling with the kicking game of Zellhuber. Zellhuber is looking to use his range. Prado lands a calf kick. More kicks from Zellhuber, they’re blocked but he seems OK to beat up the forearms of Prado right now. Left hook then a right hand from Prado. Zellhuber lands a couple of jabs then a front kick. Body kick from Zellhuber. Prado lands a right hand again. Left to the body from Prado and he gets a clinch but can’t keep it. Zellhuber lands a couple of jabs. Both men land in close then they tie up again and Prado lands an elbow before breaking. They trade body kicks then Prado misses a couple of punches. Left hooks are traded. Zellhuber with a few more jabs to keep distance. Bit of a body kick from Zellhuber then he blocks some punches. Prado misses punches but lands a body kick. A ton of pressure from Prado, he gets a clinch and they hit the fence. They break without incident. More front kicks from Zellhuber, then Prado misses a spinning back fist. Zellhuber avoids a right hand. A body kick from Zellhuber closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Zellhuber but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Zellhuber lands a body kick to get the round going. Prado is trying to weave around the jab now and get close. Stiff jab from Zellhuber, that’s got Prado bleeding. Prado swings but Zellhuber is slipping and countering right now, Prado is cut around the right eye and bleeding from the nose. Bit of a combination from Zellhuber in the pocket. Prado lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Prado but that right eye is a mess. Knee from Zellhuber stuns Prado but he wont go down and he keeps firing back at Zellhuber. Zellhuber knees the body now too. Another jab from Zellhuber then a knee to the body. Short left from Zellhuber as he avoids a left hook from Prado. More lefts from Zellhuber then a front kick. Prado tries some hooks but he can’t find the target so he lands a calf kick. One two from Zellhuber. Zellhuber keeps jabbing then avoids a counter and lands a combination. Prado is still swinging but he’s getting jabbed up and is falling short with all of his punches. Sharp right hand from Zellhuber, Prado has a chin because he just eats it but he’s getting busted up. Left hook from Zellhuber and he avoids the counters. Bit of a front kick from Zellhuber. A front kick from Zellhuber closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Zellhuber, borderline 10-8, 20-18 Zellhuber overall

ROUND THREE: The cut on Prado isn’t that bad but it’s in a tough spot and that eye is swelling and that’s the bigger problem right now. The doctor checks on the eye of Prado but he can still see enough to continue so we’ll get the round. Zellhuber gets back to jabbing and front kicking. Knee to the face from Zellhuber, Prado just eats it but that landed. More jabs then a front kick up top from Zellhuber. Prado lands a right hand but eats a left hook counter. Zellhuber keeps looking to snipe and avoid the power punches coming back his way. Right hand from Zellhuber then a body kick. Prado misses another combination. Front kicks from Zellhuber then a left hook. They trade lefts then Prado lands a bit of a right hand. Zellhuber lands a body kick. Prado lands a couple of body shots but then eats a knee. Zellhuber avoids some hooks then lands a bit of a right hand. Prado lands a left hand but then eats a stiff left from Zellhuber. Body kick from Prado. Zellhuber lands another couple of jabs while circling. Bit of a head kick from Zellhuber, Prado’s face is a mess as now he might be leaking from under the left eye as well. Hard body kick from Zellhuber. Prado tries to bull forward and swings punches but then eats a body kick. Zellhuber wants a brawl for the final seconds, Prado will oblige and they throw down to close the round.

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

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

Heck of a showcase performance from Zellhuber who gets an interview, he thanks everyone for watching then puts over Prado as a tough opponent who wouldn’t go down so he had to adjust and be surgical. He says he wanted to keep the fight long with jabs and front kicks until Prado dropped off his power, but Prado kept up his power all fight so he spent the whole fight fighting that way to stay safe and get the win.

Yair Rodriguez has only ever lost in the UFC to Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, and Alexander Volkanovski, he’s coming off of a failed title shot against Volkanovski but he could be back in the title picture pretty quickly with another impressive win here. Brian Ortega has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights, granted two of those were title fights against Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski but still. Ortega was last in action in July of 2022 when he suffered a first round shoulder injury against Yair Rodriguez, so he’s after a bit of revenge here while also hoping to get a third shot at the title. Fairly close on here but the odds like Rodriguez at -140 to +120 for Ortega coming back after almost 18 months off.

Featherweight Bout: #4 Brian Ortega (15-3 1 NC, 146 lbs.) vs. #3 Yair Rodriguez (19-4 1 NC, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rodriguez is three inches taller with two inches of reach advantage, and as a reminder this fight is set for 5 rounds. Both men will do a lot of stance switching, and they touch gloves to get us going. Ortega pushes forward right away while Rodriguez switches and circles. Bit of a one two from Ortega. Both men land punches in close. Some front kicks from Rodriguez. Another front kick from Rodriguez lands. Ortega walks into a jab, Rodriguez seems to favor open stance right now and cracks Ortega with a right hook. A left hand follow up from Rodriguez hurts Ortega. Rodriguez looks to follow up again and avoids a takedown. Ortega is bleeding from the nose as he backs up. Hard body kick from Rodriguez but Ortega clinches up. Rodriguez is able to get out of the clinch and reset things. They trade one two combinations. Ortega is the one coming forward now and lands a body kick of his own. Calf kick from Rodriguez off balances Ortega and he goes into his guard with a few punches. Rodriguez looks to flurry with strikes from the guard, Ortega isn’t controlling his posture too much right now. Ortega off balances Rodriguez and nearly comes up on the back, Rodriguez thinks about a calf slicer but can’t get it and Ortega gets the back as they stand. Takedown from Ortega and he’s on top in full mount looking for an arm triangle but Rodriguez gets his arm free. The round ends with Ortega in full mount.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rodriguez, was leaning 10-8 before the mount from Ortega

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Ortega is still game and throwing punches as he pushes forward. Bit of a body kick from Rodriguez. Ortega lands a couple of punches in close. Rodriguez lands a right hand but Ortega returns it. Ortega ties up and tries to trip Rodriguez but has to switch to a double leg against the fence. Rodriguez is after a guillotine on the way down, Ortega feels pretty safe but there is the potential for danger, then Ortega pulls his head out and he’s in half guard. Ortega lands a couple of punches as he’s trying to set up a pass. Elbow from Ortega and he stacks up Rodriguez against the fence but Rodriguez gets full guard. They trade some hammer fists as Rodriguez is just closing his guard and might be playing for a stand up. A few more elbows from Ortega land then he passes to half guard. Rodriguez is cut now from those elbows but he gets full guard back. Ortega keeps sneaking in elbows as he’s posturing up and looking to pass again. Some body shots from Ortega then another few elbows. The round will end with Ortega on top landing punches.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ortega, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: The cut on Rodriguez is under the right eye, it’s not going to be a fight ender unless it swells or we see bone given that location. They touch gloves again. Rodriguez fires some high kicks but Ortega clinches up and pushes things to the fence. Ortega with an outside trip and he’s on top in full mount. Arm triangle from Ortega, that’s tight and Rodriguez taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brian Ortega via Submission, arm triangle choke, at :58 of Round 3

Mic time for Ortega after the win, he plays with the crowd a bit then gives glory to God and says God will bless you. He says he might have rolled his ankle a bit during his warm ups but he knew God had his back. He puts over how hard Rodriguez kicked but he got through it, then he talks us through the finish and mentions how hard he’s been training and how hard he worked to get his life sorted out as well. Asked about the future he says he’ll figure that out with the UFC brass and now just wants to enjoy the win.

Look at the adjustment from Ortega here, he’s got the position but instead of trying to muscle Rodriguez flat in the traditional arm triangle finish he switches his grip and keeps the compression tight no matter where Rodriguez rolls. Ortega’s ability to catch the neck then move immediately to a finish is almost unparalleled in MMA.

Brandon Moreno is a two time flyweight champion, part of the UFC’s only quadrilogy of fights against Deiveson Figueiredo, and in July of last year dropped the title in the Fight of the Year against Alexandre Pantoja. Moreno already holds a win over his opponent tonight and he’s hoping a win here could get him a rematch with Pantoja and the potential of being a three time champion. Brandon Royval had a three fight winning streak snapped his last time out when he failed to take the title from the aforementioned Pantoja, he’s trying to get some revenge for a 2020 loss here and potentially make a quick turnaround for another shot at the belt. Moreno is a solid -300 favorite to +240 for Royval.

Flyweight Bout: #1 Brandon Moreno (21-7-2, 126 lbs.) vs. #3 Brandon Royval (15-7, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Royval is two inches taller but Moreno has two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Royval as we start. Circling from both men as they feint. Moreno avoids a couple of kicks but hasn’t thrown much yet. Some stance switching from Moreno now. They clash on kicks. I’m not sure what Moreno is doing, the ref is even warning him about his lack of engagement. Bit of a left hook from Moreno. Royval slips on a kick but nothing comes of it. Leg kick from Royval and he avoids the left hook from Moreno. Royval is looking to make something happen, he avoids a right hand but he hasn’t landed much either. Moreno lands a left hook. Royval lands a couple of punches of his own. Body kick form Moreno. Bit of a blitz from Royval. Moreno lands an inside leg kick, looked partially checked. Knee from Moreno then an elbow. Royval misses a knee, very odd fight thus far. Body kick from Royval. Both men feint away the last seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moreno but could easily go the other way

ROUND TWO: Royval lands a body kick to start the round. Inside leg kick from Royval. Moreno cracks Royval with a right hand. Some jabs go back and forth. Moreno counters a body kick with a left hook. Royval lands a body kick but does get countered with a right hand. Moreno is looping his left hook a bit too much, Royval is able to avoid it most of the time. Right hand from Moreno. Knee from Royval and they trade punches in close. Moreno lands a body kick but eats a counter punch. Both men land in close. Uppercut then a knee from Royval. Royval lands a body kick. Moreno lands a combination but again, he’s winging just a bit too much and better technique would see him landing cleaner. Royval lands a body shot then a couple of punches. Jab from Royval then a body kick. Left hook from Moreno but he eats a knee to the body. More body attacks from Royval, Moreno has had enough of that and takes him down into full guard. Royval quickly tries to invert but Moreno stays on top and swings punches at him. Rubber guard from Royval, he tries for an omoplata but Moreno gets free and they reset, then end the round feinting on the feet.

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

ROUND THREE: Moreno back to circling, Royval lands a couple of leg kicks. A lot of pressure from Royval, he blocks a high kick and jabs the body. Moreno blocks a body kick. Moreno catches a kick and gets a takedown but Royval scrambles right away and Moreno gets his back in the clinch. Royval quickly breaks his grip and gets free. Moreno complains of a groin kick so we’ve got a time out. Replay confirms it brushed the cup, nothing major and Moreno only needs 40 seconds then we’re back to fighting. Royval gets back on pressure and lands a head kick but Moreno lands a counter left. Both men land in close, Royval is still targeting the body while Moreno is head hunting. Inside leg kick from Royval, he’s chopping that lead leg of Moreno up. Moreno lands a right hand but his combination work is almost non existent. Royval checks an inside leg kick, then they tie up and Moreno gets the back in the clinch but once again Royval quickly breaks his grip and punches him before resetting. Royval pokes out some punches then a body kick. Moreno blocks some punches but no counters are thrown. Leg kick from Moreno. Another leg kick from Moreno. Royval with a combination in close, partially blocked and that’ll end the round.

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

ROUND FOUR: Royval comes out looking to push the pace now. Moreno swings a couple of punches but Royval is out working him. Another couple of leg kicks from Moreno land. They tie up and Moreno tries a takedown but can’t finish it. Royval with some more jabs then a knee. Moreno is landing the leg kick at the end of punches pretty consistently now. Moreno blocks some punches then again lands a leg kick. Uppercut from Royval. Royval lands a left to the body. They trade power hand punches but Moreno is the one backing up, Royval punches in close then hits a double leg. Royval with some lefts to the head then Moreno wall walks into a clinch. Royval keeps Moreno on the fence and lands lefts before they break. Moreno misses a right hand but lands a leg kick. Royval lands a few jabs then avoids a right hand. Body shot from Royval. Moreno with some punches but he’s starting to throw arm punches now. Counter left from Royval lands. Moreno lands a right to the body, Royval returns it. Leg kick from Moreno. Royval lands a series of lefts. Bit of a right from Moreno, Royval lands an uppercut to counter as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Royval but all of these have been pretty competitive, 39-27 Royval overall

ROUND FIVE: Royval gets back to keeping his hands active and pushing forward. Moreno misses a right hand. Moreno lands a right hand. They tie up and they hit the fence. Not much going on here as they spin for position and the ref breaks them up. Royval gets back to punching right away. Moreno lands a right hand but Royval is able to land a counter combination. Royval with a combination, Moreno is blocking a lot of these but not all of them. Combination from Royval mostly lands. Left hand then a right hook from Royval. Moreno lands a jab. Moreno lands a couple of punches and blocks the counters. Right hand from Moreno. Royval lands an uppercut but Moreno gets the back in a clinch. Some foot stomps from Moreno, they get chest to chest and the ref breaks them up. Both men land in close, Moreno’s superior firepower might start to carry the day. Knee from Royval and they trade, Moreno gets the back in the clinch and looks for a mat return. They trade again on the break and both men unload in close to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Moreno, 48-47 Royval overall but 3-2 either way seems perfectly fine

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brandon Royval via split decision (46-49, 48-47 x2)

Can’t complain too much here, a lot of tight rounds in there. Mic time for Royval, he says he’s got Mexican heritage and tries to emulate the Mexican fighting style. He says he’s the toughest guy in the division and calls out Pantoja for a rematch, Pantoja is in the crowd and seems amenable, Royval says he’s not getting held down again.

Well on that note UFC on ESPN+ 95 comes to a close. We’ll be unpacking all the fallout from this event tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus looking ahead to next week and the distinctly uninteresting UFC on ESPN+ 96. If you’re not planning on watching that card next week, and I don’t blame anyone for skipping it, please stop by and check out my report if nothing else. I’ll be back for that and I hope you will as well. Until then thank you for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.