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411’s UFC on ESPN 1 Report: Ngannou Wins

February 18, 2019 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Francis Ngannou Fight Night 141

MAIN CARD (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
#3 Francis Ngannou (258 lbs.) vs. Cain Velasquez (248 lbs.)
#14 Paul Felder (155.5 lbs.) vs. #10 James Vick (156 lbs.)
#12 Cynthia Calvillo (116 lbs.) vs. #11 Cortney Casey (116 lbs.)
Alex Caceres (146 lbs.) vs. Kron Gracie (146 lbs.)
Bryan Barberena (170.5 lbs.) vs. Vicente Luque (171 lbs.)
Andre Fili (145.5 lbs.) vs. Myles Jury (146 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
#5 Jimmie Rivera (135 lbs.) vs. #7 Aljamain Sterling (136 lbs.)
Manny Bermudez (140 lbs.)* vs. Benito Lopez (135.5 lbs.)
#11 Ashlee Evans-Smith (126 lbs.) vs. #13 Andrea Lee (125.5 lbs.)
Scott Holtzman (156 lbs.) vs. Nik Lentz (155.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
Jodie Esquibel (115.5) vs. Jessica Penne (118)*
Renan Barao (138 lbs.)* vs. Luke Sanders (135.5 lbs.)
Alexandra Albu (114.5 lbs.) vs. Emily Whitmire (116 lbs.)


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 1. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening, relaying all of the action to you good people just as I see it. Tonight the UFC has their first full main card on ESPN and they’ve brought a pretty solid card on paper. The main event sees the return of former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the first time since way back at UFC 200 as he meets former title challenger Francis Ngannou. There’s also a relevant lightweight fight as ranked contenders James Vick and Paul Felder battle for divisional position. On the prelims there’s a relevant bantamweight fight as contenders Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling battle for their position in the division.

We had three fighters miss weight for this event, but one of those isn’t going to matter too much. A few hours before the event was to start word came down that Jessica Penne badly sprained her ankle while warming up and her fight with Jodie Esquibel is off as a result.
UFC on ESPN 1 is coming to the world from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. On commentary for this debut outing we have Jon Anik and Dominick Cruz. We are under the new rules tonight, so extending fingers towards your opponent is a foul even if contact isn’t made, the language on scoring is clearer and more encouraging of 10-8’s, and you need both palms or fists flat on the mat to be considered downed.

Aleksandra Albu is undefeated including two wins in the UFC, she was last seen beating Kailin Curran in July of 2017. Albu is looking to remain perfect and continue to show improvement as a fighter. Emily Whitmire has gone 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of a win, she’s looking for her first winning streak ever as a professional. The odds closed as a -110 pick ’em.

Strawweight Bout: Alexandra Albu (3-0, 114.5 lbs.) vs. Emily Whitmire (3-2, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Whitmire is three inches taller but has just half an inch of reach advantage. They both come out landing punches then Whitmire decides on a double leg and gets it. Whitmire moves to half guard quickly, Albu gets full guard but she’s looking to wrap the head instead of framing. Albu tries to kick free but gets up too slowly and without hand control, that allows Whitmire to spin to her back and lock up the rear naked choke and Albu taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Emily Whitmire via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:01 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Whitmire for her work this evening. Mic time for Whitmire, that’s the fastest submission in UFC strawweight history and she’s really happy about that. She says she’s been a basket case all week with nerves but is really happy to have gotten the win here. She talks us through the finish, wrestling was her game plan as she knew there were weaknesses in Albu she could exploit. Asked what’s next she says hard training.

Here’s the finish. Albu attempts a technical get up but her legs aren’t under her properly and she never establishes the perimeter with her extended hand, that allows Whitmire to bypass the arm and take the back. In the transition Whitmire snatches the choke, catching something in transition tends to increase your chances of finishing it, and by the time Albu thinks to defend her neck it’s entirely too late.

Renan Barao is a former UFC bantamweight champion and was thought of as a top pound for pound fighter in the sport for several years, unfortunately that was back in 2013-14 and at the moment he’s just 1-5 in his last six fights as well as being on a three fight losing streak, and if that wasn’t bad enough he also missed weight for this fight. Barao is almost certainly fighting for his spot on the UFC roster at this point. Luke Sanders is just 1-3 in his last four fights and is coming off of a loss to Rani Yahya, he’s trying to avoid another two fight losing streak and take out a former champion. Sanders is your -150 favorite against a +130 comeback on Barao.

Bantamweight Bout: Renan Barao (34-7 1 NC, 138 lbs.)* vs. Luke Sanders (12-3, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Barao has three inches of reach on Sanders, plus his botched weight cut of course. Sanders comes out southpaw and they touch gloves. Some kicks early from Barao, mostly to the leg. Bit of a left from Sanders. Body kick from Sanders, Barao returns it. Sanders lands a left. Barao lands a head kick then a couple of body kicks but then they trade in the pocket. More body kicks from Barao, the kicks have been his best weapon by a long way. They clinch up and start trading knees but Barao seems to get free rather quickly. They clash on a few body kicks then Sanders lands a left. Sanders isn’t faking, that’s letting Barao stay light on his feet and work his kicks. Bit of a high kick from Sanders. Barao lands a hard right that stumbles Sanders for a second but he’s still upright. More body kicks from Barao, Sanders doesn’t seem to have a counter to them and they’re start to chew him up. A few side kicks to the knee from Sanders, he catches a body kick and tosses Barao down but eats a knee to the body when they wind up close on the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barao

ROUND TWO: Obvious redness on the midsection of Sanders. Sanders slips a right and lands a right of his own. Some more forward pressure from Sanders this round to try and mitigate the kicks. A few more punches land for Sanders, including a left that wobbles the head of Barao. Straight left from Sanders drops Barao and a few more punches on the mat put Barao out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Luke Sanders via TKO, punches, at 1:01 of Round 2

Mic time for Sanders, he thanks everyone who’s followed him through his career, and pimps the new gym he’s opening in Nashville and mentions he almost couldn’t make the fight but he got here and just knocked out a legend. He puts over his coaches and thanks them for getting him here. He says he’s like a video game character and will do whatever his coaches tell him to.

Here’s the finish. Sanders starts stepping forward into boxing range rather than sticking around at kickboxing range and starts hammering Barao with punches. A couple of one two’s drop Barao then Sanders gets into leg drag position on the mat and just pounds him into the ground.

That’s it for the ESPN+ portion of the prelims, we move to ESPN for the rest of the prelim card.

Scott Holtzman is on a three fight winning streak and most recently scored his first UFC finish via strikes and just his second UFC finish overall, now he’s trying to keep that momentum going and continue marching up the ranks. Nik Lentz has been trading wins and losses while going 3-2 in his last five fights, he’s coming off of a win though and is looking for his first winning streak since 2016. As for the odds they’re with Holtzman at -185 against a +155 payout for Lentz.

Lightweight Bout: Scott Holtzman (12-2, 156 lbs.) vs. Nik Lentz (29-9-2 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Holtzman has an inch of height and reach on Lentz. Lentz does a lot of stance switching, but he’s starting southpaw for this fight. Bit of a knee from Lentz lands to the head. Both men still missing punches but they’re throwing. Leg kick from Lentz. Lentz blocks a high kick and lands a leg kick. Left from Lentz lands and he pushes close but Holtzman avoids the clinch. Flurry from Lentz ends with a high kick, Holtzman lands an inside leg kick. Both men miss hooks then Lentz with a bit of a high kick. Holtzman is struggling here a bit, he lands a right and they clinch up. Knees from Lentz and he’s after a takedown but Holtzman is blocking him. Holtzman lands a knee but gives up the takedown, Holtzman back up but eats a few knees as Lentz gets a rear waist lock. Knees to the thigh from Lentz and a few attempted mat returns but Holtzman is doing a good job of staying upright so far. Lentz finally gets a trip but Holtzman is back up quickly. There’s a mouse or some discoloration under the left eye of Holtzman. Lentz keeps hitting ankle sweeps but Holtzman is getting up every time. On one mat return Lentz gets one hook in but Holtzman shakes it free and he’s back up but still not separate from Lentz. More knees to the thigh from Lentz as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lentz

ROUND TWO: Let’s see if Holtzman can find second gear this round. Lentz with a body kick then a bit of a counter right. Holtzman is pressing forward, lands a bit of a right but eats a counter high kick. Body kick from Holtzman. They clinch and trade knees then break apart. One two from Holtzman, his right hand has been on point this round. Front kick to the body from Holtzman, he eats a counter left then lands a right. Bit of a left from Lentz, but he eats a straight right. The face of Lentz is getting marked up. Lentz lands a left then they trade body kicks. The nose of Lentz is bleeding now. Right from Letnz, and one behind it. Lentz tries a takedown that stalls on the fence but Lentz has a body lock. Lentz with a trip, he winds up with a front headlock and sits for the guillotine choke, he rolls to a hip and is looking for mount as he tightens up the choke. Holtzman is able to break the legs around his hips and Lentz bails on the choke and gets the back standing. Lentz with a trip for a mat return and this time gets top position. Holtzman with a butterfly sweep to regain his feet but Lentz is still on him and has him back down to his seat along the fence as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Lentz blocks a high kick, both guys looking tired but given the pace they’re been at it’s understandable. Holtzman misses a few punches, misses an uppercut then avoids a clinch attempt. Right from Holtzman gets Lentz backing up. Holtzman avoids another clinch attempt. Lentz lands a counter left then a head kick that Holtzman just eats. Left from Holtzman lands, Lentz lands a right. Both men are landing heavy punches. Lentz gets the back standing and drives Holtzman to the cage. Mat return from Lentz but he gets too high trying to take the back and Holtzman escapes and separates. Lentz falls into a takedown attempt but nearly gets it, the second effort is successful though and he’s in the ride position. Holtzman is on a knee trying to get up but Lentz is on his back standing and looking for mat returns. Lentz looks to switch for a double leg, Holtzman lands elbows and punches as Lentz looks for a single leg. A few more elbows and Holtzman separates. Lentz lands a one two, Holtzman is coming forward and they trade rights. Both men land punches, Holtzman tries a jumping knee in an ill-advised move as it lets Lentz get him down. Holtzman back up but Lentz is on his back again and just rides out the round in that position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holtzman, 29-28 Holtzman overall but the second round will decide things

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Nik Lentz via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

No issues with that scoring, I think I didn’t give that guillotine choke in the second round enough credit. Lentz on the mic, he puts over Holtzman as one of the toughest guys he’s fought. He says he won the striking in the first round but Holtzman was strong and he had to adjust his game a little bit.

Ashlee Evans-Smith just broke a two fight losing streak by dropping to flyweight and besting Bec Rawlings, she’s looking to win again and establish herself as a contender in a still developing division. Andrea Lee is on a five fight winning streak overall that includes a successful UFC debut, she’s trying to extend that streak here and start making the transition from prospect to legitimate contender. Lee is your -185 favorite while the +155 payout on Evans-Smith likely tempts a few bettors out there.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: #11 Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-3, 126 lbs.) vs. #13 Andrea Lee (9-2, 125.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Evans-Smith is two inches taller but Lee has two inches of reach on her. Both women feinting with the hands early, they trade kicks as well. Leg kicks from Lee as she’s moving around Evans-Smith. Jabs and leg kicks from Lee, Evans-Smith is coming forward but she’s not landing much yet. Body kick from Lee. Lee’s defense is giving Evans-Smith problems, she’s not finding the target with her offense almost at all. Evans-Smith has a high kick blocked but eats a couple of counters. More leg kicks from Lee and a few body shots now when she’s slipping punches. More leg kicks, Evans-Smith catches one but can’t secure the takedown. Bit of an uppercut from Lee, Evans-Smith lands a left hook. Body kick from Lee. Inside leg kick then a left hook from Lee. Evans-Smith lands a front kick to the body. Lee lands a body kick. A series of jabs from Lee land then body shots. Evans-Smith has pressure but no offense. Lee tries a double leg, the fence winds up stopping that and Lee moves to the back to close the round with knees to the thigh then a pretty good high kick.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Lee, might be a borderline 10-8 numerically

ROUND TWO: Lee avoids a punch and lands a right to the body. More body shots then a few to the head as well from Lee. Evans-Smith is bleeding from inside of her left eye. Single leg attempt from Evans-Smith but Lee is defending and lands a bit of a high kick after blocking it. Body kick from Lee. There’s also swelling under the right eye of Evans-Smith. Combination from Lee mostly lands, that volume of offense is breaking Evans-Smith down. Body shots and a Thai clinch for Lee, she unloads to the body then a high kick as Evans-Smith breaks free. Double leg from Evans-Smith and she lands in side control, she badly needed that. Lee looking to bridge but Evans-Smith has an arm around the waist. Lee bucks again, winds up on her knees and back up then lands a knee as she separates. That cut from the first round is on the bridge of Evans-Smith’s nose not inside the socket. Right from Lee then an inside leg kick. Lee back to leg kicks at distance then a right to the body. Counter right from Lee after she avoided a kick. Lee lands a jab then avoids a takedown attempt. They end the round in the clinch with knees going back and forth.

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

ROUND THREE: Lee comes out jabbing this round. Leg kicks as well from Lee. The distance of Evans-Smith seems off, a lot of what she’s throwing is from just a bit too far out and that’s letting Lee easily evade then counter her. Left uppercut from Lee lands flush. Evans-Smith tries a takedown, she gets a leg but can’t keep it and Lee limp legs free. A few more leg kicks from Lee. Bit of a right from Evans-Smith lands, Lee responds with a hard leg kick. Body shots from Lee land then a jab as well. Jab and a body kick from Lee. Evans-Smith has missed several spinning attacks all fight, and misses another one then gets hit a few times for the effort. Another single leg attempt from Evans-Smith, Lee blocks it and lands a right. A combination lands for Lee. Evans-Smith is trying to land elbows but she’s either mis-timing them or not getting the distance right. They trade hard lefts then a body kick from Lee. Lee blocks a kick and gets a body lock then pushes Evans-Smith into the fence. Knees from Lee, Evans-Smith returns them and they break. Evans-Smith tries a single leg, she can’t quite finish it and Lee tries to go inverted then for a low single leg as time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Lee, 30-26 Lee overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Andrea Lee via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Just a really solid all around performance from Lee, better striker by a wide margin and good counter wrestling. No interview for Lee though.

A quick flurry from Lee, most of the fight was very similar to this.

Benito Lopez is undefeated and won in his UFC debut, now he’s looking to take out another legitimate prospect and begin his climb through the UFC. Manny Bermudez missed weight for this bout but is also undefeated overall and has two finishes in the UFC, he’s also looking to extend that streak and start his move up through the ranks at bantamweight. The odds are with Bermudez at -190 against a +160 comeback for Lopez.

Bantamweight Bout: Manny Bermudez (13-0, 140 lbs.)* vs. Benito Lopez (9-0, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Lopez has an inch and a half of reach on Bermudez despite them being the same height. Lopez showing the jab early, and whiffs on a high kick. Calf kick from Lopez, Bermudez is coming forward and lands a bit of a right. Bermudez gets a clinch, slips to the back and slams Lopez down to his knees. Bermudez nearly gets a one hook in choke but Lopez scrambles into him so he can’t get choked but Bermudez is on top in his guard. Punches from Bermudez, Lopez kicks him off and is up but Bermudez is back in on the clinch. They trade some strikes in the clinch as they jockey for position. Some rights from Bermudez land, he’s got the arms of Lopez really tied up and is trying to set up something. Lopez reads that though and gets his arms free. Bermudez wraps up a guillotine and rolls through into a crucifix position. Another guillotine attempt from Bermudez, he switches to a ninja choke/power guillotine variant and that forces Lopez to tap out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Manny Bermudez via Submission, guillotine choke, at 3:09 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Bermudez for his work this evening. Mic time for Bermudez, he apologizes for the weight cut and says it’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen at this level. He talks about being a bit surprised by the pace of Lopez, he says he wants to keep fighting undefeated bantamweights, specifically Sean O’Malley. He talks us through the finish, which was erroneously announced as a d’arce choke, the arm wasn’t trapped in the choke it was trapped by the legs of Bermudez. To close he thanks his coaches and corner for their work.

This is about as slick a guillotine transition as you’ll see. Bermudez holds that crucifix position to keep the arms of Lopez from being in play, wraps around the neck and then even forces Lopez to roll the wrong way to release the pressure. Bermudez even switches his grip to a ninja choke.

Jimmie Rivera is a top ranked contender and is trying to defend that spot here, he’s 6-1 overall in the UFC with his only loss coming to number one contender Marlon Moraes. Rivera was last seen beating John Dodson and is trying to get another winning streak up and running here. Aljamain Sterling is 4-1 in his last five fights with that loss also coming to Marlon Moraes but he’s on a two fight winning streak and is looking to make a definitive move up the rankings with a win over Rivera here. The odds are with Rivera at -140 while Sterling’s comeback sits at +120.

Bantamweight Bout: #5 Jimmie Rivera (22-2, 135 lbs.) vs. #7 Aljamain Sterling (16-3, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Sterling is three inches taller and has two and a half inches of reach on Rivera. Sterling doing stance switching, he tries a takedown almost immediately but they wind up clinched on the fence. Rivera defending so far and he spins Sterling into the fence. A few knees go back and forth, Rivera lands a few rights to the body then separates. Leg kick from Sterling. Sterling showing his kicking game so far, Rivera looking more to counter so far. Low single leg from Sterling winds up with another clinch on the fence. Rivera sneaks a few elbows through the defense of Sterling in the clinch. Sterling tries to elevate and trip but can’t get it. Knees from Sterling as he’s holding a body lock, now a few foot stomps as well. A couple of knees from Sterling but they’ve stalled out too much for the ref and he separates them. A little swift on the break from the ref for me. Rivera lands an inside leg kick. Rivera avoids a high kick and shoots on a double leg that hits the cage. Sterling’s turn to sneak through punches while Rivera looks for a takedown on the cage. They trade some knees to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sterling

ROUND TWO: Body kick from Sterling to star the second round. Rivera lands a right and gets a takedown off of it into guard. Sterling tries to get his legs working, nothing’s close but he gets enough motion to get Rivera to back off and they reset on the feet. Sterling quickly dives for a double leg and they hit the fence. Rivera spins Sterling into the fence and lands a few knees before breaking. A couple of rights from Rivera after he blocked a kick. Sterling misses a kick but lands a spinning back fist and Rivera is wobbled. Sterling coming forward looking to finish but he’s getting hit a few times as well. Sterling lands a few lefts to the body. Rivera lands a leg kick but Sterling lands a few counters. The mouthpiece came out from Rivera for about the third time this fight, seems like it’s either not his or just wasn’t formed properly because he’s not doing this intentionally. Rivera blocks a takedown attempt and gets a front headlock. A few body shots from Rivera as Sterling gets up and separates. Sterling lands a body kick then a left, Rivera lands a right then a calf kick. They trade calf kicks at distance. Sterling is doing a good job of kicking with his left leg then punching with his right. They trade body work then stare away the final few seconds.

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

ROUND THREE: Sterling lands a bit of a high kick, Rivera catches it and trips him but can’t get on top. Rivera is pressuring more this round, he lands a couple of rights but he’s planting too much just a bit out of range to really get his counters going. Sterling tries a single leg, can’t get it and eats a few punches before they break. Sterling is just the busier fighter, and he’s keeping the fight at the range he wants. Some front kicks to the body from Sterling land, then he slips on a high kick and Rivera gets on top in side control. Sterling quickly rolls to his knees and is after a single leg from his knees. Rivera can’t hold the front headlock and they’re back up at distance. Left to the body from Rivera but he’s working combinations too late, Sterling isn’t worried about them. Leg kick from Sterling. Side kick to the body then a hook kick to the head from Sterling. Rivera is cut on the bridge of the nose, he’s just never figured out a way to change the distance of the fight. Rivera gets a front headlock and rides Sterling down but the clock runs down before anything can develop.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Aljamain Sterling via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Rivera looked really off and Sterling capitalized on every opening he gave him. Mic time for Sterling, he puts over Rivera as a tough opponent and says he knew he had to be sharp if he was going to be successful. He says he always slows the pace and that there’s no one who can hang with him after the first round. He calls out Marlon Moraes, who he thought got lucky in their fight as he was over confident. To close he says he’s a real threat to the division and wants some respect.

That’ll do it for preliminary action, but the main card is still on ESPN.

Andre Fili has mostly been trading wins and losses during his entire UFC run, he finally scraped together a two fight winning streak but had that snapped in his last fight when he lost to Michael Johnson. Fili is trying to avoid his first losing streak with a win here. Myles Jury has gone 2-2 since dropping to featherweight, he’s coming off of a loss to Chad Mendes and is trying to avoid his second UFC losing streak. Jury is your -140 favorite to the +120 comeback on Fili.

Featherweight Bout: Andre Fili (18-6, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Myles Jury (17-3, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Fili has an inch of height and reach on Jury. They touch gloves to get things going. Inside leg kicks from both men, Fili showing the jab as well. Both men jabbing, bit of a right from Fili. Some leg kicks from Fili land, Jury isn’t doing a whole lot so far. Jury lands a right and a leg kick. The constant jabs from Fili have the nose of Jury leaking blood now. Jury finally jabbing a bit now, but neither man is doing much besides jabs and leg kicks, a situation which favors Fili at the moment. Bit of a leg kick from Jury. Fili lands a leg kick. Body kick and a jab from Jury. Overhand right from Fili lands. Jury misses a spinning back fist but then staggers Fili with a left but can’t follow up before Fili gets out of range. They feint away the final seconds of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Fili

ROUND TWO: Jury opens up with leg kicks and jabs, Fili returning them. Body kick from Jury and he evades the counter. Fili lands a right. Bit of a one two from Jury, Fili responds with a leg kick. One two from Jury lands. Jury lands a left hook, when Fili is stationary he’s getting hit but when he’s mobile it’s troubling Jury a bit. Bit of a left from Jury. Body kick from Jury then a long distance left. Spinning back fist from Jury drops Fili and he follows him down and starts landing blows on the mat before moving into full mount. Fili is against the fence looking to buck, Jury lands elbows but Fili does hip escape to full guard. Body shots from Jury bring the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jury, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round and both men start jabbing. Leg kick and a right from Fili. Fili’s jab is working again, Jury lands a hard leg kick. Bit of a left hook from Jury. Fili misses a high kick. More jabs from both men, Fili’s is just more effective so far and Jury isn’t adjusting to it. Left hook from Jury lands. Right and a left hook from Jury land. Fili avoids a spinning back fist. More jabs from Fili to the body and head, this is the best his striking has ever looked. They both land rights but nothing comes of it. Fili lands a leg kick and that’ll be the last blow of the fight as time runs down.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Andre Fili via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Fili gets mic time, he wanted to do more but the jab was working so he wasn’t going to fix what wasn’t broken. He says the backfist didn’t hurt so much as off balance him, then puts over Jury. He says he’s back in love with the sport even though the sport is trying to kill him, loves the company even though they don’t pay him what he’s worth, and wants to move towards the belt. Asked what’s next he says he got hit in the head a lot and wants to wait and call someone out later, then promises to have the belt by the end of the year.

Vicente Luque has a stellar UFC record of 7-2 and he’s on a three fight winning streak with all of those wins being finishes of some variety. Luque is trying to get a step up in competition for his next bout with a win here. Bryan Barberena has gone 5-3 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a win though and is after his first UFC winning streak since 2016. Luque is a hefty -500 favorite against a +375 comeback for Barberena.

Welterweight Bout: Bryan Barberena (14-5, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Vicente Luque (14-6-1, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Barberena is an inch taller but Luque has three inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Barberena fighting southpaw. Luque stalking forward early, Barberena circling. Both men land rights in close, Luque lands a leg kick. Bit of a one two from Luque then an inside leg kick. Right from Luque lands. Bit of a body kick from Luque. Solid right from Luque then a left hook against the fence. Barberena is trying to counter but he’s still on the fence and Luque is landing consistently at this point. Bit of a combination from Barberena is getting Luque to back off just a bit. Luque lands a left hook then a right. They clinch up in open space and trade body shots before breaking. Hard counter right from Luque lands, Barberena just eats it. If nothing else Barberena has a chin. Barberena stuns Luque with a straight left and drops him but Luque recovers and gets the back on the mat in a crazy reversal of fortune. Luque has both hooks in and is after the choke. Barberena gets one leg free of the hooks and manages to spin free. Insane escape but Luque switches immediately to a d’arce choke and locks it up but Barberena slips free and lands a few elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Luque as that choke attempt balanced out the knock down

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Barberena lands a combination, his durability is working in his favor right now. Luque lands a counter left hook but again Barberena just eats it. Body shots from Barberena. Another prolonged combination from Barberena and they trade elbows in close then agree to reset in the middle of the cage. Luque lands a couple of lefts then a right, Barberena lands an elbow and a few uppercuts from a half collar tie. Front kick to the body from Luque hurts Barberena for a moment. Straight left from Barberena then a combination behind it. They trade power hand shots but the volume of Barberena is breaking Luque, especially since Barberena is just eating the counters. Hard right from Luque but it’s the follow up body kick that gets Barberena to back off for a bit. Consistent offense from Barberena, Luque lands one but the volume is all in favor of Barberena right now. They trade left hooks then Luque misses a right. High kick from Luque is blocked then he lands an inside leg kick. A couple lefts from Barberena and Luque is bleeding a bit around the right eye. Both men land, this is a slug fest from both men. We get Road House action and Luque doubles Barberena over with a knee to the body as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barberena, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They hug to start the last round. I don’t like hugs most of the time but I’m down for it after the insanity of this fight. Luque working kicks to get the round going. Left lands for Barberena. Luque blocks a high kick then lands a wheel kick. Barberena lands a knee to the body and some punches. Cracking left from Barberena, who at this point I’m not even sure is capable of feeling pain. Power hand punches go back and forth then a left from Luque. Barberena lands an extended combination, Luque lands a left but there’s a lot of one way traffic. Upward elbow from Barberena, Luque counters then lands a knee to the body. Knee from Barberena to the body. I’m begging one of these two to commit to body work, especially Barberena once he gets Luque’s guard up around his head. They trade elbows, this is pretty crazy. They punch into a clinch, punch each other there then back away. Luque lands a right then a body kick, Barberena lands a leg kick. bit of a combination from Barberena, phone booth fighting continues. I’m shocked there’s only been on knockdown in this fight. Luque lands a right then a knee to the body and Barberena finally falls, a few more hammer fists on the mat and Barberena’s lack of motion prompts the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Vicente Luque via TKO,knees and punches, at 4:54 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Luque for his work this evening. Those two set the record for significant strikes in 3 round UFC welterweight history. Mic time for Luque first, he thanks God and his fiance, then jokes about his upcoming wedding and how his face is messed up for the ceremony. He puts over Barberena and feels he’s a top ten guy who can knock out anyone in the division. He talks us through the finish, noting he had no idea who was winning and so he went for the finish, then asks for a top ten opponent next. He closes with Portuguese.

Barberena gets a few moments on the mic, he’s a local guy as well as half of that pretty great fight. He puts over Luque as a warrior, he just wants to get better and bounce back in his next fight.

Here’s the finish. This is the value of body work guys, plenty of guys can take tons of abuse to the head but a well timed body shot slows them down or stops them.

Alex Caceres has gone 2-3 in his last five fights but is coming off of a win and looking for his first winning streak since 2016. Kron Gracie is one of the better grapplers to transition to MMA, he’s undefeated overall and has finished all of his opponents. Gracie is making his UFC debut here and a win would be the first win for any Gracie in the UFC since 1994. Gracie is a surprising -300 favorite against a tempting +240 payout on Caceres.

Featherweight Bout: Alex Caceres (14-11 1 NC, 146 lbs.) vs. Kron Gracie (4-0, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Caceres is an inch taller but has three and a half inches of reach advantage. Both men fight southpaw. Caceres lands a leg kick. They trade power hand punches and Caceres gets a little off balanced by that. Gracie gets a body lock and ducks under to the back, gets one hook in, and starts looking for a trip to the mat. Gracie pulls things down, gets the back with both hooks in, and is after the choke. The choke is in now and Gracie locks things up then squeezes until Caceres taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Kron Gracie via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:06 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gracie for his work this evening. Mic time for Gracie, he says he expects tough matches and feels happy to have gotten things done in the first. He talks us through the finish, then wants to fight again as soon as possible. He puts over his team then thanks the crowd and his fans.

Here’s the tap. Sadly this misses both the takedown and the hand fighting sequence that showcased the superior knowledge of the position that Gracie has.

For those who like random trivia, the next fight is the 5000th bout to take place in the UFC.

Cortney Casey has had an odd UFC run, her record with the promotion is 4-5. Casey is coming off of a win though and is looking for her first UFC winning streak since 2016. Cynthia Calvillo has gone 4-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a win, she’s looking to get her second winning streak up and running while proving she’s the prospect to watch in the division. Your favorite is Calvillo at -350 against a +275 comeback for Casey.

Strawweight Bout: #12 Cynthia Calvillo (7-1, 116 lbs.) vs. #11 Cortney Casey (8-6, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Casey has three inches of height and reach on Calvillo. Circling to start, Calvillo lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a right from Casey, Calvillo lands a knee in close then a right. Casey is trying to work leg kicks but Calvillo is threatening the takedown every time. Some flappy rights in close from both women. Counter right lands for Casey. Calvillo is ducking the same way every time she loads up to punch, I think Casey has a bit of a read on it. They get close and trade, Calvillo lands a knee then Casey lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Casey but Calvillo lands a bit of a left. Calvillo catches a front kick and trips Casey but she doesn’t get on top and we’re back on the feet. Casey lands an uppercut in close, Calvillo is working the body with punches rather than trying to head hunt. At the moment Calvillo is winning based purely on volume, she’s not landing much but she’s the active party thus far. A few leg kicks are traded and that’ll bring the round to an end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calvillo

ROUND TWO: Calvillo feinting more at the moment as well, she’s drawing out some of what Casey is trying to counter with. Casey lands a leg kick. Casey kind of walks into an elbow shot. A few one twos from Calvillo sneak through, she’s sending the right to the body in that combination so far. Leg kick from Casey but Calvillo catches it and gets around to the back standing. They hit the fence and Casey works to turn into her and get chest to chest. Calvillo doesn’t like the position anymore and separates. This fight just isn’t all that good. Casey lands a leg kick and a bit of a right. Another leg kick from Casey. Bit of an exchange of punches, Calvillo also lands a right that’s the only notable thing from the round as it ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Calvillo but I’m not standing by that, 20-18 Calvillo overall

ROUND THREE: Casey has a high kick blocked. Right from Casey lands, then an inside leg kick. Calvillo misses a bunch of kicks, the shadow boxing these two are doing is impressive. Calf kick from Casey and Calvillo is trying to guard that left leg. Right from Calvillo, left from Casey. Knee from Casey but Calvillo gets the clinch against the fence. High crotch attempt from Calvillo but she loses the grip and settles for the clinch. Knee from Calvillo and they break without other incident. Another calf kick from Casey, Calvillo catches it but can’t get anything off of it. Bit of a right from Casey. Calvillo misses a superman punch, Casey lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a right form Casey. Another leg kick from Casey. A bit of an exchange in close, both women land. They trade lefts but Calvillo is the one who backed up. Right from Casey, we get phone booth punches as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Casey, 29-28 Calvillo overall

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

Well that was certainly a way to kill 20 minutes. Calvillo gets mic time, she didn’t feel like she took damage but felt that Casey is a tough opponent. She had to gut through the damage to her left leg but did so and feels good about winning the striking and wanted to prove she has striking. Asked who or what is next she wants a top five opponent, someone like Tatiana Suarez who she appeals to. To close she switches to Spanish to suck up to parts of the crowd who’ve been booing most of the fight.

James Vick is coming off of his second loss when he was knocked out by Justin Gaethje, he’s trying to avoid his first losing streak here and start climbing the ranks at lightweight again. Paul Felder hasn’t lost at lightweight since a doctors stoppage against Francisco Trinaldo, he did take a trip up to welterweight for his last fight where he dropped a decision to Mike Perry but at his more natural lightweight he’s finished his last three opponents. Felder is trying to move into the title picture, confused as it is at the moment, by taking out another ranked fighter. The odds lean towards Vick at -115 against -105 for Felder.

Lightweight Bout: #14 Paul Felder (15-4, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #10 James Vick (13-2, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Vick is four inches taller and has five and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. Both men miss kicks, just range finding so far. Body kick from Vick lands. Hard right from Felder lands. Vick leans back a lot with his chin in the air. Felder lands a right. Vick lands a jab then a side kick to the body. Spinning elbow from Felder is partially blocked but that got Vick’s attention. Leg kick from Felder. Vick misses a high kick then lands a right. Calf kick from Felder, then another. Bit of a right from Felder. Another leg kick from Felder, they clinch up and hit the fence as Felder gets a body lock. They break and Felder avoids an elbow. Felder lands a couple of punches then wobbles Vick with a left hook Vick clinches up with his back on the fence to stall things out before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Felder

ROUND TWO: Felder checks a leg kick and misses a spinning back fist. Felder misses an inside leg kick then a wheel kick. Vick tries a jumping knee, Felder catches it but Vick threatens with a front head lock and Felder quickly has to break the grip and settle for a clinch. Vick sneaks a few knees in while they jockey for position. Bit of an elbow from Vick as they break. Felder coming forward still, he lands a counter left hook. They trade leg kicks but Vick’s leg is hurting more. Vick goes southpaw, so Felder attacks the inside of the new lead leg. Right from Felder in close as he crashes distance then lands a leg kick. Long right from Vick lands. Felder tries the spinning elbow again but Vick winds up in the clinch again. Felder with an elbow on the break, Vick lands a glancing spinning back kick. Leg kick from Felder hobbles Vick for a moment. Left hook from Felder and a knee from Vick. Vick circles away, eats a bit of a left hook as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: Touch of gloves for the last round. Felder coming forward, constant pressure from him right now. Felder lands a couple of leg kicks. Spinning back kick to the body from Felder landed flush. Left hook from Felder stuns Vick but Vick falls into a clinch to buy himself time. Elbow from Felder as they break. Bit of a left from Vick, Felder with more calf kicks and Vick is limping now. Vick goes southpaw so Felder just kicks the new lead leg. Left from Felder lands to counter a knee attempt, then another calf kick lands. Right then a left from Felder. Felder evades a combination then lands a leg kick. Leg kick then a left hook staggers Vick, Felder is stalking him down now. Vick is spending a lot of time southpaw now to protect that left leg. Vick lands a right but they wind up clinched before anything develops. They break without incident. Both men miss rights, Felder lands another spinning elbow to counter a hopping knee and they clinch up again. They spin a few times, Felder lands a few knees to the body then misses a right as they break. Body kick from Vick lands. Now Felder forces the clinch, they punch and break. Felder lands a left as Vick tries the hopping knee again as the round ends.

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

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

Felder is very emotional after that win. He says it’s been a long layoff, mentions the broken arm and that he lost his dad last year, then dedicates the win to his daughter and his mother. He says he felt good, then mentions he was told he wasn’t smart enough to win a decision and just proved them wrong, he tells the rest of the division that however they want it they can come get it. Asked what’s next he laments not being on the upcoming Philadelphia fight and wants either the rematch with Barboza or a war with Justin Gaethje. Just hook either of those fights into my veins, the first fight between him and Barboza was pretty good and they’re both even better now.

Francis Ngannou had one of the more hyped runs to a heavyweight title shot in recent memory, but he was bested in his attempt to claim the title by then champion Stipe Miocic. Ngannou just broke a two fight losing streak by defeating Curtis Blaydes and is after his second UFC winning streak here and what would be his second win over a former champion. Cain Velasquez is one of the premier heavyweights of his generation, unfortunately he’s also been marred by long layoffs throughout his career. Velasquez was last seen besting Travis Browne at UFC 200 back in July of 2016, he’s trying to assert himself as a player in the division and possibly inject himself immediately back into the title scene. Despite the layoff the odds are with Velasquez at -190 against a +160 comeback for Ngnanou.

Heavyweight Bout: #3 Francis Ngannou (12-3, 258 lbs.) vs. Cain Velasquez (14-2, 248 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ngannou is two and a half inches taller and has six inches of reach on Velasquez, Ngannou is also about ten pounds heavier. Circling to start, body kick from Velasquez. A few missed kicks from Velasquez, they get close and Velasquez gets clipped with an uppercut as his knee gives out and Ngannou lands more punches that put Velasquez out face down on the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Francis Ngannou via KO, punches, at :26 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Ngannou for his work this evening. That’s a massive win for Ngannou, basically puts him back in the title picture immediately. Mic time for Ngannou, he thanks the fans for coming out, thanks ESPN, and dedicates the win to his aunt who passed away in December, then reiterates that he’s back. He talks us through the finish, and puts over the speed of Velasquez, then says he’s here to have fun and just enjoy the fights. Asked about the importance of this fight he says he wanted this fight two years ago because beating Velasquez means something, he’s honored to have shared the cage with Velasquez and is happy to have won.

We move over to talk with Velasquez, he puts over Ngannou and gets the crowd to cheer him then wishes Ngannou the best. He says his knee gave out and that he stayed too close too early in the fight as Ngannou is dangerous there. Asked what’s next he says he’ll be back when he’s ready, he felt great coming into this fight but the unpredictability helps make the sport great. He apologizes for the loss, puts over the fans for their support and apologizes again.

Here’s the finish to that fight. Watch the right of Ngannou once they spin in the pocket, Velasquez tries to change levels on the hips of Ngannou and dips right into that punch that badly rocks him. From there he collapses backward, watch his left knee as he sinks to his seat as that’s the one he was favoring a bit after the fight, and Ngannou just hammers him until the ref stops it.

Well everyone, that wraps up UFC on ESPN 1. Thanks for being here, be that live or after the fact. I’ll be back on Saturday when the UFC makes its debut in Prague, Czech Republic on ESPN+ so I hope you’ll be back for that event. At the moment you can also find me on Friday’s covering Impact Wrestling in the Wrestling zone here at 411 while Larry Csonka is temporarily out of action, so come by there and have a laugh at how bad I am at it. Until next time everyone thanks again for coming by, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 1, Robert Winfree