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UFC on ESPN+ 16 Report: Gaethje Wins

September 14, 2019 | Posted by Robert Winfree
Justin Gaethje

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
#4 Donald Cerrone (155.5 lbs.) vs. #5 Justin Gaethje (155.5 lbs.)
#13 Nikita Krylov (205.5 lbs.) vs. #9 Glover Teixeira (204.5 lbs.)
Todd Duffee (244.5 lbs.) vs. Jeff Hughes (251 lbs.)
Tristan Connelly (169.5 lbs.) vs. Michel Pereira (172 lbs.)*
#12 Uriah Hall (184 lbs.) vs. #13 Antonio Carlos Junior (185.5 lbs.)
#15 Misha Cirkunov (205.5 lbs.) vs. Jim Crute (205 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET)
#15 Augusto Sakai (258 lbs.) vs. #14 Marcin Tybura (257.5 lbs.)
Miles Johns (135.5 lbs.) vs. Cole Smith (135 lbs.)
Hunter Azure (135.5 lbs.) vs. Brad Katona (135 lbs.)
Jordan Griffin (145 lbs.) vs. Chas Skelly (146 lbs.)
Ryan MacDonald (135.5 lbs.) vs. Louis Smolka (135.5 lbs.)
Austin Hubbard (156 lbs.) vs. Kyle Prepolec (155 lbs.)


Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 16. I’m Robert Winfree and I’m your host for the event, relaying all of the action just as I see it. This card isn’t all that great on paper, but there’s a few hidden gems and of course the main event. The gods of violence will be pleased with this one as Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje will try to out crazy each other in the cage. I can’t wait for that fight, I can count on one hand the number of boring fights I’ve seen either of these two gentlemen have. As for the rest of the card, Nikita Krylov tries to break up the light heavyweight log jam against Glover Teixeira, Uriah Hall fights Antonio Carlos Junior in a somewhat relevant middleweight bout, and that’s about it. Now the fights can always be awesome in practice but on paper, this is nearly a one fight card but boy oh boy is a great one fight.

UFC on ESPN+ 16 comes to the world from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On commentary we have Brendan Fitzgerald and Daniel Cormier. We’re under the older set of rules, so anything besides the soles of your feet on the mat means you’re considered downed, and the language around scoring is needlessly nebulous. There will be the limited use of instant replay for fight ending sequences if that comes up.

Kyle Prepolec lost his UFC debut against Nordine Taleb, now he’s trying to rebound back down at his more natural lightweight and get that all important first UFC win. Austin Hubbard had a three fight winning streak snapped when he dropped his UFC debut, he’s also trying to get his first UFC win. The odds are with Hubbard at -140 to +110 for Prepolec.

Lightweight Bout: Austin Hubbard (10-3, 156 lbs.) vs. Kyle Prepolec (12-6, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Hubbard has an inch of reach over Prepolec. They touch gloves to get us going. Southpaw for Prepolec and they both miss some kicks early. Prepolec slips a punch and lands a straight left that wobbles Hubbard for a second. There’s “woo’s” now, and I want to mute the broadcast. Prepolec is pushing forward, lands a left to the body then a glancing right high kick. Hubbard lands a right to the body then eats a counter left. Another right to the body lands for Hubbard. Both men land punches near the fence. Hubbard is having a hard time finding a reliable method of attack, Prepolec is countering consistently and disrupting him at every turn. Body kick from Hubbard, Prepolec responds with a leg kick. They both block head kicks. Hubbard lands a body kick. More body kicks from Hubbard, he might have found something with those as well as inside leg kicks. Hubbard lands a leg kick and a punch, avoids a spinning attack and they trade punches but Hubbards knees wobble again just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Prepolec

ROUND TWO: Both men looking to pick up where they left off, Hubbard with kicks to the body and inside of the leg while Prepolec is looking for more high power blows. Prepolec lands a body kick. More inside leg kicks from Hubbard and a right hand. Hubbard is in on a takedown, Prepolec defends the initial shot but Hubbard switches to another couple of attempts and gets him down. Hubbard moves to the ride position, Prepolec is looking to wall walk. Prepolec is back up after eating a few punches and then separates. Prepolec keeps looking for the pull back counter left but Hubbard seems wise to it and is slipping now. More leg kicks from Hubbard. We get time as Prepolec got poked in the eye. Replay confirms the poke, Prepolec is good to continue and we’re back to fighting. Hubbard back to work with body kicks, Prepolec lands a head kick but Hubbard takes him down off of it. Elbows from Hubbard, Prepolec tries an armbar but Hubbard gets free and passes to half guard. Hubbard lands some rights to the face while Prepolec tries to scoot to the fence. Hubbard gets the ride position while Prepolec looks to build up his base against the fence. The round will come to an end in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hubbard, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men looking to kick as the round starts, Hubbard tries a single leg but Prepolec defends and they wind up clinched on the fence. Prepolec is holding a front headlock then lands an elbow as they break. Hubbard lands a leg kick. Prepolec pushes forward, lands a punch but gets caught up in a single leg and Hubbard gets him down in half guard. Hubbard moves to mount the hip then to the ride position as Prepolec gets to the fence. Some punches from Hubbard as Prepolec is trying to get his base built up. Hubbard lands more lefts to the head. There’s some hand fighting, Hubbard is doing a good job of stripping posting limbs but Prepolec is also tired. Hubbard lands more punches, Prepolec gets to his hands and feet as Hubbard takes his back with both hooks in. Prepolec is looking to shake him off over the top and does so, we wind up back on the feet. Left from Prepolec then he misses a spinning back fist. Prepolec defends a takedown, he’s looking for a front choke of some variety but isn’t going to get anything before time runs out.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Austin Hubbard via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Not a bad way to get the event going. Mic time for Hubbard, he’s a little disappointed with his performance but it feels good to get the win in the UFC. He says he underestimated Prepolec a bit and it’s a mistake he wont make again, thanks the fans in the building and the fans back home.

Louis Smolka has gone 1-1 since returning to the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss though and is trying to avoid another UFC losing streak. Ryan MacDonald suffered his first professional loss in his UFC debut, he’s trying to bounce back and get his first UFC win though now he could score it over a recognized veteran of the sport. Smolka is the -260 favorite to +210 for MacDonald.

Bantamweight Bout: Ryan MacDonald (10-1, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Louis Smolka (15-6, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: MacDonald is two inches taller and has two and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves and then get to swinging. Smolka lands a right. MacDonald lands a front kick, he’s trying to keep distance as Smolka is pushing him constantly. MacDonald lands a jab, Smolka lands a couple of body shots. Smolka lands a right. MacDonald is doing a bit of stance switching and it’s messing with the movement and angles of attack that Smolka wants to use. A few body shots from Smolka land, MacDonald lands a straight left. Another couple of body blows land for Smolka then a body kick. They clinch up, then break without incident. Body to head combination of punches from Smolka land. MacDonald lands a left but he’s not dealing well with the volume of Smolka at this point. Smolka lands a couple of more body shots, MacDonald lands a straight left. More body punches then a kick to the ribs from Smolka. That’s some really nice body work from Smolka, it’s paying off as MacDonald’s guard is dropping to his midsection and leaving his head open. Smolka punches into the clinch but can only land a left to the body as MacDonald forces a break. Body kick from Smolka but MacDonald is punching back now. Smolka lands a left hook that wobbles MacDonald and he’s looking to swarm him, he lands knees to the body then a right that drops MacDonald and the ref waves it off. MacDonald doesn’t like that stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Louis Smolka via TKO, punches, at 4:43 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Smolka for his work this evening. Mic time for Smolka after that finish, he says he used to cut too much weight at flyweight but feels very good at bantamweight. He talks us through the finish, then thanks his coaches and training partners. He again puts over his camp and the other fighters there with him and feels their team is poised to do big things very soon.

Here’s the finish, Smolka invested heavily in body work and as MacDonald started worrying more about that it opens up the head.

Chas Skelly has gone 6-4 in the UFC but is on a two fight losing streak, he’s trying to halt that skid and get back on the winning side of things. Jordan Griffin came into the UFC on back of a win on the Contender Series but promptly lost his debut fight. Griffin is trying to get his first UFC win under his belt. The odds are with Griffin at -165 while Skelly’s comeback sits at +135.

Featherweight Bout: Jordan Griffin (17-6, 145 lbs.) vs. Chas Skelly (17-4, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Skelly is an inch taller while Griffin has half an inch of reach on him. They touch gloves, Griffin fighting southpaw. Both men feinting a bit to get things going. Bit of a blitz from Griffin lands but Skelly gets a clinch and pulls him down in a crab ride. No hooks in for Skelly yet, Griffin looks to turn into him but Skelly keeps the back and he gets both hooks in and secures the seat belt position with his arms. Skelly with punches, looks for a banana split but that really just keeps Griffin from getting to his base. Hammer fists from Skelly, Griffin is up but Skelly is in the backpack and looking for the choke. Griffin is defending so far, Skelly is adjusting and gets the action back to the mat but can’t quite get under the chin yet. The arm is under the chin but he doesn’t have hooks in and they wind up rotating so Skelly is on top in his guard holding a really awkward Ezekiel style choke. Skelly looks to pass, Griffin gets his head free and moves to top position along the fence. Half guard now for Griffin, Skelly goes inverted for a leg lock, and they wind up on the feet after a scramble and they trade punches. Kicks from both men land. We get a bit more brawling as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Skelly

ROUND TWO: Griffin stalking forward, lands a couple of punches. Skelly lands an uppercut then shoots a long distance double leg that Griffin is able to sprawl on. They break as Griffin regains his feet and lands a couple of punches. Left lands for Griffin then a bit of a head kick. Griffin after a double leg now, he gets Skelly down and moves to side control. Full mount for Griffin and he lands a couple of elbows. Skelly rolls to his knees, Griffin gets the back mount with both hooks in. Griffin goes to a body triangle as Skelly stands then somersaults his way out of the position and gets on top. Skelly gets the back but can only get one hook in. Both hooks for Skelly now, and a body triangle. Griffin looks to shake Skelly off but can’t do it. Skelly is riding him well so far, but he’s not getting much damage off or finding real submission attempts. Skelly is after the choke, settles for some punches as Griffin stands and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Griffin, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Griffin is coming forward looking to land punches. Both men land a few lead hand punches, Skelly lands an uppercut. Griffin lands a few punches then misses a head kick. Skelly shoots for a single leg, Griffin wind sup selling out for a guillotine attempt. Skelly has to pass to the dangerous side of the choke, Griffin bails on the attempt so he can try to scramble up. Griffin looks to tie up an arm, Skelly gets free and moves to the back as they scramble. Griffin stands and looks to somersault but Skelly holds the back and locks up a body triangle. Lesson here people, the flip escape almost never works. They’re hand fighting, Skelly is trying to open up choking opportunities but can’t really find anything. Skelly lands some short punches. Griffin tries some punches towards his back, nothing there and that’s going to open up a choke attempt from Skelly but he can’t quite finish it. Griffin gets some motion going and is able to turn into Skelly, posture up and land a punch then sells out for another front choke attempt but time runs down and I’m not sure there was much there from Griffin.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chas Skelly via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Awkward and chaotic affair there. Mic time for Skelly who says this was the fight he wanted and puts over Griffin as a guy he knew he could have a fun fight with. He says the win means everything, puts over his family and coaches. Skelly seems amused when Cormier jokingly calls him graceful in reference to the front flip escape in the second round.

Brad Katona is coming off of his first professional loss, he’s 2-1 in the UFC and is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Hunter Azure is undefeated coming into his UFC debut, he’s trying to remain perfect and prove himself to the UFC audience. The odds are close but favor Katona at -140 to +110 for Azure.

Bantamweight Bout: Hunter Azure (7-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Brad Katona (8-1, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Azure is two inches taller and has four and a half inches of reach advantage. Both men feinting a bit as they look for reactions. Leg kick from Azure after both men miss punches. Azure lands a right that drops Katona, Katona back up and is after a single leg that hits the fence. A few punches sneak through for Katona as Azure defends. Katona is really after this single leg but Azure is still defending. They break with a bit of a head kick from Azure. Azure lands a body kick. Bit of a right from Azure. Katona lands a lunging left. Katona pushes into another clinch that hits the fence. Katona can’t finish the takedown, but he gets a rear waist lock as Azure tried to spin free. Knee from Azure as he’s defending along the fence. They break and Azure tries a couple of kicks before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW

ROUND TWO: Azure comes out looking to swing, he lands a couple of punches. Leg kick from Azure, then a right. Azure is looping his punches a bit too much, if he straightens them out he’ll land more consistently. Azure lands a right to the body. Katona reaches for a takedown but doesn’t get close and Azure lands a leg kick. Another right to the body from Azure then a one two. Azure lands an uppercut then a bit of a head kick. Katona has had enough of this and gets a double leg against the fence. Azure wall walks, now he has to separate but Katona is holding onto him. Katona switches from a single to a double, but can’t secure it so goes back to a high crotch position. My feed has died, I think it’s my internet so thanks Comcast. It comes back as the round ends, I missed around 90 seconds or so I think.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Azure, 20-19 Azure overall

ROUND THREE: Azure back to stalking forward, Katona circling. Azure lands a right. Both men are tired, Katona avoids a couple of punches. Katona lands a left. Bit of a right from Azure. Katona lands a left to the body, and eats a glancing counter right. Azure lands a right to the body. Another feed stutter, this is getting old. I’m getting bits of audio but the visual is iffy. I see Katona on top with about 26 seconds left in the fight. Apparently there was no finish, so I’m just gonna fly kind of blind here.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Azure based on the limited stuff I saw, 30-28 Azure overall

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

No interview I think, or I didn’t get audio of it if they did. Not a terribly engaging affair from what I saw.

Cole Smith is undefeated including a successful UFC debut when he bested UFC veteran Mitch Gagnon, he’s looking to remain perfect and start climbing up the bantamweight ranks. Miles Johns is also undefeated, he’s making his UFC debut here and is hoping to make a good first impression to the fan base. The odds are with the debuting Johns at -145 to a +115 comeback on Smith.

Bantamweight Bout: Miles Johns (9-0, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Cole Smith (7-0, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Smith is four inches taller but has just one inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things going. Smith feinting his way forward, bulls into a clinch on the fence. Johns spins that very quickly and gets double under hooks. They break, Smith keeps close and is after another takedown along the fence. Smith is able to slip around to the back and gets a hook in. Smith jumps to the backpack position and starts looking for choking opportunities. Johns is hand fighting and gets Smith to lose one of the hooks. Smith jumps back to the backpack and Johns is trying to shake him off over the top but can’t do it. Smith loses the hooks, Johns is able to turn into him and we’re back in the clinch. Smith sneaks around to the back again and lands a couple of knees then they break and trade a few blows. Both men kind of stare away the final few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Smith

ROUND TWO: Smith coming forward kicking and doing a bit of stance switching. Johns times a double leg and gets Smith down in full guard. Smith with a few elbows from his back. Johns is looking to get some offense off but he’s not finding a ton of visible success. Johns moves to half guard along the fence, Smith wall walks then eats an elbow. Smith after the takedown, gets the back and locks up a body triangle as they hit the mat. There’s not a lot of strikes coming from Smith, he’s just hand fighting looking for submission opportunities. Johns is able to spin into Johns and get on top in his guard. Johns lands a few lefts to the head and passes to half guard. Smith gets full guard back, Johns swings punches to the body as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW, 20-19 Smith overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Johns with a double jab then misses an overhand right. Johns lands a right, Smith keeps coming forward. Both men are swinging a bit wild, Johns lands a jab. Smith dives for a single leg and they hit the fence in another clinch. Johns is trying to separate but Smith is doing a good job of sticking to him. A few elbows land for Johns as Smith is holding a high crotch. A few knees from Johns now as Smith is just kind of holding him against the fence. They break now and Johns lands a couple of hard punches. Johns lands another right then a left hook. Smith gets off balanced by a jab but Johns doesn’t want to grapple at all. Johns defends a takedown attempt and lands a bit of a left. Another right lands for Johns. Johns lands another right in close and avoids a clinch attempt. One two lands for Johns. Smith forces another clinch on the fence, Johns gets free and unloads with a few punches as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Johns, 29-29 DRAW overall

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

Whole thing comes down to the second, and that could go either way. No interview for Johns.

Marcin Tybura has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights and that win is over Stefan Struve, if he wants to remain relevant even in a division as thin as heavyweight he can’t afford another loss here. Augusto Sakai has a four fight winning streak going that includes two wins in the UFC, he’s trying to extend that and climb higher in the heavyweight rankings. Despite being ranked lower Sakai is the -120 favorite while a Tybura win would pay out at -110.

Heavyweight Bout: #15 Augusto Sakai (13-1-1, 258 lbs.) vs. #14 Marcin Tybura (17-5, 257.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Tybura has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves and we’re underway. Tybura lands a front kick to the body. Calf kick from Tybura. Bit of a right from Sakai but Tybura was moving with it. Sakai lands a heavy right and Tybura is frozen up along the fence. Sakai swarms him along the fence with a knee, then a bevy of punches and Tybura falls which prompts the ref to end the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Augusto Sakai via KO, punches, at :59 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Sakai for his work this evening. Well that was a shellacking. Mic time for Sakai who starts with a bit of English to thank the crowd then goes back to Portuguese as he says he knew he could get the finish early. He talks us through the finish, noting he couldn’t find his distance in the Arlovski fight but did here and wants to keep showing off his power. Asked about who he’d like next he defers to the UFC but promises that step by step he’ll get there.

This is the finish. Sakai sneaks a right around the guard of Tybura and stuns him, then never gives him a chance to recover.

That will do it for preliminary action, though we’re still on ESPN+ for the main card.

Misha Cirkunov was once thought to be an up and comer who could feature highly in the future of the light heavyweight division, but now he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. Cirkunov was last seen being violently knocked out by Johnny Walker, if he wants to regain even a bit of the hype he used to have he can’t afford to lose again here. Jimmy Crute is undefeated including two wins in the UFC, he’s trying to remain perfect and prove he can win against the higher level of opposition Cirkunov represents. The odds are with Crute at a slight -120 to a -110 comeback on Cirkunov.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #15 Misha Cirkunov (14-5, 205.5 lbs.) vs. Jim Crute (10-0, 205 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cirkunov is an inch taller and has three inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Cirkunov fighting southpaw. Crute blocks a high kick then they trade body kicks. Cirkunov hits a double leg into the half guard of Crute. Crute is looking to get on a hip and look to get motion going. Cirkunov passes to side control, Crute nearly sweeps him and Cirkunov moves back to half guard. Another pass from Cirkunov and he’s after a mounted crucifix. Crute tries to get some motion going, he bridges and gets his arm free and Cirkunov goes knee on belly then full mount. Really smooth ground work from Cirkunov so far. Cirkunov goes for an armbar but loses the position and Crute is on top. They’re back up and trading, Crute kind of smothers Cirkunov over and gets the ride position, Cirkunov slips around and gets the ride. Another stand up, Crute pushes Cirkunov over on the mat and lands punches as Cirkunov gets butterfly guard. Crute looks to tee off with punches and hammer fists, Cirkunov hits a half guard sweep and lands punches of his own then sites for a Peruvian necktie, they roll a bit but Cirkunov holds the choke and Crute has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Misha Cirkunov via Submission, Peruvian necktie, at 3:38 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Cirkunov for his work this evening. Mic time for Cirkunov, he mentions working hard all summer for this moment. He talks us through the finish, noting he wanted to stay calm because he can take some abuse if he doesn’t panic. He promises to be better going forward. Asked who he’d like next he says back in the day Corey Anderson called him out and he’d be down for that fight.

That finish was a thing of beauty, seeing the top side Peruvian necktie is a rare thing in MMA. Submission of the year contender from Cirkunov there. This doesn’t include the sweep, which was a really necessary thing considering how he was getting hammered on, but this is a lovely finish.

Uriah Hall has gone 2-4 in his last six fights but he is coming off of a win, and is trying to get his first winning streak since 2015 up and running with another win here. Antonio Carlos Junior just had a five fight winning streak snapped by Ian Heinisch, he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak and start climbing the middleweight ranks again. Carlos is the favorite at -240 while Hall’s +190 payout has to tempt a few bettors out there.

Middleweight Bout: #12 Uriah Hall (14-9, 184 lbs.) vs. #13 Antonio Carlos Junior (10-3 1 NC, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Carlos is two inches taller while Hall has half an inch of reach on him. They touch gloves to get us going. Hall starts out jabbing, Carlos is jabbing with him. Forward pressure from Carlos, he walks into a right then shoots a single leg that hits the fence. Body lock now for Carlos as they’re fence wrestling. Carlos gets the takedown, and moves to the back as Hall looks to build his base up. Both hooks in for Carlos, Hall is standing so now he’s in the backpack spot. Hall is hand fighting well thus far, Carlos is bleeding from the nose, which is visibly broken from that punch earlier. Carlos goes to a body triangle but he’s struggling to really come out on top in terms of hand fighting. Hall gets one arm of Carlos on the other side of his head, that’ll prompt the separation from Carlos. Both men jabbing, Hall is much sharper with his punches. Carlos tries a single leg, Hall defends in open space this time. Hall lands a right over a jab. Both men jabbing but Hall’s is much more dangerous and technically sound. Carlos lands a right and pushes Hall to the fence then tries a double leg. Hall tries to defend, Carlos gets the double leg though and lands in half guard. Carlos looks to pass, he lands a couple of elbows. The round will come to an end in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Carlos but a close one

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Both men jabbing again, that’s a sequence of events that isn’t favoring Carlos. Carlos avoids a punch and looks to tie up but Hall slips free. More jabs from Hall, Carlos lands a jab and shoots into a clinch on the fence. Things are stalling out a bit on the fence, Carlos with a few knees to the thigh. Carlos is mixing in punches and knees now while Hall is just defending his position. Hall is able to spin free and separate. Hall lands a right that drops Carlos, he follows him down and looks to unload but nearly gives up an armbar, then he decides he doesn’t like the position and makes Carlos stand. Carlos punches into another clinch and drives Hall to the fence. Carlos lands a bit of an uppercut. Elbow from Carlos lands. Body shots from Carlos then he gets a double leg but Hall bounces back up though he gives up the back standing. Carlos has the rear waist lock, lands some knees to the thigh while he looks for either a reap or a cheese donkey takedown. Hall spins into him so they’re chest to chest again then is able to separate. Carlos lands a spinning back kick, Hall misses a couple of punches and a head kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hall, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Hall is back to jabbing, then misses a wheel kick. Carlos pushes into a clinch, gets the back and drags Hall down and locks up a body triangle. Really nice sequence from Carlos there. Hall is hand fighting, just not wanting to give up the choke right now. Carlos gets an arm free, lands a punch but he’s just trying to swim his hands/arms into choking position. The crowd chants “stand them up”, solidifying my agreement with Jerry Lawler’s take on Canada. It’s full on back mount guys and he’s still working, he’s just only working for submissions rather than integrating strikes. Carlos lands a couple of punches, both men are pretty gassed at this point as well. Hall looks to explode into the guard of Carlos but he doesn’t want to give up his arm so they punch each other a bit from that spot as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Carlos, 29-28 Carlos overall but this all comes down to the first round

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

No issues with that, the whole thing hinges on the scoring of the first and you could legitimately give it to either man. Mic time for Hall, he’s emotional and plays a bit with the crowd before thanking his opponent and mentions that he and Carlos are friends and it sucks to punch your friend in the face and expresses love for him. He says he feels like he didn’t get to do as much as he wanted to then puts over his coaches and sparring partners. Asked who he’d like next he says he’s coming for Israel Adesanya and he’ll fight whoever he needs to fight to get that fight.

Michel Pereira is on a three fight winning streak that includes a successful UFC debut, he missed weight for this fight and adding a loss on top of weight gaffe is never a good thing. Tristan Connelly took this fight on relatively short notice but he’s on a four fight winning streak and now has a chance to make an immediate impact on the UFC stage. Pereira is the biggest favorite on the card tonight at -550 to a +375 comeback on Connelly.

Welterweight Bout: Tristan Connelly (13-6, 169.5 lbs.) vs. Michel Pereira (23-9 1 NC, 172 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pereira is three inches taller and has five inches of reach over Connelly. They touch gloves to get things going. They look like they’re at least one weight class, if not two, apart. Connelly avoids a gymnastic routine and starts stalking forward. Pereira avoids a takedown attempt easily. Connelly after a single leg on the fence. They trade some knees, Connelly lands an elbow on the break. Pereira lands a few jabs then a front kick to the body. Rolling thunder kick from Pereira then a flying knee. Connelly is hurt to the body from a kick and Pereira is walking him down. Pereira lands an elbow in close then a left to the body. Connelly seems to have recovered, Pereira gets a double leg in the middle of the cage. Pereira with the backflip double stomp that misses, Connelly comes up on a double leg, Pereira tries a guillotine but loses the grip. Connelly lands a couple of blows from top position. Pereira looks for a sweep, Connelly uses that to pass to half guard. Connelly moves to full mount, then gets swept and they’re up on the feet. Forward pressure from Connelly, he lands a leg kick. Pereira lands a left to the body. Another couple of body shots from Pereira but Connelly is punching with him. Connelly is after a guillotine as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Connelly

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves, Pereira looks rather gassed. Connelly coming forward, lands a leg kick then tries a head kick. Pereira lands a bit of a right. Pereira with a few body shots, Connelly tries a takedown but Pereira sprawls and looks for a d’arce choke but Connelly doesn’t let him get the hands together and they break. Pereira lands to the body again. Connelly lands a leg kick and continues pressuring forward. Pereira lands a knee then eats a right. Connelly is doggedly pushing forward, he lands a couple of punches and Pereira is visibly fading. Pereira lands a knee to the body but Connelly wont be deterred. Connelly sprawls away from a bad takedown attempt and is back to walking Pereira down. Pereira gets a double leg under a looping right. Full guard for Connelly. Connelly is trying to work a triangle choke but can’t get the legs quite right. Pereira lands a few body shots. Connelly is fishing for a kimura but loses the grip. Elbows now from Connelly. A few blows land for Pereira, he avoids an armbar attempt as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: They hug as the last round gets started. Connelly lands a left hook and a leg kick. Pereira sprawls away from a double leg and they’re clinched on the fence. Connelly locks up a guillotine, rolls to mount, sits back for it but loses the grip and Pereira scrambles back up. They trade in the clinch then break. Both men land rights, Pereira shoots but stalls on his knees and Connelly winds up in side control. Connelly into leg drag position then mounts the legs but Pereira shrimps to half guard. A few knees to the body from Connelly but this has mostly stalled out now. Punches from Connelly land to the face. More lefts from Connelly. Pereira just doesn’t have the energy at this point to do much of anything. More ground and pound from Connelly. They trade punches now but Connelly is getting the better of that on the ground as time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Connelly, nearly 10-8, 30-27 Connelly overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tristan Connelly via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27 x2)

No real issues with Connelly getting a 10-8 third round, or Pereira getting the first. Mic time for Connelly, who thinks this is just the start of his UFC career. He notes he took this fight on five days notice, he feels he’s deserved to be in the UFC for a while and jokes that on six days notice he’ll be even better. He thanks the fans, pimps his gym in Vancouver then his coaches, manager, and wife.

Todd Duffee is fighting for the first time since 2015 when he was knocked out by Frank Mir. Duffee has been an odd guy to get a read on, he’s looked good at times and then terrible in the next fight. Despite the layoff he’s looking to fight again and is trying for his first win since 2014. Jeff Hughes just had a four fight winning streak snapped when he dropped a split decision to Maurice Greene, he’s trying to rebound here while scoring the highest profile win of his career and avoiding his first losing streak. Hughes is a slight -125 favorite to -105 for Duffee.

Heavyweight Bout: Todd Duffee (9-3, 244.5 lbs.) vs. Jeff Hughes (10-2, 251 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Duffee has an inch of height and reach on Hughes. Circling to start. Duffee pushes close and has punches blocked. Double leg from Duffee hits the fence and he’s able to get Hughes down but Hughes bounces back up. They’re still clinched on the fence, Duffee lands a knee and they swing a bit in the pocket. Hughes landed a right but man technique is not the strong suit of either man. Duffee swings a few more ugly rights that are blocked and they clinch again. A few knees go back and forth while they jockey for position then break apart. Hughes lands a couple of lefts that cut Duffee, Duffee lands a right that off balances Hughes and they wind up clinched again. Duffee is after a takedown, Hughes defends and separates. Duffee is bleeding under the right eye from those lefts. Bit of a head kick from Hughes, Duffee looks to blitz, lands an uppercut and a right that drop Hughes but he fights back up and they brawl again in the pocket. They tie up again, both men look rather gassed already. They separate, Duffee apparently took a finger to the eye while they did so we’ve got time. Replay confirms the poke, Hughes was just framing and pushing off of his face and the finger did hit the eye a bit. Duffee is playing this for time to recover his cardio, the ref calls in the doctor to check on him. Duffee says he’s seeing double, the doctor examines him and Duffee reiterates he’s seeing double and that’ll do it for the fight.

OFFICIAL RESULT: No Contest, accidental eye poke, at 4:03 of Round 1

Glover Teixeira is one of the old warhorses of the division at this point, but he’s on a two fight winning streak and might find himself back in the title picture if he can get another win here. Nikita Krylov was once thought of as one of those guys who could feature prominently in the future of the division, though that hype has stalled considerably at this point. Krylov is 1-1 since returning to the UFC but he is coming off of a win and could get his first UFC winning streak since 2016 up and running with a win here. The odds lean towards Krylov at -140 to a +110 payout on Teixeira.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #13 Nikita Krylov (25-6, 205.5 lbs.) vs. #9 Glover Teixeira (29-7, 204.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Krylov is an inch taller and has an inch and a half of reach on Teixeira, he’s also twelve years younger. They touch gloves to get things going. Krylov looking to kick early and maintain distance. Teixeira catches a body kick and is able to complete a single leg in open space, he lands in half guard. Krylov lands a couple of elbows from his back, Teixeira is looking to pass. Teixeira lands a couple of punches, Krylov with more elbows. Krylov gives up his back trying to explode up, Teixeira gets both hooks in and is looking to flatten him out. Teixeira lands some punches and hammer fists, he’s just riding well as Krylov is trying to tripod up and shake him off. Krylov gets to his base and shakes him off then gets on top in half guard. Full mount for Krylov, who postures up and lands a few blows. Elbows from Krylov. Teixeira explodes up, is on his feet and is after a single leg against the fence. Krylov grabs a rear naked choke in transition, and while he can’t finish it he does get mount for a second. Teixeira keeps scrambling, gets back up and they trade in the clinch. Krylov with a knee then an elbow before they break. Teixeira tries a takedown but Krylov defends. Krylob with more kicks, Teixeira lands a counter punch but he can’t follow up after then land. Teixeira lands a right. Krylov with a front kick then a few punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Krylov but could go either way

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Krylov lands a leg kick. High kick from Krylov is blocked and Teixeira lands a counter. Body kick for Krylov and he blocks a takedown attempt. Krylov lands a right, he’s moving well and Teixeira is just following him around. More kicks to the leg from Krylov. Teixeira lands a heavy right then a left hook and Krylov is back on his bike. Krylov lands a right. Krylov blocks a takedown attempt, lands a knee and a couple of high kicks. Teixeira fails on another takedown attempt, and this is getting sloppier by the second. Krylov lands a right. Leg kick from Krylov, Teixeira digs a left to the body. Krylov with a body kick and avoids a single leg attempt. Teixeira lands a right but he’s bleeding from the face. Hard body kick from Teixeira, Krylov lands one of his own. A couple of punches land for Krylov and he avoids the counter from Teixeira. Teixeira forces a clinch and they hit the fence. Krylov gets Teixeira on the fence, looks for a double leg and gets it into half guard. Krylov lands a few blows from top position. Short elbows from Krylov bring the round to a close.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Krylov showing the kicks again, still circling mostly. They clinch, hit the fence and Teixeira jumps for a guillotine. That’s pretty tight for Teixeira, Krylov passes to the dangerous side but it releases some of the pressure and he’s able to pop his head free. Teixeira builds his base and looks to wall walk, Krylov tries to move to the ride position but Teixeira dumps him over his head and gets on top. Half guard for Krylov. Krylov gets to full guard, Teixeira lands an elbow. Teixeira tries for an armbar in transition, he doesn’t really get it but it was good attempt as they fight to their feet and Krylov is after the single leg now. Teixeira is sneaking in elbows when he can, Krylov lands a few knees to the thigh. Krylov is after another double leg, Teixeira grabs the guillotine again but it’s more control than submission right now. Krylov gets his head free and looks to land some offense. A few short elbows land for Krylov. Teixeira is trying to get a sweep going, Krylov punches him and tries to grab an arm but slips off and Teixeira is on top now in half guard. That’s where the fight will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Teixeira, 29-28 Krylov overall

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

I’m not going to complain about that, he could have taken the first round but light heavyweight still feels like a nothing division. Mic time for Teixiera, who’s not surprised by the split decision and says he wanted to get the tap and break the record at light heavyweight. He and Cormier joke about being the old men in the sport and how they keep relevant against the young guys then gives love to his daughter and brother. Asked who he’d like next, he says he feels pretty good right now and says he lost a prop bet with a friend, he just wants to fight in Sao Paulo later this year doesn’t care who’s in the cage with him.

Donald Cerrone is one of the most beloved veterans of the sport, his name is all around UFC records specifically most wins in UFC history (23), most finishes in UFC history (16), and most post bonuses in UFC history (18). Cerrone had some serious momentum recently with back to back wins since returning to lightweight but that was stalled by a loss to top contender Tony Ferguson earlier this year, now Cerrone is trying to build himself back towards the title picture with a win here. Justin Gaethje is on a two fight winning streak and has knocked out both of those opponents, he’s looking to get himself into the title picture as well with a win here. The odds are with Gaethje at -185 to a +155 comeback on Cerrone.

Lightweight Bout: #4 Donald Cerrone (36-12 1 NC, 155.5 lbs.) vs. #5 Justin Gaethje (20-2, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cerrone is two inches taller and has three inches of reach on Gaethje. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men feinting a bit ti start, Gaethje lands a calf kick. Cerrone avoids a calf kick. Gaethje lands a calf kick then a left hook in close quarters. Cerrone avoids a right. Bit of a right from Gaethje then a leg kick. Cerrone looking to jab, he avoids a leg kick. Gaethje lands a left hook in close then a leg kick. Bit of a calf kick from Gaethje. Cerrone lands a right but eats a heavy counter right and is backing up. Leg kick from Gaethje. Gaethje lands a left to the body. Left then a right in close for Gaethje. Another right from Gaethje then a leg kick. Cerrone tries a left hook but it’s blocked. More leg kicks from Gaethje and he blocks a couple of punches. Another bit of a rush from Gaethje lands. Cerrone lands a left body kick and avoids a few punches. Right uppercut from Gaethje lands then a left hook. Leg kick from Gaethje, Cerrone doesn’t like that. Another calf kick from Gaethje lands. Gaethje with a left hook then a right that drops Cerrone to his knees, he tees off as Cerrone covers up from turtle position and the ref waves the fight off. Cerrone is confused by that stoppage but looked good to me.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Justin Gaethje via TKO, punches, at 4:18 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gaethje for his work this evening. Cerrone and Gaethje embrace as Cormier comes over. Gaethje says it was hard to fight a guy he considers a friend, Cerrone is next to him and apologizes for not being able to continue and puts over Gaethje as a great fighter and a cool guy. Cerrone wants to keep fighting, Gaethje says they’ll have more fun later tonight and I have no problem imagining those two getting a beer together. Gaethje talks us through the finish, he puts over Cerrone as incredibly tough, and takes a bit of umbrage with the stoppage being late and he didn’t want to keep hitting Cerrone but isn’t holding a lot of anger. He says he always questions everything when he fights so he has something to prove to himself and wont let himself down. Asked if an Irishman or a Russian is next he says Conor is retired and he wants a real fighter, the winner of Khabib vs. Tony. He wants to fight Khabib at least once before they retire and if Tony beats Khabib he thinks he and Tony could sell out any stadium in the world.

Give Gaethje either McGregor or the winner of Khabib and Tony, that’s the only fight that makes sense for him. This is also an incredibly well timed and read counter, Gaethje seemed to have a bead on Cerrone from the start of the fight, he was countering everything he tried to throw. This one just landed clean, wobbled him, and Gaethje will not give you any chance to recover if he hurts you.

That will bring UFC on ESPN+ 16 to a close. Thanks everyone for reading, be that live or after the fact. Next Saturday is UFC on ESPN+ 17 when the UFC is back in Mexico City. The main event is a decent one, Jeremy Stephens vs. Yair Rodriguez but I’m less than enthused by the rest of the card on paper. Sunday we’ll be breaking down all of the action from this event and previewing that card on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, which I hope you’re tuning into. I’ll be back next week for that Mexico City card, until next time everyone thank you again for being here, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.