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411’s UFC on ESPN+ 37 Report: Sandhagen Wins

October 10, 2020 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 37

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
#1 Marlon Moraes (136 lbs.) vs. #4 Cory Sandhagen (136 lbs.)
#14 Edson Barboza (145.5 lbs.) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (146 lbs.)
Ben Rothwell (265 lbs.) vs. Marcin Tybura (263 lbs.)
Dricus Du Plessis (186 lbs.) vs. Markus Perez (186 lbs.)
Tom Aspinall (252 lbs.) vs. Alan Baudot (254 lbs.)
Ilia Topuria (146 lbs.) vs. Youssef Zalal (146 lbs.)

K.B. Bhullar (186 lbs.) vs. Tom Breese (186 lbs.)
Chris Daukaus (227 lbs.) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (265 lbs.)
Joaquin Buckley (185.5 lbs.) vs. Impa Kasanganay (185.5 lbs.)
Ali Alqaisi (136 lbs.) vs. Tony Kelley (136 lbs.)
Giga Chikadze (146 lbs.) vs. Omar Morales (145.5 lbs.)
Tracy Cortez (136 lbs.) vs. Stephanie Egger (135.5 lbs.)
Bruno Silva (125.5 lbs.) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (126 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 37. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host, relaying all of the action to you just as I see it. The UFC’s stay in Abu Dhabi continues tonight, and they’ve brought a much more compelling main event than last week. This time top contenders Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen battle for presumably the next title shot after Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling (though that fight isn’t confirmed yet either). It’s a solid fight on paper and a very relevant one for the division. Below that things get a little slimmer, but Edson Barboza is trying to get his first featherweight win against Mr. Finland himself, Makwan Amirkhani. We get the UFC debut of former KSW champion Dricus Du Plessis against the usually entertaining Markus Perez as well. This event features a lot of solid matchmaking but very little of it is all that appealing to the casual fan, but hopefully it’s as good in practice as it seems to be on paper.

UFC on ESPN+ 37 comes to the world from the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On commentary we have John Gooden, Dan Hardy, and Paul Felder. As for the rules we’re using a hybrid system, most changes have been adopted but you still only need on hand on the mat to be considered downed and instant replay can only be used on a fight ending sequence.

Bruno Silva has gone 0-2 in the UFC and is in pretty dire need of a win. Tagir Ulanbekov brings a three fight winning streak as well as a fair bit of hype into his UFC debut, he’s hoping to establish himself as a prospect of note in the division. Ulanbekov is a prohibitive -500 favorite to the +400 comeback on Silva.

Flyweight Bout: Bruno Silva (10-5-2, 125.5 lbs.) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (12-1, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ulanbekov is three inches taller and has five inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Silva opens with calf kicks. Ulanbekov is backing Silva up, lands a leg kick of his own. Left hook from Silva in close then a solid calf kick. Ulanbekov lands a calf kick. Bit of a right from Silva. Silva lands a calf kick, Ulanbekov lands a right but his left leg is compromised a bit. More calf kicks from Silva, those are rapidly adding up and Ulanbekov needs a response to them. They trade punches, Silva with a right and another leg kick. Spinning back fist from Silva but Ulanbekov is still in his face. They clash heads on a double leg attempt, they clinch up on the feet and hit the fence. Trip takedown and Ulanbekov is on top in half guard. Some lefts from Ulanbekov as Silva wall walks but they’re still clinched. Knee from Ulanbekov and Silva slips free. They trade rights in close then Silva lands another calf kick. Ulanbekov with a left hook, then a bit of a right to counter a spinning attack. Jab from Ulanbekov. They exchange left hooks just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Silva but might have gone the other way

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Silva lands a calf kick. Ulanbekov lands a right in close, he’s still coming forward. Silva is working that leg kick still but he’s cut around the right eyebrow as Ulanbekov has started countering those kicks more this round. Ulanbekov’s jab is troubling Silva at this point. They punch into a clinch and Ulanbekov gets a body lock takedown into half guard. Punches from Ulanbekov as Silva is trying to scoot to the fence. More punches from Ulanbekov as Silva wall walks, and Ulanbekov gets another takedown. Silva back up but gives up the back standing, he’s fading a bit and this grappling heavy attack is starting to wear on him. Ulanbekov slips off the top trying for a mat return, they scramble up and trade punches then clinch again. Knees go back and forth as they jockey for position. Another double leg from Ulanbekov, Silva back up but he’s getting beat up along the way. They break this time, and Ulanbekov lands a right as Silva forces the clinch this time. Single leg from Silva into side control, Ulanbekov back up and they end the round in the clinch.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ulanbekov, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Silva lands a calf kick to start the round. More jabs from Ulanbekov, he’s finding the end of his range and is busting up Silva’s face now. Right from Ulanbekov and a jab behind it. Both men punching in close, these two came to fight. Silva sprawls away from a double leg but winds up clinched in open space. They break and Ulanbekov is landing jabs again. Right from Ulanbekov, he tries a double leg but gets pushed over and they scramble back up in the clinch. Throw from Silva and he lands in the guard of Ulanbekov. Ulanbekov back up, nice work, and they break. They punch into another clinch, knees from Ulanbekov before they break. Another clinch, but both men are keeping their hips and legs far back. Knees from Ulanbekov then eh slips around to the back and switches to a double leg to get Silva down. Ulanbekov mounts the legs, gets the back as Silva gets up and hits a mat return but silva rolls through and they scramble back to their knees again. Both men up in the clinch again, Silva looking for the double leg now but Ulanbekov is defending. Silva switches to a single leg, bails on that for the clinch. They break, and Ulanbekov lands a solid right. They punch in close and trade wild punches as the round ends.

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

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

I still think Silva should have taken the first, but Ulanbekov kept a pretty solid pace and wore Silva down. No interview for Ulanbekov.

Tracy Cortez had a successful UFC debut about a year ago and has an overall winning streak of seven fights, she’s trying to keep that streak alive and start making her way up through the bantamweight ranks. Stephanie Egger took this fight on short notice when Bea Malecki fell out of the fight, she’s on a three fight winning streak though and is hoping to unseat a rising prospect. Cortez is the -155 favorite to +135 for Egger.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Tracy Cortez (7-1, 136 lbs.) vs. Stephanie Egger (5-1, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: They touch gloves to get us going. Both women range finding with some low kicks early. Right from Egger lands. Cortez lands a calf kick. Cortez catches a leg kick, gets a clinch but can’t get anything from it before Egger slips free. Right from Cortez drops Egger for a second. Egger pushes forward, and gets taken down for it. Full guard for Egger. Cortez isn’t landing much, ah there she goes with hammer fists but Egger forces a scramble and Cortez winds up on the back in the scramble. Body triangle for Cortez and she lands some punches, mostly trying to open up choke opportunities. Egger breaks the triangle, tries to turn into Cortez but they wind up scrambling into the clinch. They fight for position, bit of a hip toss from Egger but Cortez winds up on top in the scramble as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cortez

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Egger kicking again, Cortez lands an inside leg kick. Egger lands a leg kick. Calf kick from Cortez. Cortez avoids a punch and gets a takedown into half guard. Cortez lands a few lefts, Egger is trying to attack from half guard but she’s getting ridden so far. Leg drag position now for Cortez, she lands some blows before Egger gets her guard back. Cortez stands trying to posture, and Egger drops her with an up kick, that hurt. Egger nearly gets the back and tries a choke but Cortez is able to slid her off and get on top in full guard again. Egger tries to attack an armbar, Cortez reads that and lands some blows as she moves to the ride position. Cortez gets the back now with both hooks in. Peppering rights from Cortez, she’s just trying to open up the choke but those are landing. Egger is trying to turn into Cortez but Cortez is blocking the attempts as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves again. Bit of a leg kick from Cortez. Egger misses a right. Cortez pushes forward, both women fall short on punches. Egger tries a double leg, hits the fence and gets Cortez down but Cortez wall walks. Single leg now from Egger, Cortez still defending and they settle for a clinch. Knees to the thigh from Cortez. Egger tries another double leg, moves to a single leg but Cortez is defending very well. Egger misses a throw attempt, and Cortez jumps into the ride position. Knees to the body from Cortez, Egger back up and hits a kimura throw but can’t maintain top position. Cortez still working from the ride, they break and she hits a double leg against the fence. Egger is able to get half guard, Cortez pushes her into the fence and lands rights as Egger moves to the turtle. Cortez is after the back again, she’s got both hooks in again. The clock winds down in this spot.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tracy Cortez via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Mic time for Cortez after the win, she jokes that she should have stayed standing more given Egger’s credentials. She calls Fight Island an experience, a hot one, but she’s ready to head home and celebrate the win.

Giga Chikadze is on a five fight winning streak including three wins in the UFC, he’s hoping to start making the move from prospect towards legitimate contender in a very stacked division. Omar Morales is undefeated including two wins in the UFC, he’s taking a step up in class here and is likewise trying to separate himself from the pack at 145. The odds are with Morales at -170 to a +150 comeback on Chikadze.

Featherweight Bout: Giga Chikadze (10-2, 146 lbs.) vs. Omar Morales (10-0, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chikadze has an inch of height and reach on Morales. No touch of gloves. Chikadze lands a calf kick then tries a high kick. Another calf kick from Chikadze. Morales is looking to counter blitz but Chikadze lands another calf kick. Some stance switching from Chikadze. Body kick from Chikadze. Chikadze lands a right, he’s timing Morales quite nicely so far. Body kick from Chikadze, Morales counters with a right hand. Morales coming forward with a jab, and he avoids a wheel kick. Left from Chikadze sits Morales down for a second but he’s back up. Chikadze lands a left, then a body kick. Morales punches into a clinch, he’s had enough of kicking distance for now. Not much comes of this and they break without incident. Calf kick from Chikadze, that calf is showing damage already. Morales with a calf kick, and he avoids the counter hooks from Chikadze. Calf kick from Chikadze. Chikadze lands a straight left, his timing is impressive as he’s constantly splitting the timing of Morales. Overhand right from Morales then a left body kick but Morales still fires back. Right from Morales, then he blocks a high kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chikadze

ROUND TWO: Morales trying to come forward again, he and Chikadze trade blows. Right to the body from Morales, they clinch and Chikadze tries a hip throw but misses it and Morales is on top. Chikadze trying to wall walk, he’s up but ate some punches on the way. They’re clinched on the fence and jockeying for position. They break without incident. Body kick from Chikadze. Both men miss punches, Morales was more off balance but his left leg might have given out just a bit there. Jab from Chikadze. Counter left from Chikadze lands and he avoids the Morales punches. Body kick from Chikadze. Jab from Chikadze. They trade power hand punches in close. Chikadze has abandoned the leg kicks, which is a shame because they were working for him. Jab from Chikadze. Both men land rights, then Chikadze lands a body kick. They circle away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chikadze but a closer round, 20-18 Chikadze overall

ROUND THREE: Morales bulls forward and they trade punches early. Bit of a calf kick from Chikadze. Left from Morales lands. Morales forces a clinch but can’t maintain it. Body kick from Chikadze then a punch behind it. Chikadze lands a right. Morales lands a right to counter a jab. Chikadze lands a body kick then a straight left. Another elft from Chikadze. Morales lands a jab. Right from Chikadze sits Morales down again, he jump son top of him looking for the finish. Chikadze unloads from the guard of Morales but Morales fights his way back to his feet. Body kick from Chikadze then a missed high kick. Chikadze misses an ax kick. Morales lands a right, he’s still firing despite being hurt. Chikadze misses a rolling thunder kick, Morales gets on top as the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chikadze, might be 10-8 with that near finishing flurry, 30-27 Chikadze overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Giga Chikadze via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Nice outing from Chikadze, but he doesn’t get an interview.

The right from Chikadze in the third, he times this well. You can see Morales is in the middle of stepping (watch his rear foot) as Chikadze fires the right over the shoulder and drops him with the punch.

Ali Alqaisi dropped a hard fought split decision in his UFC debut, a loss that snapped a five fight winning streak, and he’s trying to get that all important first UFC win. Tony Kelley lost his UFC debut a couple of months ago, he’s likewise trying for that critical first UFC win. Kelley is the -180 favorite to a +160 payout on Alqaisi.

Bantamweight Bout: Ali Alqaisi (8-4, 136 lbs.) vs. Tony Kelley (6-2, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kelley is three inches taller and has two inches of reach over Alqaisi. They touch gloves to get things going. Leg kick from Kelley. Some stance switching now from Kelley. Alqaisi catches a kick and gets a takedown but Kelley has a triangle attack here going. Kelley tries the triangle but Alqaisi postures through it and looks to pass, he’s on the front headlock now as Kelley is in turtle position. Some knees from Alqaisi to the thigh and body. Alqaisi grabs an arm in guillotine and looks to press forward with it, he sits for it and locks up full guard with the choke. Kelley is moving trying to survive and gets his head free. Alqaisi fights up and gets a body lock takedown but Kelley locks up a modified triangle position. Kelley attacks the free arm with a straight armbar but he can’t find the angle on it. Kelley switches to the other arm to try and attack but Alqaisi is defending so far. Armbar now from Kelley, that’s tight but Alqaisi survives until the end of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Alqaisi

ROUND TWO: Kelley jabbing as the round starts. Alqaisi working the inside leg kick and moving around. I’m still not sure how Alqaisi’s arm is feeling after that armbar. They trade leg kicks, then a bit of a right from Kelley. Kelley lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Kelley, Alqaisi grabs it and moves to a front headlock on the fence. Kelley breaks the grip and separates. Knee from Kelley wobbles Alqaisi, he’s after him and gets on top as Alqaisi tries to take him down. Full mount for Kelley, now half guard as Alqaisi is moving around under him. Kelley lands some elbows, Alqaisi back up and still clinched. Alqaisi gets a takedown into side control. Kelley shrimps to full guard. The round ends as Alqaisi tries to transition to another front headlock sequence.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kelley, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Kelley coming forward, Alqaisi gets a trip and lands in side control again. Kelley back up quickly this time and resumes coming forward. Knee from Kelley again, he lands a right and Alqaisi is down. Kelley on top in half guard, landing some blows. Alqaisi is trying to shrimp, Kelley goes for a d’arce but bails on that as Alqaisi gets up in the clinch. Kelley reverses a takedown attempt and gets up, forcing the stand up. Alqaisi lands a body kick. Kelley with an uppercut. Jab from Kelley and they trade a bit. Spinning back fist from Alqaisi staggers Kelley for a second. They clash in close, and Alqaisi takes a shot to the groin. Replay confirms it, Kelley was trying to knee the groin and the foot hit the cup. Alqaisi can continue and we’re back to fighting. Alqaisi firing leg kicks. Kelley stalking forward, lands a one two. Alqaisi still circling away, tries a single leg but Kelley defends easily. There’s a trip from Alqaisi, Kelley lands an up kick as the round ends.

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

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

I can see Kelley getting the first with the sub attempts, no interview for Kelley though.

The armbar attempt from the first.

And the knee from the third, he hit a similar knee in the second.

Impa Kasanganay is undefeated including a successful UFC debut earlier this year, now he’s trying to remain perfect and prove he can win consistently at the UFC level. Joaquin Buckley lost his UFC debut a couple of months ago but could get his first UFC win at the expense of a budding prospect here. The odds for this one favor Kasanganay at -240 to a +200 comeback for Buckley.

Middleweight Bout: Joaquin Buckley (10-3, 185.5 lbs.) vs. Impa Kasanganay (8-0, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kasanganay is an inch taller while Buckley has an inch of reach advantage. Buckley fighting southpaw. Both men engage quickly, and Kasanganay lands a left hook in close. Buckley absorbs a head kick and lands a right hook, he’s looking to flurry on Kasanganay and they hit the fence clinched. Knees go back and forth in the clinch. Buckley winds up breaking the clinch. Kasanganay avoids a combination. They trade inside leg kicks. Right from Kasanganay lands. Kasanganay catches a leg kick and lands a kick. Both men land hooks in close. Buckley punches into a clinch and gets an inside trip into the guard of Kasanganay. Kasanganay wall walks and lands a knee as they break. Both men evade punches, there’s a fair bit of head movement from both men. Kasanganay lands a right. Body kick from Kasanganay and Buckley lands body shots in response. Left from Buckley lands flush. Kasanganay lands an inside leg kick. Head kick from Buckley is blocked. Kasanganay tries some power punches, partially blocked. Kasanganay blocks a jumping knee, that’s the final blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Buckley

ROUND TWO: Both men working the lead hand as the round starts. Bit of a left from Buckley. Kasanganay lands a body kick. Inside leg kick from Kasanganay. Body kick from Buckley now. Left hook from Kasanganay lands flush but Buckley fires back and lands a couple of hooks of his own. Oh my Lord! Kasanganay catches a kick, Buckley with a jump spinning back kick to the face and Kasanganay is OUT COLD!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Joaquin Buckley via KO, jump spinning back kick, at 2:03 of Round 2

That’s the knockout of the year, insane. Mic time for Buckley, he wants all the bonuses after that as he feels he had fight of the night as well to this point. He mentions drilling the kick but never having really hit it. He says this win was hard earned and feels beautiful, then talks us through the finish. That is still an insane KO.

You normally only see stuff like this in demonstrations, or when there’s a massive skill differential when someone like Raymond Daniels is fighting. Absolutely insane.

Rodrigo Nascimento is undefeated including his UFC debut, he’s now trying to remain perfect and get some momentum in a division perpetually in need of legitimate talent. Chris Daukaus got a win in his UFC debut and is likewise hoping to prove himself a prospect deserving of attention going forward. Nascimento is the -270 favorite while a Daukaus win would pay out at +230.

Heavyweight Bout: Chris Daukaus (9-3, 227 lbs.) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0, 265 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Daukaus is an inch taller while Nascimento has four inches of reach advantage in addition to being about forty pounds heavier. Southpaw for Nascimento. They trade power hand punches early. Daukaus with a right, he’s pushing Nascimento back. Left hook from Daukaus drops Nascimento and he’s on top in the guard landing some blows. Elbows from Daukaus, he lands a left as he passes the guard. Nascimento back up, and a right from Daukaus floors Nascimento and we’re done here.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chris Daukaus via KO, punches, at :45 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Daukaus for his work this evening. Mic time for Daukaus, he was surprised that Nascimento came out southpaw but is happy to beat people up no matter what stance they are. He talks us through the finish, and feels his ability to stay calm even during finishing sequences is a big asset. He also feels good fighting light, he’s in the 220’s but the speed is a big advantage and he can avoid and counter easily at heavyweight. Asked what’s next he wants to see his family and get his brother ready for his upcoming UFC fight.

The hand speed and shot selection from Daukaus is really nice, plus he’s able to move quickly with his feet especially relative to most other heavyweights.

Tom Breese used to have a world of hype behind him, but a couple of key losses and injury related layoffs have brought that to a screeching halt. Breese suffered a loss earlier this year and is trying to get his first win since 2018. KB Bhullar is undefeated coming into his UFC debut, even though Breese hasn’t panned out the way we kind of expected this would still easily be the biggest win of Bhullar’s career. Breese is your favorite at -240 while Bhullar’s comeback sits at +200.

Middleweight Bout: K.B. Bhullar (8-0, 186 lbs.) vs. Tom Breese (11-2, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Bhullar is an inch taller and has four and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Breese, Bhullar does a lot of stance switching. Breese is looking to establish his jab early, and lands a leg kick. Bhullar is backing Breese up now, he lands a couple of leg kicks. Breese lands a straight left, and another. They clinch, and Breese breaks off quickly. Hard jab from Breese drops Bhullar, he follows up on the mat and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tom Breese via TKO, punches, at 1:42 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Breese for his work this evening. Mic time for Breese, he mentions how hard he’s been training and feels both confident and strong now. He talks us through the finish, then discusses the late notice change of opponent and can’t wait for the next one. Asked about that specifically he says there’s other middleweights on this card and he’s sure he’ll find someone soon.

There are several different kinds of jabs, pay attention here to how much space Breese covers. His whole body is coming forward so all of his weight and momentum are behind this jab as it catches Bhullar cold and floors him.

That’s the end of the prelims, though we’re still on ESPN+ for the main card.

Youssef Zalal is on a four fight winning streak including three wins in the UFC, he’s trying to keep that momentum going and potentially get his first UFC finish as well. Ilia Topuria is undefeated coming into his UFC debut, and took the fight on short notice but could capitalize on the opportunity and make a great first impression with a win. Zalal is the -150 favorite to +130 for Topuria.

Featherweight Bout: Ilia Topuria (8-0, 146 lbs.) vs. Youssef Zalal (10-2, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Zalal has three inches of height and reach on Topuria. They touch gloves to get us going. Zalal circling and switching stances, Topuria is trying to corral him. Bit of a left hook from Topuria. Topuria jabbing the body now. Zalal tries a head kick, and lands a calf kick. Bit of a right from Topuria, Zalal lands a body kick. Double leg attempt from Topuria, switches to a single leg against the fence and has to settle for the clinch. Lateral drop from Topuria and he lands in side control. Topuria moves to mount immediately. Zalal gives up the back trying to avoid an arm triangle choke, Topuria looks to set up an anaconda, switches to the full anaconda choke but Zalal is defending well so far. Seated arm triangle now from Topuria, that’s tight, he switches back to the anaconda choke but again Zalal is able to survive. Back up in the clinch and Zalal gets free. Body shots from Topuria as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Topuria

ROUND TWO: Topuria lands a right to counter a calf kick. Zalal tries a single leg, and forces a clinch. Zalal drops for a double leg, Topuria defending so far. Elbows from Topuria while defending. Zalal keeps looking to get this down to the mat but Topuria is defending well and sneaking in offense. Knee from Topuria and some more short elbows. Zalal comes back into the clinch, and they separate. More pressure from Topuria. Zalal lands a knee but Topuria is coming after him now. Left and right from Topuria, then he gets a takedown against the fence. Some blood from the left eyebrow of Topuria, he passes to half guard and starts attacking the neck again. Elbows from Topuria, he’s still after that neck though. Mounted guillotine from Topuria, Zalal survives but he’s fading badly as Topuria moves to his back. Topuria slips off during a scramble, Zalal jumps for his back standing but slides off as well. Zalal tries to attack a leg, Topuria just hands out as the round ends.

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

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Topuria catches a knee and gets a double leg into the guard of Zalal. Zalal fishes for a kimura, Topuria passes to half guard off of it though. Topuria spins around to the ride position, he might be after a spladdle or a twister from here. Choke attempt from Topuria but he’s only got one hook in and Zalal spins into him to get on top. Back up in the clinch. Knee from Zalal and he breaks free. Topuria lands a right uppercut then tries a double leg and Zalal jumps for an arm in guillotine choke. Topuria gets his head free quickly and resumes work from top position. Half guard now for Topuria. Mount for topuria, he spins to the back and gets both hooks in. Topuria is after the choke, he’s not under the chin yet though. Zalal breaks the hooks and spins into Topuria but they scrmable back up and separate. Right from Zalal, Topuria might be gassed. Zalal tries a head kick that’s blocked. Topuria ducks under a punch and gets around to the back of Zalal. Double leg, now single leg from Topuria but he breaks off. Knee from Zalal but Topuria catches it and takes him down into full guard. The clock winds down in that spot.

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

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ilia Topuria via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Not sure which round went to Zalal, maybe the 3rd? Mic time for Topuria, he notes he did this on eight days notice and while he’d like more prep time he had to take the chance here. He puts over Zalal’s escapes and toughness. Asked about the future, he wants to recover from this but would like a fight in November.

Tom Aspinall is on a four fight winning streak including a very fast UFC debut when he starched Jake Collier in less than a minute, he’s trying to keep that momentum going and establish himself as a heavyweight to be reckoned with. Alan Baudot took this on fairly short notice but has won his last two fights and could get the biggest win of his career here. Aspinall is a prohibitive favorite at -650 to a +475 payout for Baudot.

Heavyweight Bout: Tom Aspinall (8-2, 252 lbs.) vs. Alan Baudot (8-1, 254 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aspinall is two inches taller while Baudot has an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Baudot looking to jab. Aspinall gets close with punches, can’t land flush but he’s attacking. Close punches from Aspinall after he ate an elbow. Double let from Aspinall, right into full mount. Elbows from Aspinall, punches as well and Baudot can’t address the mount and the ref has to save him.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tom Aspinall via TKO, punches and elbows, at 1:35 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Aspinall for his work this evening. Mic time for Aspinall after that one, he feels he made a few mistakes and isn’t happy with that but is happy to have gotten the win. He mentions he was supposed to fight Sergey Spivac here but covid stopped that and he hopes they can remake the fight. Asked about the future he feels he’s still learning and has plenty of time in the fight game left so he’s not in a rush yet.

Aspinall has full mount here, and he keeps Baudot from addressing the position which lets him unload damaging shots until the ref stops it.

Markus Perez has been trading wins and losses while going 2-3 in the UFC, he’s coming off of a loss and is hoping that pattern holds long enough to avoid his first ever losing streak. Dricus Du Plessis is replacing Rodolfo Vieira here, he’s on a two fight winning streak and is a former KSW champion at welterweight and is trying to maximize the opportunity in his UFC debut. Du Plessis is your favorite at -170 to a +150 comeback on Perez.

Middleweight Bout: Dricus Du Plessis (14-2, 186 lbs.) vs. Markus Perez (12-3, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Du Plessis has three inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Perez. Du Plessis with kicks early, Perez coming forward though. Power hand punches from both men. Some inside leg kicks go back and forth, then a body kick from Perez. Du Plessis with leg kicks. Du Plessis lands a right. Perez is still coming forward. Du Plessis with a right, he’s settled down a little at this point. Perez avoids a rush attack. Bit of a left from Du Plessis. Perez walks into a right. Left hook from Du Plessis in close and Perez face plants and a few more blows on the mat prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dricus Du Plessis via KO, punches, at 3:22 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Du Plessis for his work this evening. Mic time for Du Plessis, he says he’s just now letting all the emotions sink in and calls it the happiest moment of his life so far. He talks us through the finish, noting he had some nerves but his opponents aggression actually helped him and notes the body kick in particular hurt. Asked about the future he notes he’s been a champion in other promotions in different classes all to get here and he wants a top twenty opponent next. He wants to be the first real UFC African champion, the first one born bred and trained in Africa to win gold in the UFC.

Perez tries for a back elbow but Du Plessis is at the wrong angle and cracks him in the ear with a left that drops him. It doesn’t take much if you hit the right spot and Du Plessis doesn’t let him off the hook once he’s down.

Ben Rothwell is on a two fight winning streak, his first winning streak of any kind since 2016, and if he wants to make a run towards the top of the division he needs another win here. Marcin Tybura is also on a two fight winning streak and hoping to mount an assault on the top of the division at the expense of his opponent. Rothwell is a slight -140 favorite to +120 on Tybura.

Heavyweight Bout: Ben Rothwell (38-12, 265 lbs.) vs. Marcin Tybura (19-6, 263 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rothwell is an inch taller and has half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves. Both men pawing early at each other, Rothwell pushing forward quickly. Rights from Rothwell, he’s after Tybura a lot early. They clinch, knee from Rothwell as they break. Left to the body from Rothwell but Tybura lands a right to counter. Left and right from Tybura, he seems to have found an opening in Rothwell’s defense. Rothwell lands a right. Both men land rights. Some stance switching from Tybura as he’s moving now. Rothwell’s volume is getting through Tybura’s defense so far but nothing terribly damaging yet. Left to the body from Rothwell, Tybura lands a right to the head. They exchange rights. Tybura lands a left. Right from Rothwell lands. Tybura lands a body kick. They trade in close, lots of close quarters stuff from both men. Tybura lands a body kick. They tie up and trade uppercuts in close before breaking. More sloppy brawling as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rothwell

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the round. Circling again, some leg kicks go back and forth. Both men land rights, Tybura lands a leg kick. Some power hand punches go back and forth. Another clinch and they hit the fence. They jockey for position, then break with another exchange of mostly arm punches. Rothwell digs the body a few times, Tybura lands a front kick to the body. Another clinch, uppercuts from Tybura as they break. They clinch again and trade hockey uppercuts, then knees before breaking apart. Rothwell lands a right, they both land in a prolonged exchange. Tybura avoids some punches, tries a double leg then lands a knee to Rothwell after Rothwell defends. Tybura is fighting while backing up well now, getting Rothwell to walk into stuff. Stiff jab from Tybura then they trade lefts. Rothwell’s tenacity is impressive, he’s still coming forward. They clinch up and trade as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Tybura, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Both men probing with kicks and still firing punches. Tybura lands a left body kick. Rothwell walks into a jab. Tybura lands a front kick to the body. Rothwell keeps following Tybura and eating punches along the way. Tybura avoids a series of punches and lands an uppercut then hits a double leg into half guard. Rothwell gets full guard. Some short elbows from Tybura, now body to head punches. Rothwell is trying to get his guard in play but Tybura keeps posturing through it and pressing him into the fence. Tybura is keeping a steady pace of offense, he’s not really in any danger of getting stood up by the ref. Rights from Tybura, he’s running a ground and pound drill now on Rothwell. Elbows from Tybura as the clock winds down.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Tybura but a marginal one, 29-27 Tybura overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcin Tybura via unanimous decision (29-27 x3)

Rougher start from Tybura but as he saw more he picked Rothwell apart. Mic time for Tybura, who says he got what he expected from the fight. Asked when he wants to fight next he says he loves fight island and would love to fight here again, but has no specific opponent in mind but would like a top ten opponent.

Edson Barboza has been with the UFC since 2010 and has been fairly close to the top of lightweight during that time, but a few setbacks recently prompted a drop to featherweight. Barboza is on a three fight losing streak, but one of those was to Justin Gaethje and the other two were highly controversial split decisions so he’s not as washed as you might think. That said, a four fight losing streak would be a terrible look despite the level of competition and arguable decisions so he definitely needs a win here. Makwan Amirkhani is stepping in on somewhat short notice but could get the biggest win of his career if he can take out the perennial near contender Barboza. Despite the three fight losing streak Barboza is the favorite at -250 while Amirkhani’s comeback sits at +210.

Featherweight Bout: #14 Edson Barboza (20-9, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (16-4, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Barboza is an inch taller and has three inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Amirkhani. Barboza feinting his way forward early. Inside leg kick from Barboza. Bit of a right from Barboza, both men still trying to get a read on the other. Bit of a body kick from Barboza. Another front kick to the body from Barboza. Barboza lands a right to the body. More body work from Barboza, he’s planning on wearing Amirkhani down with body work if Amirkhani wont push a crazy pace apparently. Amirkhani dives for a single leg, Barboza gets free and punches him in the body before they separate. Amirkhani lands a bit of an uppercut, they clinch then break without much happening. Barboza is steadily pushing forward, and Amirkhani isn’t pressuring him the way he’s struggled with in the past. Barboza lands a body kick then an inside leg kick. Right from Barboza lands. Another body kick from Barboza, Amirkhani catches it and gets at takedown but there’s no time left in the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barboza

ROUND TWO: Right from Barboza. Amirkhani lands a right uppercut. Both men with power hand uppercuts. Barboza with a body kick. Body jabs from Barboza now, Amirkhani is falling behind numerically. Barboza swings another right to the body. Right from Barboza drops Amirkhani, he looks to follow up on the mat and Barboza has an anaconda position but Amirkhani is defending that attack. Barboza stands free and they reset. Another right from Barboza then a high kick. Amirkhani forces a clinch and tries to wrestle but Barboza sprawls away from him and they stall out in the front headlock again. Back up and at range. Barboza backing Amirkhani up, lands a body kick. Another right from Barboza drops Amirkhani, Amirkhani reaches for the legs but gets caught in an anaconda again but Barboza can’t quite finish it. Low single leg from Amirkhani, he gets Barboza down in half guard as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Barboza, 20-17 Barboza overall

ROUND THREE: Circling again, Amirkhani is still too passive. Amirkhani starts coming forward, Barboza hits the body and circles. Barboza sprawls away from a takedown attempt. Amirkhani with a flying knee into a takedown attempt that hits the mat on the fence. Barboza is looking to wall walk, he’s got a kimura grip but I’m not sure what he’s going to use it for. Amirkhani flattens Barboza out and settles into full guard. Amirkhani is trying to posture up, Barboza threatens a triangle choke but uses that just to retain full guard. A few body shots from Amirkhani but he’s getting stalled out by Barboza. Elbow from Amirkhani. The ref stands them up after they stalled out. Barboza lands a left hook then a body kick. Right from Barboza off balances Amirkhani but he’s back up quickly. Body shot then a left hook to the ehad from Barboza, he’s pressing the issue despite winning on the cards. They circle away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Barboza, 30-26 Barboza overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Edson Barboza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 29-28)

I couldn’t even give Amirkhani the third after the takedown because he got dropped again, odd score. Mic time for Barboza, he says he got what he expected in this fight and he’s very happy to have this win after the losing streak. He wants to be the champion, and wants anyone in the top of the division who will get him closer to the belt.

Marlon Moraes has gone 5-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a win over Jose Aldo, but given that the UFC disagreed with the decision they went ahead and fed Aldo to Petr Yan anyway and kept Moraes on ice. Moraes could find himself as the next contender with a definitive win here though, and secure his second chance at UFC gold. Cory Sandhagen was looking like a surefire contender until he ran into Aljamain Sterling earlier this year, now he’s trying to bounce back from his first time being finished but could likewise lay claim to a title shot with a win. The odds are close but favor Sandhagen at -145 to a +125 comeback on the former title challenger Moraes.

Bantamweight Bout: #1 Marlon Moraes (23-6-1, 136 lbs.) vs. #4 Cory Sandhagen (12-2, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Sandhagen is five inches taller and has three inches of reach advantage. Sandhagen switching his stance already. They clash on some early kicks, both men just getting a feel for the fight. Some leg kicks go back and forth. Some jabs from Sandhagen, Moraes is swinging hard trying to counter already. Both men land calf kicks. Sandhagen lands a left to the body but Moraes lands a right. Sandhagen lands a leg kick. Moraes lands a left hook. Sandhagen lands a body shot again, then tries a jumping knee but can’t find the target. Moraes lands a jab. Moraes avoids a few kicks, and tries a spinning back fist that’s blocked. Sandhagen looking to establish the jab again, he lands an uppercut. Moraes checks a leg kick. Shifting left from Moraes, mostly blocked but he’s changing up the range a bit. More jabs from Sandhagen as he’s moving around, just picking at Moraes. Hard left body kick from Sandhagen. Another body kick from Sandhagen, then a knee but Moraes lands a left hook to counter. Moraes catches a body kick, gets the single leg into half guard as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sandhagen

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves for the second round. Both men with some leg kicks early. Lead hand work from Sandhagen. High kick from Sandhagen is partially blocked. Moraes has damage around the right eye. Body shots from Moraes. Wheel kick from Sandhagen, he drops Moraes with it and pounds things out on the mat.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Cory Sandhagen via TKO, wheel kick and punches, at 1:03 of Round 2

Massive win for Sandhagen, he could get a title shot off of that one. Mic time for Sandhagen, he says he’s been working hard during quarantine and he’s been working that kick on the old BOB bag. He says he’s never gone stale mentally and he wanted to demonstrate that he’s here to be champion. Asked about the future, he says only TJ or Frankie Edgar have a claim ahead of him, he wants the winner of Yan and Sterling.

That wraps up UFC on ESPN+ 37, thanks so much for reading along. I said it above, this wasn’t the flashiest card on paper but it had darn solid matchmaking all up and down and it delivered pretty much top to bottom. Next week the UFC finally gets Brian Ortega back into the cage against The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. I’ll be back to cover that, and you can find me Friday’s covering Smackdown as well if you’re into the pro wrestling thing. We’ll be reviewing this card and previewing next week’s this Sunday on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast so feel free to listen in on your podcast provider of choice (or here on 411mania). Until next time stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 37, Robert Winfree