UFC featherweight title: Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega live round-by-round coverage
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway has won 12 straight UFC bouts, including back-to-back wins over all-time great Jose Aldo. He has had a rough 2018, with a failed weight cut and mysterious pullout from a fight for what was reported to be concussion-like symptoms. He now returns looking to prove he’s as good as ever. He takes on undefeated challenger Brian Ortega, who has finished all his UFC wins including handing the great Frankie Edgar the first knockout loss of Edgar’s career.
Round 1. The fighters get at it quickly. Holloway lands the first solid connect of the fight with a jab. The crowd chants for Holloway, who has made it a point to express his affection for Toronto and Canada. Holloway connects with a few solid punches to the head. Holloway charges in and both men land at the same time. Ortega follows with a hard hook. Holloway lands a strong right hand. Ortega responds by going for a takedown. He takes Holloway down but Holloway immediately gets back up. Holloway connects with a few more strong punches and is becoming playful with his movement. Holloway lands a pair of looping right hands. Ortega responds with a stiff punch and throws a head kick before going for the takedown at the close. 10-9 Holloway.
Round 2. Holloway puts together a few nice combinations of punches early in the second. Ortega’s nose is bloody and Holloway is consistently tagging him on the chin. Holloway is taking over. Ortega answers back with a solid combination of his own. Holloway punctuates a combination with a big head kick. Holloway nails Ortega with his right hand over and over again, mixing it in as part of significant combinations. Holloway is beating up Ortega in this round, lighting him up with combinations repeatedly. 10-8 Holloway.
Round 3. Ortega lands a big combination on Holloway and follows with another. Ortega goes for a takedown and attacks the neck but he can’t secure anything and Holloway returns to his feet. Ortega lands an elbow and then an uppercut. Holloway is firing back and landing punches on Ortega in between Ortega’s attacks, but they aren’t hurting Ortega in the way that Ortega’s strikes have been hurting Holloway this round. Both men land strong shots and they clinch in the final moments of the round. 10-9 Ortega.
Round 4. Holloway connects repeatedly with punches at the beginning of the round and he dances around a little bit. Ortega is firing back but Holloway is landing punch after punch, reminiscent of Nick Diaz with the volume. Holloway is pouring it on with Ortega trying to answer back but Holloway’s boxing is much better. Holloway bounces Ortega back against the cage and Ortega goes for a desperation takedown. Ortega tries to pull guard but Holloway won’t allow it. Holloway attacks the body with punches and then the head. Holloway threatens with a guillotine choke but lets it go. Ortega’s eye is a mess and Holloway is just pummeling him with punches. Ortega looks for a takedown but Holloway blocks it and goes back to the boxing. He drops Ortega with a punch and lets Ortega back up. 10-7 Holloway.
Ortega’s corner stops it between rounds.
Winner: Max Holloway, TKO, round 4.
Max Holloway emphatically answered all questions about where he stands there. That was a masterful performance.
UFC women’s flyweight title: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk live round-by-round coverage
The UFC women’s flyweight division has struggled to get going but it finally has a marquee title fight. Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk both come from striking backgrounds and they competed in Muay Thai three times with Shevchenko winning all three bouts. Shevchenko was competing at 135 pounds where she challenged for the bantamweight title. Jedrzejczyk was competing at 115 pounds where she was the dominant champion before losing to Rose Namajunas. Now they meet in the middle at 125 pounds.
Round 1. The fighters trade kicks early. They clinch and Shevchenko slams Jedrzejczyk down emphatically. Shevchenko has side control. Shevchenko looks for a crucifix as she’s throwing punches but Jedrzejczyk stands back up. They end up back in the clinch. Jedrzejczyk is active throwing knees from that position while preventing Shevchenko from getting a takedown. They separate and Shevchenko throws a quick spinning back kick. Shevchenko follows with a two-punch combination late. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 2. Unlike in the first round, where so much of the fight took place in the clinch, they’re throwing a lot at range in the second. Each is throwing quick combinations. The biggest difference is that Shevchenko seems to connect with significantly more power than Jedrzejczyk. Shevchenko catches a kick and slams Jedrzejczyk down. Again, Shevchenko has side control and begins landing elbows. Jedrzejczyk works her way up but eats a hard knee to the head and is muscled back down. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 3. Shevchenko lands a big spinning back kick early. Shevchenko catches a kick and tries another takedown but has it blocked. Jedrzejczyk lands a nice straight right hand and then a right head kick moments later. Jedrejczyk goes for a takedown but has it blocked easily and Shevchenko lands a knee on the break. Jedrejczyk just doesn’t have answers in the clinch for Shevchenko’s strength. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 4. Jedrzejczyk comes out aggressively in the fourth, opening up with a series of combinations. They trade body kicks before Shevchenko secures another takedown. Jedrzejczyk returns to her feet and they work in the clinch there. They separate and exchange kicks pretty evenly. Close round. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 5. Jedrzejczyk is throwing much more in the fifth although she isn’t landing with much consequence. Shevchenko clinches and looks for a takedown. She can’t get it and on separation Jedrzejczyk lands a nice combination. Shevchenko lands a nice combination of her own and then a spinning backfist. They ended up back in the clinch. On the break Shevchenko lands some nice blows. 10-9 Jedrzejczyk, 49-46 Shevchenko.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko, unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).
Shevchenko’s size and strength combined with her excellent technique was too much for Jedrzejczyk. Shevchenko is going to be difficult for anyone to deal with at 125 pounds.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira live round-by-round coverage
This is a classic striker-versus-grappler bout. Gunnar Nelson is a submission ace with six submissions in the UFC alone. He is coming off the first stoppage loss of his career against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira loves to strike and is 6-1 (1 no contest) in his last eight fights.
Round 1. Oliveira lands a couple kicks. Nelson lunges in with a punch and then looks for a takedown. Oliveira nails him with an elbow in the process. Oliveira grabbed the cage to prevent a takedown attempt. Nelson gets the takedown moments later anyway and gets Oliveira’s back. Nelson has a body triangle and prevents Oliveira from turning around. Oliveira keeps working and he finally rolls out into top position, which was very impressive. Oliveira takes top position and drops down some big punches there. He is able to really do a lot of damage from top position until the round concludes. 10-9 Oliveira.
Round 2. The fighters clinch at the start of the round. Oliveira appears to be controlling the clinch for most of the time, but then Nelson ends up getting the takedown two minutes in. Nelson rapidly works into mount. Nelson is bleeding from the nose and it’s dripping down onto Oliveira. Nelson badly busts Oliveira open with an elbow and then locks in a rear naked choke for the submission. That submission came at the right time because it allowed them to concentrate on stopping the bleeding on a horrendous cut. Blood was just pouring out of Oliveira’s head after the elbow.
Winner: Gunnar Nelson, submission, round 2.
That was a nice win for Nelson against a good opponent. There are weaknesses in his overall game, but he is difficult to handle on the ground.
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak live round-by-round coverage
Hakeem Dawodu is a Canadian fighter with an 8-1-1 record. Kyle Bochniak is 2-3 in the UFC with all his fights going to the decision.
Round 1. Dawodu knocks Bochniak back with a punch that reddens Bochniak’s eye. Dawodu is mixing punches to the body with his higher attacks. Bochniak gets a takedown but Dawodu pops back up. Bochniak retains control of the body and looks to take Dawodu back down. Dawodu escapes that. 10-9 Dawodu.
Round 2. Bochniak catches a kick and takes Dawodu down, but Dawodu gets right back up. Dawodu lands a punch to the body. Neither fighter is throwing much with Dawodu throwing a little more. This hasn’t been much of a fight. 10-9 Dawodu.
Round 3. Dawodu lands a hard leg kick and knee to the body early. After a couple of nice combinations by Dawodu, Bochniak scores a takedown. Dawodu gets back up, so Bochniak goes for another takedown. Dawodu prevents that and lands a front kick to the body. Dawodu connects with a hook late. 10-9 Dawodu, 30-27 Dawodu.
Winner: Hakeem Dawodu, split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27).
That scorecard for Bochniak is perplexing.
There were already some questions of why this fight was put on the pay-per-view portion of this card. After a listless bout in front of a silent crowd, it’s even harder to understand.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos live round-by-round coverage
The pay-per-view portion of UFC 231 kicks off with a slugfest of knockout strikers. Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos are two of the most devastating strikers in the light heavyweight division, and both have been knocked out as well. Of their 46 collective fights, only eight have gone to the decision. Santos has won two straight, and Manuwa has suffered setbacks in his last two fights.
Round 1. Santos staggers Manuwa with a hook at the start and then catches him with another. A wild scramble ensues. Santos hurts Manuwa again with additional punches and Manuwa holds on for dear life. Manuwa lands a nice knee to the body and then a few hard punches to Santos. Santos appears in a little trouble and shoots for a takedown, but he then opens up with a series of wild strikes. Santos briefly takes Manuwa down but Manuwa gets up. They begin wildly throwing again and each man is hurting the other badly when they land. They go back to the clinch. Manuwa hurts Santos again and has Santos backing off. Santos shoots for a takedown and they end up on the ground at the close of a thrilling first round. 10-9 Manuwa.
Round 2. They come out swinging again. Santos lands a vicious knee in the clinch. Santos knocks Manuwa out with a heavy hook.
Winner: Thiago Santos, KO, round 2.
That was a spectacular fight.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff live round-by-round coverage
Claudia Gadelha is one of the best fighters in the world and a perennial top contender. This is thus a big opportunity for Nina Ansaroff. Ansaroff has won three in a row, and a win here would catapult her into the upper echelon of the women’s strawweight division.
Round 1. Gadelha connects with a right hand early and follows with another pair of stiff punches. Gadelha clinches and secures a takedown. Gadelha appears to be looking to set up a kimura from the top, but she never comes close, and Ansaroff is able to return to her feet. Ansaroff lands a beautiful side kick to the face and then an uppercut. Gadelha goes for a takedown, but Ansaroff defends nicely while standing with one leg greatly elevated. 10-9 Gadelha.
Round 2. Ansaroff lands some crisp punches early and blocks a takedown. It appears as though the momentum may be turning. Ansaroff is exerting her striking, and Gadelha is struggling to replicate any of her early success. Gadelha gets a takedown in the final 90 seconds. Gadelha lands punches from the top until the close. Still, that’s not enough to overcome Ansaroff’s striking edge for much of the round. 10-9 Ansaroff.
Round 3. Gadelha charges in but eats a few counterpunches in the process and backs off. Ansaroff continues to go to work with her boxing, which Gadelha is struggling to deal with. Gadelha isn’t throwing as much, landing as much nor connecting with the same level of power. 10-9 Ansaroff, 29-28 Ansaroff.
Winner: Ansaroff, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
That’s a pivotal win for Ansaroff, the most important of her career and one that can change the trajectory of her career. For Gadelha, it’s a significant setback in a fight where she was the sizable favorite.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns live round-by-round coverage
Olivier Aubin-Mercier has thrived in recent years in the UFC, winning 7 of 9 with 5 finishes against solid competition. He is coming off a loss to Alexander Hernandez and looking to rebound. Gilbert Burns is a grappling world champion and a finisher standing and on the ground in MMA.
Round 1. Aubin-Mercier moves in with some punches but he eats a hard counter and has to back out. Burns shoots in for a takedown. Burns slams Aubin-Mercier down up against the cage. Aubin-Mercier stands back up. Burns drops Aubin-Mercier with a hook and immediately goes to town with rapid-fire punches on the ground. Burns then grabs a body triangle and looks for a rear naked choke. Burns transitions into an armbar attempt late but can’t get it. 10-8 Burns.
Round 2. Aubin-Mercier lands a big kick to the body. Burns answers back with a few hard punches. The fight settles into a more deliberate pace than the first round. Late in the round, Burns scores a takedown but there isn’t enough time left for him to do anything with it. 10-9 Burns.
Round 3. The fighters trade straight punches early. Aubin-Mercier instigates a clinch. Burns lands a few punches on the break. Burns gets a takedown. Burns takes the back and looks for a rear naked choke. Burns threatens briefly with a knee bar but Aubin-Mercier defends well. Burns lands punches from the back while controlling the body. Aubin-Mercier slips out and returns to his feet in the final 30 seconds. They fire shots at the close. 10-8 Burns, 30-25 Burns.
Winner: Gilbert Burns, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
It’s an indictment of the 10-point must system (as well as the judge’s scorecard) that there was a one-point scorecard in a fight that one sided. Burns looked great standing and on the ground, clearly besting a capable foe.
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye live round-by-round coverage
Katlyn Chookagian has quietly built up an 11-1 record and is a top contender in the growing flyweight division. Jessica Eye was one of the happiest fighters to see a women’s flyweight division as she viewed that as her optimal division. After dropping four straight at bantamweight, she has won two in a row at flyweight.
Round 1. Eye presses forward at the start and walks into a couple nice jabs by Chookagian. Eye opens up with combinations from time to time but her aggression is being slowed by Chookagian’s counterstriking. Eye throws a leg kick from time to time and they are landing at a high percentage. 10-9 Chookagian.
Round 2. Eye clinches early but neither fighter is able to really threaten a takedown and they break. Both fighters are more measured in the second than they were in the first. Eye’s attacks come with more fury but some are missing wildly. Eye lands a nice knee to the head. Chookagian utilizes a solid couple of punches. Eye answers back with a few nice punches of her own. Another close round. 10-9 Eye.
Round 3. Eye connects with a hard punch. Chookagian is bleeding under the eye. In a scramble, Chookagian ends up with better position and lands a series of punches before Eye returns to the feet. The fighters exchange kicks and Eye lands a nice combination of punches. Chookagian is opening up with her kicks more in the third. Chookagian blocks a takedown and lands a few punches late. That is a tough fight to score. 10-9 Chookagian, 29-28 Chookagian.
Winner: Jessica Eye, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
That decision was as close as they get. It’s a big break for Eye that it went her way because she could be in the discussion for a title shot in a division that hasn’t yet sorted itself out.
Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou live round-by-round coverage
Elias Theodorou won the Ultimate Fighter and has done well in the UFC since then, accumulating a 17-2 MMA record. Eryk Anders is a former college football star at Alabama and has big knockout power as an MMA fighter.
Round 1. Anders presses forward from the outset, with Theodorou circling and looking to counter. Theodorou’s striking is more fluid, but Anders is landing harder with his shots. Theodorou is throwing a lot of unique strikes from different angles and a lot of kicks. Theodorou lands some nice knees to the body late, and Anders attacks the body as well. 10-9 Theodorou.
Round 2. The fight in the second follows the same basic outline of the first: Anders wading in and looking for power shots while Theodorou looks to snipe from the outside. Anders is definitely connecting with the hard shot from time to time, but Theodorou is consistently landing more. Anders stuns Theodorou with a big left hand and comes in swinging wildly looking to put Theodorou away. Theodorou fires back in an effort to prevent Anders from pressing so much. Theodorou appears to regain his senses, but he is slowing. Anders hurts Thedorou again. Anders drops Theodorou with a punch late. 10-9 Anders.
Round 3. Theodorou lands some nice counters early in the third, reversing the momentum of the second. Anders keeps moving forward and connects with a pair of straight punches, which have been his best weapon. Anders blocks a takedown late. 10-9 Theodorou, 29-28 Theodorou.
Winner: Elias Theodorou, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
That was the just decision. Anders is the more crowd-pleasing fighter with his offensive style always looking for the finish, but Theodorou simply landed more in the first and third.
Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez live round-by-round coverage
Brad Katona won the Ultimate Fighter and now he returns against Matthew Lopez, who has dropped two straight but has generally competed against high-quality opposition during his UFC tenure.
Round 1. Lopez catches a kick and lands a few punches. Katona goes for a takedown but has it blocked. Lopez connects with a nice combination. Lopez goes for a takedown but it is blocked. Katona lands a nice body punch. He’s also throwing a lot of kicks but hasn’t connected solidly too often. Lopez gets a takedown in the final 30 seconds but Katona is active with elbows from the bottom. 10-9 Lopez.
Round 2. Lopez catches a kick and gets a takedown but Katona quickly stands back up. The boxing is pretty even, with both men exercising caution and not leaving themselves open in their attacks. Lopez catches another kick for a takedown, but Katona gets up in short order just like he did earlier in the round. Katona lands a stiff straight right hand. Close round. 10-9 Katona.
Round 3. Katona is more active throwing in the third, although he isn’t doing much damage in the process. Lopez is saving up for big swings but not producing as active an output. Katona goes for a takedown late but doesn’t get it. He lands a punch on the break and goes for a choke in a late scramble. Lopez seems as if he might have gone out at the end. 10-9 Katona, 29-28 Katona if it isn’t called a technical submission.
Winner: Brad Katona, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
That was a unique finish, with Lopez struggling with consciousness at the close. Katona hadn’t looked great up to that point but he did enough to get by an opponent who faded as the fight progressed.
Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima live round-by-round coverage
Chad Laprise has competed in the UFC for over four years, accumulating a solid 6-3 record. Dhiego Lima, the brother of Bellator star Douglas Lima, has struggled mightily in the UFC with a 1-5 record despite going 6-0 in Ultimate Fighter exhibitions.
Round 1. After a brief feeling-out period, Lima knocks Laprise out with a monster lunging upward hook about a minute and a half in.
Winner: Dhiego Lima, KO, round 1.
That was a much-needed win for Lima, and the jubilation on his face is evident after the victory. He caught Laprise with a perfect punch and picked up by far the best win of his UFC career.
Diego Ferreira vs. Kyle Nelson live round-by-round coverage
Diego Ferreira has won two straight and four of six in the UFC, making him a stiff challenge for Kyle Nelson, who takes this fight on extremely short notice in his home province of Ontario. Nelson is 12-1 on the lower levels and now has the opportunity to prove himself against established UFC competition.
Round 1. Nelson does well early with his boxing. He lands a strong hook that hurts Ferreira then a shot to the body and head kick. Ferreira looks for a takedown but Nelson doesn’t allow it. He encourages Ferreira to get up and Ferreira takes his time. Ferreira answers back with a few nice combinations of his own and it turns into an all out scrap on the feet. Ferreira gets a takedown at the midpoint of the round and is in Nelson’s half guard. Ferreira lands punches and elbows from there and takes full mount. Nelson turns his back and Ferreira lands a series of hard punches from there. Ferreira really took over on the ground there after a competitive standup affair. 10-9 Ferreira.
Round 2. Ferreira gets a takedown early on and advances into side control. Ferreira lands a series of punches. Nelson is forced to simply cover up and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Diego Ferreira, TKO, round 2.
That was a good win for Ferreira. He survived some early trouble and then exploited the vulnerabilities of his opponent and took over on the ground. Nelson did well himself in his UFC debut. With only two days to prepare, it was understandable he’d be apt to tire early and it might well be a different story without the pressure of fighting in the UFC for the first time and fighting without a full camp.
Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic live round-by-round coverage
UFC 231 begins with a light heavyweight bout as Devin Clark squares off with Aleksandar Rakic. Devin Clark is 3-2 thus far in the UFC with his wins coming via decision and his losses coming via stoppage. Rakic is the heavy favorite. The Austrian is 10-1 thus far in his career and has two UFC victories while still looking for his first UFC stoppage.
Round 1. Devin Clark comes out and throws a heavy punch to the head as Rakic attacks with a kick to the body. Clark then clinches but can’t secure a takedown. Upon separation, Rakic starts throwing more kicks. Clark drops Rakic with a big left hand and follows with hard punches on the ground. Rakic gets up and Clark throws a series of knees to the head, some of which are flagrantly illegal given Rakic’s hands are down. The referee doesn’t say or do anything. After they break, Rakic goes back to his favored kicks with Clark relying more on his boxing. As Clark comes in, he gets countered and dropped with a backfist. Rakic proceeds to pour on the offense and the bout is finally stopped.
Winner: Aleksandar Rakic, TKO, round 1.
That was an impressive win for Aleksandar Rakic. In a thin light heavyweight division, Rakic will have the opportunity to rise up the ranks quickly.
UFC’s Max Holloway and Joanna Jedrzejczyk seek redemption at UFC 231
Featherweight champion Max Holloway and former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk have eyed UFC 231 on Saturday in Toronto as their chance at redemption.
Holloway took the first step by making weight at 144.5 pounds. Jedrzejczyk, moving up in weight to face former Muay Thai rival Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s flyweight title, says she’s ready too.
“People might not think 10 pounds is much of a difference, but yes it is … the weight and power of the punches … I’m going to be a completely different animal,” Jedrzejczyk said.
Holloway (19-3) insists he’ll be his same old self in his long-anticipated fight against Harbor City’s unbeaten, top-ranked contender Brian Ortega (14-0) in the main event at Scotiabank Arena. Holloway withdrew from their first scheduled fight in July with what was described as “concussion effects.” It was the second straight time he’s pulled out of a fight, after falling ill in April during the weight-cutting process.
Ortega refused a replacement fight, and his manager, Ed Soares, struck a deal with UFC President Dana White that if Holloway failed to make weight this week, he would vacate the belt and Ortega would stage a rematch with Brazil’s Renato Moicano for it.
Dana White lays out his plans for future of UFC
What appears to be a flawed decision to move two UFC champions with a deep connection to California out of a planned Jan. 26 Honda Center super-fight and shift them to Brooklyn makes business sense, UFC President Dana White said Friday.
The UFC launches its $750-million, five-year-deal with the ESPN Plus streaming service Jan. 19 with the showdown between bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw of Yorba Linda and Los Angeles-raised flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.
But tying that fight with separate undercard bouts featuring Greg Hardy and Rachael Ostovich has misdirected the attention this week, away from the quality of the main event and toward the insensitivity of placing a man convicted of domestic violence on the same show with a woman healing from a brutal attack allegedly at her husband’s hands.
Hardy, a former NFL Pro Bowl defensive end, was found guilty in 2014 of assaulting a woman and communicating threats as part of a domestic violence case.