UFC 213 recap: Whittaker beats Romero


Robert Whittaker (19-4) defeated Yoel Romero (13-2) for the UFC interim middleweight title on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Here are the round-by-round recaps of each fight on the UFC 213 card.

UFC interim middleweight title: Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker live round-by-round coverage

Robert Whittaker celebrates after defeating Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight championship at UFC 213.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker have been pursuing a middleweight title shot for some time, particularly Romero. Champion Michael Bisping has been sidelined by injury and is hoping for a fight with Georges St. Pierre. Thus, Romero and Whittaker will fight for an interim title and hopefully the winner will take on Bisping in the fall. Romero is an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling with otherworldly knockout power. He is 13-1 in MMA with 11 knockouts. Robert Whittaker is a fast striker who is 6-0 since moving to middleweight. He defeated Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza last time out in the most impressive victory of his career.

Round 1. Whittaker opens with a high kick. Romero knocks Whittaker off balance with a low kick. Romero connects with a hard kick to the body. Romero then lands a kick to the head and slams Whittaker to the mat. Whittaker gets back up to his feet immediately. Romero goes for a flying knee and then grabs a body lock. He looks to muscle Whittaker back down to the canvas. Whittaker stops that and lands a nice jab. Whittaker sends Romero into the cage with a push kick. Romero explodes for another takedown but Whittaker blocks it beautifully and lands a knee to the body. Whittaker lands a head kick late. Close round. 10-9 Romero.

Round 2. Whittaker lands another head kick early. He gets that up so quickly. Romero nails Whittaker with a really hard knee to the body. He then takes Whittaker down. This time, Whittaker can’t pop up quickly and he gets Romero in his full guard. Whittaker just holds tight while Romero lands punches from the top. Whittaker rolls over and stands up but Romero retains control of his body. Romero lands a knee and looks to take him back down. They end up next to the cage trading knees before they are separated. Whittaker throws a front kick but eats a hook in a scramble. Romero takes Whittaker down again at the end. 10-9 Romero.

Round 3. Romero goes for a takedown but is blocked. The fighters trade hooks and it looked like Whittaker hurt Romero. Whittaker is aggressive moments later with punches and again Romero looks in a bit of trouble. Whittaker lands a nice kick to the body and then goes to the head. Romero is largely on the defensive this round. Whittaker blocks another two takedown attempts.Whittaker continues to charge in regularly with punches while Romero mostly defends. However, Whittaker doesn’t appear to be doing a lot of damage. 10-9 Whittaker. It’s hard to tell whether Romero has nothing left or if he just decided to take that round off.

Round 4. Whittaker lands a head kick as Romero is moving in. Romero grabs the waist and goes for a takedown. They battle for control. Whittaker prevents the takedown. Romero tries again and is stuffed again. They’re so sweaty at this point it’s going to be much more difficult. Romero uses a hard flying knee to the body. Whittaker throws a head kick and then connects with a solid left hook. Romero goes for another takedown late and it is blocked. Whittaker lands a few punches including a hard uppercut. Romero really pushes for another takedown and doesn’t get it. He’s clearly very tired at this point. 10-9 Whittaker.

Round 5. Romero lands a kick and then a punch in succession. Whittaker lands a knee moving in. Both men are attacking in this round. Whittaker lands an uppercut. Whittaker throws a series of kicks. Romero is bleeding. Romero lands a big hook. Romero trips while attacking and Whittaker takes top position with a minute and a half left. Whittaker lands some punches and elbows. Whittaker looks to pass guard but can’t do it. He does drop a series of solid elbows while Romero throws from the bottom. 10-9 Whittaker, 48-47 Whittaker.

Winner: Robert Whittaker, unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).

Robert Whittaker pulled that out with stamina. Yoel Romero was more dangerous early but as the fight progressed, Whittaker was more active and pulled away narrowly. For Romero, it’s a massive disappointment as he falls short of the fight with Michael Bisping he has pursued for some time. At 40 years old, he doesn’t have an infinite amount of time to accomplish that goal.


Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem live round-by-round coverage

Fabricio Werdum lands a kick against Alistair Overeem during their heavyweight fight at UFC 213.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem are two of the most accomplished heavyweights in the history of the sport. Werdum is the Brazilian jiu jitsu champion who developed excellent striking and won the UFC heavyweight title while Overeem is the Dutch kickboxing champion who won the K-1, Strikeforce and Dream titles. They’ve fought twice before. The first time was back in 2006 when Werdum was a relatively one dimensional submission artist and Overeem was a light heavyweight. Werdum won that by submission. Overeem avenged that loss by decision in the Strikeforce Grand Prix tournament in 2011 in a dull bout. Werdum at that point was coming off a submission win over Fedor Emelianenko while Overeem ballooned into a massive heavyweight and was one of the most feared competitors in the sport. This is the rubber match as both Werdum (7 wins in his last 8) and Overeem (5 wins in his last 6) look for a title shot.

Round 1. Werdum runs in and jumps to start but doesn’t throw a kick or knee as Overeem moves out of the way. Overeem lands a head kick. Werdum clinches. They quickly separate. Werdum lands a right hook. Overeem knocks Werdum down with a punch but it appears Werdum was simply off balance as he quickly stands up and is fine. Overeem lands a right hand. Werdum is throwing more while Overeem has his hands low and is picking his spots. Werdum shoots for a takedown but doesn’t come close. He starts from way too far out. Overeem lands a couple punches. 10-9 Overeem.

Round 2. Werdum runs out again and this time throws a flying kick that connects lightly. Overeem uses a stiff kick to the body. Werdum catches it and goes for a takedown. He can’t get the takedown but he falls to the ground on his back.Overeem stands up rather than playing in Werdum’s guard. Overeem lands a hard uppercut. Werdum clinches and appears to pull guard. They end up back on the ground but Overeem stands up. Overeem lands a nice combination. Werdum lands a combination of his own with a few punches that send Overeem back. Overeem responds with a heavy right hand. Overeem is landing the hardest blows for sure. 10-9 Overeem.

Round 3. Werdum throws caution to the wind and attacks aggressively, throwing a series of punches and looking to set up knees. He lands three punches and then hurts Overeem with a knee. Werdum looks for the finish and goes to the ground but can’t get a submission or the opportunity to land big punches. However, back on the feet Werdum opens up with more punches. He nails Overeem against the cage with punches and has him in big trouble. Werdum then gets the takedown he has been looking for and has top position. He lands punches and elbows from the top. Overeem looks to stand up late. He can’t do it and Werdum lands some additional punches as the fight ends. 10-8 Werdum, 28-28 draw.

Winner: Alistair Overeem, majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28).

The crowd boos the decision heavily given the way the third round went. They’re booing so loud you can’t hear what Overeem is saying in the post-fight interview. Overeem won by a little in the first and second and Werdum won by a lot in the third. The key is whether the judges scored the third round 10-8. Given the nature of the fight and his previous loss to Stipe Miocic, it will be difficult for Overeem to get another title shot next. Werdum’s stock stayed about the same in defeat.


Slide show: Photos from UFC 213 in Las Vegas

Travis Browne and Oleksiy Oliynyk trade blows during their heavyweight bout Saturday. To see more images from UFC 213, click on the photo above.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes live round-by-round coverage

Daniel Omielanczuk, left, and Curtis Blaydes trade punches during their heavyweight fight at UFC 213.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Daniel Omielanczuk is a Polish veteran who has dropped two straight in the UFC. He is primarily a grappler. Curtis Blaydes is a powerful wrestler with a win, loss and no contest in his three UFC fights (the no contest was originally a win, overturned for marijuana usage).

Round 1. Blaydes closes distance. Omielanczuk lands a right hook in the process but Blaydes clinches and looks for the takedown. They end up in a stalemate by the Octagon. They separate and exchange briefly before Blaydes goes for another takedown. He can’t get it. After a brief separation, Blaydes returns to the clinch. Omielanczuk lands a body kick upon separation and a left hook. Dreadful round. 10-9 Omielanczuk.

Round 2. Omielanczuk lands a body kick at the start. Blaydes looks for the takedown again. He doesn’t come close to getting it. They finally separate. Blaydes lands a nice inside leg kick and a jab. Blaydes goes for the takedown again and again doesn’t come close. He does land a nice straight punch and instigates the clinch again. The crowd boos heavily since nothing of significance is resulting from these clinches. Blaydes lands a punch upon separation. Fans are doing the wave to entertain themselves. Blaydes returns to the clinch. 10-9 Blaydes.

Round 3. Omielanczuk comes out aggressively and lands a nice punch early. He throws a high kick and is swinging for the fences. Blaydes responds by going back to the clinch. Blaydes lands a punch as they separate. They open up a little in the striking but they’ve totally lost the crowd. Blaydes knocks Omielanczuk back with a punch. Blaydes goes for a takedown that is blocked. Omielanczuk goes for a low takedown that doesn’t come remotely close. He eats some elbows to the body. The fight mercifully ends. 10-9 Blaydes, 29-28 Blaydes.

Winner: Curtis Blaydes, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

That was a clinic on how to get fans to never want to see you fight again.


Anthony Pettis vs. Jim Miller live round-by-round coverage

Anthony Pettis kicks Jim Miller during their lightweight fight at UFC 213.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Anthony Pettis is the former UFC lightweight champion who at one point looked on the verge of becoming one of the top stars in the sport with his flashy style. That came crashing down with three straight losses at lightweight. Pettis then moved to featherweight but lost to Max Holloway there and now moves back to 155 pounds. He is in desperate need of a showcase performance here. Jim Miller is one of the most experienced fighters in UFC history, having fought there since 2008 and competing against many of the best fighters in the sport. He is coming off a loss to Dustin Poirier. Pettis will almost certainly look to keep this fight standing while Miller is expected to want the fight on the ground.

Round 1. Miller lands a few leg kicks and then a left hand right up the middle to start. Pettis connects with a head kick. Miller continues to use leg kicks. Miller is throwing more in general, perhaps unconcerned by takedowns in contrast to Pettis. Pettis lands a big kick to the body and then opens up with punches by the cage. Miller is forced to cover up. Pettis lands another powerful kick to the body and starts throwing more punches. Miller answers and gets a few punches of his own in the exchanges. Pettis lands a spinning back elbow. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 2. Pettis lands a head kick. He throws another but it is caught and Miller uses that to get a takedown. Pettis looks to set up a triangle choke from the bottom but doesn’t get it. Miller then postures up and lands some hard punches. Miller is bleeding badly from the top onto Pettis. Pettis tries to get up but Miller takes his back. Miller looks to set up a rear naked choke but loses the position when Pettis slips out. Pettis takes top position. Pettis lands some punches there and passes into side control. Miller tries to get up but this time Pettis grabs Miller’s back. Pettis can’t sink in his hooks and Miller stands up. However, Pettis then takes him right back down and lands a few punches at the close. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 3. The fighters principally are throwing kicks early. Miller mainly throws them low while Pettis mixes them up to the head, body and legs. Pettis lands a front kick. Miller continues to march forward but his punches just aren’t connecting at a very high clip. With less than two minutes left, they clinch by the cage and it appears Pettis is looking to set up a takedown. Both fighters attempt wild kicks at the close. 10-9 Pettis, 30-27 Pettis.

Winner: Anthony Pettis, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Given his recent struggles, Anthony Pettis will surely be happy just to get the win there against a highly respected opponent. He won the fight pretty solidly at that. However, there is still some bad news. Between Pettis’ losses, the depth of the lightweight division and the lack of a highlight reel finish, Pettis’ path back to the top still looks like a long one.


Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade live round-by-round coverage

Douglas Silva de Andrade lands a punch against Rob Font during their fight at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

This fight was scheduled for UFC’s Fight Pass subscription service but was elevated to pay-per-view today when the main event of the show fell through. Rob Font has done well thus far in the UFC, running up a 3-1 record with all three wins coming via TKO/KO. Douglas Silva de Andrade is 24-1 (1 NC) over the course of his career and is 2-1 in the UFC.

Round 1. Font is the more active fighter early with his movement and attempts at offense, while Silva throws a few leg kicks. Font goes for a takedown a minute in and gets it. Font lands a few punches and elbows from inside Silva’s half guard and then Silva secures full guard. Silva stands up but eats a knee in the process and Font threatens with a front choke. Silva gets out. Silva lands a big right hand and blocks a takedown. Font connects with a big 3 punch combination punctuated with a knee at the end. That was the best offense of the fight thus far. Font lands another nice punch followed by a knee. Font lands another knee late and goes for a guillotine choke at the close. 10-9 Font.

Round 2. Font lands the best blow early in the second, a left hand at the end of a combination that knocks Silva’s head backwards. Silva seems content to continue the same sort of fight even though Font is getting the best of it. A big difference is that Font continually throws combinations and while Silva avoids most of the shots, a few get through here and there. Silva, on the other hand, primarily throws one shot at a time and thus struggles to land much. Font appears to hurt Silva up against the cage with a right hand and he immediately opens up looking to close the fight. He throws a barrage of punches and knees by the cage and then takes Silva down. Silva looks to work up but Font grabs a tight guillotine choke in the process and Silva is forced to submit.

Winner: Rob Font, submission, round 2.

That was a terrific performance by Rob Font, who really capitalized on the opportunity afforded by fighting on pay-per-view. His striking looked crisp throughout and he threatened with submissions when he had the opportunity. He handily defeated an opponent with a glossy record and looks like he could make waves at bantamweight.


Joanna Jędrzejczyk is willing to take Amanda Nunes’ spot


Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk live round-by-round coverage

Oleksiy Oliynyk reacts after defeating Travis Browne in their heavyweight bout at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Travis Browne is a tall striker who appeared on the verge of a title shot before losing a title eliminator in an upset against Fabricio Werdum. He has struggled since then, dropping three straight and five of seven. He is also known as the fiance of former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Oleksiy Oliynyk is more of a grappler. In contrast to Browne, Oliynyk has momentum of late with wins in twelve of his last thirteen fights including three UFC wins and a submission over the legendary Mirko Cro Cop.

Round 1. Oliynyk walks through some kicks to close distance on Browne. Browne lands a particularly effective knee. Oliynyk finally gets the clinch but Browne uses a couple more knees and they separate. The fighters open up with punches from close range and Browne drops Oliynyk with a punch. He follows on the ground briefly before letting Oliynyk back up. Oliynyk drops Browne with a right hook and looks to close. Browne gets up and clinches while Oliynyk looks to lands another big shot. Browne recovers and returns to his kick game but Oliynyk gets a takedown in the final minute. Oliynyk takes the back and looks for the rear naked choke but time runs out. 10-9 Oliynyk.

Round 2. Oliynyk comes out swinging wildly. Browne lands a couple jabs, looking to keep Oliynyk from wading in. Oliynyk charges in with punches and clinches. Browne grabs the plum and throws some knees. They tumble to the ground with Browne on top. Browne passes into side control. Oliynyk powers out and takes Browne’s back again. Oliynyk lands some punches and looks for the rear naked choke like in the first. It doesn’t appear to be under the chin but he gets the tap.

Winner: Oleksiy Oliynyk, submission, round 2.

Oleksiy Oliynyk’s improbable rise continues as he is emerging as a contender at age 40. He’s likely to get another high profile fight next time out. Travis Browne’s career on the other hand is in something of a freefall. He has lost so many times in recent years it’s hard to figure how he works his way back into title contention.


Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi live round-by-round coverage

Brian Camozzi, left, and Chad Laprise trade punches during their welterweight bout at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Chad Laprise won Ultimate Fighter Nations and has gone 4-2 in the UFC overall. He is fighting at welterweight after failing to make weight at lightweight last time out. Brian Camozzi is the brother of fellow UFC competitor Chris Camozzi. He lost his UFC debut and sports a 7-3 MMA record.

Round 1. The longer Camozzi opens with a series of low kicks. Laprise looks like the much smaller man. Laprise connects with a few hard punches of his own. He has very nice footwork that’s helping him get in and out of range. Laprise uses a quality overhand right and looks increasingly comfortable. Camozzi’s top weapon continues to be his leg kicks which can cover a lot of distance. Laprise catches a kick and then lands a trip takedown in the final 30 seconds. 10-9 Laprise.

Round 2. Laprise is really moving around a lot and not leaving Camozzi a stationary target. Laprise is landing the better punches while Camozzi chases him down without a lot of success. The crowd boos at the close of the round, a reflection of a fight with a lot of movement but not much in the way of effective offense.

Round 3. The fight continues along the lines of the first two rounds, with much movement but not a lot landed. Camozzi connects with a few leg kicks. Laprise sends Camozzi back with a punch to the chest and opens up with offense by the cage until the fight is stopped. Camozzi is clutching his ribs in pain.

Winner: Chad Laprise, TKO, round 3.

Chad Laprise likely didn’t win many fans with that performance but he did a good job of stifling the offense of Camozzi and exploiting the vulnerabilities of the more natural welterweight. To Laprise’s credit, when he had an opportunity to finish he fully capitalized on it. As for Camozzi, his days in the UFC may be numbered unfortunately.


Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert live round-by-round coverage

Gerald Meerschaert takes down Thiago Santos during their middleweight fight at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Thiago Santos is a dangerous striker whose wins often come in spectacular fashion. He has won five of his last seven in the UFC. Gerald Meerschaert is more of a submission specialist and has won seven straight including two first round submissions in the UFC.

Round 1. Meerschaert catches a kick and goes for a takedown. Santos is able to prevent the fight from going to the ground. Meerschaert clinches again. He gets Santos down and lands some punches as Santos stands back up. Santos gets himself out of the clinch and immediately opens up with heavy punches. He drops Meerschaert with a punch and continues landing big shots. He lets Meerschaert up so the fight can return to the standup. Meerschaert lands a nice short left hand of his own. Santos connects with a pair of vicious leg kicks and then a straight punch moving back. Santos nails Meerschaert with a big left hand. Santos has such power in his strikes.10-9 Santos.

Round 2. Meerschaert shoots in for a takedown. He briefly gets Santos down but Santos pops right back up. Meerschaert shoots for another takedown but this time Santos counters with a series of big punches. Meerschaert is forced to cover up and the fight looks on the verge of being stopped. Eventually, Santos takes top position on the ground. Meerschaert turns his back and eats more punches. Meerschaert is able to return to the feet briefly but Santos gets him back down and lands additional punches until the fight is stopped.

Winner: Thiago Santos, TKO, round 2.

Santos is a scary fighter to deal with because of the power behind his punches. He has dropped enough fights over the years that he isn’t a top contender but he’s someone that fans like to see and fighters can’t be terribly excited to prepare fo. Meerschaert made a go of it but could only take so many power shots over the course of two rounds.


Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad live round-by-round coverage

Belal Muhammad strikes Jordan Mein with an overhand right during their welterweight bout at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Jordan Mein has been fighting professionally since he was 16 years old and has a 29-11 record already at age 27. Muhammad is older at 28 but is the more experienced/less shopworn fighter at 11-2. He has been involved in some entertaining contests since debuting in the UFC.

Round 1. The fighters trade kicks. Mein deftly blocks a Muhammad takedown attempt. Muhammad utilizes a solid overhand right but is thrown off when attempting a takedown. Mein has more juice in his leg kicks than Muhammad. Mein blocks another takedown attempt and continues to attack with leg kicks. Muhammad goes for another takedown late but Mein again is strong in his defense. 10-9 Mein.

Round 2. Muhammad clinches and looks for the elusive takedown. He briefly gets Mein down twice but Mein pops right back up in no time. Mein lands a straight right hand back on the feet. Mein is bleeding above the left eye in a bad spot. Muhammad utilizes a few combinations of punches and is doing better in the striking in the second. Mein goes for a takedown but it is blocked. Muhammad then looks for one of his own. He finally gets it in the final minute and ends up in butterfly guard. Muhammad lands some punches and tries to pass into mount unsuccessfully. 10-9 Muhammad.

Round 3. They start out trading punches. Muhammad goes for a takedown but Mein prevents it. Mein threatens with a kimura and goes to the ground to try for it. He uses the kimura to reverse into top position but then loses it. Muhammad quickly scrambles to regain top position and takes Mein’s back. Muhammad locks in a body triangle and goes for the rear naked choke submission. Muhammad controls the back and lands a series of punches. Finally, Mein unlocks Muhammad’s legs with his hands and gets back to his feet. Muhammad makes Mein pay with a few knees there. Mein goes for a desperation kimura but can’t get it. Mein gets a brief takedown but Muhammad stands up in a hurry. 10-9 Muhammad, 29-28 Muhammad.

Winner: Belal Muhammad, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

It wasn’t pretty, but Muhammad utilized a smart game plan to keep Mein out of his game and get the judges’ decision. For Mein, it was another disappointment and his third straight loss.


Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware live round-by-round coverage

Terrion Ware, right, covers up as Cody Stamann strikes with a left during their fight at UFC 213.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

Cody Stamann and Terrion Ware are additional fighters making their UFC debuts. Stamann is 13-1 entering UFC while Ware is 17-5 but has fought a more impressive array of opponents.

Round 1. The fighters trade low kicks early. Stamann connects with a knee and then secures the takedown. Ware stands up quickly and returns to his feet. Ware lands some punches by the cage and catches a knee attempt. Stamann lands a nice step in left hook. Ware responds with a three punch combination. Ware looks more comfortable in the boxing. Stamann gets a takedown with 90 seconds left. Stamann lands some punches from the top while making sure to keep Ware down. Stamann has some real success with those punches from the top as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Stamann.

Round 2. Ware connects with a nice early punch. Stamann lands a good knee and points at Ware. Ware lands a punch and points back. They begin taunting each other before Stamann ducks down and gets another takedown. Ware stands back up. They clinch and exchange knees. They then return to boxing, with both men landing good shots. Ware is generally the fighter pushing forward while Stamann circles out looking to counter. Stamann gets a takedown with less than two minutes in the round. He lands some punches as the round comes to a close. The standup is very competitive but the takedowns have been the difference. 10-9 Stamann.

Round 3. Ware starts out the round walking down Stamann like before. Stamann nails Ware with a front kick that Ware shakes off. Ware gets Stamann by the cage and land a few punches including a hard right to the body. Ware looks like the fresher fighter. Stamann changes levels and gets the takedown at the midway point. Stamann controls Ware by the cage and looks to pass into full mount. Stamann is able to get full mount. Stamann lands some punches but loses mount. Stamann continues with the punches before Ware stands up late. They trade wild punches on the feet before Stamann gets one final takedown. 10-9 Stamann, 30-27 Stamann.

Winner: Cody Stamann, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

That was a fun fight. Both fighters had success at points in the standup exchanges but Stamann’s takedowns were the difference. The challengers will only get stiffer for Stamann from here.


Trevin Giles vs. James Bochnovic live round-by-round coverage

Trevin Giles lands a left against James Bochnovic during their UFC 213 bout.
(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)

UFC 213 kicks off with a light heavyweight bout that was added on short notice. Trevin Giles and James Bochnovic are both making their UFC debuts. Giles enters with a 9-0 record while Bochnovic is 8-1. Both have won most of their bouts via submission.

Round 1. Bochnovic opens with a few kicks. He cracks Giles with a hard kick to the body. Giles clinches and presses Bochnovic against the cage. Giles grabs the legs and secures a takedown. Giles lands a few punches and then postures up in order to pass guard. Bochnovic tries to get up from side control but Giles controls the back and lands some significant punches. Bochnovic nearly gets up but Giles pulls him back down and regains side control. Bochnovic tries to get up again and once more eats some hard punches before being pulled back down. Giles lands some additional strong punches at the close of the round. 10-8 Giles.

Round 2. Giles connects with a few solid punches to start the round. Bochnovic is moving slowly. Giles takes Bochnovic down again and ends up in side control. Bochnovic gives his back and Giles lands some punches before taking Bochnovic down once more. That pattern has repeated itself many times now. Giles gets the back with his hooks in and lands some heavy punches. Bochnovic turns over and Giles lands additional punches until Bochnovic is out.

Winner: Trevin Giles, KO, round 2.

That was an impressive UFC debut for Giles. It’s hard to draw broad conclusions based on a short notice fight against another UFC newcomer but Giles’ power and ground game could give some future UFC opponents problems.

Bochnovic needed a long time to recover after the fight and left on a stretcher nearly 15 minutes later.


Justin Gaethje defeats Michael Johnson in stunning fashion in UFC debut

For years, Justin Gaethje built a reputation as one of the most exciting fighters in MMA. In the World Series of Fighting promotion, he built an undefeated record through a series of electric performances and thrilling contests. Lingering over Gaethje was always the question of how he would perform against the best competition in the world. He signed with the UFC sporting a 17-0 record with 14 knockouts and was put in a main event Friday night in his first UFC bout. It was time for Gaethje to prove what he could do.

Pitted against longtime lightweight contender Michael Johnson, Gaethje lived up to his nickname of “the Highlight.” For two rounds, Gaethje and Johnson went to war in one of the best fights of this or any other year. Gaethje and Johnson exchanged words leading up to the fight and the competitors swung throughout looking to finish with practically every blow. Both were rocked at different points, with Gaethje appearing in deep trouble in the first and second rounds.

While Gaethje took tremendous damage at different points in the fight, Johnson got the worst of it. In the second round, Gaethje hurt Johnson with a barrage of punches that sent him to the canvas. Gaethje encouraged Johnson to stand back up and then went after him with brutal uppercuts. Johnson finally went down after a knee, and the fight was stopped. As chants for Gaethje rang out from the audience, Gaethje did a backflip off the cage to celebrate. It was one of the most impressive debuts in the history of the UFC and announced the presence of an exciting new fighter in one of the best divisions in the sport.

In the other top fight of the evening, Jesse Taylor secured “redemption” and won the 25th season of the Ultimate Fighter. The show was built around bringing back fighters from previous seasons and giving them another opportunity to make it in the UFC. The theme of redemption applied to no fighter more than Taylor, who was supposed to compete in the finals of the seventh season of the Ultimate Fighter but was removed from the fight after a drunken rampage through a casino.

Nine years later, Taylor capitalized on his second chance.Taylor advanced to the finals of the tournament with wins over Mehdi Baghdad, Hayder Hassan and James Krause. He then submitted Dhiego Lima in the finals Friday night to win. Even in the fight against Lima, Taylor worked through adversity. Lima dropped him with a left hook in the second round and went for a submission, but Taylor quickly recovered and locked in a rear naked choke of his own for the tap. With the victory, Taylor won $290,000 and was able to rise back up nine years after what appeared to be a legacy defining mistake.

In other action:

— Drakkar Klose (8-0-1) scored an upset win and ended the undefeated record of Marc Diakiese (12-1). Diakiese came into the fight with a lot of hype, but a confident Klose challenged him throughout and earned a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Twice, Klose kicked Diakiese’s leg out from under him. In an uncomfortable scene, Klose continued to taunt and trash talk Diakiese after the fight, drawing boos from the crowd.

— Jared Cannonier (10-2) showcased his trademark intensity in the process of picking up a third round TKO over UFC newcomer Nick Roehrick (7-1). Roehrick was game and hung in the fight, but Cannonier landed heavy punches throughout and eventually put Roehrick away. Cannonier is an entertaining fighter to watch with dangerous striking ability, but questions still remain about his takedown defense.

— In a clash of styles, Brad Tavares’ more traditional approach got the best of the more unique stylings of Elias Theodorou. The fight was even in early rounds but Tavares took over in the third. That was the difference in a 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 unanimous decision that improved Tavares to 15-4 and dropped Theodorou to 13-2. Tavares has fought in the UFC since 2010 but has mostly flown under the radar. He’s still looking for a marquee win that will elevate him into consistent fights against top contenders.

— Jordan Johnson (8-0) secured a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over a competitive Marcel Fortuna (9-2). Johnson has a background in wrestling and Fortuna a background in jiu jitsu, but the fight was mostly contested on the feet.

— Angela Hill (7-3) avoided a second straight loss with a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Ashley Yoder (5-3). Hill had much more power in her strikes as they landed throughout the bout.

— James Krause’s boxing proved too much for crowd favorite Tom Gallicchio over the course of their three-round fight. Krause was much sharper in the standup, consistently landing big shots and evading Gallicchio’s attempts at offense. The unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) improved Krause to 24-7 while Gallicchio fell to 19-10.

— In an entertaining scrap, C.B. Dollaway (16-8) scored a unanimous-decision win (29-28, 29-27, 29-27) over Ed Herman (23-13, 1 NC). Dollaway was fighting for the first time since 2015 because of a freak injury caused by a malfunctioning elevator last year. Both men had their moments, exchanging strikes and submission attempts, but Dollaway’s wrestling played a key role in the decision.

— One small mistake was all it took for Tecia Torres (9-1) to secure a submission victory over Juliana Lima (9-4). Lima went for a takedown but allowed Torres to get behind her during the attempt. Torres quickly got in her hooks and locked in a rear naked choke to force the submission. The defeat was the first time Lima has been stopped in professional MMA competition and the first time Torres has won via knockout or submission.

— In the opener, former lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard (13-6-1, 1 NC) went back to the basics and utilized his wrestling to pick up a unanimous decision win (30-26, 30-26, 30-26) over Teruto Ishihara (9-4-2). Maynard had struggled mightily in recent fights with losses in five of his last six, but Ishihara had no answers for the former All-American wrestler’s takedowns and top control.


Amanda Nunes will not defend title against Valentina Shevchenko because of illness

Amanda Nunes, top, battles Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 196.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes withdrew from her scheduled Saturday night UFC 213 main-event title defense claiming illness, angering top-rated opponent Valentina Shevchenko.

After UFC President Dana White told The Times in a text message that Nunes pulled out after being cleared to fight by a doctor during a brief hospitalization, Shevchenko expressed dismay.

“I’m very upset. I couldn’t believe it [went] to the very last moment, and I’m upset all the fans around the world who were expecting and waiting for this fight,” Shevchenko said as the card began without her at T-Mobile Arena.

“I woke up, was preparing for my fight, feeling this nervousness inside me … I heard then this fight won’t happen and I was like … ,” as her shoulders slumped. “[Nu-nes] wanted to cut the weight in very short time and to have this advantage during the week, but it won’t work like this. Our bodies need time to recover.”

Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob Bennett said it was the toll of the weight cut along with another unspecified health issue that one fight official not authorized to speak publicly about the situation, identified as “abdominal,” that led to Brazil’s Nunes’ informing the UFC she was not ready to defend her belt for the second time.

White first said, “I don’t know,” when asked why Nunes (14-4) was withdrawing from the card after being examined by a physician.

“The doctor cleared her to fight. She said she doesn’t feel good,” White said. “It is what it is. You can’t make anyone fight.”

Shevchenko fumed, left only to express interest in fighting Nunes again at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Canada, on Sept. 9.

“Everybody sees everything. Me, I don’t have to speak,” Shevchenko said. “If you are doing these things [taking risks managing weight, then backing out of the fight], you have to be responsible. I hope she knows what she’s doing. I know exactly why she’s doing it. You say, ‘I don’t want to fight.’ What does it mean?”

White said women’s unbeaten strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk spent Saturday morning “begging me for the fight,” but Nevada’s Bennett said the “health and safety” of Jedrzejczyk was too risky to allow her to take the fight because she was not licensed and lacked medical screening, including a pregnancy test that requires 72 hours to screen.

“Gangster,” White said of Jedrzejczyk.

“I would fight. It was not for fun or for P.R. I’m a professional athlete,” said Jedrzejczyk, a stablemate of Nunes’ in Florida. “It was only for the fans, to rescue the show. I feel sorry for Amanda, for both of them.”

The scheduled co-main event, an interim middleweight title fight between Cuba’s Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker, was elevated to the main event. See for full UFC 213 coverage.


Nunes vs. Shevchenko rematch is for a title this time

Amanda Nunes, left, has a kick blocked by Valentina Shevchenko during their UFC 196 women's bantamweight fight.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

It makes perfect sense for Amanda Nunes to open her women’s bantamweight title defense at UFC 213 on Saturday by launching the same hammer punches that made first-round wrecks of Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey.

In aiming those fists at Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes confronts a more elusive target, an experienced martial artist who took Nunes the full three rounds in a non-title fight 16 months ago.

Nunes (14-4) tired late in her unanimous-decision victory, and this rematch for the belt is scheduled for five rounds.

“This is the thing I’ve talked about — fighting mental,” Shevchenko said. “If something goes exactly as you plan it, then you are good, but if something goes wrong and you’re in against a very good fighter, then things change little by little — until I finish her.”

Las Vegas bookmakers call the fight a pick ’em.

Read More