UFC 247 takes place Saturday night from Houston, Texas. The card is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight championship bout pitting champion Jon Jones (25-1 (1 no contest)) against unbeaten challenger Dominick Reyes (12-0). An additional championship bout sees UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (18-3) defending against Katlyn Chookagian (13-2). Both Jones and Shevchenko are significant favorites.
UFC Light Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes
Jon Jones is generally considered the greatest MMA fighter in history, effectively unbeaten over the course of his career despite facing a who’s who of the sport. After a series of mistakes outside the Octagon, he has gotten back on track recently and has been more regularly competing. Dominick Reyes is unbeaten in his own right and has good athleticism and knockout power.
Round 1. Reyes starts the fight with a straight left hand. He adds another left hand. Reyes then attempts a high kick. Reyes is moving quickly and may have a speed edge over Jones. Reyes lands a two punch combination. Jones hasn’t been able to get off in the early going. Reyes drops Jones with a left hand but Jones gets up. Reyes hurts Jones with a couple of straight punches and backs Jones up. Jones seems vulnerable. Reyes lands a kick to the body. Jones is walking forward but he isn’t throwing a lot. Jones lands a head kick late. He throws another but it is blocked. 10-9 Reyes.
Round 2. Reyes lands some big punches on Jones and Jones retreats across the Octagon. Reyes pursues and looks to land more but eventually has to give up the chase because Jones is clearly okay despite being uncomfortable with the early exchange. Jones’ principal weapon has been low kicks. He isn’t boxing a lot with Reyes, presumably because of the speed in Reyes’ hands. Reyes connects with a straight left punch. Reyes lands a nice uppercut and goes for another that misses. 10-9 Reyes.
Round 3. Reyes nails Jones with a hard head kick early in the third. Jones is moving forward on Reyes throughout but Reyes is throwing all sorts of strikes while Jones is throwing some kicks but isn’t letting his hands go. Jones goes for a takedown and it looks briefly like he has it but Reyes is able to block it. Reyes’ pace has finally stalled. Reyes lands a nice kick to the body. That was a closer round. 10-9 Reyes.
Round 4. Reyes connects with some powerful punches early. Jones clinches and looks for a desperation takedown. Jones gets Reyes down but Reyes works his way back up. Jones keeps working for another takedown. He doesn’t get it but he is comfortable enough to just return to the standup. Jones lands a quality elbow from a clinch. He adds a hard knee to the body. Reyes answers back with that left hand. Reyes clearly looks more tired than Jones. Another close round. Jones was winning most of the round but Reyes got in the best offense by far at the beginning. 10-9 Jones.
Round 5. Jones shoots for a takedown at the beginning of the round. Reyes defends well. Jones lets it go and then presses Reyes in the standup. Jones lands a kick to the body and then a spinning back kick to the body. Reyes fires a few straight punches but none of them connect. Reyes throws a few jabs at Jones but Jones keeps coming. 10-9 Jones, 48-47 Reyes.
Winner: Jon Jones, unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
That’s going to be a controversial decision. Jones came on late and won the last two rounds but Reyes was dominant early. Jones again showed vulnerability and he has struggled in recent years in a way he rarely ever did early in his career even as he continues to win. Reyes was impressive and raised his stock regardless of the decision.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Title: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Valentina Shevchenko is considered one of the best fighters in the sport, a high level technician whose only UFC losses have come to arguably the best female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes. She defends her title at UFC 247 against Katlyn Chookagian, who earned this title shot by winning five of her last six.
Round 1. The fighters exchange leg kicks at the start. Shevchenko lands a nice straight left hand. Shevchenko connects with a spinning back fist. Shevchenko follows that with a three strike combination. Chookagian continues to throw out leg kicks. Shevchenko catches a body kick and takes Chookagian down with a minute left in the round. Shevchenko lands some punches there and cuts Chookagian open with an elbow. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 2. Shevchenko lands a nice kick to the body. Chookagian misses with a couple kick attempts. Shevchenko responds with a few successful kicks of her own. Shevchenko takes Chookagian down late. She controls Chookagian on the ground and lands a few punches here and there before the round concludes. 10-9 Shevchenko.
Round 3. Shevchenko takes Chookagian down quickly. She immediately locks up a crucifix and lands rapid punches there until the fight is stopped.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko, TKO, round 3.
That was another masterful performance from the champion. Like a Demetrious Johnson, she’s so adept at all components of MMA that it is difficult for opponents to approach how to defeat her. Chookagian was simply overmatched.
Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa
Juan Adams vowed to teach Greg Hardy a lesson last time out but instead suffered a 45 second TKO defeat. He badly needs a win here after two straight losses. Justin Tafa has a 3-1 record and lost in his UFC debut.
Round 1. Tafa lands the first significant shot of the fight, a right hand that gives Adams trouble. Tafa lands another hard hook and then an uppercut, sending Adams to the mat and ending the fight.
Winner: Justin Tafa, TKO, round 1.
It’s still very early, making it hard to gauge where Tafa stands, but that was an impressive, quick win in a high profile spot.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige
Mirsad Bektic was considered a potential title contender but his momentum slowed when he suffered knockout losses in two of his last four fights. He looks to rebound here. Dan Ige has won four straight in the UFC so it won’t be an easy test for Bektic.
Round 1. Ige scores an early takedown and lands a couple of hard punches to the head as Bektic gets up. He stuns Bektic with additional punches. Ige is getting the better of the exchanges consistently. Ige looks for a takedown at the close but doesn’t get that. 10-9 Ige.
Round 2. Bektic gets the early takedown and ends up in North-South position. Bektic moves into side control and lands some knees to the body. Ige looks to get up but Bektic is able to maintain body control and keep top position. Bektic goes for an arm triangle choke in full mount position. Bektic eventually gives it up. 10-9 Bektic.
Round 3. Bektic looks to return the fight to the ground. They end up in a clinch and they are separated. Ige lands a powerful punch. Bektic again looks for a takedown. Ige looks for an armbar in the scramble but Bektic is out of that and takes top position. Ige stands back up. They end up in a late scramble and Ige attacks the leg at the close. 10-9 Ige, 29-28 Ige.
Winner: Dan Ige, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Ige deserved that decision. Ige had the first and Bektic the second. In the third, Bektic did get Ige down but Ige had the most offensive output.
Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi
The popular Derrick Lewis fights out of Houston and will be a crowd favorite tonight. He is a knockout artist and big personality. This is an unusual matchup as Latifi was a short, stocky light heavyweight and is now moving all the way up to heavyweight to fight a much bigger opponent. Latifi is a strong grappler so he has a very different style than Lewis.
Round 1. As Lewis throws a punch, Latifi clinches. Latifi presses for a takedown but Lewis defends well. Eventually they are separated. Lewis throws a head kick. Lewis throws another and they end up back in a clinch. Uneventful round. 10-9 Lewis.
Round 2. The pace continues to be slow. Lewis looks for a flying kneee and ends up back in the clinch. Latifi finally gets a takedown at the halfway point of the round. Latifi is in Lewis’ half guard. Nothing happens and they are stood back up. Lewis throws a couple big punches on the feet. Latifi throws Lewis back down. 10-9 Latifi.
Round 3. Lewis lands a punch early. Latifi throws one back. Lewis goes for another knee and ends up back in the clinch. Latifi gets another takedown and lands a few punches on the ground in half guard. Lewis finally stands back up. He throws a knee and a few punches but ends up back in that clinch. Latifi gets a takedown but Lewis immediately gets up. Lewis comes out swinging again, landing punches and elbows. He nails Latifi with a brutal late uppercut and pours it on to the end. 10-9 Lewis, 29-28 Lewis.
Winner: Derrick Lewis, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
It was an ugly fight but Lewis’ gutsy late push pulled it out on the scorecards.
Trevin Giles vs. James Krause
Trevin Giles was originally supposed to fight Antonio Arroyo but Arroyo had to pull out yesterday and James Krause stepped in with one day’s notice. Giles scored knockout wins in his first two UFC fights but then dropped his next two by submission. Krause has quietly won six straight in the UFC and hasn’t lost in five years.
Round 1. Giles lands a nice two punch combination at the start. Krause looks for a takedown. He doesn’t get Giles down but he takes Giles’ back while Giles is still up. Krause then looks to secure a rear naked choke. Krause gets Giles to the ground in the process while continuing to attempt to set up the submission. Giles fights it and momentarily it looks like he’s going to be able to roll out into top position but Krause is able to re-secure the back. Giles tries again and this time he takes top position. Giles immediately opens up with punches. They return to the feet and Giles comes up swinging with heavy punches. 10-9 Krause.
Round 2. Krause looks visibly tired having expended so much energy in the first and not having a training camp for this bout. Giles lands a couple of nice combinations. He is landing some big punches on Krause. Krause goes for a takedown and can’t take top position but Giles willingly moves into Krause’s guard and throws some punches from there. Krause attempts an armbar but Giles keeps throwing big punches from the top and Krause has to give it up. Giles takes the back and has a rear naked choke at the close but Krause appears to be saved by the bell. 10-8 Giles.
Round 3. Krause appears revitalized a little in the third, throwing leg kicks and punches to the head. Giles responds with a nice combination of his own and Krause fires back himself. Giles connects again with punches and knocks Krause back. Giles has a lot of confidence in his striking, lunging forward with punches and leaving himself open. Giles nails Krause with a right hand as Krause is moving in. 10-9 Giles, 29-27 Giles.
Winner: Trevin Giles, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Giles deserved that decision. He worked his way through a bad situation in the first round and he poured on the offense in the second and third. Krause deserves a lot of credit in his own right, taking that fight on the shortest of notice and giving Giles everything he could handle.
Andrea Lee vs. Lauren Murphy
Andrea Lee is a women’s flyweight contender looking to rebound from a close loss last time out to Joanne Calderwood. Lauren Murphy is looking to work her way into contender status and an impressive TKO win over Mara Romero Borella last time out was a step in the right direction.
Round 1. The fighters waste no time getting to it as Murphy charges across with a punch and they immediately begin trading. Both women have a lot of redness on their faces from early strikes. Lee connects with a head kick. Murphy is landing more punches to the head while Lee is mixing in more kicks and attacks to the legs and body. Lee throws Murphy down and lands what looked to be an illegal knee to the head but Murphy takes top position in the process. Close, competitive round. 10-9 Lee.
Round 2. The fight continues in a similar manner to the first, with Murphy concentrating on her boxing and Lee implementing a more diverse set of attacks. Murphy has slowed down a little bit. Murphy clinches and looks for a takedown late. Lee is able to block that attempt. Murphy gets a takedown in the final 15 seconds. 10-9 Lee.
Round 3. Lee knocks Murphy down with a straight punch. Lee then looks for an anaconda choke. Murphy defends well and takes top position. Lee looks to transition into a guillotine choke but she doesn’t come close on that. Lee works her way back to her feet. They trade punches at the close. That was another close round. 10-9 Lee, 30-27 Lee.
Winner: Lauren Murphy, split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27).
The crowd loudly boos the decision, but that was a close fight with difficult rounds to score. The second round did feel like it belonged to Lee but the other two had different factors cutting in opposite directions.
Alex Morono vs. Kalinn Williams
Alex Morono is a Houston native and enters this fight with momentum, having won three straight in the UFC. Kalinn Williams makes his UFC debut with a 9-1 record.
Round 1. Morono connects with a solid punch early but Williams fires back and staggers Morono with an impactful left hook. From there, Williams opens up with wild looping punches and hurts Morono a few more times before dropping him and finishing the fight.
Winner: Kalinn Williams, KO, round 1.
That was a phenomenal debut for Williams in the UFC. He looks impressive physically and he demonstrated he has dangerous hands as well. Morono hadn’t been stopped in over five years but Williams put him away in short order.
Miles Johns vs. Mario Bautista
Miles Johns has a perfect 10-0 record and has won most of his fights by decision. Mario Bautista is 7-1 with his only loss coming to top contender Cory Sandhagen.
Round 1. The fighters are a little more cautious at the beginning than the fighters in previous bouts. Neither man is throwing nor landing much. Johns lands a heavy looping punch that knocks Bautista down. Bautista is fine and immediately gets right back up. The crowd boos the lack of action at the end. 10-9 Johns.
Round 2. Bautista comes out aggressively. He’s throwing a lot but he isn’t landing much, in part because he seems hesitant to commit to moving all the way into Johns’ range to throw. Bautista drops Johns with a knee that lands despite Johns putting up his hands to defend. Bautista follows with additional punches on the ground and the fight is stopped.
Winner: Mario Bautista, TKO, round 2.
Journey Newson vs. Domingo Pilarte
Both these fighters are looking to rebound after losing their UFC debuts.
Round 1. Pilarte opens up wildly with some big high kicks. However, Newson then lands a clean right hand that knocks Pilarte loopy and Newson adds some additional punches on the ground until the fight is stopped.
Winner: Journey Newson, TKO, round 1.
That’s got to be discouraging for Pilarte. He came out looking so good but then it all fell apart with one shot. That’s the nature of MMA; everything can turn so quickly. That was a highlight reel win for Newson.
Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez
Andre Ewell is a Californian veteran with a 2-2 UFC record. He takes on Jonathan Martinez, a Texan who is 2-1 in the UFC.
Round 1. Ewell connects with a few solid punches early. Martinez throws a few kicks of his own. Martinez catches Ewell with a shot to the body that sends Ewell backwards. Ewell then knocks Martinez off balance with a punch. Martinez shoots for a takedown and ends up working for it in the clinch. They break late and then they open up with wild punches both ways until the close of the round. 10-9 Ewell.
Round 2. Ewell lands a couple of nice knees to the body early in the second. He throws a flying knee and continues to lean on his knee attacks. Martinez goes for a takedown but it’s from too far out and Ewell defends against it easily. They exchange punches and Martinez again shoots for a takedown unsuccessfully. One advantage Ewell has had throughout is that he looks markedly larger and longer which allows him to get off first. Martinez again hurts Ewell to the body and forces Ewell to defend. Martinez really opens up with big shots looking to finish the bout and he does a lot of damage. 10-9 Martinez.
Round 3. Ewell has an injured arm, which is allowing Martinez to take over in output. He is really opening up with his punches and kicks while Ewell isn’t throwing as much as he did in the first two rounds. Martinez connects with a strong knee late. 10-9 Martinez, 29-28 Martinez.
Winner: Andre Ewell, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
That was a close fight that could have gone either way, with the second round being the decider. The 30-27 scorecard is extremely strange.
Austin Lingo vs. Youssef Zalal
UFC 247 kicks off with a pair of UFC newcomers, both debuting in the UFC after stints in the LFA organization. Lingo is 7-0 while Zalal is 7-2.
Round 1. Lingo moves in with a couple of punches and then clinches. Zalal pushes him off and attacks with a few kicks. Lingo lands a nice straight right hand. Zalal goes for a takedown and gets Lingo to the mat but Lingo pops right up. Zalal lands a few knees on the feet. Lingo and Zalal trade hard punches with each man connecting well. Zalal gets a late takedown. Lingo pushes him off and returns to the feet. Lingo then looks for a takedown but Zalal counters with a kimura attempt at the close. 10-9 Zalal.
Round 2. Zalal looks for a takedown early. Zalal gets it and controls Lingo by the cage. Lingo has full guard while Zalal tries to land some punches from the top. Lingo attempts to stand up and Zalal looks for a D’Arce choke in the process. Zalal cannot secure it and they return to the feet. Zalal immediately attacks with a couple of kicks low and high. Zalal gets another takedown but Lingo grabs a guillotine choke in the process. Lingo isn’t able to threaten and he gives that up. 10-9 Zalal.
Round 3. Zalal gets another takedown and has side control. Lingo looks to stand but Zalal maintains top position. Lingo at least has full guard now. Lingo again stands up which leads to Zalal attacking the neck again. Zalal can’t lock anything in so he lets it go. Back on the feet, Zalal lands a few straight punches. Zalal attacks with a late guillotine attempt and then a D’Arce but time runs out. 10-9 Zalal, 30-27 Zalal.
Winner: Youssef Zalal, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
That was an easy fight to score. Youssef Zalal looked good in his UFC debut, getting the best of the action standing and on the ground against a formerly unbeaten opponent.