Blaydes extends streak with signature victory

Read on for UFC 225 prelim results...
BLAYDES vs OVEREEM

Chicago’s own Curtis Blaydes continued to charge up the heavyweight ladder in UFC 225 action at United Center, stopping Alistair Overeem in the third round.

There was little action in the first two and a half minutes until Blaydes shot in for a takedown and got it, pinning Overeem to the fence. Blaydes patiently worked to improve his position, but Overeem defended well. Blaydes was able to keep his foe grounded until the end of the round, though, with the only offense coming from the Netherlands product being a late leg lock attempt.


Overeem started the second off well, landing a hard knee followed by a right hand. Blaydes shot in for another takedown, and after avoiding a guillotine attempt, he got it. In the second minute, the two rose, but Blaydes got it back to the mat midway through the stanza, and it was another stint of control for “Razor” Blaydes.

Overeem scored with a hard kick to the body to begin the final round, but Blaydes answered with a right hand and then landed several hard blows against the fence before dumping Overeem to the mat once more. Blaydes went on to use his ground-and-pound strategy to perfection, and with a little over two minutes left, the right elbows rained down, cutting Overeem and bringing in referee Dan Miragliotta to halt the bout at 2:56 of round three.

With the win, the No. 4-ranked Blaydes moves to 10-1 with 1 NC. The No. 2-ranked Overeem falls to 43-17 with 1 NC.

GADELHA vs ESPARZA

In a clash of strawweight contenders, Claudia Gadelha eked out a hard-fought three-round split decision over former champion Carla Esparza.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for the No. 3-ranked Gadelha, now 16-3. The No. 5-ranked Esparza falls to 14-5.


The first round was a wild one, with Gadelha scoring a flash knockdown in the opening minute before Esparza answered back with a right hand that staggered the Brazilian. It was a tight guillotine choke in the closing seconds of the frame that likely won the round for Gadelha, though.

In the second, Gadelha dominated on the mat, but in the third, Esparza roared back with a solid attack on the feet before trading takedowns with her foe before the final horn.

BEKTIC vs LAMAS

Featherweight up and comer Mirsad Bektic held off a late charge from veteran contender Ricardo Lamas to win a three-round split decision.

Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 for the No. 11-ranked Bektic, now 13-1. The No. 7-ranked Lamas falls to 18-7.

The busier and more effective striker throughout, Bektic’s grappling game was effective as well, as he dodged most of Lamas’ takedowns and had good control when the two clinched against the fence. Lamas almost pulled off the win in the final round, though, as he nearly locked in a guillotine choke twice before Bektic found his way free and got to the final horn.

DE LA ROCHA vs COULTER

Winless in their four combined UFC fights, heavyweights Chris de la Rocha and Rashad Coulter went after it hard in their bout, with de la Rocha emerging victorious with a second-round stoppage of the “Daywalker.”

With two finishers in the Octagon, there’s no surprise that a fight broke out immediately, with Washington’s de la Rocha getting off to a fast start on the feet and the mat before Coulter hurt him with a left hand midway through the round. De la Rocha shook off the blow and the two proceeded to throw haymakers at close range. Coulter looked to be winded and de la Rocha took advantage, only to see the Texan fire back. With under 30 seconds left, the bloodied de la Rocha got the fight back to the mat, capping off a memorable round.

De la Rocha scored a takedown early in round two and began firing away as he took Coulter’s back. De la Rocha also looked for chokes, but to no avail. Both were exhausted at this point, but after a series of unanswered blows from de la Rocha, referee Kevin MacDonald had seen enough, stopping the fight at 3:53 of the second round.

De la Rocha moves to 5-2 with the win; Dallas’ Coulter falls to 8-4.

SMITH vs EVANS

Anthony Smith’s UFC light heavyweight debut was a successful one, as he halted former world champion Rashad Evans in the first round.

Evans’s intention was clear from the start, and while he didn’t get it, he did lock Smith up against the fence. But as the two grappled, Smith worked Evans into position for a knee, and when he threw that right knee, that was it for “Suga,” who hit the deck hard, with a follow-up shot from the Nebraskan bringing in referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the fight 53 seconds into the first round.

With the win, Smith moves to 29-13. The 38-year-old Evans, who has lost five straight, falls to 24-8-1.

PETTIS vs BENAVIDEZ

No. 5-ranked flyweight contender Sergio Pettis scored the biggest victory of his career, halting the six-fight winning streak of No. 1-ranked Joseph Benavidez via split decision.

Benavidez, making his first start since December 2016, started the fight aggressively with leg kicks, but Pettis rocked him in return with punches upstairs, leading Benavidez to take the fight to the mat. Pettis did a good job of getting back to his feet, and he continued to pepper Benavidez with punches, marking up the Las Cruces product’s face.

Pettis’ counterpunching continued to be effective, but Benavidez’ pressure and busy striking likely evened matters on the scorecards, even though he was unable to get the fight back to the mat. That changed in the final round, as Benavidez scored a brief takedown, but Pettis’ overall defensive effort and crisp strikes proved to be the difference maker, as he earned the decision by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29.

OLIVEIRA vs GUIDA

Charles Oliveira made the most of his short notice assignment against Clay Guida, submitting the Illinois native in the first round of their lightweight bout.

Oliveira had success on the feet in the early going, cutting Guida over the eye with a stiff jab, but it was the Sao Paulo native’s ground game that did the most damage, as Oliveira locked in a guillotine choke as Guida looked for a takedown, and after a spell on the mat, Guida tapped out at 2:18 of round one.

With the win, Oliviera – who replaced Bobby Green in the bout – moves to 23-8 with 1 NC. “Do Bronx” also tied Royce Gracie’s record for most UFC submissions with 10.

Johnsburg’s Guida falls to 34-15.

IGE vs SANTIAGO

Hawaiian featherweight Dan Ige picked up his first UFC win in style, stopping Chicago’s Santiago in less than a minute.

Ige got down to business immediately, rocking Santiago with an uppercut to set up a takedown, and from there, he didn’t let up, drilling his foe with both hands until referee Kevin MacDonald stepped in at the 50-second mark.

With the win, Haleiwa’s Ige moves to 9-2. Santiago falls to 21-12.

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