Brazil’s Raulian Paiva opened up the event with a knockout, finishing fellow flyweight contender Mark De La Rosa in the second round.
With the win, the No. 14-ranked Paiva moves to 19-3. The No. 13-ranked De La Rosa falls to 11-4.
No. 12-ranked women’s bantamweight contender Macy Chiasson got back in the win column against late-notice replacement Shanna Young, defeating the Contender Series veteran via unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-26 across the board for Chiasson, now 7-1. Young, who replaced Nicco Montano, falls to 7-3.
The pace of the fight started fast and stayed there throughout the first five minutes, with both fighters getting in their share of shots. But after the back and forth beginning, Chiasson started to take over with knees to the body in the clinch and a late takedown as Young began to tire.
The bantamweights traded control on the mat in the first half of round two until Chiasson took control once again, as she unleashed a steady stream of strikes from the top position. There was more of the same in the final frame, and while Chiasson didn’t get the finish, she never stopped chasing it en route to the clear-cut decision win.
In a clash of bantamweight standouts, Merab Dvalishvili scored an impressive three-round unanimous decision over Casey Kenney.
Scores were 30-27, 30-25 and 29-28 for Dvalishvili, now 10-4. The No. 15-ranked Kenney falls to 13-2-1.
The action was competitive throughout the first two rounds, but Dvalishvili’s pressure and takedowns earned him an early lead that grew as the fight progressed, and by the third round, when the takedown count of “The Machine” hit 12, it was clear that the Georgia native had wrapped up his third consecutive win.
Back in action three weeks after his last bout, Dequan Townsend wasn’t able to break into the UFC win column, as he lost a shutout three-round decision to Devin Clark in their light heavyweight bout.
Scores were 30-27 and 30-26 twice.
Not surprisingly, Clark (11-4) had his greatest success with his grappling and ground game, so he implemented it whenever he could in the opening stanza. The second round was even more dominant for the “Brown Bear,” who dumped Townsend (21-11) to the mat early and kept him there until the horn sounded. And while Townsend got an earful from his corner between rounds, he wasn’t able to turn the tide in the final round, making the reading of the judges’ scores of a mere formality.
Townsend was a late replacement for Gadzhimurad Antigulov.
Scott Holtzman won the most important fight of his career, taking a unanimous decision over veteran lightweight star Jim Miller in a grueling three-round battle.
The fight stayed on the feet for the first five minutes, each fighter having his moments before the horn sounded. For Miller, the left hand was the weapon of choice, but in the second half of the round, Holtzman found his timing with his right upstairs, making sure he got the veteran’s attention.
In the second minute of round two, Miller used a missed spin by Holtzman to wrap up his foe, but “Hot Sauce” got free quickly. The two then let loose with their strikes at close range, both emerging bloody before a clinch at the two-minute mark. Holtzman used the position to get a takedown, and he finished the round with a series of ground strikes.
The third was a war of attrition in the pocket, with Holtzman and Miller both digging deep in the high altitude to get the win, but it was Knoxville’s Holtzman who took the nod via scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice,
With the win, Holtzman moves to 14-3. Sparta, New Jersey’s Miller falls to 31-14 with 1 NC.
Perennial bantamweight contender John Dodson snapped a two-fight losing streak in style, as he stopped Nathaniel Wood in the third round for his first stoppage victory since 2016.
Wood marched forward throughout the opening round, and while he was befuddled a bit by Dodson’s speed early on, by the second half he started to find his range, cutting Dodson under the eye and even scoring a brief takedown.
A couple low kicks by Wood drew a stern warning from referee Joe Coca in the second round, prompting a brief barrage of offense from Dodson in response. Wood was able to dodge any significant trouble until Dodson opened a cut over his left eye, prompting a visit from the Octagonside physician, who cleared “The Prospect” to continue. A heated exchange followed, and the crowd roared.
Buoyed by the strong finish to the second round, the fighters came out firing for the third and it was Dodson who caught Wood with a counter left that dropped the Brit to the mat. After a series of unanswered ground strikes, it was over, with referee Joe Coca halting the bout at :16 of round three.
With the win, the No. 13-ranked Dodson moves to 22-11. London’s Wood falls to 16-4.
Welterweight newcomer Daniel Rodriguez made an immediate impact in his bout against veteran Tim Means, winning his debut via second-round submission.
Means opened the fight with a series of strikes followed by a takedown, but Rodriguez got to his feet quickly and then tried to get his own offense in gear. The fight settled into a competitive groove with both fighters having their moments, but at the horn, Rodriguez dropped Means with a left to the head and as the local favorite stood, he was on shaky legs.
Rodriguez kept the momentum going into round two as he landed several hard blows, but Means took the shots and kept throwing back. The striking battle was being won by Rodriguez, though, and after rocking Means again, he locked up a guillotine choke that forced the New Mexico product to tap out at 3:37 of the second stanza.
With the win, Rodriguez moves to 11-1. Means falls to 29-12-1 with 1 NC.
It wasn’t the all-out war many expected, but Albuquerque’s Lando Vannata fought a smart fight for three rounds against Hawaii’s Yancy Medeiros, enabling him to leave the Octagon with a well-deserved unanimous decision victory.
All three judges saw it 30-27.
The story of the first round was Medeiros advancing and Vannata trying to counter, leaving an impressive flurry of shots by Vannata at close range the likely deciding factor in a close frame.
The chess match continued in rounds two and three, but again, it was Vannata being the more active fighter as he mixed up his attacks, landing the more telling blows, and even brought his grappling into play at times, marking a complete performance for a fighter with the most deceiving record in the lightweight division.
As for that record, Vannata moves to 11-4-2 with the win, while Medeiros falls to 15-7 with 1 NC.
Ray Borg made it another win for New Mexico in flyweight action, as he defeated 125-pound contender Rogerio Bontorin via unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 30-25 for Borg, now 13-4. The No. 7-ranked Bontorin falls to 16-2 with 1 NC.After a fairly slow start to the fight, Borg picked things up in the second half of the opening round, as he scored two takedowns and controlled the bout on the mat.
Borg took the fight right back to the mat to start the second, and he immediately took Bontorin’s back. The Brazilian rose to his feet, but Borg remained locked to his back as he searched for a choke. Ultimately giving up the position, Borg opted for another takedown with under two minutes left before taking the back while the two stood once again before the horn sounded.
In the third, Borg left no doubts as he controlled the grappling exchanges once more, nullifying any offense from his Brazilian foe.
Borg missed weight for the fight, coming in at 128 pounds.
The highly anticipated UFC debut by Contender Series graduate Brok Weaver ended in a victory for the Alabama native, but not in the conventional sense, as an illegal strike by Kazula Vargas resulted in a disqualification win for Weaver.
Vargas aggressively pursued Weaver from the start, using his strikes to set up a successful takedown a minute into the bout. The action appeared to stall for a bit, but Weaver was working from the bottom position, and he nearly sunk in a guillotine choke. Vargas got loose, and though the two rose briefly, as they went back to the mat, an illegal knee by Vargas on the grounded Weaver brought a stop to the fight. The official time of the stoppage was 4:02 of round one.
Weaver moves to 15-4. Vargas falls to 10-4
In a meeting of flyweight contenders, Montana De La Rosa scored a three-round unanimous decision over Mara Romero Borella.
All three judges saw it 30-27 for the No. 12-ranked De La Rosa, now 11-5. The No. 13-ranked Borella falls to 12-7 with 2 NC.
The fight went to the mat briefly in the opening minute, but the two scrambled back to their feet until a De La Rosa takedown in the second minute. The two scrambled again, with a stalemate being the result. With under two to go, the two rose, with De La Rosa staying locked on to her opponent until the horn.
De La Rosa stayed in charge in round two, her grappling attack dominating throughout. Just before the midway point of round three, De La Rosa showed off her striking, with a right hand flooring Borella. The Italian appeared to recover quickly, but now De La Rosa was in the top position and controlling matters once more.
Strange things were expected to take place in the co-main event between unorthodox welterweights Diego Sanchez and Michel Pereira, but few would have predicted that the bout would end in a disqualification win for Albuquerque’s Sanchez. But that’s just what happened in the final round at Santa Ana Star Center.
Sanchez opened up with a front flip that had the crowd roaring, but it didn’t result in any damage or a takedown for him. Pereira started the fight fairly sedate by his standards, but by the second minute he scored with a kick off the cage and nearly landed a flying knee, and he continued playing the aggressor. Sanchez played defense for long stretches of the round, perhaps trying to empty the gas tank of the pursuing Pereira, but a couple hard shots to the body scored more points for “Demolidor.”
Pereira stayed in the lead in round two, using his height and reach advantage to keep Sanchez at bay. The Brazilian even slammed Sanchez in the closing seconds of the frame, leaving the “Nightmare” in need of a big comeback in the last round.
Some showboating from Pereira finally brought Sanchez alive, but only for a few moments until another takedown by Pereira. A wild flip from the Brazilian followed before he landed some ground strikes, but the two were back to their feet quickly. And though Sanchez began marching forward, he soon ate a series of knees, with the last one landing while the local favorite was down. That brought a stop to the action and cut Sanchez’ forehead, and after he told referee Jason Herzog that he couldn’t see, the fight was halted and Pereira was disqualified at 3:09 of the final round.
Sanchez moves to 31-12. Pereira falls to 23-11 with 1 NC.
Fighting in front of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, Jan Blachowicz unleashed some of his “Polish power” and made his case for a shot at “Bones,” as he avenged his 2015 loss to Corey Anderson via first-round knockout.
“I proved that I’m the next contender for a title shot,” said Warsaw’s Blachowicz, who has now beaten Luke Rockhold, “Jacare” Souza and Anderson in succession.
The two got off to a tentative start, choosing to pick their shots and seek out openings. But Blachowicz did toss off a couple attempts by Anderson to grapple, and when he did let one of his bombs go, the right hand landed flush and sent the Illinois native to the deck. A follow-up shot ended matters, with referee Herb Dean stopping the fight at 3:08 of the opening round.
With the win, the No. 6-ranked Blachowicz moves to 26-8. The No. 5-ranked Anderson falls to 14-5.