Jared Cannonier Def. Sean Strickland
#3 Jared Cannonier and #7 Sean Strickland put on a striking technical battle in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night from the Apex. Each fighter was coming of a loss in their previous contest and needed a win to stay in title contention. This was a highly competitive contest from start to finish that left the judges split on the scorecards.
Strickland came out strong establishing an effective jab early in round one. He has an impressive defensive boxing skills and gauges distance well. Cannonier was the aggressor throwing powerful right hands that did not seem to fully land. With 2:10 left in the round, Strickland briefly secured a takedown on Cannonier but could not do significant damage with it. In round two Cannonier again pushed the pace of the fight. Strickland was avoiding the heavy punches of his opponent and landing effective leg kicks and jabs at distance.
The middle rounds belonged to Cannonier who was finally finding the target for his big right hand. Strickland seemed to slow as the fight went on, allowing Cannonier to walk him down and win rounds 3-4. Heading into the fifth and final round I had the fight tied at 2-2. A minute in, Cannonier landed a powerful shot that busted open the nose of Strickland. For Cannonier this was his most significant shot of the fight and may have won him the round. Strickland was on the defensive for the last three minutes, fending off Cannonier with short punches of his own. The judges had differing opinions on how the fight went as Cannonier was awarded a Split Decision victory. (46-49,49-46,49-46).
#10 Arman Tsarukyan Def. #12 Damir Ismagulov
Arman Tsarukyan (19-3) and Damir Ismagulov were matched up in a ranked lightweight contest in UFC Fight Night’s Co-Main Event. The 26-year-old Tsarukyan has only lost to current Champion Islam Makhachev and #4 Matuesz Gamrot in the promotion. Ismagulov (24-1) was undefeated in the UFC and on a five-fight win streak.
Round one set the tone of the fight as Tsarukyan worked tirelessly for takedowns. Ismagulov showed tremendous defense early but was eventually worn down by the relentless pressure of Tsarukyan. This was not the most entertaining contest, with Tsarukyan attempting 21 takedown attempts. In all three rounds, Tsarukyan was able to take Ismagulov off his feet and control him on the ground. The consistent takedown attempts and pressure of Tsarukyan helped him earn a Unanimous Decison victory (30-27) across all judges’ scorecards.
This victory should move Tsarukyan even further inside the UFC top ten rankings and sets up interesting future matchups with the division’s elite. In his next fight, I would like to see Tsarukyan matched up agianst #5 Rafael Fizev or #4 Justin Gatehje.
Drew Dober Def. Bobby Green
Veteran UFC Lightweights Drew Dober and Bobby Green are longtime fan favorites who are almost never in a boring fight. This Saturday they put on a show winning Fight of the Night honors. Dober had finished his last two opponents by knockout before this fight. Green was coming off a loss to the current champion Islam Makhachev and desperately needed a win to get back into contention.
Round one was controlled by Green who was using his impressive boxing skills and quickness to get the better of Dober on the feet. Green was landing hard combinations that busted open the nose of Dober late in the round. In round two Green again was finding a home for his punches while his back was against the fence. As the confidence of Green grew, he started communicating with Dober while fighting. This was the worst thing Green could have done. No more than a minute later he was floored by a straight left hand from Dober. Dober’s first real connection was the only one he needed as he quickly pounced on Green and finished the fight by TKO.
Dober has now officially won three in a row by knockout. This win puts Dober in position for a notable fight at 155 pounds. Dober would be a perfect opponent for rising star Paddy Pimblett, who is in need of an opponent for March’s London card.
UFC Fight Night Prelims:
The UFC Fight Night Prelims had many competitive contests with a few spectacular knockouts. Alex Caceras (20-13) took on Julian Erosa in a featherweight prelim matchup that had fans highly entertained for as long as it lasted. Caceras is an impressive athlete whose karate style striking is unorthodox for the division. At the three-minute mark of round one Caceras threw a left hand that was followed by a roundhouse kick from the same side. Erosa defended the punch well but never saw the left head kick coming. Caceras scored a beautiful flash knockout in round one in what was a highlight win for his career. Also, on the prelims, Said Nurmagomedov (17-2) won by submission (Guillotine Choke) extending his winning streak to four.
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