The UFC returned this weekend after their one weekend hiatus last weekend following UFC 265 in Houston, Texas. Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum were the headliners in a five round matchup between two top ten middleweights. The rest of the card consisted of UFC vets, to title contenders, even some newer faces that might have made a name for themselves. This is one of those events that flies under the radar. One that many fans judge before the first fight even starts. Not to say that this card was a world beater or anything, but a lot of fans will see the highlights of some of these bouts and maybe wish they had tuned in.
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval
The night kicked off with a top ten flyweight bout. This fight started off really exciting with some high paced scrambling to start the first round, that eventually made its way back to the feet for some good back and forth striking. In the second round after managing to take Royval’s back, Pantoja would finish the fight via rear naked choke. Pantoja entered the fight ranked number three at flyweight. He currently owns two victories over current champion Brandon Moreno. Many seem to think a third fight between Moreno and former champion Deiveson Figueiredo is next for the division. However following this performance, Pantoja also has a legit argument to be the next challenger.
Vinc Pichel vs. Austin Hubbard
Vinc Pichel was able to extend his win streak to three following his unanimous decision victory over Austin Hubbard. Pichel really won this fight from beginning to end. Both men traded nasty leg kicks. But most of the striking exchanges were clearly won by Pichel. The judges agreed as all three had Pichel winning on the score cards by a score of 30-27. Pichel expressed interest in a rematch with Gregor Gillespie, the man who last defeated him before this three fight win streak.
Trevin Jones vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov
Trevin Jones was originally slated to take on Mana Martinez in this fight. However due to Martinez having to pull out of the fight, Kakhramonov stepped in on one weeks notice for this fight. Kakhramonov wasted no time even on one weeks notice taking the fight to Trevin Jones. Early in the fight following a beautiful Judo throw, Kakhramonov almost finished a guillotine and ended the fight early. However, Jones would escape and the remainder of the first round would be back and forth. More of the same back and forth action with Jones clearly getting fatigued towards the end of second round. Then in the third, Kakhramonov would find the neck of Jones yet again, only this time he would not let go and he would put Trevin Jones to sleep in the third round.
Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter
Literally the biggest fight of the night in the heavyweight division between two guys who love to slug it out. Both men came out throwing heavy leg kicks and heavy hands. Huge punches were taken in this fight by both fighter. Yet they were able to stay on their feet for the majority of the fight. Strikes were landed from both sides, but Porter got the upper hand in most of the exchanges. The judges saw it the same way as Porter won by unanimous decision.
Clay Guida vs. Mark O. Madsen
This fight went a lot different than expected. With the extensive olympic wrestling background, most expected that would be Madsen’s strategy and path to victory in this fight. Instead we were greeted with a mostly fast paced stand up battle. One of those stand up battles that make you happy you are not a judge for this fight. Razor thin close fight with both fighters having moments of success. Ultimately it would be Madsen that would earn the victory via split decision.
Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum
This main event is one of those good fights between two truly top tier fighters in the UFC. One where not only is the fight it self going to be exciting, but potentially the aftermath as well. And that is exactly what it turned out to be. Kicked off by a close first two rounds, midway through the third round Cannonier stepped in and cracked Gastelum with a right hook that dropped him. Gastelum would be able to survive as he popped back up and finish the rest of the round. Similar to the first and second round the fourth and fifth round would be pretty close. At the conclusion of the five rounds, the judges awarded the victory to Cannonier via unanimous decision.
Not to many people were sure what direction Jared Cannonier was gonna go following his loss to Robert Whittaker in October of last year. Tonight he answered that question. By no means is it a title shot earning performance. but it is a massive step in the right direction. Jared Cannonier is probably going to be keeping a very close eye on next weekends headliner between Darren Till and Derek Brunson. Cannonier vs. the winner of that fight makes all of the sense in the world if the stars align for it to happen.
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