In a bout featuring debuting featherweights, Youssef Zalal handed Austin Lingo his first pro loss, winning a three-round unanimous decision in the opener.
Zalal mixed his attacks up nicely from the start, keeping Lingo guessing as he eluded the charges of the Dallas product. In the second, Zalal appeared to be even more comfortable in the heat of the battle, nearly sinking in a D’Arce choke before Lingo escaped. But a takedown later in the round kept Zalal in the lead, and he kept it with another solid frame in the third, clearly wrapping up the victory via three scores of 30-27.
With the win, the Morocco-born Zalal moves to 8-2. Lingo falls to 7-1.
The Houston fans weren’t happy with the scoring, but Andre Ewell emerged victorious with a three-round split decision over Jonathan Martinez in their bantamweight bout.
Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 for Ewell, now 16-6. Martinez falls to 11-3.
There was plenty of back and forth action in the opening round, Martinez hurting Ewell with a body shot before “Mr. Highlight” bounced back with a few hard left hands. The pace slowed a bit as the two locked up against the fence for a spell, but by the closing moments of the frame, both left defense at the door as they slugged it out to the horn.
Ewell was the busier of the two in round two, but late in the round, Martinez surged with a sharp kicking game that included another left kick to the body that hurt the Californian again.
One of those kicks appeared to injure Ewell’s right forearm, and it obviously affected his offense in the third round while Martinez patiently walked his foe down and scored with his fists and feet. In the final seconds, the two bantamweights went toe-to-toe once more, leaving the crowd roaring as the bout ended.
Journey Newson picked up his first UFC win in his second try, as he stopped Domingo Pilarte in less than a minute in their featherweight bout.
Pilarte appeared to get the jump on Newson as the bout began thanks to a high kick, but Newson stayed calm, and moments later, a flush right hand dropped Pilarte hard to the mat. Pilarte attempted to recover, but a series of unanswered strikes brought in referee Jacob Montalvo to halt the fight at the 38-second mark.
With the win, Portland’s Newson moves to 10-2. Houston’s Pilarte falls to 8-3.
In a highly-anticipated meeting of bantamweight prospects, it was Mario Bautista emerging victorious via second-round TKO over the previously unbeaten Miles Johns.
The first round was close, but tactical, with Johns perhaps edging it thanks to a couple hard right hands that got Bautsita’s attention. But it was Bautista who closed the show in the second stanza, as he landed a flush left knee to the jaw that dropped Johns to the mat, with the follow-up barrage of strikes prompting referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the bout at 1:41.
With the win, Phoenix’ Bautista ups his record to 8-1. Dallas’ Johns falls to 10-1.
Late notice replacement Khaos Williams made quite the impression in his UFC debut, as he knocked out Houston’s own Alex Morono in the first round.
The exchanges got underway immediately, and Morono got the worst of it as he ate a left hand that staggered him. Moments later, a right uppercut dropped the local favorite to the mat, with a final series of shots bringing in referee Kerry Hatley to stop the fight 27 seconds into the opening stanza.
With the win, Detroit’s Williams moves to 10-1. Morono falls to 17-6 with 1 NC.
Williams stepped in for the injured Dhiego Lima.
Flyweight contenders Lauren Murphy and Andrea Lee left it all in the Octagon in their three-rounder, with Murphy taking a split decision victory.
Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 for the No. 7-ranked Murphy, now 12-4. The No. 8-ranked Lee falls to 11-4.
As advertised, there was non-stop action from Murphy and Lee in the opening frame, with each standing in the pocket and throwing, with the wear of battle showing on both faces early on. Late in the frame, a takedown from Murphy wasn’t spectacular, but it may have been enough to allow her to edge the close round.
Murphy got a late takedown in the second round as well, but before that, it was Lee leading the action as she introduced more kicks to her attack.
In the second minute of the third, Lee looked to lock in a choke, but Murphy got out of trouble by turning it into a takedown followed by top control. Once standing, both fighters continued to throw, Lee landing a hard body kick which was followed by a knee at close range by Murphy.
Welterweight James Krause made headlines around the MMA world on Friday when he stepped up on a day’s notice to face Trevin Giles at middleweight, and rightfully so, but it was Houston’s Giles who took the victory by way of an exciting three-round split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Giles, now 12-2. Krause, who replaced Antonio Arroyo, falls to 27-9.
Krause got a takedown in the opening minute, but Giles was up to his feet immediately. Krause stayed locked on and took Giles’ back as they went back to the mat, and while the veteran threatened with a choke, in the final minute it was Giles getting free, rising and scoring with some hard shots before the end of the frame.
Giles kept it standing for the first three minutes of round two and that allowed him to land several hard blows on Krause. As the bout went to the mat with under two to go, Giles took the top position and landed a barrage of hard shots on the tiring Krause, drawing a hard look from referee Jacob Montalvo before nearly sinking in a choke with seconds to go in the round.
Krause got off to a good start in the third, as he was landing good shots from all angles. Midway through the round, Giles rattled the bloodied Krause but wasn’t able to put him away, but his surge was enough to take the nod on the scorecards and snap a two-fight losing streak.
Heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis thrilled his hometown fans in Houston in the main card opener, as he surged late and beat Ilir Latifi via unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for the No. 6-ranked Lewis, now 23-7 with 1 NC. Latifi, who was making his UFC heavyweight debut, falls to 15-8, 1 NC.
Lewis struck first with a jumping knee in the second minute, but Latifi took it well and locked Lewis up against the fence. After a stall in the action, referee Dan Miragliotta restarted the bout and Lewis went back on the attack. Latifi’s clinch work and takedown attempts were nullifying Lewis’ offense, but once separated, “The Black Beast” was in control.
Midway through round two, Latifi got the fight where he wanted it, as he took Lewis to the mat, but again the action stalled and prompted a restart late in the frame. Latifi did throw Lewis to the mat, though, and that second takedown was an important one for Sweden’s “Sledgehammer.”
Latifi got his third round off to a good start with a takedown in the opening minute, and he kept it there until two minutes remained. Once standing, Lewis went on the attack, but Latifi diluted that aggression with another clinch. A kick rattled Latifi briefly when they broke, and a couple hard right hands put the Swede on the defensive again just before the bout ended.
Featherweight up and comer Dan Ige made it five victories in a row in featherweight action, as he won a close split decision over Mirsad Bektic.
Ige (13-2) landed a couple hard right hands as the bout began, and after following them up with a quick takedown, more jarring shots followed, as Bektic wasn’t able to hold off the Hawaiian. Bektic did make it through the round, but he was already in a 1-0 hole on the scorecards.
Bektic (13-3) got some daylight early in round two as the bout went to the mat, and the Montrealer scored with hard knees to the body from the top position. Bektic continued to work, ultimately locking in an arm triangle with under two minutes left. Ige made it out of trouble, but he remained pinned to the canvas until the horn.
The third saw both fighters have their moments, with Ige doing well on the feet while Bektic grappled well, keeping to the underlying theme of the bout. And when the judges’ scorecards were tallied, it remained close, with Ige taking the decision via scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29.
New Zealand-born Aussie Justin Tafa showed off his thudding power in the middle of the main card, as he stopped Juan Adams in the first round of their heavyweight meeting.
Despite being the smaller fighter, Tafa closed the distance and rocked Adams, and moments later, a right hook followed by a right uppercut put “The Kraken” on the deck, bringing in referee Jeff Rexroad to halt the bout at the 1:59 mark of round one.
UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko put another dominant title defense in the bank, halting number one contender Katlyn Chookagian in three rounds to retain her crown for the third time in the UFC 247 co-main event at Toyota Center in Houston.
It was a clear first round for the champion, who fired off combinations at Chookagian, controlled her on the mat and opened a cut over her left eye with an elbow just before the end of the round.
Chookagian got more aggressive in the second, but she wasn’t landing anything that took Shevchenko out of her game, and the kicks of “Bullet” were landing more frequently. With under two minutes left, Shevchenko scored her second takedown of the fight, and it was more ground-and-pound until the horn.
Shevchenko put the fight on the mat early in the third and locked Chookagian up in the crucifix position, and from there it was just a matter of time until the fight was over, as a series of strikes brought in referee Jacob Montalvo to halt the bout at 1:03 of round three.
With the win, Shevchenko moves to 19-3. Chookagian falls to 13-3.
In setting the record for most title fight wins in UFC history, Jon Jones’ 14th championship victory was his toughest, as he had to dig deep and take the fourth and fifth rounds to hold off the charge of Dominick Reyes and retain his light heavyweight crown in the main event of UFC 247 at Toyota Center in Houston.
“Dominick did a tremendous job,” said Jones, who extended his current unbeaten streak to 18. “That was a great fight. I think the difference in the fight were takedowns.”
Scores were 48-47 twice and 49-46 for Jones, now 26-1 with 1 NC. The No. 4-ranked Reyes falls to 12-1.
“I thought I won one through three,” said Reyes. “He was on me in four and five. But I’ll get better. And this just proves that I’m the real deal.”
Jones won’t argue, as he was pushed to the limit by the challenger from Victorville, California.
Reyes came up just short with a left hand to start the bout, eager to get the fight underway. Jones responded with kicks to the leg and Reyes responded with kicks of his own. With three minutes left, Reyes scored a flash knockdown, and when the champ rose, Reyes aggressively pursued him for a spell before the two settled in a less frantic groove. Reyes was not backing down, though, even as Jones rallied down the stretch.
Staying busy as round two commenced, Reyes soon had Jones on the run as he fired off punches and kicks. Jones didn’t get hit with any fight-altering shots, but Reyes was scoring points and gaining confidence. As the round progressed, Jones settled in and began landing his own shots, jabbing well as he marched forward. In the final 30 seconds, Reyes landed a hard left uppercut that got Jones’ attention just before the end of the frame.
Jones and Reyes took turns putting the pressure on each other in the third, mixing up their attacks well as they went back and forth at a fast pace. With a little over two minutes left, Jones attempted his first takedown of the fight but was turned away by Reyes, who added an elbow upstairs for emphasis. And while Jones closed strong, he was going to have to take things to another gear in the championship rounds.
Reyes stunned Jones early in the fourth round, prompting a takedown by the champion, and though Reyes rose to his feet quickly, Jones was able to keep him locked up until the challenger broke loose in the second minute. Jones went back in for the takedown, and while the tiring Reyes defended well, “Bones” kept pressing, landing solid shots as he did so.
In the opening minute of round five, Jones scored an important takedown, but Reyes got up and got loose. A close-range exchange followed, both fighters aware how important winning the final frame was. Jones, the seemingly fresher of the two, landed more punches and kicks, not hurting Reyes, but scoring more than the challenger was, and it proved to be the difference in the fight.
“I knew it was a really close fight,” said Jones. “That fifth round won me the fight.”