The UFC head back to Germany for the third time with UFC Fight Night 41 at O2 World in Berlin, headlined by a middleweight clash between ranked contenders Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi. With both losing to the man fight for the title next, Lyoto Machida, in their last bouts, each fighter will look to get back on track with an impressive win.
Two more middleweight contests will be showcased on the main card, with #9 ranked Francis Carmont facing CB Dollaway in a fight between two fighters who have showed great improvements in their recent bouts. Carmont has won 11 of his last 12, while Dollaway 3 of his last 4 with the sole loss being one of the most highly contested decisions of 2013. Also in the 185lbs division, prospects Luke Barnatt and Sean Strickland square off after impressive performances in their last Octagon appearance. Both fighters are unbeaten and looking to continue their winning streaks alive.
A featherweight bout between prospect Tom Niinimaki and UFC newcomer Niklas Bäckström square off in the main card opening, with both the main and preliminary cards being exclusive to UFC Fight Pass.
Here is the full play-by-play for the card.
Main Card: UFC Fight Pass
Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi
Now for the big one, the five round main event in the middleweight division. The winner will get back in the win column and progress in the wide open middleweight division, while the loser may never recover to earn a title shot. So many interesting questions coming into this one, and I can’t wait. #7 ranked Mark Munoz vs. #11 ranked Gegard Mousasi.
Round 1 – Munoz shoots in immediately and Mousasi avoids it. Mousasi with a low stance. Leg kick by Munoz, who’s bobbing up and down. Another failed shot, but he shoots in again and tries to slam Mousasi, who somehow ends up on top then gets straight up. Munoz with a failed slam attempt, he went a little overboard there. Mousasi pushing forward, a nice jab followed by the leg kick. A nice right there on the exit from Mousasi. He avoids Munoz’s winging shots, but Munoz once again gets a hold of him. Nice short shots from the clinch by Mousasi, mixing it up. Munoz is very laboured on the feet so far. Munoz is changing stances also. Leg kick by Mousasi. Another stuffed takedown, some big short ground and pound and he gets side control, lovely by Mousasi. Controlling Munoz here, trying to get the mount but decides to opt with side control. He could work the Von Flue choke here. He gets the mount, but Munoz holds the leg. Big ground and pound by Mousasi. Munoz might be in trouble. Horrific looking face crank by Mousasi, who is now landing big ground and pound from the top. Munoz works his way up and has Mousasi against the cage, trying to drag him to the ground but Mousasi ends up in the mount, then gets the back. He’s got the rear naked! Munoz is flattened out and he taps! Wow that was incredible. Gegard Mousasi with a huge statement right there. Pure dominance, and forces the tap.
Result: Mousasi via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:57 in first round.
What a tremendous performance by Gegard Mousasi, who goes 2-1 inside the Octagon and gets his first middleweight win. Munoz has lost his last two and will likely be out of the rankings, while Mousasi should break into the top 10.
Mousasi wants either Luke Rockhold or Tim Kennedy next.
Francis Carmont vs. CB Dollaway
Carmont looks to get back to winning ways, while Dollaway looks to get his second in a row.
Round 1 – Carmont avoids the flurry of Dollaway, who then misses with a leg kick. Carmont with a body kick, Dollaway taunts him in response. Body-head from CB. Dollaway taking the centre, he lands a leg kick then eats a body kick. Carmont with a lovely kick while backing up. Another leg kick from Dollaway. Beautiful body kick by Carmont, who then avoids Dollaway’s attack. Front kick, then a jab by the Frenchman. Right hand staggers CB. Dollaway does a good job avoiding the attacks then lands a jab. Front kick again by Carmont. Jabs by Dollaway as he tries to close the distance. Nice body punch by CB but countered with a left. They exchange body kicks, then a back kick by Carmont. They each taunt, Dollaway showing his cockiness there. Body kick, then a leg kick from CB. Lovely body kick by Carmont, but a huge left hook by CB drops Carmont! That was massive! Big ground and pound but Carmont recover, makes his way to the feet and shoots in for the takedown. Big elbows from the stuffed position by CB. Carmont explodes, gets to his feet then they both taunt. CB lands a leg kick, jab counter from Carmont. Carmont misses with a hook. He’s bleeding from his mouth now. Lovely 1-2 by the Frenchman, and a spinning back kick. Left hook by CB, then a big right leg kick. Carmont with the takedown defence, and he gets it! CB against the cage but Carmont is an imposing figure. Great reversal there from Dollaway, who now has side control against the cage. Fun first round. Dollaway has a cut above his right eye.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Dollaway.
Round 2 – Big body kick from the Frenchman, then a teep. He seems to be struggling to breathe, Carmont may have a busted lip. Nice leg kick from the Frenchman there. Taunting again. Body punch by CB, and another. Lovely disguised head kick by Carmont there. Leg kick by CB, who’s pushing forward and winging punches. Axe kick misses from Carmont, and the right hook miss. He catches CB coming in, then a nice uppercut counter, and a kick. Leg kicks from CB, they’re amping Carmont up though. That leg kick from the Frenchman working well, then a nice 1-2. Beautiful takedown from Dollaway into half guard, and he could get side control easily here. He gets the back but Carmont working his way up against the cage. Carmont holding the arm, attacking with the kimura but unable to do anything with it thusfar. He’s a strong fighter but Dollaway is a veteran from these positions. He drops down but Dollaway on top, if he fails here then this is a bad move. And now Dollaway gets the back and has the side control from this position. Now in half guard, Carmont still holding the arm but Dollaway powers out of it and lands a short elbow. CB in side control, Carmont looking very frustrated now. He’s working on the left arm of Dollaway now, and once again CB powers out and gets the back. One hook in it seems, but Carmont on one knee, now on his feet. Dollaway drops down and ends the round on the back of the Frenchman, who needs a finish in the third.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Dollaway (20-18 Dollaway).
Round 3 – Carmont needs to be in desperation mode now. Big leg kick. They’re smiling at each other for some reason. Left hook attempted by Carmont, then a nice side kick. Dollaway with the body punch again but leaving himself open to the counter. Head kick, then a leg kick by the Frenchman. Takedown shrugged off by Dollaway. 1-2 from Carmont, then a body kick and a right hook. Carmont goes in for the takedown, well countered by Dollaway, but he’s against the cage. Another great counter, then a single leg takedown from the Doberman, who now has the back of Carmont. One hook in, and he momentarily has the second but Carmont gets it out. Short shots from the American, nothing fight-ending. Both hooks in now as Carmont tries to get to his feet. Carmont explodes and gets to his feet, great technique there. He has CB against the fence, controlling the arm and sneaking in an elbow. Both guys are tired now. Another big elbow from Carmont. Single leg attempted by CB, Carmont landing some shots but Dollaway completes it and has full mount now. This is big. Carmont is exhausted and CB is in full mount. Back control now, just the one hook in though against the cage. 1 minute remaining and it’s all CB Dollaway so far. Carmont smiling but he’s losing this fight. GSP trying to encourage his teammate but Carmont is offering no offence. He tries to get to his feet but Dollaway follows him and keeps on top, now in the full guard. He stays in that position to end the round, and should have his second win in a row.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Dollaway (30-27 Dollaway).
Result: Dollaway via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28).
That’s a big victory for CB Dollaway, who should really be five in a row. Carmont was on an 11 fight winning streak (including six in the UFC) before losing to Jacare and Dollaway consecutive. He’s in a strange place right now, still talented but lost decisively twice in a row. Dollaway should break into the rankings with that win, and is looking better every fight.
Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland
Both fighters looked incredible in their last Octagon appearances, Barnatt going 3-0 inside the Octagon while Strickland was making his UFC debut. Both fighters are undefeated and this middleweight contest could be very fun indeed.
Round 1 – Barnatt trying to establish his reach advantage early. They exchange leg kicks, Strickland looking very calm and trying to sneak his quick jab in. Nice leg kick from the American. Hesitant start from both fighters. Barnatt starting to open up, with a leg followed by body kick. Boos from the crowd after a hesitant first two. Nice body kick from the Brit. The leg kicks from Strickland are landing well. Strickland doing a good job getting out of the way of Barnatt’s attacks, and landing his stiff jab and some nice low kicks so far. Body kick from Barnatt, then a missed hook. 3 minutes gone, little action here. Barnatt backing Strickland up but landing nothing significant. Neither fighter committing. Strickland with a nice combination of punches. Barnatt unable to land his jab while Strickland very accurate with his. Body kick from Barnatt. Lovely overhand right by Strickland. Barnatt lands to the body, then avoids the strikes of Strickland and lands an overhand right to end the round. Boring first five.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Strickland.
Round 2 – Barnatt more aggressive now, coming out with a couple of kicks. He’s pushing forward now, lands a nice right jab there. Strickland with some huge counters, then a takedown. Barnatt attacking the arm but Strickland explodes and tries to land some heavy blows from the top. Barnatt shakes Strickland off and gets to his feet, Strickland holding him in the clinch before he turns it around and separates. Barnatt still pushing forward but not attempting any heavy strikes, all feelers. Strickland parrying most of Barnatt’s attacks. ‘Big Slow’ playing true to his name. They exchange jabs. 2:30 left in the second, and they’re back to a tentative stand-up battle. That’s better from Barnatt, who lands a couple of blows then gets the clinch. Strickland separates and utilises some nice movement, trying to get his jab in and doing so accurately. Big right from Barnatt there, well set up. Strickland seemed wobbled by that. Huge right from Barnatt staggers Strickland! That was big. Strickland went for the takedown, which was stuffed and Barnatt separates and pushes forward even more. He got caught coming in there, but Barnatt in control of this round now. Another overhand right by Barnatt, and another, but a huge right from Strickland counters! That staggered him. Nice stiff jab from Strickland. Body kick from Barnatt. Better round, but still not a barnburner.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Barnatt (19-19).
Round 3 – Pivotal round for this pair of prospects. Barnatt plodding forward again. Strickland a little more active with the jabs and low kicks, he has a small cut under the right eye. Nice combination from the American there. Overhand right misses but the body kick lands from Barnatt. Good head movement so far from Barnatt. That overhand right is there all day for the Brit. Nice right-left combination lands from Barnatt, and more great head movement opens up the jab. Nice jab counter by Strickland. Great head movement from the Brit, but he’s not landing the heavy shots he showed in the second. Just as I put that he gets a big right in! Strickland gets the body lock but Barnatt separates. He pushes forward and lands a nice 1-2. Strickland tries to get the throw, dives on the back but he’s sloppy and Barnatt ends up on top. Strickland now attacking the leg, but this doesn’t look very dangerous. 50-50 now. Barnatt works his way to his feet and gets the centre once more. This really is a disappointing contest so far. Barnatt is the more active and landing the big rights, but still not doing enough to open the eyes like he did in his last fight. Nice 1-2 from Strickland, Barnatt attacking with a flying knee. Good stiff jabs from Barnatt. He catches the kick of Strickland and lands one of his own to end the round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Barnatt (29-28 Barnatt).
Result: Strickland via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).
Um, wait, what? 30-27 Strickland? Was that judge seated the wrong way? Strickland didn’t impress and earned a victory that he shouldn’t have been given, but neither fighter impressed in truth. That whole ‘technical fight’ argument isn’t doing it for me, it was boring.
Tom Niinimaki vs. Niklas Bäckström
Two big Scandanavian prospects in the featherweight division. Niinimaki was really impressive in his UFC debut, and fights the debuting Backstrom who replaces Thiago Tavares on short notice.
Round 1 – Leg kick from Bäckström, then a teep. Nice jab combination from Niinimaki, backing his opponent up almost immediately. Niinimaki works the takedown almost immediately, getting half guard before Bäckström regains guard. Half guard again. Great job by Bäckström getting back to his feet, but Niinimaki drags it to the ground once again and has the side back control. They’re up against the cage, a nice knee from Niinimaki who then level changes and attempts a double leg. Great job defensively by Backstrom so far, he’s really working Niinimaki’s flexibility in this position and lands some nice short shots. Niinimaki drags it to the ground but Bäckström still sitting up, and works his way up once again. Great job. He reverses the clinch and now has Niinimaki against the fence, each exchanging short knees. 2 minutes left in the opening round. Bäckström gets Niinimaki slipping, now he has a jumping guillotine! This looks tight! He’s in full guard! He really went for that but I think Niinimaki is going to work his way out. He was grimacing for a moment, but now he has popped his head out and has top control. He escapes then a huge knee from Bäckström! He has a headlock and Niinimaki taps! What an impressive win from the Swede, incredible performance and a great upset.
Result: Bäckström via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:15 in first round.
What. A. Debut. And what an interview, too. Niinimaki looked look a real prospect, but Bäckström simply outclassed him and got a great and entertaining finish.
Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass
Nick Hein vs. Drew Dober
Nick Hein the second German to fight on the card, taking on Drew Dober in the lightweight division. Hein is unbeaten in his last six, winning five of the bouts, while Dober has also won five of his last six. The American was unsuccessful in his UFC debut in a late notice welterweight bout, and fights in his natural weight class here.
Round 1 – Dober misses with a combination and slips, but Hein doesn’t capitalise. He seems to have a cut on his right eye. Dober goes forward but Hein counters well. Dober pushing forward, his cut getting worse, Hein getting the better of these exchanges. Then a big straight left from Dober! But Hein gets a beautiful judo trip and has half guard from the outset, great work there. Dober’s cut is getting worse now, not quite sure what caused that, it happened early on in the fight. Hein landing short shots and controlling Dober from the top. Lovely short shots. Dober explodes and gets to his feet, taking the centre and bobbing up and down. Hein lands some lovely counters. Hein just throws Dober aside as he lands a kick. Dober trying to establish his leg kicks. Dober goes in for the takedown but easily stuffed, he needed to set that up against the more powerful Hein. Hein with the outside trip, straight into half guard once again but good guard recovery from Dober there. Short shots by Hein, Dober working off his back with short elbows but unable to produce much damage. Hein is so much more powerful and he demonstrating that with a solid first round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Hein.
Round 2 – Dober taking the middle once again, Hein gets the clinch with double underhooks and will likely get this to the ground imminently. Dober with a look of frustration now. Hein needs to stay active though, but he lets go. Big hooks land by the German fighter. Dober with the head kick. Hein does a good job getting out of the way of Dober’s strikes. Neither landing significant blows in these exchanges. They each land there. Hein landing nice combinations here. They’re swinging away. Hein shoots in for a double but good defence from Dober there. Hein gets the back and trips Dober down, great work, but Dober gets to his feet – Hein still with control of his back. Hein gets him to the ground, then gets the back standing with Dober holding the fence and getting several warnings. Dober tries to explode and throw Hein, but Hein still diligent. But a great reversal from Dober who gets half guard, great work right there, and some nice short shots from the American. This could steal him the round if he’s more active from this position. Lovely short elbows from Dober, trying to stay busy. Dober lands short shots from the top to end the round, but I think Hein still won that round based on the first portion.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Hein (20-18 Hein).
Round 3 – Big body kick by Dober but a solid counter from Hein. They’re swinging away, Hein gets a nice 1-2 in and using great footwork to get out of the way of Dober’s attack. Dober went in for a takedown there but great work from Hein at stuffing it, that was a deep attempt. The cut of Dober is leaking like mad. He has Hein against the cage and is landing short shots, trying to get the takedown but Hein in full control. They separate. Goddard halts the action to check the cut of Dober. That was close, they almost stopped it but the doctor letting it go. They resume and Dober pushes forward. Head kick misses from Dober, and Hein pushes forward with a 1-2. Very telegraphed attacks from Dober. Beautiful left from Hein as Dober comes in recklessly. Big combination from the German lightweight. Dober still pushing forward and eating these shots. Hein with a big combination that staggers Dober, he’s doing a great job of mixing up his punches. Hein’s movement has been key, Dober has had little success on the feet while Hein has moved just out of harms way and got some shots in despite his reach disadvantage. Dober gets the clinch, trying to work on a takedown but Hein stuffing with ease before separating. That cut of Dober is looking really bad. 1 minute remaining. The crowd going insane. Lovely uppercut from Hein. Dober missing with all of his attacks. Beautiful 1-2 as Dober comes forward, and another. Hein is really damaging Dober here. Dober looks for the takedown at the end of the round and Hein stuffs with ease once again. Hein simply outclassed Dober in that fight.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Hein (30-27 Hein).
Result: Hein via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27).
Hein rallying the crowd in German, and that was a great debut for the hometown favourite. Good performance for Hein, and Dober really offered little to harm the prospect.
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Krzysztof Jotko
The Swede Cedenblad squares off against the Pole Jotko, with both coming off UFC wins in their last bout. Cedenblad is 1-1 in the Octagon, while Jotko is 1-0 and undefeated as a professional. Battle of European middleweights looking to put a win streak together. Jotko dancing to the cage to hip-hop and popping his cap, oh dear.
Round 1 – Cedenblad with a nice body kick, but Jotko landing nice punches from the inside. Big shots from the Pole, he’s very aggressive in the early going. The Swede gets the clinch, turns him around and has Jotko against the fence working on a takedown. Good defence by Jotko so far, using double underhooks then landing short shots. Knees from Cedenblad, and exchanged by Jotko. Gruelling clinch battle between the two, each countering the position. Nice short knee from Jotko. Cedenblad gets a big trip and almost has half guard now, and he’s got it. Good work from the Swede. But Jotko regains guard almost immediately and is working on the kimura. Cedenblad gets side control, gets the mount momentarily but Jotko gets his leg in there and regains half guard. Cedenblad working a d’arce but Jotko explodes and gets full guard. Jotko lands some shots from the bottom but Cedenblad in full control from the top and frustrating the Pole. The referee warns the fighters for inactivity. Jotko tries to escape and land an up kick but Cedenblad very experienced and gets into guard unharmed. Nice left from Cedenblad, and some short elbows. Jotko separates and gets to the feet, but Cedenblad is all over him and gets another takedown straight into half guard, great work there. Very frustrating for the undefeated Jotko, and a strong round from the Swede who ends the round in half guard.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Cedenblad.
Round 2 – Front kick by Cedenblad, Jotko pushes forward and lands a nice combination with a big left in-between. Cedenblad with the body kick. Then the head kick attempted. Big knee and a couple of hooks by Jotko. Some big shots from Jotko, he’s so powerful and on the feet has a big advantage. Cedenblad gets the clinch, but the referee stops the action as the Swede lost his mouthpiece. They reset, he doesn’t put them back in the clinch. Front kick again for Cedenblad. Jotko misses with that combination but works on the takedown from it, Cedenblad stuffing and landing some short elbows. Jotko with the clinch against the cage and working for the takedown, he fails but lands some short shots from the clinch. More success here for the Pole, beating Cedenblad at his own game. The Swede gets the muay thai clinch momentarily, then counters the position and attempts a takedown on Jotko against the fence. The Pole doing a great job stuffing, but Cedenblad gets his hands clasped together and slams him down, getting half guard immediately. Nice short shots from Cedenblad, he seems to have more control than he did in the first. He gets the full mount, now getting the back but very sloppy and Jotko reverses, getting on top into half guard. That could be big, with just over a minute remaining in the round. Sloppy work from Cedenblad there. Full mount now! Now he has the back and is working the rear naked! But Cedenblad explodes and gets into Jotko’s guard now, crazy exchange there! Cedenblad working on the guillotine now and Jotko taps with just seconds remaining! Wow that was a great submission victory there, he dropped to guard and was confident with that, and Jotko taps. Great performance.
Result: Cedenblad via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:59 in second round.
Great performance from the Swede, handing Jotko his first loss and making it two UFC wins in a row. He looked great on the ground and continues his progress.
Vaughan Lee vs. Iuri Alcantara
Lee looked great in his last fight, while Alcantara looked a shadow of himself. An interesting scrap and I wonder how it will play out, with both fighters being some of the more underrated bantamweights in the division.
Round 1 – Lee lands a big combination there, but gets caught coming in and Alcantara gets a knockout early! Not quite sure what did the damage but Lee got caught reckless there and Alcantara with his second win in a row. That was very quick and brutal. It was the overhand left that dropped Lee, then some big lefts on the ground knocks the Brit clean out.
Result: Alcantara via TKO (punches) at 0:25 in first round.
Alcantara with his second win in a row, and a step-up in competition is needed after that blitzkrieg. Not sure how that was a TKO, Lee was knocked clean out. I fear the Brit may be one of them fighters that beat the middle of the range guys, but lose when it really matters. Back to the drawing board, while Alcantara stays relevant in the bantamweight division.
Peter Sobotta vs. Pawel Pawlak
Sobotta is a former UFC fighter who went 0-3 during his stint inside the Octagon, but has gone six fights undefeated since, winning five of them and all five by way of first round submission. Pawlak is 10-0, just 25 and has finished all but one of his opponents. I expect this to be a fun grappling exchange. Sobotta is the favourite with the home crowd.
Round 1 – Nice body kick by Sobotta, the crowd with big chants for the German. Another body kick. A lot of faints from both fighters. Another huge body kick from Sobotta, the southpaw to orthodox being utilised so far. Lovely combination from Sobotta, looking very comfortable with the low kicks. Body kick once again. Pawlak hasn’t tried anything so far, Sobotta unloading. Low kick from Pawlak is countered. Big combination by Sobotta, the body kick landing flush once again. Some redness on Pawlak’s body. It seems Sobotta is relishing this opportunity, who lands the leg kick again. Sobotta seems the quicker of the two. Head kick by the German fighter, that was lovely technique. Obviously using the body kicks to set that up and did a great job. ‘Plastinho’ with the leg kick, but that kick to the body from Sobotta is landing every time he attempts it. Body punch, lovely technique. What a combination, Sobotta looking so good in the stand-up department. Pawlak missing often, and still doesn’t look to have settled down. Pawlak landing a nice short left but Sobotta counters. The jab of the German working very well, and he’s combining it with the leg kick. Pawlak rushes forward but Sobotta gets out of the way. The Pole lands a right hook, but Sobotta marches forward and lands a combination. Nice left from Sobotta. A head kick. Pawlak attempts a head kick but misses to end the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Sobotta.
Round 2 – Pawlak is bloodied, the crowd going wild for Sobotta as the round starts. Pawlak lands a couple of nice jabs, but the body kick of Sobotta lands again. Pawlak attempts a hook but well avoided by Sobotta and a big takedown. He gets side control. Sobotta in his element in this position. Pawlak trying to elbow from the bottom, and recovers the guard. Mission control now, but lets it go quickly after. Sobotta landing some nice short blows. Posturing up and landing elbows now, staying patient in this position, but Pawlak avoiding any significant damage. Pawlak staying active from the bottom landing shots, but Sobotta tries side control settling for half guard. Very smothering attack from the top by the German, but great job by Pawlak at stopping Sobotta’s attempts at passing. He regains guard, great work by the Pole. Short shots from Sobotta but nothing significant. He tries to use the cage to pass the guard but fails again. Half guard. 1:30 left in the second. Elbows to the thigh by Sobotta, he tries to get mount but Pawlak explodes, Sobotta keeping top control but Pawlak regaining guard. Good scramble there. Dominant round from Sobotta so far but not doing anything significant with 20 seconds left. Sobotta gets warned for using his head there. Pawlak remained active from the bottom there, but Sobotta won that round easily and the Pole needs a finish.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Sobotta (20-18 Sobotta).
Round 3 – Right hand and right kick lands from Sobotta. Pawlak showing more urgency and opening up with his kicks now. Big combination from Sobotta lands, great job mixing it up with body-head, kicks and punches. Knee to the body then a hook attempted. Sobotta looking so comfortable on the feet. Pawlak lands a big 1-2 there though. Another great level change by Sobotta, such amazing timing and he gets another big takedown. Pawlak gets to the cage and works his way up to his feet, Sobotta keeping the clinch and trying to drag him to the ground. Good balance by Pawlak but Sobotta persistent and gets it to the ground, in the guard. Short shots exchanged, Sobotta getting half guard but not attempting anything in terms of submissions. Position over submission is the philosophy. Sobotta tries to pass but Pawlak recognises it and regains guard. More short elbows from the bottom but Pawlak really needs to show some more urgency. He has 90 seconds left to finish and Sobotta now gets half guard. Sobotta keeping active with shots to the legs, the referee warning about the stand-up. He breaks the action and Pawlak unloads with big combinations at the end of the round but nothing lands too well. The horn blows and that’s an easy decision for the judges.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Sobotta (30-27 Sobotta).
Result: Sobotta via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Sobotta has his first UFC win and looked very impressive in the process. Pawlak has his first loss and didn’t show the urgency needed to get the win.
Andy Ogle vs. Maximo Blanco
Ogle has lost three of his last four, while Blanco has lost four of his last five and the loser will likely be cut. Both have been fighting tough opposition and have exciting styles, so this should be an entertaining contest between two hungry featherweights.
Round 1 – Holy moly, Blanco lands a huge flying kick at 3 seconds into the round and drops Ogle! That was insane! He follows up with big shots which are hurting Ogle, and has the back momentarily but Ogle works his way up. Big judo throw by Blanco. Big shots from the top by Balcno. Ogle bloodied up, but he gets to his feet, he works for the front head lock but Blanco protects. Ogle works the takedown but great job by Blanco getting the better there, and a big knee as they get to the feet. Blanco is obviously recognising he needs to win, and he’s clipping Ogle with big combinations. The Brit gets the takedown! Now some recovery time for him. Blanco gets up but Ogle gets the back! He’s got both hooks in and working the choke! Blanco defending well so far and should be able to get out of this position. Blanco needs to watch his p’s and q’s in this position, he sometimes gets a little careless and Ogle is in a good position here. Ogle using this to recover it seems. 2 minutes left in the round. Great explosion by Blanco, who gets guard and lands some nice elbows and short shots. Ogle tries to work a triangle but fails, then turns the position around and gets to his feet. The Brit now going for a takedown but another stuff by Blanco. They separate. Body kick from Blanco, he is so comfortable, and an uppercut. Ogle misses a combination, he still seems a little wobbly and is a lot slower than Blanco. Nice left by Blanco, he’s countering Ogle easily. Front kick misses. Ogle landing a little now. Nice body-head combination by Ogle. Stiff right straight by Ogle as Blanco comes in, that staggered him there. Great recovery from the Brit but that’s a 10-8 round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-8 Blanco.
Round 2 – Could Blanco have blown his load there, and was that a dirty move? Second round coming. Ogle running forward and Blanco attempts that flying kick again. Blanco with a big takedown, Ogle gets to his feet and lands a big takedown of his own! But he can’t keep Blanco down. He gets the clinch, but Blanco rolls for the knee bar. Ogle has the back though, careless attempt from Blanco there. This is hard to keep up with, such crazy action and so fast paces. Ogle working on a choke but no hooks in. Ogle does a good job of keeping top position, and he has the back again! One hook in, and the second now. Ogle taking over now. Working the face crank but nothing to it so far. Ogle needs to work some ground and pound and soften the Venezuelan up. 30 seconds of small pitter-patter shots from Ogle, he’s not attacking from this position. 2 minutes left. Ogle is obviously trying to recover from this position, and the referee should consider standing this up despite the dominance of the position. At least a warning. Ogle with some short strikes, he’s been in this position for around 2 minutes 30 seconds. He tries to work a choke but easily defending. Great reversal by Blanco with 30 seconds left, he’s in the guard of Ogle now, who is working on mission control now. Good work by Blanco, but great job at stifling the attack by Ogle.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Ogle (19-18 Blanco).
Round 3 – No crazy first five seconds in the third. Nice 1-2 from Blanco, and returned by Ogle. A lot more patient for each fighter. Lovely combination by Ogle who lands a leg kick and a right hook. Each landing short shots in these exchanges. Jab from Blanco lands, and again. Establishing that well now. He should have tried to utilise that earlier in the fight. Lovely combination from Blanco, he’s so much quicker. Low kick lands for the Venezuelan, who is countering Ogle at will. Straight right counter from Ogle as Blanco gets a body kick in. Big right-left from Blanco, who seems to have an extra spring to his step. Big left lands flush for Blanco. Nice short left counter aswell. Ogle goes for the single, Blanco defends but a lovely left hook by Ogle as they separate. Ogle has a lot of openings as he’s going forward and Blanco doing his best to utilise that. Ogle went in for the takedown and ate an uppercut, then a big low kick. Blanco taking over again. Ogle seems bewildered on the feet and has been unable to get it to the ground in the third. Blanco has the centre and is utilising some nice movement and utilising a nice jab to keep the distance, very accurate technique. Low kick by Ogle, Blanco misses the counter. Stiff right by Blanco there. Huge spinning kick by Blanco! Ogle smiles but that staggered him there! This guy is so entertaining. Ogle goes in for the takedown but another stuff from Blanco, who gets to his feet. 20 seconds remaining. Low kick by Ogle, that was picture perfect. Uppercut by Blanco. Left by Ogle at the end of that round and we will go to the judges for the second time of the fight. They hug, Blanco carries Ogle around the ring. I think the Venezuelan has it, he was the more active in the third round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Blanco (29-27 Blanco).
Result: Blanco via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Big win for Blanco, who gets just his second win in six fights. The Venezuelan keeps his UFC career alive for another day, while Ogle will likely be shown the door after his third loss in a row. I expect Ogle to sign with Cage Warriors or BAMMA, get a couple of wins together and he’ll be back in the UFC before we know it.
Viktor Pesta vs. Ruslan Magomedov
Two debuting heavyweights; Pesta with a 9-0 record and six first round finishes, Magomedov coming off wins over Tim Sylvia and Mike Hayes, going 11-1 as a pro. Both fighters have some serious hype, with Magomedov being 27 and Pesta just 23.
Round 1 – Pesta takes the centre. Nice head kick by the Russian to start the fight. They each swing, neither contacting cleanly. Leg kick by Magomedov, and another head kick attempted. Nice big right by Pesta and a left connects. Huge right by Magomedov counters Pesta’s attack, then a kick attempted which looked illegal as Pesta was downed. They engage in the clinch, a couple of body shots but Magomedov gets out. Nice front kick from Magomedov there, he looks very calm here. Nice 1-2 from the Russian, Pesta is very sloppy when pushing forward. Another high kick from the Russian. Magomedov doing a good job making Pesta pay when coming in. A huge right hook, then a big left head kick from Magomedo but Pesta is somehow still standing. Magomedov on the attack and landing cleanly, but Pesta gets the clinch and tries to recover. 2 minutes left. HUGE KNEES FROM PESTA! Magomedov drops and Pesta senses the kill, getting some big ground and pound in from the guard. They were some brutal knees from the clinch by the Czech native. Magomedov has the clinch and seems to have recovered, looking to control Pesta on the ground. He tries to get side control but Magomdov regains half guard, good job there. He tries to get up but Pesta controlling Magomedov here and landing some nice short shots. Pesta postures up and gets some clean shots in. Great way of turning that round in his favour there from Pesta, entertaining first five minutes from both fighters.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Pesta.
Round 2 – Each fighter had success in that first round, it’s all about which fighter recovers from them big shots absorbed ahead of the second round. Beautiful body kick by Magomedov at the start of the second, but he’s just landing one shot rather than trying to land combinations. Pesta pushes forward but the Russian lands the better blows in that exchange. Pesta gets caught coming in again, but Magomedov seems to be breathing the heavier of the two. Nice left attempted by Magomedov but Pesta working his angles well. Another huge left high kick by Magomedov, fainting low but going high and catching Pesta off guard. Low kick from the Russian. Perhaps he’s trying to be patient and regain his stamina, but Magomedov needs to follow up on these big shots. Pesta gets a lovely double leg takedown, Magomedov tries to get up immediately but good control from Pesta, who’s working on side control. Magomedov using the fences to get up, Pesta lands a knee in the clinch while the Russian works to his feet. Right hand from Magomedov, but the follow-up misses. Side kick attempted by Magomedov but very laboured attack there. Right straight lands as Pesta comes in, another lovely counter there by the Russian. Pesta very sloppy coming in again and Magomedov timing him with ease. And again. Pesta is sloppy as hell. Head kick from Magomdov but good check there from Pesta. Pesta goes in for the takedown, but uses it to get inside and lands a couple of blows with Magomedov landing also. Magomedov lands a huge right at the buzzer, great punch by the Russian there. A lot more success for the 27 year old and he’s taking over.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Magomedov (19-19).
Round 3 – All comes down to this third round, a fun fight so far. Magomedov attempted the head kick again, then a body kick, neither landing cleanly. Lovely uppercut there by Magomedov as Pesta comes in. Pesta the aggressor in this third but Magomedov countering well. Another uppercut by the Russian as Pesta gets the clinch. Magomedov gets away and lands a nice right then a kick, great work there. He’s so creative with this kicks, landing an elliptical kick. Body kick from Magomedov. Pesta offering little in the stand-up and clearly trying to get the takedown. He attempts the single leg, but great balance from Magomedov who attempts a big shot as they break. Magomedov attempts a big left and right but both missing there. He’s pushing forward more now, Pesta offering nothing. Magomedov avoids the shot of Pesta again, the Czech being a lot more telegraphed now. Jab from the Russian, then a body kick, pushing forward while Pesta backs up against the cage. Uppercut. Huge head kick, that was a beautiful switch kick from Magomedov there. Pesta misses a big shot, but Magomedov misses the counter. Less than a minute remain. Another takedown attempt from Pesta misses. They each swing and miss, a sign of exhaustion. Uppercut lands flush again for Magomedov, that technique is there all day. Another lovely front kick. Pesta did nothing in the second or third and Magomedov should earn his first UFC win. The Russian looks frustrated as the buzzer goes, but he did more than enough in my eyes. Solid performance from Magomedov considering it was his Octagon debut.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Magomedov (29-28 Magomedov).
Result: Magomedov via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Solid performance by Magomedov, who hands Pesta his first professional loss. He recovered well from them big shots in the first round, and good work by the judges not to give that first round a 10-8 for Pesta. Pretty fun fight, and both fighters showed they belong inside the Octagon.