UFC 220: Miocic vs Ngannou – First Face Off

It’s Monday on Fight Week and we’re just a few days away from UFC 220: Miocic vs Ngannou. Below is a new UFC.com Pay Per View special feature where our writers go head-to-head for every main card bout set for this Saturday night.

Thomas Gerbasi, Damon Martin, E. Spencer Kyte, Matt Parrino and Steve Latrell face off below to offer the first preview of Fight Week.

UFC heavyweight title main event: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

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How Miocic will win…

Stipe Miocic may be the underdog to Francis Ngannou going into UFC 220 but the way he wins this fight is rather simple — he just has more ways he CAN win this fight. For all the talk about Ngannou’s ferocious punching power, Miocic has recorded five straight knockouts of his own against a tougher slate of competition. Miocic didn’t just win by knockout because he hits hard but it’s also thanks to his years of boxing training when the former Cleveland State wrestler gave up grappling and became a Golden Gloves champion instead. While his hands are definitely dangerous, Miocic also employs that Division I wrestling pedigree as he’s shown in numerous fights in the past where he’s taken the fight to the ground and absolutely mauled the competition. Add to that, Miocic has a gas tank that’s unparalleled in the heavyweight division as a big man who can truly push the pace for 25 minutes. The longer this fight goes, the more it favors Miocic. If Miocic can avoid that one giant sledgehammer shot from Ngannou, he can virtually pick his poison to out box, out grapple or just out work his opponent to earn his third straight title defense, which would also be a UFC record in the heavyweight division. – Damon Martin

How Ngannou will win…

What has made Stipe Miocic so dominant as champion is his pressure and pursuit set up by the confidence he has in his striking. He hits hard and his chin has, for the most part, stood up to virtually every challenge. But in Francis Ngannou, Miocic will surely fall if he applies his usual pace aor employs his trademark aggressive pressure looking to use his elite-level MMA boxing. Ngannou proved with his destructive KO against Alistair Overeem it only takes one shot to end the fight and he doesn’t even need to be in perfect position. He can unload from anywhere and his boxing acumen should create opening against the savvy Miocic. If Miocic decides his best way to victory will be by grappling, Ngannou’s strength and size could deter the Ohio standout long enough to land the finishing blow. Look for Ngannou to continue his tear and end the historic reign of Miocic with a knockout in the first seven to eight minutes. – Matt Parrino

Light Heavyweight title fight: Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir

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How Cormier will win…

Daniel Cormier is the New England Patriots of the UFC: never bet against him. If you want to argue that Jon Jones is his New York Giants, his Kryptonite, fine. But Jones is out of action now, and outside those aberrations, Cormier finds a way time and time again to remain on top. At 5-foot-11 he’s clearly never flummoxed by bigger fighters, which is basically everyone in the division. He’s obviously an expert in wrestling, and even after 19 wins is still wildly underrated as a striker. Trumping any tool he has in his toolbox this time out is his palpable desire to wipe that last Jones debacle from our collective memories. He’s going to use Oezdemir as a voodoo doll to put all that behind him. I love Volkan’s game, but I’m never betting against DC until he gives me a reason to. – Steve Latrell

How Oezdemir will win…

Daniel Cormier’s blueprint to beat Volkan Oezdemir is clear. It’s the same one used by Kelly Anundson in handing “No Time” his only pro loss in 2014: takedowns, takedowns and more takedowns until 25 minutes are up or Oezdemir leaves an opening for a submission. So what does Oezdemir need to do? It’s simple and it will have to happen sometime in the opening three minutes of the fight. He has to shock the system like he did against Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov. Giving DC the opportunity to get into a rhythm or take the fight out of the first round will be a recipe for disaster. Oezdemir, who was raised in the Golden Glory gym in the Netherlands and is currently working under the tutelage of Henri Hooft (a man who has studied Cormier extensively as the coach of Anthony Johnson), must make this a one-round kickboxing match. He won’t win a five-round decision or score a late knockout. It must be all or nothing as soon as the Octagon door shuts, and he has the stopping power to pull it off. If the horn sounds for the end of round one and Oezdemir isn’t raising his hands in victory, you may just call it a wrap there. – Thomas Gerbasi

Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos

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How Kattar will win…

The most impressive part of Calvin Kattar’s game is that he doesn’t get rattled by much, if anything. Unbeaten since 2010, Kattar was the typical guy running through the local scene but not getting attention from the big show. Last July, that changed when he got a late-notice call-up to face Andre Fili. This is where a lot of prospects falter, but Kattar shut Fili out and looked like he had been on the UFC roster for 10 years in doing it. Now he’s fighting at home against unbeaten Shane Burgos. Burgos is a rising star in his own right, and when he’s in the Octagon, no one looks to be having more fun that he is. But when emotions are brought into the equation, that can lead to mistakes. Kattar is still only 29, but he’s got a veteran’s demeanor to him. He won’t get rattled by Burgos or the home atmosphere. It’s just another fight for him, and that may be the biggest reason why he gets the W this weekend. – Thomas Gerbasi

How Burgos will win…

Right now people probably remember Shane Burgos most for his mid-fight haircut during his UFC debut against Tiago Trator, but the unbeaten New Yorker has quietly put together a three-fight winning streak heading into his matchup with fellow rising star Calvin Kattar on Saturday. While he isn’t afraid to showboat a little and let everyone know he’s having fun inside the Octagon, Burgos has excellent fundamentals and that’s what makes him dangerous. He sticks behind the jab, throws combinations and stays active from start to finish, turning up the pressure and output when he sees he’s got you hurt. There’s a little Max Holloway to “Hurricane Shane” and if he continues to fight the way he has thus far, his record will remain unblemished through this weekend. – E. Spencer Kyte

Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso

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How Villante will win…

When I think of Gian Villante’s career, I can’t help but recall the famous Mike Tyson quote “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Villante can and often does pound it out with the best of them, and his fights are never boring. But his downfall seems to be launching into slug-mode and abandoning his game plan the moment he starts to take damage, and it has cost him three of his last four. But at this stage, I think Villante’s biggest asset is self-awareness; he knows he does this. He studies his own fights. After dropping a close one with Patrick Cummins, I think he sticks to the script for this fight and gets a big time reset against Barroso. – Steve Latrell

How Barroso will win…

Francimar Barroso has shown over the course of his eight-fight UFC run that he’s most comfortable when fists and feet are flying. Against Gian Villante he’s going to get a game light heavyweight willing to fling big shots in the middle of the Octagon. Barroso makes the most of the chaotic exchanges that are expected in the fight with Villante. He mixes up his striking and wrestling nicely and will look to get the fight to the ground, where he has powerful top position ground and pound. Barroso picks up his fifth UFC win with taking Villante into deep water and depleting his gas tank. – Matt Parrino

Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

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How Almeida will win…

John Lineker laid out the blueprint Almeida needs to follow Saturday at UFC 220 when he got the better of Font in Curitiba, Brazil a couple summers ago. Boasting an aggressive style and big power, Lineker marched forward, confident in his chin and his ability to land the more telling blows, forcing the Bostonian to fight off his back foot. While Almeida doesn’t have the adamantium chin that his countryman possesses, the 26-year-old brandishes a more diverse offensive arsenal. If he can press forward and put together stinging combinations without getting into too many protracted exchanges, Almeida should be able to get back into the win column in enemy territory this weekend. – E. Spencer Kyte

How Font will win…

Hometown kid Rob Font will get the chance to fight in front of a friendly crowd when he faces Thomas Almeida at UFC 220 in Boston and he’ll surely use that energy to fuel him to victory in this bantamweight matchup. Font has faced a similar opponent in the past when he took on John Lineker back in 2016 and while he suffered a loss that night, he also learned a lot about himself and how to handle an aggressive opponent with brutal knockout power. Font needs to use that knowledge to stay composed in the face of a fire fight against Almeida, who lives and dies by the philosophy of go big or go home. Almeida is a tornado inside the Octagon but so long as Font can weather that storm and stay composed in the pocket, he has a great chance to stun the Brazilian with clean technique including a barrage of straight punches as well as feeding him a steady diet of leg kicks. It may not be flashy but it gets the job done. Font is a world class striker in his own right so he just needs to pick his shots to land with greater volume and accuracy over three rounds to earn the win. – Damon Martin

On the Rise: UFC 220 Edition

With the first event of 2018 in the books, it’s time to lock in on the initial Pay-Per-View offering of the year – an explosive, dual-title affair in Boston that also offers an opportunity to catch a glimpse of a collection of new and emerging competitors who could make some noise in the Octagon in the months and years to come.

This is On the Rise: UFC 220 Edition.

Brandon Davis

The 27-year-old Davis earned his opportunity to compete in the Octagon by earning a victory in the most entertaining back-and-forth fight from the opening season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series. Paired off with Austin Arnett, the Brandon Davis knees Austin Arnett during their fight at Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Seriestwo went toe-to-toe in a ferocious, bloody battle where both men got their licks in before Davis was able to pull away down the stretch.

Impressed with the Alan Belcher protégé’s performance, White awarded him a contract and now “Killer B” is shipping up to Boston to take on hometown kid Kyle Bochniak in his promotional debut in the final preliminary card bout of this weekend’s event at TD Garden.

The pairing with Bochniak is a perfect litmus test for the Mississippi native, as he’s made a trio of appearances inside the Octagon and acquitted himself well each time out despite managing just a single victory. He’s hard-nosed and happy to slug it out, which should suit Davis’s desires as well. Plus, as the closing act on the televised prelims, this is a prime opportunity to make an immediate impression on the audience heading into a terrific main card.

Alexandre Pantoja

Two fights into his UFC career, Pantoja is beginning to show why he was the top-ranked competitor heading into the flyweight Tournament of Champions that took place during Season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter. While the Brazilian standout came up short against Hiromasa Ogikubo in the semifinal round, Pantoja has collected a pair of victories since matriculating to the UFC roster and stands on the precipice of contention in the 125-pound ranks heading into this weekend’s fight card in Boston.

Unbeaten in his last 11 bouts dating back to a June 2010 encounter with Jussier Formiga, who is currently ranked fourth in the flyweight division, the 27-year-old Nova Uniao product has eight finishes during his current winning streak, including a third-round submission win over Neil Seery last time out.

Saturday night at UFC 220, Pantoja squares off with Dustin Ortiz in what feels like an unofficial entrance exam he needs to pass in order to be considered amongst the division’s elite. Ortiz is as durable and experienced as they come in the division and enters off one of the best performances of his career – a 15-second knockout victory over Hector Sandoval in Mexico City back in August.

Getting by Ortiz is no easy task, but if Pantoja is able to accomplish the feat, he’ll likely earn a place in the Top 10 and put himself in a position to face some of the more established contenders in the division later in the year.

MORE FROM UFC 220: First Face-off – Analysts preview Fight week | Countdown: Miocic vs NgannouCormier vs Oezdemir

Dan Ige

Another member of the DWTNCS fraternity, Ige collected a quality third-round submission win over Luis Gomez on the third week of last summer’s runaway hit, but missed out on a contract after Geoff Neal and Karl Roberson turned in impressive first-round knockout wins.

But Ige made a positive impression on the UFC brass and got the call to take on Charles Rosa. While Rosa has since been forced out of the contest with an injury and replaced by another DWTNCS newcomer in Julio Arce, Saturday’s preliminary card assignment remains a golden opportunity for the 26-year-old Hawaiian to further show that he has what it takes to compete on the biggest stage in the sport and the potential to make a splash in one of the deepest, most competitive divisions in the UFC.

Like Ige, Arce earned a victory during the initial season of the Contender series, finishing Peter Petties in the second round during the show’s fifth week, but he missed out on a contract that evening. The East Coast standout and Tiger Schulmann product has earned five straight victories and only lost to current UFC bantamweight Brian Kelleher, so although he’s taking the fight on short notice, Acre will be a tough out for Ige on Saturday.

But should he deliver an impressive performance and push his own winning streak to seven, “Danimal” has the strong fundamentals and required tenacity to be a strong addition to the featherweight ranks in 2018.

Fight Night St. Louis Scorecard

Saturday’s UFC STL event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Missouri, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Scottrade Center.

 1 – Jeremy Stephens

As soon as the fight between Jeremy Stephens and Dooho Choi was announced, I knew it was going to be a barnburner for as long as it lasted, and it was. But I also knew that if Choi got tagged by Stephens the way he did by Cub Swanson, it was going to be a bad night, because while “Killer Cub” can crack, the “Lil’ Heathen” has even more on his fastball, and once he hurt Choi on Sunday night, Stephens got him out of there. It’s put the Iowa veteran in a nice spot to kick off the new year, and hey, at 31, he’s still got plenty left in the tank to make a run at the belt.

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2 – Darren Elkins

I love spinning, jumping, acrobatic things as much as anyone, but there’s something about a Darren Elkins bout that will always have me watching on fight night. The epitome of a gritty, Midwestern grinder, Elkins proved once again on Sunday that no matter what happens, unless you knock him out, he’s going to keep coming forward, and more often than not, he’ll find a way to win. Michael Johnson’s left hand was finding a permanent home on Elkins’ face in the first round, but in the second, it was time for the “Damage” to roar back, and he did just that. That’s six straight for a guy who may very well be in the title picture by the middle of the year.

3 – Jessica-Rose Clark

The fact the Jessica-Rose Clark still showed up to fight after getting her Las Vegas home robbed and her cat killed last week says all you need to know about her and her spirit. To then beat the heavily favored Paige VanZant says even more about Jessica-Rose Clark punches Paige VanZant during their flyweight bout at Fight Night St. Louisthe Aussie flyweight as a fighter. That’s two UFC fights she was supposed to lose (against PVZ and Bec Rawlings) that she won. The next time out, don’t expect “Jessy Jess” to be an underdog.

4 – Jessica Eye

After the hype machine went into overdrive for Jessica Eye’s UFC debut in 2013, she went through a horrible stretch where she was consistently fighting either killers or opponents that were physically imposing for a natural flyweight – or both. So if you looked at her 1-5, 1 NC record and didn’t know her history, you were wondering why she was still in the UFC. On Sunday, she showed why with a hard-fought win over Kalindra Faria in her first UFC bout at flyweight. It wasn’t the best “Evil” Eye, but she showed enough glimpses to make it clear that it’s a new day for her at 125 pounds.

5 – Marco Polo Reyes

With so many fighters on the UFC roster, it’s inevitable that some will fly under the radar. But after Sunday’s knockout of previously unbeaten Matt Frevola, it’s time to take Mexico’s Marco Polo Reyes off that list. With a 4-1 UFC record that includes three knockouts and three post-fight bonuses, Reyes is a talented fighter and an exciting one to watch. His shootout with Frevola proved it, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next from “El Toro.”

Stephens vs Choi Fantasy Rewind

An action-packed night for the first ever UFC card in St. Louis was capped off with a jaw-dropping finish courtesy of Jeremy Stephens, as he put away Dooho Choi in the second round of their featherweight main event.

Stephens and Choi earned Fight of the Night honors for their back and forth battle that had the St. Louis crowd rising and falling with every punch thrown in this slugfest.

Choi landed his best shots in the opening round, but Stephens began returning fire with great accuracy and power in the second before landing a huge left hand that put “The Korean Superboy” down on the canvas. Stephens had no intentions of letting him back up again as he opened up with a barrage of punches and elbows that battered Choi until the referee saw enough to step in and stop the fight.

While Stephens had the experience advantage, he actually walked into the main event as a solid underdog with 42 percent of fantasy players picking him to win. Out of the players who did pick Stephens to win, another 56 percent correctly predicted that he would get the job done by knockout. In the end, that’s exactly how Stephens finished the fight as he adds another win to his career highlight reel.

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In the co-main event, Jessica-Rose Clark pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the night as she defeated Paige VanZant by unanimous decision after three rounds. Clark was selected by just 24 percent of fantasy players going into the event, but she was able to ground VanZant repeatedly over the course of 15 minutes to get the victory.

Welterweight standout Kamaru Usman was one of the biggest favorites on the entire card and he came through with a dominant victory over Norwegian knockout artist Emil Meek. Usman was selected by 74 percent of fantasy players and he did exactly as expected while staying undefeated in the UFC.

As it turns out, Usman was the only favorite on the main card to get a win based on the picks from fantasy players as Darren Elkins also pulled off an upset against Michael Johnson, who was making his debut at 145 pounds. Elkins had to fight back from a rough first round before taking Johnson to the mat, where he wrapped up a rear naked choke to get his sixth win in a row. Elkins was selected by just 29 percent of fantasy players, but he once again proved that he can never be counted out of a fight with his latest comeback performance.

On the preliminary card, local favorite James Krause earned a hard fought win over Alex White, with 84 percent of fantasy players picking him going into the card. Meanwhile, Marco Polo Reyes earned a Performance of the Night award for his stunning knockout against Matt Frevola. According to the picks from fantasy players, Reyes and Frevola were split right down the middle, with 50 percent going to each one of them in this hotly contested matchup.

<a href='../fighter/Kyung-Ho-Kang'>Kyung Ho Kang</a> attempts to submit <a href='../fighter/guido-cannetti'>Guido Cannetti</a> at Fight Night St. LouisIrene Aldana put on an impressive showing to take out Talita Bernardo in a women’s bantamweight bout. Aldana was another of the heavy favorites, with 69 percent picking her to win. Kyung Ho Kang also put on a dazzling performance as he submitted Guido Cannetti after 70 percent of fantasy players correctly predicted he would get the win on Sunday night.

On the early preliminary portion of the card, Jessica Eye got back on track in her return to the women’s flyweight division as she outworked Kalindra Faria to earn a hard-fought split decision with 76 percent of fantasy players picking her to win. Eye was actually the only favorite to pull off a win on the early prelims as JJ Aldrich and Mads Burnell came away victorious after both were counted as solid underdogs going into the event.

All told, UFC Fight Night from St. Louis produced a dead even card, with five favorites and five underdogs getting the job done according to the selections from fantasy players, with the tiebreaker between Reyes and Frevola ending in a 50-50 split.

Fight Night: Stephens vs Choi Live Results

Who were the winners at Fight Night: Stephens vs Choi? Click below to get the results for all the fights in St. Louis, Missouri on January 14, 2018.

Action starts at 10 pm ET

Main event: Jeremy Stephens vs Dooho Choi
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Co-main: Paige VanZant vs Jessica-Rose Clark
Fight coming up later tonight FS1

Kamaru Usman vs Emil Meek
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Darren Elkins vs Michael Johnson
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Action starts at 8 pm ET

James Krause vs Alex White
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Matt Frevola vs Marco Polo Reyes
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Talita Bernardo vs Irene Aldana
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Kyung Ho Kang vs Guido Cannetti
Fight coming up later tonight on FS1

Action starts at 6:30pm ET

Kalindra Faria vs Jessica Eye
Fight coming up later tonight on UFC FIGHT PASS

Danielle Taylor vs JJ Aldrich
Fight coming up later tonight on UFC FIGHT PASS

Mads Burnell vs Mike Santiago
Fight coming up later tonight on UFC FIGHT PASS

Stephens delivers epic finish against Choi

Read on for UFC St. Louis main event results…

<a href='../fighter/Jeremy-Stephens'>Jeremy Stephens</a> punches <a href='../fighter/Dooho-Choi'>Dooho Choi</a> in Round 2 of their main event fight at Fight Night St. Louis
STEPHENS vs CHOI

The best strike Dooho Choi landed in his UFC Fight Night main event against Jeremy Stephens may have been the one that spelled his doom, as veteran featherweight Stephens shook off the blow and went on the attack until he scored a second-round TKO of “The Korean Superboy” at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.  

“There was no way I was coming here to the Midwest and losing,” said the Des Moines native.

The leg kicks were flying in the first round, Choi’s landing with more effect, but Stephens was more than willing to respond. And when it came to punches upstairs, each fighter had success and kept marching forward, showing off impressive beards.

A right front kick by Choi to open round two got Stephens’ attention and may have ignited the Iowan’s attack, as he went on the offensive with hard shots that got Choi on the defensive. Just before the midway point, a right hand knocked Choi down, and Stephens went in for the finish with abandon. After a couple more crushing shots landed, referee Keith Peterson had seen enough, stopping the bout at the 2:36 mark.

With the win, the No. 9-ranked Stephens improves to 27-14. The No. 13-ranked Choi falls to 14-3.

Krause wins fourth straight, Reyes gets finish in St. Louis

Read on for UFC St. Louis prelim results…

James Krause punches Alex White in their lightweight bout during Fight Night St. Louis
KRAUSE vs WHITE

Lee’s Summit’s James Krause won Missouri bragging rights over Farmington’s Alex White in St. Louis’ Scottrade Center, as he scored a gritty three-round unanimous decision victory in UFC Fight Night prelim action Sunday night.

White (12-4) was sharp with his striking in the opening stages of the bout, but Krause (24-8) countered with a grappling attack that resulted in a takedown two minutes in. From there, Krause took over, as he implemented his ground game for the rest of the frame.

The standup action heated up in the second, with White holding the advantage once again, but Krause getting in some shots of his own before he put “The Spartan” on the deck again just before the two-minute mark and again controlled the fight on the mat.

The third was the perfect cap to a grueling battle, as White rocked Krause on the feet and Krause returned the scoring favor with his grappling on the mat, and it was Krause’s ground work that earned him the victory via three scores of 29-28.

REYES vs FREVOLA

Mexico’s Marco Polo Reyes spoiled the UFC debut and unbeaten record of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Matt Frevola, scoring a first-round knockout in their lightweight bout.

Both fighters came out throwing hard, and Frevola got the worst of an early exchange as a left by Reyes sent his mouthpiece flying. Reyes tried to finish, but Frevola got a brief reprieve when referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the action to replace the New Yorker’s mouthpiece. When the action resumed, so did the slugging, but when Reyes landed a right flush on the chin, it was all over, as Frevola hit the deck hard, prompting an immediate stoppage from Miragliotta at 1:00 of round one.

Tepic’s Reyes moves to 8-5 with the win. Frevola falls to 6-1.

ALDANA vs BERNARDO

The third time was the charm for Mexico’s Irene Aldana, as she scored her first UFC victory in three tries in bantamweight action, shutting out Brazil’s Talita Bernardo.

Scores were 30-27 across the board.

Aldana dominated the first round behind her stellar striking attack, one that included a right hand with just over three minutes left that put Bernardo in deep trouble. The Brazilian tried to take the fight to the mat, and she did buy herself some valuable time, once Aldana got her hands free, it was time to dish out more punishment, and she left Bernardo bloodied and battered by the end of the first five minutes.

The game Bernardo hung in there in round two, taking Aldana to the mat early on and she kept it there until the closing minute, but Aldana stayed busy with strikes from the bottom, landing hard elbows that kept Bernardo from getting too comfortable.

Aldana’s dominance on the feet was in evidence again in round three, but Bernardo did get in some shots of her own before a takedown in the final two minutes. Aldana didn’t allow her foe to keep her grounded for long, though, allowing the Mexican battler to stay out of danger and in control.

With the win, Guadalajara’s Aldana moves to 8-4. Rio de Janeiro’s Bernardo falls to 5-3.

KANG vs CANNETTI

Back from two years of mandatory military service, South Korea’s Kyung Ho Kang picked up where he left off in 2014, scoring a first-round submission victory over Argentina’s Guido Cannetti to up his winning streak to three.

Cannetti (7-4) started strong, rattling Kang (14-7, 1 NC) with a left hook that prompted a takedown from the returning vet, but it was later in the round that Kang took over, as he threw Cannetti to the mat and subsequently locked in a triangle choke. Cannetti tried to slam his way out of trouble, but that only tightened the choke, with Cannetti forced to tap out at the 4:53 mark.

EYE vs FARIA

A longtime standout at flyweight, Jessica Eye had her difficulties in the Octagon at bantamweight, but in her first UFC bout at 125 pounds, she returned to the win column, taking a hard-fought split decision over Brazil’s Kalindra Faria.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Eye, now 12-6 with 1 NC. The No. 12-ranked Faria falls to 18-7-1.

Faria got after it as soon as the fight began, catching Eye with some solid punches before a left kick to the head 45 seconds in rocked the Cleveland product. The fight then went to the mat, and the two proceeded to trade leg locks and strikes until the closing seconds of the frame.

Eye pulled Faria back down to the canvas to start round two, and she worked for a choke as she took her foe’s back. And while she didn’t get the finish, she dominated the grappling from that position from start to finish.

Faria rebounded in the final frame with knees, kicks and punches, and though Eye was scoring with her jab, in a close fight she needed to be busier, and she did just that with a takedown midway through the round. With 1:40, the two rose, but seconds later, Eye put the fight back on the mat and kept it there until the horn.

ALDRICH vs TAYLOR

Strawweight prospect JJ Aldrich earned her second straight victory in the Octagon, outpointing Danielle Taylor via unanimous decision.

All three judges saw it 29-28 for Colorado’s Aldrich, now 6-2. California’s Taylor falls to 9-3.

The first three minutes of the fight were fought on the feet, with little significant scoring outside of a leg kick by Taylor and some sharp counterpunches from Aldrich. Aldrich scored a takedown with a little under 90 seconds left, and that was likely enough to earn her the round.

In the second, Aldrich was able to largely control the standup action from long range thanks to a sizeable height advantage, and while Taylor started getting a little busier late in the round, it wasn’t enough for her corner, who implored her to pick up the pace in the third. But in that final frame, it was Aldrich who led the action and landed with some of her best shots of the fight.

BURNELL vs SANTIAGO

Denmark’s Mads Burnell scored his first UFC victory in his second try, taking a unanimous decision over Mike Santiago.

The action was non-stop in the opening round, with both trading the advantage in the grappling game. And while Santiago and Burnell each had submission attempts, as the round progressed, it was Santiago holding the scoring edge thanks to some good striking in the clinch and on the mat.

In the second, it was Burnell’s time to surge, as he got the fight back to the mat and put the Chicago product in trouble on two occasions, the most serious being a rear naked choke in the closing seconds of the frame. And while he wasn’t able to finish Santiago in the third, his control of the location of the fight throughout cemented his victory by three scores of 29-28.

With the win, Burnell, who missed weight at 150 pounds, improves to 9-2. Santiago falls to 21-11.

Usman, Elkins extend win streaks on main card

Read on for UFC St. Louis main card results…

CLARK vs VANZANT

After a rough week that saw her Las Vegas home robbed and her cat killed by the suspects, flyweight contender Jessica-Rose Clark showed up ready to fight in Sunday’s UFC Fight Night co-main event at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, as she defeated Paige VanZant via unanimous decision.

Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for the No. 10-ranked Clark 9-4 with 1 NC. VanZant falls to 7-4.

Clark had good success with her counterpunches on the feet before getting the fight to the mat, where she nearly sunk in an arm triangle choke. The fight didn’t move from the canvas for the rest of the round, with Clark dominating from the top position.

Despite the grueling ground action of round one, VanZant had plenty of energy for the second, firing off kicks and landing a spinning back fist before scoring a takedown. When they rose, Clark evened the score with a takedown of her own, soon locking in a triangle choke. VanZant tried to punch her way out of trouble, and it bought her enough time to get out of the round.

Before round three, VanZant told her corner that her right arm was broken, but she was still gamely battling with the Aussie standout in the final frame, firing off kicks at her foe. Clark would score with hard counters when VanZant got too aggressive, and even though the busier fighter in the final five minutes was the Reno native, it wasn’t enough to turn the fight around.

USMAN vs MEEK

Top ten welterweight Kamaru Usman extended his winning streak to ten against Emil Meek, earning a three-round unanimous decision victory.

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After a couple right hands came up short at the start, Meek (9-3-1, 1 NC) tried to lock in a guillotine choke on an Usman (12-1) takedown, but Usman took his time and got loose. “The Nigerian Nightmare” proceeded to bull Meek into the fence, and while the Norwegian had a few moments of daylight during the rest of the round, they didn’t come without Usman locked on to him.

Bloodied by some late first-round elbows, Usman got caught with some of Meek’s strikes early in the second, but he quickly settled in and got another takedown with three minutes left. Now bloodied as well, Meek fired off more elbows from the bottom, but Usman held the top position.

Meek refused to go away, throwing all strikes with bad intentions, but Usman’s wrestling was too much, as he remained in control throughout round three, wrapping up a shutout decision that read 30-27 across the board.

ELKINS vs JOHNSON

It was a typical Darren Elkins fight in the main card opener, as the Indiana native bounced back from a rough first round to submit featherweight newcomer and hometown favorite Michael Johnson in the second, making it six in a row for “The Damage.”

Johnson’s first round as a featherweight couldn’t have gone better, as he controlled the fight with his standup game, his left hand being the most effective weapon as he bloodied Elkins, who was unable to get the fight to the mat.

Elkins did get a takedown in the opening minute of round two, and he proceeded to fire off strikes before taking Johnson’s back with a little over three minutes left. A rear naked choke followed, and Johnson tapped out at the 2:22 mark, capping off another come from behind victory for Elkins.

With the win, the No. 10-ranked Elkins moves to 25-5. Johnson falls to 18-13.

Statement on UFC 221 in Perth

“Due to several significant injuries suffered recently, current middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, has been ruled medically unable to compete in the championship bout at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.
 
Whittaker states “I’m beyond disappointed that I’m unable to defend the title in my home country of Australia. I hope the fans enjoy what should be a great night of fights at UFC 221 and I look forward to a recovery as soon as possible that will have me back in the Octagon to face the winner of the main event.”
 
Former middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, will now face the #1 contender, Yoel Romero, for the UFC interim middleweight title. Romero has defeated eight out of his last nine opponents, which includes top-ranked athletes such as Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida.
 
UFC 221 will take place at Perth Arena for the first event in Western Australia. With the change in the main event, customers may request a full refund of purchased tickets at point of sale.”

Hall-Belfort fight off

Sunday’s UFC Fight Night co-main event between Uriah Hall and Vitor Belfort has been called off after Hall was unable to make weight for the bout at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

The card, which airs on FS1, will proceed with 11 bouts. Moving to the main card is the featherweight bout between Darren Elkins and Michael Johnson, while the bantamweight clash between Kyung Ho Kang and Guido Cannetti moves to the FS1 prelims.